Air China - Is It Worth The Discount?

There are some incredible Air China deals to the Uk and Europe. I’m pretty happy with a long layover as I have three kids and an overnight stay in a hotel works well for us on long flights. I can get to London and back out of Rome to Australia for six weeks over Xmas for about $750 each. Is Air China that bad? Closest price is Qantas at $1130 each - so about $2000 more for the whole family.

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Comments

  • Not sure about the airline but I wouldn't fly anything with a long layover in China. Too many friends and family have had bags missing when transiting through China and it seems to always be some delayed bag scan or scanning "mistake" to try and throw the luggage tracking.

    • +2

      $2k buys a lot of luggage!

      • As tourists, so long as you pack only non-valuables in your check-ins you should be ok, worst case scenario you lose a suitcase or two of undies.
        It becomes an issue for people coming/returning to China to visit friends/family though, these guys normally bring back a lot of good stuff (health foods, cosmetics, iPhones etc.) as gifts and are the main targets for luggage thieves.

      • One of the lost luggage contained two brand new TotL fishing reels at $1.2k each and another $6k worth of other gear. My gear was in amongst that.

        The airport/airline recognized the bag as stolen and reimbursed based on weight. We got ~$600 back. Insurance paid another $1.2k as some receipts were kept in the boxes.

        Another major loss suffered was a wedding dress. $6k but that didn't compare to the heartache of losing the dress a few days before the ceremony. Thankfully not my dress (for multiple reasons)… nor my wife's.

    • what dates for those incredible fares & out of what Australian city ?

  • don't you need a visitor visa to stay overnight?

    • Fine if you are transiting

  • +2

    I would use them. I travel regularly travel internationally with my 3 kids. If I wasn't already going to the US in April and Japan in September then I'd grab one of those cheap euro flights in a second (though we did 4 weeks in Europe in 2014, but still I'd probably head to Rome then across to Greece by ferry, up to Thessaloniki and train to Istanbul then flight back Rome).

  • I’d rather get into my canoe and row my way to the destination

    • That bad hey? Is this a personal experience?

      • +2

        Got room for two adults and three kids in your canoe??

        • -1

          Yeah it’s the called P&O cruisers

  • +1

    They're not that bad so long as you set your expectations right - service standard is quite some way below the top Asian carriers (but there seems to be a concerted effort for flight attendants to at least try to be nicer to westerners), entertainment systems are old and require an engineering degree to figure out on some planes, transit hotels are very basic, and a good proportion of the ground staff don't speak English.

    On the upside, food is not too bad, (because they haven't refreshed their seating in such a long time) the legroom is reasonably competitive and (for the same reason) the seats are well padded. Without discounting what others have said here, I've transited through China a number of times and have never had an issue with luggage loss or delays (and no need to pick up bags either)

    All in all, it's worth considering if the savings are substantial and you're brave enough to navigate through the transit in China.

    Also, if they're priced similarly (or even a little bit more), go with China Southern - by far the best of the three mainland Chinese carriers, and the transit in Guangzhou is a friendlier experience than Shanghai or Beijing.

    • Thanks - this is really helpful! I wasn’t expecting first class Emirates, I’m expecting something like Jetstar or Scoot which is fine.

  • I've taken Air China around April last year- flew to Paris, layover in Beijing for quite a while (7hours the first time, 13 the next). approx 900pp, closest I could find was Qatar at 1100 (they were also doing a promo).
    Was also concerned re old aircraft legroom services etc, but pleasantly surprised!
    I actually feel it's on par with qantas (I fly long haul with qantas several times/year). no issues with our luggages,
    sufficient legroom - entertainment system from melb to beijing is oldish with the remote, from beijing to paris is touchscreen etc.
    service & food is not bad, english acceptable although cant quite catch everything they're saying over the PA system.

    the only thing thats not great - there's a bus from the aircraft to the terminal, mad rush to the bus, concept of queuing does not exist, everyone pushing to get on…that being said you can always wait for the next one.

    for layovers shorter than 10 hrs, it is unlikely they would let you out of the terminal (we tried, the queue is insane). their airport security measures are abit over the top, again looooooong queues, just about had to empty everything out for them to see, also got a very thorough pat down by the female security guards.
    on the return trip we did manage to go out & did a section of the great wall!
    (no visa required for less than 72hours)

  • +2

    Op. If its 2k savings for a family its definitely worth it. For a single traveller like me a $300 saving isnt enough to sway me from qatar.

    • You know that arab airlines like Qatar, indirectly support terrorism, in many ways.