Sunday, 23 April 2017

Chosing an airline: flying Down Under

Analysing the trip Down Under.

As I mentioned in previous blogs, I have been planning my visit to my (grand+)children for a good while now. The closer the departure date came, the more serious I attacked the necessary arrangements and items of interest so to speak. The gifts - though not in large quantity are more for the fun and just because omaverweg's suitcase needs to hold gifts.

During those months I had booked my flight with China Eastern Airline ( using, I received about 4 schedule adjustments. They didn't amount to much, were more a nuisance so I stoppen printing them off. This was 't something I had experienced before with the other companies I had flown with ( Cathay Pacific, Singapore Air, Qantas, China Airlines). Once a flight and time chosen this didn't vary. I always knew how long my stopovers were to be and planned accordingly.

Then the Friday afternoon before leaving ( I was due to leave the following Wednesday) I was informed that my time of my stopover in Shanghai had been increased by as much as 5 hours. My giddy aunt did that rile me. Weeks before I had tried to leave a day earlier- without succes, and now without a by your leave my schedule was altered drastically. I started to wonder about my choice of Airline.

The staff at were also 'not amused' and finding no joy at the airine for a hotel room, they booked me a room at their expense. What a lovely gesture. It wasn't something they needed to fix, bit did! Good on them. As a paying customer, i felt ad though they were doing me a favour by allowing me on the plane!!! Instead of being pleased I had booked with their airline.

The departure delay also meant problems with checking in. One can only do that 24 hours prior to departure. So another X on the list of unsatisfactory service. The first part of the flight was hosted by KLM. The service was great, the food was too as was the staff- ever so friendly they were. And what a lovely plane. 

Without any hickups we arrived at Shanghai Airport at the expected time. I had been informed when checking in at Schiphol, that I had to get my luggage off the bagage bay and see to it's placement on my ongoing flight. The KLM staff on board the flight were under the impression that the system wasn't automatic. So, off the plane, through customs, and because I needed to stay 15 hours I had to fill in an immigration form. " Shock horror"! It said I needed a visum. So pleased there was a passenger in the know- a stay of less than 72 hours didn't require one. Sigh of relief!

After a reasonably thorough scrutiny at customs I trotted off to the baggage pick up. I waited and waited and waited. Not anywhere in sight. Drug dogs gone, all other passengers gone- the staff member at the Luggage claim pointed me in the direction of the Luggage Information Office. English was not a language this person had managed to learn. Hands and feet did the tsking! By this stage I wasn't only tired I had added another X on my growing list of negative experiences. 

English isn't a strong point in Shanghai I have to say. They try, really they do but.......! Frustrations galore on that score too. My bag was automatically sent on, so the young man at the counter advised me. He looked at me as if I had cursed when I said that I had been told I was responsible for this. He shook his head. No, it would be on plane tomorrow ma'am, really! Here's hoping. I am on the plane writing this- I'll know in a few hours whether my suitcase was too.

So far I have to say there were a few X-es. Since returning to the airport I have had plenty of happy moments.  I was a wee bit tense as I wasn't sure how the procedure was going to flow - I had as yet not check-in nor had I my boarding pass or seat! With a few scary moments and 15 minutes with a cheery young male attendant I merrily piloted myself through customs and security. A very modern airport. My vague feeling is that it is the same architect as the one in Taipei. Very compatible.  Almost all perfume and smelly stuff stores. Can't and didn't expect Changi Airport ( Hongkong) size in Shanghai so my walkabout was reasonbly quickly 'round'.

Breakfast had been served around 8 am just before landing here from Schiphol. At the hotel I munched on a couple of Pringle chips I had fortified myself with from home. It was now almost 8 pm and time for a decent meal. First place I fancied they didn't take Mastercard but would accept Visa. Weird deduction but oh well - their loss! Then I struck GOLD. Almost next to the Gate I needed to be at for departure a cafe style eatery with genuine Chinese cuisine. Ohhhh I could have kissed the waitress. There I sat with a lushious bowl of chicken soup, a steam basket with 5 of the most delicious pork meat dim sims with sauce and as the cherry on this lovely meal event - a teapot with REAL jasmine tea. BLISS BLISS BLISS. So many sins (Xes) were pushed to the back of my mind.

I spent the next hours playing Rummicup, walking in circles and even had a sleep stretched out over 3 chairs. The departure lounge was filling up. At 00:30 the gate opened and in a very orderly fashion ( total opposite to when we left Schiphol which was bedlam) we filed down to the air bridge, got seated and were ready for takeoff before you could blink an eye. Taxi-ing to take off took longer! Thought we were going to drive to Auckland for a minute.

A light warm meal has been served and cleaned up. I think the girls are doing the dishes as we speak. Plenty of turbulance which isn't my cup o tea. 

I haven't landed yet to reclaim my suitcase, or made my return trip home. I have however decided, that is airline probably has lots going for it, but it wouldn't be my first choice - even if the price is lower than others I have had more relaxed travel experinces with. 

Maybe because things were so muddled and unpredictable. The original drama is behind me- who knows how much better things can go from here.

- Update: my suitcase WASN'T on the flight. I spent 5 days wearing the same clothes. Washed admittedly during the night but still very uncomfortable.

When I finally received my suitcase my conviction was complete. I will avoid the airline on future trips - I still have to fly home in May. My confidence is at low ebb. Here's praying for a better experience.