From the Japan Airlines Sakura Lounge, it was still a bit of a trek to get to the departure gate for my flight, as it was located at the end of the terminal. I always think that the lesser carriers are placed away from the main terminal, though it is just a hypothesis based on some flights I took.
MU540 Tokyo Haneda HND – Shanghai Pudong PVG
Airbus A330-200 B-6128
Gate 145 Seat 8A
Boarding was already underway when I arrived at the gate and there was very few people left trying to board the plane. As I sat on the seat, the crew started to bring out a tray of beverage for passengers to choose from. I had a glass of water having drank at the lounge prior. A hot towel placed on a ceramic plate was also placed by the side for me.
On every seat there was a comfortable white linen pillow and a thick blanket. The presentation was definitely inferior to that of Shanghai Airlines whose pillows and blankets have a detailed embroidery. Other than that, the seats were similar to my outbound flight from Shanghai Hongqiao to Tokyo. There was also the usual slippers with a shoe bag placed on the seatback pockets.
While we were still on the ground, the flight attendants distributed the menu for tonight’s flight. If you have been following this trip journal, you would have noticed the colour coded menu that includes meal choices for various odd and even months. But this time the menu was specifically for today’s flights. That does make it a bit inconsistent, and I should note that orders for the meal was taken shortly before pullback.
Business class cabin was lightly occupied during this flight and it was a large cabin all fitted with angled-flat seats that would be more than adequate for this 3 hour flight. With no seat mate beside me, I had a window and an aisle seat, and certainly made this flight better.
There was a slight delay on our scheduled departure but nothing too late that I was not worried about making my connection at all. The clear weather provided a bird’s eye view of the city lights at night as we took off from Haneda. The views over Tokyo is another reason to fly into and depart from Haneda as opposed to Narita.
During the ascent, I made myself comfortable and settled into the seat to start watching some movies. While the selection was not the greatest, it was adequate. But China Eastern could have provided a nicer headphones for Business Class. Those flimsy headphones found on the seat-back pockets seems to be no better than the ones found in Economy Class.
Once the flight attained cruising altitude, the flight attendants re-entered the cabin and provided a round of beverage service. I asked for a cup of Chinese tea and it came with another hot towel that is nicely rolled up.
The tray tables were also set up with a table cloth and dinner service began not long after with all the dishes placed in a single tray. Somehow, there was a packet of mixed nuts included in the tray as well. Probably that would save the need to distribute them somewhere during the flight.
I had asked for the grilled eel kabayaki main course and it came with a generous portion of side dishes like sushi and soba (buckwheat noodle). Flights from Japan certainly has some tasty dishes and it made for a very satisfying dinner.
Even after my meal at the lounge, I found myself still feeling hungry and perhaps that was why I took a bite of the eel before taking the photo! To end the meal, the crew distributed individually packed dessert that seems to be made from chestnut. It was again tasty meaning I finished it as well.
After the fantastic dinner, I took the time to refresh myself in the lavatory and discovered it was kept clean by the crew. There was also air fresheners placed inside. A nice job by the crew to maintain the cleanliness of the lavatory during the flight.
Returning to my seat, I enjoyed another cup of tea as I was offered a refill of the tea in-between the meal service. Like many modern airliners, there is a foldable tray table on the seat. Though with no seat mate, the wide armrest makes it easy to just place the cup of hot tea leaving me with less obstruction on my seat.
During the meal service and after, there was a bit of turbulence on the flight. It was not a huge deal but it just meant the service was a bit slower. As I reclined my seat to the angled lie flat position, I just took a rest for the remainder of the flight.
As far as I am concerned, the angled lie flat position was perfectly comfortable for a short regional flight. Though for a red-eye flight, I might re-consider. I was even able to take a short nap during the flight until we made the descent into Shanghai Pudong Airport.
In the end, we did arrive about half an hour behind scheduled as we docked beside a Shanghai Airlines A330. Disembarking the plane was done in an orderly manner, marking this flight to be another ordinary regional flight.
Transiting at the older Terminal 1 of Shanghai Pudong Airport is definitely unlike in Hong Kong or Singapore. There was no clear signs for transit passengers and had I not been there before, I might be at a loss on where to proceed. Thankfully, the transfer counter was not that busy and being on a Business Class ticket, I was able to get the authorization quickly to re-enter the departure area for my connecting flight.
For this flight, the steward and cabin crew was very professional throughout and I found them to be much friendlier than my other China Eastern flights. The nice dinner also made this flight that much better, making it probably one of the better flights I had with the airline. However my rating of China Eastern still stands as there was a lack of premium amenities since they do not even have socks for passengers. Even the inflight reading materials like magazines and newspapers are lacking in international varieties. Unless the air fare on China Eastern is cheaper, it is unlikely it would be my first choice of carrier for flights within Asia. Do note that this flight was right for me since I had to make the transit in Shanghai which is a hub for China Eastern.