Air China / poor service
Air China: 2 days with no sleep.
I need to express my experience flying Air China. This is first and last time I will fly Air China. On April 23 I was to fly from Singapore to Beijing on CA970 after which I was to connect to AC1569 to Qingdao. I was to be giving an important business presentation in Qingdao. After being in the air approximately 20 minutes from Singapore, the passengers noticed that the cockpit reduced engine speed significantly. After another 20 minutes it was announced that we would soon be landing in Ho Chi Minh City due to a mechanical problem.
We entered the HCMC airport at 1:30 am. We were put in a small holding gate area where there were not enough seats for all the passengers. There we were held for 3 1/2 hours. We were told that the airplane would be repaired and they were looking for parts. No estimate of repair time or flying time was given. Over the next few hours groups of people were lining up to talk to the staff who appeared to be local Vietnamese airport people. General announcements were few.
The problem was later announced to be a faulty oil seal in the starboard engine. The in-flight entertainment system was also faulty. The airlines various overhead screens were flickering wildly for the duration of the flight. Upon leaving the aircraft through the front door it was also noted that several of the First Class seats were badly damaged and being warped and bent at odd angles preventing them from being put to their full up right position. A safety hazard I presume as I am normally ordered to put my seat in the full upright position before landing. It certainly makes this passenger wonder about the maintenance procedures at Air China. If the airplane was only 20 minutes out of Singapore when the oil pressure problem was noticed, why did we not return to Singapore?
At approximately 0530 an announcement was made that the passenger could proceed up to the third floor for refreshments. We were given each a cold plate of spaghetti. Passengers wanting a beer had to pay USD 5. This is extremely poor service. After this snack, people were searching for seats to lie down on. There were not enough chairs or benches for everyone to stretch out on. No attempt was given by the airline to get anyone a hotel room. No showers were available at the airport and no toothbrushes or soap or towels were handed out. Occupation of chairs in the restaurants was not allowed after eating and restaurant staff were telling people to move on. Finally they turned off the air conditioning to get people out.
Checking back at the gate, one airport staff said the flight would resume at 0100 pm some 12 hours after landing. A different staff said the flight would resume at 1800 pm some 17 hours after landing.
No additional meals were given, no drinks were offered and no announcements were made.
Finally the flight resumed at 1900 hours some 18 hours after landing. The flight landed in Beijing at approximately 0200. We were processed by airline staff and given CNY300 compensation. Passengers with connections had to wait around for all to get through the system. No place to sit. Little English was spoken by staff. We were told the airport terminal hotel was fully occupied. We were then bused to the CTS hotel some 30 minutes away from the airport. We arrived at 0300, after 28 hours without sleep. The hotel staff informed us that passengers must share rooms or else the cost would be CNY 300. The hotel staff was extremely rude with extremely poor service. After paying the CNY300 I enterered my room at 0400 and slept for 1.5 hours before being required to leave the hotel by bus at 0530 to catch the 0805 airplane to Qingdao. Even if I did share a room, would I have gotten any sleep after waiting for my roommate to shower and after my own shower?
Air China is not a civilized airline. Its standards are extremely poor. Wine, beer and cocktails are not available on this airline. Air China treats its passengers like dogs, being required to sit or lie down on the floor with no place to sleep for 18 hours and again by ordering them to occupy a hotel room with a stranger on the next night after 28 hours without sleep. This is TOTALLY unacceptable. Air China should be revoked as a member of Star Alliance. There should be some minimum standard of decency that customers should be given. This is the worst airline I have ever flown in my entire life.
Why could Air China not find a replacement aircraft to fly passengers to Beijing? If a replacement needed to come from their hub in Beijing it should have taken 6 or 7 hours to get the passengers out of HCMC. As it turned out, we flew a different aircraft out of HCMC anyway. Why were passengers not kept informed about what was happening? There were a few announcements made in Mandarin at the gate but no follow up in English. There were many non-Mandarin passengers on the plane who could not understand what was going on.
Finally on my return flight from Beijing back to Singapore on April 27, I found the food the WORST I have experienced on any flight in my entire life. There are some bad meals but the rotten mush fish and rotten mush fruit are extremely poor excuses for a meal. There are no excuses for any of this.
Robert A. Swick
Star Alliance Frequent Flyer.
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