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

Jyaga okay (3/5)

China Eastern flight details

Airline : China Eastern Airlines
Flight No : MU5069
Departure City : Shanghai – Pudong (PVG)
Arrival City : Jakarta – Soekarno-Hatta (CGK)
Equipment : Airbus A330-200 (B-5926)
Blocked Time : 6h35m
Seat No: 7L

After spending about six hours at the China Eastern Lounge 137, I was excited to finally fly back to Jakarta. I have explained a bit about China Eastern Airlines and my booking process in the first instalment, which you can read here! Since this flight is operated by an aircraft with the same configuration as the flight from Shanghai to Tokyo, I’ll just rehash the details about the seats and cabin in this review.


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 my flight departed from the Satellite portion of Terminal 1, I was able to visit Lounge 137 on this occasion. However, I’ve also reviewed Lounge 36, which you can use before heading to the Satellite Terminal via the automated people mover.

China Eastern Lounge 137


About an hour before our boarding time, I left the lounge to wander about the Satellite Terminal and look at the duty-free selection. I was surprised to find that the terminal was still eerily quiet even at around 16.00. I ended up walking from gate to gate to see all the beautiful widebody aircraft parked at each stand. There is even an OTT Airlines Comac C919 parked in the distance. As an avgeek, I’d love to try flying that plane!

China Eastern A350-900 at Shanghai Pudong
Shanghai Airlines Boeing 787-9 at Shanghai Pudong

As I found my way to our gate at the far end of Satellite Terminal 1, I soon caught sight of our plane! Parked at the stand is B-5926, an Airbus A330-200 delivered new to China Eastern in 2013. Before operating our flight, this aircraft had just flown in from Rome several hours earlier.

B-5926 at the gate
Our gate at Shanghai Pudong Airport

About five minutes before our printed boarding time at 16.25, the other passengers at the gate started queueing up at the line for Economy Class. Still, there was no communication from the gate agents regarding when boarding will commence.

Our gate at Shanghai Pudong Airport

At 16.27, passengers requiring special assistance were quietly boarded first, before an actual boarding announcement was made a minute later. By this time, SkyPriority and Business Class passengers were finally invited to board the aircraft. As I got to the door, I was greeted by the flight attendant Wang (a different Wang from my flight from Haneda!) who escorted me to my seat.

China Eastern A330-200 Cabin

This flight is operated by an Airbus A330-200 equipped with the 33E configuration, the same as on my flight from Shanghai to Tokyo. Owing to that, I’ll just rehash the details of this cabin. With this configuration, there are 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.

China Eastern Business Class cabin
China Eastern 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.

Bulkhead Business Class seats
Bulkhead Business Class seats

Being over 10 years old by this point, the cabin inevitably looked outdated. Having just flown in on the airline’s newest aircraft type really showed me how far the airline has come. While I appreciate that China Eastern kept the cabin very clean, I wish they would invest in retrofitting this plane with the airline’s newest finishes.

Third-row Business Class seats
Third-row Business Class seats

Seat Details

On this flight, I was seated at 7L, the right-hand-side window seat in the second 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.

Second-row Business Class seats
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
Ottoman and storage well

On the centre console, you’ll find the seat controls, which are quite intuitive and easy to use. Unfortunately, I found the controls to be a bit dirty, with a bunch of crumbs and dirt stuck in the gaps. 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.

Business Class seats
Seat controls

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 ancient-looking remote control that controls the entertainment screen. Theoretically, you could also store a book or something here as well. Additionally, the centre armrest also raises up, doubling as a privacy partition in bed mode.

Remote control
Remote control and power outlets
Privacy partition
Remote control


The amenities on this flight were identical to my other three flights on this trip. This meant getting the same large and fluffy pillow and the thick modacrylic blanket as the previous flights. In addition, an identical pair of slippers and headphones were also waiting in the literature compartment and storage well, respectively. In addition, copies of Shanghai Daily and the CAAC Aviation Newspaper were also left at the seat during boarding.

Newspapers and headphones
Pillows and blankets

Departure from Shanghai

As I settled myself in, I noticed that there were a couple of maintenance personnel who were taking apart bits of the seat in the second row. Although it seemed like there was an issue with the seats, it must have been minor since they were operational later in the boarding process.

Maintenance personnel fixing the seats

Soon enough, Wang came by my seat to distribute the menu cards and offer a choice of drinks on a tray. This included either water or orange juice. After offering the drinks, she returned with a pair of hot towels, served on a porcelain plate (as usual).

Pre-departure beverages
Hot towels

About 25 minutes after boarding started, the doors were closed at 16.53. Business Class ended up relatively empty, with just eight seats occupied for the flight. By this time, the purser made her welcome announcement over the intercom, which was quite unclear. This was followed by an automated safety announcement before the safety video was played in Mandarin Chinese and then in English.

China Eastern safety video

After the safety video was played, another flight attendant passed by the cabin holding a sheet of paper with the QR code for the Indonesian Electronic Customs Declaration form. She instructed everybody to ensure that the form had been completed before arriving in Jakarta.

Indonesian Electronic Customs Declaration form

Meal order confusion

Before pushback, Wang came back again to take our meal orders. However, echoing the experience on my flight from Shanghai to Tokyo, it wasn’t clear which menu was on offer. This is because China Eastern menu cards are used for the entire year and list the options divided between odd and even months and the 1st-15th and 16th-31st of those months.

View outside the window during boarding

To avoid confusion, I asked Wang which menu was being used. She smilingly flipped the booklet and showed me the correct page: ‘Odd Month 16th-31st’. For your reference, this flight took place in early November. Frankly, I’m truly amazed by how the airline could fumble about something as simple as a menu card! (lol)

View outside the window during boarding

After noting our meal preferences, I asked to get the airline’s original drink ‘Bright Future’ along with the meal. She checked and returned to say that ‘Bright Future’ is not available (oof). Then I asked about the soy milk, which is supposedly catered for even months. Nope, not available. How about tea? Thankfully that was available. If that’s not, then this might just be the start of a comically bad flight… :p

Pushback and departure

About 25 minutes after the doors were closed, the purser came to the intercom to announce an air traffic delay, noting that ‘we will be delayed for some time’. Fully expecting an indefinite delay, I was surprised when we pushed back at 17.23, 13 minutes after our scheduled departure time. As we pushed back, the purser made a second welcome announcement, noting our flight time of six hours and ten minutes. She also announced that headphones cannot be used during taxi, takeoff, and landing. 

View during pushback

Before we started taxiing, we remained idle on the apron for about 20 minutes before commencing our taxi. By this time the sun had completely set, allowing me to fully appreciate the airport lights. As we taxied out, I noticed a Mahan Air Airbus A340-600 parked at a faraway gate. That’s surely a rare sight! Well, at least for me.

Traffic and Shanghai Pudong Airport
Mahan Air Airbus A340-600

We slowly made our way to the runway, passing by the main building of Terminal 1, which by this time is completely shrouded in darkness. We finally took off at 17.55 from runway 17L and flew into the night on our way to Jakarta.

China Eastern Airbus A321-200
Shanghai Pudong Terminal 1

As we climbed to cruising altitude, we flew over a few neighbouring cities, allowing me to fully immerse in the glow of the city lights below. As we passed Hangzhou, the bright lights really turned into a spectacle to the eyes.

Takeoff from Shanghai Pudong Airport
Takeoff from Shanghai Pudong Airport
View overflying Hangzhou

Inflight Entertainment

The seatbelt signs were switched off 19 minutes after takeoff, although interestingly, this wasn’t accompanied by a ding chime. By this time the flight attendants stood up and closed the curtains, in preparation for the meal service. As this happened, I took time to re-browse the airline’s entertainment system, Sky Entertainment, in case I missed any interesting movies.

Inflight entertainment screen

Sadly, yet expectedly, the selection remained sparse. 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 also didn’t seem like any changes in the selection between October and November. As such, I ended up rewatching the Super Mario Bros movie, which I didn’t finish watching on my flight to Tokyo.

Film selection
China Eastern inflight entertainment

Afterwards, I revived my love for Lisa Ono and her contemporary Asian-inspired Bossa Nova music. As I listened to her soothing tunes, I checked out the flight map to see that it was configured to show Bali as our destination. Hmm…

Flight map

Dinner Service

27 minutes after takeoff, Wang came through the cabin to distribute hot towels. After doing so, she came back to set up our tray tables with the thick yet disposable tissue-like tablecloths used by China Eastern. A few minutes later, she came back to present me with my choice of beverage and a package of nuts and dried fruits. Wow, I can’t imagine how repetitive that must be for the crew.

Post-departure hot towels
Tray table set up with a cheap-looking tablecloth
Drinks and snack

This time, I decided to try the MU Tea, which is served in a paper cup. The MU Tea turned out to be a rose-infused black tea, which I quite liked. Although I wasn’t a fan of the paper cup presentation, I get that that is how the drink was packaged by the caterers. For reference the following is the beverage list.

Beverage list

10 minutes after the drinks were served, the crew started distributing the hot meals. On this flight, there were three options for the main course. As I hadn’t tried the Chinese option on this trip (apart from the dim sum breakfast from Jakarta), I decided to get the Marinated Chicken, Vegetables, and Steamed Rice. I was also hoping that being catered in China, the Chinese option would be the best-tasting one. For reference, the following is the menu for this flight.

Chinese Meal

The entire meal was served on a single tray, containing the main course alongside the starter and a bowl of cut fresh fruits. Offered on the bread plate is also a packet of a Chinese-style hot sauce, which tasted quite interesting. After distributing the trays, the crew came around with a breadbasket to offer some warm bread.

Dinner tray
Garlic bread and sesame roll

Despite being marinated and doused in a sauce, the Marinated Chicken, Vegetables, and Steamed Rice was quite bland. I frankly wasn’t a big fan of the cut of chicken, which was a bit tough. Thankfully, the packet of hot sauce brought some life to the dish.

Marinated Chicken, Vegetables, and Steamed Rice

The meal is served with a starter of ‘Deep-fried Shrimps with Marinated Spaghetti Squash’. However, what was served looked quite soggy for a dish that’s supposedly deep-fried. Uninterested by it, I decided to skip it and go straight to eating the fruits instead.

Starter and cut fruits

In addition, the following is what the Korean-style Grilled Fish, Vegetables, and Steamed Rice looked like. Frankly it also seemed quite bland though I wasn’t sure which one would be the better of the two options.

Korean-style Grilled Fish, Vegetables, and Steamed Rice

Although the menu also listed a refreshment later in the flight, I was never offered this meal. As far as I was aware, I also did not see any other passengers being offered this refreshment. Either way, I wasn’t sure if this was served on demand or if the refreshments were not catered to begin with. However, seeing the state of the airline’s catering from Shanghai, I wouldn’t be surprised if the latter were the case.


This is the part of the review that I really struggled to write. I had some very exceptional crews on my flight from Jakarta to Shanghai and from Tokyo to Shanghai but this crew wasn’t that. That’s not to say that the service was bad, not at all. While they are friendly, I just can’t help but feel they’re just going through the motions of their jobs. For instance, the crew didn’t bother to remember which passengers spoke what language… this is despite the cabin being less than a third full. On the nearly full flight from Jakarta on the other hand, the crew had no trouble memorising this and provided polished service…


Before landing, I went to the lavatories to freshen up after my nap. There are two lavatories reserved for Business Class, one at the front near the flight deck and the other in the rear 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.

Rear lavatory
Cups and hand sanitiser

In any case, I was happy to see that the lavatories were kept clean throughout the entire flight. Things like hand sanitisers and disposal bags are also readily provided in the lavatories.

Aft lavatory
Cups, body lotion, and hand sanitiser

Descent and Arrival

I dozed off after the meal and woke up about 40 minutes before landing. As I woke up and put my seat upright, I was approached by a crew member who said something in Chinese. By this point, I had hoped that it had been established that I don’t understand the language based on our previous interactions. After showing my confusion, she blurted out that we’d be landing soon. Okay, thanks for the info I guess? I checked the inflight map and sure enough, we were close to Jakarta.

Inflight map

As the flight map still showed Denpasar, Bali as our destination, I actually got a bit worried for a bit. However, I decided to trust myself that I didn’t get on the wrong flight in Shanghai. Anyways, 30 minutes before arrival the purser announced that we were commencing our descent. This prompted the cabin to be prepared for landing, despite being mighty early.

Arrival in Jakarta

View of the sprawling PIK development on approach to Jakarta

When the city lights of Jakarta finally started showing during our approach, I felt a bit of ease knowing that we were on the right flight after all. We then had a smooth touchdown at Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at 22.42 local time.

Arrival at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport
Arrival at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport

As we taxied off Runway 25R, the purser went on the intercom to announce our arrival in Mandarin Chinese and English. In particular, she welcomed us to in ‘Soekarno Airport’, without mentioning Jakarta or anything. If I hadn’t known better, I would probably still remain worried. :p

Traffic at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport
Traffic at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport

We taxied past the low-cost Terminal 2 before arriving at our gate in Terminal 3. Funnily, we parked at the exact same gate we departed from when I took the excellent outbound flight two weeks prior. There was even an identical Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800 parked next to us. Sadly, this also meant that we are at one of the furthest gates to immigration… Sigh.

Hello Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-800!

As the forward doors were opened, the station manager got in to exchange a few words with the crew, before the passengers may disembarked. As I exited the plane, I thanked the crew and sighed as I saw the lengthy walk to the arrivals hall. Oh well.

Soekarno-Hatta International Airport Terminal 3


After taking four flights on China Eastern, I had very mixed feelings about the airline. On one hand, the airline really shined through on my first flight and on their new Airbus A350. On this flight, however, many aspects seemed quite comical. Having said that, I’ll note that nothing was as astoundingly bad as many travel bloggers make the airline to be. Overall, despite its shortcomings, China Eastern still offers a fair Business Class offering, even with its least competitive product. Still, I am surprised to see how variable the airline can be and how catering appears to be worse in Shanghai.

The long way to immigration

As such, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly the airline again, although certain types of planes will obviously be preferable to others. And like that, we’ve wrapped up this trip report: A Princely China Eastern Escapade. Thank you so much for reading JakartaPotato and we hope to see you again for our next trip report!

Read more from this trip here!

2 responses to “Review: China Eastern A330 Business Class (PVG-CGK)”

  1. Boris

    I don’t understand. Why is MU5069 and MU5070 you reviewed has different configuration?

    Do you have any idea why?

    1. Hi Boris, thanks for reading! That’s a very interesting question. I don’t have a definite answer to your question, but I believe this has to do with scheduling. China Eastern Airbus A330-200s come equipped with two different configurations, and each configuration (33E and 33H) might be scheduled specifically on a route over a certain time period.

      As I flew outbound at the end of the IATA summer schedule (last Saturday of October) and inbound at the start of the winter schedule (last Sunday) of October, this may have played a role in the different aircraft being rostered on this route. To make sure which configuration you get, do check the seat map on a website like

      However, flying within Asia, aircraft swaps seem to be common with China Eastern Airlines, so it’s never definite.

      – Raymond

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