Review: China United Airlines – Xiamen to Beijing Nanyuan

In which I fly with China United Airlines for the first time

I’ve never flown China United Airlines before. I’ve been on China Southern a lot, including my trip to Vietnam and my trip to New Zealand, Air China once, China Eastern once and Hainan airlines once.

Using the cheap plane ticket site Qunar this flight from Xiamen to Beijing was the cheapest, and then I got the cheapest flight from Beijing to Xiamen with Air China. I wanted to be in before Beka, but what I forgot to remember is that there are two airports in Beijing, PEK, the capital and international airport and NAY, which is smaller and seems that only China United Airlines fly into there. It’s a little like the Ryanair airport of Beijing, however it’s actually closer to the city centre than PEK, so there you go.

Usually, when you book flights to Beijing it will be PEK you fly into, but as I was booking within China, I had the other option. Sorry I couldn’t pick you up from the airport anyway, Beka!

Anyway, checking in in Xiamen was very easy. Although I’d misread the airport as Nanchang, instead of Nanyuan and the check-in guy was a little confused, obviously. If I’d have ended up going to Nanchang, I would have been nearer Shanghai than Beijing, so probably best that I didn’t go there.

I had time to kill, so sat in Starbucks with an iced lemon tea and free wifi. If you pay for a drink, obviously it’s not that free, but meh, I was happy watching the final episodes of 30Rock.

starbucks xiamen airport

I love Xiamen airport. All my great adventures over the past twelve months have begun there: arriving in Zhangzhou, going home in the summer, Vietnam, New Zealand and now Beijing with Beka.

xiamen airport

Soon we were up in the air, although not before we’d had the safety video twice, once in Chinese with Chinese subtitles, and the second time in English with English subtitles.

on china united airlines

Confused by the safety video

Usually they have it in Chinese with English subtitles to save time, so maybe this is better? I’m a frequent flyer so have heard it all before anyway, but interesting nonetheless. Also, the safety video had been pilfered from China Eastern airlines, which I thought was a bit bad considering that their logo was all over the video. Especially as I was on a China United Airlines flight… Oh well, glad I’m not working in their marketing department.

china united airlines wing

Sorry, I was bored so got arty with my iPod!

As the flight was around 2 hours 30 minutes, I spent time listening to music and reading my Kindle. There was also a film playing, which I wasn’t very interested in, but just before we landed, they played Shaun the Sheep, which is funny in any language as they don’t speak in the programme. It was the episode where the alien crash landed and they re-fueled the ship with sheep poo…I digress.

We got served food, which wasn’t too exciting compared to other short flights that I’ve taken before.  China United Airlines

food box china united airlines

Inside the box there was a wet wipe, peanuts, some biscuits and a bread roll, The item in the tinfoil was a hot, pasty kind of substance with sesame seeds on the top. It was very tasty and I really enjoyed it: pasty china united airlines The bread like item was typically Chinese, sweet with some kind of fruit/vegetable related filling:

bread on china united airlines

Sweet potato or red bean inside, I was not sure!

In all, it’s not the greatest plane food I’ve ever had, but the warm pasty made up for what was lacking in the box. I had a little bit of a nap, as the excitement of seeing Beka had made me wake up very early, but when I awoke there were fields of snow below, which was very exciting as I’ve not seen snow for over a year now!:

I also noticed the seat’s head cover in front of me, it had Ordos on it!  They are the first four characters in blue, E Er Duo Si:

ordos land on china united airlines flight

Ordos land, or buildings for sale…

We landed at Nanyuan airport safely, although it was another case of “where does the runway start?” as we came in low over a road and some buildings. My bag came through quickly and I bought my ¥16 bus ticket to XiDan, the shopping centre in the centre of Beijing and was the last person to get on the bus before it left, what luck!

bus to xidan

From Nanyuan airport to the city centre for 16RMB

I’d definitely fly China United Airlines again, as it was a good price and the service was pretty good. The longest flight within China is 4 hours or so and I could happily spend that on a China United Airlines flight, so that’s good.

Once at XiDan it was a couple of subway stops, (yes unfortunately it’s the subway here) to where I needed to get off for the hostel, which is a mere 10 minute walk away from Tiananmen Square.

Beka has now arrived, is making herself comfortable and we’ll probably head out for some food in a short while.

I cannot wait to show Beijing off to her and there will be more adventures from us in due course.

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Author: Bennett

2 years as an expat in China and now doing the same in New Zealand, Bennett sure likes to experience "slow travel!"

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  1. As ever,just like reading a book.David attenborough I’n disguise.have a good time.

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  2. I’m about to book CUA from CTU to NAY too. Hopefully it’s ok haha.

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  3. They’re owned by China Eastern, which is why they use the same safety video.

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