China Eastern Airlines is one of the three state-owned airlines of China. The Shanghai-based airline with hubs in Pudong, Hongqiao and Kunming airports operates a fleet of Airbus, Boeing, Embraer and Bombardier aircraft to support its route network spanning over 350 domestic and 40 international destinations, covering Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, Europe, America and Oceania. China Eastern Airlines merged with Shanghai Airlines in 2010 to focus on providing quality services for both passengers and shippers.
Eid al-Adha and Hajj Day coincided with the weekend earlier this month and had a perfect 3-day holiday and suited an incredible weekend, I kept observing it two weeks ahead, but still failed to clear seats with SriLankan Airlines and randomly checked the fares with China Eastern Airlines on Skyscanner and to my surprise the airline operated on both the days that I wanted to leave from Malé and return from Colombo, and the fare was at USD 263/-, I immediately booked and issued it. Here is my review of China Eastern Airlines, Economy Class from Malé to Colombo.
Date: 30 August 2017
Flight Path: Malé (MLE) – Colombo (CMB)
Length: 1 hour 09 minutes
Fare: USD 263/-
CHECK IN: The check-in counter area at Velana International Airport was very crowded, mainly because check-in was in progress for many departing airlines including Air Asia, SriLankan Airlines and Scoot, more importantly a lot of people were flying off somewhere for the 3-day getaway. It took about 15-minutes to complete the check-in and another 15-minutes at the Immigration queue to get the passport stamped. All this still with two separate immigration counters and a single lane for the Maldivians, there was also a separate ePassport gate for Maldivians who had the ePassports, this lane was never busy or queued. I witnessed a Maldivian family of four who had ePassports attempting to go through the ePassport gate along with their baby in the stroller, but a female immigration officer stopped them and instructed them to pass through the normal lane since the baby stroller was unable to pass through the ePassport gate, it was very inconvenient since the family was travelling with a baby and another child. I hope the Maldives Immigration will find better solutions for such for families traveling with children in the future.
PLANE: The Boeing 737-89P(WL) didn’t seem clean and new, although the aircraft’s very first flight was on October 2013. Business class had 8 reclining seats with a 37 inch seat pitch and 150 Economy class seats with a 32 inch seat pitch.
All business and economy passengers were boarded to the aircraft on time, and were left to mill around without announcements. The flight was supposed to depart at 2105hrs, but it only took off at 2150hrs with a 45-minute delay. On-board safety demonstration video was aired through an overhead flip screen in Chinese and English. The cabin lights were dimmed during taxi and take-off and were returned when we reached the cruising altitude.
ENTERTAINMENT: The economy class seats did not have IFE screens, so there was no in-flight entertainment – radio, music or even a USB input to charge the phone or any other device.
FOOD: This was very frustrating and uncomfortable because all economy class passengers were given a 500-milliliter bottle of water during the food and beverage service. China Eastern Airlines as a full service carrier disappointed me and many other passengers who flew to Colombo on Economy class, especially the locals. I also overheard one Maldivian passenger telling another that this would be his first and the last flight with China Eastern Airlines.
SERVICE: The crew comprised all females, and were courteous and friendly. They were dressed smart in a marine blue skirt and a white blouse with influences of blue flowers and scarf design inspired by lotus and carnation flowers, symbolizing the beauty and elegance of oriental women. Forty minutes through the flight and the Captain communicated and informed that the descend was about to begin at Bandaranaike International Airport and the crew were told to prepare the cabin for landing.
CONCLUSION: I have traveled with China Eastern Airlines in 2013 to Colombo from Malé and back, and the services have drastically gone down. Unfortunately, I will not be flying China Eastern Airlines paying the same money for the same route.
I traveled on my own expense.