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Best carrier in Mainland China?
What do you think is the best Mainland Chinese carrier and why?
I’m thinking in terms of service, loyalty programmes, OTP, lounges etc. and which carriers are best for domestic vs international travel (regardless of specific routings).
I’m pretty sure no airline in Mainland China has a great loyalty program and/or lounge worth talking about.
I dont see anything special about domestic travel within China either. Sometimes you might get a widebody between CAN and PEK/PVG?
Internationally, Hainan and Xiamen seen to be pretty well regarded, according to Lucky.
The review of Xiamen’s lounge in Xiamen was the most impressive to me. Their 787-9 (or Hainan’s) seems to have the best hard product. Do some research on what CZ’s A380 does when it’s not flying to LAX, I’ve heard it sometimes flies to Beijing as well
Another option would just to avoid Chinese airlines as a whole and fly higher quality East Asian airlines from other countries, such as Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, etc. Don’t forget Hong Kong’s excellent Cathay Pacific as well. In my opinion, the better quality, safety, and passenger etiquette make the extra transfer worth it.
Which route are you looking to fly?
No mainland Chinese carrier is worth your time, especially in terms of service, lounges, and loyalty programs. I try to avoid them as much as I can.
If you have to fly in China I’d go with Xiamen or Hainan. China Eastern is sometimes decent too. Also If you have the option I’d recommend taking the high speed trains over flying
Chinese airlines are good only if you know the rules. Make sure you have some from of communication and plan accordingly. There are heavy aerospace restriction within the region, which causes lots of delay. Make sure you allocate at least 6 hours domestic to international etc.
Aside from service, they are all good in some way or form. Hainan and Xiamen have been praised and are pretty good. Although Lucky bashed on China Southern’s comical first class, I’ve flown them in Economy and Premium Econ and they are pretty good. I flew Air China as well (and the pilots didn’t smoke lol, there was one flight where on China Southern the pilot did). And then some other regionals like Shanghai and Juneyao (soon to fly Boeing 787s Internationally) that are fine as well. Just always note, delays are almost imminent.
Xiamen is a good airline. Their service might be subpar if you’re westerner, but if you speak any form of Chinese, enjoy traditional chinese food, don’t drink hard liquor, Xiamen offer a solid hard and soft product for transpacific business class and worth every single penny…
Their catering (chinese food) is way better than CX. Xiamen also has book the cook feature but only available in chinese website and outbound xiamen only.
The FA are very attentive even more so than BR and JL (surprising right).
They also provide free wifi on the B789.
Sure sometime the service is quirky and you’ll find it weird if you’re not Chinese, but hey, serving dates before flight and picking it with hand is also weird if you’re not from ME but people get used to it.
Almost all of mainland FF programs are useless. China eastern, china southern and xiamen are all skyteam. Air china is star alliance and the rest are not part of any alliance (CZ is moving to oneworld soon).
Xiamen lounge in XMN is decent and have plenty of (Chinese) food options, massage chair, showers, TV, nice lounge chairs and a good view of tarmac.
For domestic travel in China, I’d recommend high speed train business class (first class is actually lower class than business class). They’re more punctual and cost about the same as flying in first. But you need to be able to read chinese to reserve online. Crowd in train station can get overwhelming as well.
Business class will get you a flat seat with huge pitch. It is more quiet than airplane and you will have cell service. In business class, you’re like a king. No constant train announcement unlike the blaring sound that they kept on repeating in second or first class. You have your own attendant and most importantly the fellow passenger in business class are less rowdy in fact they’re usually empty. You also have spacious western toilet. Hands down better option than flying domestic if possible.