China Eastern Airlines - My Experience

March of 2017 was the last time I boarded a plane and flew off to get away from America. To place myself in a world where I was the minority, the language I spoke was not common place. and I to widen my scope of the world. And which airlines did I go with? That's right, China Eastern. Now a lot of online sources will give you a negative view of it, which I do believe there are, but I also think a lot of their anger and animosity comes from having way to high of expectations. Like way too high. So I'm here to share my story and how my experience was with them. Hopefully you find this helpful in selecting them or choosing to go with another. But just keep in mind that everyone views things in different ways and there really is no definitive answer for how an experience will be

First off I want to give context of how I was flying, where, and on what type of budget. As I boarded that flight I was, and still am, a college student. No matter how you cut that cake, one thing is going to remain consent. College students in America live in poverty. When I say this, I mean the ones that are full-time students, work part-time, etc. So obviously my wallet isn't bursting at the seems, just being able to get there is enough to more than satisfy me. The end destination was Narita Airport, Tokyo which left from Chicago. I was also traveling with one of my good buddies Teddy List. We didn't buy the tickets together. So in the eyes of the airline, I was traveling alone. When I purchased the ticket, it was only around $600. That's insanely cheap, especially for a flight to Japan. Usually from the Midwest region of America, the tickets range from 1000 to 14000, and some even more if you want that direct flight. We weren't traveling on a huge time where there were a lot of people going to Japan. Regardless, the price was something I just couldn't pass up. At first it seemed very sketchy. I mean, the price is almost too good. It started to smell fishy. Needless to say though, my expectations weren't too high. 

When I got to O'Hare, we arrived at the gate and my fears that I had just been duped faded away as the China Eastern ticket lady greeted me and gave me my boarding pass. The first thing I will note is that they will speak English, but not very proficiently. They speak what they must, which I was fine with. They are a Chinese company and I am a guest. As I have discovered from doing more research, most China Eastern flights will have layovers in Shanghai, this one was no exception. So I got the pass, my luggage was marked for Shanghai, and we were off to the gate. This flight is the long haul. I could care less if I sat in steel seats from Shanghai to Tokyo, but from CHI-town to Shanghai, they better be damn comfortable. I was struck with fear sitting at the gate, remembering all the angry past bloggers and their experiences. Low and behold when we got onto the plane, they were quite comfortable. Actually I would rate the seats better than Air Canada, and the spacing better than American airlines (little ironic don't you think?). During the flight they do make you shut off any electronic devices. Phones, laptops, anything that uses electricity. Which kind of blows, but I did not need it as their selection of in-flight movies were current, up-to date, and honestly the wacky Chinese shows where very entertaining. So entertaining that during the whole 15 hour flight, I didn't feel the least bit board. Was the service exceptional? No, of course not. I didn't speak Chinese, and the flight attendants knew limited English at best. They provided me what I needed, when I needed, nothing more. To some this might rub off badly, but I look at it this way: Help a woman with her children, help a college kid. I think that's a pretty obvious choice. During the 14 hours, we were provided with 2 meals. The first one was great! As far as airline food goes, the second one on the other hand....well it was food. I had something to put in my stomach. However they were big enough to hold me over to the morning after our layover. Overall the long-haul flight was a very pleasant experience. Besides the part about the electrics, really no complaints whatsoever.

When we arrived in Shanghai, we when though the Chinese customs and made our way to a hotel (not the one we booked but that is a story for a different day). We got back into the airport, having properly been rested, it was 14 hour layover, sat and ate a Korean-style breakfast. Our flight was supposed to take off at 10. It didn't leave until closer to noon. No warning was given, everyone just seemed to go with the flow. I know if that had happened in America, oh lord there would have been chaos. But regardless of how calm it was you could always just sense the anger and frustration. Or that could have been just me. Not entirely sure. But while sitting there waiting for the plane to pull up, I kept thinking back to my flight from Toronto to Pittsburgh. How small the plane was because of the relatively short distance. The flight from Shanghai to Tokyo is only about 2 hours, so I was mentally preparing myself to be squished into a small plane. Again to my surprise, the plane was the same size as the one we flew into Shanghai with! I was astonished. We also go 2 meals as well (which may have been a bit much, but free* food is always accepted in my book). And the seats were just as comfortable.

So for you thinking about traveling with China Eastern, do it if you want to get from place A to place B. Sure there are better airlines if you want that luxury aspect of it. If that's something you want then hey, you do you. But for you baller'

s on a budget, China Eastern is the way to go, just go in with low expectations.

Safe travels.


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