Monday, July 07, 2014

The China Eastern adventure

China Eastern has horrible passenger reviews. The price really was too good to be true. Even in J! Besides, they're SkyTeam -- the only viable SkyTeam option to get from Japan to India.

That was the check-in line 20 minutes after it officially opened at 1120 this morning at Narita. Notice, no agents in sight! (They were huddled to the left as if preparing for a football play!) I checked online -- Flightaware kept saying that the inbound aircraft was on time. Frankly, I don't doubt that China Eastern (MU) just didn't update their data ...

This should have been a clue.

So, the flight is über delayed. Instead of 1350, they were saying a 1630 departure to Shanghai Pudong (PVG). I was scheduled to connect to MU563 departing PVG at 2150 for Delhi ...

When the counter opened, they said that I had been transferred to Japan Airlines for the NRT-PVG leg with a 1410 departure, and the sweet check in lady (they're all so sweet here!) walked me over to the JAL counter. She took my papers. Got my bags onto the belt. "The bags will only go to Shanghai. You'll have to check-in again."

The sweet JAL girl then looked at her screen and my itinerary, several times. "Are you going to Delhi tomorrow?" I said, no, tonight. She excused herself and went back to the MU counter. Well, it turns out that there is no flight to Delhi from Shanghai tonight. She came back and apologized profusely. There must have been a computer glitch when I booked this on the internet. China Eastern will pay for a hotel in Shanghai tonight. However, I won't be getting to Delhi until a day later. Would that be ok? I agreed. She came back -- that would mean that I wouldn't get on the JAL flight, but would remain with MU. Oh well. She checked me in, gave me a food voucher for 2000¥, my boarding pass and lounge invitation.

Back to the MU counter -- I asked them to print out a new itinerary (so I can show the immigration officials in Shanghai, to use the new visa-waiver program), as well as a note to say that they'll get the hotel tonight.

Then to the dining hall for a passable lunch, and calling my mother to update her of my changed plans, and on through security and immigration to the China Airlines/SkyTeam lounge.

Checking Flightaware and the MU website: the updated departure for MU524 is 1800. It's still not left Shanghai. I saw that there's another MU flight -- leaving at 1655 from NRT. It's taken off from Shanghai ... that's a good sign!

So, I asked the lounge agent to contact China Eastern. A few minutes later a sweet (aren't they all!) China Eastern agent came to my seat, with a new boarding pass and baggage tags. She assured me that my bags would be transferred. I certainly hope they will. I'm now on MU522 -- an A321 not an A330.

Hopefully, I'll get into Shanghai by about 1930 tonight. And my bags as well.

Originally, I had a 5 hour layover at Pudong. Not enough to really get into the city, but enough to ride the Maglev to Longyang Road and back. My hope was to have enough time to go visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Shesan. It seems now that I'll be able to.

And meanwhile, I get to do this ...

... St. Christopher, pray for all travelers today! :)

Light moment of the day: the JAL agent scrutinized my Indian visa intensely. "When does it expire." "When I do." She bust out laughing. 

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