China Eastern A340 business class – not for your aspirational awards

The metal foot rest is the warning sign. China Eastern’s A340-600, used for its New York (JFK) – Shanghai Pudong (PVG) nonstop, is not the place to spend your ‘aspirational’ reward if your thing is lavish, comfortable business class.

China Eastern is a fine airline, have flown them dozens of times within China and Asia, though this was my first long-haul flight with them. I make a rule to never complain about business class, when I have a business trip it is a honor and privilege to have the trip and to be in business class. And for awards I have never redeemed for business or first.

For the benefit of readers trying to find some use for their Delta SkyMiles in business class, though, steer clear of this plane unless the nonstop flight is of paramount importance. I don’t recall having such an uncomfortable business class seat, with poor, uneven recline and that metal foot rest. Various pillows and blankets from the mostly empty cabin did not help. I felt 20 years older after that flight.

The service is fine, not the doting style the ‘aspirational’ types prefer, sort of like Korean Air in that it can be a bit stiff. Food fine, unremarkable. Lot of copies of GQ for some reason.

Why did I go with China Eastern? I needed the afternoon flight, all other options, including the United nonstop from Newark, depart before noon, and I had an immovable conflict. Also my stubborn determination to stick with SkyTeam, readers may recall my selection of a connecting flight on Kenyan over a nonstop on Emirates. If United would only match to 1k I might look at finally making the switch to Star.

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  1. I flew them from Hong Kong to Shanghai. I’m pretty sure the in-flight meal was some kind of spleen, but I’m not sure what animal it came from.

    I’m a medical doctor, so trust me – it was spleen…

    The seat was nice, though. And they served Haagen-Das.

  2. If you really are a doctor, then you contradict yourself… but you might be a doctor in mechanics, which would explain a lot..

  3. I flew with them from London to Shanghai in economy class…we didn’t have TV screens, the food looked awful, didn’t eat it…it was 12 hours torture!

  4. I’ve flown CE domestically within China, and yes, the Y food is almost inedible.

    But the F/As still beat out their American counterparts when it comes to service.

  5. United will 1K match. I have Diamond status with Delta (400,000 miles/yr) and I ran into problems when I called United to status match me when I wanted to switch. I emailed United’s CEO who had United’s President of Mileage Plus call me. He explained the matching rules and personally handled the transaction. I can give you his email address if you want…

    All that said, I flew China Eastern within China once – Shanghai to Guangzhou as I remember – it was a miserable experience I will never repeat.

  6. What’s relationship between China Eastern and Shanghai Airline? Are they like American Airline and American Eagle? If so, what’s logic behind the decision to have Shanghai airline fly Melbourne instead of China Eastern? Isn’t it strange to see United Express to fly Tokyo?

    And this makes laugh a lot “I felt 20 years older after that flight.”…..I believe you will still be very hot when you turned 50!!

  7. @Shannon – Shanghai Airlines used to be independent, then partnered with Air China, and is now wholly owned by China Eastern as part of government efforts to consolidate the industry. The kept those international routes from earlier times. They are only a SkyTeam affiliate so no earning with Delta.

  8. I like your rule of no complaining when flying in Business Class, so for you to share your experience with CE, it surely must have been a miserable affair. And yes I do remember your post on flying KQ instead of EK. Contact UA, they’ll be happy to welcome you!

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