China Eastern Airbus A350 to fly Sydney-Shanghai from March 31

By David Flynn , January 17 2019
China Eastern Airbus A350 to fly Sydney-Shanghai from March 31

China Eastern's busy Sydney-Shanghai route is set for a stunning upgrade as the airline swings its Airbus A350 into Aussie skies.

As of March 31, the SkyTeam member's daily flight MU561/MU562 service will shift from an older Airbus A330 to a factory-fresh A350.

Business travellers will be the big winners, as the A350 spots an impressive business class cabin where sliding privacy doors convert seats into suites – see our original story below for full details.

The seats themselves are exceptionally well-appointed, offering plenty of personal space plus direct aisle access for every passenger – and of course, a fully lie-flat bed for napping on either leg of the 10½ hour trip.

This is the same seating as on China Eastern's Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which will begin flying between Melbourne and Shanghai on February 1.

PREVIOUS | China Eastern is joining the growing number of airlines adding private business class suites to its flagship jets, and its newest suite-equipped Airbus A350 is bound for Sydney in 2019.

The Shanghai-hubbed airline took delivery of the first of 20 new A350s this week, with two more due by year's end and the rest stretching through to 2022 – and China Eastern tells Australian Business Traveller that its Sydney-Shanghai route will feature an Airbus A350 in 2019.

Each of the 40 business class seats are framed by high walls and a sliding privacy door.

The seats themselves are based on the Vantage XL platform from Thompson Aero, which is already flying in various forms as the Qantas Boeing 787 Business Suite and Delta Air Line's A350 Delta One suite, and could also find itself at the pointy end of Delta's forthcoming Airbus A330neo fleet.

For China Eastern's A350, there's an additional business suite twist: four seats at the very front row of the business class cabin adopt the enhanced Vantage First design, similar in some ways to the bespoke version of that seat created for Malaysia Airlines' A350 first class.

China Eastern described these four berths as 'super premium' suites with a mini-bar and 32 inch touchscreen displays, and it's expected they will sell with a suitable premium mark-up.

Additionally, the middle seats in this front row are being marketed as an ‘Air Living Room’ where up to four travellers can share the same space.

No doubt inspired by Qatar Airways' Qsuites 'quads',  China Eastern says these primo business class bunks "allow flight crew to reshape the space into a community area that up to four people can comfortably use for a business meeting or family gathering."

Converting the middle seats into an ad-hoc meeting room (also suitable for poker) is achieved by folding out the meal tables of each seat...

... and then lifting them up to bring them together into a single wide surface.

Finally, the top of each suite's ottoman is flipped to turn it into a padded seatbelt-equipped companion bench.

High-tech touches including broadband WiFi, a tap-to-buy NFC panel for inflight shopping with your smartphone or credit card, and Bluetooth headphones.

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

30 Oct 2014

Total posts 7

No doubt about it; outstanding hardware. Now the service, food and overall soft product needs to be upgraded to make it a more consistent overall package.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jun 2017

Total posts 36

I’d be really annoyed to have to listen to a board meeting while flying.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

14 Jul 2017

Total posts 15

Not if you had shares in them

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2017

Total posts 104

Nor if you had shares in their competitor!

GreenEVs Banned
GreenEVs Banned

08 Dec 2018

Total posts 1

What about four guys playing Mahjong inflight? :/

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

Yes, I couldn't think of anything worse. Not that I've anything against alcohol, but the bonhomie fuelled by free (practically unlimited) booze would go to extremes. Noisy and disruptive.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2014

Total posts 52

Booked on an A330 from PVG to SYD in march so my fingers are crossed the aircraft is changed to an A350! I had a lucky aircraft upgrade a few months ago with MH.

Did you get it? I’m flying this route in two weeks.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Dec 2014

Total posts 42

I don’t get the point of the doors. The “high walls” described in the article appear to be about waist height from the photos. Even with the doors closed, everyone could comfortably see inside your “suite”. They offer no privacy whatsoever so what is the point? Aren’t they just a marketing gimmick?

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 314

Agreed.. although I think it’s safety regs that require the height

That's correct, crew must have line of sight to all passengers for take-off and landing, and as a general rule this makes sense. I think everyone likes the ideas of doors but some people will leave them open once the novelty wears off.

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

I don't like the idea of doors in such a small space. I want to be able to see the window (preferably open). Philippine Airlines 1-2-1 suites (not mentioned in the article) are also Thompson Vantage XL and are good enough, yet they thankfully don't have doors.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1221

That can't be right when so many enclosed first class seats/suites have much higher walls that prevent line of sight.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

31 Oct 2016

Total posts 73

Depends who's regs the airline is operating under.


For example, CASA don't even allow for the doors at all, where as It's the opposite end of the scale for the ME3.

I don't know what the Chinese aviation authorities say on the matter but I suspect that's where it'd come from

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Sep 2018

Total posts 137

Some like the new Emirates first class on the 777 have a little 'service hatch' and perforations in the main door to peek and check if you've got your seat belt on etc etc

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

12 Sep 2014

Total posts 5

Yeh but stops the person next to you staring I s'pose

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jun 2012

Total posts 56

I suppose the doors are meant to give you a little extra privacy when you're sleeping. Personally, I don't want other passengers/strangers seeing me drool, snore, or fart whilst sleeping. Although you could argue that those last two are more "hearing" issues. 😉

Eli
Eli

30 Jul 2015

Total posts 93

No, when you laying down it provides a nice sense of privacy at your eye level.

Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 493

Now that's "mini first class" Mr Joyce.....not your 787 J set up which is standard J class these days.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

28 Feb 2017

Total posts 14

Some relative short flights on the ad map for the "LongRangeLeader." Crew training I guess.

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 90

Frightened at the thought of four business execs using the conference work space for a meeting on an overnight long haul flight. The stuff of nightmares!

I can imagine BA feeling a little foolish reading your article and looking at their new first class seat they proudly showed you recently.


China Eastern providing a four across business class suite ie has a door not an open business class seat branded as a first class "suite"

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1389

Thank goodness for the pop of red, otherwise that cabin is all bland.


Personally I'm not that fussed about doors, you get enough privacy both when sitting and sleeping by the wings and cocoon, and I think they detract from the overall cabin look.

But obviously others like the extra privacy.

Be interesting to see how much extra MU thinks it can get for the super premium seats.

CX

16 May 2015

Total posts 12

These cabins are getting to look more and more like office cubicles!

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

While it codeshares with QF, is there some resistance among Australians who are not of mainland Chinese origin to flying MU, CZ or AC? (I'm omitting CI as that's Taiwanese).

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Sep 2012

Total posts 244

And AC is Canadian. Air China is CA. ;=P

KK
KK

Air China - Phoenix Miles

20 Dec 2012

Total posts 106

MU561/562 from 25th March 2019

07 Jan 2019

Total posts 3

KK, any source for that information? I'm flying on MU561/562 in April so it'll be good to be on the newer metal.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

30 May 2014

Total posts 52

I'm literally booked on MU561 on the 23rd :( (and it's still coming up an A330)

07 Jan 2019

Total posts 3

Looks like they're switching over from the 31st of March.

04 Nov 2012

Total posts 219

Looking for 2 x J/F SYD/PVG using QFF points for Aug. 2019 only see A330 in 1st! no A350 at all, why?

07 Jan 2019

Total posts 3

Because the A350 is configured for Business and Eco only.

04 Nov 2012

Total posts 219

Qantas awards is showing F on A330-200 July 2019 very odd.

Any chance the A330 gets swung on to the proposed Perth-Shanghai route?

Bra
Bra

QF

11 May 2015

Total posts 26

Yer another "window" seat, where the seat is next to the asile - not the window! Privacy is enhanced by being away from the passing traffic in the isle. If like me you prefer to look out of the window its much easier if you are seated next to it.


As far as the sliding door height is concerned the doors are required to be open for take-off and landing. So the FAs can see if you are straped in etc, but more importantly so you can get out in a hurry if it turns bad. Could save your life,

12 Aug 2017

Total posts 77

I used to think sliding doors would be great but fling recently in SQ where to seats are slightly staggered I felt very private anyway.

23 Mar 2018

Total posts 1

David, is the A350 a certainty on these flights? just checked there site for flights in Nov. still showing the 330.

UA

09 Mar 2016

Total posts 38

Makeup on a pig.

04 Nov 2012

Total posts 219

Booked two in F SYD/PVG for August still showing A330?

04 Nov 2012

Total posts 219

Now showing A350.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

04 Apr 2019

Total posts 2

Booked to fly business from YVR in December 2019

Coming up as a330-200
Looks like on the MU website it’s a350 till October then Switches to 33H
Not sure what’s happening with the YVR-PVG leg either...

26 Feb 2014

Total posts 20

Mat...Chinese airlines have a habit of changing their aircraft around..pending where they are needed..they probably put it on the pvg to Syd route due to high demand and peak season.

Etihad - Etihad Guest

04 Apr 2019

Total posts 2

Yeah a bit weird, would’ve thought the Christmas period would’ve been a high time for them. Maybe the YVR leg will be the A350

Looks like I’m on the a330 that is the 1-2-1 confit at least

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 May 2019

Total posts 7

Booked business, in July, for a flight in Nov - SYD-PVG-SYD, because it was 350, now I look and it's 330?


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