Air China Postscript…. A colleague

Air China Postscript….

A colleague has reminded me that we flew to Hong Kong on Air China back in September, and while the food and the service were sub-standard, there were no nightmares or atrocities that approached what I went through last week. Was it just a fluke, an isolated incident? Maybe, but even so, that doesn’t justify it or make it any less agonizing for its victims.

The Discussion: 2 Comments

On 30 May 2006 I was booked in First Class on a flight from Shanghai to Beijing, Flight 1518C scheduled to depart at 4:30pm to arrive in Beijing at 6:20pm. I had a connecting Business Class booking on Flight 983C for Los Angeles scheduled to depart at 8:00pm. The flight from Shanghai was delayed by 2-1/2 hours causing me to miss my connecting flight to Los Angeles. When asked why we were delayed the flight attendants were very evasive. They finally told us that there were “weather conditions” in Beijing that caused the flight to be delayed. I called an associate in Beijing on my cell phone and was told that the weather was fine, with no problems whatsoever. We found out later that the flight was actually delayed due to mechanical issues. Air China chose to lie to me rather than tell the truth about this delay.

When I finally arrived in Beijing I, along with about 15 other travelers were trying to get alternative flights to Los Angeles due to this delay. We were informed that Air China did not have another flight leaving until 8:00pm on the 31st. I inquired about the possibility of Air China booking me on another carrier and was told that they could not do this. Instead, they booked me on the next day’s flight, put me on a crowded bus and took me to the Yu Yang Hotel in the Xin Yuan Xili Chaoyang District for the evening – a very questionable “four-star” hotel. When we arrived at the hotel counter we were informed that Air China would only pay for “double-occupancy”. I immediately informed the hotel manager that this was completely unacceptable, that I had paid a substantial amount of money for First Class and Business Class tickets, and that I was not going to be forced to room with a complete stranger due to Air China’s inability to meet their scheduling responsibilities. Several of the other passengers stated the same. After about 30 minutes of pleading our case with Air China the manager was finally given the approval to put us in separate rooms.

I was solicited by prostitutes twice, once in the lobby and once on the 3rd floor, before I got to my room that evening. This would seem to betray the “four-star” rating that the U Yang Hotel claims.

Dinner and breakfast were promised to each of us. Dinner consisted of a bowl of noodle soup – nothing else. The hotel would not even give me bottled water unless I paid for it out of pocket, which I did. Breakfast the next morning consisted of two hard rolls and a hard-boiled egg. Again, I had to buy my own water.

Although another bus ride was promised, I arranged my own taxi to the airport the next day, as I wanted to get there early to make sure that I had a confirmed flight on the 983C leaving for Los Angeles that night (the 31st). I did make that flight, which was very comfortable and on which I was treated fairly well. This 747 actually appeared to be fairly new.

China is an amazing country. I find the people to be generally very generous, honest and hospitable. I found this to be the case with Air China also, until my problems began with the Shanghai flight. I do not like being lied to regarding the reason for delay. I was amazed at the lack of concern or urgency in getting me and 15 other fellow travelers taken care of after Air China’s debacle. I was angered that we were treated so poorly by Air China regarding the hotel accommodations, especially considering that I had spent over US$5000 for my flights to and within China – all of which were booked First Class or Business Class.

Although the Chinese economy continues to amaze, based mostly on Chinese business’ willingness to do whatever is necessary to satisfy their clients, sadly Air China seems not to have learned this lesson yet. It is common practice in any other civilized airline in the world to seek accommodations on a competing airline if necessary to take care of travelers stranded due to delays, but obviously not at Air China. Air China claims to be the “Official Airlines of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games”. I assure you that this kind of service will simply not be tolerated by the people traveling to the Olympics.

June 17, 2006 @ 11:12 am | Comment

I had been searching for flights online and was vaguely considering taking an Air China flight, despite various warnings I had received. Thank goodness I stumbled across this website and reconsidered, before I had yet another travel atrocity to report to my family and friends.

October 12, 2006 @ 3:22 pm | Comment

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