Qantas partner China Eastern will once again bring its flagship Boeing 777-300ER aircraft onto flights from Sydney and Melbourne to Shanghai this summer, complete with the airline's latest-generation business class seats and a first class cabin as well, not normally seen on the airline’s Australian flights.
Aboard the Boeing 777s, six first class suites take pride of place at the front, all of which feature closing doors for added privacy and can transform from your office in the sky into a fully-flat bed of 79 inches (200cm).
Four of those suites line the windows, while the centre pair, labelled as 2D and 2H, can be separated for solo flyers or opened up and transformed into a full double bed for high-flying couples, in a move that reminds us of Singapore Airlines Suites Class.
First class also features a walk-up bar for any sneaky mid-flight drinks and snacks, although we’re sure the crew will happily serve them direct to your suite.
Business class also comes with fully-flat beds, with 52 seats laying out to 75 inches (190cm) in a 1-2-1 arrangement, guaranteeing every passenger direct aisle access.
Frequent travellers might recognise these seats as being crafted from the popular Zodiac Cirrus design – also used on Australian flights by American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Vietnam Airlines and more – albeit with each airline customising the seat's look, feel and shape to match their branding and colour palate.
Which flights get China Eastern’s Boeing 777s?
With two daily flights in each direction between Sydney and Shanghai throughout the summer peak, passengers aboard flight MU736 from Sydney and MU735 from Shanghai can take the Boeing 777 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from December 9 2017 until March 10 2018 (inclusive).
On the other days of the week during this period, and after mid-March next year, the usual Airbus A330s will ferry passengers along the route, topping out at business class.
Victorian travellers will find the Boeing 777s taking wing during a similar window, serving on flight MU740 from Melbourne and MU739 from Shanghai on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from December 8 2017 until March 9 2018.
As with Sydney, all other flights between Melbourne and Shanghai will continue to run with China Eastern's standard Airbus A330 jets.
A China Eastern spokesperson confirmed these changes with Australian Business Traveller, with passengers now able to book the airline's Australian Boeing 777 flights, and first class tickets, via the China Eastern website:
Subject to availability, Qantas Frequent Flyer members can also book China Eastern flights from Sydney or Melbourne to Shanghai for 114,000 Qantas Points in first class or 78,000 Qantas Points in business class, one way, plus applicable taxes and charges.
However, these reward flights can only be booked by calling the Qantas Frequent Flyer team on 13 11 31 between 7am and 7pm Monday-Saturday (excluding public holidays) and pressing 1 for ‘travel arrangements, including Classic Flight Rewards’, rather than being offered via the Qantas website.
On paid fares, Qantas members can instead earn frequent flyer points whenever travelling on a China Eastern MU flight number, plus status credits if booking the flight as a Qantas (QF) codeshare.