China Eastern Airbus A350 to fly Sydney-Shanghai from March 31

China Eastern Airbus A350 to fly Sydney-Shanghai from March 31

China Eastern's busy Sydney-Shanghai route is set for a stunning upgrade as the airline swings its Airbus A350 into Aussie skies.

As of March 31, the SkyTeam member's daily flight MU561/MU562 service will shift from an older Airbus A330 to a factory-fresh A350.

Business travellers will be the big winners, as the A350 spots an impressive business class cabin where sliding privacy doors convert seats into suites – see our original story below for full details.

The seats themselves are exceptionally well-appointed, offering plenty of personal space plus direct aisle access for every passenger – and of course, a fully lie-flat bed for napping on either leg of the 10½ hour trip.

This is the same seating as on China Eastern's Boeing 787 Dreamliners, which will begin flying between Melbourne and Shanghai on February 1.

PREVIOUS | China Eastern is joining the growing number of airlines adding private business class suites to its flagship jets, and its newest suite-equipped Airbus A350 is bound for Sydney in 2019.

The Shanghai-hubbed airline took delivery of the first of 20 new A350s this week, with two more due by year's end and the rest stretching through to 2022 – and China Eastern tells Australian Business Traveller that its Sydney-Shanghai route will feature an Airbus A350 in 2019.

Each of the 40 business class seats are framed by high walls and a sliding privacy door.

The seats themselves are based on the Vantage XL platform from Thompson Aero, which is already flying in various forms as the Qantas Boeing 787 Business Suite and Delta Air Line's A350 Delta One suite, and could also find itself at the pointy end of Delta's forthcoming Airbus A330neo fleet.

For China Eastern's A350, there's an additional business suite twist: four seats at the very front row of the business class cabin adopt the enhanced Vantage First design, similar in some ways to the bespoke version of that seat created for Malaysia Airlines' A350 first class.

China Eastern described these four berths as 'super premium' suites with a mini-bar and 32 inch touchscreen displays, and it's expected they will sell with a suitable premium mark-up.

Additionally, the middle seats in this front row are being marketed as an ‘Air Living Room’ where up to four travellers can share the same space.

No doubt inspired by Qatar Airways' Qsuites 'quads',  China Eastern says these primo business class bunks "allow flight crew to reshape the space into a community area that up to four people can comfortably use for a business meeting or family gathering."

Converting the middle seats into an ad-hoc meeting room (also suitable for poker) is achieved by folding out the meal tables of each seat...

... and then lifting them up to bring them together into a single wide surface.

Finally, the top of each suite's ottoman is flipped to turn it into a padded seatbelt-equipped companion bench.

High-tech touches including broadband WiFi, a tap-to-buy NFC panel for inflight shopping with your smartphone or credit card, and Bluetooth headphones.

David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


  • HKAus


    7 Dec, 2018 10:37 am

    No doubt about it; outstanding hardware. Now the service, food and overall soft product needs to be upgraded to make it a more consistent overall package.
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  • Mike K


    7 Dec, 2018 10:50 am

    I’d be really annoyed to have to listen to a board meeting while flying.
    Members who gave thanks

    Merry, f&b_kate

  • Michael Reade


    7 Dec, 2018 06:34 pm

    Not if you had shares in them
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  • Stm Aus


    17 Jan, 2019 12:59 pm

    Nor if you had shares in their competitor!
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  • GreenEVs


    8 Dec, 2018 12:20 am

    What about four guys playing Mahjong inflight? :/
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  • Traveller14


    9 Dec, 2018 11:26 am

    Yes, I couldn't think of anything worse. Not that I've anything against alcohol, but the bonhomie fuelled by free (practically unlimited) booze would go to extremes. Noisy and disruptive.
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  • PaulST


    7 Dec, 2018 10:58 am

    Booked on an A330 from PVG to SYD in march so my fingers are crossed the aircraft is changed to an A350! I had a lucky aircraft upgrade a few months ago with MH.
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  • Mathew Thompson


    5 Jul, 2019 07:21 pm

    Did you get it? I’m flying this route in two weeks.
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  • Ozshanel


    7 Dec, 2018 11:10 am

    I don’t get the point of the doors. The “high walls” described in the article appear to be about waist height from the photos. Even with the doors closed, everyone could comfortably see inside your “suite”. They offer no privacy whatsoever so what is the point? Aren’t they just a marketing gimmick?
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    chillybags, iM

  • Jason Bird


    7 Dec, 2018 11:20 am

    Agreed.. although I think it’s safety regs that require the height
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  • AsiaBizTraveller


    8 Dec, 2018 04:54 pm

    That's correct, crew must have line of sight to all passengers for take-off and landing, and as a general rule this makes sense. I think everyone likes the ideas of doors but some people will leave them open once the novelty wears off.
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  • Traveller14


    9 Dec, 2018 11:28 am

    I don't like the idea of doors in such a small space. I want to be able to see the window (preferably open). Philippine Airlines 1-2-1 suites (not mentioned in the article) are also Thompson Vantage XL and are good enough, yet they thankfully don't have doors.
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  • eminere


    17 Jan, 2019 11:37 am

    That can't be right when so many enclosed first class seats/suites have much higher walls that prevent line of sight.
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  • Yvan J Drake


    18 Jan, 2019 09:25 am

    Depends who's regs the airline is operating under.

    For example, CASA don't even allow for the doors at all, where as It's the opposite end of the scale for the ME3.

    I don't know what the Chinese aviation authorities say on the matter but I suspect that's where it'd come from
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  • Dan Ho


    20 Jan, 2019 08:37 pm

    Some like the new Emirates first class on the 777 have a little 'service hatch' and perforations in the main door to peek and check if you've got your seat belt on etc etc
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  • Steven


    7 Dec, 2018 04:00 pm

    Yeh but stops the person next to you staring I s'pose
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  • Peggy Hayes


    7 Dec, 2018 06:40 pm

    I suppose the doors are meant to give you a little extra privacy when you're sleeping. Personally, I don't want other passengers/strangers seeing me drool, snore, or fart whilst sleeping. Although you could argue that those last two are more "hearing" issues. 😉
    Member who gave thanks


  • Eli


    10 Dec, 2018 09:50 am

    No, when you laying down it provides a nice sense of privacy at your eye level.
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  • Joe


    7 Dec, 2018 01:57 pm

    Now that's "mini first class" Mr Joyce.....not your 787 J set up which is standard J class these days.
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  • John Ruming


    7 Dec, 2018 07:17 pm

    Some relative short flights on the ad map for the "LongRangeLeader." Crew training I guess.
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  • zoomzoom


    7 Dec, 2018 10:08 pm

    Frightened at the thought of four business execs using the conference work space for a meeting on an overnight long haul flight. The stuff of nightmares!

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  • Davedownunder


    8 Dec, 2018 02:20 pm

    I can imagine BA feeling a little foolish reading your article and looking at their new first class seat they proudly showed you recently.

    China Eastern providing a four across business class suite ie has a door not an open business class seat branded as a first class "suite"
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  • moa999


    9 Dec, 2018 09:46 am

    Thank goodness for the pop of red, otherwise that cabin is all bland.

    Personally I'm not that fussed about doors, you get enough privacy both when sitting and sleeping by the wings and cocoon, and I think they detract from the overall cabin look.

    But obviously others like the extra privacy.

    Be interesting to see how much extra MU thinks it can get for the super premium seats.
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  • Ieuan1


    18 Jan, 2019 03:49 pm

    These cabins are getting to look more and more like office cubicles!
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  • Traveller14


    9 Dec, 2018 11:30 am

    While it codeshares with QF, is there some resistance among Australians who are not of mainland Chinese origin to flying MU, CZ or AC? (I'm omitting CI as that's Taiwanese).
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  • Alex_upgrade


    22 Jan, 2019 05:47 am

    And AC is Canadian. Air China is CA. ;=P
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  • KK


    19 Dec, 2018 09:14 am

    MU561/562 from 25th March 2019
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  • hawkfire


    7 Jan, 2019 03:08 pm

    KK, any source for that information? I'm flying on MU561/562 in April so it'll be good to be on the newer metal.
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  • PaulST


    7 Jan, 2019 05:22 pm

    I'm literally booked on MU561 on the 23rd :( (and it's still coming up an A330)
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  • hawkfire


    17 Jan, 2019 10:54 pm

    Looks like they're switching over from the 31st of March.
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  • gumshoe


    17 Jan, 2019 12:38 pm

    Looking for 2 x J/F SYD/PVG using QFF points for Aug. 2019 only see A330 in 1st! no A350 at all, why?
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  • hawkfire


    17 Jan, 2019 10:52 pm

    Because the A350 is configured for Business and Eco only.
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  • gumshoe


    18 Jan, 2019 02:57 pm

    Qantas awards is showing F on A330-200 July 2019 very odd.
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  • Hampstead


    18 Jan, 2019 03:23 pm

    Any chance the A330 gets swung on to the proposed Perth-Shanghai route?
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  • Bruce Robinson


    18 Jan, 2019 07:02 pm

    Yer another "window" seat, where the seat is next to the asile - not the window! Privacy is enhanced by being away from the passing traffic in the isle. If like me you prefer to look out of the window its much easier if you are seated next to it.

    As far as the sliding door height is concerned the doors are required to be open for take-off and landing. So the FAs can see if you are straped in etc, but more importantly so you can get out in a hurry if it turns bad. Could save your life,
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  • Russjking


    18 Jan, 2019 09:32 pm

    I used to think sliding doors would be great but fling recently in SQ where to seats are slightly staggered I felt very private anyway.
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  • stretch666


    18 Jan, 2019 09:33 pm

    David, is the A350 a certainty on these flights? just checked there site for flights in Nov. still showing the 330.
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  • Mikana


    19 Jan, 2019 01:18 pm

    Makeup on a pig.
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  • gumshoe


    28 Jan, 2019 10:50 am

    Booked two in F SYD/PVG for August still showing A330?
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  • gumshoe


    10 Mar, 2019 05:58 pm

    Now showing A350.
    No member give thanks

  • Ryan M


    4 Apr, 2019 07:44 pm

    Booked to fly business from YVR in December 2019
    Coming up as a330-200
    Looks like on the MU website it’s a350 till October then Switches to 33H
    Not sure what’s happening with the YVR-PVG leg either...
    No member give thanks

  • sydney001


    5 Apr, 2019 08:20 am

    Mat...Chinese airlines have a habit of changing their aircraft around..pending where they are needed..they probably put it on the pvg to Syd route due to high demand and peak season.
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  • Ryan M


    5 Apr, 2019 12:25 pm

    Yeah a bit weird, would’ve thought the Christmas period would’ve been a high time for them. Maybe the YVR leg will be the A350
    Looks like I’m on the a330 that is the 1-2-1 confit at least
    No member give thanks


20 Jul, 2019 10:07 pm


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