Flying – #travellenge Air China? Not that bad!

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If you look for reviews on Air China, there surely is not the most positive opinion on the net. If something good is written about the main carrier from China it only concerns the premium cabins. And even in this category, Air China seems to be below average.

On this trip we chose to use and test Air China from Europe to Beijing and from Beijing to Singapore. A quick overview on Air China:
  • member of Star Alliance
  • Beijing is their main hub
  • using a mix of wide and narrow body aircrafts
  • A330, Boeing 777 and Boeing 747-400 & 747-8 on Europe to Beijing routes (787-8 to be added sometimes between 2016 & 2017)
  • inflight entertainment in all classes on most of their aircrafts (wide body only)
Munich to Beijing:
Scheduled: 14:15-06:10 on A330-200
Beijing to Singapore:
Scheduled: 15:35-21:40 on A330-300
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We left Munich on time and arrived in Beijing 40 min earlier. Service was average, but not bad. As most reviews suggest, their command of English is not so good. But well, any European or American’s command of Chinese is probably below average.
Food was ok, not the best, but surely not the worst. Especially when your outbound flight does not originate in China, you receive some decent catering. Food from Beijing was, well, ok-ish.
The same average applies to inflight entertainment. They seem to have some newer hollywood movies but majority consists of Chinese Movies and TV Series.
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Transit in Beijing was nice as we had 12h to kill. So we decided to go on a day tour to the Great wall of China. Organised and planned before we left Munich, it was well organised and the driver was very nice and on time. It takes around 2h drive from the airport and we had plenty of time at the Wall.
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Beijing airport is modern and huge, however, food options are terrible! Only affordable restaurants are the American chains (Burger King and Pizza Hut). As a Star Alliance Gold member, we were able to use the Air China Business lounge. Amenities are similar to other Star Alliance affiliated lounges with shower facilities, lounge options and hot food. Food was not good though.
All in all, surprisingly ‚good‘ if you take all the online reviews as your base. In my opinion, Lufthansa is the most average airline in the world. Not good, but not bad. And compared to Lufthansa, Air China was exactly the same. Surely better than any US carrier I have flown in the past (which includes United, Delta, American and US Airways before their merger with American).
In summary it was a very smooth and trouble free flight on both routes with very similar aircraft service and interior. The only con I would mention is the command of English the crew had. It was very difficult to understand, and even the pilots did not speak proper English. In terms of service, they are surely better than any US carrier I have ever flown. And with the current advertised rates from Europe to Asia (400-500 euros return) I would definitely chose them again as the price is currently unbeatable.
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