Juneyao Airlines A321 Business Class
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.