Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Trip Report Part Deux (MU583 PEK-PVG-LAX 7/30/05)

Since I don't really feel like giving out a real one-hour-and-forty-minutes type trip report, I'll just post some stuff that I remember. I got sick shortly after the trip (coughing, fever, stuffy nose, sneezing ... flu or sars?) so some of my brain cells have been burnt so badly that I've forgotten what I ate on the plane. At least most of it.

Anyway... MU583, Beijing-Shanghai, A320, B-2330 (I think). Plane was two years newer than B-2400. Checked in at PEK at around 8:30am (Scheduled Dept: 11:40) and waited a while. They checked us through to LAX for both legs and seats were assigned also, unlike at LAX where you can only get seats for the international leg. They sold Beijing Duck Pretz gift packs for 20 yuan and those Collon cookies you see on the Engrish sites. But no model planes.

Gates were (mostly) empty. They sent us to gate 22, which had an air bridge but no plane. Around 11:10 (boarding), no plane. They called for boarding 30 seconds after we (my mother and I) went to the gate. Turns out we had to get bussed. To the far, remote, 300-series gates.

I saw a UA jumbo headed for Chicago/Washington, an Air Koryo Illushin going to the North Korean capital, a China Northern (I thought they merged with China Southern?) MD-82, an OZ (Asiana) to South Korea, KLM to the Netherlands... and a bunch of other Chinese regionals (Air China, Shenzhen, Sichuan, Hainan, China Xinhua, others).

Tip: Get in the front of the line and wait at the gate as soon as boarding is scheduled to start. Have your boarding passes ready, or you can just take some time to get them out of your bag/purse/wallet/suitcase/whatever. They'll let you cut through. Still beats waiting.

So we boarded via staircase. After they cleared all the trash out from the previous flight. There was a hell of a lot of trash. ... This one had an AV system and overhead screens, but no tail camera. Still was as cramped as farking ever. They sat me next to the wing again. But it was short, thank goodness.

So we departed after waiting for two or three or five queued planes to take off also. 20 minutes late.

Full hot meal this time around, roll and salad and everything. And fruit cup. Hallelujah for fruit cup. I LOVE THE FRUIT CUP!!

...but no beverage.

Approach/landing was normal. Saw the Yellow/Huangpu River. I didn't know PVG was THAT close to the ocean... but now I do. Taxied to the terminal rather than getting bussed.

Customs took a while. A long while. No one was there for a while. A guy on a walkie-talkie started whispering "583's here already" in Chinese. Ten minutes later, we were in the terminal. But they were boarding. ALREADY. It was 14:40 already! No time even to go to the bathroom and check out the duty frees.

Anyway, this aircraft was connected to the jetway also, an A340-600. There was an Air France jet that crashed at YYZ/Toronto Airport on August 2, yesterday, and it was also an A340, but a 300-series. Compare the two, the 600 is way longer.

I'd like to take this part of the post to congratulate the Air France staff on successfully evacuating the plane before it burst into flames. When I go to Paris, I'm flying AF.

Which reminds me. I saw an Air France jet take off, and some other ones. Heh. Didn't see much traffic. I mean, I only stayed at the terminal for five minutes.

This one was B-6053, a relatively new plane, but older than B-6055. They sat me next to the wing, AGAIN!! No wonder I couldn't get any sleep.

Many tourists, and I mean, MANY tourists, were on this flight. Like, 2/3 of Y-class.

So, on the plane, tourists, tail camera was on. Forecast for Shanghai was a high of 95 degrees Fahrenheit/35 degrees Celsius. They said "Centigrade." I thought they changed the name to Celsius from Centigrade a long time ago.

Since I don't feel like writing this anymore, the flight was relatively boring, the food was OK (but the noodles were slippery and bland) and we were delayed at PVG for more than three hours (and arrived three hours late at 2:54pm, about 3.5 hours later than scheduled) which resulted in us getting bussed from the western remote gates at LAX to the Bradley terminal. Oh yeah, purple lightning looks awesome.

By the way, if you're going long-haul on China Eastern, ask for the tomato juice. It's awesome. And make sure you learn Chinese before you board a Chinese plane, the pursers memorize the PA announcements in broken English so badly that you can't understand them at all. Though it's better on the pacific routes.

Service: 7.5/10 for both
Food: 5/10 for both
English: 3/10 for first leg, 6/10 for second
Chinese: 9/10 for first leg, 8.9/10 for second (heh)
Would I Fly Them Again?: maybe

Next Trip: possibly LAX-PEK on Air China again. thinking of going to Tokyo instead though.


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