Fifth Freedom Flight Review – Hainan Airlines: Dublin To Edinburgh

Hainan Airlines are the current holders of Skytrax’s “Best Cabin Cleanliness in China” and were recently ranked by the same organization as the sixth cleanest airline in the world. I flew on them recently and was disgusted by the state of the cabin, which is the dirtiest one I have ever seen in half a million miles of travel.

I filmed this experience too, for my YouTube channel:

Hainan is closing its Dublin to Edinburgh (and on to Beijing) route in October this year, but I took this flight recently for the novelty of experiencing a Chinese carrier for the first time.

I arrived at Dublin Airport at 0550 for an 0800 departure. The airport church watches over each departure from its position outside the terminals.

Check in was easy; the flight is not terribly popular on the Dublin to Edinburgh leg and there was no queue at all, even for economy check in.

Our flight departed from the Terminal 1 satellite, which has come a long way since the early 2000s when I started flying from Dublin. There are now a few decent places to eat and drink, and it’s a lot less dingy.

The aircraft for today’s short hop was a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, one of 30 in Hainan’s fleet.

Onboard, the cabin is pleasantly orange and red in economy. The simple color scheme is attractive enough and the cabin features mood lighting, which is standard on Dreamliners.

My seat was 58A. Note that 59A doesn’t exist and there’s a big gap where it should be. 59B, therefore, has lots of space, and you could probably put your bag there during the cruise.

57A is to be avoided; there’s no window there!

Each economy seat has a fully adjustable headrest, moving up and down and with flexible wings.

The seat also slides forward during recline. Legroom is ample, at 32 inches.

Sadly, the cabin was marred by a totally unacceptable level of cleanliness throughout. The following four pictures have had the contrast increased on them, to show just how bad the level of filth was. This aircraft has over two hours in Dublin, but it seems clear that this aircraft had not been properly cleaned in weeks, looking at the level of food waste in the sidewell. This situation was disgraceful, and not something to be tolerated by an airline which markets itself as “five star”. No way.

Food was distributed prior to takeoff, in order to save time on this 40-minute flight.

Takeoff was punctual despite heavy queues at Dublin; construction of the new runway at Dublin is well underway and can’t come soon enough.

Hainan didn’t have any WiFi on this 787-9.

It’s worth saying that no airline on the Edinburgh-Dublin route provides free catering, so Hainan wins by default on that score simply by providing a bagel. However, the bread was dry and the fillings bland and flavorless, so I’d give it a miss if I were you.

Earphones are provided with the IFE. Notice the standard jack, which means you can easily plug in your own, which will be superior.

The IFE screen was in HD and had numerous English language choices. It would be difficult to get bored even if you were flying this aircraft all the way to China.

There was also an inflight magazine available.

Touchdown was just before 9am, making us a little early.

Sadly, the baggage for this flight took over an hour after landing to appear – longer than the flight! This isn’t the first time I’ve had this happen at Edinburgh Airport.

This flight is no longer operational after 10th October 2019, so there are a precious few weeks left to take it – if you really want to! At 62 EUR one way, it’s one of the cheapest ways of flying a 787 you will find. Let’s hope that if you do fly this route, someone cleans the cabin beforehand. Hainan’s cleanliness here was disgraceful.