Re - Tianjin Airlines **update**

By New Mint | Jan 18, 2019, 02:35 AM
Recently I asked if anyone had flown Tianjin Airlines on the MEL - CKG leg and wanted to know if it was the older 2-2-2 business class layout or 1-2-1. I’ve just returned from my trip so here’s a bit of a review as to my findings and opinion on Tianjin Airlines.


Firstly, and very impressively, both legs were aboard the Airlines relatively new A330-300 aircraft and it had a “Revese Herringbone” 1-2-1 layout. The seat was actually almost identical to Virgin’s “The Business”. This was a welcome surprise, especially on the return leg which was an over night flight. I slept a good 6-7 hours.


Overall I was very impressed with this airline and offers a great option into China for me as I’m Velocity Platinum (not sure how long it’ll take for points/status credits to appear though!). It was also a very cheap option especially for the product on offer. I paid less than $2k return and that included a return domestic leg within China in business class as well. There were some small language barrier issues but the staff bent over backwards to do anything they could to make sure customers were looked after. There were options for Chinese and Western food on the menu and the servings were large and plentiful (probably too much if I’m being honest!). They had a good selection of alcoholic drinks and staff were quick to ask if you required a refill.


Some negatives/room for improvement:


-Online check in didn’t work either direction. Not sure if this was because I booked on the Hainan Website. But didn’t get the option to do it. The flight over was only about half full (in Business. Economy appeared to be full) so seat selection at check in wasn’t an issue anyway. And on the way back I was in the equivalent of 1A so worked out well. Would just have been nice to have to option to either select seats online at booking or at online check in

-lounge access at Melbourne is at Marhaba lounge not the new The House lounge. Only minor but I would have thought all Virgin partners would now be using The House

- on arrival into CKG, we had to catch a bus which isn’t a big deal. The good part being they actually had a “VIP Bus” that ferried business class passengers to the terminal separately. This was a brilliant idea as the VIP bus had reached the terminal before the other buses had even departed. I was first through immigration and no queues. Only issue was the bags tagged “priority” came off last. CKG airport also has this ridiculous thing that every passenger has to have their bags scanned upon exit (despite no one looking at the monitors to view them). Due to bags coming off last, this resulted in taking around 90 minutes to go from baggage claim to exit. This is probably an airport issue not an airline issue though. Still not ideal after an 11 hour flight.

- inflight entertainment has a reasonably limited number of shows/movies in English. This isn’t a big deal for me as I have my tablet loaded prior to flight

- internal China flights were with Hainan. Upon checking in on final day, Hainan staff claimed they couldn’t check our bags through and we had to collect them again at CKG and re-check in, despite a same day connection. They claimed that this was because connecting flight wasn’t with Hainan Airlines (Despite them being part of the same group). Luckily I had a long connection time, because as per next point, this could have been an issue with a tight connection

- On the domestic flight back to CKG priority bags were again last off. And again CKG airport had another queue upon departing where they had to manually check everyone’s bags against the boarding pass bag tags. Never seen this anywhere else! I was actually the last person from that flight to exit the baggage carousel/bag check point. Again though, this is an airport issue not an airline issue.

- Lounge in CKG was very good. But no independent WiFi. Only the airport WiFi. First world problem I know, but airport WiFi was down on the night I left. It also wasn’t a very fast connection from using it when I arrived on the first night.

- staff handed out arrivals cards for Australia on the return flight. Only problem they didn’t have them in English, only Chinese. They also didn’t give out express cards. Both these turned out to be minor inconveniences. The lovely staff offered to assist to fill out the arrivals cards and translate, and there were no queues at quarantine and I was straight through.


Overall I can strongly recommend, especially for the price. A couple of very minor improvements and this could be a great airline. I will definitely be using this airline again for future travels to China and beyond. My only hesitation in using them would be going via CKG. Hopefully next time it’s a better experience though. Hope this was helpful :)

Members who gave thanks

Brettt Smith, Dan Ho, John Harley

By jeppetto367 | Jan 18, 2019, 08:28 AM
Great review, I flew this route in Economy in Nov 2017 when it launched ($340 return to CKG!)

I received English Arrival cards on the way back, only beer (no liquor) in economy (though this seems standard across all Chinese airlines).

The annoying thing is no lounge access on either end for VA Plat in Economy, something I wish VA would fix up.
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By djtech | Jan 18, 2019, 10:27 AM
Thanks for clearing up the mystery around the airline!
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By jch | Jan 18, 2019, 11:01 AM
Great thanks for the review! I will take a look when I'm due to go to China later in the year. I've taken the ~$2k specials with the 2-2-2 on Hanain/Capital which I thought was quite a solid service but this looks like the new winner. A very economical way to get a chunk of SC's to maintain platinum.
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By flywong | Jan 18, 2019, 02:55 PM
The reviews on TripAdvisor are also consistent.... not amazing but ok relative to price: https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Airline_Review-d8728953-Reviews-Tianjin-Airlines
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By Samw | Jan 18, 2019, 03:21 PM
I see they are launching flights to London. I wonder if we will see good value Australia - London fares?
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By FrequentFlyer | Jan 18, 2019, 11:04 PM
Just to clarify- VA elites flying with Hainan now get The House access, even in economy. Flew Sydney-Xi'an-Beijing return and had lounge access at each port in Y. Great value.
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By dlam | Jan 19, 2019, 08:14 AM
Being London based and working quite a few weeks in Xi’an each year, the new LHR-XIY is super convenient. Both trips I’ve taken with them have been on the old A330 with 2-2-2 seating but the service is great, even over the top (stowing my hand luggage in the overhead lockers, trying to put on my slippers for me.) You get pyjamas, too. Food’s good, Laurent Perrier champagne, and the direct route is unbeatable. Pricing is very good too: £1400 LHR-XIY return.
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