söndag 15 maj 2011

Air China - when you get what you pay for

We have just arrived back from China and Mongolia. As the reader of this blog knows we had a little delay of 13 hours on our way to Ulaanbaatar (UB). On the way back we checked in our luggage to Stockholm and had a nice, planned stop over in Beijing for 24 hours. Everything went just fine, the Airport Express Train and underground work very well in Beijing. (And cost nothing compared to the over expensive Arlanda Express.)

When we got our boarding cards at the airport for the second leg of our journey we asked if it was possible to get seats by the aisle. On the way to Beijing we were seated in the middle with people on both sides. That means that everytime you have to go to the toilet or take a walk in the plane you have to climb over someone else or wake them up. And sometimes you just need to go often to the toilet. But no, there were no seats left by the aisles although we checked in more than 2,5 hours before take off.

Imagine our suprise when boarding was completed and there were four rows with eight seats empty just next to us. Maybe we could sit there? And maybe the girl with the broken foot could have an extra seat to stretch out? Or the family with a small child that needed to walk the aisles to keep the baby content? But no, these eight seats were for the cabin crew should they need a rest during the flight. Eight ordinary window and aisle seats were reserved for one (1) flight attendant during the flight. (The only person from the staff we saw using it.) Isn't that a bit like if a restaurant should reserv one of their best tables for the staff should one of them want to eat dinner among the guests? (I know cabin crew don't like to be compared to waitresses, they are safety personnel, but exactly how does this amount of reserved seats make the flight more safe?)

One frequent flyer China-Sweden let us know that Air China may be cheap but it is also the worst flight.

My last night on the trip I got the cold that Hubby had catched the week before. Sneezing like mad and with a sore throat and runny nose I sat there in this fridge that is Air China's plane, with two persons on both sides. When we, i. e. a lot of the passengers, asked if they could turn down the air condition one of the staff told us that there are people liking it cold. Well, I am usually one of those warm-blooded persons but this was cold on the border to freezing. A cold wind was blowing in my face where I sat wrapped in blankets like I was wearing a chador.

So, I guess the € 850 we payed for the trip did just not include heating and flexibility. Next time we'll try the MIAT flight Berlin - Ulaanbaatar.

Back at Arlanda International Airport we thought we had ended up in some airport in a Greek island in those times when we used to go to Greece on holiday. You know where the staff could suddenly feel they needed a smoke and the passengers had to wait for their little 1, 2, 3 hours siesta. It is obvious that the personnel handling the luggage, putting it on the conveyor belt do not have a monitor back there. When we got down to the belt it was stuffed with luggage noone seemed to own. (Maybe it belonged to the business men that got stuck in the border control, having to prove that they were not asylum seekers.) There we stood waiting and the luggage that they tried to load onto the belt got stuck in big piles with the luggage already on the belt. Noone behind the wall seemed to notice this. The frequent flyer said he'd never seen this much baggage before. Since the staff did not seem to take any notice the passengers had to climb up on the conveyor belt starting to tear apart the mountain of bags. That really had to be portryed. Unfortunately I missed the pic of four men tearing from different angels to deal with the bag congestion.

It has to be said that this has nothing to do with China Air, though. But I really thought that Arlanda was a little better equipped.

However, we had a very good trip, both the Mongolian and Chinese part of it. Next time, i e June next year, we'll take Berlin on the way. That should mean some ordnung!

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