Air China 747-8 Flights To San Francisco As Of May 1, 2015

Filed Under: Air China, Other Airlines

Air China is the second airline to take delivery of the passenger version of the Boeing 747-8, after Lufthansa.

Lufthansa Boeing 747-8

For me the 747 is the queen of the skies, and I’m sad to slowly see it phased out. Unfortunately it’s a gas guzzler, even in comparison to the A380, which is struggling to survive as well.

While Lufthansa has been flying the 747-8 for a couple of years now, Air China started flying their first Boeing 747-8 on longhaul flights today. Air China’s launch 747-8 longhaul route is Beijing to New York JFK, which is now being operated daily with the following frequency:

CA981 Beijing to New York departing 1:00PM arriving 1:30PM
CA982 New York to Beijing departing 3:50PM arriving 6:20PM (+1 day)

Anyway, Air China has just announced that they will commence Boeing 747-8 service between Beijing and San Francisco as of May 1, 2015. Via, their second longhaul 747-8 destination will be served daily with the following schedule:

CA985 Beijing to San Francisco departing 3:40PM arriving 12:20PM
CA986 San Francisco to Beijing departing 2:50PM arriving 5:55PM (+1 day)

This replaces the Boeing 777-300ER presently on the route.

Air China Boeing 777-300ER

Unfortunately premium cabin award space on Air China has been virtually non-existent lately, and in looking at availability on the San Francisco to Beijing route, I actually don’t see any dates with first or business class award space.


Air China only has a total of five 747-8s on order, and presumably between these two longhaul routes, four of them are committed. They could squeeze a third longhaul flight out of them when they get their fifth 747-8 if they time their flights efficiently. I’d guess the third longhaul destination would be either Frankfurt or Los Angeles.

San Francisco is a logical choice for the 747-8, given that it’s only a once daily Air China destination despite having a huge Chinese population. Still, I always kind of assumed Los Angeles would see the 747-8 first, since it’s one of Air China’s flagship routes.

  1. Having flown Air China’s “First Class” service to PEK (and now I don’t remember if it was out of LAX or SFO… it was so horrible that I’ve tried to block it out of my mind), this news doesn’t excite me. I put that airline on my “no fly list” a while back. As decrepit as the old UA 747s are on the SFO-HKG route, and as mediocre as United’s “Global First” service is, it is still far better than Air China, and certainly not worth the extra miles if using United miles.

  2. As I have said before. Air China = decent hard product but the worst in terms of service.

    Absolutely at the bottom of my list for service. Worse than being hacked with machetes over and over.

  3. It I’m not mistaken, Air China has 7, not 4 747-8i’s on order. Korean has 10, Transaero has 4 and Arik Air (Nigeria) supposedly has 2.

  4. Air China’s bad service goes back to the socialist culture that inherently discourage creativity and aspirations. when everyone is equal by design why work at all?

  5. I flew CA first twice recently and while the service was ok (they tried, which is more than I can say with some US airlines) and the IFE a bit better than expected, there is no way I would pay the premium in miles for CA over United GF. For a paid ticket it would have to be substantially cheaper than just about any competitor, and perhaps cheaper than just about any competitor’s business class. As for PEK, they need to fire whoever is running that place. What an embarrassment. Absent that CA needs to start providing ground services for premium passengers. You have been warned.

  6. @ Back of the Plane — It’s not the product as such that’s bad, but I find flying within China is somewhat unpleasant because of the overall environment — remote stands, a ton of queuing, many people flying for the first time, etc. So it’s always an experience.

  7. I think the 747 intercontinental is the best aircraft to come from boeing since cargo lux air bridge Cathay Pacific cargo lufthans air China and now Korean air the legendary 747 is reborn after pan am got there first 747 on December 12 1969

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