Juneyao Air­lines A321 Busi­ness Class

Shang­hai–Hong Kong

Business Traveller (Asia-Pacific) - - TRIED & TESTED -

BACK­GROUND Juneyao Air­lines started oper­a­tions in 2006. In May 2017 it be­came the first air­line to join Star Al­liance as a Con­nect­ing Part­ner – a scheme that en­ables out­side air­lines to join the al­liance and plug gaps in the net­work with­out hav­ing to ful­fil all the re­quire­ments placed on full mem­bers. The part­ner­ship with Juneyao gives Star Al­liance mem­bers greater con­nec­tiv­ity to Shang­hai, with cer­tain earn-and-burn priv­i­leges, lounge ac­cess, and pri­or­ity board­ing and check-in.

CHECK-IN I ar­rived at Shang­hai’s Pudong In­ter­na­tional Air­port at 5.30pm for a sched­uled 1900 de­par­ture. I headed to the pre­mium check-in counter in aisle J, which was fast and ef­fi­cient. Pudong air­port doesn’t have a Star Al­liance fast-track im­mi­gra­tion lane, but the queues were sur­pris­ingly short that evening and I was through se­cu­rity in ten min­utes.

THE LOUNGE Juneyao shares a lounge with Hainan Air­lines, which is lo­cated next to the Cathay Pa­cific lounge by gate D69.

As me­dia, I was in­vited to visit the first class area, which had about 40 arm­chairs along with a num­ber of smaller chairs and two mas­sage chairs. Its age is be­gin­ning to show and some of the pre­mium el­e­ments you’d ex­pect are miss­ing; for ex­am­ple, dis­pos­able plas­tic cut­lery was used in­stead of metal uten­sils.

An am­ple buf­fet spread with op­tions such as seafood fried rice and Korean spicy noo­dles was avail­able, along­side an im­pres­sive soup noo­dle bar.

Power sock­ets were avail­able next to the arm­chairs, though adapters are re­quired for in­ter­na­tional plugs.

A pass­word-pro­tected wifi con­nec­tion is avail­able, although you need a phone num­ber to re­ceive the ac­cess code, and the speed was no bet­ter than the pub­licly avail­able wifi through­out Pudong air­port (which still had a strong sig­nal in the lounge).

BOARD­ING Flight HO1305 was sched­uled for an 1815 board­ing, how­ever the board­ing an­nounce­ment wasn’t made un­til 1945. Few up­dates were given prior to this, other than a “de­layed” icon next to the flight, with no in­di­ca­tion of a new es­ti­mated de­par­ture time.

The gate was also changed from D80 to D230, which was lo­cated about ten min­utes from the lounge and re­quired bus trans­port to meet the plane on the tar­mac. De­spite pri­or­ity board­ing be­ing one of the benefits of the Con­nect­ing Part­ner agree­ment, there was no ded­i­cated pre­mium class/Star Al­liance pri­or­ity board­ing queue. There was a sep­a­rate bus for busi­ness class pas­sen­gers, but it couldn’t leave un­til all pre­mi­um­class pas­sen­gers had ar­rived, which meant by the time we ar­rived at the air­craft, all of the econ­omy sec­tion pas­sen­gers had boarded.

THE SEAT Juneyao’s A321 comes with 12 busi­ness class seats in a 2-2 con­fig­u­ra­tion. The leather seats were com­fort­able, with gen­er­ous width though a rather lack­lus­tre re­cline. There was no in-flight en­ter­tain­ment avail­able and smart­phones are not al­lowed to be used (even in flight mode). Juneyao’s busi­ness class seats also lack USB and power sock­ets for charg­ing de­vices.

THE FLIGHT I was given a hot towel and the op­tion of a glass of or­ange juice or wa­ter when we boarded.

Shortly af­ter take-off, the cabin crew col­lected our food or­ders, with a choice of beef or shrimp with rice shown with pho­tos on a tablet de­vice. I opted for the for­mer. The pre­sen­ta­tion was good, and over­all the meal was en­joy­able, though the ac­com­pa­ny­ing sweet soup and cordy­ceps fungi may be a lit­tle un­usual for in­ter­na­tional palates. A sec­ond course con­sist­ing of a fruit plat­ter and cake rounded off the meal.

Hav­ing fin­ished some work in the lounge, I opted to rest my eyes for the re­main­der of the flight, wak­ing up as we made our de­scent into Hong Kong.

AR­RIVAL As es­ti­mated, the flight ar­rived in Hong Kong just af­ter 2250 and dis­em­barka­tion was ef­fi­cient. The ar­rival gate was quite far away, with the walk to the shut­tle tak­ing roughly ten min­utes, though im­mi­gra­tion and bag­gage col­lec­tion were swift.

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