When I found a last minute flight from Los Angeles to Denpesar, Bali for $485 round trip I couldn't believe it! Other than seeing Xiamen Airlines pop up in a few previous airfare searches, I knew nothing about them. They seem to have cheaper tickets but with long layovers in the city of Xiamen, China. So we're talking about 33 hours of travel time compared to as low as 22 hours with other airlines. Well I'll take a long layover to save $400+ any day!
Strangely, the ticket was cheaper to buy through Priceline via Google Flights than it was going through the airline directly. Like over $100 cheaper! I booked it quickly and was left wondering two things:
1) What was I in for with this potentially budget airline?
2) How on earth do you pronounce "Xiamen"?
From the get-go, the service was friendly with a smile. From an easy check-in where the agent asked right away if I wanted a window, and without prompting made sure I knew that I did not need to pick up my bags en route. They would be sent all the way to Bali.
The DreamLiner was wonderful. Huge overhead capacity (I didn't need to check my bag after all!), those cool gas-filled windows that tint at the touch of a button, and even the bathrooms were spotless; like they must be cleaned mid-flight.
The seats were spacious enough with plenty of legroom (I think even my 6'4" boyfriend would have felt comfortable) and adjustable-height headrests with those folding wings to keep your head in place. The best thing was that the seats really reclined! I slept better on this flight than any other coach flight ever. Add to that a "floating" cup holder, in-seat entertainment, and universal electrical outlet plus all the little touches like a hot towel before your meal and mints afterward, all done with a smile. And I can't forget to mention the rainbow cabin lights 30 minutes before landing. :)
Your also get a bottle of water, a pair of socks, a pillow and a blanket. All of which are cleared away during the time you are going through immigration in Qingdao when they transform it into a domestic flight. Boooo.
The food is typical airline food.They were on top of the vegetarian meal delivery but as usual, the poor vegetarians are stuck with the vegan meal which means missing out on the cheesecake and milano cookies. The meals out of the states were western food, and then something unidentifiable for breakfast on the second leg.
Xiamen is part of the Star Alliance so you can get Delta miles or whatever Star Alliance miles membership you have. Since you will be spending a good bit of time in China, make sure you dress conservatively. Both legs did leave late but they made up the time in flight. Even the short 3-hour leg to Xiamen they were able to do in only 2 hours.
By listening to the (barely understandable) overhead announcements, I learned that it's pronounced shya-men but really it sounds like sha-men.
All in all I would give Xiamen a big two thumbs up! I would not hesitate to fly them again.