Review: China Eastern Business Class A350 (HND-PVG)

Jyaga likes (4.5/5)

China Eastern flight details

Airline : China Eastern Airlines
Flight No : MU576
Departure City : Tokyo – Haneda (HND)
Arrival City : Shanghai – Pudong (PVG)
Equipment : Airbus A350-900 (B-324X)
Blocked Time : 3h05m
Seat No: 6L

China Eastern Airlines is one of the three major carriers of mainland China, alongside China Southern and Air China. With a fleet of over 600 aircraft, it was also Asia’s second-largest airline. Founded in 1988, the airline has since become part of SkyTeam and the alliance’s transpacific joint venture. 

This review is a continuation of my trip flying China Eastern from Jakarta to Tokyo, via Shanghai. I have explained in detail the booking process in the first instalment, which you can read here! In any case, it would be an understatement to say that I was excited for this flight. After all, today’s departure is operated by the Airbus A350-900, the newest addition to China Eastern’s fleet.


After checking out from the Grand Prince Hotel Shin Takanawa, I took a taxi to Tokyo Haneda Airport for my morning 08.40 flight. I was dropped off at Terminal 3 at 05.50, just under three hours before my flight. From there, I took the lifts to the Departures Level 3.

Terminal 3 porte-cochère

After consulting the Haneda Airport website, I saw that China Eastern check-in counters are located on Island K, near the far end of the Departures Hall. Sadly, I soon found out that the counters have yet to be set up, let alone open. Fortunately, the counters were soon set up 10 minutes later and opened at 06.10.

Terminal 3 Departures Hall

There were three SkyPriority counters available, including two for Business Class and SkyTeam Elite Plus and one dedicated counter for EasternMiles Platinum as well as First and Business Class. I lined up at an empty Business Class line, whereas the EasternMiles Platinum line already had a queue. As I waited for the counter to open, the contracted China Eastern staff distributed transfer baggage tags for us to fill in our information.

China Eastern check-in counters
Transfer baggage tag

I approached the counters when it finally opened, only to be stopped and told that they were giving priority to Business Class passengers… Umm, hello? Not wanting to cause a scene, I kept a stiff upper lip. Thankfully a counter freed up soon after and I was checked in by a courteous agent. Funnily, I later noticed that the passengers in the EasternMiles Platinum line were flying Economy Class with FlyingBlue SkyTeam Elite Plus status (which I also hold). So much for prioritising Business Class customers…


For its flight out of Haneda Airport, China Eastern uses the JAL Sakura Lounge for its Business Class and eligible SkyPriority customers. In particular, eligible China Eastern passengers can use both the JAL Sakura Lounge and the JAL Sakura Lounge Sky View. I’ve reviewed both lounges in previous instalments and found them to be excellent! Although Terminal 3 is also home to a relatively new Delta Sky Club, the lounge doesn’t open until 09.00, past China Eastern’s 08.40 Shanghai Pudong departure.

JAL Sakura Lounge Sky View


Our boarding passes indicated a boarding time of 07.55, 45 minutes before our scheduled departure time. Wanting to be one of the first few passengers to get onboard (to take pictures of the empty cabin), I lined up at precisely 07.55 – just as the gate area was set up.

Boarding gate at Haneda Airport
Boarding gate at Haneda Airport

After several minutes of radio silence, the ground staff began an announcement about the boarding procedure as my boarding pass was inspected. At this time elderly passengers and those requiring special assistance were pre-boarded first. Sure enough, I was invited to board at 08.02, by which time I rushed to get on our sexy Airbus A350-900.

Boarding gate at Haneda Airport
B-324X at Haneda Airport

Our flight today is operated by B-324X, an Airbus A350-900 delivered new to China Eastern Airlines a year prior in early 2022. As I got to Door 1L, I was greeted by an enthusiastic team of four flight attendants, who welcomed me onboard China Eastern. I was then walked to my seat by one of the flight attendants, who offered to explain the seat functions. From then on, I just knew this was gonna be a great flight! 😉

Hello British Airways!

China Eastern A350-900 Cabin

China Eastern’s A350-900s features the airline’s best cabin product, which includes 40* Business Class seats, 32 Premium Economy seats, and 216 Economy Class seats. To note, the Business Class cabin also includes four Business Plus seats, which share the same cabin as Business Class.

Business Plus

Kickstarting the trend with airlines nowadays, China Eastern has elected to fit its first row of Business Class with four special seats. Dubbed as ‘Business Plus’, these doored suites occupy a similar amount of real estate as a few First Class seats. In fact, these are the same Thompson Vantage Suite seats used for Malaysia Airlines’ First Class suites, which I reviewed before it was rebranded into Business Suites.

China Eastern Business Plus seat
China Eastern Business Plus seat

Unlike Business Class, these seats feature large storage lockers on the side and a much bigger entertainment monitor. Additionally, owing to the space it takes, these seats are also devoid of footwells. The middle pair even comes with companion seats on the ottoman, which the airline calls an ‘air living room‘, allowing one to dine with another.

China Eastern Business Plus seat
China Eastern Business Plus seat

Business Class

In Business Class, China Eastern uses the excellent Thompson Vantage XL+ seat, which is also the base for the Delta One Suite on its Airbus A350-900s. These seats seamlessly meld into the Vantage Suite Business Plus seats in front, ensuring an efficient transition. Being the airline’s newest aircraft type, it is no surprise that the A350-900 features their latest design scheme. Replacing the blue of old, the cabin is adorned with warm tones of gold and khaki.

Business Class cabin
Business Class cabin
Seat wall
Seats in Business Class

In total, there are 36 seats in Business Class in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration, spread between nine rows in two cabins. Each seat features direct aisle access, and due to the doors, every seat has a similar level of privacy. Although I would covet the window seats when travelling alone, you’ll otherwise still get tonnes of privacy thanks to the sliding partition between the middle seats.

Business Class cabin
Rear Business Class cabin
Rear Business Class cabin

These suites are the few staggered configurations in which I’d actually choose a window seat closer to the aisle. Unlike the window seats away from the aisle, these seats conveniently feature an extra storage well. Combined with the protection offered by the door, these seats are marginally better than the ‘true window seats’.

Seats further from the aisle
Seats closer to the aisle
Storage in the aisle-window seats

Premium Economy

Although I boarded from the forward door, I managed to quickly snap a picture of the Premium Economy cabin behind. This cabin features the excellent cradling Collins MiQ® seats also used on the Cathay Pacific A350. On some airlines, including American Airlines and Turkish, this seat is also used as Business Class on short-haul flights.

China Eastern A350-900 Premium Economy

Amenities and Seat Details

Seat Details

On this flight, I was seated at 6L, a window seat in the first row of Business Class on the right-hand side. The new tanned leather finishes really caught my eye, being a world away from the old blue textiles on the A330-200s. Notice that the seat also has a shoulder belt, which has to be used for takeoff and landing.

My seat on this flight

Complementing the sleek-looking suite is an 18.5-inch high-definition entertainment monitor, fitting for a plane this new. An upside-down clothing hook is also fixed on the wall of the seatback, close to the aisle. Under it, by the aisle, is a thin and rigid literature pocket. There is a fixed ottoman right under the personal monitor, which is thankfully spacious.

Entertainment monitor
Literature pocket
Footwell and ottoman

Right next to the seat is a console table that doubles as an armrest, large enough for a laptop. Fixed on the console table is the intuitive remote control for the entertainment screen in front, along with the seat recline controls. A glove box is also embedded on the armrest, big enough for a pair of glasses. The tray table comes out from under the armrest, sturdy enough as a work surface.

Seat and entertainment controls
Glove box
Tray table

Next to the seat and behind the console table are two exposed cabinets. The bigger one houses the headphones and a bottle holder, whereas the smaller one barely fits a phone. Also located here seat’s headphone jack and universal power outlet. Additionally, there are two distinct lamps here, including an accent lamp and a reading light.

Seat details
Storage cabinet

Seat Door

Embedded on the seat partition wall is the lever that releases the door. Unlike the doors you’d find on Qatar Airways’ Qsuites, this door is quite heavy and takes some force to slide close. When closed, the seat feels like a cocoon, blocking any view from the passenger across the aisle. However, due to the partition’s height, the seat is not completely private as you are still under the eye level of a standing person.

Seat door when closed
Seat door when closed

Window shades

The entire Business Class cabin features electronic window shades, which is similar to what you’d find in First Class on many airlines and in Business Class on Emirates, Qatar Airways, and ANA. There are two shades, one akin to sheers and another parallel to blackout shades. The shades are operated simply by pressing the buttons under the window. Alternatively, they can also be operated from the entertainment screen.

Sheer shades
Blackout shades
Shade controls


The amenities on this flight were identical to those I received on my outbound flights from Jakarta to Shanghai and from Shanghai to Tokyo. This included a large and fluffy pillow with a nice brown trim, as well as a thick modacrylic blanket. In addition, an identical pair of slippers and headphones were also waiting in the literature compartment and storage cabinet, respectively. Additionally, a bottle of water was already waiting in the storage cabinet. Expectedly, amenity kits were not offered on this flight.

Pillow and blanket
Slippers and headphones
Slippers and headphones

Departure from Haneda

After walking me to my seat, the flight attendant on my aisle introduced herself as Wang and welcomed me aboard this flight. She came back shortly after with a plate with a hot towel. This was followed by a tray of drinks with a choice between water and orange juice. I opted for the latter, which was nice enough. If they added some champagne to this mix, I would’ve been an even happier camper! After all, I was already happily busy exploring the seat functions. 😛

Hot towel service
Pre-departure beverage of orange juice
View outside the window during boarding

After this, Wang came back to take my meal preferences and to detail our flight time. Since no menu cards were offered, she explained the choices one by one (which I’ll detail later). In the meanwhile, the cabin slowly filled up with half of the cabin ultimately being occupied. Out the window, an ANA Boeing 787-9 soon pulled into the gate next to us, covering the JAL Boeing 787-8 previously in view. I’ve reviewed both ANA 787-9 and JAL 787-8 in Business Class, previously.

ANA Boeing 787-9 pulling into gate

The doors were closed at 08.38, 36 minutes after boarding started. As boarding was completed, an automated safety announcement was played, followed by the safety video, which was played first in Mandarin Chinese, then in English, and then in Japanese. Curiously, the video also played on the remote control, which is pretty cool.

Safety video
Remote control showing safety video
Safety video

Pushback and departure

We then pushed back at 08.47, seven minutes after our scheduled departure time. At this time, the cabin manager welcomed us on board and stated our flight time of two hours and thirty minutes this flight to Shanghai Pudong Airport. His announcement was followed by another automated safety announcement, stating that the airline would record and report unruly behaviour from passengers. Interesting…

Haneda Terminal 3
Haneda Terminal 3
Traffic at Haneda Airport

We slowly taxied from our gate in Terminal 3 to Runway 5, which is the further possible runway from Terminal 3. Despite the lengthy taxi, I managed to capture several pictures of various planes landing. How exciting! This included a Solaseed Air Boeing 737-800, which I hope to review soon enough.

ANA Boeing 737-800 landing at Haneda
Lufthansa Airbus A350-900 arriving from Munich
Solaseed Air Boeing 737-800 landing at Haneda

After 25 minutes, we finally reached Runway 5, located on its own causeway. We took off at 09.12, initially heading north before doing a 270-degree turn and heading west on our way to Shanghai. This meant flying over the sprawling Tokyo Metropolis and the megacity of Yokohama, a surreal view of a seemingly unending sea of concrete.

Takeoff from Haneda Airport
View of Haneda Airport from the air
Flying over Tokyo
Flying over Tokyo

Inflight Entertainment

The captain alerted the cabin that we had reached cruising altitude 18 minutes after takeoff, prompting the flight attendants to stand up and prepare for the inflight service. As I waited for lunch, I finally decided to look at the new and intuitive entertainment screen.

Sky Entertainment

Expectedly, this flight features the same sparse selection of China Eastern Sky Entertainment. To rehash the options, 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. Curiously, the Western music selection also included ‘A Collection of Soviet Music’. Hah, you don’t see that every day!

Movie selection
Music selection

Despite the barren selection, I was very impressed by the technological function of the system. In addition to the excellent and intuitive interface, it is possible to connect wireless headphones via Bluetooth. This is great given how flimsy China Eastern’s headphones are. The inflight map is similarly great and intuitive.

Wireless headphone connection
Flight map

Being uninterested in the entertainment selection, I ended up watching the A350’s excellent tail camera. Sadly, the camera lens has a smudge on one corner – though that didn’t prevent me from enjoying the live views of Mount Fuji. Due to the chop as we passed the mountains, the seatbelt sign stayed on.

A350 tail camera
View of Mt. Fuji

There was also an onboard WiFi service, which 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.

Literature pocket contents

Lunch Service

The seatbelt signs were finally turned off 36 minutes after takeoff. By this time, the window blinds were blacked out for the entire cabin by the crew. Despite this, the windows are not locked and can still be opened.

View outside the window

The lunch service started shortly after, with the crew offering hot towels in ceramic plates and placing a thick yet disposable tissue-like tablecloth on the table. The meal began with an aperitif service with mixed nuts and dried fruits. I got a glass of orange juice since it was morning time after all. It wasn’t fresh but I appreciated that it wasn’t sweetened.

Post-departure hot towel service
Table cloth
Aperitif service

Meal tray

About ten minutes after the drinks were brought out, the starter and main course were served together by hand on a tray. This is complemented with a glass of water served by default, alongside a bread plate with some butter. A selection of warm bread rolls were distributed after the main meal was served.

Lunch service tray
Lunch service tray
Bread roll

The starter consisted of an array of cold kobachi dishes served in a box. Since no menu was offered, the following is my guess of what each dish is. Clockwise from top-left: Simmered vegetables (onion, mushroom, corn) and fishcake, simmered chicken breast, cut fruits (kiwi and oranges), wilted spinach and pickled radish, dashimaki eggs with prawns, and mustard greens. This was excellent.

Starter dishes and main course
Kobachi dishes

There was a choice of four mains, which were described to me as Rice with Beef in Miso Sauce, Sauteed Seafood Noodles, Roasted Chicken with Potatoes, and Steamed Perch in Cream Sauce. I ended up ordering the steamed perch, which came with a side of tomato pasta. To me, pasta and fish always seemed like a strange combination. Despite that, this was reasonably good given the freshness of the fish and the rich cream butter sauce. The pasta was quite dry, however.

Steamed Perch in Cream Sauce

For reference, the following is the Sauteed Seafood Noodles, which look great by comparison.

Sauteed Seafood Noodles

I was also happy with the personalised service from flight attendant Wang, who was quite polished. During the meal, drink refills are proactively and regularly offered. Aside from asking if I’d like a different drink, she also quickly cleared my tray after noticing that I was done with the meal. Very nice attention!


A while after the tray was cleared, the crew came down the aisle passing around some Häagen-Dazs ice cream. There was an option between vanilla or green tea, to which I opted for the latter. Despite the small cups, I appreciated that the ice cream wasn’t frozen solid, which is often an issue with aeroplane ice cream.

Häagen-Dazs ice cream


After the meal, I decided to check out the lavatories to freshen up a bit. There are three lavatories reserved for Business Class, one at the front near the flight deck and two by the galley between the cabins. Of the three, the aft lavatory is a lot smaller by design of the aircraft’s curvature. The other two are large and spacious, in comparison.

Lavatory on China Eastern A350-900

On the sinktop, China Eastern-branded hand sanitiser and body lotion dispensers were provided. Additionally, I found that the lavatories were kept nice and clean throughout the flight. Very nice!

Lavatory amenities

Bed mode

With about two hours to go on the flight, I decided to recline my seat into flat mode to catch up on sleep. As you’d find with most flat beds in Business Class, the seat has an unnoticeable slight angle when fully reclined. Although the seat’s padding could be improved, the bed was firm yet comfortable!

Seat in bed mode
Seat in bed mode

I feared that the footwell would be constraining, but those fears were unfounded. Despite the footwell being a bit small, it is still possible to comfortably sleep on one’s side. While I loved the thick and fluffy pillow, I feel that China Eastern could really improve on their blankets.

Footwell in bed mode
Seat in bed mode


Frankly, I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the crew in general. It was clear that everybody was very proud of this aircraft, given how excited everyone was. Apart from the rather polished and personalised service from Wang, I found the crew to be friendly and approachable. Attention to detail was great too, as drink top-ups are regularly offered. I was also impressed that each crew member managed to communicate and memorise the language preferences of each passenger. I was spoken to in good English the whole time, which I appreciated. I’d note that while this crew was great, the service level wasn’t as polished as the crew from Jakarta, who were exceptional.

Arrival in Shanghai

About 34 minutes before landing, the inflight manager announced that we were commencing our descent and stated the details of our arrival. In particular, we were expected to arrive in Shanghai at 10.45. The seatbelt signs were lit shortly after and the cabin was hence prepared for landing. As was the case on my last flight, the toilets can still be used for the next 15 minutes before being locked.

View on approach

We approached Shanghai Pudong International Airport from the east, passing by the convergence of the Yangtze River with the East China Sea. The sky was clear on our approach, allowing some great views of the city’s new developments and all the export activities at the Port of Shanghai.

View on approach
Port of Shanghai

We had a relatively rough touchdown at 10.41 China Time, landing on Pudong International Airport’s Runway 16R. Our arrival was followed by an announcement from the inflight manager in Mandarin Chinese and English welcoming us to Shanghai.

Landing in Shanghai
View of landing from the tail camera
Shanghai Airlines Boeing 737 taking off

After we exited the runway, we slowly taxied to our gate, passing by Terminal 2 and the Satellite Terminal. In the end, we ended up parking next to a SkyTeam liveried China Eastern A330-200 at the furthest gate in Terminal 1. We arrived at the stand 15 minutes after landing and the front door opened a few minutes later.

Taxiing to Terminal 1
China Eastern A330-200
China Eastern A330-200

As I made my way up the aisle and exited from Door 1L, I thanked the crew and remarked to the cabin manager saying how great the cabin was, which he appreciated. Now it’s time to repeat my long layover in Shanghai!


Overall, I had an excellent flight on China Eastern’s newest aircraft. I found the crew to be very friendly and agreeable, providing me with thoughtful and attentive service. Despite the average main course and the limited number of drinks, I was also happy with the quality food offered. Yet what stood out to me most is the fresh cabin and the comfortable and well-designed seat. I might even say that this flight was way too short for me to enjoy the seat. 😉

Frankly, perfection is a low-hanging fruit for China Eastern. If it weren’t for the poor selection of movies and films, the flimsy headphones, the lack of a printed menu, and perhaps a nicer blanket, this would’ve been a flawless world-class flight. So close yet so far!

Read more from this trip here!

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