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Air China business class. Why it's so cheap

Kutchan-cho, Japan
Level Contributor
196 posts
59 reviews
Air China business class. Why it's so cheap

I recently checked fares for Tokyo - Delhi route and found out that Air China business class is so cheap. While ANA economy class was about 80000 yen, Air China business class was 117000 yen. Next cheapest business class was Asiana with 180000 yen. I have no experience with Ari China. When I read reviews (mostly on economy seats) those were really bad. But is it the same for Business Class?

Are they so bad to such an extent that it could be worse than economy class on a 5-star airline?

General feeling is cheap is worse. But it's not right all the time. Any of you guys have first-hand experience?

Really appreciate your inputs on this. Thanks.

Edited: 24 March 2017, 19:45
22 replies to this topic
Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
Level Contributor
61,200 posts
171 reviews
1. Re: Air China business class. Why it's so cheap

Air China is always cheaper. I have a friend who flies between NYC and Hong Kong with a transfer at Shanghai regularly because of the cheaper business fares. He is generally satisfied though he doesn't like the food (but he usually doesn't eat plane food anyway). Shanghai and Beijing airports are known for delays. He finally experienced a major one a couple of months ago after about 10 trips. He had to overnight at Shanghai as a result--and Air China gave him an airport hotel room with a circular bed and floor-to-ceiling mirror.

Kutchan-cho, Japan
Level Contributor
196 posts
59 reviews
2. Re: Air China business class. Why it's so cheap

Hi SammyF1oyd,

Thanks, think it's worth a try.

Kansas City...
Level Contributor
1,310 posts
220 reviews
3. Re: Air China business class. Why it's so cheap

The factors are the hard product and the soft product. More often than not I am focused on the hard product for long flights and so focus on the seat for long flights. Ideally the seat is lie flat on long flights to sleep better. And yes the economy class on the Chinese airlines is not a good option. Flights from the USA to Asia are often 15 hour flights so comfort is important.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Guangzhou
Level Contributor
14,167 posts
63 reviews
4. Re: Air China business class. Why it's so cheap

We have been on Air China business and first class many times, part of Star Alliance flights, I'd say they are excellent, just as good as all airlines, far superior than UA, food and entertainment are good, equipment general brand new, just tea itself has 4-5 selections. Take off colored glasses, they are just as good or better.

They are cheapest, because all Chinese carriers are cheaper, that is just how Chinese do business. Working for Air China is maybe the most prestigious job in China, the pay is top in China, but still dirt cheap labor compared to any Western carrier janitors. There is fierce competition among Chinese carriers which are growing rapidly, they need people to fill the seats.

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
Level Contributor
33,906 posts
6 reviews
5. Re: Air China business class. Why it's so cheap

Air China currently flies PEK-DEL using the A330-300. Business class is not 180 degree lie flat, it says 165 degree so that sounds like angle flat, in a 2-2-2 configuration. The photos on Seatguru indicate business class has in seat video (whether it's AVOD or circulating channels I'm not sure).

Air China's widebodies are inconsistent. For the real premium long hauls from PEK (US, London) their business class looks excellent. For the medium haul (4-5 hour) intra Asia it can be below par (I flew PEK-BKK on a 722 and it was full lie flat but overhead screen IFE only). The A330s look as good as Asiana and Thai's A330s.

They're cheaper because it's less convenient to transit at PEK, plus they're costs are much lower than ANA and Asiana and those two can command a premium as they're rated as two of the best airlines in the world.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Guangzhou
Level Contributor
14,167 posts
63 reviews
6. Re: Air China business class. Why it's so cheap

Air China now has daily Facebook ads $500 RT US to Asia in economy. Every time China wants balance trade, they give Europe or US a few billions in aircraft orders, nothing else come up to so much money so fast; Air China being the national carrier, they take all the airplanes, more or less cost it nothing, depending on how you count it.

My guess entire crew payroll cost less than one UA captain and they never go on strike, no such thing.

Being the mother airlines before there was any other Chinese carriers, they own all the rights and ground sites. I once read all new Chinese carriers must get okay from Air China to start, most their original staff came from Air China which is the most experienced and more rigidly trained. Its profit and cost basis calculation is different than all other commercial entities.

As such, its services sometimes has a slight feel of arrogance, the FA is the envy of all neighbors and known as most beautiful, not as personal, but still better than UA.

London, United...
1 post
7. Re: Air China business class. Why it's so cheap

I flew with Air China a few years ago DUS-TPE via PEK (then returned to LHR via PEK). I was pleasantly surprised by their services. I think the 2-2-2 open layout results in more seats than 1-2-1 herringbone so they can afford to price their seats cheaper. Food is the typical premium food seen in all long haul Asian carriers. My initial worry was about the passengers with rude behaviour as heard on the news. There was none.

I was most surprised by the transit arrangement at PEK. Once out of the gate, there is a staff holding my name. I simply followed her all the way to the transit area without looking for any transit sign. At the transit area, passengers need to go through a passport check before going downstairs for transit security check. The staff told me to meet her at the security check as she went down to queue for me! When I arrived, she told the security check I am a business class passenger so I can use the staff line! After that, she asked if I wanted to use the lounge and I followed her again to the lounge without the need of looking for it.

I don't know if Air China provides such service to all business class transit passengers but I was definitely impressed!

Edited: 29 April 2017, 04:57
Connecticut
Level Contributor
287 posts
63 reviews
8. Re: Air China business class. Why it's so cheap

"Air China is always cheaper. I have a friend who flies between NYC and Hong Kong with a transfer at Shanghai regularly because of the cheaper business fares." From NYC, Air China only flies to PEK. A trip with a transfer at Shanghai would have been on China Eastern, not Air China.

Chur, Switzerland
3 posts
9. Re: Air China business class. Why it's so cheap

If it is the case, it's not too bad. We never like plan food no matter 5 star or not. Our concern is the bed , price & quiet environment . We just booked the business class .

Los Angeles...
Level Contributor
528 posts
1 review
10. Re: Air China business class. Why it's so cheap

Air China is another government owned airline, so they can strategically slash prices without going belly up.

Cheap isn't always bad. I took a United flight for $20. That was back when there were fare wars in the US. Nothing wrong with the flight.

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