Flight Review: Xiamen Air 737-800 Economy Class from Xiamen to Osaka KIX

Flight Review: Xiamen Air 737-800 Economy Class from Xiamen to Osaka KIX

Flight Information
: May 21, 2018
Flight No.: MF839
Route: Xiamen Gaoqi to Osaka Kansai
Airline: Xiamen Air
Type: Boeing 737-800
Registration: B-5635

Besides an extensive domestic network and a growing network of long-haul flights, Xiamen Air also has decently sized operations connecting China with the rest of Asia.

Those routes are mostly operated by its fleet of Boeing 737s, one of which – a 737-800 – I had a chance to fly from Xiamen to Osaka back in May 2018. I booked the flight together with the Vancouver – Xiamen flight I wrote about before for less than 300 dollars.

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Transferring at Xiamen Gaoqi Airport

While the growth of Xiamen Air has certainly increased the number of transfer passengers passing through Xiamen airport, unfortunately, the airport’s infrastructure has not caught up with that trend yet.

Because of that, everyone has to go through passport control and enter China before checking in and clearing immigration and security again. In other words, there’s no way to transfer airside.

I Love Xiamen
An “I Love Xiamen” sign welcoming passengers.

Once I entered China after about half an hour in the immigration queue, made my way into the international check-in area where I used the Sky Priority lane to get a boarding pass for my flight to Osaka.

One thing that (unpleasantly) surprised me was that the staff mentioned that I wouldn’t be able to go through immigration and security to enter the lounge for the next seven hours or so – until two hours before departure.

To her credit, she also mentioned that “I can try.” And, luckily, I was able to go airside and into the Xiamen Air lounge right away.

Xiamen Airport Landside
Landside of Xiamen airport.
Xiamen Air Check in at Xiamen Airport
Xiamen Air Sky Priority check-in counters.

Boarding a Xiamen Air Boeing 737-800

I left the lounge at 1:30PM, and by the time I got out, the departure gate had changed from 16 to 53 – a bus gate right outside the lounge.

Boarding started at 1:50PM – exactly as scheduled – and not long after that, I was on my way to the aircraft on the first bus.

Xiamen Airport Gate
Boarding gate.
Xiamen Airlines Boeing 737-800
All passengers boarded through the forward stairs.
Xiamen Air Boeing 737-800
Getting onboard the Xiamen Air 737-800.

Once onboard the aircraft, I passed through the business class which consisted of four recliner seats (similar to what you can find onboard JAL’s and other airlines’ 737s) and settled in my economy class seat, 42A.

Interestingly, the seat wasn’t in the back of the aircraft like one would expect with a seat in “row 42.” Instead, it was in the second row of economy class.

Xiamen Air Boeing 737-800 Business Class Seats
Business class seats.
Xiamen Air Boeing 737-800 Business Class Seats
The business class cabin consisted of two “2-2” rows of seats.
Xiamen Air Boeing 737-800 Economy Class
Economy class seats.

As for the seat itself, it was a bit on the “too hard” side (similar to the airline’s 787), but the legroom was decent. The seat pocket contained the usual waste bag, safety card, and in-flight magazine.

Xiamen Airport
Xiamen Air 737s are by far the most common aircraft that can be seen at Xiamen airport.
Xiamen Air 737-800 Legroom
Xiamen Air In-Flight Magazine
Contents of the seat pocket.

Departing Xiamen Gaoqi Airport

As we were waiting for some more passengers to arrive at the aircraft, one of the cabin crew members approached me saying:

Mr. Nukina, here is some water and newspaper for you. Would you like a blanket and a pillow?

Once again, I found it nice of Xiamen Air to recognize their partner’s (Delta Air Lines) status holders.

Not long after that, boarding was completed and the safety demonstration begun. First, the cabin crew manually pointed to the aircraft’s emergency exit and then a safety video was played on the overhead monitors.

Xiamen Air Status Holders' Gift
Welcome gift for status holders.
Xiamen Air Flight from Xiamen to Osaka
The final group of passengers boarding the flight.

We taxied out at 2:21PM – eleven minutes behind schedule – and we took off thirteen minutes later from runway 05.

Taxiing for Departure
Taxiing for departure.
Entering the Runway
Lining up on runway 05.
Taking Off from Xiamen
Shortly after take-off.

Xiamen Air Shorthaul Economy Class Service

The seatbelt signs were switched off five minutes after take-off at which point a pre-recorded message from the “security team leader” was played. Then, about ten minutes later, the in-flight service begun with the crew handing out lukewarm wet towels.

Xiamen Air Wet Towel
Wet towel.

While the passengers were getting their hands clean, the crew announced that we would be flying for about 2 hours and 55 minutes before they continued the service by distributing headsets (of better quality than the earphones I received on the flight from Vancouver to Xiamen).

That was followed by a pack of nuts and a small bottle of water of a different brand than the one that I received upon boarding. Immigration forms were distributed as well.

Xiamen Air Snack
Nuts, water and headset.

Then, the crew did a quick duty free shopping run. And then, finally, the meal service followed. The choices were either fish or pork, of which I chose the former.

Besides the edible but not really tasty main which came separately, there was a paper box which contained a tissue, cutlery, radish, sweet chili sauce, bread roll and butter, a piece of cake, and a piece of apple with two mini tomatoes.

Drinks followed about ten minutes after the meal and I went with a cup of Sprite.

Xiamen Air Shorthaul Economy Class Meal
Xiamen Air’s shorthaul economy class meal.
Xiamen Air Shorthaul Economy Class Meal
…and with the box open.

Landing at Osaka Kansai Airport

Given that by this point, I flew more than 25,000 miles during the trip, I spent the rest of the flight relaxing.

The flight started coming to an end when the seatbelt signs were switched back on at 6:01PM Japan time as we started our descent towards Kansai International airport. Twenty-five minutes after that, at 6:26PM, we landed.

And, at 6:34PM – about fifteen minutes behind schedule – we reached our parking spot.

Bridge connecting Awaji island to the mainland.
Landing in Osaka
Landing in Osaka.
Arriving at our parking spot.

Xiamen Air 737-800 Economy Class Summary

While Xiamen Air provided for a reasonably comfortable flight, I would have appreciated if there was in-flight entertainment on a flight about three hours long. And, the meal could have been better.

That said, considering the price I paid for the flight, there is nothing I can complain about.

Also, on a separate note, it would have made for a more comfortable experience overall if it was possible to do an airside transfer in Xiamen. That is largely out of Xiamen Air’s control, though.

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