Flight Review: China Eastern Airlines – Hong Kong -> Shanghai -> Toronto

Flight Review: China Eastern Airlines - Hong Kong - Shanghai - Toronto

Flight: China Eastern Airlines MU 726
From: Hong Kong (HKG) To: Shanghai (PVG)

Flight: China Eastern Airlines MU 207
From: Shanghai (PVG) To: Toronto (YYZ)

I flew with China Eastern Airlines from Hong Kong to Toronto, via Shanghai. I booked this flight with frequent flyer points from Qantas, so I wasn’t expecting to see China Eastern in the results. Qantas is in the One World alliance, while China Eastern is in Skyteam. Qantas have a codeshare arrangement with China Eastern, so the flight turned up in the booking engine.

What was odd about this was that I originally had a booking with Cathay Pacific direct from Hong Kong to Toronto using points, but it was cancelled due to a booking error. I would have thought that a code share with an alliance partner would have overridden the non-alliance partner. Such are the vagaries of airline alliances these days.

I went with the China Eastern flight as it left Hong Kong in the morning and arrived in Toronto in the afternoon, so there was no overnight flying. I’ve flown with China Eastern on a domestic China flight, but this was my first international flight.

Before the flight I went online and reserved an aisle seat.

Online seat selection

I appeared to be having problems checking in though, which I wasn’t sure it was because it was a booking via Qantas.

Online check-in

Nervous about not having my seat confirmed I got to the check-in early to make sure. My seat was reserved but I’m glad I got there early as the queue was long and there weren’t enough check-in staff.

China Eastern check-in

The first flight was the short haul section to China Eastern’s home base of Shanghai Pudong. The departure was from one of the lower gates, so that means a bus to the plane.

Lower gate boarding

It started raining while we were waiting to board, so disposable rain ponchos were passed out. There has to be a better system of boarding a plane than resorting to doing this.

Rain poncho

By the time we boarded the rain had stopped, so that poncho may come to good use when I am back in Vietnam in the rainy season.

China Eastern at HKG

Flight MU 726 departs at 7:30 and arrives at 9:50 for a scheduled flight time of 2H 20M.

Cabin A321

The flight is on an A321, and there is a good amount of leg room.

Legroom

Connections – the inflight magazine of China Eastern.

Connections magazine

It’s mostly in Chinese, but I like to check the ads and other announcements. I didn’t know that China Eastern fly to Cairns.

Destination Cairns

The route map of global and Chinese destinations.

Route map

A cooked breakfast is served on this flight. I got the egg and potato meal.

HKG-PVG breakfast

We arrived nearly on time at Pudong Airport, and once again there was no gate to deplane from.

Arrival at PVG

Hong Kong and Shanghai Pudong both rank in the 10 busiest airports in the world, so no wonder they are both running out of airbridges. It’s a massive terminal at Pudong, but it’s easy enough to navigate. I was last here in 2017 with a flight to Chiang Mai.

Shanghai Pudong International Airport departures

With a scheduled layover of 2H 10M I barely had enough time for a coffee before the next flight. With China’s draconian firewall blocking the internet I didn’t even bother getting online.

Gate 211

I was surprised to see that the flight to Toronto was also being boarded by bus. Understandable when it’s an A320/737, but boarding a 777 by bus is a slow and tedious process.

Tarmac boarding at PVG

Flight MU 207 departs at 12:00 midday and arrives in Toronto at 14:25 for a scheduled flying time of 14H, 25M. Actual flying time was about 12H, 50M.

Time to Toronto

The most important factor of this flight was flying in day time hours, and the second most important factor was having a good entertainment unit.

Entertainment units

The TV screens on this flight were modern, and there was a good enough selection of movies to choose from. Not in the same league as Emirates or Singapore Airlines, but certainly enough to choose from to keep me occupied.

Movie selection

There is also wifi available onboard, but I didn’t check it. I like the opportunity that flying affords of going offline.

Wifi

As with the first flight there is a good amount of leg room here, and they have useful backseat pockets. In addition to the section where magazines go, there is a pouch where you can place bulkier items. And the seat itself was very comfortable.

Seat pouch

Soon after takeoff the first meal of the flight is served. I got the beef and rice option.

Beef rice lunch

In addition to the movies you can check the progress of the flight on the flight tracker.

PVG-YYZ route map

A dinner is also served on the flight, and I got the noodles.

Noodles dinner

Somewhere over Canada I’m reminded what a big country this is.

Flying over Canada

The flight isn’t long enough for three full meals, so before landing a light breakfast is served. If you didn’t place a special meal order you had no choice but to get this tuna roll.

Tuna roll

The flight arrived in Toronto on time, and immigration at Toronto was an easy process.

Baggage claim

Overall this was a good flight option to get from Asia to North America. I prefer to book by alliance airline for long-haul flights, but if a cheap enough China Eastern flight showed up in the flight search results I wouldn’t hesitate to take it.

China Eastern at Toronto


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