Flight Report
Hong Kong - Hiroshima on Air China

I can always count on Chinese carriers for great deals. After a trip on China Eastern to Rome a few months earlier at a cheaper fare than the Middle Eastern carriers, Air China came to the rescue with a last-minute discount fare to Hiroshima during the Golden Week travel peak. For about USD 250 all inclusive roundtrip, I would fly from Hong Kong to Beijing, then connect to Dalian tonight.

There was a huge line at check-in about 75 minutes before departure. I knew there was a Dalian direct flight leaving at around the same time but the agents said I had no chance standing by for that one as it was overbooked. In addition, my Beijing flight would be delayed by an hour today. This would make my connection for Dalian a bit tight. In case I miss that last flight from Beijing to Dalian tonight, I would need to overnight in Beijing and hop on the earliest flight out the next day to make it to Hiroshima. Cheap fares come with enhanced stress levels.

Delay aside, there was plenty of time for plane spotting this afternoon.

As the sun started to set, I saw the Air China A330 pull into the gate. We will be delayed today but hopefully not more than an hour.

We boarded an hour late and finally left at 6:57pm. I have heard of far worse delays so I guess I was lucky today. They announced an initial arrival time of 10pm at first, which worried me as that would leave less than an hour for my domestic transfer to Dalian. It was a full flight today and it would take a while to clear out the plane on arrival as well.

The IFE was touch-screen but didn't have as much selection as CX. Nevertheless, it was better than watching programs on the overhead TVs. I had brought my own portable device just in case, a relic from my last flight with China Eastern. I figured I saved money on the ticket so I could spend a bit more for a new electronic gadget.

After the meal, I went to find the flight attendants informing them of my transfer, and to see if there were any seats up front I could move so I could get off faster. They reassured me we would land at around 9:30pm.

It was a long walk to immigration and I had to clear it to transfer domestically. Luckily, there was a small line and I tried to find the signs for the transfer desk with limited success. I took the people mover all the way to the baggage claim, only to find the domestic transfer counter closed at 8pm. How can that happen?

I had to exit the baggage claim and go through customs, head upstairs, then go back through domestic departure. There was barely anyone at security and the flight was already boarding by the time I reached the gate. 1 hour doing an international-to-domestic connection is very tight at Terminal 3. Thankfully, we took off on time and landed in Dalian less than an hour later at midnight.

Interestingly, I flew with Dalian Airlines, not Air China, although it is an affiliate.

We landed just past midnight. There was barely anyone left in the building and some lights have already been turned off. With no checked baggage, I went easily and quickly through and onto an empty taxi queue with no waiting taxis. Luckily, I fended off a few touts and flagged one down for a short 20-minute ride into town within a few minutes.

My journey continued the next morning with a short flight to Hiroshima. The airport seemed busier than my last visit, but the lines were manageable. Dalian is a small airport near the city so I particularly liked transiting here, with less likelihood of delays than the larger cities.

We left pretty much full and got airborne after a short taxi. There were no air traffic delays today and the flight will take about 2 hours.

The weather wasn't so good today and I picked the wrong window. The skyline would be passing on the other side.

The beef rice dish was reasonably tasty although the salad didn't taste too normal. It didn't go bad but it just wasn't a normal salad I am accustomed to. In Asia, we expect hot meals even on short-haul flights.

Today's flight would skirt around North Korean airspace and cross near Seoul. The plane looked fairly new.

With Japan in-sight, Hiroshima wouldn't be far away. Looks like the weather would be lovely today.

We landed on-time at a fairly empty airport. If I rushed out, I can squeeze a few more hours of sightseeing in the city.

I completed the paperwork as quickly as I could and was among the first batch to cross immigration. Thinking I could hop on a waiting bus about to depart, I was disappointed that there was no service into the city for an hour gap in the middle of the day. Reminder to self ... Hiroshima is a small airport after all.

Overall Assessment
The price is right. Go for it! Despite the long trip to Dalian, an overnight, and a 3rd flight on day 2, they were all short flights so it was bearable. The transit in Beijing was terrible but luckily, I only need to transit in Dalian on the return home.