Review: China Eastern Business Class A330 (PVG-HND)

Jyaga okay 3/5

China Eastern flight details

Airline : China Eastern Airlines
Flight No : MU575
Departure City : Shanghai – Pudong (PVG)
Arrival City : Tokyo – Haneda (HND)
Equipment : Airbus A330-200 (B-6543)
Blocked Time : 4h10m
Seat No: 8L

After wrapping up my stay at the China Eastern Lounge 36, it was finally time to fly to Tokyo! I have explained a bit about China Eastern Airlines and my booking process in the previous instalment, which you can read here! Although the same aircraft type operates this flight as my flight from Jakarta, it features a wildly different product.


China Eastern operates four lounges at Shanghai Pudong Airport, three of which are located in Terminal 1. Of the three, only two were operational during my visit – Lounge 36 and Lounge 137. Since Lounge 137 is located at the Satellite portion of Terminal 1, I was only able to visit Lounge 36 before my flight departing from the main terminal. As such, I’ve reviewed Lounge 36 in a previous instalment.

China Eastern Lounge 36 at Shanghai Pudong Airport


After spending roughly 8 hours at the China Eastern Lounge 36, I left the lounge roughly 45 minutes before our printed boarding time to wander about Pudong International Airport. To my disappointment, there weren’t many shops or restaurants open apart from a Starbucks and a few duty-free shops. Still, I loved the beautiful design of the terminal.

Gate area at Shanghai Pudong Airport

After walking around for a bit, I decided to find a seat by the gate area, hoping to be among the first people to board. Apart from my excitement to finally head to Tokyo, I also wanted to get as many empty cabin pictures as I could! About 20 minutes before our printed boarding time, a China Eastern agent finally showed up at the gate to set it up for boarding.

Our gate at Shanghai Pudong Airport
Our gate at Shanghai Pudong Airport
Boarding call

The gate entrance slowly swarmed as we neared the printed boarding time of 16.45. So I decided to walk up to the queue and line up behind another person who was already waiting. As I got in line, the gate agent immediately started to check our boarding passes and requested us to line up according to our priority. We waited for another five minutes before boarding finally commenced at 16.55.

Walkway to our jetbridge

Due to the design of Terminal 1, we had to take an escalator down one level and walk a distance to get to the jetbridge. Located along this pathway are also the mini VIP Lounges dedicated to each gate. In the past, these were the only lounges used by China Eastern for its premium passengers before the opening of Lounge 36. As I walked along this path, I also finally caught a glimpse of the A330-200 flying us to Haneda!

B-6543 in Shanghai
B-6543 in Shanghai

Our flight today is operated by B-6543, an A330-200 delivered new to China Eastern in 2012. As I got to the end of the pathway, another China Eastern agent checked my boarding pass before letting me through. At the door, I was greeted by a friendly member of the cabin crew, who walked me to my seat as the airline’s boarding music played in the background.

China Eastern A330-200 Cabin

Whilst this flight was meant to be operated by an A330-200 with the same 33H cabin I flew from Jakarta, a last-minute equipment change led to us getting a different cabin product in Business Class. Specifically, B-6543 is equipped with the 33E configuration, with 30 seats in Business Class and 202 seats in Economy Class.

Business Class cabin
Economy Class cabin

Business Class

There are a total of 30 seats in Business Class configured in a relatively outdated 2-2-2 configuration divided between two cabins. The first cabin lies between Doors 1 and 2 with 18 seats spread between three rows. A smaller cabin with 12 seats in two rows follows behind Door 2.

Forward Business Class cabin
Forward Business Class cabin

Specifically, the cabin is equipped with the forward-facing Safran Aura Lite seats, which you’ll find on a bunch of other airlines like Air India, China Southern, LATAM, LOT, etc. Each seat is arranged in a pair of two, separated by a large centre console housing the tray table and seat controls.

Rear Business Class cabin
Rear Business Class cabin

Upon first entering the cabin, I was impressed by how clean and fresh the cabin still looked despite being over 11 years old by this point. Whilst the seats and finishes are undoubtedly outdated, something about the cabin just made it feel as if it were just several years old.

Forward Business Class cabin

Seat Details

On this flight, I was seated at 8L, the right-hand-side window seat in the last row of the forward Business Class cabin. Much like my previous flight, the seat is decked in a blue-coloured textile with a round floral pattern in the centre. Right next to the seat is a personal reading light, which is turned on by twisting the lamp; this complements the existing overhead reading lights.

My seat on this flight
Reading lamp

Across the seat is the 17.3-inch entertainment screen, featuring China Eastern’s Sky Entertainment system, and the ottoman. Next to it is a coat hook as well as two storage wells housing the headsets. More storage can be found under the ottoman, which features a shoe compartment and an opening that can fit a large handbag or briefcase. There is also a narrow literature compartment on the ottoman.

Entertainment screen
Coat hook and storage well
Business Class seats

On the centre console, you’ll find the seat controls, which are quite intuitive and easy to use. Unfortunately, this is where the wear and tear really started to show given the scratches and patches of dirt. The seat’s tray table is also housed in the centre console and pulls out right under the seat controls. Although not large, I found the table to be very nice and sturdy – suitable as a work surface.

Seat controls
Tray table

Finally, under the centre armrest is a small opening, where you’ll find the universal power outlet, a USB-A plug, a small bottle holder, alongside the remote control that controls the entertainment screen. Theoretically, you could also store a book or something here as well.

Remote control and power outlets


The amenities on this flight were identical to those I received on the flight from Jakarta. This meant getting the same large and fluffy pillow and the thick modacrylic blanket as the previous flight. In addition, an identical pair of slippers and headphones were also waiting in the literature compartment and storage well, respectively. Likewise, amenity kits were not offered on this flight.

Literature compartment contents

This time, however, a bottle of Boneau water was already waiting at the seat, alongside a menu card! It seemed nice until I realised how difficult it was to figure out which offerings applied to our flight… Specifically, the menu card is used for the entire year and lists the options divided between odd and even months and the 1st-15th and 16th-31st of those months.

Bottled water and our menu cards

Departure from Shanghai

Since the cabin stayed empty for several minutes I decided to go all out taking pictures of of the cabin. This alerted the purser, who appeared very concerned. She asked if anything was wrong, though her face lit back up when I told her that I liked trying new airlines and found the cabin to be beautiful. 😉

View outside the window during boarding

As I settled in my seat, the flight attendant on my aisle came by to distribute hot towels on porcelain plates. Nice! Shortly after, she came back with a tray of drinks with a choice between water and orange juice. Since the orange juice didn’t look fresh, I ended up getting a glass of water again.

Hot towels
Pre-departure beverages

The flight attendant then came back to take our dinner preferences. She got very confused when I mentioned my meal preference. After showing her the option on the menu card page for ‘Even Month 16th-31st’, she quickly understood and smilingly flipped the booklet to the apparent correct page: ‘Odd Month 1st-15th’. This seemed like a funny misunderstanding but I did take this flight on October 22…

View outside the window during boarding

Anywards, the doors were closed at 17.15, precisely 20 minutes after boarding started. Business Class cabin ended up being mostly occupied, with just a few empty seats. Most passengers in Business Class appeared to be Chinese. At this time, the purser welcomed us on board and noted our flight time of two hours and twenty minutes this flight to Tokyo Haneda Airport. Her announcement was followed by the safety video, which was played first in Mandarin Chinese, then in English, and then in Japanese.

China Eastern safety video

Departure and takeoff

We pushed back at 17.23, seven minutes before our scheduled departure time. Curiously, we only started taxiing at 17.30, so I don’t know if China has a rule for early departures or something. By this time the sun had started to set, giving an orangish hue to the myriad of plain white China Eastern planes scattered throughout Pudong. We slowly taxied past the Satellite Terminal and Terminal 2 on our way to the runway, passing by China Eastern, Shanghai Airlines, and Hainan Airlines planes.

Shanghai Pudong Terminal 1
Shanghai Pudong Satellite Terminal
Traffic at Shanghai Pudong Airport
Traffic at Shanghai Pudong Airport

We finally took off at 17.43 from runway 34L and flew into the beautiful orange sunset on our way to Tokyo. See you soon, Shanghai!!

Takeoff from Shanghai Pudong Airport
Departure from Shanghai Pudong Airport

Inflight Entertainment

The seatbelt signs were switched off 20 minutes after takeoff, by which time the flight attendants finally stood up and closed the curtains. As I waited for the meal service to begin, I took the time to browse the entertainment system, Sky Entertainment. Sadly, this was also when I realised that my remote was in a terrible condition (although it still worked).

Sky Entertainment system
Inflight entertainment remote control

Anyways, this flight featured an identically sparse selection to my last flight. To rehash, there was a small selection of Western, Asian, and Chinese titles. In total, there were just 16 Hollywood movies, in addition to 33 Chinese movies, three Asian movies, and three European ones. There were at least a couple of recent releases like Fast X and the Super Mario Bros Movie, the latter I ended up watching.

Film selection

In addition to the Sky Entertainment system, there was also an onboard WiFi service, which was advertised by the crew. After getting the log-in page to load, I saw that the WiFi service features two price plans – Standard Full Flight and Premium Full Flight. They cost 50 RMB (~ USD7, GBP 5.5) and 88 RMB (~ USD12, GBP10), respectively, which isn’t a bad price. There was also an inflight magazine available in the literature pocket. Titled ‘Connections’ the content of the magazine was nearly completely in Chinese.

Dinner Service

About 30 minutes after takeoff, the crew started the dinner service and went around distributing hot towels. Five minutes later, the crew came back to set up my tray table with the cheap-looking disposable tissue-like tablecloths. I was also presented with my choice of beverage and a package of nuts and dried fruits.

Post-departure hot towels

Funnily enough, China Eastern does seem to have a logistical issue with its drinks offering. When drink orders were taken, I tried to order the MU Original Drinks, both of which were not available. I then tried the Soy Milk Drink (since it was October), which was also not available. And the Plum Drink? Not available. I was close to giving up until I was told that the ‘MU Freeze – Dried Fruit Tea’ was available. So I got that. For reference the following is the beverage list.

Beverage list

The ‘MU Freeze – Dried Fruit Tea’ seemed like a combination of passionfruit, plum, and lemon, which was quite refreshing. It was a bit too sweet for my liking, however. Additionally, the package of mixed nuts and fruits was curiously divided into two parts – one each for the nuts and dried fruits, respectively. It consisted of cashews, peas, and raisins, which I quite liked.

Post-departure drinks
Mixed nut snack content

The crew started serving the meal about 10 minutes after the drinks were distributed. Due to the menu snafu, as I explained earlier in the review, I quickly decided to get the pseudo-Japanese option of ‘Misuyaki Salmon with Yin-an Sauce’. I was considering the Chinese option despite my distaste for beef, but in the spur of the moment, I decided to get the fish instead. Oh well. For reference, the following is the menu for this flight.

Japanese starter

The meal was served on a tray, consisting of Japanese-style assorted appetisers, a bowl of miso soup, and a bread plate and butter. Also provided are two kinds of cutlery, including a standard Western set as well as a pair of nice-looking metal chopsticks and a porcelain spoon.

Appetiser tray
Appetiser tray and bread selection

The Japanese-style assorted appetisers consisted of six elements, which include the following (clockwise from top-left): Green Bean Paste Cake, Marinated Spaghetti Squash with Octopus, Seafood Turnip Potato Salad, Fresh Fruits, Vegetable Roll with Shrimp Jam, and Salted Chicken Thigh. Served cold, I found this selection to be fresh and tasty!

Japanese-style assorted appetisers

The bread was brought separately by the crew, who came around with a bread basket after the appetiser tray was distributed. I decided to get an oat roll and garlic bread, though both were sadly very hard and tasted rather stale. The miso soup was similarly bad, given how bland it was; this was probably one of the saddest aeroplane miso soups I’ve had…

Bread selection

Main course

As soon as I finished the starters, the crew came back to take away the appetiser box and served the main dish on the tray. Again, I opted for the ‘Misuyaki [sic] Salmon with Yin-an Sauce, Vegetables and Steamed Rice’. I imagine the dish that was served was inspired by that description. The plate consisted of a tiny piece of soggy-looking salmon, alongside a fish cake, carrots, snow peas, and steamed rice topped with aonori. Frankly, I wasn’t sure what the Yin-an Sauce was, but the Japanese menu did not mention that sauce. In any case, the misoyaki salmon didn’t taste a lot like it was miso-grilled and was quite fishy. Thankfully, I wasn’t too hungry by this point…

Misuyaki Salmon with Yin-an Sauce, Vegetables and Steamed Rice

On the other hand, the Roasted Duck Breast with Green Peppercorn Sauce looked much nicer. In any case, China Eastern does seem rather stingy when it comes to the serving size of proteins in their meals. Although I guess I’m glad the salmon was tiny given how fishy it was.

Roasted Duck Breast with Green Peppercorn Sauce

Bed mode

After the meal the cabin lights were dimmed, succumbing me to a short nap :P. Likewise, I slowly reclined my seat into flat mode and unwrapped the blanket. Despite not having direct aisle access, I’ll admit these seats are pretty great for sleeping given the lack of a footwell. In fact, accounting for the good padding and the large pillow, the bed was pretty good! It would be even better if you were travelling with someone else, as I did.

Seat in bed mode
Bed width
Provided bedding


Before landing, I decided to check out the lavatories and freshen up a bit, There are two lavatories reserved for Business Class, one at the front near the flight deck and the other by the galley between the cabins. Of the two, the aft lavatory does feel a lot smaller by design of the aircraft’s curvature. As such, the lavatory by the galley is more comfortable to use.

China Eastern Business Class lavatory

Disposable cups and airsickness bags were provided, along with China Eastern-branded hand sanitiser and body lotion dispensers. I was happy that the lavatories were kept nice and clean throughout the flight. And much like my previous flight, the crew would proactively open the lavatory door as you walk down the aisle. Very nice!


Whilst the service on my flight from Jakarta was exceptionally good, I couldn’t say the same about this flight. That’s not to say that it was bad, however. The crew on this flight were friendly but I wouldn’t call the service polished or refined. For one, they seemed a lot more reserved and there didn’t seem like much coordination. For instance, I’d be spoken to in Chinese at various points during the flight after having already spoken in English before that. Their grasp of English is also not as great as the crew from Jakarta, which probably explains their seeming reservedness.

Arrival in Haneda

About 50 minutes before landing, the purser announced the details of our arrival in Haneda with an expected arrival time of 21.00. This was followed by the screening of an outdated-looking video about the immigration and customs process on arrival in Japan. About 35 minutes before our arrival time, the seatbelt signs were lit and the cabin was prepared for landing. Although this was very pretty early, this is a common procedure between many Asian carriers.

Arrivals video
View outside

As we descended to Haneda Airport, we were treated to some night views of Odaiba and Tokyo Bay. At 20.55 Japan Standard Time, we had a smooth touchdown on Tokyo Haneda Airport’s Runway 34L – 25 minutes early. Soon after, we were greeted by an announcement from the purser in Chinese and English welcoming us to Tokyo.

View on approach

As we landed on the runway next to Terminal 3, we had a very quick taxi to our gate at the far end of the terminal. We ended up parking next to a Japan Airlines Boeing 787-8 equipped with the JAL Shell Flat Neo Business Class seats, which I’ve reviewed previously.

Terminal 3 at Haneda Airport
Japan Airlines Boeing 787-8 at Haneda

The doors were opened by 20.05, about 10 minutes after landing, by which time I thanked the crew for the flight as I exited from Door 1L. As I made my way up the jetbridge, I quickly took a picture of this beautiful Finnair A350-900, which will be on its way back to Helsinki a couple of hours later.

Finnair A350-900 at Haneda Airport


Overall, I had a rather uneventful if not mediocre flight, especially in contrast with my excellent flight from Jakarta. Although everything was alright, I just felt that the service and (to an extent) the seats completely paled in comparison to my last flight. For one the service was friendly but nothing special. Likewise, the seats were comfortable enough, although nothing special (and could use better maintenance too!). The food, too, was a mix of nice and mediocre… See the pattern, here? As such, there was nothing really bad about this flight, although nothing good either. In any case, it is still miles better than the China Eastern you oft heard about in reviews from years back!

Read more from this trip here!

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