I’m excited to share this review of Juneyao Airlines since they recently joined Star Alliance as a connecting partner. I bought my flight for roughly $100, which was by far the cheapest in the market. The fare included 20kg of luggage, which seems to be the standard across most Chinese carriers. One word of caution: Juneyao Airlines’ English website is by far the worst airline website I have EVER used. It requires you to create an account to make a booking, the English translations are laughable and there is no way to manage your booking online after it has been confirmed.
So, after checking in and heading through security at Hong Kong Airport, I took a shuttle train to the new satellite terminal, where Juneyao’s A320 was parked.
Juneyao Air HO1306
Hong Kong (HKG) – Shanghai (PVG)
Duration: 2hr 30mins
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 20A (Economy Class)
The boarding announcements were barely understandable, but eventually they started letting people onboard.
The interior of the aircraft was interesting. Their business class looked fine, though not nearly as comfortable as on the A330 Shanghai Airlines uses between the two cities.
Economy was colorful, perhaps a tad over the top for my taste.
The pillow kind of grossed me out. It looked like it hadn’t been cleaned for a long time. I don’t even think the pillow cover could be removed…
A lot of passengers also asked for blankets, which the crew gladly delivered.
Boarding was extremely efficient. Before the crew announcements started, loud boarding music was being played on repeat. When the crew came on the PA, I unfortunately couldn’t understand a word of what they were saying. How come all of the good local English speakers (who are sometimes almost fluent) in Shanghai work at the tourist markets, while the airlines are left with people who can barely say hello?
We pushed back right on schedule and had a quick taxi to the runway before taking off.
I was determined to watch Desperate Housewives (my new obsession) this flight. All was fine until the person in front of me reclined their seat. Similar to my flight on Shanghai Airlines, the recline was too generous to be comfortable for the passenger seated behind. My laptop was almost folded as the seat came down. I wouldn’t count on being able to get any work done in Juneyao’s economy. There wasn’t any Wi-Fi anyway.
When the meal service began I realized that communication would be a serious issue. Between the crew’s limited English, and my Chinese for that matter, it was almost impossible to place my order.
There was a choice between chicken with rice and beef with noodles. Since I don’t eat chicken or beef, I asked for a tray with only sides. The passengers surrounding me and the flight attendant looked at me in absolute shock.
My tray came with two side dishes and a blueberry muffin. The food quality was surprisingly impressive and I enjoyed the little food I received.
When the crew came around for a second beverage service, I asked if they had any side dishes or muffins left. He looked at me and said something in Chinese. I asked again in different wording and he continued to look bewildered by my request. Finally, he aggressively said, “no, no more meals for you!”
I continued watching my show on my half-folded laptop until we started descending. Around 40 minutes before arrival the same flight attendant came by asking everyone to put their tray tables and seat backs in the upright position. That was fine since I could continue to watch the show. Five minutes later he came up to me and said “turn it off.” I didn’t want to argue so began closing my tabs and he started yelling “no, turn off computer.” We hadn’t even begun our descent at this point.
Luckily, I had a nice wing-view to entertain me for the rest of the ride. We touched down smoothly at 2:15pm followed by a long taxi to the gate.
When I left the aircraft I noticed a group of men inspecting our left landing gear. Hmmm….
Overall, I’d say Juneyao is better than Shanghai Airlines or China Eastern. However, this was still one of the least pleasant flights I’ve had in my life. The communication barrier made the service seem very stern, and while I noticed raising your voice is quite common around Shanghai, it doesn’t translate very well onboard an airplane. At the price I paid, I’d recommend flying with them, but beware that the experience may not be all that nice.