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Emirates vs Air China

One has the reputation, the other has the cheap fares. So, which do you go for?

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Struggling to choose an airline for your next trip? Emirates and Air China both fly across every inhabited continent, so you’re likely to have to choose between them.

We’ve taken out the hard work by comparing the two. From the type of plane you’ll fly on to the entertainment you’ll enjoy onboard, from special offers to online booking systems, read on to see how Emirates and Air China stack up.

Emirates vs Air China

FeatureEmiratesAir ChinaVerdict
Where does it fly to?
  • Europe
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Latin America
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • Caribbean
  • Middle East
  • Europe
  • United States
  • Canada
  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Latin America
  • Australia and New Zealand
  • Caribbean
  • Middle East
Both airlines service locations across all six inhabitable continents.
What star rating is it?4-stars3-starEmirates has a higher star rating.
What classes are available?Economy, business class and first class.Economy, premium economy, business and first class.Air China offers premium economy.
What is the baggage allowance?Economy passengers are allowed one carry-on of up to 7kg and check-in baggage up to 30kg.Economy class passengers are entitled to 1 carry-on up to 5kg and 1 checked bag up to 23kg.Emirates has more generous baggage allowances.
Where does it fly from in Australia?Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Cairns, Hobart, Darwin, Canberra, and various smaller airports.Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.Emirates has a far greater number of Australian destinations.
What's the in-flight entertainment like?Movies, TV shows, music, games and language classes in multiple languages.Films, music and games in multiple languages.Emirates has a more comprehensive entertainment system geared toward a western audience.
Can I make changes/cancellations?Yes. Cancellations and full refunds are available for certain fare types. Changes to dates, passenger details, locations and more can be made online subject to fees.Yes. Cancellations and changes to the booking date, time, class and fare can be made online. Cancelled bookings are fully refunded in some instances.Both airlines allow changes and cancellations.
What type of plane will I fly on?Emirates uses Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft.Air China operates a number of different Airbus and Boeing aircraft, but the A380 is not among them.Emirates has many A380 aircraft.
Which frequent flyer programmes is it with?Emirates’ frequent flyer programme, Skywards, allows members to earn miles through Emirates flights and transactions with other airlines such as Qantas.Air China operates PhoenixMiles, which allows members to earn miles through flights with Air China and partner airlines such as Shenzhen Airlines, Shandong Airlines and Tibet Airline.While both have rewards programs, Emirates is more geared toward airlines they fly out of Australia.
Is there Wi-Fi?Yes. 20MB of Wi-Fi is complimentary on most flights.Air China offers free Wi-Fi on Airbus 330 and Boeing 777 flights, but not for smartphones.Emirates has better in-flight Wi-Fi.
Can I price match?Yes.No.Emirates price matches.
Does it serve alcohol?Yes.Yes.Both serve alcohol.
Is there online chat?Yes.No.Emirates has online chat.
Does it charge for infants?No, unless infants require their own seat.Yes. Infants must have an infant fare, or a child’s fare if they require their own seat.Emirates doesn’t charge for infants if they share an adult’s seat.
Does it fly pets?Guide dogs are the only pets allowed in the cabin. Other animals must travel in the hold.Yes. Small animals (no large, aggressive dogs) can travel as checked baggage in the cargo hold.Both airlines fly pets.
What are my payment options?
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • PayPal
  • Bank transfer
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • PayPal
Emirates has more payment options.
Can I book round the world fares?Yes.Yes.You can book round the world fares with both airlines.
Can I book multi-city fares?Yes.Yes.Emirates and Air China both offer multi-city fares.
Any features to find the best price?The Emirates Best Price symbol is assurance that a fare is the cheapest available, and the Featured Fares page allows you to browse all current deals with various filters.The “special offers” page shows all current flight specials and other promotions.Emirates has more filters to help you find the best price.
BookFly with Air China-

Who offers the best price?

Emirates uses the Best Price symbol to guarantee that its price on a particular fare is the cheapest available online and will match the same fare for at least €15 less. Air China, meanwhile, does not price match, so there is no guarantee that you will get the best price by booking through the airline’s website.

Despite this, when comparing similar flights on the same dates, Air China came up a winner saving you around $400 on journeys between Sydney and London.

This may be down to its lesser star rating and lesser known name, but we’ve noticed it hosts near unbeatable full-service fares into Europe when on sale and is generally cheaper than Emirates.

The verdict?

When booking the same flight through both Emirates and Air China, we found that Air China offered a significantly cheaper fare.


Which is a good airline to fly with?

Emirates has a 4-star Skytrax rating, while Air China only has 3 stars. While Emirates scores a minimum of 4 stars for its flights across all ticket classes, Air China only scores 3 stars for economy and premium economy flights, with first class short haul flights reaching 4 stars.

On AirlineEquality.com, customer reviews give Air China an average of 4/10, with Emirates receiving 6/10. Air China is largely let down by the inflight entertainment and food and beverages, which only score 2 stars.

The verdict?

Based on the airlines’ ratings and customer reviews, Emirates is a much better airline to fly with across all ticket classes.


What are the deals like?

Emirates has plenty of deals on flights all over the world. Past deals include Melbourne-London from $1,199, Australia-Paris from $1,449 and Australia-New York from $1,499.

From Australia, Air China’s discounted fares only reach as far as Asia. They also offer on-the-ground discounts in various destinations, with current offers including discounted entry to three zoos in Victoria and discounted entry to the National Gallery of Singapore.

Flight specials have included round trips from Sydney to Beijing from $578, to Shanghai from $518, and to Guangzhou from $498.

The verdict?

Emirates has flight deals from Australia to destinations all over the world, whereas Air China only offers deals to Asia.


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