Author Topic: International Airline Recommendations  (Read 2913 times)

Tass

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International Airline Recommendations
« on: August 20, 2018, 11:35:52 AM »
I'm planning a trip to India this December and my international travel experience is limited. When I search for tickets using Kayak, China Eastern airlines offers absurdly low prices for the tradeoff of 8 hour layovers in the Shanghai airport. There are a lot of reasons this seems like a bad idea and I need some pointers as to which ones are the most legitimate, and where I should look instead.

  • Is the airline reputable? Which ones should I avoid? I have options through China, Turkey, UAE, Canada, and more, so this is not a question about just the one airline. Any known international duds?
  • How worried should I be about ending up stranded in an airport where I don't speak the local language? I've got English and some rusty French at my disposal, that's it. (Once I reach India I am meeting a local friend.)
  • I'm willing to pay extra to spend more days of my trip actually having the trip instead of inside a foreign airport. Any opinions on how worthwhile this tradeoff is? What $ amount would make the savings worth it?

Please share your travel wisdom!

Duke03

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2018, 12:28:35 PM »
Do you have a priority pass membership?  If so don't sweat the lay over.  Take a shower, take a nap, then get drunk right before your flight all for free!

Dave1442397

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Dave1442397

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2018, 12:35:49 PM »
Try this search site too - https://www.momondo.com/

Tass

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2018, 12:39:23 PM »
Do you have a priority pass membership?  If so don't sweat the lay over.  Take a shower, take a nap, then get drunk right before your flight all for free!

Nope. I'm roughing it, so to speak.

JoJo

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2018, 01:12:18 PM »
China Eastern is fine.  Layovers aren't so bad - walk around the airport, get a bite to eat, do some wifi.  If I'm saving 100s an 8 hour doesn't bother me.  Where is the layover?  Sometimes it's possible to leave the airport.  8 hours is sort of the cutoff for me - above 8 I would for sure go into the city and do some sightseeing.  Some airports have free tours if your layover is long enough.

Google "Long layover cityname"


SKL-HOU

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2018, 02:51:21 PM »
Turkish Airlines. The flight attendants are excellent, the airlines does not nickel and dime you on what they provide in flight and typically their flights are the least expensive compared to others. Istanbul is a major hub.

JustInStarting

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2018, 02:57:28 PM »
I've used both Emirates and Qatar, mostly Emirates. Stopover in Dubai is painless ( I normally allow around 2 hours) and the airport has showers etc.
Emirates now charges extra for advanced seat reservation, and even with that fee I find it's less expensive than most other big names.

badbudget

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2018, 03:12:00 PM »
The ITA Matrix search (https://matrix.itasoftware.com) will help you figure out the absolute cheapest way to get to/from your destination. You can see if it's cheaper to purchase your tickets from an Indian site, Chinese site, in what currency, etc. It just won't point you to where to book the deals that it finds.

Google owns ITA Software and this is also the technology backing Google Flights.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2018, 03:33:54 PM »
My friends just used China Eastern and enjoyed the experience. Planes were new, service and food good. The layover letís you quickly explore a city in China, you donít need a visa for 3 days. You wonít get stuck and China is pretty modern in the main cities. Have an adventure and save money.

lbmustache

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2018, 06:30:54 PM »
Air Canada is OK although I have not heard great things about layovers in Toronto.

Emirates is world class and a great option. I find that Emirates and Cathay Pacific offer cheap flights to India. My parents routinely take Lufthansa now (were taking the prior 2) which also offers great rates.

Singapore Airlines, Asiana, and Korean air may sometimes offer great rates, but often have long layovers. I personally love Singapore Airlines, Asiana, and Cathay Pacific. I want to say all offer quick day trips to the city which is a nice way to squeeze another country in! (And Singapore's is FREE!: http://www.changiairport.com/en/airport-experience/attractions-and-services/free-singapore-tour.html)

At major airports in major cities, you will be fine not speaking the local language. People at major points of service speak English. You may run into someone with poor English at say, a restaurant within the airport but that's about it.

Airlines I avoid: Air India. Everything about it is annoying (delays, kind of dingy/dirty seeming, and the quality is subpar IMO. Maybe they have improved in the past few years, or maybe not judging by that article. :O China Airlines and China Eastern offer cheap prices, but seem to have a sketchy safety record (look up China Eastern's "incidents" on Wikipedia vs Singapore Airlines, and Singapore Airlines has been in business for about 50 more years). Many family members of mine work in China and avoid those two. Air China is OK.

Zikoris

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2018, 07:23:23 PM »
China Eastern's fine. Shanghai airport is mildly shitty but not horrible. If I had a layover there for that long, depending how energetic I was feeling, I might grab a (free) transit visa and head into the city - the metro connections are good and it's pretty straightforward. You could definitely pop by the promenade, Nanjing street (a nice pedestrian street), the City God area, and the Yu classical gardens in that time.

Gremlin

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2018, 07:48:34 PM »
Shanghai has two airports.  Pudong (PVG) and Hongqiao (SHA).  My guess is Pudong would be the one you'd use.

I've travelled through Pudong a few times and find it very good.  Shanghai is an international and cosmopolitan city and Pudong is a relatively modern airport - it's big but easy to navigate.  China Eastern is fine to fly with in my opinion and if the cost was substantially cheaper, then I'd be happy to do it.  You can get into town on the Maglev train (it travels over 400km an hour) if you have time to do so - an 8 hr layover should allow you a couple of hours sightseeing on the Bund.

Enjoy your trip.  India is amazing - completely insane, stimulation overload, but I'd go back in a heartbeat.

Faramir

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2018, 02:01:03 AM »
I think most international airlines are fine and to me it's worth saving hundreds for a few hours extra transit.  In 2014 I flew with China Eastern from Sydney to Beijing and they were fine although they didn't have a personal screen on the back of the seat in front back then.  The food was good and they served wine and beer but not spirits.

I also spent hours at Pudong Airport (Shanghai) and there were loads of seats and phone chargers to use.  The food and drink places in the airport are expensive but there was a vending machine that sold beer cheaply (under US$1 per can).

If I had 8 hours transit I would also get the fast Maglev train into the city and check out the Bund (promenade) and Nanjing St as Zikoris suggested.

Freedomin5

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2018, 07:16:32 AM »
Hello from Shanghai! I live here and fly back to North America every year. We have flown China Eastern for domestic Chinese flights, but prefer Dragonair or Cathay Pacific. Better food, more polite flight attendants, and attendants speak better English. China Eastern does tend to be cheaper though.
Itís not terrible, just expect Chinese-quality service.

With regards to an 8-hour layover in shanghai...We take the Maglev to and from the airport, and the subway all over the city as our primary mode of transportation.

8 hours layover is tight if you want to leave Pudong airport. Because Pudong airport is so huge, it will take about 15 minutes of taxi-ing after you land to get to your gate. Then it will take about half an hour to clear customs. If you want the 72-hour transit visa, you will need to go to a different counter to get the visa after you land (not sure how long that takes since I have a work visa and donít need the transit visa).

Itís about a 5 minute walk to the Maglev station, then a 10 minute ride to Longyang Road metro station, which is not downtown. Itís kind of suburb-ish. The train only goes at 400 km /hr on sunny days between 9:00 AM and 3:00 PM-ish. Otherwise, it goes at 300 km/hr, which is still pretty fast. The difference is an 8 min ride versus a 10 min ride. Also, the maglev only runs during the day, from around 5:30 am to 10:00 pm-ish.

From Longyang Road station, to get to the touristy areas, you will need to take a 20-30 minute subway ride depending on the site you want to visit. This means you will need RMB so you can purchase subway tickets. The attendants at the subway stations do not speak English.

All told, it will probably take you at least 1.5 hours to get out of the airport to the fun parts of the city. Then you will need to budget time to check back in. Security at the airport was tightened last year due to a bomb threat at Pudong airport. That means you need to plan to arrive early so you can go through the metal detector, and then go through security, and then go through another security checkpoint. If you need to check in again, the lines will likely be long, especially for China Eastern as they fly to many different cities and have many flights per day. We typically arrive at the airport 2.5-3 hours before our flight.

Hanging out at Pudong airport is not bad. It has several restaurants, free, fast WiFi and generally comfy seats. Some of the staff can speak English but not all of them and the quality of their English varies. If you do happen to be stranded, you will probably be able to find at least one staff who can speak some English.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2018, 07:55:30 AM by Freedomin5 »

Tass

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2018, 09:10:15 AM »
I ended up needing to fly out of a different city than I'm flying into in India, and the cheapest deals disappeared when I stopped flying round-trip. So I won't be flying through Shanghai, but the long layover model seems like a potentially interesting way to do travel someday.

Thanks for all your thoughts, I am learning a lot!

JoJo

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2018, 09:39:14 AM »
I ended up needing to fly out of a different city than I'm flying into in India, and the cheapest deals disappeared when I stopped flying round-trip. So I won't be flying through Shanghai, but the long layover model seems like a potentially interesting way to do travel someday.

Thanks for all your thoughts, I am learning a lot!

Yeah long layovers are awesome!  Here are some layovers I've done in the last 3 years.  Increased my country count too :)
https://thehotflashpacker.com/how-to-spend-a-long-layover/
https://thehotflashpacker.com/long-layover-mexico-city/
https://thehotflashpacker.com/hong-kong/
https://thehotflashpacker.com/dubai-for-a-day-destination-dubai/
https://thehotflashpacker.com/taipei/


bognish

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Re: International Airline Recommendations
« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2018, 01:55:16 PM »
My best long layover was a week in Fiji on the way back from Australia.

Air India was a pretty unpleasant experience. Biman Airline is the only airline I will never do again. Every person I have talked to that ate or drank on that airline got the squirts or worse.