Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Shanghai on United

At the beginning of April I had the opportunity to go to Shanghai to visit some high schools and tour around the city. I was only in Shanghai for 4 nights, so it was a very quick trip for the amount of flying required. I was booked on United's nonstop flights between Shanghai and LAX, which was great. Both flights were operated by the Dream)liner, 787-8. I love this plane and have flown on 787s three times before. I arrived at LAX about 2.5 hours before departure. My flight left at 1:00p and at first I thought that my flight was not going to be full for this 14 hour flight. Well I was wrong because many passengers were connecting and many boarded late because of their tight connections. 

I had a lot of entertainment options on this very long flight. The system had a ton of movies and TV shows to watch. I had an aisle seat and both seats next to me were occupied. Since the flight departed in the middle of the day, I never really became tired until the very end of the flight.

This flight was very interesting because there were at least 3 newborn babies on this flight and 2 were at the bulkhead row. It was not a quiet or peaceful flight with the crying babies. There were bassinets that hooked up to the wall. It makes me think that these were anchor babies for Chinese families. It was just a strange coincidence.

Soon after take off, lunch was served. It was ok and nothing special at all. The best part of it was the dessert thing. They had more of those available in the galleys the entire flight.

One of the coolest things about the Dream)liner is the gigantic windows and the electronic shades. There are no moving parts and the windows darken by pressing the button below the window. You can also see out even when it is at its darkest.

Since this was a long flight and I sat on the aisle, I managed to get up and walk around a lot. This was the little water and snack tray available at the back of the plane.

About 1.5 hours before landing, they served a breakfast meal, which most airlines tend to do on flights to Asia. I always find it strange because arrival is always in the afternoon and it is not breakfast time. I guess since locally back home it was the middle of the night, your body might be expecting that the next meal be breakfast. I don't know.

This is a shot of the widescreen TV I looked at for 14 hours. We were just about to land when I took this picture as the little plane on the screen is just at Shanghai (PVG). I arrived around dinner time and I made it through immigration quite quickly. My bag was one of the first to come out and I found my driver who quickly whisked me down to the parking lot where his minivan was waiting. I fell asleep on the drive to my hotel, which was the Hilton Shanghai. I think the drive took about an hour.  

I arrived on Wednesday evening and my return flight was on Sunday evening. The same plane coming from LAX turns around a few hours later and goes back. So my return flight left around 8:30p. I left the hotel around 4:00, when I had to check out. I had the driver take me to the maglev station so that I could try the levitating train to the Shanghai Pudong airport.

I had access to the Air China business class lounge at the airport and I stayed there for a while because I arrived at the airport so early. It was nicer than I expected, but I also didn't expect too much. Once I boarded the plane, I was lucky enough to have the seat next to me empty. It was so nice because I had some extra room to move around, but I was in the middle block of seats and I never had to get out of my seat to let someone else out of their seat. It's the small victories that help flying be enjoyable, when it is usually kinda awful. They served dinner right after take off and again it was edible but not great.

This return flight was about an hour shorter than the previous flight. I watched a bunch of movies and even managed to nap for a few hours. Again they served a breakfast meal before we landed even though we landed late afternoon. It didn't taste that great and the pastry thing had this weird topping on it that I thought was banana, but it was actually walnuts or something like that. It was all a mystery meal.

Both flights were what one would expect from United and I discovered that 14 hours is just over my tolerance for a flight in coach. It's just too long to be uncomfortable. However, it was great to have a nonstop flight and not have to connect in Tokyo or somewhere else.