Xiamen Airlines Business Class Inaugural 787 New York JFK Flight
My first inaugural trip experience on board a critical flight in the history of XiamenAir, one of Asia’s largest and safest airlines. While XiamenAir is almost 33 years old, it has only recently begun to expand outside the Asia market. I simply had to be on this flight especially given that it would be the debut of the brand new 1-2-1 business class seat on XiamenAir.
There is much to say about this flight that would exceed Youtube’s video description length. However, I wanted to talk about the XiamenAir management. After we took off, the man sitting in seat 1A started going down the aisle and talking with each of the passengers, many of which already knew each other. As he came closer to my seat all the way in the back, I was unsure if he would talk to me since we don’t know each other. However, he did came by and welcomed me onboard. One of the senior pursers came by as he was talking to me and told me that he is actually the CEO of XiamenAir, Mr. Zhao Dong. Mr. Dong then actually apologized that everyone knew each other and so it might be uncomfortable or awkward for me, but also remarked that everyone is friends here since we are flying together. When I told him that I specifically came to fly on this flight, he became very surprised and gave me his business card. He asked me why I would travel so far for this flight. When I told him about my childhood dream of being a pilot and my love of flying, he invited over the captain of this flight, who was on a break, to talk to me. I found out that our captain was their most senior pilot as he is the director of their flight operations department, and an instructor pilot on the 737/787. Mr. Li told me that an empty airliner is no fun to fly and so welcomed me as well. From Mr. Dong, I found out that our purser is their most senior purser, who is in charge of the training of their 5000 flight attendants. When I mentioned to her the English mistakes I had found on the menu, she prompted relayed this to Mr. Dong, and promised me this would be corrected. At the end of the flight, Mr. Dong again thanked me for being on this flight. Our captain also insisted I disembark before him even though he had to be at a press conference. Never before had I heard upper level management be so open to feedback and treat their customer with such respect or interest.
The XiamenAir’s flight crew were exceptional as well. They were so full of personality, and I truly found them to be interesting and fun to talk to. I interacted with two crew members in particular. Both were incredibly sweet. As the crew were taking dinner orders and delivering meals, one of them came and apologized that it was taking so long to get to me. She told me that one of the items already ran out, and was worried that other options would run out before they get to me, so she decided to come to see first before some of the other seats. It was pretty funny later on in the flight when a member of the press saw what I was eating and told me she was disappointed that they ran out of the meal I was having. The other crew member spent a while talking to me about my travels and mentioned to me that she had met several US bloggers while on the inauguration flight to Seattle. She love to joke around and was very playful.
One can argue that since the CEO and the press were onboard, it is understandable that the FAs on this flight are their best. However, it also means that Xiamen is capable of training and attracting flight crews of this quality. Now that Xiamen’s long haul business class includes direct aisle access in business class using the same seat as Cathay, American, EVA, and China Airlines, I don’t find it hard to believe that one day they will be rated as 5 stars as well, especially if the management is genuinely able to listen to their travelers.
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