Sichuan Airlines took their first Airbus A350-900 delivery last year. The airline currently operates 4 A350s. Two of theses A350s are painted in a special Panda livery. The new A350's are manly deployed on Chinese domestic routes from their hub at Chengdu to Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou.
Sichuan Airlines new A350 also operates on international flights from Chengdu via Jinan or Hangzhou to Los Angeles. The A350 also flies between Chengdu and Auckland.
I booked a one way discount Business Class from Beijing to Chengdu. The ticket price was RMB 2,100 (Booking Class : A Class) on Ctrip (a large Chinese online travel agent)
Sichuan Airlines uses Terminal 3 at Beijing Capital Int'l Airport. My discount ticket did not include lounge access; but since I was filming a video, they kindly invited me to have a look at their lounge. The lounge is after security check and one level below the concourse.
The Sichuan Airlines VIP Lounge has a boutique lounge feel. The lounge is long but isn't large. There were hot meals served according to the time displayed on the sign. Packaged snacks and instant noodles were available at all times.
Welcome On-board Sichuan Airlines A350
I was the first to board the flight and received a very warm welcome during boarding. It seems the airlines had chosen some of the best crew for my flight. I was lucky enough to score the latest A350 Panda themed aircraft operating on my flight to Chengdu. (Reg: B-306N)
There are 28 Business Class seats in a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 configuration.
This is followed by 303 economy class seats in a 3-3-3 seating configuration, across 2 main cabins.
Once settled down, I was offered a glass of Chinese tea instead of the usual OJ or champagne.
From Now on, Everything has a Panda on it! I am not kidding!
Our departure out of Beijing was strictly on-time at 11:10 am. We took off from runway 36R. The flight to Chengdu took about 2.5 hours.
After takeoff, I was given a "panda themed" steam mask to wear. This helped me to be more relaxed and to rest easier on the flight.
The flight attendant came back with a full tray of food. There was no menu or any options though. The meal was simply......incredible in both presentation and taste! Again well done for a panda themed meal!
The Business Class lunch consisted of pork slices with cucumber and bean paste sauce (a Beijing dish) chili fish fillet (Sichuan dish) spiced vegetables, noodle with peanut sauce and other condiments and pickles. Both the rice and dessert cake had a Panda on them!
I was also given a cute panda apron to wear before I checked out the Economy Class offerings.
There were 2 choices in Economy Class. Either the pork slice with cucumber or the diced chilli chicken with rice or peanut sauce noodle.
What's unique to Sichuan Airlines is the flight attendants came around with a bottle of special chilli sauce. Most passenger from Sichuan are known to be chilli lovers, so this really fits their taste palette.
The flight attendants also handed out these cute panda buns with a sweet filling inside.
And that's not end of it...look at how cute this special panda coffee is!
Sichuan Airlines A350 was a delightful experience with lot of Panda; the most famous mascot from Sichuan province in China. The crew were very cheerful and paid good attention to all of the passengers (not only me) Some of the crew spoke excellent English as well.
With more A350's entering international service, I wouldn't hesitate to use Sichuan Airlines if the fare was right. The only downside is they're not in any alliance and literally very hard to credit and use their frequent flyer program, unless you often travel to/from China.