When I tell people I fly Air China, the typical response I get is, “why?” Well, if you haven’t had the opportunity to fly on Air China’s new Boeing 777-300 ER then you haven’t met the new Air China. Air China’s new seat configuration makes them a great option for business class travel to Asia.
Navigating Air China’s US website can leave a person a bit frustrated, and if you have to deal with US customer service, well, good luck. But don’t fear, I’ve found some good workarounds. First, use the Air China Canadian website for on-line check-in. For whatever reason, I always get stuck in a loop when I try to check-in on the US website. I also find that you can get promo codes more frequently for the Canadian site. Right now you can use code: BC91R0T0QRMP to get $30 CAD off your ticket when booking online. There are a limited number of discounts available so it’s while supplies last for travel booked by Dec 2013. If you need to call customer service (the only way to change your ticket unless you’re a Phoenix Frequent Flyer member) call the center in Singapore. Call using SKYPE to keep the price of the call low. They are extremely helpful.
There are direct flights on the 777-300 ER from New York to Beijing daily (2 flights, 7 days a week, 6,800 miles each way) , Houston to Beijing ( 1 flight, 4 days a week, 7189 miles each way), LA (2 flights a day, 7 days a week, 6,244 miles each way).
With old seat configurations on the 747 , which I would not recommend, you can fly from San Fran (1 flight a day, 7 days a week, 5,906 miles each way), Vancouver to Beijing (2 flights a day, 7 days a week, 5282 miles each way).
The first class options that are the best are on the 747 Forbidden Pavillion First Class, which is on San Fran to Beijing route. First class on the 777-300 ER is a nice product, but not the best, by far. The seats are private and spacious, but the amenities and food are average. The business class seats are comparable to the United Global First or US Air Envoy seats. You get lie-flat semi-pod type seats that offer a little more privacy than many business class products – especially in the center section (seats D & H in business.)
|Total Seats||First Class||Business Class||Economy Class|
|Equipment||First Class||Business Class||Economy Class|
|Seat type||Mercury (lie-flat seat)||Diamond (lie-flat seat)||Spectrum|
|Entertainment system||AVOD/THALES I5000||AVOD/THALES I5000||AVOD/THALES I5000|
|Power Outlets||Yes, one per seat||Yes, one per seat||Yes, one for two seats|
|Number/Bathroom Dimensions||2 at 53″、56″||3 at 42″||7 at 38″、41.5″|
If you’re flying on Air China departing from the US, Europe or Australia and your final destination is not in China, you can apply for 72-hour visa free transit. If you’re connecting through Beijing or Shanghai, you can spend up to 72 hours in China without applying for a visa (not open to all countries.) One thing to note is that your connection has to arrive and depart from the same city in China. For example you couldn’t do New York to Beijing, Shanghai to Bangkok. But you could do New York to Beijing to Bangkok. This makes China a good option for mileage runs.
There is usually plenty of award availability on Air China using Star Alliance partner miles.
The food on Air China’s business class is average and very hit or miss. I find that departing out of New York you’ll have much better options than departing out of Beijing for example. I’ve always found the service in business class to be nice – certainly not Thai or Singapore type service, but better than anything you’d find on a US carrier and many European carriers. One plus is the tea selection. If you’re a tea drinker, you’ll love the tea menu.
So next time you’re looking for business class to China or other areas in Asia, don’t rule out Air China so quickly! If you need help with award bookings, check out our AwardSeat.com service. We’ve helped many travelers book great awards.