Review: 10 China Eastern Airlines facts you should know

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1. China Eastern carriers 80 Million Passengers a year.

According to the latest figures, China Eastern Airlines is the 7th largest airline in the world in terms of annual passengers carried. The airline is followed by EasyJet with 73 Million, Turkish Airlines with 63 Million and Lufthansa with 62 Million travellers a year.


Even though 80 Million passengers flew China Eastern in 2016, it still doesn't make it the biggest airline in China. The Guangzhou based airline China Southern, took 84 Million passengers from A to B in 2016. The number one in the ranking is the American carrier Delta by the way.

2. The Second largest Airbus Operator on Earth.

China Eastern Airlines wasn't only the first Chinese Airline to place an order for an Airbus but it is also the second largest Airbus operator in the world after American Airlines. In total 337 Airbuses are part of the fleet and more than 150 are still on order, expecting to join the fleet within the next years.


CEA operates more than 250 Airbuses of the A320 family, more than 50 Airbus A330's and also made orders of the A350, the latest generation aircraft. I recently flew on CEA's Airbus A330 and you can read my reviews below:

3. Shanghai Airlines is part of China Eastern Airlines.

Shanghai Airlines was established in 1985 as a local carrier with a domestic network only. In 1997 the first international flight took off and the Chinese carrier joined the Star Alliance in 2007 as its 19th member airline.


The Shanghai based airline only stayed in the alliance for 3 years though because in 2010 Shanghai Airlines merged with China Eastern Airlines and also became a member of the Sky Team instead. The airline kept it's name and livery though and still operates its own network even though being 100% incorporated.

4. Smoking Pilots, Lazy Crew and Poor Safety standards.

On my recent flight with China Eastern Airlines to Shanghai the crew would neither demonstrate the safety procedures or screen a video to do so. I found this pretty disturbing and after doing some research I saw that safety isn't really a priority for the Chinese airline. I found a few dozen reports of pilots smoking inside the cockpit or cabin crew inside the galley.


But also China Eastern Airlines subsidiary Shanghai Airlines isn't performing any better when I read about Cabin Crew cutting their finger nails in the galley or ignoring broken safety features on the plane. Definitely not the nicest thing to spot on a flight...

5. Flight MU588 from New York is CEA's longest flight.

Every day at 16:25 and 01:45 local time China Eastern Flight MU588 and MU298 take off from John F. Kennedy International airport to land at Shanghai Pudong International 15 hours and 40 minutes later, making it the longest flight of China's second largest airline.


The flight itself is operated by China Eastern's brand new Boeing 777 which comes with a new Business and Economy Class. Every seat has a personal screen. It is a great product which I have experienced myself already and it's way better than the old Airbus A330 without personal entertainment and old seats. Read my review below:

6. Shanghai Pudong fastest growing Airport.

China Eastern's main hub is Shanghai Pudong International airport and it is currently the ninth busiest airport in the world and the fastest growing airport among the Top 10 busiest airports in the world. Pudong handled a total of 66 Million passengers in 2016 which was an increase of 9,9% in comparison to 2015. Only Indira Ghandi Airport, the main-hub of Air India is growing faster, by an annual pace of 21%.


Even though Shanghai Pudong is only the second busiest airport in China after Beijing Capital Airport, it handles way more international traffic than Beijing does, making it the busiest one in the People's Republic by international passengers.

7. China Eastern Airlines is part of the SkyTeam.

The SkyTeam seems to be the most popular choice for Chinese Airlines. With China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Air also being part of the alliance. China Eastern joined in June 2011 as the second biggest airline. The SkyTeam serves 1,074 destinations in 177 countries and transports 730 Million passengers a year from one airport to another.

8. Mother would hand out notes on a China Eastern Flight.

Let's admit it, crying babies can pretty much ruin an entire flight. While it's usually a very uncomfortable situation for both, parents and passenger, a mother on a China Eastern flight handled the situation in a very interesting way.


Before take off, the mother of a child called 'Wendy' would hand out notes and ear plugs to travellers sitting nearby, apologizing for any inconvenience that may occur during the flight. A beautiful gesture which went viral on China's Social media. You can read the full story here.

9. CEA next big hub will be the new Beijing Airport.

China Eastern Airlines main hubs are both Shanghai airports Pudong and Hongqiao. But also Kunming, Qingdao and especially Xian are big focus cities for CEA. However the airline wants to expand to Beijing as well, but the current airport doesn't provide any slots to any airline anymore since it's literally running beyond capacity as American Airlines recently experienced.


However in October 2019 the new Beijing Daxing Airport is going to open. It is going to be one of the most modern airports on earth. China Eastern and China Southern are both going to completely move their operations to the new airport creating a new hub. There are going to be a lot of opportunities to introduce new routes from Beijing to the world and beyond.

10. China Eastern the bridge between Europe and Australia.

The shortest route from Europe to Australia is via China, unless you fly direct from London to Perth with Qantas starting from March 2018. But the Shanghai based airline is targeting those going to Australia for a Working Holiday or those coming back but very convenient connections from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns.


The flights are most of the time way cheaper than Emirates or Qatar Airways, two airlines with a massive network to and from Australia and also the travel time is shorter. However, flying China Eastern on their older Airbuses without personal entertainment isn't as much fun as the comfort of the Middle Eastern Airlines.

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