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Old 17th September 2018, 04:11 PM   #1
shikhargpt
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Question SIN-LAX via PEK on CA?

So, Air China (CA) has this unbelievable deal in December where you can grab a return ticket to LAX via PEK for as low as $1068 (this is A333-B77W-B77W-A333). For $70 more you can change it to B789-B789-B77W-A333, which I think is worth it especially for the outbound.

Question is, is CA the best option for me? Is it the most value for money, is it comfortable, safe (I assume so), and something that would basically not be a pain in the arse to fly on?

China Southern (CZ) is next cheapest at $1.3k, but has A320/19 sectors on CAN-SIN-CAN (though it has A388 sectors on CAN-LAX-CAN).

I plan to fly with my mum and sister to LAX in December, should I pull the trigger on CA?
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Old 17th September 2018, 04:19 PM   #2
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SQ PEY on the ULR is $1,328
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Old 17th September 2018, 04:52 PM   #3
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SQ PEY on the ULR is $1,328
Nope, not for me. They claim the promotional fare period is valid, but when actually inputting dates that are congruent with the promotional period, it spits out a $2.2k ticket.

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Old 17th September 2018, 09:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shikhargpt View Post
So, Air China (CA) has this unbelievable deal in December where you can grab a return ticket to LAX via PEK for as low as $1068 (this is A333-B77W-B77W-A333). For $70 more you can change it to B789-B789-B77W-A333, which I think is worth it especially for the outbound.

Question is, is CA the best option for me? Is it the most value for money, is it comfortable, safe (I assume so), and something that would basically not be a pain in the arse to fly on?

China Southern (CZ) is next cheapest at $1.3k, but has A320/19 sectors on CAN-SIN-CAN (though it has A388 sectors on CAN-LAX-CAN).

I plan to fly with my mum and sister to LAX in December, should I pull the trigger on CA?
I flew on CA in April. Two six hour international flights in A320s.

I was prepared for an awful experience but it really wasn't so bad. The food was basic but edible. Can't comment on their IFE as the A320 didn't have any. Cabin crew were professional and all announcements were in both Chinese and English. I didn't brave the plane toilet though. Left that one a mystery...

I don't want to say they're great and also, I was on a narrow body, but they weren't anywhere as bad as they could've been.
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Old 18th September 2018, 04:37 PM   #5
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There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the Big 3 Chinese carriers (CA, CZ, MU). If you're looking for above average onboard service, then you should leave them out. But if you're looking for an airline that gets you safely from point A to B in planes that are generally new, with average legroom, then they'd fit the bill. Toilets are no dirtier than those I've encountered on say PR or VN.

One thing's for sure, there's no point in paying more to fly on CZ over CA. Service standards on the Big 3 are dependent on the crew you get that day. Transiting in PEK is no worse/better than transiting in CAN (or PVG for that matter). Go for the best price/transit time combo.
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Old 18th September 2018, 07:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 259850 View Post
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the Big 3 Chinese carriers (CA, CZ, MU). If you're looking for above average onboard service, then you should leave them out. But if you're looking for an airline that gets you safely from point A to B in planes that are generally new, with average legroom, then they'd fit the bill. Toilets are no dirtier than those I've encountered on say PR or VN.

One thing's for sure, there's no point in paying more to fly on CZ over CA. Service standards on the Big 3 are dependent on the crew you get that day. Transiting in PEK is no worse/better than transiting in CAN (or PVG for that matter). Go for the best price/transit time combo.

Nice, solid advice, thanks!
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Old 18th September 2018, 07:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SQ228 View Post
I flew on CA in April. Two six hour international flights in A320s.

I was prepared for an awful experience but it really wasn't so bad. The food was basic but edible. Can't comment on their IFE as the A320 didn't have any. Cabin crew were professional and all announcements were in both Chinese and English. I didn't brave the plane toilet though. Left that one a mystery...

I don't want to say they're great and also, I was on a narrow body, but they weren't anywhere as bad as they could've been.
Seems fine, then! Especially since 3 of the sectors will be on pretty new aircraft. I can live with a rickety A330 if it comes to that for PEK-SIN.
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Old 19th September 2018, 12:05 PM   #8
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Just bear in mind that transiting through PEK (or anywhere in mainland China) isn't going to be a walk in the park. If you have a comfortable buffer and everything goes smoothly, you'll still have to deal with the hassle of going through transit immigration, and hope that the counters are manned.

Not sure how long your connection is, but if something doesn't go as planned, don't count on being proactively helped.
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Old 19th September 2018, 02:17 PM   #9
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Sure it's is not like transiting in HKG or SIN, but PEK, PVG and CAN do have clear signage and the process is logical. Lines can be long at times, but if you have a tight connection, speak to a security officer who usually moves you to the front.

Security screening can be slow as invariably almost everyone gets patted down. [I suspect that the metal detectors in Chinese airports just beep even if you don't have an ounce of metal on you.]

Chinese airports are reasonably efficient, it's just that some of them are bursting at their seams. CAN used to be bad, but now that they've opened T2 (and CZ has moved there), things have gotten better. Beijing will get a brand new airport in a year, so sanity will return there too, I'm sure.

It's all relative. I transited through ADD on ET a couple of weeks ago with the whole family, and after that, everything else seems like a walk in the park.
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Old 19th September 2018, 03:41 PM   #10
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Hi shikhargpt! I've not flown Air China internationally before, but I have flown them extensively on domestic sectors, including Beijing to Chongqing on their Boeing 737-800's.

As far as domestic flights are concerned, I was quite impressed with CA. The equipment I flew was well maintained, and in some cases quite new. The lounges I visited were good, and cabin service was very professional and friendly too.

Air China are Star Alliance, and I was very impressed with how they treat Star Alliance Gold members. For example, apart from lounge access, and priority check-in/boarding etc, in the flight itself, I was always offered a newspaper when flying Y, and on deplaning at bus gates, there was often a separate bus to take business class or Gold members to the terminal. Some of their lounges are quite impressive too.

The one area I was less impressed with was their domestic catering -- meals targeted at Chinese tastes, and quite bland (Even weird tasting compared to Chinese food on the ground), and no alcoholic beverages on domestic sectors either, but those aren't really showstoppers for domestic flights.

I've not had an issue with punctuality or reliability yet, either, except for ATC delays which used to happen quite frequently to all airlines because of airspace restrictions.

I've not flown them internationally yet, though, although their fares are often quite attractive out of SIN.
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Old 19th September 2018, 11:33 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shikhargpt View Post
So, Air China (CA) has this unbelievable deal in December where you can grab a return ticket to LAX via PEK for as low as $1068 (this is A333-B77W-B77W-A333). For $70 more you can change it to B789-B789-B77W-A333, which I think is worth it especially for the outbound.

Question is, is CA the best option for me? Is it the most value for money, is it comfortable, safe (I assume so), and something that would basically not be a pain in the arse to fly on?

China Southern (CZ) is next cheapest at $1.3k, but has A320/19 sectors on CAN-SIN-CAN (though it has A388 sectors on CAN-LAX-CAN).

I plan to fly with my mum and sister to LAX in December, should I pull the trigger on CA?
If you are a KF member flying CA, you may want to check if your booking class will receive any KF miles. One website to do so is www.wheretocredit.com. Many cheap CA fares will not earn you any KF miles and you maybe better signing up for Phoenix Miles to earn at least some miles since itís going to be a long haul flight.
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Old 20th September 2018, 12:34 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by davidfusq View Post
If you are a KF member flying CA, you may want to check if your booking class will receive any KF miles. One website to do so is www.wheretocredit.com. Many cheap CA fares will not earn you any KF miles and you maybe better signing up for Phoenix Miles to earn at least some miles since itís going to be a long haul flight.
Agreed. I paid a small fortune for my CA flights and didn't earn a single KF mile, but that's the reality of routes with little competition. Becoming a Phoenix Miles member if you don't read Mandarin might be a bit challenging though. The Australian CA site was functional for booking, but many other areas were "coming soon" when I clicked on the English button.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverChris View Post
Just bear in mind that transiting through PEK (or anywhere in mainland China) isn't going to be a walk in the park. If you have a comfortable buffer and everything goes smoothly, you'll still have to deal with the hassle of going through transit immigration, and hope that the counters are manned.

Not sure how long your connection is, but if something doesn't go as planned, don't count on being proactively helped.
Yes, that was my experience at PEK recently. There are some people with special uniforms there to help transiting passengers but they can be in high demand. Finding the right queue and counter can take time and in my case I had to find the counter on "the other side" due to one side being closed. Luckily I already knew where it was from my previous transit.

Fortunately for the OP it's a single booking, so at PEK T3 staying airside is possible as the bags will be checked through. On entering T3 from landside, the screening is through one common entry, unlike at Changi. Hopefully this means transit passengers might be able to avoid rescreening, or at least have their own stream from within the airside area. I saw where they had to go at PEK, but I was leaving the terminal both times as I had to at minimum collect luggage and check-in on a different booking.
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Old 22nd September 2018, 07:59 PM   #13
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Thanks for the info and tips, SilverChris and 259850! It's a 5 hour connection, so it shouldn't be an issue I believe!

Thanks for the brief review of CA and the TR link, yflyer! Just a question, on the website it seems that it says travelers can use transit lounges for connections >4h. Is my reading of that right, or does that lounge usage come with a catch?

And thank you for the info too, SQ228!
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Old 2nd October 2018, 11:55 AM   #14
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Thinking of doing a multi city now! SIN - LAX via PEK, and SFO - SIN via PEK on CA. 747-8I sector from SFO - PEK!

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Old 2nd October 2018, 03:48 PM   #15
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Having lived in China and travelled extensively on domestic and international (thankfully short haul) flights, I'd avoid them. Transit in China especially.
Crews were usually great but it just isn't a great experience. Neither on board nor on the ground.
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