A friend of mine living in Shanghai was supposed to arrive in Hong Kong at lunchtime yesterday. It's a less than three-hour flight.
However, she got online around 10:30am to tell me that her flight had been delayed... with no indication of when it would take off.
She was especially annoyed as she had to get to the airport at 6am for this China Eastern flight and hardly had enough sleep.
It turns out she waited five hours to board the plane.
At first the passengers waited at the gate, and then they were told to move to another gate. The reason for the delay? Apparently some mechanical malfunction.
Many people were furious and were demanding answers from the ground crew, but they were stone faced and hardly helpful.
Then after hours of waiting my friend went to the washroom and when she came out, she didn't see the passengers milling around -- they were lining up to get 400RMB ($60) in cash to compensate them for having to wait five hours. Luckily she managed to get into the line for the pitiful cash grab otherwise she wouldn't have gotten anything.
A male passenger tried to throw his weight around, saying this experience was very difficult for his two young children in the hopes of getting better financial compensation, but he got no reply. If they did give him more, they'd have to give it to every one else.
Soon after the money was doled out my friend was finally able to board her flight.
Needless to say she was exhausted, arriving at 6pm in Hong Kong.
It's shocking how bad Chinese airlines are, and yet nothing is done because that's the way the Chinese civil aviation industry works. There is no regard for the commercial aspect of the business, that people pay to be transported from A to B at a certain time and they shouldn't have to be delayed five hours, especially for such a short flight.
Either it shows China Eastern planes are too old, or they don't have qualified mechanics to fix problems quickly. Or was the military hogging the runway and not allowing commercial aircraft to use the air strip? How is the Chinese travel industry supposed to develop if passengers get crap service like this?