Review: China Eastern Lounge Shanghai Airport

Filed Under: China Eastern

This is where the China Eastern experience goes from disappointing to downright amusing.

We arrived at Shanghai Pudong Airport at around 11:30AM, plenty early for our 2:05PM flight to Colombo. China Eastern operates out of Terminal 1, which I believe was my first time flying out of there, as I only recall flying out of Terminal 2 in the past.

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Shanghai Pudong Airport Terminal 1 check-in hall

Around the center of the terminal, by the “E” sign, there was a dedicated first & business class area, which was nicely designed. It was partitioned off from the rest of the terminal, and featured lots of comfortable leather chairs.

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China Eastern first & business class check-in Shanghai Airport

Business class passengers could check in to the left, while first class passengers could check in to the right.

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China Eastern first & business class check-in Shanghai Airport

The only issue was that the queue was rather long, as we had to wait for about 10 minutes before we were helped. It’s unfortunate they created such a nice area but still have long queues, which I haven’t otherwise found to be the case for premium check-in at hub airports.

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China Eastern first & business class check-in Shanghai Airport

The associate who checked us in was friendly, and as soon as she scanned our boarding passes she made a quick call, which I didn’t think much of at the time. Airline agents make phone calls all the time, often for things unrelated to the person they’re helping.

We headed towards immigration, where there was a fairly short wait, despite there not being a premium security line. Matthew had cleared before me, so when I cleared immigration I saw him talking to a guy in a China Eastern uniform. Hmmm…

As it turned out, he had approached Matthew when he cleared immigration and said “Hello Mr. Klint. Welcome to Shanghai. I am the Airport Duty Manager for China Eastern. I understand you arrived yesterday?”

He then took us to the security checkpoint, where we waited for a few minutes.

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China Eastern escort at Shanghai Airport

As we walked to the lounge he told us about the improvements that China Eastern is making to the airport, including opening a new centralized lounge. At this point we connected the dots and realized that apparently our feedback went high enough up the chain at China Eastern over the course of 24 hours, and this guy was tasked with making sure we had a good experience on the ground.

He was extremely friendly and told us all about China Eastern, though in no way addressed the disappointing experience the day prior, probably intentionally.

China Eastern’s lounge setup at Shanghai Pudong Airport is bizarre. It’s sort of like a more poorly organized version of Emirates’ lounges in Dubai, where you can board your flight directly through the lounge. Sort of.

To get to the lounge, he walked us through a gate and past gate agents who were scanning boarding passes while trying to board a plane. Huh, was he sending us on a flight to somewhere else? We took the escalator down a level, which is where the jet bridges to the planes are located.

But also next to the gates are individual VIP lounges. Best I could tell, each lounge was intended for 2-3 gates.

In this case we were using the China Eastern VIP Lounge by gate 20.

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China Eastern VIP lounge Shanghai Airport

At reception we handed over our lounge invitations, though the duty manager continued to stay with us.

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China Eastern VIP lounge entrance Shanghai Airport

We quickly took a few pictures of the lounge, which was on the small side (which I guess is to be expected, since it’s only intended for a few gates).

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China Eastern business class lounge seating Shanghai Airport

There were maybe a couple dozen seats, so I’m not sure how this lounge would have capacity for a full 777 business class cabin, for example.

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China Eastern business class lounge seating Shanghai Airport

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China Eastern business class lounge seating Shanghai Airport

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China Eastern business class lounge seating Shanghai Airport

The above is the extent of the lounge’s seating. Near the entrance were some magazines and newspapers.

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China Eastern business class lounge Shanghai Airport

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China Eastern business class lounge magazines & newspapers PVG Airport

Then there was one more randomly placed table near the entrance.

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China Eastern business class lounge seating PVG Airport

I’m not sure what exactly was plugged into the wall, and whether it was intended as an advertisement, or what.

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China Eastern business class lounge PVG Airport

The buffet area was across from the reception desk.

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China Eastern business class lounge self serve buffet PVG Airport

There were self serve soft drinks, water, etc.

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China Eastern business class lounge self serve drinks PVG Airport

Then there were some snacks, including muffins, sweets, etc.

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China Eastern business class lounge self serve snacks PVG Airport

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China Eastern business class lounge self serve snacks PVG Airport

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China Eastern business class lounge self serve snacks PVG Airport

There were also some cheese bacon sandwiches, fresh veggies, pastries, bread, etc.

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China Eastern business class lounge self serve snacks PVG Airport

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China Eastern business class lounge self serve snacks PVG Airport

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China Eastern business class lounge snacks PVG Airport

Some of the signage could have benefitted from a translator…

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China Eastern business class lounge signage PVG Airport

I’m not sure if they change the food selection every day, because there was a sign indicating what day of the week it was, and all the food was also labeled with “THU.”

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China Eastern business class lounge signage PVG Airport

There was also a self serve liquor selection.

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China Eastern business class lounge liquor selection PVG Airport

Utensils in the lounge were unfortunately plastic, though I’m not sure if that’s some airport regulation, or just China Eastern being cheap.

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China Eastern business class lounge cutlery PVG Airport

Next to the food display area was an area with a bunch of model airplanes, all of which were from SkyTeam carriers. It’s pretty cool that they didn’t just showcase China Eastern planes.

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China Eastern business class lounge model airplanes PVG Airport

The lounge’s bathrooms were behind the reception desk. The bathroom area itself was fine.

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China Eastern business class lounge bathroom PVG Airport

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China Eastern business class lounge bathroom PVG Airport

In addition to that there was even a shower room, which looked nicer than I was expecting.

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China Eastern business class lounge shower room PVG Airport

I’d note that we saw quite a transformation between the time we arrived at the lounge and when we left. Most of the above pictures were taken closer to the end of our stay in the lounge.

The first thing I noticed when we arrived was a bunch of garbage sitting on our table, and there was an equal amount on other tables. The duty manager looked horrified when he saw this, and said “I noticed you were taking pictures of the garbage, so I just wanted to explain…”

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China Eastern business class lounge mess PVG Airport

Over our roughly hour stay in the lounge, we noticed quite a transformation in terms of the cleanliness of the lounge, as the lounge attendants were hustling to clean things up, the food area was replenished, etc.

Once we sat down we were offered water and a warm towel.

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China Eastern business class lounge water & hot towel PVG Airport

Eventually one of the lounge attendants came up to us with an iPad showcasing two hot dishes. We chose one of them, and she said she’d bring it in about 10 minutes. Shortly thereafter the duty manage came up to us and said “good choice, it’s traditional Shanghai dish.”

Sure enough the food was brought on a tray about 10 minutes later, and it was excellent.

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China Eastern business class lounge snack PVG Airport

I tried to get caught up on some work while in the lounge, though the Wi-Fi was really slow.

Boarding was scheduled to begin at 1:20PM, and the inside of the lounge had a board indicating the two flights departing nearby, including the Korean Air flight to Seoul Incheon, and the China Eastern flight to Colombo.

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China Eastern lounge departures monitor Shanghai Airport

The duty manager indicated that he’d escort us when the flight was ready for boarding. At this point I’d note that he had a posse of two other people with him, who I guess were also there to supervise the “situation.”

Finally at around 1:35PM he fetched us in the lounge. We turned left and walked towards gate 21, which was our departure gate.

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Walking to China Eastern departure gate Shanghai Airport

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Walking to China Eastern departure gate Shanghai Airport

There was another VIP Lounge at that gate, and like I said above, we didn’t even need to have our boarding passes scanned, since you’re technically already on the jet bridge when you’re in the lounge.

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Walking to China Eastern departure gate Shanghai Airport

Our China Eastern A330 was in the old livery, which looks rather outdated.

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China Eastern A330 taking us to Colombo

We were excited to get on our flight to Colombo and see how our China Eastern experience compared.

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Our departure gate

China Eastern Lounge Shanghai bottom line

China Eastern’s lounge setup in Shanghai is unique. We were told they’d soon be opening a central lounge, though it looks like the opening of that has been delayed significantly, so I don’t know what the timeline looks like. I’ll be curious to see what that lounge is like.

The lounge itself was okay, hardly one of the best airport lounges in the world. It was on the small side, though wasn’t crowded. The buffet selection was limited, though the hot food we were served off a menu was excellent.

I think it goes without saying we received special service here, so it was interesting to see how much better the airline can be when they actually try. The lounge was in pretty bad condition when we arrived, while it was almost spotless by the time we left. Too bad the airline only seems to be able to perform at that level when there are management threats (I assume).

  1. @Lucky,
    Would greatly appreciate it if you included the day you travelled as it would give us an idea of how old the food was. (Since it was labelled THU)

  2. @Chandan Bhat He flew on Thursday the 28th, as it says in the introduction post of this trip report. Also, I’d assume that since the food was labeled THU, Lucky would have pointed it out of it wasnt a Thursday.

  3. Hi Lucky,

    I just want to point out that No.20 Lounge in PVG T1 is primarily used for China Eastern international first class passengers. Since MU only has 6 seats in 77W first class cabin, the lounge tends to be quite small. I guess the duty manager wants to bring you a great impression about China Eastern hence brings you to the first class lounge. 🙂

  4. I have to say that it’s the very very FIRST time I saw China Eastern to “setup” both of Evian and Perrier water, Ginger Ale, Tonic and Soda water, and even more than 4 kinds of pastries in the self-service bar area in this lounge. And the “Hot Towel” service is the most AMAZING part, just like a Royal Treatment. I have never seen such “items” and service available at this lounge in the past few years.

  5. This was absolutely not the norm for MU. It was way better. Their lounges are truly horrific. Clearly this one was not great, but it was the best that they have and you received truly VIP treatment. Frankly, MU is one of the worst products out there. All of the Chinese Airlines are pretty poor, but MU tends to take the cake in poor service, pilots who smoke on board in the cockpit, FA’s that speak little or no English and soft product that is outrageously horrible. All in all, Lucky has seen the very best of a horrible airline. I avoid them as much as is possible. I have flown them many times in the past both international and domestic China. Skyteam should be ashamed, but DL could care less. At least Dragon is decent but it only hubs out of HKG and is not that useful… Hainan/Hong Kong Express is the best of the lot in the air, but the lounge experience is not good. China really does not get service or have the understanding of quality. It is what it is and all of the airlines are defacto owned by the government even if they have different management.

  6. I agree .this was quite a nice lounge as compared with the “normal” MU lounges that are terrible. The black chairs looked like 40 years old and everything including the food was very basic and not appealing at all. At least it was better than waiting for my flight at the gate.

  7. Ben,

    the problem is that your name is already known to these airlines and they react accordingly, like calling special agent, bringnig special hot meals etc….

  8. You hold double standards between the US and rest of the world. Do the lounges in the US even have food? I know you need to earn commissions thru credit card link and banks. Perhaps China Eastern didn’t give you any “benefit” so you wrote a horrible report.

  9. @Hamanaka,
    You must not be a long-time reader of this blog. Please catch up by clicking above on “TRIP REPORTS” and then “AIRPORT LOUNGES”.

  10. This is actually not the real first class or business class lounge. This lounge is literally reserved for VIPs. So celebrities, politicians, and MU executives use this lounge. The real first class and business class lounge is by gate 21 and 22. In Chinese fashion, they knew you guys were reviewing stuff, so they gave you the VIP lounge. Do you really think no one else would be in the lounge with you guys? Pudong is MUs hub.

  11. I’m sure this isn’t the first time Lucky has maybe gotten some special treatment, it was just so blatantly obvious this time.

    Still, if this is the system they are using (smaller loungers for every few gates), it certainly is an interesting one.

  12. Hi Lucky

    Your fan from Hong Kong again!

    Just wanted to mention that the “For the Edible” sign meant to say “For Consumption on the Same Day”.


    PS Will be flying HKG to PVG in J and transiting to PVG to CDG in F in September – wish me the world of luck!!

  13. Lounge No 20 is not for business class passengers, and it’s way nicer than the regular business class lounges, which are very crowded, often very hot, and with terrible food and dirty restrooms. However, MU will allow you to use the showers in Lounge 20 even if you are just a business class passenger, which is nice after a long flight and if you’re connecting somewhere else. When I have to use a lounge in PVG I find the DL contract lounge on the upper level (Priority pass accessible) is often the best bet. While it’s crowded, the food is turned over frequently enough and it’s more convenient than the lounges on the lower level.

    The PVG terminal 1 experience is so terrible that Delta routinely hands out notes to Delta One passengers apologizing for the terminal experience upon boarding. T1 desperately needs an overhaul.

  14. Jeez, if that’s the best they can offer VIPs, I’d really hate to see the lounges for mere business class pax with no special connections!
    I read your reviews of Chinese airlines with a kind of schadenfreude. Better you than me! 😉
    (I live in HKG, anything but a mainland carrier)

  15. @Hamanka Lucky has always been very clear in pointing out that most of the US carriers’ lounges are well below international standards. He was holding China Eastern to the “international” level of service.

  16. The China Eastern central lounge is now open at Gate 36 near security at PVG. It’s quite nice and has a noodle bar with a chef making noodles to order. A big improvement over the old outdated lounges by the gates.

    The only issue was by about 10:00am the lounge was a bit crowded with no seating available. I was told they are remodeling the old lounges by the gates so hopefully long-term the overcrowding issue will be solved.

  17. Lucky I have been to PVG in October, same experience, BUT (!!!) I was there also during Christmas, and the central lounge is open and it’s gorgeous. Two floors, well divided into restaurant, lounge area, business corner etc. Showers are clean and spacious, food is so much better (there is one curiosity: “vegetarian chicken” HAHA). Definitely worth a try

  18. Not sure whether there are rotating food selections, however the sign in Chinese said that the food was to be consumed on the same day as preparation. Presumably the signs and the stickers are to let people know that the food laid out was freshly provided on that day.

  19. I just experienced the new centralized lounge on thursday. I guess it’s a matter of taste, but I found it a little cold, both temperature wise and regarding the general look and feel. The food was really good though. Maybe the best lounge food I’ve had.

  20. Can I access the new CE Plaza Premium lounge (using Diner’s Club card) in T2 even if my flight arrives in T1 & also departs from T1 a few hours later? Will I need to go through customs? (Not a problem visa-wise.) I have used this lounge but while using T1 and found it comfortable & more than adequate. Otherwise I can just risk it and go to Shanghai during my 7 hour stop.

  21. The business class cabin that most of us mere mortals get to use is about the same size, not as nice, and usually filled to the brim – typically with screaming children who run rampant. This is the VIP lounge, not the regular business class lounge. Trust me: if you fly out of Pudong T1, avoid the regular business class lounge like the plague. I always end up at the Starbucks at the north end of the terminal: it’s inevitably much quieter, much cleaner, and much friendlier.

  22. The food taste great! But the only problem is the lounge was too crowded .. too many people at the ground floor. Few of the massage chairs were down without maintenance.

  23. Does China eastern have an arrival lounge at PVG? I have a 12hr layover in Shanghai so was planning on leaving my cabin bags before touring the city

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