FLIGHT REPORT: HAINAN AIRLINES NEW 787-9 BUSINESS CLASS
I flown in the Beijing on Singapore Airlines A380 last week and decided to drop by Shanghai to visit some of my old friends. Little did i realised that domestic air travel is pretty pricey as compared to some of the regional fares from Singapore. A return ticket on economy class can set you back about SGD$500. I thought i could get a return ticket for SGD$200-$300 dollars!
Knowing that it would cost that much, i decided to find ways to travel at the lowest price or else at least more worth the bucks. This also create opportunity for me to blog more.
Knowing that Hainan Airlines was recently awarded 5 star by Skytrax, i knew this was the best opportunity for me to "check" if they are really worth 5 stars.
I was glad that they were deploying the 787 dreamliner on this short 2 hours hop and this was partly one of the reason why i chose to fly with them. But before i confirm my trip and get on with the payment, i decided to look up for the seat plan on expertflyer.com.
To my disappointment, it was the old 2-2-2 configuration instead of their newly upgraded 1-2-1 configuration. At this point i got pretty hesitant to continue my booking because whenever i fly premium class, privacy is my priority consideration. The old 2-2-2 configuration is less private and too open in my opinion.
Here's the introduction of the B787-900 with the previous 2-2-2. I wouldn't call it "previous" as the hard product it's still in use on certain aircraft. Pretty sure they are constantly upgrading it with the new seats across their fleet.
I went on with the booking because i am chasing against time. They had one of the earliest flight to shanghai and that would kick start my day early in shanghai to do what i need to.
A few days before departure, i check expertflyer.com again and to my surprise there was a equipment swop to the new 1-2-1 configuration 787-900! Needless to say, i was in a pretty good mood leading to the departure day.
Hainan Airlines operates from Terminal 1(Domestic Flights) and Terminal 2(International Flights) in Beijing. I arrived at the airport around 4.30AM. Why so early you might ask..Flight HU7611 will be departing at 6.55AM. So boarding time is 5.55AM, time to be at airport 4.55AM.
They use gold color to represent their premium class. I like this light tint of gold a lot!
Little did i expect, there wasn't anyone manning the check in counter.
No one seems to be reachable and all of the passengers were left alone while some trying to print their boarding passes thru the self check in counter.
I was thinking man, where is the business class check in? Shouldn't it be open early so that we don't have to wait?
So they finally opened the check in counter at 4.50AM. Exactly 2 hours before departure.
Right beside the check in "lounge" is the express lane. There were no immigration as it's a domestic flight.
Immediately after the security clearance is the business class lounge. This is my first time walking thru something like this. Simply brilliant!
Hainan Airlines Beijing Terminal 1 Domestic Business Class Lounge
Nothing was offered. The staff were still preparing.
Too early for these however.
Plenty of drinks however..
Nice Massage Chair is available for use.
I didn't do a seperate lounge review because there is little that i could report. Hence decided to squeeze them in.
With little to offer in the lounge, i made my way out of the lounge about 20 minutes before boarding time to explore the airport. As expected, there were very little retail shops in this domestic terminal. The noodle shop was super crowded however. I guess that's the only place they could go.
Boarding begins and Business Class Passengers as well as their Frequent flyer members were welcome to board first. The boarding lounge was super crowded and had i not be more attentive, i wouldn't have found the business class queue. It was completely blocked off by the economy class queue. That's how squeeze it is!
As the plane is located at the remote bay, buses were deployed to ferry passengers to the plane. For business class passengers, there was a seperate mini bus.
Beautiful sunrise with the tower in the background..
But here is the whining part. We waited for a good 20 minutes before leaving. That's 3 waves of buses filled with economy class passengers. If i knew this were going to happen, i would have gladly taken the standing bus so as to be able to spend more time in the cabin for photos session.
Beautiful view of the tarmac on the way to the bay...
Today's aircraft is B-1499, a 6 months old dreamliner delivered in October 2017. Its fitted with 30 Business Class Seats, 36 Hainan Plus(Premium Economy i assumed) & 226 Economy Class Seats.
Beautiful sight of the dreamliner isn't?
Fitted with 2 Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines..
One last look before boarding...
Viola! 1-2-1 reverse herringbone seats onboard!
These reverse herringbone seats can be found on carriers such as Cathay Pacific & Vietnam Airlines.
Understandably, the window seats are designed for solo travellers and middle aisle for couple. Although it may not be as close as a real couple seat. This is the best you can have.
When seated normally, i couldn't see the person beside me at all. Very private feeling.
The armrest is collapsible and i really believe this chair is wheelchair friendly. Correct me if i am wrong!
Slippers were provided. More photos below!
The friendly cabin crew started going around to offer welcome drinks, hot towel & assorted nuts. They also distributed menu for breakfast selection and went around the cabin collecting breakfast orders for the flight. Oh yes, they greeted me by my surname.
Their menu actually covers the whole month. If you see Day 21-31, it's 21st to 31st of the month. I choose their western option for this flight.
Drinks menu is pretty extensive for this short flight. I choose a glass of low fat milk.
IFE screen pops out from the side.
The IFE remote is similar to the one onboard Malaysia Airlines A350 First Class. You can check it out here!
We took off promptly on time. In fact 5 minutes ahead of schedule. That's a very good start! Plus our remote bay is just next to the runway and i could vividly remember it was a short 2 minutes taxi before we took off.
Headphones were provided on this short flight. Its not noise cancelling but it works fine. Slippers are really good quality! Can't bear to use them so i brought them home.
Nice headphone holder...
A glass of warm low fat milk to start the breakfast. Right temperature!
Followed by the western breakfast choice. Mushroom Frittata with smoked ham, yogurt with nuts and selection of bread. Actually there wasn't even a selection. It was served default.
Followed by another glass of warm milk and fruits. By this time, i was feeling full. It was delicious for sure!
With 30 minutes left before landing, all i can do is to take a picture of the flatbed seat. Never tried it for myself but it looks decent and comfortable even for long haul flights.
A quick photo before getting seated for landing.
Decent width even for someone whose large. That's why i name myself plumpflyer.
I realised that some of them actually skip breakfast service and slept their way thru.
We landed in Shanghai Pudong on time. Myth busted. Well not exactly because i believe we left early in the morning hence we are able to avoid the queue and jam. It could have been different if there were bad weather condition such as snow or fog.
On a serious note, the frequent delay of flights in china are mainly caused by the tight airspace. It's said that 80% of the airspace in china is controlled by the military and if you happen to fly during the period when they are having military exercises, be prepared for possible delays.
Before the flight, I was pretty skeptical about chinese carriers and i remember having a bad experience particularly on China Southern Airlines when i was really young. The food was not edible and there was no entertainment system. Just retractable TV from the above and it was a nightmare for me as a kid.
But over the years, we have seen great progress of chinese carriers such as China Southern Airlines owning one of the Jumbo A380(ahem) and Hainan Airlines being awarded as a 5 star airline by Skytrax.
My conclusion is that the plane is new, clean & well maintained. The catering were great and the crew were super friendly and chatty as well. They maintained their professionalism and smile throughout the flight. I also realised that the crew are more hardworking than the other flights i been. They were scrolling down the aisle every now and then to ensure we are well taken care of. Certainly living up to the standard of a 5 star airline.
I thought my behaviour could have been labelled weird by taking photos of the cabin, the seats and every single thing i can find on the seat but they just left me to do what i like to do. That's the problem of flight reviewers. You often get stares for doing what you are doing. So do support us by liking and sharing our post if you think it's helpful to you!
While waiting to disembark, i had a quick chat with the cabin crew and found out that the next flight for this aircraft will be to Boston but there is a change of crew. The current batch of crew will continue to another domestic flight.
In my next post, i will be taking the brand new sleeper train back to beijing for my flight home. So stay tuned to find out why i choose to ride the train back and why you should do that!