As they say among business travellers, “You cannot get bad Business Class.” This fare turned up for PVG-SYD that’s the same as Economy, I tried for the first time China Eastern Business Class.
China Eastern is the flag carrier for Shanghai and based out of Pudong International. It was not a top choice of business travellers as the service and cabin products were reputed to be quite bad. I used it mainly for domestic travels as my China HQ was in Shanghai, and the Economy class was pretty bad. Hence I had no desire to upgrade or fly their business. This long-haul red-eye turned up and it was either this or twice as much on Qantas.
I didn’t take any pictures of the cabin, but it was a 2-2-2 configuration on the Boeing 777. The seats were quite worn and badly need a refresh. The stewardess just stood around as you boarded, without offering help with your luggage.
Dinner Service on PVG-SYD
As we flew to cruising altitude, the head stewardess came over with her tablet and went through the cursory introduction, flight time, etc. After which dinner service started.
The table was promptly set with white table cloth and then the canapés were served. I have to say I was used to being served only satays on SQ flights, MU’s presentation of smoked salmon roulades & scallop skewer with zucchini was something different. And they were quite delicious – the smoked salmon was not overly salted and topped with marinated salmon roe, while the scallop was less exciting, it was still a nice canapé to have.
After that there was a 30 minute interval before the appetiser was served. Abalone with jelly fish salad is a Chinese classic appetiser, this has the familiar sesame and chilli oil flavours that I loved.
As this was Chinese style, the next two courses came together, a soup and entree. Nothing to shout about the soup and entree, this was an anti-climax after a nice appetiser course.
And the final course of dessert, it was about the same as what other airlines would serve.
Supper Service on SYD-PVG
On the return flight, as it was a red eye, the dinner service came all at once so that we can have a restful sleep for the next 9 hours. The appetiser (smoked salmon and green salad), entree (braised duck slices with codyceps militaris, vegetables and steamed rice) and dessert (seasonal fresh fruits) were all presented at once a single tray a la Premium Economy. There were more ginger slices that duck, but it was delicious. It was a whirlwind trip to Sydney. we were so tired that we skipped breakfast altogether.
Overall, business class is still business class. There’s still the minimum creature comforts expected, like a fully-lay flat seat, attentive service and an upgraded selection for meals. MU ticked the boxes in all these areas, but there’s one small episode that really turned me off from flying with them again.
My seat was just in front of the empty row designated for the pilots. And these guys were really unfriendly to the point of being rude and totally spoiled the image of the airline. And because a meal choice was not available for this particular co-pilot, he reprimanded the stewardess right there in the cabin. They need to understand that they are in a service industry and it was really not good for the image, not to mentioned being so petty over such a small thing.
Flight on MU PVG-SYD and SYD-PVG Dec 2018, red eye