Air China (China Air)–International and Domestic (2 flights ~ IAD to PEK and PEK to CGO).
Boeing 777, Boeing 737
My university paid for and arranged the flight tickets, so I have no idea how that process went down. We just got the e-ticket confirmation and got ready to go.
The best part of Air China though came on the transfer from United to Air China in Washington, DC. You can read all about the horror story with United here, but long story short I accidentally checked the carry-on bag that had my passport in it at the request of United. Upon realizing the issue, I spent 2.5 hours being given the run-around by United as to where my suitcases were and how to access my passport. Finally, I abandoned the idea of getting any help from them and went to the Air China desk. I was instantly directed to the manager (it took about 4 minutes from reaching the busy counter for them to get me through to someone who could help ~ great timing), to whom I explained the issue and asked if they could tell me when they received the suitcases from United so I could find my passport in them. The manager informed me that the plane would be leaving shortly, but that if I went ahead and checked in and went through security, she would personally bring the bags to my gate (since the bags had been through security I couldn’t touch them, but she would let me point to the pocket where it was).
I hurried on ahead and made it to the gates with no time to spare. They were actually holding the plane for us to run ahead, they had my passport in hand already when I got there, suitcases were on the plane, and I was escorted through all in about 10 minutes. The entire interactions with them (outside of security) only took about 25 minutes, so much more satisfying than the 2.5 hours with United where I hadn’t gotten anywhere. The flight attendants / employees were amazingly gracious about the whole situation, and everything was far less stressful than my experience with United had been.
Carry-On ~ 21″ x 15″ x “7 at less than 11 lbs.
Checked ~ 62″ linear (70 lbs for First/Business; 50 lbs for Economy)
On international flights, First/Business Class customers get 2 free carry on bags, and Economy gets 1. We were each carrying on us a carry-on bag, a full backpack, and random odds and ends (I was lugging a pillow in a suction bag, a book, my drink, etc.). Luckily, we did end up checking our carry-on bags clear through for free due to United’s original lack of space in their compartments. United wasn’t actually going to pay for that later (DC United didn’t want to pay for what Denver’s United had promised to cover), but after we spoke with Air China, they called up a manager who worked it out and got the carry-ons checked clear through—another area where Air China pulled through when United failed.
On international flights, First/Business Class customers get 2 free checked bags that can weigh as much as 70lbs each; Economy customers get 2 free check bags weighing 50lbs or less each.
Boarding was a little touch-and-go, perhaps through no fault of their own. I already described the whole thing about boarding in DC, the rest of which went pretty well. The poor flight attendant guy didn’t realize that I was packing a couple layers of clothes (trying to save on weight :P ) and attempted to give me one of the seat belt extenders. He really was very discreet about it all, and was attempting to be kind. When I showed that I didn’t need it though, it got him flustered, and our trip went a little downhill from there. It probably didn’t help that he later accidentally walked into the bathroom on me when the lock didn’t quite click correctly or that the bad turbulence made him and me crash and spill my drink on me. Honestly, I don’t think he could have handled it any more pleasantly than he tried to do and none of it was his fault. It really just wasn’t our flight :)