A few things: I was travelling as a guest of the airline – but the views expressed are very much my own.
Also, this review is on their Airbus A330-300 aircraft, which was replaced shortly after by the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.
Finally, this review is based on a piece I originally wrote for Airliner World magazine in July 2018.
What’s so special about it?
Well, this flight uses a wide-body aircraft (generally used for long haul flights, with three columns of seating instead of two). While short flights using planes of this size aren’t unheard of, this is the shortest flight in Europe to use this type of plane.
Hainan are also the only airline of the three on the route (the others being Aer Lingus and Ryanair) that offer Business Class. I couldn’t find a fare, but a recent review by Paul Lucas’ Wingin’ It vlog prices it at just under €300. That makes this flight around €4 per minute of the scheduled flight time.
Four euro per fucking minute. Ouch.
Who the hell are Hainan Airlines?
Good question, they’re a major Chinese airline and they occasionally appear on those contextless “Top 10” lists.
As well as a major Chinese domestic network, they also have a decent range of destinations around the globe.
The Edinburgh – Dublin route came about after they launched a triangular route from Beijing to the Scottish and Irish capitals. The quick hop between the two allows them to double their service from each city.
Check in is super exciting (not)
There’s three desks for me to use and no queue at either. I’m soon dispatched with my gold boarding card, which gets me through the priority lane at security and access to the No1 lounge. There’s naff all else worth saying.
Given that Ryanair also fly this route for a fraction of the price, it’s not surprising that few people are taking the short hop to Dublin with Hainan.
The menu stated that the breakfast is a cold one, I’m more a fan of cooked breakfasts but they’re definitely not for everyone.
Despite what the menu said, there’s two freshly baked rolls which looked good and taste even better. There was also a generous helping of smoked salmon, fresh fruit, yoghurt, and a bowl of muesli. I gave the fruit a miss, purely because I was now a little full, but the muesli (and the rolls and the salmon) went down a treat. I feel like the crew may have been briefed that I‘m writing a review.
As my diet is atrocious, I asked for a Coke to wash it down with. The crew didn’t even flinch at this obscene request and served a large can (with Chinese branding, obviously) and a glass that I suspect was more meant for fruit juice or wine.
It’s a decent offer, but it’s truly impressive on a short flight. Maybe I’m just used to BA? That said, it’s not something I’d pay several times the Economy fare for.
What are the seats like?
While a number of Hainan’s A330-300 fleet is fitted with modern reverse herringbone business class seats, this particular airframe is not one of them. All seats face forward, thankfully. These are in a 1-2-1 configuration, so you can’t sit together unless you sacrifice having a window.
The seat is comfortable, with easy to understand controls. There’s a generous 64 inches of legroom (double that of economy) a large table that folds across from the seat in front, as well as a universal plug socket and small storage to the side of the seat.
It’s all fairly standard, but there is a bit of a downside. The first being that the ottoman is very narrow due to the positioning of seat in the row ahead. As I’m only 5’ 2”, this isn’t something that would bother me, but you wouldn’t need to be much taller to find it quite annoying.
Is there free shit?
There’s no amenity kit for this short flight, but there are slippers. An impressive pair of Bose over ear headphones are provided for use with the in-flight entertainment, which has a generously-sized screen and a good selection of boxsets and films. There’s no WiFi, though.
Anything else I should know?
Business Class on a short flight like this was a novelty, so it was nice to see the crew still giving the full service anyway – especially since most folk on the flight would be staying on to Beijing, the final destination.
While the crew all speak English, some are better than others. As you’re flying on a Chinese airline, this shouldn’t be a surprise or bother you.
Should I do it?
This flight, in practice, is only around 45 minutes. If you pay the full fare to try Business Class, you’re a fucking moron.