Trip Report: Beijing, China

Hello everyone and welcome to those joining us for the first time on-board crewfie101. This is my first long haul trip of New Year 2018 and what a good one to begin with. It was a new destination, a five day trip with the bonus of only operating one way and being to one of the top destinations I have been waiting to visit.

The day before we departed for Beijing, I operated a short haul service to Stuttgart and back, a nice way to get back into the swing of things after the New Years break! The way out was nice and empty with the way back a little busier but nothing a very experienced crew couldn’t deal with. We arrived back at lunchtime and i didn’t report to head to Beijing for another 24 hours so I decided to take it nice and easy and catch up on some much needed sleep.

So to Beijing! We flew out on-board the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with a whole crew positioning with us. Positioning is when Cabin or Flight Crew fly as passengers to operate the next flight or position home after operating the way out. This is for whatever reason the airline requires, so on this trip we were positioning home from Beijing after operating the way out. A great way to start the New Year. The flight out was nice and easy with a great crew and a light load of passengers. We arrived in Beijing and after taxing for what seemed like an age due to Chinese Air Traffic rules which state that you are not permitted to cross runways meaning you have to taxi to the end and then back on yourself, not particularly what you need after a 10 hour flight, we disembarked and headed on the train to the bus and baggage reclaim. This train was possibly the slowest in history. I could have run faster, maybe not after the flight but in general, yeah. We got on the bus and fell asleep very quickly, I was knackered. After a rude awakening from my colleagues on the bus, we booked our tour to the Great Wall of China for the following day and headed to bed.

That evening we met at 7 to go for dinner and guided by one of our Beijing based crew, went to the Restaurant. This restaurants menu was as thick as a brick. Now as a particularly indecisive person, this raised several issues. In the end I went for the Peking Duck to share with one of the crew, and it was phenomenal! We all ended up feasting on food from all around the table as everyone had ordered far too much. What a night it was. We walked back to the hotel and I decided to head straight to bed as we had to meet at 7am the following morning. My sleep lasted all of 3 hours as it often does in the Far East. I was up at 1 and stayed awake to when I would’ve had to get up anyway. Slightly frustrating.

At 7am we got picked up and headed out on the death defying car ride to the Great Wall. There were more near misses on this drive than Kim Kardashian has had with the paparazzi. We headed past frozen waterfalls and elephant playgrounds before reaching the bottom of the wall. The driver took our money and wandered off, we hoped to get us the chairlift tickets and returned ten minutes later, luckily with the tickets. We hopped on the shuttle bus and made it to the chairlift up to the wall. Now. This may seem quite odd, given the fact that I work at 36000ft, but I am petrified of heights, so the idea of dangling above the ground doesn’t thrill me. Luckily Hannah came with me and kept me sane. As much as I didn’t want to look the views were incredible.

We got onto the wall, and what an amazing experience we had. For me, this was definitely a Bucket List moment. A wow, speechless and breathless moment. I have wanted to go to the Great Wall for years and actually get to get to do it, well it was incredible. We took so many pictures and if you are currently cabin crew or becoming crew the phrase “doing it for the gram” is a daily phrase for you that you will hear several times every trip! The Great Wall, according to my Dad, is the only man made structure visible from space. It stretches 5,500km along China and we walked around 1 mile of that, so not a huge chunk. We climbed and descended many steps, my Apple Watch loved me, and the views were some of the best I have ever seen. We were walking up the glass steps with a “Carefully Slip” sign. I do love the translations between English and Chinese.

The “Best” bit of the wall or the bit was really looking forward to was the toboggan back down the hill. We lined up and off we went…. for around 30 seconds. These two Women ahead of us quite clearly didn’t understand that if you lean forward and push the stick forward, YOU GO FORWARD!! I am usually quite a calm person, except when people really don’t understand simple things and it ruins it for others. We all were screaming at them, pretty sure I was called Jay at some point but the whole situation really did make us laugh, (afterwards).

We hopped back in the “Death Cab” for the journey back to the hotel and on arriving we headed to McDonalds.. I know, don’t need the hate. After McDonald’s I headed for a sleep before we met again for dinner. Everyone always asks about your sleep patterns in this job and the truth is you don’t really have one. You go from Timezone to Timezone, city to city so your body really doesn’t have much time to adapt to whichever zone you are in before moving onto the next. My philosophy is sleep when I need to on trips as sometimes it works out better like that. It does mean that you are often awake in the middle of the night, but hey perfect time to watch catch up TV, just not in China where you cant access anything due to the internet being so restricted.

So we ended up going back to the same restaurant for dinner and ordered the exact same food, just because it was so good the night before. We got in and all headed to bed. Once again did not sleep, and FaceTimed my cousin at 4am to watch the Liverpool vs Everton football match, yes I did get that desperate.

The following morning the 4 of us met at around 10am to head to the Forbidden City in downtown Beijing. The taxi ride there felt slightly safer but not a huge amount. To be honest it was a shock that the whole crew made it to the aircraft for the journey home, given some of the stories of the various car journeys. We arrived to what looked like the Chinese changing of the guard, however they were a lot more musical than there British counterparts. We watched that then headed into the City itself. This was a very impressive place. The temples were so well looked after and the artwork decorating them was absolutely immaculate. Temple after temple we went through and looked in awe at them all. My only criticism of the place was that, all the temples were very similar, so once you had seen one, you had seen them all. Still it is definitely something I would highly recommend to do when in Beijing.

From the Forbidden City we attempted to find a cheap taxi to the Pearl Market, to pick up some cheap clothes and stuff. This was a bit of a mission. They tried to charge us huge sums of money when we knew it would only cost us around 40 Yuan. We obviously declined until we found a taxi that would take us for 50, which we figured was as good as we were going to get. We got down there and I got my bartering hat on. I got a lovely hoodie down from 1000 Yuan to 100 Yuan. Was happy with that effort. If you ever find yourself in Beijing, Shanghai or probably anywhere in China, you have to visit these markets. You can pick up ridiculously good deals, but you do have to barter otherwise they will take you for a ride. My style is asking the salesperson what it costs and then when they give the huge price, saying no and beginning to walk away. They begin to chase you and lower there price and somehow it works a charm. We bought a few things then headed back to the hotel before going to get some early dinner and going to the supermarket to pick things up for that night as none of us really wanted to go back out.

The next morning it was time to head for home. As we were positioning home out of China we have to get to the aircraft in our uniform then change into our comfy clothes when we get onboard. As positioning crew we are booked J or Business Class seats but only if there are enough seats. Throughout this trip, I had been saying to our Customer Service Manager that I would be happy anywhere as long as I wasn’t in a middle seat in Economy, wasn’t trying to be a snob, just a ten hour flight in that seat makes me feel ill. So we get to the airport and we all know that we are going to be in Economy as the flight is full. Three seats came up in Business class so the guys with the highest seniority got them. Seniority is really the only fair way to decide it, as I have been with the airline only a year and a half, on the Boeing 787 that isn’t going to get you very far in the seniority scale. To be trained on the 787 you have to have been flying for at least 6 months or so. Within my fleet of crew, it is the one with the most experienced crew which is great for working as everyone knows what they are doing but not for positioning. I was 6th on the list out of 8. So I get to the desk and check in, get given a boarding pass for seat 30E. The middle seat. I was not happy. I asked if there were any other seats, but as I was the last to check in there wasn’t. The only positive was that the 4 crew in Economy were at least all sat together, but still was ridiculously uncomfortable for the length of flight that it was.

I couldn’t wait to get back to London. We arrived back and collected our bags before I had to make the mad dash to catch my commuting flight back home! I just made it and got a window seat! Couldn’t have been a better result!

That was my Trip to Beijing, China folks! Next up is where I am writing this from, an incredible 9 day trip to the other side of the World. Singapore and Sydney. I am currently on my final day in Singapore and am flying back to the UK tonight so the post on this trip will be posted in the coming days. Safe to say its a good one.

I hope you have enjoyed this trip with me onboard Crewfie101, and if you have any questions on the job, lifestyle, destinations or anything don’t hesitate to let me know!

Thank you everyone and see you next time onboard Crewfie101