Booking with China Eastern Airlines is an excellent option for Canadian travellers who need to visit East Asia. Based in Shanghai and Chinese owned, China Eastern has been growing steadily since its foundation in 1988. Nowadays, it is the second-largest passenger airline in mainland China, handling 120 million annual passengers.
The airline runs a fleet of over 550 planes, which is based around Boeing 787-300 and Airbus A320 models. With such a large fleet, it has the capacity to serve destinations across the world. Travellers can reach over 150 Chinese destinations, as well as 79 international airports. This includes both Toronto and Vancouver, and direct flights to Shanghai can be booked with ease.
China Eastern Airlines has a very strong record of customer service and safety, earning a 7/7 score with the benchmarking site AirlineRatings. It is also part of the SkyTeam Alliance of global carriers, which means that travellers will find it easy to book multi-leg journeys with more than one airline.
The company runs a hugely popular frequent flyer club known as Eastern Miles, which includes standard air mile accounts, along with perks like free upgrades and extra baggage allowances. It's available in three tiers: Silver, Gold, and Platinum - and benefits rise as you ascend the scale.
Travellers with China Eastern can choose First, Business, or Economy class tickets. All have access to 300 movies and TV shows on every flight, and every traveller can access Wi-Fi for a supplementary fee. However, passengers will need to register for Wi-Fi prior to travelling, and then re-register onboard their flight - a slightly more complex system than with other airlines.
First and Business Classes
China Eastern provides a true premium service for First and Business Class passengers, with individual sleeping pods, wide screens for movies and TV, gourmet cuisine, sommelier-selected wine lists, amenity kits, and storage space for essentials. Travellers in First Class even receive a complimentary set of pajamas for their flight. Other than that, the two upscale classes are very similar. Expect a seat pitch of at least 38-inches, as well as the option to recline seats into sleeping positions.
Economy Class seats generally have a seat pitch of about 31-32-inches, although this may vary depending on the model of plane involved. Economy travellers receive blankets and cushions for their comfort. They can also watch the same selection of Chinese and English-language movies, although the screens will be slightly smaller. Food and drink is less diverse than in other classes, but Economy passengers can still take their choice from Chinese or western dishes. In addition, they can choose between Chinese tea or alcoholic beverages as well.
China Eastern Airlines operates a number of exclusive lounges at its Chinese hubs, so if Canadian travellers are headed home with the airline, they may be able to unwind before flying. Expect comfortable seating, buffet food, fast WiFi, and deluxe washrooms, along with free newspapers and magazines.
Travellers can check-in online with China Eastern from 48 hours before departure. If they would prefer to do so at the airport, check-in starts 3 hours prior to flying and will end 45 minutes before departure.
The airline recommends that all passengers try to be at the airport 2 hours before flying, to ensure that luggage can be processed smoothly.
First and Business Class
First-class travellers can check-in three items of luggage weighing less than 32 kg (70 lbs). Business Class travellers are able to check-in one item of the same weight.
In both classes, passengers can take on board one item of carry-on luggage, weighing less than 10 kg (22 lbs).
Economy Class travellers can check-in 2 items of luggage which weigh less than 23 kg (50 lbs) each.
The same carry-on limit applies one item weighing less than 10 kg (22 lbs).
The total dimensions of checked luggage must not exceed 203 cm (80 in).
Carry-on items must not be larger than 56 x 45 x 25 cm (22 x 17.7 x 9.8 in)
As usual with international airlines, excess baggage fees apply when passengers exceed the limits above. Special requirements also apply to sporting equipment and musical instruments. China Eastern recommends that travellers inform the airline in advance when carrying sensitive items to minimize the risk of damage.
Frequent flyer members enjoy benefits relating to luggage. For instance, Silver members have an excess baggage allowance o 10 kg (22 lbs) on international flights, while Gold members can take an extra 20 kg (44 lbs) if they desire.
Finally, parents can take on board infants aged over 14 days, and a limited supply of cradles is supplied on every flight. Lap infants do not incur an extra ticket fee, although fees will be charged if children require an extra seat.