Note: I took this flight a few months before Air China retired their 777-200 fleet. One of their last international flights was from Beijing to Tokyo Narita. Today, this flight has been taken over by the A330, and their 777-200s have been put to pasture.
Having a lie flat seat for a short flight is always great. The lack of IFE screens, though, sucks. My flight on the other direction a few years before was basically the same. Wifi was inoperable. Food was uninspiring. Crew was unattentive and ineffective.
The Good: Having a lie flat seat for a two hour flight is always a plus.
The Bad: Not installing IFE Screens on seats that are meant to have them is a sham. Crew was inexcusably absent throughout the flight.
The Noteworthy: Air China “has wifi” on some of their flights, however they are subject to the Great Firewall of China.
Connecting in Beijing
I was connecting from an economy flight on Air China from Seoul. When I booked the ticket, the OTA force booked me in economy on that shorter segment. It was an unmemorable experience on their 737. Once I was at PEK airport, I waited a short while at the Air China business class lounge, which is nothing more than ok. About 20 minutes before departure, I walked to the gate.
Gate and Boarding
As opposed to most of my Air China experiences so far, boarding was a charm on this flight. There was a designated line for premium passengers and priority was strictly enforced. Boarding began 5 minutes ahead of schedule, and my family and I were the only ones in line.
Airline: Air China
Cabin: Business Class
Flight Number: CA 925
Route: Beijing PEK -Tokyo NRT
On Time: Yes
Cabin and Seat
Air China’s business class cabin on their 777-200s is located between doors 1L and 2L. Seats are the same as on their 777-300ERs and their 787s. They are arranged in a 2x2x2 configuration and are fully flat. There are 5 rows of seats. The cabin is accented with purple and for some reason, I don’t find them to be that bad. Seat controls are on the center console, and are easy to use.
Waiting at my seat were a pillow and a blanket. The blanket is very similar to the ones you get in domestic US business class. There were no amenities beyond those, and earbuds that were distributed before takeoff.
Departure and Take Off
Soon after I was settled in, the flight attendants came by and offers us a choice of water or juice, and a hot towel. They also distributed menus. The captain came on the PA system to advise us of our on time departure, and expected arrival time. When the door closed, the cabin was 6/30 full, with only another elderly Chinese couple on the other side. After the safety video played, the FAs came by taking meal orders.
Soon enough, the 777 was airborne and we were on our way to Tokyo.
The meal started with setting up the tables, and a ramekin of nuts with your choice of drinks.
I ordered the steak dish. It tasted as bad as it looked. It was pale, and drowned in a sauce that tasted only like salt. I don’t often label things as foul, but wow, this was close.
Dessert consisted of a small cake, which I used to wash down the taste of the entree.
Sleep and IFE
I did not sleep on this flight, as I was caffeinated from a coffee I drank at Beijing airport. This meant that I was stuck watching saved Netflix shows on my iPad, since there is no IFE screens on this aircraft. It was so sad to see the space for the screens blocked off by a plastic panel. The decision was a cheap decision, and made my experience all the more mediocre. The only entertainment was what looked like Chinese propaganda on the overhead monitors.
Notes on Service
The crew were the final nail in the coffin for this flight. They spoke relatively good English, and at first seemed to be very attentive. As soon as we were in the air, they came by four times. Once to set up the tables and bring out drinks, again to bring the entree. Followed by the dessert, and finally to clear the tables. After dessert, I ordered Pu Erh tea, and it was never brought to me. I rang the call button twice, and they did not show up. This was the most indifferent crew I have ever experienced, and I fly domestically in the US very often.
Landing and Arrival
Not soon enough we began our approach to Tokyo. At this point, finally, the crew came by to prepare the cabin for landing. They once again sat back down, and that was the end of their shift it seemed. We arrived about 20 minutes early at NRT, and were at the gate 10 minutes before our scheduled arrival.
This was one of the worst flights I have ever taken. I am sadly glad that they retired the 777-200s from their fleet. Business class was poorly designed, with corners cut in terms of passenger amenities. The crew was terrible, and the food worse. I have since had better experiences on Air China, but this flight made me think twice when I booked my subsequent flight on the airline.
Here is a list of all my flight reviews: The Millennial Traveler Flight Reviews
Here is a list of all my lounge reviews: The Millennial Traveler Lounge Reviews
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