A Slow Plane To China

So many destinations, faces going to so many places where the weather is much better and the food is so much cheaper…

So state the opening lines of The Motors’ 1978 hit single Airport.  An appropriate song as we set off for another holiday, this time to the mysterious Orient, in other words, China.  Another pin in our map which will mark our 70th country visited – quite a milestone.   🙂

At least we didn’t have to leave the house at an unearthly hour the way we often do for long-haul journeys.  Our flight from Newcastle was not until 13:40 hours so we didn’t depart until lunchtime.

We left Newcastle Airport on our British Airways connection to London Heathrow, where we would have quite a few hours to wait before our overnight flight on China Eastern Airlines to Shanghai.

On arrival at Heathrow we could not check in yet as the desk was not open.  We therefore found a coffee shop and had something to eat as well as a cup of coffee, and I read my magazines and did my crosswords and generally whiled away the time until we were able to join the lengthy queue for our overnight flight.

Eventually we got rid of our cases and went to find a bar.  We were disappointed to note that Terminal 4 doesn’t have an executive lounge for us to use our Priority Passes, so we found a Wetherspoon’s type pub called “The Bridge” and went in there for a couple of drinks and shared a burger and chips between us.

If this blog reads a bit boring so far, then that’s about right, because there are few things more boring than hanging around for hours on end in airports.  However, apart from going everywhere by cruise ship as we usually do, if we want to see the world then airport departure lounges are a fact of life.  Unless, of course, we win the Euromillions lottery in which case we’ll travel everywhere first class, therefore  posh lounges and no massive queues to board.   🙂

When we got to the departure lounge we met Robert, the Travelsphere rep, who would be flying with us and who would be our guide as far as Beijing.

Eventually we were called to board for the 21:40 flight.  We hadn’t flown China Eastern Airlines before so we didn’t quite know what to expect.  I had read some reviews online and, to be honest, they weren’t very favourable.  However, our Airbus A330 aircraft was clean and modern, with audio and video on demand (AVOD) and seats with ample leg room.  Our seats were right at the port-side wing.

We took off on time and enjoyed the usual pre-dinner drink before they came around with the meal. There was a choice of either Chinese or Western food; I chose duck with rice and vegetables but it wasn’t really all that nice.  The meat was fatty and I’ve never tasted mushrooms like those ones before.  We had some white wine with the food; again, it was palatable, but only just.  I sat and watched The Shawshank Redemption (a truly excellent film) before trying (unsuccessfully) to get some sleep, or any other way in which I could pass the time on the 11½ hour flight.

Boring.   Boring.   Boring.  Every (wide awake!) minute seemed to last forever.  At some point during the flight they put the clocks forward seven hours, i.e. China time, and served breakfast.  Some sort of nameless meat and rice or noodles again.  I was watching the Skymap and I could see that we still had three and a half hours to go until we were due to land in Shanghai.

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