Air China’s reputation is not in the league of Singapore or Cathay Pacific. Nor should it be. But mention Air China to many and you’ll be met with shaking heads or third-hand horror stories. My opinion of Air China: not bad at all.
I often ask Award Expert for clients for feedback on the flights we book for them. If we see a a recurring problem with one airline we will do our best to avoid it. Air China is one of those airlines (like Turkish Airlines and EgyptAir) in which clients wish to avoid. But the airline has come a long way. Business class seats are now lie-flat on the 747s and 777s serving North America and service levels are highly competitive. For example, trays are not used in business class and pajamas are available. Air China now offers wi-fi as well. But there are still service shortfalls that must be remedied before the Chinese flag carrier can join the top-tier.
A Review from Last Week
A client just returned from a trip to Shanghai on Air Canada and back on Air China and sent me the following email–
The Air China 747 was like a long domestic flight. I was the only caucasian upstairs and the flight attendants struggled to understand me. The food was fine, but odd things missing like no napkin until the second course and food came out with the foil wrapper on the dish (they took it off). I was asked four times if I wanted bread, part way through I asked two flight attendants for a bottle of water, it came out in a glass. The side by side seats means a lot of stepping over. 90% of the video entertainment was not in English and what was was not current stuff at all. They gave me 2 choices of French red wine, I picked one, not bad, then they offered me a glass of a 3rd wine, it was very good, I asked for more and they said they only had one bottle and it was gone!So Air China still has a way to go to be service competitive, but honestly it was a great flight, I got some good rest and was quite comfortable. The seat made into a much better bed than the Air Canada lay flat…
And this seems to be a fairly representative review of Air China. FAs who struggle with English and a sloppy presentation, but a good lie-flat product overall. I don’t know what is going on with Air Canada (it has been years since I last flew them longhaul) but I have received many recent complaints…
I’ll shortly put up my own review of a regional Air China A330 flight in business class.