What to expect when flying internationally with flagship Chinese airline Air China
Welcoming to the blog today, Dad of triplets Wisterian Watertree reporting back on his experience flying with 3 kids from Beijing to Stockholm and back.
This post is part of our airline review series. You can read more on flying with kids here.
First, we’ll take a look at the airline policies of Air China then Wisterian’s first-hand review of their flying experience.
Pregnant travellers on Air China
If you are under 32 weeks pregnant, Air China has no restrictions. Between 32 and 35 weeks, you need to show a medical certificate that you will not give birth in flight (multiples are already forbidden), and after 35 weeks they will not permit you to fly with them.
Related Reading: Ultimate Guide to Flying Pregnant
Newborn policy on Air China
Newborns have to be at least 14 days old before they are allowed on board. Premature children have to be over 90 days. They have four bassinets on every flight.
Flying with infants (under 2 years) on Air China
Air China sets a limit on the number on infants on board, but the number varies with the type of aircraft. All airlines do this but may not declare it upfront, since this has to do with the number of infant oxygen masks on board. They also do not allow more than two infants per grownup passenger.
Related Reading: The Ultimate guide to airline baby bassinets
Flying Air China with Children (2-11)
There are no limitations on children, as long as they fit in the seatbelts and can use the oxygen masks. They get the same luggage allowance as adults and special children’s meals can be ordered in advance.
Unaccompanied minors on Air China
Unaccompanied minors between the ages of 5 and 11, on flights passing through Beijing, are welcome. People with disabilities can also go for the UM option until age 17. But they only allow four unaccompanied minors per flight.
Baggage allowances on Air China
Infants can take 10kg extra luggage on an infant ticket, and the parents can check one stroller per child free of charge. You can check full baggage policies for Air China here.
Frequent Flyer Programs
Air China has their own mileage system, PhoenixMiles. They are not members of some of the big systems like OneWorld.
Flying Air China – the verdict
Air China is like a long-distance budget airline. The aeroplanes for long-haul are modern (we flew in an A380) and fairly new, with good air and toilets. Changing your babies is as cramped as ever.
Entertainment and Meals
The entertainment system may be provided by Airbus, but the content is provided by Air China, and unless you are Chinese it does not last the nine hours on a flight to Sweden. Probably not even then.
The children’s entertainment selection is also limited. You have to bring some entertainment of your own. Unless you are flying back, in which case your kids are likely to fall asleep as soon as you get onboard and will not wake up until the staff starts serving the (ordinary) breakfast. I must have eaten the same breakfast on a dozen airlines around the world.
But apart from the breakfast, the worst thing about flying Air China is the food. Chinese food is not known for its exquisite taste and quality and the food on our flight was no different. The barbecue skewers looked like they were coloured with house paint and the pasta tasted so bad that my kids refused to touch it. Luckily we brought plenty of snacks.
Customer Service on Air China
The staff are very helpful (which is very unusual for a Chinese company) but they are also extremely busy and will not try to be nice to you, just get you what you need. Do not expect any pampering in economy class.
Connections through Beijing
If you have a connecting flight you may have a problem, because everyone connecting has to first pass through immigration, then go downstairs and pass through a second immigration and security control. If you thought you had time for shopping, forget it.
And the immigration and security control staff must all have woken up on the wrong side of each other’s beds and then drunk a couple of litres of undiluted lemon juice for breakfast. On the plus side, there are play areas everywhere in the terminal in Beijing.
Overall experience flying Air China With Kids
Would we fly Air China again? Yes, if they give us the same price next time. It is a long flight to Stockholm from Beijing (and back). But it was bearable, which is probably the best you can expect from a flight these days.
Thanks to Wisterian for reviewing Air China for us and sharing his flying experience. You can read more about Wisterian and his family adventures in Tokyo with triplets in this guest post and on his personal blog.
Have you flown with Air China? Is it an airline you would recommend to other flying families?
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Disclosures: This is not a sponsored post or paid endorsement of Air China, all views are those of the guest author. Please check facts with the airline directly before booking. You can see our full disclosure policy here.