Thursday, January 26, 2012

Winter in China: Beijing to Harbin on Air China


Air China operates only 2 class cabins on most domestic flights in China with the front of the plane tagged as first. There is no business class. Since our BMI redemption was for business class, we were relegated to the back of the plane for the flight to Harbin.

We arrived at the airport around 5.30 am for our early 7.30 am flight. I'm surprised that there's such a lack of Star Alliance related signage at Beijing Airport!We didn't see any signs for Star Gold check in and the lines for economy counters were already long. We tried checking in at one of the automated machines but failed. We eventually were able to check-in at the Air China First Class domestic counters after showing my Star Gold card.

After passing through security, we made our way to the Air China business class lounge. The lounge is pretty big which adequate seating although the furniture was somewhat drab. Instant noodles and packaged snacks were the only food available when we arrived. Soon after, breakfast was offered at the dining area which consisted of only Chinese choices like rice porridge and pastries.

Sleeping Rooms

We left the lounge a couple of minutes before the boarding time printed on our boarding passes and to our surprise boarding was almost complete when we got to our gate. It looks like the printed boarding time on the passes in China really means something unlike airports in Singapore where the printed boarding times are way too early.

Sun coming out when we boarded.

We got assigned to the second row in economy and had an empty seat which allowed us to stretched out. We noticed that others in the first few rows also had the middle seat empty which I assumed was thanks to our Star Gold status. Before departure, the inflight supervisor came around and greeted the elite and Star Gold passengers. Kudos to Air China for taking care of elite customers!

View from our seat
Breakfast was offered on this morning flight with a Chinese or Western option. Reading other trip reports on flyertalk, it looks like the breakfast selection is the same on most flights. The western option consisted of an omelet while the Chinese was a rice porridge. The rice porridge was surprisingly good after the days of oily food in Beijing but I guess the porridge would get old after a while.

For the rest of the flight, I caught up on some reading and watched a pretty interesting documentary on tombs in China on the overhead TV screen. About two hours later, we could see frozen rivers and soon after, we landed into Harbin airport where the sky was clear, the sun was out but a chilling -20C temperature was waiting for us.

Frozen Rivers

The 737-800 in Aircraft

No comments:

Post a Comment