Air China: dangerous, dirty, and downright rude

“We go above and beyond” is the slogan of Air China. In the west, we associate this kind of claim to be a positive thing and something for which to be heralded. However, knowing Air China as I do, I really wonder what they mean when they make such a boast – because their customer service is known to be extremely poor.


Air China is the flag carrier and one of the major airlines of the People’s Republic of China, with its headquarters in Shunyi District, Beijing. Air China’s flight operations are based out of Beijing Capital International Airport. Statistics show that in 2013, the airline carried 51 million domestic and international passengers with an average load factor of 81%. With the booming economy in China in the past 10 years, more and more people can now afford to fly, and it seems Air China is trying to pack as many into their aircraft as possible.

Air China's B777 aircraft
Air China’s B777 aircraft

I recently took my first ever voyage with Air China on a flight from Beijing to Singapore. I was not overly looking forward to this trip as I had heard many horror stories about the poor service standards of Air China (and other Chinese carriers). I was even worried about the kind of passengers I would be sitting with in economy class! Recently, a passenger onboard Shenzhen Airlines was arrested on arson charges for trying to set the aircraft alight mid-flight! On top of that, a recent flight with China Eastern became a crime scene as passengers deliberately forced open an emergency exit door while the aircraft was taxiing, just to get the aircraft to stop and return to the gate! On both these occasions, luckily the offending parties were arrested, but what happens when these people don’t get caught?

A rare moment of calm at Air China's check in desks...
A rare moment of calm at Air China’s check in desks…

Even though I was positively surprised by my check-in experience with Air China, I am aware that usually there are chaotic scenes, angry passengers (and staff!), and long, long delays. In fact, only Air India seem to be delayed more often than Air China.

Watch the video below (by YouTuber brascoTabo) to see Air China staff get into a physical fight with passengers!

Chaos normally ensues when Chinese passengers check in for their flights, especially if something happens to throw them out of their routine (i.e. a seat not being guaranteed or a change in the departure time). While most civilised people will just roll with it and go with the flow, I have noticed many mainland Chinese passengers kick up a stink and wreck havoc to all people in their way – including other passengers (now I know why Hong Kongers are embarrassed to be associated with their mainland cousins). Seeing as Air China is owned and operated by the Chinese Government and seeing as it is supposed to be the flag carrier for the whole country, I think that the airline should be forced to have higher standards, yet at the moment there seems very little being done to improve the behaviour of these rude Chinese passengers.

Economy Class aboard Air China
Economy Class aboard Air China
Meal time in economy class
Meal time in economy class

Chinese passengers are generally known to be very rude and very aggressive towards foreigners. This is actually the opposite of MOST of my experiences in China. Throughout my travels in the country, around cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xi’an, and Dalian, I have found Chinese people on the whole to be very friendly and welcoming towards me, and have never really felt threatened or unsafe (unlike in India). However, as far as airline passengers are concerned, I must say that MAINLAND CHINESE ARE THE WORST! They have no concept of safety, and no concept of courtesy towards other passengers – and if you don’t believe me, take a look at one such example in the video below (from LiveLeak):

I have been made aware that on flights between Singapore and mainland China, Chinese gangs operate and actively steal other passengers’ belongings. I have never been robbed in a flight, but it must be pretty easy for the thieves if they have had enough practice. Only Chinese gangs are known to do this, so it’s always a risky affair flying to and from mainland Chinese cities!

Fortunately, on my flight to Singapore, no such problems ensued regarding theft, but I was very unimpressed with the attitude of the Air China crew. They were going through the motions and were not enjoying their job. Meal service was slow and we didn’t get a drink after the meal for the rest of the flight. No cabin crew member even looked me in the eyes for the whole flight, even when serving my meal. For this route, I shall be using Singapore Airlines in the future. Silly me for trying Air China. Never again.

18 thoughts on “Air China: dangerous, dirty, and downright rude

    1. You are right Indah – I recently did a search for return flights between London-Singapore and Air China came up at £378 (via Beijing), whereas everything else was about 200 quid more expensive. Now you know why 😛


  1. Oh my… good to know and be aware that I now have to treat my flights like I do bus travel and remain alert about my belongings! I like that you don’t candy coat it and say it like it is. Good or bad. Happier travels steering clear of this airline in the future or is it passengers? Oh well… no plans to see China in the near future but you never know.


    1. I think all airlines from China have a bad reputation – it’s like a culture thing I think. However, there is no question that Chinese passengers from the mainland are simply the WORST kind of passenger. Many of them are downright rude! 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I never had any direct problems, but it was certainly a surreal experience being the only foreigner on a direct Air Asia flight from KL into Chongqing. I really felt sorry for the crew.


    1. I have been like that a few times, Ben – but I don’t feel sorry for them, as most of the time they are feeling sorry for me. I think, especially if you’re young, cabin crew seem to wonder WTF you’re doing (as a foreigner) on a flight full of Chinese people to China. 😀


    1. lol I think they were all hiding! 😀 It wouldn’t surprise me, though, if some of them get involved from time to time. 😉 I would hate to be a passenger and have to watch that during a flight – it would spook me a little.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe that’s because too many of their Mainland Chinese passengers downed too much and acted like it.

      If Mainlanders can act like that when they’re sober, imagine how they’ll act when they’re under the influence.


  3. My experience was better than I expected on 6 internal flights and 2 overseas ones, although I did endure one long domestic flight on which a man repeatedly spat onto the aisle floor!


  4. Haha, I asked the flight attendant where was my life jacket, she rudely shouted back at me, do you think we will crash?


  5. If you can afford to and if other choices are available, the general rule of thumb is to avoid Mainland Chinese airlines when flying long haul.

    I’ve flown Air China twice–once between Hong Kong and Beijing and once between Hong Kong and Hohhot with a transfer in Beijing. Both flights were okay, with the worst thing being my discovery of some food waste smeared on an emergency evacuation card when I pulled it out of my seat pocket to read. I didn’t know how the food got in there or for how long it had been there.

    Fortunately, those flights were each no more than four hours total (not counting transit time), which is the limit for me on a Mainland airline.

    But I have family members who have flown long haul flights on Mainland airlines and would never do it again. They said Mainland passengers who wanted to smoke on board disabled or blocked the smoke alarms in the lavatories. The airline didn’t seem to want to do anything about that.

    Liked by 1 person

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