Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines is China’s second-largest airline (behind China Southern) and is ranked in the top 10 airlines worldwide for passengers carried, distance flown and number of aircraft. It has undergone huge growth over the past decade.
The airline is part of the SkyTeam alliance, but also has a bilateral agreement with Qantas, meaning Qantas Points can be used for redemptions on China Eastern.
Routes, aircraft and cabins
China Eastern currently flies between its hub at Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Auckland.
At the moment, Aucklanders are stuck with an older A330 seat in a 2-2-2 configuration.
Sometimes—including last summer—Auckland gets a Boeing 777-300ER scheduled on the route, which features four First Class ‘Suites-style’ seats, with the centre ones convertible into a double bed (like in Singapore Airlines’ Suites Class):
and a reverse-herringbone Business Class seat:
There is usually a heap of seats on this route in Economy and Business Class, for last minute flights, and for advance bookings.
I have also seen First Class availability on the route when the Boeing 777-300ER is schedule, albeit on the return from Shanghai, rather than ex-Auckland.
Award availability is usually excellent on other routes including to North America and Europe if you are looking to fly further afield.
Here is the pricing for a one-way flight to Shanghai from Auckland, with current and new pricing from September:
|Auckland to Shanghai||Current rates||New rates
|First Class||134,000 points||149,800 points|
|Business Class||92,000 points||104,500 points|
|Economy Class||45,000 points (was 50,000 points)||Unchanged|
Taxes departing New Zealand are ~$90.
Do you need to call to book or can you do it online?
When does award calendar availability open up?
Qantas’ award calendar opens at 353 days (almost one year) before departure.
China Eastern doesn’t have the best reputation for its soft product (meaning its customer service and dining options), but it is investing a lot in its hard product (seats). New Zealand-based travellers are likely to enjoy the updated product in years to come.
The occasional scheduling of the Boeing 777-300ER on this route also sees First Class available at times.
Given China Eastern is part of the SkyTeam alliance, which is hard to access with points for travellers in New Zealand, the option to use Qantas Points on these redemptions is very welcome.
Have you flown China Eastern before? What was your experience?
Supplementary images courtesy China Eastern and Airbus.