Review: Hainan Business Class 787 Los Angeles To Changsha

Filed Under: Hainan, Other Airlines

Hainan Airlines 7924
Los Angeles (LAX) – Changsha (CSX)
Monday, February 8
Depart: 12:35PM
Arrive: 7:20PM
Duration: 14hr45min
Aircraft: Boeing 787-8
Seat: 18A (Business Class)

I boarded through the second door on the left, where I was greeted by two of the flight attendants. Upon presenting my boarding pass they pointed me right towards the second business class cabin, where my seat was located.

Last week I wrote a post entitled “Chinese Airlines’ War On Cell Phones,” about the issues I had with taking pictures on this flight. I’ll mention it now so I don’t have to bring it up again in this review. Basically there was a language barrier with the crew, and they initially didn’t want me taking any pictures. Later it became clear that the policy was actually:

  • Cell phones aren’t allowed to be used on any Chinese airline, even when the phone is in airplane mode
  • The crew didn’t seem to want me taking any pictures of them, but was apparently fine with me pictures otherwise (it took a while till I was on the same page as the crew on this)

With that out of the way, let’s continue with the actual review.

Hainan’s 787 business class cabin consists of a total of 36 seats, spread across six rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. The first three rows are in the forward cabin, between doors one and two, while the other three rows are behind that cabin, separated by the business class lavatories.

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Hainan Airlines 787 business class cabin

I also quickly grabbed a picture of the economy cabin, which is in a tight 3-3-3 configuration. The tight economy cabin on the 787 is another reason I prefer the A350 to the 787.

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Hainan Airlines 787 economy cabin

Hainan’s 787 business class seats are fully flat and forward facing. There’s an ottoman at each seat which is attached to the seat in front of it, and then that ottoman becomes part of the bed when you put the seat into the fully flat position.

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Hainan Airlines 787 business class cabin

The legroom was quite generous, as the seats have 74″ of pitch. In other words, the seats were so far from the ottomans that you couldn’t really put your feet on them unless your seat was reclined.

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Hainan Airlines business class 787, row 18

I had assigned myself seat 18A, which is the window seat in the last row of business class. The aisle seat next to me was empty, so it was nice to have two seats to myself. I find it a bit odd that Hainan has alternating fabric on the left, center, and right seats. I get the concept of that in general, though it sort of looks cheap with how they did it, in my opinion, as if they ran out of fabric and decided to mix things up. I think it would look better if there was more contrast between the varying fabrics, rather than just minor variations.

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Hainan Airlines business class 787, seats 18A & 18C

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Hainan Airlines business class 787, seats 18A & 18C

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Hainan Airlines business class seat

One great thing about the ottoman was that there was storage below it, so you could use it to store your shoes, laptop, etc.

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Hainan Airlines business class ottoman

The seat controls were located on the center armrest between seats, and were easy to use. The controls were nice and versatile, so you could easily adjust just one aspect of the seat’s position, if desired.

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Hainan Airlines business class seat controls

Below the center armrest was the entertainment controller, as well as a water bottle holder.

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Hainan Airlines business class 787 entertainment controls

Then behind that was a 110v adapter as well as a USB port.

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Hainan Airlines business class USB & 110v outlet

On the front side of the center console was a storage unit, where the headphones were stored in a pouch.

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Hainan Airlines business class headphone holder

The headphones were fine, though nothing special. Certainly not the Bose headphones which American even offers in business class.

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Hainan Airlines business class headphones

Once I was settled in, one of the flight attendants came by my seat to introduce herself by name and offer me a pre-departure beverage. I was impressed by the way she introduced herself, which was a nice touch.

Unfortunately Hainan doesn’t serve any alcohol pre-departure. Instead the choice was between orange juice, apple juice, and water. I was also offered a warm towel and some mixed nuts.

I was impressed that Hainan offers nuts on the ground in business class, which is something you don’t often see. At the same time I couldn’t help but wonder what their nut budget was, because my ramekin had 10 nuts in it. And that wasn’t a fluke. The flight attendant offered me the nuts off a tray with a handful of ramekins, and they all had a similar number of nuts.

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Hainan Airlines business class pre-departure beverage, hot towel, and nuts

Shortly thereafter I was offered an amenity kit, to complement the slippers which were already waiting for me at my seat.

I was also asked if I wanted pajamas. I said “yes, large ones would be great.” She looked at me and said “mmm, I think extra large would be better for you.” I was sort of like:


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Hainan Airlines business class pajamas & slippers

The slippers were decent quality, and even had the airline’s name on them, which you don’t see that often.

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Hainan Airlines business class slippers

The amenity kit was well stocked, and featured BVLGARI amenities, which I’m a fan of. The amenity kit had a toothbrush, comb, earplugs, eyeshades, socks, and a few BVLGARI goodies.

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Hainan Airlines business class amenity kit

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Hainan Airlines business class pajamas

The pajamas were rather… imperial looking. I ended up only putting on the pants, and kept on my hoodie. For what it’s worth, I’m happy she recommended XL pajamas, because even the XL pants were barely long enough.

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Hainan Airlines business class pajamas

The pajamas specifically came with a card indicating you can take them home (as you’d expect).

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Hainan Airlines business class pajamas description

A few minutes later the flight attendant came by to offer me the menu and beverage list for the flight.

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Hainan Airlines menu & wine list

Boarding was pretty quick, given that the flight was less than half full. I looked out the window for a while, as an Air Canada 767 pushed back from the gate next to us, and a Qatar Airways 777 pulled into the gate.

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Air Canada 767 LAX

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Qatar Airways 777 LAX

As boarding finished up I ran into Eric Rosen from The Points Guy, so I’m sure you’ll see his review shortly as well. He ended up sitting in the two center seats across from me, given that the cabin was fairly empty. There were a total of seven people in the 18-seat rear business class cabin.

At 12:15PM the door to the cabin closed, 20 minutes ahead of our scheduled 12:35PM departure. At this point the captain came on the PA to make his welcome aboard announcement. I was amused when I realized he was either from the US or Canada, based on his accent (I had also seen him in the gate area, though didn’t know whether he was European, American, or what).

He informed us of our flight time of 13hr35min, and anticipated we would be landing in Changsha on schedule.

After doing some research it seems like Hainan Airlines has a lot of ex-pat pilots. They seem to promote their ex-pat pilot program pretty heavily in this beyond-cringeworthy video:

At 12:20PM the safety video played, which was Peking-opera themed:

I found the video to be extremely amusing.

At 12:25PM we began our pushback, after waiting for a few minutes for traffic in the alley to clear.

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Cathay Pacific 777 LAX

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Pushing back LAX

As we started our engines I noticed two Japan Airlines planes taxiing right behind one another, including the 787 headed to Osaka and then the 777 headed to Tokyo Narita. It’s not often you see an airline’s only two daily flights taxi right behind one another to a runway.

Two JAL planes at LAX

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Japan Airlines 787 LAX

We taxied out to runway 24L behind the Japan Airlines 777, which was just taking off. One of the great things about terminal 2 at LAX is that it’s right by runway 24L, so the taxi takes just a couple of minutes.

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Japan Airlines 777 LAX

At 12:35PM we were holding short of runway 24L and immediately cleared for takeoff. You can’t beat already being airborne at your scheduled departure time!

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Taxiing onto runway LAX

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Taking off LAX

Our takeoff roll felt quite long for a 787.

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Taking off from Los Angeles

It was especially awesome to sit by the window and see just how much the 787’s wing flexes as you begin your climb out.

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View after takeoff from Los Angeles

Our route after takeoff from LAX was odd, as we climbed out over the Pacific and then turned east to fly inland, which had me concerned for a moment, as I covered in a recent post.

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View after takeoff from Los Angeles

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Strange flight path after departing from Los Angeles

Eventually our path normalized and we flew along the California coastline.

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Flying along the California coast

Shortly after takeoff the cabin manager, Richard, came on the PA to add his welcome aboard. This flight had about four or five male cabin crew, which is the first time I’ve seen that on a Chinese airline. Maybe I just haven’t been very observant, but I don’t ever recall seeing a male cabin crew on a Chinese airline before, so I found that to be noteworthy.

It took about 20 minutes before the seatbelt sign was turned off. That seemed like a long time for an Asian carrier, but then I realized we had an American pilot. Every time we had even the slightest bump the seatbelt sign was turned back on. It was an exceptionally smooth flight, but the seatbelt sign must have briefly been turned on about 20 times during the flight. That wouldn’t be a big deal, except Hainan must have the loudest seatbelt signs I’ve heard on any airline.

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Cabin after takeoff from Los Angeles

As we climbed out I played with the 787’s window dimmers a bit. The 787 doesn’t have window shades, but rather has windows which “dim.” I’m not a huge fan of these, since you can’t make the cabin completely dark. There are five settings you can choose from, but even the darkest doesn’t have the same effect as a window blind.

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787 window dimmers

After takeoff I checked out the plane’s lavatories. The two main lavs for business class are between the two business class cabins, just in front of the main entry door. There’s also another lavatory up near the cockpit, though the mid-cabin ones are more conveniently located.

The lavatories weren’t huge, though were always immaculately clean (the crew did a great job with that, to the point that they creased the edge of the toilet paper frequently) and had BVLGARI amenities, which was a nice touch.

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Hainan 787 business class lavatory

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Hainan 787 business class lavatory BVLGARI toiletries

When I got back to my seat I checked out the entertainment selection. It was a bit better than I was expecting, but still not as good as what you’ll find on other airlines. There were only about five different comedy TV shows to choose from, though they had several episodes of each. There were also a couple dozen movies, though not really many Blockbuster hits.

That’s not a big deal to me since I don’t watch much TV, and when I do, I’m happy to bring my own shows on my iPad.

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Hainan Airlines entertainment options

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Hainan Airlines entertainment options

About 25 minutes after takeoff a flight attendant came around the cabin to take meal orders. She kneeled as she got to my seat.

“Hi, this is Maria. I am the purser. How may I address you?”
“Ben, please.”
“Okay Mr. Big Ben, I call you.”

Maria was lovely. While there was a communication barrier, she was extremely charming and willing to go out of her comfort zone a bit, which I appreciate. We talked for a few minutes, and I asked how she enjoyed her layover in LA. She said it was her first time visiting LA and she loved it. They had four nights there, and she visited Universal Studios, Disneyland, and Catalina. Goodness, she had quite a packed schedule!

The crew was Beijing based, so the way they “work” this trip is that they fly from Beijing to Changsha as passengers, spend the night, then the next day fly from Changsha to Los Angeles. Then after a 3-4 day layover (since the flight is only 2x weekly) they fly from Los Angeles to Changsha, and then are deadheaded back from Changsha to Beijing. Sounds like a cushy trip, minus the return, which sounds exhausting.

Maria took my meal order, and also asked if I wanted to be woken up before landing for the snack (I told her I’d be awake, but to please wake me if I am sleeping).

The menu introduction read as follows:

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The menu read as follows:

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And the beverage list read as follows:

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To start off I had a glass of champagne. Hainan serves Mumm, which is much better than what China Southern serves in first class. The champagne was served with a few hot snacks.

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Hainan business class champagne & snacks

After that Maria set my table, which she did with great care.

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Hainan business class table setting

I was impressed that Hainan offers a personal breadbasket in business class, which contained garlic bread, crostinis, a wheat roll, and a white roll.

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Hainan business class breadbasket

The butter was even in the shape of a flower.

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Hainan business class butter

Along with the table setting I was also offered a warm towel.

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Hainan business class hot towel

For the first course I ordered the shrimp with couscous and mango salsa.

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Hainan business class starter — seared shrimp with couscous salad and mango salsa

It was delicious. I was impressed by the presentation and taste. It was really well done.

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Hainan business class starter — seared shrimp with couscous salad and mango salsa

Next I ordered the creamy soup of asparagus puree, which was also tasty. I thought the presentation was great, because when it was placed on my tray it still had a lid on, which was removed at that point. Very impressive, and the taste and temperature were great as well.

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Hainan business class starter — creamy soup of asparagus puree

Since Eric was seated across from me and ordered differently, I also snapped a picture of his pork bouillon with watercress and red dates.

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Hainan business class starter — pork bouillon with watercress and red dates

After that I was served a small salad.

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Hainan business class salad — garden mesclun salad with balsamic dressing

For the main course I had the salmon, which was exceptional. Perfect presentation, taste, and temperature. It was one of the best main courses I’ve had in business class on any airline.

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Hainan business class main course — seared Alaskan salmon in herb creamy sauce

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Hainan business class main course — seared Alaskan salmon in herb creamy sauce

Meanwhile Eric went with the Chinese option, which looked great as well.

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Hainan business class main course — roasted spare ribs in soy sauce

After the main courses were cleared the dessert trolley was rolled around, which had ice cream, cake, and then a cheese board. I asked if I could try a little bit of everything (just so I could get pictures, of course), which they were more than happy to accommodate.

Maria even joked “it will make a good picture,” as she saw I was taking pictures of all the food.

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Hainan business class dessert — cake, ice cream, cheese, and fruit

To finish off the meal I had a cappuccino which was tasty, and also had a beautiful design on it.

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Hainan business class cappuccino

The meal was done less than two hours into the flight. I was so impressed by the meal, in terms of the quality of food and service. The food was exceptionally good for business class, and the service was extremely attentive, especially from Maria.

But what impressed me most was that after the meal one of the flight attendants walked around the cabin with gloves picking crumbs off the floor. Never before have I seen that on any airline in any class. Amazing!

After the meal, arrival cards for China were distributed.

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China arrival card

As this point we were out over the Pacific, just northwest of Seattle.

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Airshow enroute to China

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Airshow enroute to China

I asked to have my bed made since I was quite tired. Maria took care of the turndown service quickly and with amazing care. I’ve never seen someone put so much effort into making a bed, as she made sure every crease was perfect.

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Hainan Airlines business class bed

While I’m not a huge fan of the Hainan seat itself (though it’s nice if you have an empty seat next to you), the bedding was top notch. The seat had two plush pillows (perhaps the best I’ve had on any airline) and a thick blanket.

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Hainan Airlines business class bed

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Hainan Airlines business class bed

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Hainan Airlines business class bed

I was also given a bottle of water along with the turndown service.

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Bottled water with turndown service

While I would have liked to sleep all the way to Changsha, unfortunately I wasn’t so lucky, and woke up after a couple of hours.

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Airshow enroute to China

As I headed to the lavatory I noticed that the crew had set up some snacks in the mid-galley, including fresh fruit, cheese, chips, cookies, etc.

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Galley snack setup on Hainan Airlines

Since I couldn’t sleep I decided to get some work done on my laptop. I was extremely impressed that the crew kept passing through the cabin every 10-15 minutes, even though the cabin was less than half full and most passengers were sleeping. They also paid close attention each time they walked by, and when they noticed my water bottle was mostly empty they’d always bring me a new one.

I worked for a couple of hours, at which point I was offered a mid-flight snack. The snack menu read as follows:


I ordered the wonton noodles with shrimp dumplings, which were delicious. Hainan gets high marks for nailing both Asian and Western cuisine.

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Hainan Airlines business class snack — Cantonese wonton noodles with shrimp dumplings

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Hainan Airlines business class snack — Cantonese wonton noodles with shrimp dumplings

I worked for several more hours, with the occasional glance out the window to enjoy the scenery below.

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View enroute to Changsha

I also looked through the inflight magazine and noticed some Hainan-branded stuff which looked cool, including a Hainan pilot teddy bear. Upon inquiring about duty free sales I was informed they don’t offer them on this flight, since duty free is only loaded on flights to/from Beijing. Bummer!

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Airshow enroute to Changsha

I should also note that while it didn’t bother me too much, there were a lot of screaming babies on this flight. The bassinet seats in business class seem to be in the first row of the rear business class cabin, and then the first row of economy also has bassinets. So I felt like I had crying babies in surround sound at times, being seated between the two bassinet rows.

I finally managed to get in a solid nap about three hours before landing, and upon waking up the meal service began.

The pre-arrival menu read as follows:


Maria first came around with a tray consisting of apple juice, orange juice, and grapefruit juice. As I was going to grab am apple juice, she recommended I try the grapefruit juice instead, since it was the only one which was freshly squeezed. Good tip!

I was also offered a warm towel, and ordered a coffee.

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Hainan Airlines business class pre-arrival meal — juice, coffee, and hot towel

This time I went with the Asian offering, which started with some dumplings.

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Hainan Airlines business class pre-arrival starter

The main course consisted of stir-friend eu foo noodles with beef, and was really tasty.

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Hainan Airlines business class pre-arrival meal — stir-friend eu foo noodles with beef

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Hainan Airlines business class pre-arrival meal — stir-friend eu foo noodles with beef

It was also served with a variety of accompaniments.

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Hainan Airlines business class pre-arrival meal accompaniments

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Hainan Airlines business class pre-arrival meal accompaniments — Chinese clear soup

Finally for dessert I was offered some fresh fruit.

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Hainan Airlines business class pre-arrival dessert — fresh fruit

And then I was offered a cappuccino to finish off the meal, which featured yet another type of “art” on it.

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Hainan Airlines business class cappuccino

About 30 minutes before landing the captain came back on the PA with updated arrival information, informing us we’d touch down in Changsha at 6:15PM, about an hour before our scheduled arrival time.

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Airshow approaching Changsha

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Airshow approaching Changsha

We approached right as the sun was setting, which made for some beautiful views.

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Sunset while on approach into Changsha

As we made a turn to line up with the runway, I could view the sunset exclusively through one window on the other side of the cabin, which made for an equally gorgeous view.

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Sunset while on approach into Changsha

Sure enough we had a smooth touchdown in in Changsha at around 6:15PM.

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Final approach into Changsha

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Touchdown in Changsha

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Touchdown in Changsha

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Taxiing Changsha Airport

Our taxi to the gate took about 10 minutes. Changsha Airport was bigger than I expected, and we pulled into a gate next to a Hainan 737.

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Changsha Airport terminal

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Changsha Airport terminal

The walk to immigration was quick, and once there I was through in a matter of minutes.

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Changsha Airport arrivals hall

The downside to arriving an hour early is that my chauffeur wasn’t yet there. I couldn’t find a single person from Hainan Airlines who spoke English, including the Hainan representative in the arrivals hall who had a sign (in English) reading “Transfer Help.” So I hung around in the terminal, and sure enough a guy showed up with a sign that had my name on it about 30 minutes later. He didn’t speak a word of English either, though drove me to my hotel in an Mercedes E-Class in about 45 minutes.

Hainan Airlines business class bottom line

Going in, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Hainan Airlines. They’re a 5-star Skytrax airline, though I never could make sense of the system. So my expectations of Hainan were pretty low, and I wasn’t expecting them to be materially better than Air China or China Southern, for example.

Well, I was extremely pleasantly surprised by Hainan’s soft product — the food was exceptional, the service friendly and attentive (even if there was a language barrier), the pillow and blanket among the best I’ve had, etc.

However, the seat certainly isn’t ideal. On this flight it worked well since I had an empty seat next to me, but if I had someone sitting next to me I wouldn’t have enjoyed the flight as much. I always say “business class is all about the seat,” and that’s an area where Hainan lags, in my opinion.

Still, all things considered, Hainan business class exceeded my expectations. If they had reverse herringbone seats, I’d say it’s a world class business class product.

How does Hainan business class compare to what you were expecting?

  1. So would you say they’ve earned that 5 star rating, or not quite yet? I noticed you stopped short of answering that directly (even though no one know how their ratings work).

  2. How is it that if a Caucasian move and live abroad (usually to a non-predominantly Caucasian country) , s/he is called an “ex-pat”, but if a non-Caucasian people do the same s/he usually referred to as an “immigrant”.

    Can somebody explain that?

  3. Color me impressed. Extensive beverage selection, flat seats–which could even be ideal for someone like me who likes being close to their wife, and a killer soft product? It looks like my favorite Chinese carrier to date! Now if only they could figure out their lounges…

  4. “The tight economy cabin on the 787 is another reason I prefer the A350 to the 787.”

    What does this matter to you Lucky?? You never fly economy class.

  5. Hey Ben,

    Awesome review as always. I just love reading all this reports. The blog out there.
    I noticed that some of the pictures have the wrong subtitles eg. the ottoman subtitle shows the soup.

    Cheers from Cape Town

  6. The seats may not be ideal for a solo traveler, but I would certainly much prefer this kind of seat over a herringbone seat if traveling with someone.

  7. Hainan airlines needs to pay you for this. Lol i figure they earned (a lot of) free publicity by actually selling you “cheap” fare. I start to picture some angry passengers with too high of an expectation already.

  8. @David
    As someone of an Asian ethnic background, I feel qualified to answer the question. But there are reasons for that. For one, many non-Caucasians tend to migrate to other countries on a more permanent basis. On the other hand, Caucasians have traditionally been highly skilled workers that lived outside their home countries. Of course, this scale has been tipped with low skilled/low payed Caucasian workers in Asian countries teaching English and highly educated Asians in Western countries, but it still stands. My parents have been in China on a Western pay package, with all the traditional frills associated with it and as a result hold the title of ‘expat’.

  9. @David An immigrant generally intends to make their new home in the new country and not return, usually gaining citizenship. An ex-pat is usually just going somewhere else to work, but generally not take up citizenship. It has nothing to do with color or race, but it is generally tied to country of origin, since Americans, Western Europeans, Australians generally aren’t going somewhere else to take up citizenship and a new life since the citizenship they have is perfectly good and the country of origin is developed/first world. Those are usually ex-pats, going somewhere else for a job opportunity. It’s not universal, though. Nobody calls my family Italian ex-pats here in the US. They’re immigrants, they came over on immigrant visas, got green cards/citizenship, and never intended to return to Italy. It’s not racist, and there’s no need to allude to it.

  10. I think those are the exact same seats that AI uses for J in their 787s. I was surprised by how comfortable they were.

  11. I wish they could get one of their ex-pat pilots to proofread the description for the Coppola wine. What a mess of inaccuracies and poor syntax not commensurate with a “5-star airline.”

    The devil is in the details, and based on your very insightful review, I think Hainan is a passable option but not a top notch carrier.

  12. “Maybe I just haven’t been very observant, but I don’t ever recall seeing a male cabin crew on a Chinese airline before, so I found that to be noteworthy.

    It took about 20 minutes before the seatbelt sign was turned off.”

    These statements show that you have no idea about that part of the world – at all. Spare us with this unadultered hogwash and keep on reviewing the anglo-saxon world from your anglo-saxon point of view..

  13. Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice! I’m in love.

    As for the issue of male cabin crews on Chinese carriers: very recently I saw some sort of advertisement for Xiamen Airlines that featured an exclusively young & handsome male crew. Maybe the ad (the copy was entirely in Chinese) was for a flight to China’s equivalent of Provincetown.

    This Hainan review has now made me even more curious about China Eastern’s first class product on the 777. Could it really be as luxurious as MU’s promos make it out to be?? If only there was a person with the ability to try it out and write a post about the experience….sigh!

    Seriously, OMAAT has been kicking it. I’ve been loving the diversity of the posts.

  14. Gotta say – Im impressed, especially with the food

    @lucky Im looking forward to all these new airline reviews this year – I think cost will soon become a significant factor in your opinions – well more than ever by the end of 2016.

  15. Hey Ben,

    Just wanted to give you a heads up, don’t be surprised if you see more and more American or Western pilots with Chinese carriers as that’s where pilots seem to be flocking as they are paying more than elsewhere.

    Just a tip! 😉

  16. I know you usually focus on the flights/hotels and not so much on the destination (which makes sense since theres hundreds of blogs out there about ‘what to do in Tokyo’ and such.

    That said, I bet most of us had never even heard of Changsa prior to your blog and there isnt much in the way of tourist info on the city. I think we’d all love to get a sense of the city from your perspective.

  17. @imperator I flew China eastern J a little over a year ago and it was a similar experience with maybe a little less polish , although food was good and service was exceptionally warm and friendly. I would imagine first would be even better.

    I’d love to see a review of Sichhuan airlines J as they often have some great fares from down here in Melbourne.

  18. Gee, Tom, are you always so rude? A lot of we “anglos” appreciate Lucky’s perspective on decidedly non-anglo experiences. Sorry about the multi-ethnic bug up your ass.

  19. Interesting review, and the food looks great!

    On the whole “ex-pat” thing, in my experience the term is usually applied to anyone who lives outside their country of citizenship, either for work or retirement, but who don’t intend to take out citizenship. An “immigrant” is someone who moves with the intention of making their destination their permanent home, usually intending to become a citizen or at least a permanent resident.

    I worked for a major European bank, we had staff from our Tokyo and Hong Kong offices who took extended assignments in New York or London, and they were referred to as “ex-pats” just like their western counterparts.

    Is it just me, or has the number of commenters looking for things to take offence about gone up dramatically recently?

  20. So you’re basically not a fan of Turkish anymore, since aren’t those the same seats they have?

    “for what it’s worth, I’m happy she recommended XL pajamas”

    What, no gif of a Real Housewife laughing back at someone who incorrectly gave them side eye? 😉

  21. Really impressive. I agree with others that if traveling with someone this seems like a top business class option.

    I am curious though whether non-bloggers will have the same experience. 1) not wanting any crew in pics, 2) servicing the bathroom after each visit, 3) and picking up crumbs during the flight all give me pause their non-standard, and your flight had not one but two bloggers onboard. If non-blogger reviews echo those moves though, along with the cappuccino art, honest drink recommendations, expert plating of the soup and main, etc., I’m definitely going to consider myself a fan.

  22. Seats look the same (other than fabric colour) as China Southern A330.

    On China Southern they serve pre-departure alcohol except for flights departing from USA. Perhaps it is the same for Hainan? (BTW CZ F food & beverage has improved quite a bit since you flew them, although still not yet at the level of CX/SQ etc.)

  23. You should take it as a compliment when they tell you that you need a bigger pajama…that means they think you are a strong guy with lots of muscles!

  24. @Sunrise089 – I flew them a couple days ago and agree with Ben’s review. However, since I don’t take pictures of my coffee, I didn’t get a smily face. I was given Champagne before takeoff in Changsha but not in LA. For those that care, I use the baby changing table while changing from street clothes to pajamas which is only in the restrooms on the left side of BC. The restrooms were kept immaculate so just before landing, it was clean (no wet-sticky floor) as is often the case with 14 hour flights.

  25. Thanks for this review, Ben, and for uncovering this particular flight for us. We’re now looking forward to our own trip more than ever.

  26. Nice report Ben, thanks!

    It’s hilarious that they define Detroit-born Francis Ford Coppola an “Italian director”!

  27. “These statements show that you have no idea about that part of the world – at all. Spare us with this unadultered hogwash and keep on reviewing the anglo-saxon world from your anglo-saxon point of view..”

    @Tom – this is a blog and here to present his point of view. What other point of view is he supposed to have? If you don’t want to read it, then go somewhere else sheesh.

  28. The expat pilot promotional video made my day. I watched all the 12 minutes. My aspirations have changed. Thank you.

  29. The hard product looks almost identical to TK. Having flown TK from IST – HKG before on the 77W, it didn’t suck but there are far better options in Business out there (CX and AA reverse herringbone for instance). However, for the money you paid on a roundtrip here, this certainly doesn’t look like a bad option. How easy would it be get from Changsha to say Beijing? Are there easy connections still available at the evening arrival time of the LAX flight? Is there a train option perhaps?

    “The pajamas specifically came with a card indicating you can take them home (as you’d expect).”

    Can you imagine if airlines re-used the PJs? GROSS! Pillows and duvets/bedding is bad enough sometimes. I always wonder how well all of that stuff is cleaned and sanitized (from what I’ve heard from crew, not very well in most cases).

  30. Good to know the car fiasco was just the fact you were early. I figured the transportation part would make it much easier for my first time heading to a country where no one speaks english (maybe ill find some at Hooligans Pub which is an expat hang out) As long as I can get to my hotel i’m good on my own. I usually travel to the easier places where english is easy to come by like Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali, Australia. This will be a great experience for me.

  31. Great review – i just confirmed a booking on Hainan ORD-PEK-BKK in business thanks to your review – the price was amazing and I was very concerned/skeptical about the quality but this review put me at ease. To the earlier comment that Hainan should pay you for this, I completely agree… but maybe that would bias your review ;).

    Thanks again for the detailed info!


  32. How would you compare this to EVA business class? Flying back to BKK in December. Was very pleased with EVA, but wanted to try something different.

  33. @lucky when are you going to try out hainan’s new reverse herringbone seats?

  34. Thanks for the Hainan staff video – it’s great!

    What with the awkward ‘spontaneous’ conversations, the crappy subtitling and the Austrian guy basically complaining about th3 job, it’s hard to pick a favorite part. If foreced however, it would possibly have to be the pilot checking the aircraft pre-flight with the backing track lyrics talking about being an ‘irresponsible’ and ‘unreliable’ guy.

    The comic value combined with the pretty impressive service really makes me want to fly them!

  35. I’m a million-miler on UA and that much on other airlines internationally. This is the most thorough, and one of the most readable, reviews I’ve read. Thanks for it. I stumble upon it whilst search for a BOS-PVG trip in C.

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