Juneyao Airlines is based in Shanghai and for many years has had one prominent billboard in Shanghai which always gave me a professional impression of them. Despite their high end image, their fares are often good value.
Recently I flew with Juneyao Airlines for the first time.
Two Reasons Juneyao can Be Great for Flights from Hong Kong to Shanghai
There are two things worth noting which can make Juneyao particularly attractive to Hong Kong travellers who want to go to China (specifically Shanghai, or neighbouring provinces).
First, they are often a very cheap option, especially if you need to book at the last minute. Juneyao is almost always a lot less than Cathay Dragon but also often undercuts cheap airlines like Air China and China Eastern. (That said, they do not have a comparable frequency).
Secondly, Juneyao operates flights between Shanghai and both Hong Kong and Macau, and their open jaw tickets are not punitively expensive. So, if you want to visit Shanghai at short notice without a visa, for example, you could buy a Juneyao one way from Hong Kong to Macau via Shanghai then simply take the ferry back from Macau. That allows you to stop in Shanghai and take advantage of the transit without visa programme. (For more information on short notice trips to China without a visa read this post).
I booked this trip the week prior to departure on CTrip, which is often the cheapest way to book flights on Chinese carriers. It’s not always an easy site to use – we do have a 2012 post on booking flights to mainland China using sites such as Ctrip, although it has got a bit better since then.
The one way flight from Shanghai to Macau cost RMB 451 ($531).
At the Airport
I turned up at Pudong terminal two an hour and a half before departure. There were only a couple of passengers in the checkin queue in front of me, and so I was served very fast. The ground agent was quick. The plane was scheduled to leave form gate 84. At the gate the flight was announced as boarding forty minutes before departure and there was an orderly boarding.
The flight was operated by an Airbus A321. The interior was clean and all felt very new.
The seats were comfortable with adjustable headrest and a middling pitch. At each was a blanket and a pillow better in both size and quality than some airlines offer in long-haul.
There was no seatback entertainment.
The flight looked more or less full in economy class.
We pushed back a few minutes after schedule due to congestion, and the initial ascent was a bit bumpy. After that, however, it was smooth and we arrived a few minutes before schedule in Macau airport.
Despite its dinky size, passengers needed to be bussed from the plane to the nearby terminal, on a circuitous route around the airfield. Ours was the only plane to arrive at that time so immigration was fast.
The cabin crew was well-groomed, friendly and professional in smart uniforms. Interestingly it was a mix of ladies and gentlemen, which I find is not common on Chinese carriers. Indeed grooming was of such importance that the flight attendant nearest me, having put on a lifejacket during the safety demonstration, then spent the rest of it obsessively trying to put a hair back into place which had been slightly dislodged by the jacket.
After takeoff the crew distributed wet wipes, then did a combined meal and drink service. Generally they seemed competent, but they did drop one meal box on the passenger in front of me, fortunately as its contents were all packaged nothing spilt on his clothes.
Food and drink
The food was served in two parts, at the same time. The first was a box, which contained a range of packaged items including cooked chestnuts, peanuts, Danish style butter cookies, pickles and more.
There was a hot entrée and the choice was between chicken and rice or egg noodles. I chose the latter and it really was simply noodles with egg and tomato – tasty but simple.
There was a soft and hot drinks service but no alcoholic drinks were available.
I was impressed by Juneyao and comparing them to western airlines felt that the service was, although not world leading, at least world class. The seats were comfortable, the food was abundant and decent, the cabin crew was good and the plane was in excellent condition. Additionally the ticket was good value.
Although people often complain about mainland passengers on planes, this plane had mostly mainland passengers and from the boarding queue to the inflight experience, their behaviour was excellent. I’ve had much worse mainland crowds on Cathay flights of late than on this Juneyao one.