Date: May 21, 2018
Flight No.: MF839
Route: Xiamen Gaoqi to Osaka Kansai
Airline: Xiamen Air
Type: Boeing 737-800
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.
Are you interested in trying business or first class for the price of economy?
If so, you might want to check out Four Ways to Try Business Class Without Breaking the Bank - a free guide that I put together detailing some of the ways I was able to do so - and experiment with some of the methods mentioned in it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We taxied out at 2:21PM – eleven minutes behind schedule – and we took off thirteen minutes later from runway 05.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.