Trip Report & Review – China Eastern 777-300 Business Class Shanghai to San Francisco

by Michael

A few weeks ago I wrote about flying business class on the ANA 787 Dreamliner going to Japan, and why I didn’t want to stay at the Intercontinental while I was in Tokyo. When planning this trip, I found a business class itinerary available for a saver-level redemption on my desired return date on China Eastern Airlines. As a member of the SkyTeam alliance, I was able to get this one-way flight for 70,000 Delta SkyMiles. I was departing from Hiroshima, Japan, and ultimately arriving in San Francisco. This meant that I had to go a bit backwards to fly through China Eastern’s international hub in Shanghai, but I’m sure that many of us (including yours truly) have flown much sillier routing to get a free upper class flight.


This wasn’t my plane, but one of its counterparts:


China Eastern is not an airline I ever really expected to fly, so I was excited to try it out. They operate this route on a 777-300, one of the best products out there. We boarded through the forward door of the aircraft, which took me through the first class cabin (which has pseudo-suites) on my way to business. Here’s a glance at a first class “suite”:


The business class cabin is configured in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone layout. The seats are roomy and comfortable. I was able to walk around to the far side to get a good picture without any people in the shot, as I was one of the first business class passengers to board:




I took a mid-flight nap, and enjoyed the fully lie-flat seat in bed mode:


One of the staples of a business class experience is the amenity kit. Although they did provide one, the contents were a bit pathetic, comparable to those offered by other business class products. The kit contained only lip balm, ear plugs, and slippers. It was certainly better than nothing, but quite inferior to ANA’s offering on the Dreamliner.


The menu contained an option of either a Chinese or Western style meal. The food, however, was quite mediocre.


As we were landing at 9:30am in San Francisco, I woke up from my nap with a few hours left in the flight, and opened my shade to see a beautiful sunrise over the north Pacific:


The seat was comfortable, the entertainment system was good, and overall the plane was a great product. The Chinese staff left a bit to be desired, however, managing the entire flight process with military-like precision. The best example was when one attendant came to my seat and without saying a word, reached over me to turn off and stow my TV, unplugged my charging phone, and manually put my seat in landing mode with 45 minutes left in the flight. When I asked why that had to happen now, rather than only in the last 10 minutes, the attendant tersely replied “for safety.”

The plane was second only to the Dreamliner in quality, although the in-flight amenities and service left something to be desired. It is far from the best overall business class product that I’ve flown. That being said, it was easily worth the 70,000 Delta SkyMiles to take this flight, especially since they had wide-open saver availability for the dates I wanted to fly. With lots of availability for many dates, don’t hesitate to take a look at China Eastern as a solid business class product, and a good value for your SkyMiles to get yourself to Asia and beyond.

Michael Prodanovich is a contributor to Point Me to the Plane, and author of The Ultimate Guide to Free Travel.

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Patrick September 22, 2016 - 2:35 pm

Excuse me for displaying mt ignorance but I keep hearing the term “reverse herringbone” when describing seats. Does that mean they are facing backwards?
Could you explain the term?

Phoenix September 22, 2016 - 5:59 pm

“Reverse herringbone” refers to the seat layout, with the middle seats pointing inwards and window seats pointing outwards.

Here’s Air Canada’s 787 Dreamliner business class, which is also reverse-herringbone:

Michael September 22, 2016 - 8:04 pm

Yup, exactly. Thanks for handling that before I could get to it!

Mike S. September 22, 2016 - 4:33 pm

Did the pilots smoke during the flight – as is the custom among mainland Chinese carriers ?

Michael September 22, 2016 - 8:03 pm

Ha! I’m not sure, couldn’t tell from business class. Almost everyone in the airport was smoking though (there was a line to get in to each tiny little “smoking room”), so I wouldn’t be surprised if they were.

choi lu September 22, 2016 - 5:25 pm

you got a picture of F class , what was the point ?

Michael September 22, 2016 - 8:02 pm

So the blog readers can see what the seats look like.

Al September 22, 2016 - 9:20 pm

You could do much better with 70K Skymiles. For example, Korean Air flies direct to quite a few US gateways (SFO, LAX, ORD, ATL, JFK) and has far better products. Even Delta is better.

Also you did not mention that China Eastern, as well as China Southern, has exorbitant fuel surcharges. Korean Air and Delta only charge minimal taxes.

Michael September 23, 2016 - 8:34 am

Oh yeah, no I definitely wasn’t advocating using China Eastern’s own FF miles, but just to take their flights with Delta miles if they have saver availability, as their calendar looked pretty open for the summer as late as May. And you’re definitely right, Korean Air is pretty awesome…I would have loved to have flown them home if they had saver seats available!


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