Friday, November 12, 2010

China Eastern Airlines (SIN - JFK)

Flight: MU 568 Singapore - Pudong (Shanghai)
Flight: MU 587 Pudong - New York (JFK)

At a glance, this is the cheapest flight form Singapore - New York. The cost is about US$1400 which is about $400 cheaper than the other flights. As I was saving up for a camera lens, I decided to fly this as I have enough miles on China Eastern to upgrade to business class on the latter flight.

Initially, I booked at several other webpages, and all of the bookings seemed to be cancelled. I wanted to book with Singapore webpages, Zuji and, however for the same (cheapest flight) the cost is S$150 more than the US sites. Hence, I decided to try the other sites, and eventually, with Orbitz, the order got through.

The flight was however far from satisfactory, but at $400 cheaper, I decided to try. Firstly there was a 14 hour stop over at Shanghai, this allowed me to meet a friend and go around the EXPO area again.

It was strange how many passengers on the airlines are just so eager to get on board, from the beginning, this flight to JFK (New York) seemed to be a nightmare. The flight attendants of China Eastern cannot seem to control the crowd. The boarding was very chaotic, and everyone seemed to be fighting to get on board. On the plane, the passengers do not seem to know where to sit. I had a person in my seat because there was someone in his seat, and someone else in his seat...

Nonetheless, the flight took off on time. On the flight, I requested for water after 30 minutes in the air, and the air stewardess was no where to be found. 30 minutes later, they started serving water, and for the initial few people in front, they seem to get beer and other beverages, however, when they came to me, there was no more beer and orange juice, just apple juice and coke.

Then dinner came, and again beef rice was out, and chicken noodles was what's left, and indeed, it is inedible. The fruits are soggy and food is simply nasty. They ran out of beverages, and they only have water and tea. I requested for playing cards, and they are out of that too. This is simply insane!

When I arrived in Shanghai, I met my friend for dinner and we travelled around the EXPO site and had dinner, later I checked into a motel. It was a decent motel for $60, but there is no internet access. I was quite glad to have this break in my flight for a nap, and it may prove to be very good. 2 showers amd a breakfast, it may seem all worthwhile.

The second leg of my flight is from Shanghai to New York. The plane is much bigger and the business class is much more spacious compared to economy. In business class, the food however is as miserable as before, and what I can simply call NASTY, hence I decided on my liquid meals, 6 beers, and they have only Bud light, but still, its better than crappy food. Surprisingly, in business class, the "China" people who fly seemed to be similar. As I was sitting near the toilet, I could say that 1 out of 2 people flush, and about 2 out of 3 knows how to lock the door. It was a very sad seat indeed when you hear people from the toilet trying to have a conversation with their friend outside.

I usually get a lot of sleep on flights, but this bunch of people are extremely noisy, the "real estate tycoon" beside me who boasts of 7 digit income per month and several mistresses around seemed very eager to share too much information, and show me his keys to the different cars he own, and one of them was a limited edition E63 AMG with Swarvoski Crystals embedded in the key. He also talked about his Cadalliac and his Audi R8 in Manhattan, I wonder where is there space to own a supercar?

The beers for each meal kept me going on, no food and simply light beer seemed to work so far. I'm really looking forward to meet my friends, and all the pain endured, and more pain to come (Metro, and probably bus from NYC to Boston) will be rewarded with good company.

Overall, the trip was indeed "Budget" and it feels like it, the meals are poor, and experience rather bad, but it felt safe and ok when you arrive. Do you think it is worth it?

-- Robin Low

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