Flight from Shanghai to Incheon on China Eastern Airlines

MU 5041 PVG – ICN
3/19/2017 9:20am
Pudong Airport is very open, and has many shops. There are only a few places to eat, though. It was also quite warm. I was hot and thirsty, so I went to one of the free water machines to get a nice cup of cool water. The options on the machine were 1) warm, 2) warm, and 3) hot. So, I tried warm, but it was really too warm. I ended up buying a bottle of water at the FamilyMart inside. First, I needed to exchange money. I went all the way to the currency exchange counter, handed the cashier a 20, and he replied that he would do 15. I assumed that meant that there was a $5 fee. But no, he gave me back a $5, and 79 RMB. I bought the water and an onigiri from FamilyMart that cost maybe 15 RMB. Then I went to the Sunrise Restaurant, and ordered a pepper beef bowl with rice. I had to order a water bottle there too, because they didn’t offer tap. So yeah. I had to pay with a card. The total was 78 RMB. If only I had gone there first! Oh, and at the restaurant, you pay first before they bring your food. There were two baby bok choi in with the beef, sauce, and rice. It was nice to not eat airplane food.
After that, I went to the gate to wait and read my book. They made announcements in Mandarin, English, and Japanese/Korean, depending on the destination. For my flight, they announced the boarding of families with children and people who need assistance, then they announced those seated past row 40. I was row 37. I waited, and then the screen said “last call” or something, but they never announced those seated before row 40. Whatever. I was able to board no problem. The plane was small, and there was not enough room for my carry-on under the seat in front of me. They served a meal on board, which shocked me. It was only a 95 minute flight! They served beef with rice. I really should not have eaten in Shanghai. Oops.
After arriving in Incheon, I had to go through quarantine, immigration, and customs. It took a while, but it was painless.

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Flying from JFK to Shanghai on China Eastern Airlines

JFK to PVG 3/18/2017
China Eastern Airlines MU298 1:35am
I arrived at JFK Terminal 1 at about 9:40pm. China Eastern has a check-in counter that they share with Air Italia. At the time, only Air Italia was open. I asked a worker where China Eastern’s counter was. It didn’t open until 10pm, so I had to wait around. There was already a crowd gathering. Eventually, I was able to check-in for both flights, ask for an aisle seat, and I handed over my global entry card. The man at the counter didn’t even know what the card was and he said that they didn’t do that there. Okay…so I asked if I could do TSA Pre-check, and he said no. Great. I went over to the security line, and there was no pre-check area. The business/first class, economy, and TSA pre-check entrances all combined into¬†one line. Going down the line was a black lab sniffing at people’s bags. When I got to the x-ray machines, I was able to keep my shoes on and I didn’t have to take anything out of my bag. The dog had pre-screened us. How cute! I think the dog had just gotten there, because when I first arrived, the security line was going across the building.
My flight was delayed until 3am. Boarding started at 2:30am. They boarded all of economy as one group, so it was crazy. I had seat 39D. It was much better than expected. I had enough room to put my carry-on under the seat in front of me, and they provided a blanket and a pillow. We were served dinner at about 4:30am, an hour and a half into the flight. The choices were chicken with rice or pork with noodles. I chose the chicken. I received chicken with peppers in a brown sauce, white rice, carrots, and green beans as my main course. I also got a spoonful of chicken salad and one cherry tomato as the side. A hot roll with optional butter was handed out a few minutes later, and dessert was a tropical fruit cup with cherries. Overall, not bad. At the halfway point of the flight, we got a chicken salad sandwich with a package of peanuts. The chicken salad sandwich had three slices of bread. Finally, at two and half hours before landing, we got breakfast. The choice was omelet or noodles. I chose the omelet, of course. The omelet was actually a slice of crustless quiche with a side of sausage and peppers. A small cup of orange juice and another fruit cup accompanied the meal. There was also a warm croissant with optional strawberry jam. The dessert was a brownie, which I did not eat.
The entertainment options were pretty lacking. Most options were Chinese, and the English choices that they had, I didn’t like. There was one Korean movie, Luck Key, co-starring Lee Joon, so I watched that toward the end.
Upon landing, we were herded through clearly marked lines for transfers. I had been giving my boarding pass for my next flight in JFK, but some people didn’t. They had to go all the way out through immigration and back in. I had to do a self-scan with a passport, photo, and boarding pass. Then, I had to go through security again, throwing out my water. I stopped in the bathroom to freshen up, and then trekked all the way to my gate, which was of course the one all the way at the end of the terminal.
There are many shops and restaurants in the terminal, but most don’t open until 7 or 7:30am. Fortunately, the currency exchange was open. The restaurants and shops do accept credit cards, though.