Yep - it is back to Beijing and like I say, 3rd time is a charm. With each trip here, I am becoming more and more comfortable with it, although the whole food thing still has me a little edge, although this has yet to lead to any sort of weight loss but I digress.
For this trip I was hoping to fly on Singapore Airlines as they are supposed to have an amazing business class product but I am quickly finding out that unless I book at least 4-6 weeks in advance, they typically sell out, particularly over the weekend & Mondays, which is when I usually want to travel. On my first trip I flew Lufthansa on the A380 (the double-decker) and it was okay however they don't have lie-flat seats - I know, first world problems, but I will come back to that. For my 2nd trip to Beijing, which wasn't planned, I flew on Malaysia Airlines from KL and on China Southern back to Amsterdam - both were okay but once again, no lie-flat seats. I generally also rule out KLM as well because as much as I want to collect the little blue and white houses that you get in business, they too don't have a lie-flat seat - so who does that leave me with. I think Cathay Pacific, Emerites and Air China, and given that I am trying to requalify for my Aeroplan Super Elite 100K, I went with Air China, which is part of the Star Alliance, and to be honest, I think I have a new favourite airline!
|My pre-take off Champagne|
The seat is very, very comfortable. I think it is the same seat that United has put in their new planes (okay - so there is one thing I like about United) and that Air Canada is putting in their new planes as well. And more importantly, it lies flat. So why is this so important to me, well the flight to China from Western Europe is between 10-12 hours depending on where you fly from, and generally lands early in the morning in Beijing. So for me, that means that I land, go to the hotel and have a shower and then off to the office I go and with the time difference (+6 hours), I want to have had some decent sleep on the plane. With the angle-flat seats that a lot of airlines have, my legs dangle, down, you slide down to the bottom of your footrest and it is generally very uncomfortable. First world problems I know, but when you land and then go to work, having been able to sleep and get your body adjusted, is important to me.
The food is very good and there is definitely no shortage of it. Asall flights heading to Asia, you have the option of a Chinese or a Western menu and for this flight, I decided to be adventurous and went with the Chinese menu and it was very good (and there was no donkey or parts).
They provide you with a very nice (and large) pillow and a large duvet - no thin knit blanket here.. And frankly, being comfortable is important to me, especially when I am in the air for so long. The only downside with Air China is the movie/TV selection - it is rather limited (reviews had forewarned me) but I came prepared with my laptop loaded up with movies/TV shows.
|Appetizers & salad|
Most of you probably don't know, but I suffer from minor panic attacks and usually I can talk myself through them, as half of my brain knows that I am having the attack and tries to rationalize with the other half which is flipping out. There are 3 main places/times when I have them - movie theatres (weird - I know), scuba diving and when flying. I generally have 1 panic attack per long-haul flight and they usually look like this - my heart starts to race, I start to breath quickly and I think, get me the f*#k out of here now. - this is consistent with all locations. I have this urge/need to get off/out of the plane and while the rationale side of me knows that this isn't possible, the panic side of me continues to flip out. They usually last 5-10 minutes and when they are over, I am fine and I suffer in silence - pretty sure that those around me don't even realize that they are happening. The good news is that I didn't have one on this flight :-) Yeah me.
|Main course - some sort of Chinese prawns - no donkey!|