The price of the round-trip, multi-city airfare for my early December trip to China literally could not be beat. It was an amazing deal, but you get what you pay for.
- Unbeatable price tag
- Cheap seat reassignments ($14 to choose your seat within economy)
- Decent food (fed 3x on our 14 hour flight)
- Friendly FAs
- Free headphones
- Tiniest, most uncomfortable seating I have ever experienced on a flight
- Limited entertainment options (by limited I mean, not much in the way of "new releases"
- Hard to use US version of the website. I called to ask about how to assign the seats and was told I had to deal with the slow website because they can't take US credit cards over the phone. She could only assign me to a seat that was "free" and there were no aisle seats that didn't require the upcharge. I eventually did it, but it was not user friendly.
What struck me most was the airplane etiquette (not the fault of the airline, obviously) was very different. When someone had to get up to go the bathroom, no one got up out of their seat to let them pass. They literally forced people to climb over them. I am so glad that I was on the aisle because I would not have been comfortable doing that at all. During flight, someone set off the lav smoke detector - you could smell cigarette smoke in the airplane. Who does that?? Again, this is not a reflection of the airline, but rather certain passengers, but my recommendation would be to pay the $14 to make sure you're assigned on an aisle.
The food wasn't bad, thought breakfast was not really breakfast. We were served dinner twice. The first time I had the chicken and rice and the second, the pork dumplings with noodle. In between those two meals, they served a chicken salad sandwich (tuna on the return home). If you have dietary restrictions, you might want to bring snacks for yourself because that sandwich snack didn't have an alternative. They also didn't have diet soda - only regular Coke and Sprite.
The only other thing that I was surprised at was that you couldn't have headphones in during take off or landing. Until the plane was at 10,000ft - we weren't allowed to have headphones in and then an hour before landing, they required that headphones were taken out. Different from US FAA regulations, so be prepared for that requirement before you go.
We only encountered one delay (from Shanghai to Beijing) - which honestly, we had no idea what was going on because there wasn't anyone manning the desk in Shanghai until the flight boarded. We kept having to find updates on various boards because English is not spoken much inside the airport. We relied heavily on Google translate, so highly recommend you have a translator app if you don't speak the language. It was a life saver!
Would I fly again? Sure - for the deal I got, yes. But I'll be bring more lumbar support, some snacks and airpods!