I was glad when the time came to board the plane as I was getting tired and China Eastern’s lounges weren’t really a conducive place to spend the hours in. Boarding was conducted efficiently and there was not a large crowd waiting for this red-eye flight to Singapore so I did manage to board early being seated in the front cabin.
MU543 Shanghai Pudong PVG – Singapore Changi SIN
Airbus A330-200 B-6546
Gate 21 Seat 8H
Similar to my outbound from Singapore to Shanghai, this return flight was by China Eastern but operated by a plane with Shanghai Airlines’ livery. Inside it was the familiar 2-2-2 layout with full lie-flat seats that Air China also utilizes for its Singapore-Beijing route.
On every seat there was a pillow and a blanket while the slippers were wrapped in a shoe bag and placed in the storage area beside the seat back monitor. After placing my luggage on the overhead compartment, I went to charge my mobile phone through the USB port underneath the armrest. At this time the cabin crew came around to distribute welcome drinks and fresh towels.
Granted this cabin configuration does not provide window seats with aisle access, but it sure was comfortable for an overnight red-eye flight since it is dark outside throughout the flight. That was why I picked an aisle seat in the centre column. The large size of the monitor is another plus point.
Boarding continued as I relaxed and made myself comfortable for this short red-eye into Singapore and I was already planning to sleep for most of the flight. Loads in Business Class turns out to be more than half full, with the port side to be filled up with families travelling to Singapore with the elderly. On the starboard side, there was some business passengers.
While we were on the ground, the crew distributed the menu. The meal menu was similar in that all the choices for the year was listed, with choices depending on odd/even months and either first half of the month or second half. All the choices can be seen in the full photo album for this flight.
The wine and beverage list was exactly the same as my outbound flight.
I was expecting the meal orders to be taken since I thought breakfast would be served. However it turns out the flight attendant just asked if I wanted to be woken for breakfast since there would be no choice as only the snack listed would be served for this flight. Perhaps it is to maximize sleeping time for passengers but it is something to note that some Asian airlines do not cater much food for red-eye flights. I also wondered why bother with the full food menu if no choices are given anyway.
Since I was going to have a long layover in Singapore and planned to pass immigration to visit the city for some errands, I asked to be woken up for the snack. Our flight did manage to pull back early and even depart earlier than scheduled. Once we passed cruising altitude, I reclined my seat all the way to a bed and managed to sleep all the way until they woke me up for breakfast.
The snack service began with another refreshing towel along with a cup of hot tea. Because not all the passengers were awake for the meal service, the lights remains turned off. The snack tray consisted of a fruit plate as the appetizer and a main plate that contains 3 different dim sum items. One was a minced beef rice burger and they used a purple and white glutinous rice, another was a water cress dumpling and finally a bun filled with crab. The last one was the tastiest snack though it was not a filling meal.
After the snack, I went to the lavatory to freshen up and brushed my teeth since I would be going out into the city later on arrival. It was not long before the pilot announced out descent and the cabin crew turned on the lights in the cabin. On this flight, the crew distributed lukewarm water with lemon for passengers along with more fresh towels. I thought it was a nice touch so passengers can refresh after maximizing their sleep time since it was a short flight with less than 6 hours in the air.
During the descent, I browsed through the inflight magazine that China Eastern has. The language difference certainly makes it harder for foreigners to appreciate the East Asian Airlines’ (ANA, Asiana, JAL and the Chinese carriers) inflight magazines.
Even though our departure was not late by any means, we did land slightly behind schedule. It was still dark outside in Changi Airport when we landed but I did have a nice sleep on the flight and was refreshed enough. This flight with China Eastern had minimal interaction with the cabin crew since I spent most of the time asleep. For the red-eye flight, the seat did what it was supposed to do but the lack of sleeping amenities like socks, moisturizers and lip balms does not make it a real premium flight. To be fair, they did hand out eye shades. If passengers wanted to maximize sleep time, this flight certainly does it quite well and the service was very good too as I liked how they gave out fresh towels and warm water as a wake-up call before landing. Finally as a gauge of value, the flight on China Eastern to get to Japan from South East Asia does offer decent value for the price I paid and as Business Class tickets earns more miles, they certainly add to the overall value of flying upfront. For the right price, I would not hesitate to fly with them again but I would definitely minimize the transit time in Shanghai!