Review: China Eastern Economy Class Shanghai to Hong Kong to Shanghai

After our time in Shanghai, I wanted to get down to my favorite city in the World — Hong Kong!  This little jaunt south was not part of my award ticket, so I had to hop on the Interwebs to find a decent deal for a round trip from Shanghai to Hong Kong.  I heavily preferred flying Cathay Pacific, but they were pretty prohibitively priced.  The best deal with the best times for a weekend round trip to Hong Kong was with China Eastern.  I knew that China Eastern was certainly considered a major airline in China with a varied fleet.  At the end of the day, the price was right, so China Eastern would be our ticket down to the Kong!

Since these were simply economy flights, I won’t get into as much detail as I normally do with my flight reviews, but I do want to highlight the flights, since it was a new experience for me.  I’m also combining both of these flights since they don’t warrant separate posts, in my opinion.

We made our way from the Park Hyatt Shanghai to Pudong International Airport via cab, which cost about RMB 160.  After a brief check-in process, we filed through security and immigration before setting up shop in one of the business class lounges that we accessed with my buddy’s AMEX Platinum Card.  It was pretty bare bones, and I didn’t even bother taking a picture.  After about 45 minutes, we went to our downstairs gate and hopped a bus that took us to our A321, parked at a remote stand.


An Around the World Trip — Oktoberfest and Asia


China Eastern (MU) 507
Shanghai (PVG) – Hong Kong (HKG)
Aircraft:  Airbus A321
Seat:  38C
Friday, October 10
11:55AM – 2:05PM
Duration:  2:10

Boarding a China Eastern A321

Boarding a China Eastern A321

We entered the brand new A321 from the front of the airplane and headed to the “back of the bus.”  This was my first flight in economy on the trip, but we were so ready to get to Hong Kong, we didn’t really care.   I took my seat in row 38, on the aisle.  The interior of the cabin was very, very blue!  The first thing I noticed about the cabin is that this was a pretty new Airbus A321.  Also, the pitch was fairly good, as I had a decent amount of legroom for coach — at least much more legroom than on my return flight to Shanghai on a “well-seasoned” B737-700.

Economy Cabin of a China Eastern A321

Economy Cabin of a China Eastern A321

Legroom in Economy on a China Eastern A321

Legroom in Economy on a China Eastern A321

Anyway, we took our seats – I was in an aisle with a friend across the aisle from me.  Another buddy was in the window on my row with a petite girl sitting in between us.  Safety announcements were done in Chinese and English, so there was no problem understanding anything.   The flight crew also spoke very good English.  After what seemed like a decent amount of time, we finally pushed back and taxied out to the runway for takeoff.

In no time, the flight attendants were coming through the cabin with the beverage cart.  I had a Coke and dozed off for a couple of minutes, only to be woken by the flight attendant asking my lunch order.  I chose the pasta over the fish or “meat.”   It came with a pork appetizer, watermelon, and a roll.  The pasta itself decent enough, as it was flavored with a bit of a sweet and sour sauce.  At the end of the day, it was edible, and they were serving us food in economy on a two-hour flight — so that’s a novelty in itself for an America-based flyer such as myself.

Lunch in Economy on China Eastern PVG-HKG

Lunch in Economy on China Eastern PVG-HKG

Pasta Lunch in China Eastern Economy PVG-HKG

Pasta Lunch in China Eastern Economy PVG-HKG

After another glass of Coke, the flight attendants came through the cabin again — this time to hand out dessert.  Ice cream cones!  These were basically like Drumstick cones that I used to get back in Elementary School — I loved it!

Dessert in China Eastern Economy Class PVG-HKG

Dessert in China Eastern Economy Class PVG-HKG

By the time I was done with my ice cream, we were in a holding pattern getting ready to land at Hong Kong.  After holding briefly, we landed at Hong Kong’s Chep Lak Kok Airport from the South and quickly became one of the very few narrow-body airplanes anywhere in sight!

Overall, this flight was perfectly fine.  I was impressed by the flight attendants, because I counted no less than five rounds of service on what amounted to about a two-hour flight.  Honestly, I haven’t seen this level of service in economy in quite some time, and I was somewhat surprised by it.   I was pretty pleased with the flight overall, and for what we paid, it’s wasn’t a bad deal at all.

China Eastern (MU) 502
Hong Kong (HKG) – Shanghai (PVG)
Aircraft:  Boeing 737-700
Seat:  48A
Monday, October 13
12:50PM – 3:25PM
Duration:  2:35

The return flight to Shanghai was much more uneventful.  Uneventful in that I slept the whole time!

We arrived to the airport via the Hong Kong MTR Airport Express from Kowloon Station after an amazing weekend.  We’d been out quite late the night before, so at this point, we were pretty tired.  At this point in the trip, it was only me and one friend left, as our third friend had flown back home (in Cathay Pacific First Class) earlier that morning.  I had some time to kill, so I walked around one of my favorite airports anywhere.  I had a co-worker who was flying out of HKG at the same time to Beijing on an award flight that I’d setup for him, so I unsuccessfully tried to find and meet up with him.  After admitting defeat, it was time to go back to Shanghai.

In the days and hours leading up to this flight, the equipment changed what seemed like 19 times.  I’m pretty sure we were slated to fly every plane in the China Eastern narrow-body fleet at some point.  When we booked the flight, it was to be an A321.  Then an A320.  Finally, by the time we checked in, the flight was listed as a B737-800.  The China Eastern flights to Shanghai leave from the remote terminal at Hong Kong, which necessitated a bus ride.  As we got to the gate, I noticed that the chariot that would take  us back to Shanghai was actually a B737-700, of course — an older model.  As you might imagine, our seat assignments were pretty jacked up by that time, but I did manage a window seat, at least.

China Eastern B737-700

China Eastern B737-700

We waited in an abnormally long boarding queue after a strange boarding process.  By the time I got to my seat, I squeezed my way to the window seat, snapped a picture of my complete lack of legroom, and promptly dozed off.

China Eastern B737-700 cabin

China Eastern B737-700 cabin

Horrendous legroom on China Eastern B737-700

Horrendous legroom on China Eastern B737-700

I woke up as we pushed back, because I wanted to check out the insane number of huge airplanes that reside at Hong Kong.  We taxied to the runway and took off after a THAI B747-400 – possibly the same plane that had flown me from Munich to Bangkok earlier in the week.

Later, HKG!

Later, HKG!

Shortly after takeoff, I was out for good.   I slept the entire flight, and was awoken as the cabin was being prepared for arrival in Shanghai.  I did have a note on the seatback in front of me notifying me that I’d missed the meal and that I could request it at any time, and I thought that was a nice touch.  I wasn’t exactly dying for an economy meal at that point, so I passed.

Shortly thereafter, we landed back at Shanghai’s Pudong Airport at an actual gate!  That was nice.  We gathered our things and headed for the Maglev to whisk us away to the Grand Hyatt Shanghai for one more night in Shanghai before we started our long journey home.

This aircraft was clearly much more aged than the brand spankin’ new A321 that we flew on PVG-HKG.  The plane was showing lots of wear and tear and the legroom was pretty dismal.  I was still able to sleep though, so that’s gotta count for something.

The Verdict…

For what we paid, this was a completely reasonable experience.  I was somewhat impressed by the service on China Eastern, and the food wasn’t too bad for economy grub.  The experience on the new A321 was far superior to that of the more aged cabin of the B737-700.  At the end of the day, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly China Eastern again for a regional fight in Asia — they were perfectly fine.

How I Booked It…

I searched for low fares for a while and settled on China Eastern.  After some difficulty with their website, I ended up booking these flights on Orbitz for the princely sum of only $216, round-trip… not bad for a flight to Hong Kong for the weekend!

One Thought on “Review: China Eastern Economy Class Shanghai to Hong Kong to Shanghai

  1. China Eastern: The Greyhound of the skies

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