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Topic: Tried China Southern Again: AMS-CTU Return
Username: ynie
Posted 2012-05-04 08:13:35 and read 17596 times.

Welcome to my first trip report on A.net. Hope you enjoy it.

Background
Four years ago, I travelled on China Southern’s B772ER to Amsterdam and the service was quite disappointing. Recent years, I have been travelling between Amsterdam and China with KLM, Air France, Finnair, Emirates and Hainan (from Brussels), and they all had considerably better products. Last year, I was able to acquire enough mileage on AF and KL flights that I got Skyteam Elite status for the China Southern Sky Pearl Club. So I thought maybe it’s time to give CZ another try.

Booking
The booking was make through KLM because I can get 100% mileage on their fare class ‘T’, while if book though CZ, only 40% can be collected. However this is no longer the case now since CZ changes their rules towards AF and KL just a week ago   . For the trip to Chengdu I’ll be transferring in Beijing, and connecting through Guangzhou for return.

First Lag
Amsterdam (AMS) – Beijing (PEK)
Flight: CZ346
Aircraft: A330-223 (PW)
Reg: B-6526
Date of flight: 25 Feb 2012
Departure: 21:25 local time
Arrival: 14:10 local time (+1 day)

The weather in the Netherlands on that day was just great!
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0280.jpg

Love traveling from Schiphol.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0292.jpg

The check-in was handled by KLM and it’s fairly smooth. No queues at the priority counters and the staff were very friendly. Quickly went through the border controls and arrived at gate.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0297.jpg

This route is not only code shared but also joint venture with KLM.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0299.jpg

People rushes to the door when boarding was announced so the ground crew had to search around for people with priority boarding and lead them to the front. I received warm welcome from the FA and the ambient music during boarding was nice.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0301.jpg

At that time, CZ had not start to sell their premium economy seats so I was able to take them for free with the elite status.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0302.jpg

The aircraft is new and clean.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0303.jpg

The leg room is just great (for a 700 Euros Europe-Asia return)
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0304.jpg

The premium economy class is coded by CZ as W class, and unfortunately they start to sell them in W fares starting in April. Cost around 700 Euros extra, so this probably will not be my choice for next time. Great that I got the change to try it.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0305.jpg

The control panel cannot be removed from the arm rest and the buttons are extremely small. It was really hard to distinguish some of the signs in the dark when the cabin lights were dimmed.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0306.jpg

First meal: Just average, not on pair with what is normally served on KLM. I don’t really like the idea that the salad and fruits are covered with plastic food wrap and they write on it with a black marker. The cup was never used since the coffee was served in the plastic glasses. The FA uses 2 of them together for hot drinks to prevent your fingers from burning.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0312.jpg

The AVOD is quite nice with good resolution. The annoying part is that every video starts with a collection of advertisements lasting around 10 minutes. No way to skip them so I had to fast forward them a lot of times. Same contents were displayed every time so it can be quite bothersome.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0316.jpg

Cabin after the first meal service. The loading on the economy section was quite good.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0317.jpg

The toilet was kept quite clean.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0320.jpg
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0321.jpg

The dark quickly passes and it’s morning again (in the Netherlands people just went to bed).
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0323.jpg

The initial cruise altitude was FL350 and the aircraft climbs to FL370 around 6 hours into the flight.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0324.jpg

Breakfast was served 2 hours before arrival. Tastes better than they look. Still has the marker on the cake…
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0327.jpg

Then I noticed that both NO Smoking and Seatbelt ON signs were turned off. Not really sure whether this was intentionally done.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0328.jpg

Landed at Beijing, still shiny weather.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0331.jpg

The aircraft will continue to Guangzhou.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0334.jpg

Going through the transfer hall. It’s actually a joke since after going through the costumes, there is only a single check in counter (baggage have to be first claimed and checked in again). Then you go to the exit and enter the public area. You have to walk to the departure hall again for the next flight.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0340.jpg

Second Lag
Beijing (PEK) – Chengdu (CTU)
Flight: CZ3903
Aircraft: A332 (RR)
Reg: B-6078
Departure: 16:15 local time
Arrival: 19:05 local time
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0344.jpg

The aircraft was also an A332 but an earlier version for CZ with RR engines. That means no PTVs for the economy cabin.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0341.jpg

The A380 was pushing back for flight to Guangzhou.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0350.jpg
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0352.jpg

China Southern usually reserves the first row for their elite members. Since now they have the premium economy section, the front row is no longer a bulkhead row. The legroom of the first row is slightly better than other economy seats, but as you can see the curtains can be annoying.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0353.jpg

No PTVs but the Screen is just ahead.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0356.jpg

Arrived in Chengdu, landed on the second runway and taxing to the gate took more than 20 minutes   .
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0358.jpg

Return Trip

Arrived at Chengdu airport in the evening
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0405.jpg

Thrid Lag
Chengdu (CTU) – Guangzhou (CAN)
Flight: CZ3418
Aircraft: B737-800
Reg: B-5596
Date of flight: 5 Mar 2012
Departure: 19:20 local time
Arrival: 21:30 local time
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0406.jpg

The screen in the lounge was useless. Only 4 flight information available and was not altering. The search function yields “no results”. It just looks nice but not functional at all.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0407.jpg

Boarding was at remote stand.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0410.jpg

CFM56: The power of flight
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0412.jpg

The cabin light looks very blue compared with normal cases. That means something.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0414.jpg
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0415.jpg

Yes, it is the Sky Interior. Good that the individual air vents are kept. Not sure why there are two sets of PAX sign located so close together.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0417.jpg

Passengers were still boarding. The inner cover of the window is round; however, the actual outer window is still original square shaped.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0418.jpg

The large bins are nice as people tends to bring more hand luggage than allowed.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0419.jpg

Still the first row, still the annoying curtains separating the premium economy section.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0420.jpg

After take-off, the lights looks somewhat fake…
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0421.jpg

Dinner was served together with a sneak box. Not bad for a flight shorter than 2 hours.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0423.jpg

Arrived in Guangzhou.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0424.jpg

Still remote stand.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0427.jpg

The airport is not really designed for transferring. Had to go out of the baggage claim section (luckily don’t need to claim them this time) and go upstairs (escalator somewhere near the end, quite some walking).
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0428.jpg

Was able to get my boarding pass for the next leg in Chengdu. However they cannot give me a seat in the premium economy section (37A is the first row of the standard economy section). I know they are going to take this boarding pass when I ask them to switch seats so just took a picture in advance.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0429.jpg

After going up with the escalator, I had to go through a long pass to go to the other section.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0430.jpg

Spacious area for departure hall A.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0432.jpg

Give a try at the newly opened international departure lounge. It was design by Skytrax and they rated as five star (of course   ). Unfortunately almost all seats were claimed and it’s kind of crowded.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0436.jpg

Got some food for dinner before boarding.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0437.jpg

Evening departures, not that much but it’s already quite an achievement for Guangzhou.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0438.jpg

Boarding starting at gate A105 (one of the furthest one)
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0441.jpg

Last Lag
Guangzhou (CAN)- Amsterdam (AMS)
Flight: CZ307
Aircraft: A332 (PW)
Reg: B-5531
Date of flight: 5 Mar 2012
Departure: 23:55 local time
Arrival: 05:55 local time (+1 day)
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0443.jpg

The B-5531 aircraft was handed over to China Southern during the Paris Airshow last year in June.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0444.jpg

Again very nice and clean cabin.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0446.jpg

Aircraft next to us departing for Paris.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0447.jpg

Advertisement for the A380 on the tray table.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0448.jpg

First meal was beef rice. Quite good.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0453.jpg
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0454.jpg

Cabin getting ready for dim the lights for the 13 hour night flight.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0455.jpg

Arrived on time at Amsterdam. Just notice the sign for “Lavatories AFT”, Nice!
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0460.jpg
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0462.jpg
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0463.jpg

It’s typical Dutch weather waiting for me.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0466.jpg

Baggage claim. Priority baggage works in Schiphol although they do not use the standard Skyteam ‘Priority’ tag in Chengdu.
http://i1267.photobucket.com/albums/jj541/Brettmessage/IMG_0469.jpg

Final remarks
Overall the trip was on pair with most of the international airlines I have travelled with in the past, and it is a quantum leap for CZ compared with their product several years ago. After boarding the flight attendants came across the cabin to give individual greetings to elite members. It’s good to see CZ keeps improving their services.

But I think the overall good impression is largely attributed to the relatively new aircrafts I’m travelling on. I can imagine that a long haul flight on their old B772ER to North America and the earlier (No PTV) A332s to Australia can be much more painful. Service-wise it is still nothing special so CZ should either upgrade all their equipment or keeps improving their services to have a better consistency.

Thank you for your time on my first trip report on A.net.

Topic: RE: Tried China Southern Again: AMS-CTU Return
Username: gabrielchew
Posted 2012-05-04 08:38:00 and read 17471 times.

Interesting report ynie, thanks for posting! The service on CZ does seem to be improving all the time. I flew with them quite a lot domestically a few years ago, and even managed one flight in their new Y+ cabin. How come you didn't take the AMS-CTU direct flight on KL?

Quoting ynie (Thread starter):
The premium economy class is coded by CZ as W class, and unfortunately they start to sell them in W fares starting in April. Cost around 700 Euros extra, so this probably will not be my choice for next time. Great that I got the change to try it.

That seems like an awful lot for a few extra inches of legroom. Is the meal choice the same?

Quoting ynie (Thread starter):
Evening departures, not that much but it’s already quite an achievement for Guangzhou.

Wow, that's pretty impressive for CAN, it's increased a lot over the years

Topic: RE: Tried China Southern Again: AMS-CTU Return
Username: ynie
Posted 2012-05-04 08:52:07 and read 17371 times.

Thanks gabrielchew,

Quote:
How come you didn't take the AMS-CTU direct flight on KL?

The problem is that I want to maximize my time in China. KL does not have Saturday flight to Chengdu nor Sunday return flight. Another reason is that the KLM's 747Combi is not new to me but this is my first time on CZ's 332PW.

Quote:
That seems like an awful lot for a few extra inches of legroom. Is the meal choice the same?

Meal service exactly the same as in the standard economy. But they did not sell them in W fares at that time and I don't know whether this will change. I was once traveling on the premium economy of Air France 77W, the food was also the same so I do not expect CZ to do better.

Topic: RE: Tried China Southern Again: AMS-CTU Return
Username: initious
Posted 2012-05-04 09:11:16 and read 17275 times.

Hi ynie,

Nice TR on CZ! Seldom see a TR on CZ, much less a long haul one. When one appears on the forums it'll be mine bashing them and their 4 star rating.  

It seems like CZ did way better than my previous flight with them 2 weeks ago. The A332 interior looks pretty nice and the legroom for premium economy looks impressive. Not sure if I'd pay 700 euros extra though. Nice that CZ has B738s with the Boeing Sky Interior. The B738s that I flew on CZ had the old interiors.

My recent TR on CZ can be found here, if you are interested.

China "Sudden" Airlines SWA-HKG - 4 Star? Really? (by initious Apr 27 2012 in Trip Reports)

Regards,
Daniel

Topic: RE: Tried China Southern Again: AMS-CTU Return
Username: ynie
Posted 2012-05-04 09:21:56 and read 17203 times.

Thanks Daniel,

I checked your report and that reminds me some of my domestic flight with them. I was once on their B733 from CTU to CGO and that would be my worst trip. Most noisy aircraft and smallest seat pitch I have ever seen. Unfortunately they still have 25 of them.

CZ is now having great problem of service consistency based on my experience. I seldomly travel with them on long-hauls but quite some times on domestic. It's always difficult to anticipate the service you get because there will always be suprises, ether good or bad  .

Topic: RE: Tried China Southern Again: AMS-CTU Return
Username: ba319-131
Posted 2012-05-04 12:12:20 and read 16646 times.

Hi Ynie,

Nice report and pictures, thanks for sharing your CZ experience.

Quoting ynie (Thread starter):
CZ had not start to sell their premium economy seats

- Never knew they had the product!

Quoting ynie (Thread starter):
First meal: Just average

- That's what I found on my PEK-CAN flight, that said, better than nothing!

Quoting ynie (Thread starter):
Breakfast was served 2 hours before arrival. Tastes better than they look.

- Looks a pretty decent spread.

Jury is out for me on CZ, I need an additional flight or two top see if they are as good as they claim.

Cheers

Mark

Topic: RE: Tried China Southern Again: AMS-CTU Return
Username: lukeyboy95
Posted 2012-05-04 13:51:40 and read 16431 times.

Thanks for the report Ynie,

I gotta say, I love CZ color-scheme, and their aircraft choice. Infact, there is generally alot about it I like.

But I am very unsure of the service - it didn't look extraordinary, but still your report left me impressed.

KLM funnel alot of traffic to these flights (especially given limited UK connections these days).

Many thanks

Luke!

Topic: RE: Tried China Southern Again: AMS-CTU Return
Username: reifel
Posted 2012-05-04 15:13:32 and read 16189 times.

Thanks for sharing. China Southern is not an airline covered a lot here, but they seem to have quite an impressive product. How was the crew? When I flew MU from PEK to SHA they were just lovely...

Quoting ynie (Thread starter):
Yes, it is the Sky Interior. Good that the individual air vents are kept. Not sure why there are two sets of PAX sign located so close together.

This is because the passengers sitting in the first row behind the curtain would not see the fasten seat belt signs of the row in front (because of the curtain). However this way they can just look up and will see them. The "regular" sign is for the people sitting behind.

Topic: RE: Tried China Southern Again: AMS-CTU Return
Username: ynie
Posted 2012-05-04 15:48:55 and read 16064 times.

Thanks reifel,

The crew were generally nice. It's a Chinese airline so the service is much more procedural rather than personal, bit different than what you get on KL and AF flights. For example, the extra greetings to the Skyteam elite members is a nice move. FA having a long name list in her hand coming to you to say "Dear sir, you are a Skyteam elite member, welcome on board China Southern Airlines. If you need help, just call us" and then start to search for the next passenger. This still feels very unnatural. Probably taking some newpapers while doing the greetings can easily avoid the awkward feelings.

On CZ307 back, I saw there were around 4 FAs with the blue uniform indicating they are pursers. CZ is really giving their best resources to their international flights. The captain even stood at the door to say goodbye to passengers during exiting. First time seen that on a Chinese airline.

Quite strange that on both ways, I see higher proportion of westerners compared with that of my KL flights last December. I saw the news in their magazine that they had recruited around 10 Dutch FAs, probably another step to further improve their products.

BTW, thanks for the info on the PAX signs.

[Edited 2012-05-04 16:02:49]

Topic: RE: Tried China Southern Again: AMS-CTU Return
Username: EricR
Posted 2012-05-04 15:55:54 and read 16041 times.

Quoting ynie (Thread starter):
The cup was never used since the coffee was served in the plastic glasses. The FA uses 2 of them together for hot drinks to prevent your fingers from burning.

I think the intent is to take the plastic glasses from the FA and pore the contents into the cup.

[Edited 2012-05-04 16:00:09]

Topic: RE: Tried China Southern Again: AMS-CTU Return
Username: ynie
Posted 2012-05-04 16:07:12 and read 16011 times.

Thanks Eric,

Quote:
I think the intent is to take the plastic glasses from the FA and pore the contents into the cup.


Probably you are right. But this is the first time I see such a case. Also the coffee was premixed with suger and milk, not the way everyone else do.

Topic: RE: Tried China Southern Again: AMS-CTU Return
Username: MSS658
Posted 2012-05-12 12:31:03 and read 13386 times.

HI

Greatr report, interesting to see that CZ flies to other airports as well from AMS except the usual PEK and PVG.
Nice to see you scored economy plus as well.

Greetings
Marc

Topic: RE: Tried China Southern Again: AMS-CTU Return
Username: PlaneHunter
Posted 2012-05-18 11:28:11 and read 12610 times.

Hi Yuanbo,

very interesting first report with good pictures! I had been wondering for a longer time how the new A332 interior would look like. It's indeed nice! And I like these A380 ads on the tray tables.

Quoting ynie (Thread starter):
Welcome to my first trip report on A.net. Hope you enjoy it.

  

Quoting ynie (Thread starter):
The leg room is just great (for a 700 Euros Europe-Asia return)

Too bad that they use these large IFE boxes.

Quoting ynie (Thread starter):
First meal: Just average, not on pair with what is normally served on KLM. I don’t really like the idea that the salad and fruits are covered with plastic food wrap and they write on it with a black marker. The cup was never used since the coffee was served in the plastic glasses.

The meals look fine in general!

Quoting ynie (Thread starter):
Yes, it is the Sky Interior.

Very nice.


PH

Topic: RE: Tried China Southern Again: AMS-CTU Return
Username: flyingfool
Posted 2012-05-19 14:16:37 and read 11975 times.

Nice trip report!
I like the CZ crews, I work a lot with them and they always try to do their best to make a nice conversation.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 11):
interesting to see that CZ flies to other airports as well from AMS except the usual PEK and PVG.

From 13th of June, we'll have 25 weekly CZ flights in AMS (incl. cargo) That means up to 4 flights per day...


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