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Hainan Airlines Business Class Flight Review Beijing to Brussels

CABIN FLOWN

Business Class

ROUTE FLOWN

Beijing to Brussels

DATE

9th September 2010

REVIEWER

T Davis

FLIGHT RATING

Hainan Airlines Hainan Airlines customer 2010
5.0 Star Rating: Excellent

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Hainan Airlines Business Class Flight Review Beijing to Brussels


DEPARTURE SERVICE

A late evening check-in at Terminal 2 in Beijing Airport, and the departures area was almost deserted at this time of night. No queues at the counter and was dealt with immediately. Staff service was pro-active and quite friendly, and I was quickly on my way to Immigration. This is just a 30 secs walk from check-in, and again the departure time meant no queuing here, and security was similarly a breeze.

Hainan Airlines use the BGS business class lounge, and whilst not the most modern facility, it was clean and spacious. Selection of foods was rather limited, but staff did tell me this was usual for late night departures (from about 2300hrs onwards). Free WiFi available and staff helped me to configure laptop connection after having some initial problems. Lounge has a good choice of newspapers (not European though) and a small selection of magazines. There is a small smoking room that is rather intrusive into the lounge, but I believe Chinese airports will go non-smoking from late 2010.

Hainan Airlines ground staff came to the lounge to advise of boarding, which for business class started some 25 mins before departure - they offer the choice to pre-board or after Economy class, and I chose the former. The gate was about 5 mins walk from the lounge, and there was a separate boarding line meaning that I walked straight onto the aircraft with no waiting.


CABIN APPEARANCE

A bright and clean cabin on what seemed to be a relatively new A330 aircraft. Seats are a deep red colour and carpets follow a similar colour scheme - on first impression I thought it might be rather bright, but actually the end result is very crisp and fresh. The cabin had moodlighting that was used quite effectively for dimming down at bedtime and for the morning wake-up before we arrived in Brussels.

Certainly one of the cleanest cabins I have travelled for some time, and washrooms were similarly spotless. Staff check the toilets between every single passenger usage, and you won't be let in until they have verified the cleanliness! Amenities in the washroom are CK2, and include cologne, hand cream, cotton flannels etc.


SEATING COMFORT

A fairly comfortable seat. They are laid out 2x2x2 across, three rows in front cabin and three rows in aft cabin. In the upright and semi-recline position, it was quite comfortable and lots of adjustments can be made by the electronic control. For sleep time, the seat goes fully flat, and is just about long enough - the tallest amongst you might find your toes tangling off the end.

There is a pull up privacy blind between the seats, and reasonable storage space with 2-3 different pockets for bits and pieces. When seats are fully reclined (I was in the window seat) it was quite easy getting out across your neighbour if they are sleeping. Seat cushions were slightly on firm side, but staff brought a mattress / enhancer to lay on the seat for sleep periods. At bedtime, a cotton lined thick blanket / duvet was also supplied and comfortable pillow.


ONBOARD CATERING

During boarding, a choice of champagne, orange juice and water was offered, and a small bowl of mixed nuts was also provided. As a late night (0130) departure, a quick dinner services was offered after departure. Choices included an hors d'oeuvres, soup, western or Chinese entrees, plus dessert, cheese and fruit. The quality of food was quite good, and it seemed the best options were the Chinese dishes. Presentation is great, and they provide a full table style service - no trays, and all courses served individually to the table, and this was almost an on-demand format given. Choice of wines was rather limited, although a Chinese red wine is to be recommended (I discovered many of the red wines being produced in China are in vineyards run by French wine growers).

About 95 minutes before arrival into Brussels, a breakfast was served to passengers who were awake. Again, fairly standard fayre for the western option or fresh fruit, cereal, hot egg based dish and selection of hot pastries. The Chinese breakfast option seemed to be the most popular, although in this instance I opted for the western. A great selection of teas is offered, and some very good coffee also provided.


INFLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

The IFE is via 10.6 inch screens, stowed in the armrest so that gate-to-gate viewing is not an option. The headsets provided are non-branded, noise cancelling and seemed to work pretty well and were comfortable. The choice of programming is all "on-demand" , and is quite good, with a wide range of Western and Chinese movies, including many new airline latest release options, and there is also a selection of TV / magazine style programming - again for Chinese and English languages. Audio library was good, with a wide array of CD's to select, again with an international / western and Chinese range.


CABIN STAFF SERVICE

This was really the highlight of the flight, with cabin staff being some of the best I have come across during many flights in recent years. Staff are extremely polite and attentive, and are clearly dedicated to ensuring that passengers have the best possible flight experience. Mainly quite young female staff, some lack a little bit of confidence when it comes to their English language abilities, but I have to say that apart from this it would be very difficult to find any fault whatsoever.

There was never a need for any passenger to think about using the call bell, since staff were always on hand to offer service, but what was most noticeable was the fact that they seemed to be genuinely interested in ensuring we were all well looked after - quite a transformation from some recent flights on a European airline counterpart.

 

They serve a large number of hot and cold towels throughout this 11hr flight - if you wake up, or don't go to sleep, they will be around to offer something. The amenity kit is fairly standard quality, with hand-cream, lipbalm, toothbrush etc all included, and a nice pair of slippers was given at the start of the flight (they even offer to put your shoes in a paper bag and stow in the overhead bin!). At present no pyjamas were offered in Business Class, but staff told me this was being added later this year.


FLIGHT ARRIVAL

We were 20 mins early arriving into Brussels, and at 0510hrs this is still a very quiet and peaceful airport - hence the only delay was the fact that only 2 immigration counters were staffed on arrival. Baggage was standard Brussels time to reach the carousel - and by that, I mean slow! For an airport that is as compact as Brussels, it is always a mystery as to how they can take so long to deliver baggage over such a short distance.


CUSTOMER TRIP VERDICT

Quite simply, the best trip I have had with a Chinese airline, and Hainan Airlines are just leaps and bounds ahead of their competitor airlines in China. It was a real eye-opener in terms of both the product finesse and more particularly the staff service, and having travelled on four of the Skytrax 5-Star airlines during the past six months, I really could not find much difference between them and Hainan Airlines. My overall verdict would be 9 of of 10, and this would have been a near perfect 10 if the lounge in Beijing had been better, and small items such as no pyjamas onboard the flight.

 





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