China Eastern Airlines has introduced a new direct route between Chicago and Shanghai, and the 15-hour flight sounds pretty glam. A fleet of all-new Boeing 777-300ER widebody jet airliners promise elegant architecture, dynamic lighting and a sophisticated in-cabin experience for both business and leisure travelers.
The inaugural flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport landed at O’Hare International Airport on March 18. It was greeted with a ceremonial water salute from area fire trucks, a tradition not dissimilar to christening a new ship by breaking a bottle of champagne on its bow. China Eastern Airlines is the only Chinese airline to offer this route. Flights are daily and non-stop.
The goal of China Eastern Airlines is to provide a world-class guest experience for its travelers, says Dong Bo, the airlines’ chief marketing officer.
The offerings in all cabins include Wi-Fi, adjustable colored lighting to ease jet lag and positively impact passenger mood, comfortable seating, complimentary overnight hotel accommodation in Shanghai if an involuntary stop is necessary; and a complimentary day room if a connection is longer than five hours.
Guests who fly in First and Business Class cabins enjoy an even more luxurious treatment such as complimentary car service at the airport and access to airport lounges.
The Business Class cabin is designed with a 1-2-1 layout, providing every passenger with direct aisle access. The reverse herringbone seating configuration with half-shell design and fully reclining 180-degree leather flat-bed seats. The cabin also features two wheelchair accessible, extra-large lavatories.
The First Class cabin has six suite-like spaces with plush lay-flat seats. Two seats can be converted to a full-size bed. Guests also enjoy electrically adjustable window blinds, state-of-the-art entertainment system and a personal wardrobe space. First and Business Class guests receive amenity kits stocked with products from Salvatore Ferragamo and Clarins.
The menus include a choice of Chinese and Western dishes and will change seasonally. Here is a sampling: braised beef brisket with egg noodle, teriyaki chicken with fried noodles and vegetables, roasted salmon with vegetables and lemon butter, and cheese omelet with sausage and spinach-stuffed tomato.
Another enticement to travel to Shanghai: Passengers with U.S. and Canadian passports are now allowed to stay up for to 144 hours (that’s six days!) without a transit visa. That new policy makes an impromptu trip much easier.
China Eastern Airlines Corporation Limited, headquartered in Shanghai, is one of the top three airlines in mainland China. The airline is a member of the SkyTeam alliance.
PHOTO CREDITS: Steven E. Gross and China Eastern Airlines
And here are a few of my own Shanghai photos: