Shanghai Airlines’ New 787 Features First Class & Business Class Suites With Doors!!!

Filed Under: China Eastern, Other Airlines

This caught me completely off guard. I had no clue that Shanghai Airlines (which is a wholly owned subsidiary of China Eastern) was taking delivery of Boeing 787s, though I also can’t say I was paying that much attention. What’s much more surprising is the onboard product they’re introducing — Shanghai Airlines will have international first class on the 787 (which they don’t currently have, even though this is a really weird one), and they’ll have business class suites with doors.

Thanks to Kid in the Ask Lucky forum for the heads up on this. There’s not much out there about this yet, as Shanghai Airlines has just revealed this on their Weibo account, and I don’t see anything in English about this yet.

Here’s what I’ve gathered, based on what was explained in the Ask Lucky forum, and based on some (possibly) bad use of Google Translate on my part:

  • Shanghai Airlines is expected to take delivery of their first Boeing 787-9 in June 2018
  • The 787-9 will feature 285 seats, including four first class seats, 26 business class seats, 28 premium economy seats, and 227 economy seats
  • The plane will initially operate domestic routes, but will eventually be based out of Shanghai and operate flights to Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia (it doesn’t look like they have longhaul aspirations as of now)

Are you ready for pictures of their cabins? This is really interesting and sort of strange. First let me just outright post the pictures, and then I’ll share my thoughts:

You might say “where’s the first class cabin?” Look carefully, it’s the first row in the first cabin picture above. Apparently Shanghai Airlines won’t have a divider between first class and business class, which is just plain strange. But as you can see, it’s a different product, and the TV monitors are much bigger. Apparently they plan to use the same first class product that Malaysia Airlines has on their A350, which is a modified Vantage seat.

Malaysia Airlines’ new A350 first class

Meanwhile in business class it looks like Shanghai Airlines is copying the Delta One Suites, which are modified Vantage XL seats with doors. It’s interesting that they’ll have such an impressive product when they primarily plan on using the plane on routes that aren’t that long. It’s also an interesting choice since Shanghai Airlines is owned by China Eastern, and Delta has a stake in China Eastern, so…

Delta’s new business class suites on the A350

While we’ll have to wait for more details, does this also mean that first class doesn’t have doors, while business class does? Hmmmm…

Thanks very much to the Ask Lucky commenter for the info on this new cabin. Absolutely fascinating. As an airplane product geek, this is now the new interior I’m most curious to see fully revealed, because I have a lot of questions.

  1. They dont have that hideous shoulder seat belt which Delta has.

    I don’t understand the obsession with ‘doors’…what do you need to hide behind s ‘door’?

  2. I doubt if Shanghai Airlines will operate a three-cabin service on their 787s. Looks to me it’d be more likely that they offer the first row as a “premium business class” product, with only seats being upgraded but service remains the same: Asiana has been doing so on the ICN-ORD route and some intra-Asia routes operated by their three-cabin 744s; most Chinese airlines would do this as well when running three-cabin planes on some domestic flights. Not to mention that United had ran a similar concept called “Global Business First” for decades šŸ˜‰

    If I recalled correctly, Shanghai Airlines had once flown PVG-MEL with 330s from China Eastern, and currently their longest route is a seasonal PVG-MLE, complementing MU’s 3-weekly service during the peak season. I guess they’d eventually put these 787s on some Oceania routes, and it’d be nice if they can start some new routes there like PVG-PER, PVG-OOL, and even PVG-CNS

  3. I would put this down to a cultural requirement – they have to have a way of at least showing they treat a certain small number of passengers above the rest, even if economically (ie creating a whole cabin) makes no sense.

  4. but you’ll still be able to smell that captain’s cigarette smoke.

    In general I think the doors are kind of gimmicky but oddly enough I feel like I actually do sleep better in the suites with doors.

    I agree that this largely seems like a waste on such short routes. Maybe they’re going to lease it out to somebody with longhaul routes.

  5. @Z Asiana does operate a “first class” cabin on its 747s, although I would suggest that it’s mainly a financial decision given that they’re going to be retired soon and it’s not worth reconfiguring the cabin on planes that are near the coke can stage of their lives.

    It’s still odd to see something that Shanghai Airlines is suggesting in its Weibo message. Not sure what service level they’ll offer the first row, but it’s still quite odd to see a different quality seat not curtianed off at least. One possibility is that they will use the same toilets for business and “first”?

    You’re also correct that FM operated flights to MEL (not sure whether they were actual FM flights or just MU flights operated by FM, but it was definitely an FM liveried plane pulling up to the gate at MEL). Would make little sense to fit out a plane with such a business class product and only ever fly it as far as Japan or Hong Kong.

  6. @Sandra I agree. I have flown first class suite with a door and guess what? Anyone taller than 5ft walking by could look right in on me. The “privacy” aspect has gotten so ridiculous that it’s to the point where why even leave the house? Lock yourself in a closet with a bottle of champagne, that’s as private as it gets.

  7. Wow a four class 789. Though I think separate F and C would make the first class row super unfriendly to claustrophobic ppl…

  8. Never flow first or business class, but after seeing those images it’s definitely something I must do. It’s like having your own little private room in the air, instead of being 10cm away from the next passenger. Great article by the way šŸ™‚

  9. While it may seem odd to have four F seats like this, it actually makes sense. The Vantage XL seat used in J is staggered, so that the seats have a pitch of 45 in. but a bed length of 79 in (per the manufacturer). But the front row has to be longer than 45 in., because there are no seats to stagger with in front. So, some airlines have turned those four seats into a mini-F cabin. These seats have the length of a traditional F suite, but the seat will be narrower, because they are still staggered to the rear with the second row (first row of J).

  10. @Lucky, from your picture of the MH A350 F, it looks like it does have doors? From what you posted, I don’t see why this wouldn’t.

    Also, KE 787-9 uses the same product for F and J, with the F seat being just a little longer. Now, they do have a divider…

  11. Looks like the premium economy is the same as Delta’s on A350.
    Regarding to the relationship between MU and FM, it is somewhat similar to CX and KA’s. MU operates international route from PVG while FM operates internationally route from SHA. They both operate domestic routes and FM get separate slots. MU and FM used to wet lease each other but now they have unified operation so it’s possible that FM 787 can be used for MU’s long haul in the future. Also 787 is intended to replace FM’s old 767-300 and ER which are leaving the fleet this year and they are used on these short haul routes right now.

  12. @ Tom

    Perhaps not every passenger has the same feelings as you?

    Airlines are competing. Different products mean more chance of each of us getting to choose exactly the set-up we prefer. The vast majority of the worldā€™s airlines donā€™t have doors, so you have maximum choice. But a handful of airlines now offer doors, so those of us who prefer more privacy can choose to fly on those airlines.

    Why do you not think thatā€™s a great solution? Or does the whole world have to be organised around your personal preferences, while everything that does not conform to those is ridiculous?

  13. @Lucky

    More update on this:

    This article is from a Shanghai news reporter working for Shanghai Morning Post who is also a famous aviation blogger. In this article according to his source in China Eastern and Shanghai Airlines, they claimed that Shanghai Airlines might name the first row as “Premium Business Class”. And they decided not to put the divider because it can make the whole cabin looks more spacious.

  14. This is really China Eastern’s purchase. China Eastern has unified operations of Shanghai Airlines. It is basically one airline operating as two including that of uniforms, service, operations, etc. With the new Beijing airport coming and the possible alliance shifts southern China, it shall be interesting due to the tangled web of airline ownership in China

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