Review: China Eastern - Premium Economy - Airbus A320neo - Chiang Mai CNX to Shanghai PVG

Trip Report Index:

Introduction
China Eastern - Business Class - Boeing 777-300ER - New York JFK to Shanghai PVG
China Eastern - Lounge 36 - Shanghai Pudong Airport
China Eastern - Business Class - Airbus A320neo - Shanghai PVG to Chiang Mai CNX
Thai Airways - Royal Orchid Lounge - Chiang Mai Airport
China Eastern - Premium Economy - Airbus A320neo - Chiang Mai CNX to Shanghai PVG
China Eastern - Business Class - Boeing 777-300ER - Shanghai PVG to New York JFK

Flight Details:

China Eastern Flight 206
Chiang Mai (CNX) to Shanghai (PVG)
Depart: Wednesday, July 24 at 2:55 PM (Actual 2:45 PM)
Arrival: Wednesday, July 24 at 8:25 PM (Actual 7:48 PM)
Aircraft: Airbus A320neo
Seat: 26C (Premium Economy)

Booking:

To get back to Shanghai, we wanted to book a cash ticket so that we could earn some MQMs. Our original intention was to pay for Business Class, which priced out at $450 for the one way ticket. Unfortunately, we waited too long and the price jumped to a staggering $650 for a 4 hour hop. Interestingly enough, Expedia was selling Economy for $320 and Premium Economy for $340. I scoured the China Eastern website and could not find a single layout that showed this. In fact, every time I went to book, it told me the seats would be in row 26, the second of three rows.

On China Eastern's site, every A320 layout shows Business Class as rows 6 and 7, with Economy starting at 31. You might ask? Why bother doing all this research. Well, the Economy ticket was booking into the Z class, while Premium Economy booked into W. Delta's earning chart for China Eastern showed we would earn 100% MQMs in Z class or 150% MQMs in W class. In addition, the miles earned would be 25% for Z, and 150% for W. For me, an additional $20 was well worth the additional Medallion benefit. We selected row 26 C and J - seats across the aisle from each other. 25, the bulkhead row, was entirely booked. In my mind, this was going to be like Delta Comfort+ based on the seat layout and cost difference.

Boarding:

After our visit to the Royal Orchid Lounge, we headed outside to our gate. It was located right outside the lounge. Boarding was scheduled at 2:15 PM, and precisely at that time, an agent held up a sign and everyone swarmed the gate. We were standing close by, and were the second and third passengers on. Our plane, B-304C, was delivered in late October 2018.

Cabin:


China Eastern's A320neo Premium Economy and Economy cabin maintained the same neutral tones as of Business Class. Seats were a standard Recaro one, used on many airlines.


Legroom was plentiful in Premium Economy. Waiting at each seat was a plush red blanket. Some were packaged, while others weren't.


Interestingly enough, some seats had slippers (the same as Business) and a water bottle.


There was also a power port and USB port between the seats.


Each seat had a tray table, two literature pockets and a cup holder.


The tray table was full-sized and slid back and forth.


Each row had reading lights and air vents.


There was also a little coat hook on the back of each seat.


At 2:40 PM, it was announced that boarding was complete. I was a little confused, since at booking row 25 was full, and at check-in we were told it was full, too.


Premium Economy went out with 5 passengers, including myself and my husband. We each had an entire row to ourselves. Just before we backed away, two pilots sat in row 25. They had clearly flown the plane here, and were deadheading home.

Flight / Meal Services:

We backed away at 2:45 PM, a full ten minutes early. At this point, small monitors dropped down and showed the safety video. Once again, it was silent and played through twice in different languages.


We took off at 2:56 PM, and were informed of our 3 hour and 45 minute flight time by a flight attendant. Take off was unbelievably turbulent. The turbulence on this flight was actually so bad, that it lasted almost the entire time. It took us at least ten minutes to clear out of whiteness.


About 20 minutes in, Business Class was closed off with a curtain and a sign, and the monitors dropped to show advertisements.


There was no sound, so it didn't bother me. A few minutes later, a crew member passed out peanuts and towels to everyone in the back.


I turned around and noticed that those in Economy had a much simpler and thinner tan colored blanket. They also did not have waters and slippers. Eventually, the advertisements turned into a movie, which was hardcoded with both Mandarin and English subtitles. I spent a good while trying to find a headphone jack, but couldn't.

A meal service started ten minutes later. The choices were beef with noodles, or pork with rice. I selected the beef and an orange juice. As my meal was handed to me, the crew member shut my window.


The meal came with two items - the hot and the cold.


Inside the cold box, was a variety of side dishes. There was a milk bun with pork floss, matcha pound cake, seaweed rice crackers, a moist towelette and water.


I opened the meal and feared the worst. Surprisingly, it looked pretty good.


Inside was a sizable portion of stir-fried beef cubes, lo mein and spinach. I found the entire meal to be pretty good and nothing worth complaining about. Our flight was about the distance from New York to Denver and in the US you'd get peanuts and a drink. This was quite the change. About a half hour after the meal service began it was cleared. I checked out the restroom.


The restroom was clean and in good condition. The trash can was an interesting spot, behind the toilet, which was labeled with handwritten sign.


There was hand soap and lotion.


On the back of the door was an air freshener.


When I came out of the bathroom, I asked a crew member about the audio for the movie. He said I could read the subtitles. Thinking he was explaining that there was no English sound, I said it was okay if it was in Mandarin, if only to hear anything. I was told, "Oh, no, no. There's no way. Everyone has to read." Um, okay. Cool.


On my walk back, I noticed no one with headphones plugged in, so this must have been true. The rest of the flight was pretty uneventful. I laid across the three seats using one blanket as a pillow, and another to cover me. 

Like all China Eastern flights, our first pilot announcement came thirty minutes before landing. The crew came to open up the shades and make sure our devices were unplugged.


We had great sunset views that eventually turned to night.


We even flew over the China Eastern Headquarters.

Arrival:

We touched down at 7:38 PM. Pudong Airport is so big that even after we slowed down, we still drove for another 5 minutes down the runway. Our taxi was about 5 minutes more and ended at a remote stand outside of Terminal 1.


We had to wait a minute or so for a bus, as the two Business Class passengers were given their own. This was not a big deal, as we had already arrived almost 40 minutes early.


Bottom Line:

China Eastern's A320neo Premium Economy is like Delta Comfort+. It's an upgraded Economy experience, with additional amenities such as slippers, legroom and more miles to earn. The service on this flight was good, as was the food. This was well worth the $20 up-charge over Economy. It was unfortunate how much turbulence the flight had, but that's not the fault of the airline.

All images from the author, unless otherwise noted.

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