When booking tickets to or from China, I’d advise you NOT to use google flights or any other American travel agencies such as Kayak, Priceline or Orbitz. The prices on these websites are artificially inflated for many Chinese flights. Instead, you should use Trip.com.
Trip.com is an online Chinese travel agency and a subsidiary of Ctrip, one of the largest travel service providers in the world. Prices for most Chinese airlines and flights to or from China are generally much cheaper on this website.
Air China’s 737-800 has 8 first class seats in the front of the aircraft and 159 standard 3-3-3 economy seats with 31 inches of legroom and 18 inches of width. For someone who just came off a first class flight, I felt the difference sitting in economy.
My legs were right up against the seatback pockets, and I felt like I was stuffed into my seat. Waiting at my seat were a nice, rather fluffy pillow and a thin blanket. Definitely not first class material.
It’s also odd that Air China only operates one flight a day from Beijing to Ho Chi Minh – my flight. I thought that there would be more of a demand for Chinese passengers to go to Vietnam. Hmm…thoughts to ponder…
One of the most frustrating things for this rather long regional flight was the lack of seatback entertainment. Instead, a CCTV episode looped continuously on the aircraft shared entertainment system during the entire flight.
Though the beef rice in the photo looks more like beef stew, it tasted quite good: well-seasoned, tender, and juicy. Unlike other flights where the proportion of beef and rice are skewed in favor of the carbohydrates (cost-saving measures), I thought this portion of meat to rice was very appropriate. The bread roll actually had a red bean filling and was a very pleasant dessert. The salad, as are many salads on flights, was old and flavorless, lacking in dressing and acidity that is often brought by a cherry tomato or two.
I ended up falling asleep for the rest of the ride.
The Bottom Line
Air China’s regional 737 economy class is a bare-bones flight with a surprisingly good meal. I’d recommend bringing your own entertainment though as longer flights actually can be pretty boring, especially if you’re watching CCTV the entire time.
Most importantly, this just goes to show why points are so important. Why spend cash getting stuck in an economy seat when you can use points to book yourself a nice first class seat! It's not about changing your life, it's about optimizing it!