In playful tribute to @OneMileataTime and at the prodding of @WeeklyFlyer, this lonely SkyTeam flyer presents China Eastern’s A340 and its sleepless lounger, the ultimate in “oh crap, I redeemed miles for this?”
The day started in sunny New York with bedlam at JFK T4′s gate 30. I was fortified with periodicals from the Oasis Club, and had the best Delta seat in the sky, 72K on the 747-400.
The flight was overbooked by 5 and the siren song for volunteers drew me in, knowing the China Eastern nonstop to Shanghai would get me in earlier than originally planned. I angled for a different airline but with most flights departed and others not Delta partners, I could only push so far. $800 in Delta vouchers was irresistible. Two other volunteers joined, eventually two others were denied boarding but given $1000 checks and decent alternate flights, especially the guy who got moved to ANA to Haneda.
I chatted with the gate agents as they worked on all the arrangements, which are quite time consuming when contacting other airlines. One was a snappy Chinese women with sharp quips. I said that China Eastern is improving, she said, “Really? I don’t think so.” And on the A340 “Why they fly that? It’s an antique.” She said that when thae JFK-NRT flight has a cancellation she is typically there till 2 am. The first reissue had moved me to economy, second got business to stick. The certs were a half hour issue, a $600 came out fine but issuing the next $200 required many phone calls. My suitcase had been pulled off the plane and purportedly was on its way to T1.
I ambled over to T1, checked in with the agent claiming my suitcase had arrived and was being loaded. Ha ha. I know JFK better than that.
A stop in the Alitalia lounge and on to the creaky A340.
China Eastern’s service is stiff and quite inefficient. Meal services take ages as the flight attendants run back and forth with one or two beverages or drinks at a time, rather than something more systematic or using their carts. For those familiar with restaurants in China, here, too, there only seems to be one menu in the plane and the flight attendant shows it to you, taps her foot while you decide, then takes it away. The food is ok, portions small, strawberries dessicated.
Another quirk common to Chinese airlines is facial tissues in the bathrooms in place of paper towels. Dry your hands and spend the next hour picking off the tissue shreds.
The seat is dreadful. Push the buttons all you want, that leg rest is not going higher. Try stuffing your feet into the seatback pocket.
My biggest pet peeve on flights is when movies are ‘edited for content,’ and I gave up when even Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was edited.
The amenity kit is Ferragamo. The pajamas were not to be found today but I got his and her’s sets last time and kept them unused, maybe time for a giveaway? Give one to Ben so he is spared the A340 experience, though perhaps he will try the A330?
No surprise that my suitcase ended up in Detroit. Many others behind me were wondering about their luggage. I got RMB 400 and a promise to deliver to my hotel if/when it arrives, which delta.com says will happen tomorrow.
You know what? It doesn’t matter because I am thrilled to be back in Shanghai. However, if you want New York to Shanghai nonstop, by all means take United. Leave China Eastern for short China domestic hops. And that $800 can help with a massage to work out the crick in my back and cramp in my calf.