Expect the unexpected
Flow out last-minute to Shanghai on 10 September 2018 with this airlines and had to transit through Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan Province (it’s main hub) was a very much value option, return flight was direct from Shanghai to Melbourne with China Eastern (codeshare with Qantas).
• For transit to another Chinese city, luggage was to be collected in Shanghai, my final destination;
• Free transit lounge at the Domestic Departure and keep your international ticket or itinerary handy for check-in;
• Food from Chengdu is amazing (if you enjoy a bit spicy hot chilli);
• Hostesses will ask if you want chilli sauce (black beans soaked into chilli oil) when your meal is selected;
• Chinese domestic airports do not allow lighters at security check-ins. I understand this was because Xinjiang Ugor woman tried to light up a petrol-filled soft-drink can on a domestic flight during Beijing Olympics. All domestic airports (except Shenzhen, so far as I know) have smoking rooms with lighters provided;
• Chinese airlines typically provide a rice dish or a noodle dish.
The airplane was not the latest but with the necessities such as personal entertainment system in the back of the seat in front of you. Food from Melbourne was very so-so (wait for the surprise for Chengdu to Shanghai part). Limited Hollywood selections but I enjoyed a Chinese movie before dozing off.
Transit from Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport was a bit like transiting from international to domestic in Melbourne Airport EXCEPT, in Chengdu, it is a straight line (not left or right) – going through customs (officially into China), luggage carousels, then into the domestic departure hall.
When at the Domestic Departure, look up for the mezzanine level where you should find a transfer lounge via an escalator. If you have sufficient time, do go. It opens from 6:40 AM (cannot remember closing time because the Melbourne flight arrived around 5:45 AM). There are two transit lounges, only Lounge 1 was open (not many passengers that day) and it is almost in front of you when got on top of the escalator. What it provides include: comfy sofas (large and small), curving sleeping beds in a separate and darker area, drinking water fountains and showers). This lounge does NOT provide food, a local delicacy restaurant next door is worth trying; it does not have toilet which is outside, just tell the receptionist and feel free to go in and out.
I had a two-hour sleep on a long couch. Happy times!
The flight from Chengdu to Shanghai was new/fresh and the food… the food! Sichuan food is known for being spicy hot and it was a treat! The spicy tofu was authentic and spicy hot! In Chinese announcement before the meal, I understood that the meal was designed not to exceed 600 calorie per meal according to WHO recommendations. Unfortunately, this is not relayed in English.
Surprisingly, this domestic has a selection of international and domestic entertainments, a bit less than the international flight but sufficient for a two-plus-hour flight.
Bottomline? The service! It was attentive, polite and, in some way, sweet (or not a trace of arrogance).
I loved it but only if I travelled alone (without kids) because of the transit time.
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