Air China’s First 747-8 Destination Will Be New York JFK

Filed Under: Air China, Other Airlines

Back in September I wrote about how Air China is the next airline to take delivery of the Boeing 747-8. To me, the 747 will always be the queen of the skies, and it’s sad to see so many airlines retiring them. The 747-8 at least extends 747 service for a few airlines, though unfortunately the plane never really gained traction in terms of orders.

Lufthansa was the first airline to start flying the 747-8, and Air China is the second.

Air China 747-8

Air China initially announced that they’d first be flying the 747-8 within China for familiarization/training flights, and that their first longhaul 747-8 destination would be Frankfurt.

As of a couple of weeks ago they scrapped plans to fly the 747-8 to Frankfurt, and have now announced their first longhaul 747-8 destination.

Per, Air China will begin daily 747-8 flights between Beijing and New York JFK as of January 7, 2015. The flight will operate 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)

This is in addition to Air China’s 5x weekly 777-300ER flights, which operate with the following schedule:

CA989 Beijing to New York departing 9:00AM arriving 9:30AM
CA990 New York to Beijing departing 11:50AM arriving 2:40PM (+1 day)

Air China 777-300ER

Go figure Beijing to New York is just about the only longhaul route on which Air China almost never releases premium cabin award space. I don’t see a single date in either direction which has first or business class award space on either flight, which is unfortunate. Oddly in August Air China suddenly began releasing first and business class award space on virtually every flight between Beijing and New York (and multiple seats per flight as well), but that didn’t last.

I’ll certainly be monitoring and hoping they start releasing award space on the flight, as I’d love to try out Air China’s 747-8 first class. Then again, I think I have my fair quota of Chinese airline products to try, between China Eastern’s new 777-300ER first class, and China Southern’s 777-300ER first class.

Lots of economy award space, no first/business class award space!

Here’s to hoping Air China’s 747-8 schedule sticks this time around…

  1. The reason they don’t release premium cabin space on this route is that its one of the few routes they actually provide decent first class service on. According to their menus online to New York they actually have caviar and decent food choices.

  2. I just flew CA982 JFK-PEK in J on the 773. It was fine; I had a bulkhead window/aisle pair to myself (larger foot wells in the bulkhead). The service and food were reasonable, if a bit robotic. I chuckled when they asked for my arrival meal choice while still on the ground at JFK!

    I was on a o/w Z fare of ~$3000, and inquired at check-in about a cash upgrade to F – they wanted $2500! No thanks…

    But I’m looking forward to the 747-8 for a future trip!

  3. Besides no award space on JFK- PEK shown up, there is a brand new route with not many premium occupancy IAD=PEK on CA, which never released either economy or business&First award ticket. Do you know whats going on this CA’s award availability of IAD=PEK route?

  4. @ travis — Yeah, Air China is just incredibly irrational with how they release award space. There’s no rhyme or reason to it.

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