Hainan Airlines Business Class from Changsha to Los Angeles on the Boeing 787 really wasn’t much different than my inbound flight from LAX. The biggest difference between the two flights was that the flight to LAX wasn’t as crowded, nor were there as many infants in business class, and most importantly, cabin service was 100x better! A major factor in the flight load difference could be that I was traveling just before Chinese New Year’s in both directions, and it is more common for Chinese to travel home to their villages during Chinese New Year’s than it is for them to go on Vacation. As tradition calls for the family to spend New Years eve together. Therefore, each February is the world’s largest migration of people due to the movement of the Chinese; and flying Hainan to central China days before Chinese New Years explains why my in bound flight was so packed to the brim and why so many infants were traveling.
Ground Services in Changsha
I had ordered a limousine transfer from my hotel in central Changsha to the airport as included in my business class fair and my driver arrived at my hotel on time and was waiting for me in the lobby wen I checked out. As I exited the elevator into the hotel lobby at 10:33, my well dress Chinese driver was waiting for me. He didn’t have a sign, but as I exited he pointed at me and said “airport” in Chinese. I responded, “Wo Mingzi Rocky Horan” and he looked at his phone, showed me the text message that matched my name, and escorted me to his beautiful Mercedes. An hour later, we arrived at the airport, just 15 miles out of town—yes traffic in Changsha is that bad!
I found the check in counters, and after a brief 3-4 minute wait, I was checked in, handed a boarding pass and worked my way through security. Security was a bit of a joke. As first one must clear customs and then security and there is no priority line for business class passengers. This usually isn’t a problem but several international flights depart at similar times for Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong, and other destinations. This creates a backlog of people at customs and immigration, and security. It took me nearly 45 minutes to clear, and experienced the pushing, prodding, and cutting in line which is normal in China queues.
Once through customs and security, I walked around the airport and then went to visit the VIP no. 7 lounge that Hainan Airlines business class passengers and other airlines use at CSX. The lounge was a pathetic excuse of a lounge, and after walking in, I nearly immediately walked out to spend the 20 minutes I had exploring the small terminal.
Boarding had began when I arrived at my gate and there was a long line of people waiting to board the plane. There appeared to be no business class priority boarding line, so I queued up with the masses, had my bag examined for oversize liquids, and then boarded the plane. I later learned that business class passengers are expected to bypass the line, but with no sign I didn’t know.
Hainan Airlines Business Class – On the Plane Service
The Hainan Airlines business class service was really no different than the business class I had experienced on my inbound trip from Los Angeles, but the service this time was a hundred times better and I felt like I was flying one of Asia’s finest carriers! The staff were more comfortable with procedures on board and service, and every staff member I encountered spoke fantastic English.
When I had arrived at my seat I had both 17 D/G to myself and each seat already had the noise canceling headphones at the seat. Flight attendants came by with pre-departure drinks of water, orange juice, passion sandys, or champagne, and I opted for the bubbly. The cabin doors were closed and I noticed that row 16 had no one in seats in 16 H/K so I moved to have two seats to my self, next to the window. The plane had to be de-iced due to the snow, and finally about 30 minutes later we were air born towards Los Angeles.
On this flight, there really wasn’t a big difference in either meal service or the seat or ife. Although it was February 1, the IFE had the same selection as January so I wasn’t presented with more options. However, the difference was the cabin crew was more precise and knew what they were doing! Service was professional, friendly and warm; food was delicious, and there was no delays in services. It didn’t matter what I ordered; coffee, tea, whisky, wine, etc I had it within minutes of ordering it! This crew knew how to provide 5 star service, no questions asked!
related reading: Hainan Airlines 787 Business Class Review: Los Angeles to Changsha
Another major differences was that this crew provided pajamas to all passengers flying Hainan Airlines business class cabins. At first they provided pajama’s only to females, but came through with size XL for males in the cabin. Females were provided with size M. I asked the FA for a “M” as an “XL” seemed WAY to big (or at least by my experience on Cathay Pacific and Qatar), but she was insistent that XL would fit me. Sure enough she was right, as the XL fit perfectly! People of generous height or double wide waistlines be warned, Hainan probably doesn’t have pajamas for you! The pajamas were extremely comfortable and breathable, and quickly have become my favorite inflight pajama’s I’ve yet to receive! I’ve actually worn them several times since this flight!
The rest of the flight was honestly uneventful and no different than my first Hainan Airlines Business class flight. The only difference was this time there were 5 seats empty in Business class and the cabin service was superb! It is sad that an cabin crew can make or break a flight experience, but in this case this cabin crew of all females blew my cabin crew from LAX to CSX out of the water! Not only was the crew’s English more fluent, but they were on their A game! If you’re flying Hainan, I hope you get a cabin crew like this one!
Meal service – Dinner
Pre-Arrival meal service:
14,000 miles in Hainan Airlines Business Class
When you have a good crew, any airline can be good, but in the case of Hainan Airlines, a good crew makes an airline with a fantastic soft product and a decent hard product truly a 5 star experience. Of course the airline 787’s seat is not cutting edge based on my reviews and I’d rather fly Hainan A330 business class is order to have Business class seats all aisle access; yet despite the poor ground service at airports, the inflight product is truly top notch with only a few airlines from the Middle East and Asia offer better beverages, food and service.
Both times I flew Hainan Airlines business class I left the airplane in a good mood and satisfied with my flight. Never before have I flown so far, or so much with one airline in such a short time period and felt the same way. In all honestly, just last October I flew to Brazil and back 4 times in one week with American Airlines, a 3 star carrier, and I was more than perturbed! And although I like JAL and Cathay, I find them robotic. A airplane assembly line experience. My point is, if you’re flying to China, fly with China’s largest private carrier, you won’t be disappointed, if you get a good crew!