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Air China vs China Eastern Compared

Air China vs China Eastern Compared

One of my favorite places to visit in the world is Asia. I love the people, the cultures, and the food! I’ve visited several countries in Asia,  including popular countries like China, Thailand, and Malaysia. I guess you can say that I have in-depth knowledge of what it’s like to travel throughout the continent and how to get there. 

I’ve flown on Air China and China Eastern, so I’ll compare the two in this article. My experience was quite different with each, but overall, both provided good service. Without further ado, here is Air China vs. China Eastern compared!

Bottom Line Up Front

Overall, I really like Air China. It’s my top pick because it has many route options and quality service. I also like that I’m able to fly to other Asian countries on Air China. That makes it easier for me to stick with a brand I prefer without finding a different airline. Although China Eastern is not bad, Air China beats it in most categories.

The Main Differences Between Air China vs China Eastern Compared

Although Air China and China Eastern are similar, there are some key differences that I’ve noticed. Here are a few contrasts that stuck out to me the most:

  • Air China is a member of Star Alliance, whereas China Eastern is not. This means that Air China can offer more flight options and destinations to its passengers.
  • Air China has a better reputation for better customer service than China Eastern.
  • Air China is more expensive than China Eastern, although this is not always the case. Fare prices differ by route.
  • Air China has a more modern fleet of aircraft, whereas China Eastern isn’t as advanced.

I feel like these differences affect customers the most. When I’m shopping for a flight, these factors can often make or break my decision to book airfare. For example, I’ll choose China Eastern if I’m taking a leisurely trip and my schedule is flexible. 

On the other hand, if I’m taking a big trip to multiple Asian cities, the style of aircraft and the overall customer service is a big deal to me. I want a certain level of customer service and amenities when I’m taking a long trip or a trip with multiple layovers.

The Key Features of Air China

Air China

So, I’ve flown on Air China several times, and there were some key features that really stood out to me:

The Virtual Cabin Tour

One of the things that I really like about Air China is that they provide a virtual cabin tour on their website. When I’m taking a long flight to Asia, I’m always curious as to what the seating looks like. Sometimes it helps me to determine if I want to get a first-class or economy seat. For me, comfort is everything. Therefore, it’s nice to have a visual of the cabin space before I book a flight.

In-flight Entertainment

The in-flight entertainment for Air China isn’t too shabby. They offer music channels, movies, and even in-flight magazines for passengers. However, I will say that one time I flew Air China, the seat I sat in didn’t have a working television. Let’s just say it was a long, 13-hour flight back home. Be aware that technical difficulties can happen.

Tasty In-flight Meals

I’ve always enjoyed the meals served by Air China. In most cases, they serve an Asian-style dinner, which includes rice or noodles. However, they do offer special options for individuals who need them. If you have diet restrictions or if you prefer kosher meals, you have that option. If you must eat a special meal, the airline asks that you request it at least 24 hours before flight departure.

Air China Pros and Cons:

Pros:

  • Friendly staff
  • Good airfare deals
  • Option for long layovers in China
  • Great in-flight meals
  • Good in-flight entertainment options

Cons:

  • Horrible Landings
  • Small seats

 

Air China Pros

Air China

There are a few things that I really love about Air China. Here’s what stood out to me:

Friendly Staff 

The staff members that work on Air China flights are incredibly friendly. I had very good experiences flying with them. For me, the attitude and the professionalism of the in-flight staff plays a huge role in my decision to fly with an airline multiple times.

Good Airfare Deals

You may not always be able to find an inexpensive flight with Air China. However, they’re pretty good when they have specials available, especially if your schedule is flexible. I once bought a $700 roundtrip flight from Houston, Texas to Phuket, Thailand on Air China!

Long Layovers in China

Of course, every flight route is different, but Air China usually has extended layovers in China. When I flew to Thailand, I had a 15-hour layover in Beijing. Luckily, I could take that opportunity to visit the Great Wall of China. The long layovers allow you to explore China without staying overnight.

Air China Cons

While I really like Air China, there were some things about the airline that really rubbed me the wrong way, such as:

Horrible Landings

One thing that I did not like about Air China is the landings! I’ve flown several flights with the airline, and none of the landings were smooth. It seemed as if every pilot didn’t know how to land the plane properly. All of the landings were very bumpy and quite unsettling. That’s something that’s made me hesitant to fly with Air China again. 

Small Seats

Every aircraft is different, but Air China’s seats are pretty small. You won’t have much leg room on an Air China flight and may sit a little closer to your neighbor than you would like. You can upgrade your seats for a fee to get more seating space.

Key Features of China Eastern

China Eastern Airlines

I have experience with China Eastern, and overall I was satisfied with my flight. Here’s what I like about them:

Eastern Miles Membership 

One of the cool things about China Eastern is that they offer a rewards program. This is helpful if you frequently fly with them. It’s pretty easy to redeem the points, and you can use them on Sky Team partner airlines—like Korea Air and Air France. That option is huge for me because I like Air France. It’s good to know that I can collect rewards for them, even if I fly with China Eastern.

In-flight Entertainment 

The in-flight entertainment isn’t all that great with China Eastern. While some aircrafts may be equipped with more amenities, they don’t offer all of Air China’s services. However, they do provide in-flight Wi-Fi. China Eastern is considered an “economy-friendly” airline, so keep that in mind.

Free Baggage 

Unlike other economy-friendly airlines, China Eastern isn’t stingy with baggage. They don’t force passengers only to use a personal item or carry-on. For instance, if you’re a standard economy class passenger and not an Eastern Miles member, you still get a free 20 KG bag allowance.

China Eastern Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Easy Communication
  • Bigger Seats
  • Good loyalty program
  • free baggage

Cons:

  • Fewer amenities
  • Limited meal service

China Eastern Pros

China Eastern

While China Eastern won’t win the battle against Air China in every category, they still have several positive attributes:

Easy Communication 

One of the things that I like about China Eastern is that they’re easy to correspond with. At the top of their website, they have a comment and complaint section for guests. I don’t particularly like when airlines make it hard for you to figure out how to contact them.

Unless I need to speak to someone right away, I actually prefer to send emails to companies. That way, I can have a paper trail of the communication, and I don’t have to spend hours on the phone.

Bigger Seats

In my opinion, China Eastern seats are a little bit bigger than Air China. Of course, both are relatively small compared to the seating for western aircrafts. Overall, I noticed a spacial difference with China Eastern.

China Eastern Cons 

There are pros and cons to everything. So, here’s what I dislike about China Eastern:

Fewer Amenities

China Eastern doesn’t offer as much to passengers as Air China does. Air China is the bigger airline of the two, so naturally, they give a better experience. But as I stated above, China Eastern is also cheaper, depending on your flight route. The good news is that some of their new aircrafts are equipped with an IFE system, which offers an array of movie options.

Limited Meal Service 

As of 2022, China Eastern still has its meal service suspended. They offer meal bags to guests, but it’s not the full service that was provided before the pandemic. 

Other Alternatives to Consider

If you haven’t had good experiences with Air China or China Eastern, don’t worry. Below are a few other Asian-based airlines that I like:

China Southern

China Southern

This is a pretty good airline. It’s based in Guangzhou, China. Most bags fly free for economy flights within China. International passengers receive their first bag for free, and the second bag is determined by the route taken.

Overall, China Southern is a good airline with comfortable seats and tasty food options. In my opinion, this airline is best for flying to cities within China. From my experience, some of the routes from other locations are a bit complicated, depending on which part of China you’re flying to.

Hainan Airlines

Hainan Airlines

This is another great alternative. Hainan Airlines provides a five-star flight experience. Domestic flights allow for carry-on bags of 5kg and under. For international flights, checked bag allowances differ depending on the region that you’re flying from.

There are different rules for different routes. Much like Air China, Hainan flies out of major cities within the United States, like Los Angeles, Boston, and New York. I think Hainan is just as good as Air China in terms of quality and customer service.

Juneyao Air

Juneyao Air

Juneyao is a pretty good airline that’s headquartered in Shanghai. Passengers are allowed two pieces of carry-on luggage for international flights, but the checked baggage differs. The free checked luggage allowances for the weight permitted depend on the fare.

For instance, business class passengers are allowed 30 KG, while economy class travelers are only allowed 20 KG. I only choose this airline when I’m flying within China or from other international locations, like London. 

FAQs About Air China and China Eastern

Question: What are the Requirements for Carry-on Baggage on Air China Flights?

Answer: Each passenger is allowed one piece of carry-on baggage, plus a personal item such as a purse, laptop bag, or briefcase. The total weight of the carry-on and personal item cannot exceed 11 lbs (5 kg). The dimensions of the carry-on bag cannot go over 55cm (22”) in length, 40cm (16”) in width, and 20cm (8”) in height/

Question: Does Air China have a Refund Policy?

Answer: Air China has a few different policies in place if you need to cancel or change your flight. You will receive a full refund if you cancel more than 60 days before your flight. If you cancel between 30 and 60 days before your flight, you will receive a 50% refund. And if you cancel within 30 days of your flight, there is no refund.

Question: What are the Requirements for Checked Baggage on Air China flights?

Answer: The weight and dimensions of checked baggage vary depending on the destination of your flight. For flights to and from North America, each piece of checked baggage cannot exceed 50 lbs (23 kg) and 62 inches (158 cm) when adding together the length, width, and height. For domestic flights, free checked bags can’t go over 100 cm or 39” inches in length, 60 cm or 24” inches in width, and 40 cm or 16” inches in height.

Question: Does Air China Fly Out of the United States?


Answer: Yes, Air China flies to and from several airports in the United States. These include Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), New York City (JFK), and more.

Question: Does Air China Fly Out of the United States?

Answer: Yes, Air China flies to and from several airports in the United States. These include Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), New York City (JFK), and more.

Conclusion

In most cases, I’ll opt for Air China if they have a comparable price and the best flight time. It’s the better option overall. However, their pilots must improve their landing skills. If you’re afraid to fly, I wouldn’t recommend Air China. Choose Hainan Airlines instead. You’ll feel a lot better.

After reading this article, which airline do you think you’d fly on?

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