Review: Biking in an Ancient City – MU 734 Hong Kong to Kunming 737-700 Economy Class

Introduction
China Eastern 734 737-700 Economy Class Hong Kong to Kunming
Transiting Kunming Airport – International to Domestic
China Eastern 734 737-700 Economy Class Kunming to Lijiang
Jin Hong Garden Villa Lijiang
Biking in Lijiang, Day 1: Baisha Village
Biking in Lijiang, Day 2: Down to Lashi Lake
Biking in Lijiang, Day 3: Into Dali Villages
China Eastern 733 737-700 Economy Class Lijiang to Kunming
Transiting Kunming Airport – Domestic to International
China Eastern 733 737-700 Economy Class Kunming to Hong Kong


We arrived at Hong Kong Airport at 2:00, and waited a bit at check-in. There was no queue whatsoever, and we were in quickly.

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China Eastern Check-in Hong Kong Airport

I had an aisle seat next to two friends (albeit one being across the aisle), so that was great news for me.

Our flight was departing from the satellite terminal. For those of you not familiar, Hong Kong Airport has 66 jet bridge gates (numbered 1-4, 15-71 and and 501-510) and eight remote stands (numbered 511-513 and 521-525), and while most of these are located in the main terminal, gates 501-510 are positioned at the North Satellite Concourse, a three minute bus from the main terminal. We passed immigration and decided to head directly there.

The views from the bus at this time of day are excellent, especially when we were on it, right when the Singapore Airlines A380 was pushing back.

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Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-800 Hong Kong Airport

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Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-800 Hong Kong Airport

There was also a crystal clear view of more interesting traffic…

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Traffic Hong Kong Airport

…including the Bangkok Airways A319 which I flew to Koh Samui back in 2013.

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Bangkok Airways Airbus A319 Hong Kong Airport

We settled down at gate 503, where our flight was scheduled to depart. There wasn’t much to do at the airport anyway, so I decided that near the runway (where the terminal was) was the best place to spot planes.

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Gate 503 Hong Kong Airport

The gate quickly switched to gate 510 when we arrived, right in front of an open area with 180˚ airport views.

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Gate 510 open area Hong Kong Airport

Parked at the gate was a Dragonair A320, which made me all the more excited for my first narrowbody flight since mid-2013.

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Dragonair Airbus A320 Hong Kong Airport

I hung out there for a while, and watched the Singapore Airlines A380 taxi out and our plane taxi in.

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Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-800 Hong Kong Airport

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Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-800 Hong Kong Airport

All China Eastern planes bound from Yunnan Province have their own special livery. In some cases it’s a green leaf, in other cases it’s a series of orange ribbons.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Hong Kong Airport

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Hong Kong Airport

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Hong Kong Airport

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Hong Kong Airport

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Hong Kong Airport

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Hong Kong Airport

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Dragonair Airbus A320 Hong Kong Airport

At about then some of my friends piled in, and I spent a bit of time with them before boarding.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 loading luggages Hong Kong Airport

I caught a China Airlines A330 roll by. Man, this spot is perfect!

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China Airlines Airbus A330-300 Hong Kong Airport

Aside all that I went and got water right before boarding started, where I saw some different brands of, uh…

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Nuts, Hong Kong Airport

We were last to board, when the gate agent had to hurry the teacher up for a, uh, “briefing”.

China Eastern Flight 734
Sunday, May 10th, 2015
Origin: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 510 Dep: 17:05 (17:30)
Destination: Kunming (KMG) Gate: 78 Arr: 19:00 
(19:50)
Duration: 1 hr 55 min (2 hr 20 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-700
Seat: 43C (Economy Class)

Immediately upon boarding I cursed aloud, as I really wanted to get a 737 with the Sky Interior. However, it was my first time on a 737, so oh well.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Business Class

The seatmap is as follows (this applies for both new and old 737s):

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Seatmap

I was rather surprised to see how short the plane was, and it just felt like one big, narrow room.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Cabin

I don’t feel like commenting on the colour scheme of an old China Eastern 737 in economy, but really, it was just old. The orange came out of the metal furnishings in Honey Boo Boo’s mom’s room.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class seats 39J, 39K, 39L

I settled in seat 43C next to my friend (who would be sharing a room with me in Lijiang). Behind me, another friend was seated next to an friendly elderly couple who helped him with immigration forms. Seated across the aisle were three more of my friends coming along (excuse my use of the word “friend” – there were 38 of us).

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class seats 43A, 43B, 43C

The cabin was yellowing, reeking and HOT. I mean, really hot. None of my friends brought water along with them, so I kept my stocks high (China Eastern refused to give me too many bottles as they also had limited supply).

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class cabin

I was rather excited by the overhead air vents, but quoting the girl across the aisle, “it’s spewing warm air”. They did provide personal ventilation, at least, which is a huge plus.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Air Nozzles

There were advertisements behind each seat.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class advertisements

Legroom was substantial, though I did feel a little cramped in terms of shoulder width.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class legroom

The plane pushed back, and at the same time they played the safety video. Meanwhile, my row set up a “water bank” as a strategy to save up our water and kept all the water we had in my (only) bottle, as we were sweating buckets. A big shoutout to my mother who told me to keep a jacket (home airline Cathay Pacific keeps their cabin temperatures below freezing).

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class safety video

Here’s the similarly themed A320 safety video:

China Eastern Airbus A320 Economy Class Safety Video

I zoomed in on the window, and focused on the traffic outside.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class View of Wing

We were ~10th in line for takeoff, and the time showed. We stalled at the same place for about twenty minutes, before clearing for takeoff.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Cabin

My two seatmates kept each other – and me – interested, but it sure felt like riding a saddled camel over the Sahara. I asked the cabin crew for a bottle of water, which they obliged (to say they were indifferent about it would be generous).

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Cabin

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Cabin

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Cabin

At this point I couldn’t hold my bladder so with reassurance from the cabin crew I visited the washroom.

The 737 bathrooms are old but they didn’t reek – nothing special.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Washroom

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Washroom

The liquid soap smelled good.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Washroom

I went back to my seat and waited, and the pre-takeoff announcement was given, which said “thank you for your patience”.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Cabin

We took off soon enough, and leveled off around five minutes later, though the seatbelt sign stayed on all the way until half an hour after takeoff. After about fifteen minutes, due to the water input, I needed the bathroom again, so ignored the sign, and the cabin crew opened the door for me.

We encountered some turbulence where I was supposed to hold on to the toilet handle. I haven’t really looked for these before, but they sure are handy.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Washroom Handle

I had a look at the vomit bag (blame me not, there was no TV, I didn’t have a book, or…). While Air New Zealand goes all out on theirs, I think China Eastern is just plain weird. It says the bag’s for “waste or airsickness” – if I’m not off base, no one’s going to sh*t in the bag.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class airsickness bag

Meal service soon started, and we had the choice between “snakehead fish” and fried rice, which I chose the fish. My palate is not really spicy tolerant, but otherwise I found the fish to be incredibly flavourful and perfectly cooked, much to my surprise (after all, we’re talking about the worst regarded airline in China). I found all good Yunnan food to be spicy, so…

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Snakehead Fish

In fairness, the bread was dry to the point where it flaked apart, so I passed that.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Cabin during Meal Service

It’s worth that while the flight attendants seemed reserved and were definitely pretentious, they were really attentive. They tended to every call button and made sure all phones were out (apparently it’s a Chinese flying regulation, but that didn’t stop anyone from ignoring it).

I asked for a pillow from the flight attendant, which was granted. The pillow was huge and stuffed to the max, which I appreciated.

China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class pillow

I chatted with my two seatmates until the flight was about to reach Kunming, where there was a beautiful sunset outside the window.

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Sunset

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Sunset

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Sunset

We had some rather nice views upon landing, and touched down in Kunming behind schedule (mostly due to the fact that we were held back so long).

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Views upon Approach into KMG

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Views upon Approach into KMG

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Views upon Approach into KMG

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Views upon Approach into KMG

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Views upon Approach into KMG

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Views upon Approach into KMG

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Views upon Approach into KMG

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Views upon Approach into KMG

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Views upon Approach into KMG

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Views upon Approach into KMG

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China Eastern Boeing 737-700 Economy Class Views upon Approach into KMG

To say that the Kunming transit experience was long would be an understatement.

Bottom line on China Eastern 737-700 Economy Class

The flight was pleasantly surprising. While the seat, entertainment, cabin temperature and water supply were much below par, I expected that anyway. Meanwhile, the food and service both exceeded my expectations, and I wouldn’t hesitate to fly them again.

Of course, I could make a better judgement with my three remaining segments on China Eastern.

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