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The Canton Route To Australia: China Southern In J  
User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 32450 times:

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BACKGROUND

Perhaps it was just me, but sometimes it feels like you just need a change, a different perspective, a different airline and a different airline alliance.

Hi everyone. I had been thinking about going back to Australia in late February to visit family and was looking at a range of different flight options available between London and Brisbane (BNE). There were the usual Kangaroo Route offerings on QF/BA, TG, SQ and CX, flights via the Gulf on EK, EY and of course, the Reindeer Route via Helsinki – many of these routes and airlines I have previously flown with.

My favourite so far has been the Reindeer Route with BA/AY and CX.

ENTER THE DRAGON (ROUTE)

Having flown with mostly One World carriers over the past few years to Australia, I wanted to try a different route this time round.

It became fairly clear, thanks to a significant amount of advertising in the UK over the past few months, that flying via China could be a different and interesting way to travel to Australia. In June 2012, China Southern Airlines (CZ) became the latest Chinese carrier to start flying to Heathrow, joining Air China and China Eastern Airlines and CZ has placed a number of adverts throughout London’s public transport system promoting the route to Australia and New Zealand via China. Likewise, in Australia, CZ are promoting this Dragon Route, or to use CZ’s marketing tagline, the ‘Canton Route’ to Europe via their Guangzhou hub and in the past couple of years, have rapidly increased their presence in Australia and New Zealand – flying to Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland from Guangzhou.

As of last year, China Southern were flying double daily into Sydney and Melbourne from Guangzhou, with 3-4 flights a week to Brisbane and 3 to Perth. The airline is on record as wanting to triple the number of flights into Australia from just over 35 to more than 110 a week by the end of 2015. Pretty ambitious plans from one of the world’s largest airlines (measured by passengers carried).


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One of China Southern’s adverts in its February 2013 inflight magazine, promoting flights to Brisbane and Cairns. The advert says there are three flights a week to Brisbane and Cairns from Guangzhou although I am pretty sure that there are actually 4 flights a week currently to BNE.



Of course, some might remember that this is not the first time CZ have flown into Brisbane. Back in the latter part of the 1990s, CZ tried flying there, using B767s. I went to BNE to see the inaugural flight touch down in September 1997, which was on that day, operated by their then new sparkly B772. This was the only decent (but grainy) shot I got of the early morning arrival.

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The flights were mostly operated however with B767-300s, although they did not last long. In November 1997, when I was flying to Auckland and Papeete, I remembered seeing and photographing this CZ 767-300 at the gate at BNE. Of course, CZ no longer operate B767s.

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From the various press releases that I read, China Southern have not been backward in publicising their grand plans to build Guangzhou Baiyun Airport into a major transit point for Europe – Australia/NZ bound traffic, and are seeking to rapidly increase their market share on this heavily travelled route. First it was the Asian airlines, then those from the Gulf States, and now, China Southern. They are offering fares which are incredibly attractive and are a lot cheaper than most of their rivals. Time will tell whether this Canton Route strategy will be a success but I thought it would be interesting to see how they are doing so far.

PRICING AND ROUTE

In terms of pricing, I ended up selecting a business class fare, which was booked via expedia.co.uk for GBP2580 return including taxes for the following routing:

Heathrow - Amsterdam -Beijing - Guangzhou - Brisbane (outbound on E190/332/333)

Brisbane - Guangzhou - Paris - Heathrow (return on 333/772/321)

*Beijing - Guangzhou – Brisbane is a sold as a through flight with a single flight number and the same aircraft is used.



Compared to other airlines on the travel dates I selected, China Southern was by far the cheapest J fare on offer. Even the Reindeer Route was GBP500 more expensive. Having not flown with CZ, or any mainland Chinese carrier before, I was keen to see what they were like and experience a dual transit through Beijing and Guangzhou. I’ve been to both places before but it was many years ago.

Although the ticket was issued by CZ, thanks to the wonderful world of alliances, I’d also be doing a few sectors with Skyteam partners, Air France and KLM.

Heathrow - Amsterdam would be on KL and Guangzhou - Paris - Heathrow would be on Air France.

Maybe you’re wondering why I just didn’t select a more direct Heathrow - Guangzhou – Brisbane routing, which would have been a more “representative” Canton Route booking? It was on offer, but the more roundabout way via AMS and PEK was of a similar price – why go direct when expedia says you don’t have to?

This part of the report will cover the outbound Canton Route flight to Brisbane with KL and CZ and the focus will be on China Southern.

CHINA SOUTHERN AIRLINES : 中国南方航空股份有限公司




China Southern Airlines was established on 1 July 1988 following the restructuring of the Civil Aviation Administration of China. Since then, the airline acquired and merged with a number of domestic airlines, becoming one of China's "Big Three" airlines. China Southern Airlines is a member of Skyteam and its logo is a stylized, blossoming kapok flower, in red, on a ‘dark blue on light blue’ stylized version of their airplane’s tail fin. The kapok, which comes in a variety of colours and shades – including red – is Guangzhou’s city flower. The kapok is known to the Chinese as a cotton tree (or “mumian”). In China Southern speak, the kapok’s blossom “fittingly symbolizes the welcoming hospitality of China Southern Airlines”.

From its main hubs at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, and Beijing Capital International Airport, the airline flies to 121 destinations using a fleet of 422 aircraft.

Part of the current international route network, courtesy of the airline’s February 2013 inflight magazine. According to the map, China Southern’s routes to North America are limited to Los Angeles and Vancouver.


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WHAT ABOUT CHINA VISA REQUIREMENTS?

Firstly a word about visas to China. I was slightly concerned about having to apply for visas to transit the PRC when I booked the flights. Not a problem if that was the case, but an extra cost and admin hassle to factor in. However subsequently, and with effect from 1 January 2013, passengers travelling through PEK are permitted up to 72 hours visa free transit so long as they can satisfy a few conditions, namely that they have an onward ticket out of China within that period. Similar visa free transits are already permitted through Shanghai, but this was the first time that it was offered for flights into Beijing. As I would be in transit through both Beijing and Guangzhou, I wondered whether this ruling would also apply to me.

However, there was all kinds of different information on the internet making it very difficult to know what was correct and what wasn’t. The Chinese embassy website in the UK was also pretty useless in terms of providing clear information about whether transit visas, or visas of any kind, were required. I was a little worried I might be prevented from travelling if I did not have a visa but chose to risk it given the overwhelming online content, including that of the PEK Airport website itself, suggested I could transit through PEK visa free.

As it turned out, it was no problem at all. I had no visa hassles in either Beijing or Guangzhou and did not require any kind of visa for transitting through both airports.

CHINA SOUTHERN’S WEBSITE

I was unprepared for just how bad China Southern’s website was. For a company that claims to be the largest airline in Asia, with a fast growing international network, it’s online capabilities were woeful when it comes to managing your booking with them. It’s UK website pages were particularly useless. There is currently no online check in functionality offered for passengers departing from European airports. All passengers, no matter what class of travel, must simply turn up to the airport in the “old fashioned way” and request a seat at check in. There is no ability to even request certain seats online at the time of booking via the airline’s website, no matter what class of travel. This is simply not good enough in 2013, particularly for premium passengers, and I hope that China Southern is looking to improve the online experience of all of its passengers. Sure, it may have been possible to call one of the airline’s reservation numbers to do so, but passengers these days in my view do not expect to have to do that. China Southern is going to have to do a lot more in this space to be on par with its Asian, Australian and European counterparts.

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It all started at Heathrow, Terminal 4, the Skyteam hub in London. Heathrow needs no introduction here, and it remains the world’s busiest international airport. Terminal 4, opened in 1986, has seen recent renovations to give it a more modern look and feel. I think it’s much better than it was before, but it still looks very 1980s in some parts. Landside views of the aircraft are virtually non-existent, other than three or so gates which are closest to the drop off point. Check in area this Sunday afternoon in late February was busy but not chaotic. There is a Skyteam Priority area for premium passengers to check in, and I entered this some 3 plus hours before departure. There were only a handful of passengers checking in and I was able to approach the desk agent immediately with my documents. There is no ability to use a SSK to check in for China Southern flights – at least not currently.

I was really pleased with the Skyteam check in process – fully manual though it was. The agent was very friendly and there were no issues with me not having any kind of visa for the PRC. He did advise that I had arrived more than 3 hours before and therefore he might not be able to check in my bag, but a quick call to someone with my request, and he was able to check the bag in, freeing me up to go airside as soon as possible. A nice touch for premium passengers. I thanked him very much and headed off with boarding pass in hand, and baggage receipt for my bag, which was checked through to BNE, via AMS, and PEK.

The Skyteam Priority check in area.

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My bag was checked through to Brisbane, with just a couple of stops  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8529/8648304596_3c17f34a0d_c.jpg

Terminal 4 landside

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I was through security in less than 5 minutes. There is a fast track line for premium passengers and American Express Centurion Cardmembers.

Heathrow has been subject to pretty fierce criticisms over the past few years, with good reason. However, things have definitely improved in my experiences, and that goes for both Terminals 1 and 3 as well as 4. The last time I experienced the chaos and discomfort that Heathrow was known for around the world was in December 2012 in Dubai’s Terminal 1. Simply awful.

AIRPORT FACILITIES AND LOUNGE

I used to think Terminal 4 was pretty boring when it was mostly BA’s home. These days, it’s not only the home for Skyteam carriers, but also those other “orphan” airlines who are not part of one of the three big alliances. That means the terminal has a pretty eclectic mix of airlines and it’s very interesting to see what’s coming and going.

Airside contains the usual selection of luxury shops along with coffee shops and newsagencies found in any BAA operated and owned facility.

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Viewing opportunities are not brilliant in this terminal, despite being relatively close to runway 27L/09R. Today, departures were off 09R so where there were windows, it was possible to see some nice departures such as this BA 777-300ER with an Air India 777-300ER preparing for departure.

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Malaysia’s (already dirty) lunch time A380 flight to KUL. Now here’s an airline with an identity crisis.

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An EWR bound UA flight from up close

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You really need to walk the entire length of the main concourse to see what’s at each gate as it’s hard to get a good overview from one particular position. Sometimes it’s possible to get a side on shot of aircraft about to start taxiing for departure, like this Air Algerie A330-200, getting ready to leave for Algiers.

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And this Tarom micro bus A318 heading for Bucharest. I wonder whether Tarom will ever standardise on one or two types for fleet commonality? It can’t be cost effective to have two or three different aircraft types in a small fleet.

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Off to Mauritius, with the second of MH’s daily A380 flights arriving from KUL

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This one’s for gabrielchew!

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The SkyTeam lounge is located opposite Gate 10 and travelling in business, allowed me to check out the lounge. It was my first visit there. The lounge agent waved me in without any issues and I had to search for a bit to find a seat. It was busy but not overcrowded. Most of the accents sounded North American, which kind of figured, given there were a handful of US bound DL (and UA) flights leaving in the next hour or so. There was a selection of hot and cold food, along with a wide variety of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks. The decor is modern but I wasn’t overly inspired by the place. It was nice but that’s about all I feel I can say about it. For a generic lounge serving a number of different airlines, it was a good place to spend an hour or two. I moved to a window once a seat became available to check out the action outside – there are views of some of the “inside” gates at T4.

Hot options included gnocchi, Mediterranean grilled vegetables, and chicken breast pieces in a pepper sauce. Some of the cold items looked a bit old and it the salad items needed replacing when I was there. Having said that, the staff were visible and actively clearing tables and replacing food items.

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The chicken was very tasty.

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There are separate dining tables if you want to eat at a proper table – these are located around the buffet table itself.

A range of reading materials are offered and there is a separate section for those who want to do some work.

I was disappointed that there were no sweet options available whatsoever. I’ve never been in an airline or airport lounge that did not offer any kind of dessert or cake. I looked long and hard but could not find any.

There was free wifi offered which was provided by BT and when I wanted to charge my phone, I had to go over to the work area to do this – there appeared to be a lack of powerpoints next to most of the chairs, although there is a section on the far wall where powerpoints seemed to be more plentiful.

On the way over the gate, I passed China Southern, whose A330-200 had recently arrived from Guangzhou ....to remind me what I was in store for a little later on.

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BOARDING AND DEPARTURE

February 2013

Airline: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines
Flight and Route: KL1022 LHR-AMS
Aircraft: EMB190: PH-EZW (delivered April 2012)
Seat 2F (J)

After time in the lounge and a short wander to stretch my legs again, the gate flashed up for KL1022.

I was lucky to get a nice side on view of the EMB190 that would operate the 50 minute hop across to AMS. Today it was PH-BZW, my second time aboard a KLM EMB190..

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Just before the first boarding call, this beauty pulled into the gate - this one’s for Marc.

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Boarding was initially relaxed and on time, with a priority lane in use. However, it seemed that the aircraft wasn’t ready for us and we were held up twice on the jetway, awaiting clearance to enter the aircraft. It felt a bit chaotic. When I entered the cabin there were no crewmembers at the door to greet passengers so at this point, no welcome from KLM whatsoever. I found my seat easily and got organised. I was joined by my seatmate and soon, all seats in the 2 rows of business class on the EMB190 were filled. The rest of the aircraft looked like it was full or near full too.

There was a moderate line up for departures which were from RW09R today. By way of co-incidence, jwhite1985 was arriving back into LHR from Portugal on 09L only about 20 minutes after I departed for AMS.

He’s posted an excellent report at: Taking TAP To Portugal: LGW-OPO-LIS-LHR Feb. 2013 (by jwhite9185 Mar 10 2013 in Trip Reports)

From my side of the aircraft, we had some nice views of T4 below when it was finally our turn to depart.

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Once above the clouds, it was a smooth ride to AMS. As we climbed out into a beautiful dusk sky, I spotted this BA 747 heading into LHR. If you fly in and out of London, you really get a sense of how busy the skies above London are all the time.

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AIRCRAFT AND SEAT

The EM190 is a lovely aircraft. It’s one of my favourites. This was my first KLM EM190 experience in business class. The 2-2 configuration feels spacious overall, although I did not feel any extra legroom space in J. It was perfectly adequate for a short flight between LHR and AMS.

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CATERING

Menus were handed out by the flight attendant although most passengers in business refused the meal and either stuck with just a drink or had nothing at all. Having never sampled KLM in J before, I was one of the two passengers who accepted the meal “box”.

Celebrating 400 years of the Canal Ring in Amsterdam.

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Here’s how it looked

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It sounded quite nice at first glance, but the portions were pretty small, and to be honest, the salad was still frozen in parts. Several of the lettuce leaves were actually hardened to the point that they were totally iced over. The best part was dessert, which was sadly microscopic. Not an overwhelmingly pleasing first dining experience of KLM in J, although it was only a short flight.

IFE

KLM’s EM190s do not have any IFE at all, other than the inflight magazine “Holland Herald”, which as far as inflight magazines go, is pretty good. A lack of IFE on these short flights is never a problem for me. I always have a book or music in any case.

CREW

A single young female flight attendant was working the two rows of J. Service was perfunctory and efficient, without being overly warm. I don’t think I saw her smile once the entire flight, even when engaging with passengers. A nice welcome was provided by the flight deck once we reached our hold position before take off at LHR.

ARRIVAL

We parked at the ex Fokker farm (where there were only a small number of dwindling F70s on stand), and were bussed to the terminal. Always fun for a.netters but not so much fun for most passengers when it’s dark, rainy and sleety as it was in AMS when we arrived.

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By way of comparison, Knightsofmalta has recently published a great report of his experiences in J on KLM on the AMS-LHR sector: KLM, Business Class - E-190: Amsterdam To Heathrow (by knightsofmalta Apr 1 2013 in Trip Reports)

AMSTERDAM TRANSIT

Transiting in AMS is always a pleasure. If there was ever an airport designed for smooth transfers, it’s AMS. Well designed, great signage throughout the terminal – it’s impossible to get it wrong or, in my view, get lost.

I did not have to enter Dutch immigration as my onward flight to PEK was leaving from a gate that I was able to go straight to.

I was able to use the lounge here but the transit time was relatively short, and by the time I had a wander around to a number of gates to see what was what, boarding time for PEK was fast approaching. No report about lounge facilities here – but this has been well covered in other reports.

BOARDING FOR BEIJING

February 2013

Airline: China Southern Airlines
Flight and Route: CZ346 Amsterdam (AMS) –Beijing Capital (PEK)
Aircraft: A330-200: B-6515
Seat 4A (J)

As most people know, security checks are conducted at the gate at AMS, similar to SIN. Two separate and clear lines were marked out – one for premium passengers and one for economy passengers.

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Security was pain free and I was in the holding pen awaiting the boarding call for CZ346 to Beijing.

As the number of passengers in the gate area grew, it was apparent that the vast majority were, not unsurprisingly, Chinese.

Our aircraft was, as I already could see, already at the gate and being serviced for the flight to PEK. Today’s aircraft was B-6515 (c/n 1116), one of a number of P&W powered A330s in the CZ fleet. It was delivered new to the airline in April 2010.

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It’s always said that first impressions count, particularly when you fly an airline for the very first time.

Families with children and those needing assistance called first. Premium passengers could board at any time. I was met at the door by a friendly Chinese and young Dutch female flight attendant and was directed to my seat. Service seemed very attentive. One of the flight attendants offered to hang my coat as I was getting settled. The only door being used for entry was 2L this evening so passengers were frequently trailing past me to reach their seats.

However, some nice Chinese music was playing softly in the background which created a relaxed boarding atmosphere. The flight attendants were all busy preparing for departure but at the same time, they were calm and always seemed to have time to greet passengers and assist where asked. After I got settled, I was offered a cold towel, a non alcoholic drink and provided with some slippers and an amenity pack. The flight attendant opened the slippers from their packet before presenting them to me. She then proceeded to do that for each passenger in the Business cabin, which gradually filled up with only one seat spare by the time boarding was completed (at least that’s what I thought). Announcements were being made in Mandarin, English and Dutch.

Mood lighting in the Business Class cabin during boarding.

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A welcome drink and towel after getting settled from one of the cheery flight attendants.

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And some slippers were handed out shortly afterwards. Everything is branded China Southern  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8122/8645231171_98007dc3eb_c.jpg

So far, China Southern had created a good first impression.

SEAT AND CABIN

This China Southern A330-200 had 2 Business Class cabins: The first three rows of Business were forward of the L2 and R2 doors, and two rows were just behind. My seat was 4A at the front of the “mini” cabin. The configuration was 2 – 2 – 2 which is fairly common these days and did not feel cramped or uncomfortable, even when the mini cabin was full. I was intrigued to see (at the end of the flight when we arrived) that there was a small First Class cabin at the very front of the cabin in a 1-1-1 configuration. Behind me, I could see that there was an Premium Economy cabin, so this aircraft has a 4 class cabin.

My cabin area was spotless although my seat was showing a few signs of wear and tear – but nothing significant. In a reclined/cradle position, the seat was very comfortable with enough padding. The seat was able to recline almost fully flat and when sleeping, I did not find myself sliding.

One of the main downsides was that I found the seat had limited storage capacity – there didn’t seem to be anywhere to store small things like cameras or books or phones, other than in the small compartment just under the seat’s arm rest or in the cavity under the footrest (which I am sure was meant to be kept clear during take off and landing).

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After boarding, the cabin temperature was very pleasant for me, but someone must have cranked up the heating because for much of the flight after our departure, the cabin became very hot. This seems to be a common issue on a number of flights I’ve been on over the past few years.

There were two toilets for Business Class passengers and on investigation, they were kept generally clean throughout although there were minimal amenities inside – just a bottle of moisturiser and some cologne/perfume.

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I found the seat very comfortable in the semi-reclined position and although it did not go fully flat, I managed to get a few hours of much welcome sleep. The seat was almost fully flat, and I found that I did not slide down either. Being at the front bulkhead row, there were no seats in front of me, so my feet did not disappear into the little space found on the seats behind me. If you’re a bit taller, then I would recommend these front row seats in J. The duvet and pillow were also very nice.

A VISIT FROM A SMG

After the doors were closed and we were ready to push back, I suddenly found myself with a Surprise Mystery Guest - a seatmate. A Chinese guy just seemed to appear out of nowhere and plonk himself down in 4B without saying a word. He had no luggage with him. I later discovered that he seemed to know the two gentlemen sitting in the row behind, and later still, it dawned on me that they were possibly all China Southern employees deadheading to PEK. In any case, my neighbour said nothing to me for the whole flight and spent most of it asleep.

CREW


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Apart from being immaculately groomed, the flight attendants working in the Business Class cabin were friendly and welcoming. They were proactively helping passengers during the boarding process and this set the tone for much of the flight. Nothing seemed too much trouble. Before the aircraft pushed back from the gate, a recorded welcome message was played in both Chinese and English (but not Dutch) and the crew bowed at the front of each cabin to the passengers. I’ve not seen these before on other Asian airlines outside of Japan.

When I was updating my journal after departure, one of the flight attendants saw me writing so reached up and turned on the overhead light for me as she passed through the cabin. They were certainly very attentive. Small things, but a nice personalised touch from China Southern.

On the downside, there was absolutely no word from the cockpit at any stage of the flight. I found this to be very disappointing. I find it re-assuring to know someone is up the front looking after us, and if there’s anything we need to know about our flight en-route. This total absence of contact from the cockpit was unsettling and if I had to give feedback to China Southern, this is one point I would raise. The lack of contact from the cockpit was repeated on my three subsequent China Southern flights.

One of my other main observations was that the standard of English aboard was very poor. It was very difficult to understand what the flight attendants were saying in English. I ended up conversing mostly in Chinese with them, which made the flight fun (and good for my language practice) but I can imagine it might be difficult for non Chinese speakers to not really know what’s going on around them.

For instance, just before the meal service started, the crew made an announcement requesting the services of a doctor onboard. Nothing more was heard on this during the flight so I assume they found someone but the English announcement was far from clear.

I also found it strange that when making the announcements, the Chinese flight attendants would make the English announcement instead of the lovely Dutch flight attendant – who unsurprisingly, spoke excellent English. I wonder if the Chinese wanted to practise their English? China Southern really needs to ramp up its training in this area if it wants to effectively compete as an airline on the international stage and unfortunately, English remains the key international language of aviation.

There’s been an interesting debate over in Knightsofmalta’s report about his LAN flight from Madrid to Frankfurt about whether there should be an expectation that crews have a minimum proficiency of English for any sector, irrespective of the language that the majority of the passengers on a particular flight are likely to speak, in that case, Spanish.

ONBOARD SAFETY

Many people have in the past queried the safety record of China’s airlines as there has been a common misconception that China’s airlines are unsafe. I have never believed that but I often found non-aviation friends or relatives raising an eyebrow or two when I told them I was flying China Southern back to Australia. While I would like to be able to counter those views, I did find a couple of examples where safety did not seem to be at the top of the crew’s list (and this was repeated on the three subsequent China Southern flights).

Firstly, the crew did not undertake any kind of manual seatbelt check before take off, or before we landed in PEK. I found this strange. Even though we did have a detailed recorded safety demonstration, and the flight attendants did point out the nearest exits to us, checking to make sure we were all buckled in did not seem to feature at any time.


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The other issue was that for much of the flight, the seatbelt sign was kept on by the cockpit crew. I found this to be slightly unnerving because it was never clear when it was actually safe to be moving about the cabin. If there was any sudden turbulence, nobody would have known about it or had any warning. Of course, passengers were leaving their seats throughout the flight to use the toilets and the crew never asked anyone to sit down, so I just assumed it was safe. As it turned out, we had minimal turbulence throughout the flight so it was not an issue.

By the time we were ready to depart, we were running nearly 30 minutes late. This was due to being de-iced and the fact that we seemed to taxi all the way to Rotterdam!

A swift and powerful departure saw our A330 disappear into the cold wet skies of Amsterdam and we set course for Beijing.

IFE

Pretty standard sized TV screens for Business Class passengers were on offer. The IFE was not switched on for some time after take off however.

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Unfortunately, due to some kind of technical malfunction, or perhaps, this was deactivated intentionally, the map function was not working at all for me which was a real shame. I like to know where I am flying.

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There were a number of different options to choose, including a selection of recent movies, although the system is no Krisflyer or ICE or On:Q in terms of choice.

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I have always loved Chinese cinema so was looking forward to watching a Chinese movie while eating dinner. Unfortunately nothing grabbed me and I ended up watching the curiously named Chinese film “Love in the Buff” which was set in modern day China. The English description was pretty strange (see below) and it was pretty standard stuff but it passed the time.

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The headphones supplied by China Southern were quite flimsy and not really up to the standard expected in Business Class these days, so I swapped them for my own.

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China Southern’s inflight magazine is called “Ni Hao” or “Hello”. It’s a glossy publication, not unlike many airline magazines these days. Articles were pretty short, a balanced mix of Chinese and English and there was lots of advertising. It’s not the worst magazine I’ve read but it wasn’t spectacular either. I really like BA’s “High Life” magazine by way of comparison.


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CATERING

The first meal service for this flight would be dinner, which was served less than an hour after takeoff, followed by breakfast, about 90 minutes before landing in PEK.

The dinner service was elaborate and consisted of multiple courses, far more than I have experienced on other business class flights in the past couple of years. That was a nice surprise. On the other hand, there were no menus at all and the flight attendants simply walked through the cabin before we left AMS with a photocopied sheet and stopped to explain individually what the dinner choices consisted of. This was not very professional but the friendly Dutch flight attendant made up for the fact that I wasn’t being handed a menu. There was a Western and Chinese option. On this flight, I went for the Western option.

Dinner started with a choice of drink – red and white wine were offered, and beer was also available. I had some water and the red wine I had was an Australian Shiraz and this was accompanied by a small plate of mixed nuts; emphasis should be on the word “small”. I was slightly amused to receive a tiny handful of nuts on the plate - is there a nut shortage in China?

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On the upside, refills of both nuts and wine were offered.

Some little starters kicked off dinner – a mushroom and salmony snack. I hate salmon so left that behind. Next was a choice from the bread basket followed by some kind of vegetable soup – which was actually very tasty. Following a salmon starter (which I also did not eat), a salad was then presented, with three different salad dressings offered. These were hand drizzled onto the salad by the flight attendant. My main course was lamb with potatoes and grilled vegetables which was OK although a bit dry, and in sum, it certainly was not the nicest meal I’ve had in the sky. Dessert was a banana toffee flavoured mousse and fresh fruit which I enjoyed.

Amuse

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Soup

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Starter


Eastern - Number One To The Sun
60 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Reply 1, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

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Salad

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Main Course

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Dessert

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Drinks were proactively offered throughout the service and although the meal service wasn’t rushed, the crew were mindful of the fact that once done, many passengers wanted to sleep. Once dinner was completed, passengers were each provided with a bottle of water.

Before and after breakfast, a hot towel service was provided. There was a Chinese and Western breakfast offered but I decided for something a little lighter.

Coffee and tea refills were also provided.

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ENROUTE

The early part of the flight was in complete darkness and because the map wasn’t working, I had no idea what towns or cities we passed overhead on our way to Beijing.

After my movie was over, I spent the a large portion of the flight with the seat reclined and attempted to get some sleep. As mentioned earlier, I found that I was able to sleep pretty well.

Knowing it would be daytime now, I was careful not to fling the window shade wide open, for fear of practically blinding my fellow passengers (and me) with light, so I pulled up the shade a little, and took a gasp. This was the view some 2 hours out of PEK - stunning. Unfortunately most of my fellow passengers missed this amazing show from mother nature as many were still snoozing. What a shame (for them)!

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Unfortunately most of my fellow passengers missed this amazing show from mother nature as many were still snoozing. What a shame (for them)! The frozen landscape below and crisp blue skies above. It was a great way to wake up.


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ARRIVAL AND TRANSIT IN PEK

Unfortunately, the weather rapidly deteriorated as we got closer to Beijing Capital Airport. By the time we broke through the low cloud, it was grey and depressing. What a contrast to the earlier views.

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Our descent and landing was relatively smooth despite the gloom and weather outside, and after leaving the runway, we headed for our gate at PEK Terminal 2, passing a few aircraft on the way.

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And an old but atmospheric communist style terminal from yesteryear. Does anyone know if this was the original PEK terminal?

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The socialist market economy hard at work - not even the control tower is immune from advertising!



On our parking stand, a little over 9.5 hours after leaving Amsterdam.

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China Southern does not use the cavernous and glitzy new terminal that is T3 at PEK. Rather, it makes use of the (older) Terminal 2, which is where our flight arrived. The weather in Beijing was grey, murky and cold. Added to that, it was clear that it had recently been snowing.

A PERSONAL ESCORT



Upon leaving the aircraft – there were several crew at the door to thank and farewell passengers, I was met at the end of the jetbridge by an employee of CZ bearing my name on a card. What’s this? China Southern had arranged for someone to meet me and assist me through the PEK transit process. A very nice and unexpected service which I had no idea would be provided. At the same time, it was a most welcome offer.

On reflection, transiting through PEK was not a straightforward and simple process. This terminal is not currently geared up for transfer passengers in the way that other main hub airports are. In fact, without the assistance of the China Southern employee, I would have been left completely confused. She was very nice and I chatted with her in Mandarin on the way to immigration - including asking her how long it had been snowing for.

I was escorted and stamped through immigration, where I had to complete a landing card (weird, because I had no address in China, nor was I even expecting to go landside). I then found myself what looked like landside and was asked to proceed to the China Southern Business Class check in, where my old boarding pass was replaced with a new one to Brisbane. The agent was intending to keep my old boarding pass, issued out of London, until I asked for it back, because it had my baggage receipt stuck to the back of it!
Landside or airside at PEK - who knows? Just before entering security.

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I then had to clear security along with all departing passengers through the single security checkpoint. Who knows what this place looks like when it’s very busy as the line moved relatively slowly. When it got to my turn, security wanted to check my passport and boarding pass and then proceeded to unpack my camera case and each lens. Clearly they were not happy about the camera bag being passed through intact!

Once through security, there was only one gate which all passengers were being directed to – Gate 50. The gate area had toilets but that’s about it. Nothing but rows of seats, and most of these were already taken by passengers awaiting their flights.



There were no lounge facilities for premium passengers, although the check in employee did tell me this when I was issued with a new boarding pass. This certainly did not feel like a premium experience, but I just went with it found somewhere to plonk myself down to do some people watching - in particular, it was interesting to watch the ground staff hovering behind the desk in front of me.

The podium at Gate 50 was staffed by employees of both China Southern and China Eastern. When flights were ready, they simply yelled out the name of the destination and walked up and down inside the holding pen to ensure nobody was left behind. The destination was called out in Chinese and then barely passable English. Just to confuse things a little more, a FIDS sat above the gate, but it was showing both international and domestic flights that weren’t even being called by the airline staff along with those which were!

Confused? I was.

Thankfully, I saw my flight to Brisbane flash up on the FIDS so I assumed I must have been in the right place. So I just waited.

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END OF PART ONE

[Edited 2013-04-14 11:15:16]


Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Reply 2, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

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February 2013
China Southern Airlines
CZ381 Beijing-Guangzhou-Brisbane
Seat: 4K
Flight time: Beijing – Guangzhou (approx 3 hours), Beijing-Guangzhou (approx 9 hours)

“Bu – li –si – ban” , “Bu – li –si – ban” , was yelled out 5 minutes before our scheduled departure time. Brisbane, Brisbane..... my flight was finally called. I thought there was no way we would be departing on time at this rate. Some flights had been delayed due to the inclement weather, which was not surprising because it was pretty murky and horrible out there.

After presenting my boarding pass, I was given a plastic transit card, which I had to give back when boarding the aircraft. I was also offered the choice of taking a separate minibus (for premium passengers only) or joining everyone else on the bus to the aircraft. I elected for the latter because there weren’t that many other passengers in the line. We were marched down and outside to the bus which was waiting to drive us to our aircraft, which was clearly parked at a remote stand.

Transit Card – still not quite sure why I was handed one of these.

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It was very chilly outside but it gave some nice views of the tarmac. Not a lot was happening at this point, other than a China Eastern Yunnan Division A330-300 pushing back. China’s airlines are certainly not reluctant to paint up a logo jet or two. There are so many amazing schemes now from all of the airlines there - great for spotters.

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What? There is a jetbridge in the world that is NOT sponsored by HSBC?

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By sheer co-incidence, my new aircraft which was scheduled to operate CZ381, was parked in the almost identical position to the SQ 772 that I boarded when I last visited PEK in 2003.

BOARDING AND AIRCRAFT

Remote boarding is always fun although today’s weather certainly was not the best to be outside. However, it gave me a real appreciation for the size and beauty that is the A330-300. B-6502 is A300-343X, delivered new to China Southern in 2008.

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Passing a fellow A330 of a competitor which was parked next to my aircraft.

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I was able to capture a couple of pictures without being yelled at. The Chinese do not seem to be that worried about pictures of planes or on the ramp. Thumbs up for that (at least for now). This baby was fitted out with RR engines.

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There was already a bus boarding passengers for the flight who clearly were not on our bus. I guess these were the non transiting passengers.

Quickly up the steps, and it was bliss to enter a nice warm cabin.

I was met at the door by a flight attendant who walked me to my seat and was again immediately offered assistance with my coat. Once settled, I was offered a non alcoholic drink and a hot towel. This time, I had apple juice. Slippers were again immediately offered.

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SEAT AND CABIN

The seat was almost identical to the A330-200 I just stepped off, although this time, the Business Class cabin consisted of one main cabin with 5 rows of seats in a 2 – 2 – 2 configuration. Like the -200 the cabin was in good condition although it was showing minor evidence of wear and tear. Also like the -200, this was a 4 class aircraft with First (in Row 1 in a 1-1-1 configuration), Business, Premium Economy and Economy.

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The other thing to note was that I had a seat in front of me which meant that when the seat was fully reclined, my feet would disappear into the little cavern under the seat in front of me. That’s fine if you have small feet, but I found this uncomfortable when the seat was fully reclined as there was not enough space for those feet larger than size 5!

CREW AND SAFETY

The all Chinese complement of flight attendants were very welcoming on entry into the aircraft. They were proactively assisting passengers in Business Class and I saw one young lady have a nice chat with the couple two rows in front where they shared a joke. The crew seemed very relaxed and probably quite pleased that the load was so light down to Guangzhou that they would not be terribly busy.

Once we got into the air, there were again no menus and this time no photocopies either. One of the flight attendants simply approached each of the 5 passengers in Business Class and asked them what they would like. She asked me whether I spoke Chinese and when I answered “sort of” she laughed and then proceeded to tell me what my options were in Chinese and asked me when I would like to eat. Again, a nice personalised touch from China Southern and when watching this crew work during the flight, it was evident that there was nothing robotic about them at all. They were very good.

When the crew decided to close all the window blinds (or sunshades as China Southern calls them), the flight attendant approached me and asked me if it was OK to close the blind – she didn’t just simply reach over and do it without asking (like I’ve seen on some flights).

In contrast, again, no word from the cockpit at all at any point in the flight.

A similar safety video was played and exits pointed out but that was it – again, no seatbelts were checked before take off or landing. I did chuckle when at the end of the safety video the voiceover reminded us that “at China Southern, we cherish every chance of service to you”!

DEPARTURE

I had hardly put my slippers on and settled in and grabbed my drink to take a first sip before I started to feel that we were moving and being pushed back. That would have to be the fastest boarding process I’ve experienced. I guess everyone was keen to get moving, as we were now about 15 minutes behind schedule.

I did not see the aircraft being de-iced at any point although the aircraft may not have been on the ground long enough to warrant it. There was minimal delay when we got to the threshold and we were soon off and into the low cloud before bursting through into some fabulous afternoon winter sunshine.

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ENROUTE AND IFE

The same choices were available (covered in Part One) although the Canton Route to Australia was being promoted.

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This time however, the map was working so I was able to track our progress.

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Some cruise information

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Getting closer to our destination. Our route was pretty much directly north – south.

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Unfortunately it was cloudy the whole way so no views of China down below. We were treated to a nice sunset as we started our descent into Guangzhou. It was mostly smooth sailing and very little turbulence. Again, however the seatbelt sign was kept on for the whole flight.

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CATERING

Nuts were offered again before the main meal. Again the portion was tiny and again, multiple refills of nuts were offered – just not many per serving. Perhaps it would be less work for the crew if they simply gave passengers more nuts to begin with?

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I went for the Chinese option although from memory I don’t remember if there was even a Western option available. I can’t remember what I even ate other than to say that it looked like this.

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I would rate it as moderately tasty although some items were not to my tastebuds at all. I did enjoy the Chinese beer I had with the meal and I was asked twice whether I wanted more beer.

Unfortunately it was cloudy the whole way so no views of China down below. We were treated to a nice sunset as we started our descent into Guangzhou. It was mostly smooth sailing and very little turbulence. Again, however the seatbelt sign was kept on for the whole flight.

The toilet facilities were kept clean and were a mirror of the loos on the -200.

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ARRIVAL INTO GUANGZHOU

It was dark by the time our A330 touched down in Guangzhou and a relatively fast taxi later, we were parked at our gate. When taxiing to our gate, we were advised what to do if in transit, although the flight attendant’s English was barely passable, so I had to try and work it out in Chinese. However, I did not really have to bother because again, at the end of the jetbridge, I was met by a China Southern representative who escorted me, along with a couple of other Business Class passengers, outside and down the steps and into a waiting airconditioned minivan. This was most welcome as it was a lot warmer than both Beijing and London in Guangzhou and I was starting to feel grubby and sweaty.



Baiyun Airport terminal is pretty big. It’s also relatively new and was completed in 2004. This was my first time here, although I’ve been to Guangzhou before – way back in 1995 but back then, I arrived by boat from Hong Kong.

Having said that, the terminal felt “well used”, many of the windows were dirty and looked like they had not been cleaned for a while. It also had a slight musty smell about it – from the humidity in the air perhaps. I was also on the lookout for a rat or two. Some passengers had commented that they had seen rats running around the terminal when they passed through there only a couple of months before. I guess reading airport review sites online isn’t always a good idea before travelling. I can report however that no rats were spotted during my albeit short transit time. There seemed to be an array of shops open, a couple of coffee places but nowhere near the variety of Hong Kong, just down the road. I managed a couple of terminal shots enroute to gate A1 after our flight to Brisbane was called.

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VIP SKY PEARL CLUB



The Sky Pearl Club, China Southern’s premier lounge for international departures, is, as you would expect for a lounge at an airline’s hub airport, a decent size. There is an upstairs and downstairs area – downstairs containing the formal dining area and hot and cold food, while upstairs was where the showers, more comfy chairs and cold drinks and snacks only was located.

Just time for a couple of small snacks, some icy cold water and a Kirin Beer. I would have a better chance to explore the lounge with more time on the way back to London.

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Arriving at the gate downstairs (we would be bused to the aircraft), there was a Priority lane and all business class passengers were whisked out to another waiting minibus and driven off around the tarmac toward the A330-300, which was the same aircraft which had flown me from PEK. However, once arriving at the correct gate, we were then ushered up 3-4 flights of steps next to the jetbridge, in order to board the plane. Anyone with mobility issues would not have been able to do this climb.

THE LAST LEG TO BRISBANE

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We pushed back just before 2130, our STD with a slightly fuller J cabin than on the previous sector. There were now approximately 8 passengers in J, which meant happily I was free to spread out again with no seat neighbour.

Once settled, the process was a mirror image of the earlier sectors: Slippers, and a cold non alcoholic drink. No towel was offered this time. Landing cards for Australia were also handed out at this time.

Departure was swift and we were soon heading south out into the South China Sea, making a seemingly sharp left turn not long after departure. I wondered whether this had something to do with weather, or perhaps we were trying to avoid congestion in and around Hong Kong.

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CREW AND SAFETY

Like my earlier two flights, the new crew on this flight were very nice. Pleasant to everyone, and again nothing was too much trouble. They were there in numbers to greet passengers when they arrived and farwelled us when we landed in Brisbane. They were very busy throughout the flight and always seemed to be smiling. They certainly had a positive vibe. Again, however, communication with non Chinese passengers seemed to be an issue for most of the flight attendants but I was not personally impacted by this. Similar to the other sectors, there was no seatbelt check however and the seatbelt sign remained on for most of the flight. Also, no announcements from anyone in the cockpit.

SEAT AND CABIN

This would be my chance to sample the seat in its flat position on the A330-300 for the first time as our overnight flight would be some 9 hours before arriving into Brisbane at 840am the next morning. I found it difficult to get comfortable because of the area under the seat in front was too small and my feet felt very cramped. The seat was actually much more comfortable in a semi-flat position and I was able to get a good amount of sleep enroute. The duvet was comfy.

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The toilets looked a bit worse for wear unfortunately and one of the J toilets needed to have the floor mopped by the time I went to use it toward the end of the flight! Yuk.

CATERING

Two meals were served on this flight: dinner just after take off and then breakfast, approximately 2 hours before landing in Brisbane. Again, there were no menus on this flight.

Dinner was a similar experience to the AMS-PEK sector – a number of courses! I had lamb again for the main (seems to be meat flavour of the month for CZ) which was OK.

Amuse

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Pumpkin soup

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Fishy starter

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Accompanied by salad

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The main course

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Dessert which consisted of a chocolate and pistachio cake

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The crew worked efficiently although it felt a little rushed, but I expect they were attempting to ensure that passengers could have the maximum amount of time to sleep.

A fresh towel was presented before breakfast.

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A light continental breakfast with coffee and fruit. The Chinese option was congee amongst other things which I am not a fan of. I used to avoid it everywhere when I was living in Taiwan. Ugh.

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ENROUTE AND IFE

I was too tired to watch anything or read, and spent most of this flight snoozing or looking out of the window. Thankfully the inflight map was working on this flight so I was able to follow our progress.

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It was just starting to get light as we crossed into the Gulf of Carpentaria in between the Northern Territory and Queensland, although the moon was still very bright outside. The view was very pretty.

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Once we passed over the Queensland land mass in the Gulf Country, it very quickly got light outside (as it does in this part of the world). It would still be another 3 or so hours before landing in Brisbane at this point.

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BRISBANE BECKONS, WITH A LITTLE EXERCISE

Before we commenced our descent, a film was shown to passengers highlighting some Chinese themed exercises for well being in the air. It was quite amusing as the exercises were all demonstrated by a bevy of lovely CZ flight attendants (no men though). I thought it would be a short video but it went on, and on and on. There were something like 7 or 8 different types of exercises and it was over 20 minutes long. It was still being played while we were well into the descent and only 10 minutes before actually landing. Nobody can say that China Southern doesn’t take exercise in the air seriously!

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Prior to the above exercise video, China Southern also played a welcome video for Brisbane which I thought was a nice touch. This was a 5 minute overview of Brisbane – some history, a few tips for sightseeing and the like. I did have a chuckle though because of the various mispronunciations of place names in Brisbane, particularly the Mt Coot-tha lookout and the fact that Moreton Bay was being described as Moore Bay. It would have been useful I think to show some information about arrivals procedures into Brisbane, particularly about quarantine restrictions and bringing food into Australia – which is a big issue for many travellers coming from Asia.

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Our arrival into Brisbane was a bumpy affair as there were lots of cloud over Brisbane and rain had passed through the city earlier in the morning. There was also a 15 minute delay as we had to circle over Brisbane due to congestion on the ground – which is getting increasingly bad at BNE these days. There are no too many flights using the airport and with only one runway, it’s not uncommon for flights to now have to hold over Brisbane. And I thought this was only a LHR experience!

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We landed on RW01, which meant passing over the Gateway Bridge across the Brisbane River, just before touching down 15 minutes late. It meant a long-ish back track to head to our gate at the international terminal (which is separate to the domestic terminal, like many airports in Australia).

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We passed the domestic gates, getting a peek at my first Alliance F70.

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The international terminal building

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Our neighbour, getting ready to head back to NZ, and a whole series of Virgin Australia 737s - all operating international flights.

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One final look at the Business Class cabin before leaving. Notice how many of the seats in Row 5 are designated Crew Seats.

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All Business Class passengers were given FastTrack coupons to use at Immigration, which actually weren’t needed because the lines were not very long. Having arrived back on my birthday, I was surprised at the “happy birthday” greetings I received from the friendly Immigration officer – I’ve had some pretty unfriendly experiences in the past in Brisbane, but this was a welcome and very positive experience. My bag was off only 5 or so minutes after getting to baggage reclaim – those priority tags seemed to work, and I was out into the humid, warm air of South East Queensland.

FINAL THOUGHTS

China Southern offered an interesting and different way of getting from London to Brisbane. For the price, it was an excellent experience. I really enjoyed the personalised touch from the flight attendants, and although the transit experiences in China were not simple affairs, I was well looked after. The meal services were elaborate - perhaps too elaborate in some respects. The aircraft I travelled on were mostly well maintained and the seats and cabin were light and airy. I think China Southern’s website and booking functionality needs a lot of enhancement, particularly for international passengers. Finally, although the cabin crews were excellent and the service offered was of a high standard, for passengers not speaking any Chinese, the experience may have felt quite different. In China Southern’s defence, however, all of the crew members did actively try to engage with all of the passengers, even if they struggled to communicate at times. Give China Southern a few more years, and I can see them really being a force to reckon with on Europe - Australia routes. Would I fly with China Southern again in Business? Yes.

Thanks for reading - and any questions or comments are welcome.

A couple of weeks after arriving in Brisbane, I ventured up north to Mackay and Townsville with Alliance and Qantaslink: see

Fokker And Dash Lovin' Down Under: Alliance And QF (by palmjet Apr 13 2013 in Trip Reports)

[Edited 2013-04-14 11:17:55]


Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Reply 3, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 32615 times:

BRISBANE - THE RIVER CITY

Spending nearly three weeks in the city of my birth, I managed to get about and see what had changed since the last time I was here. Brisbane continues to evolve and grow and I had a great time there. I was able to check out a few places which I had not visited for years, catch up with old friends, and experience some gorgeous warm late summer evenings eating at some fabulous places.

Below is a selection of pictures of the River City, which was looking very green and lush after all the rain they have had recently.

Some taxis in Brisbane are also promoting the Canton Route!

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The City Botantic Gardens


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A bearded dragon

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Lots of greenery


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And colour

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Wild rainbow lorikeets are common in Brisbane - this one was having a snack in my sister’s garden one Saturday morning.

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Central Brisbane has a very subtropical feel.



High speed ferries are a popular form of transport for commuters and tourists alike. I spent some time in New Farm, a lovely suburb just outside the centre of the city.

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The Story Bridge

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The City at sunset and at night

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Southbank Parklands - site of the World Expo in 1988.

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The wheel and the Nepalese peace pagoda - one of the remnants of Expo 88.

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And to finish off, the views of the City from Mt Coot-tha lookout.

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I loved this quote, written by a local author, and it describes so well one of the things that makes Brisbane special:

“I keep coming back to the light of Brisbane. If you are born into it, this palette of gentle pinks and oranges at dawn and dusk, the blast white of midday in summer, the lemon luminescence of mid-morning and mid-afternoon, you keep it with you and measure all other light by it. If you live away from it, then step back into it, it is the first thing that tells you you’re home.”

OTHER TRIP REPORTS

A selection of previous trip reports:

Saying Goodbye To Hochelaga: YUL-LHR With AC (by palmjet Jan 19 2013 in Trip Reports)

Ya D'ar Brezhoneg, Yes To Brittany: To UIP With BA (by palmjet Jul 14 2012 in Trip Reports)

Fevered Booking? To Aus With Qantas A380 In F/J (by palmjet Jun 16 2012 in Trip Reports)

A Shiny City Debut: Alitalia's New E-Jet To Milan (by palmjet Jun 12 2012 in Trip Reports)

Going Retro, Chasing The Sun: BA B763 To Cyprus (by palmjet May 21 2012 in Trip Reports)

1 Long Day, 3 Short Virgins: Virgin's New ATR72 (by palmjet Feb 9 2012 in Trip Reports)

The Reindeer Route To Australia In J (by palmjet Dec 15 2011 in Trip Reports)

Flying An Old Lady: Aer Arann To London City (by Palmjet Jul 2 2011 in Trip Reports)

Arctic "Dash" With Wideroe: 2 Days, 7 Stops (pics (by Palmjet Jun 22 2011 in Trip Reports)

"888": 8hrs, 8 Segments On An Aussie Dash 8 (pics) (by Palmjet Apr 3 2011 in Trip Reports)

Keep Climbing & Don't Stop - 48hr DL Marathon (by Palmjet Dec 15 2010 in Trip Reports)

Snow-2-Sun: BA J To Tampa And Beyond (pics) (by Palmjet Dec 22 2010 in Trip Reports)

Iceland Yes, Volcano No, FI451 LHR-KEF (pics) (by Palmjet Oct 9 2010 in Trip Reports)

Ballina Boomerang: Coastal Flying With REX (pics) (by Palmjet Apr 10 2011 in Trip Reports)

Almost AF ATR72: Skyteam Skip LHR-TLS (w/pics) (by Palmjet Nov 6 2010 in Trip Reports)

The Return: KL E190 TLS-AMS (w/pics) (by Palmjet Nov 28 2010 in Trip Reports)

Baby 737 To Dresden And Back - W/pics (by Palmjet Sep 4 2010 in Trip Reports)

Short Haul Austrian 738(w) VIE-LHR W/pics (by Palmjet Sep 3 2010 in Trip Reports)

Cayo Coco - Havana, Aero Caribbean W/pics (by Palmjet Jul 16 2010 in Trip Reports)

[Edited 2013-04-14 11:21:19]


Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlineEmek96 From Germany, joined Apr 2013, 72 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 32287 times:

Hey Palmjet !

great report of your trip to downunder!
China southern looks really great in Business Class, also the food they serve looks fine, didn't know that they offer such a good product.
I also liked the impressions of Brisbane, I think Australia is definetely a country that I have to visit at least once in my life !

Regards
Elias


User currently offlineCarfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1894 posts, RR: 9
Reply 5, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 32197 times:

What a wonderful trip report!

China Southerns seems to be catching up with other major airlines, and I agree with you that some of the flight attendant can use a bit of training in verbal English or conversational English. I can't imagine how they communicate with a non-Chinese speaking passenger. The food is very Chinese-oriented and it really can use more Western choices to cater to a more international group of passengers that CZ is aiming for.

The service however sounds good.

Curious - did you get amenity kit and pajama on those overnight segments?

Thanks and look forward to the rest of the report!

Carfield


User currently offlineluxair747sp From Germany, joined May 2010, 504 posts, RR: 17
Reply 6, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 32145 times:

Hi there,

Really nice report about China Southern.
Seems that they set up a decent service in Business, do you know if they have the same service in Y as well?

Thanks a lot for sharing!
Cheers,
Johannes


User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Reply 7, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 32034 times:

Hi Elias

Thanks for your comments. Glad you enjoyed the report. It was a long trip but China Southern looked after me well.

Brisbane is great. After years of being derided by the rest of Australia, Brisbane is emerging as a great city, and one that people should visit if they are travelling in Australia. Hope you can plan a trip soon!

Hi Carfield

Thanks for your comments.

Quote:
China Southerns seems to be catching up with other major airlines, and I agree with you that some of the flight attendant can use a bit of training in verbal English or conversational English. I can't imagine how they communicate with a non-Chinese speaking passenger. The food is very Chinese-oriented and it really can use more Western choices to cater to a more international group of passengers that CZ is aiming for.

Yes, on the whole they provided a very high standard of service in the air and on the ground. Their communication however with non Chinese passengers was the one area which they really need to look at. Having said that, I think it's only a matter of time. Also, it was great to see the crew positively trying to engage with all passengers - it didn't bother them and they handled all communication challenges with profession and sometimes, a sense of humour.

Quote:
Curious - did you get amenity kit and pajama on those overnight segments?

We did get an amenity kit on each sector - with products from Bio-essence. No pajamas however on any of the sectors.

Thanks again!

Hi Johannes

Thanks for your comments. I wasn't sure how things looked in Prem Y and Y, but on the way back to Guangzhou, I walked through the whole cabin to see what was going on back there and on the A330-300 from BNE, there were no individual seat back IFE screens in Y or Y+ on the aircraft I flew on. This was perhaps one of the older A330s. Load factor wise, Y was full and Y+ looked about 10% full. I don't think CZ promote Y+ as well as they could.

Cheers and thanks again, Palmjet



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlinevsmike From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 318 posts, RR: 7
Reply 8, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 31907 times:

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Many people have in the past queried the safety record of China’s airlines as there has been a common misconception that China’s airlines are unsafe.


Hmmm. Indonesian carriers are unsafe. China... a close second, although admittedly they are getting better.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 2):
I did not see the aircraft being de-iced at any point although the aircraft may not have been on the ground long enough to warrant it.


See above.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 2):
It was quite amusing as the exercises were all demonstrated by a bevy of lovely CZ flight attendants (no men though).


As it should be.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 3):
A bearded dragon


Better than a Bearded Clam.

That photo of the female scuba-diver and the fish... very odd indeed. They both look somewhat embarrassed... The female looking angrily at the fish, who appears taken-advantage of. Me thinks the cameraman had just broken up some very un-natural inter-species activity. Eek.

Lovely report though! Lots of stops! Good for you listening to what Expedia tells you to do! Nonstops are for losers.

Best,
VSM



Skyteam. Caring More About Me.
User currently offlineTeamInTheSky From United States of America, joined Apr 2011, 534 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 31884 times:

Hi palmjet,

I really enjoyed your TR. My wife and I have considered taking CZ before but have always shied away at the last moment. We have always heard the transiting at PEK and CAN is very difficult. It is nice the airline recognizes this and attempts to assit.

Thank you for a great TR!

Regards,

Team



Since 2010: DL, KL, AF, WX, IG, FR , FL, U2, AK, BA, OK, UX, VS, VN, K6
User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Reply 10, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 31803 times:

Hey VSM. I think it's time you changed your username?

Quote:
Hmmm. Indonesian carriers are unsafe. China... a close second, although admittedly they are getting better.

Garuda has made a lot of positive changes in recent years so I think perhaps you're main reference is to a certain airline there who managed to slide one of their new planes into the water over the weekend! China's carriers, by comparison, are much safer. When was the last time you heard of a Chinese airline crash? China Southern have a pretty good record.

Quote:
That photo of the female scuba-diver and the fish... very odd indeed. They both look somewhat embarrassed... The female looking angrily at the fish, who appears taken-advantage of. Me thinks the cameraman had just broken up some very un-natural inter-species activity. Eek.

I thought it was hilarious - that one was chosen because I loved the look on the fish's face. LOL

Quote:
Lovely report though! Lots of stops! Good for you listening to what Expedia tells you to do! Nonstops are for losers.

Agree! Thanks and happy flying to you!

Hi TeamInTheSky

Quote:
I really enjoyed your TR. My wife and I have considered taking CZ before but have always shied away at the last moment. We have always heard the transiting at PEK and CAN is very difficult. It is nice the airline recognizes this and attempts to assit.

Thank you for a great TR!

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed. I was not expecting to receive a personal escort through either airport - it was a very nice surprise. I expect however this service is not available to Y passengers transitting. Out of the two airports, transferring at Guangzhou was actually easier. On the way home from Brisbane, it was entirely straightforward even though I still had an escort to assist with any questions. Great service from CZ on the ground.



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlinevsmike From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 318 posts, RR: 7
Reply 11, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 31715 times:

Quoting palmjet (Reply 10):
Garuda has made a lot of positive changes in recent years so I think perhaps you're main reference is to a certain airline there who managed to slide one of their new planes into the water over the weekend!


Garuda and their 6 airplanes who had to fight to reinstate their authority to fly into the EU. Yes, best of luck to them.
And yes, I was referring to a certain airline there who managed to slide one of their new planes into the water. Roar!
To be fair, I also should have nodded to the South Koreans and the Taiwanese (who are pretty much Chinese anyhow) for their part in dragging down the overall perception of the region's air safety. All of which are on the up-and-up today, agreed.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 10):
Hey VSM. I think it's time you changed your username?


Yeah, *sigh*, I agree. But fear the mods wouldn't know who to ban when given the opportunity. I'd hate to mess up a good thing.

For now, I remain,
VSM



Skyteam. Caring More About Me.
User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1916 posts, RR: 24
Reply 12, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 31466 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Another good report, Palmjet! China Southern looks really nice, and the food looks tasty. I love some of the photos you too; especially the city scenes from Brisbane!

Thanks for sharing it with us.

Matthew


User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1916 posts, RR: 24
Reply 13, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 31458 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Another good report, Palmjet! China Southern looks really nice, and the food looks tasty. I love some of the photos you took; especially the city scenes from Brisbane!

Thanks for sharing it with us.

Matthew


User currently offlineLuftyMatt From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2009, 428 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 31318 times:

That was an excellent trip report with fantastic photos! CZ looks like a really good airline to fly with, I've always liked the look of their A330's in that livery. Thanks for sharing  


chase the sun
User currently offlinecaptainsloo From Singapore, joined Dec 2011, 59 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 30930 times:

Hi Palmjet,

Detailed, excellent and extremely enjoyable trip report. Thank you! This is one of the first time I've heard of the Canton Route and it definitely sounds like an interesting alternative to get to Australia. This might explain why I kept seeing China Southern adverts in the Tube.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
In terms of pricing, I ended up selecting a business class fare, which was booked via expedia.co.uk for GBP2580 return including taxes for the following routing:

Wow, that is really very cheap!!

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
According to the map, China Southern’s routes to North America are limited to Los Angeles and Vancouver.

Hm I wonder why there are so few routes to North America.

Quoting palmjet, reply=0:
Here’s how it looked

It looks rather well presented to me!

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Unfortunately, due to some kind of technical malfunction, or perhaps, this was deactivated intentionally, the map function was not working at all for me which was a real shame. I like to know where I am flying.

That's unfortunate.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Following a salmon starter (which I also did not eat)

Hmm is it a common practice to offer alternative starters if you're not very keen on the food?

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Unfortunately most of my fellow passengers missed this amazing show from mother nature as many were still snoozing. What a shame (for them)!

That view is amaing. Wow!

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
What? There is a jetbridge in the world that is NOT sponsored by HSBC?

Haha! Definitely made me laugh  

[quote=palmjet:
Getting closer to our destination. Our route was pretty much directly north – south.

I have noticed, on my last flight from Beijing to Singapore that the plane flew West for about half an hour before turning south. Seems like it happened on your flight too. Maybe to avoid the capital?

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
I found it difficult to get comfortable because of the area under the seat in front was too small and my feet felt very cramped

Yes, it does look very small!

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
Having arrived back on my birthday, I was surprised at the “happy birthday” greetings I received from the friendly Immigration officer

Lovely touch!

One more thing, the FA certainly left a very good impression.

Thank you once again for the amazing report.

Cheers,
David


User currently onlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2010 posts, RR: 4
Reply 16, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 30670 times:

Hi Palmjet, I've been looking forward to reading more reports about China Southern between Europe and Australia as they frequently offer cheap deals. Pity (from my perspective, not the reporter's) that most are about business class, not economy.  

Beautiful photography. I loved those morning shots high above the clouds. I've often wondered where fonts go to die, and now I know. The eighties called and they are saying they want a "Ni Hao" back!

It's good to see that China is finally sorting out transit visa issues at Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. I'm rather put off by the transfer comments I've read on various websites, especially for non-Chinese speakers. When you are dazed from a long flight crossing many time zones, the last thing you want is gate confusion and trying to understand garbled announcements. I'm also interested to know the state of the toilets in the Chinese airports (an important factor when travelling with a young kid!), because it really wasn't good when we were there.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 1):
Finally, although the cabin crews were excellent and the service offered was of a high standard, for passengers not speaking any Chinese, the experience may have felt quite different. In China Southern’s defence, however, all of the crew members did actively try to engage with all of the passengers, even if they struggled to communicate at times.

It seems to be a common conception that Chinese are generally bad at service, but while there are certainly examples of this, I've experienced plenty of excellent friendly service from mainland Chinese. Looks like you got more of the latter than the former.

I'm with you about flight deck communication. Back in 2007 when we were flying around China we never heard a peep from the flight deck on any of the various airlines.

Quoting palmjet (Reply 3):
Spending nearly three weeks in the city of my birth, I managed to get about and see what had changed since the last time I was here. Brisbane continues to evolve and grow and I had a great time there.

I just started reading 101 Places not to Visit. Brisbane makes the list! (Actually, it's not a very good list because it doesn't include Rockhampton).  



Applying insanity to normality
User currently offlineabrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 5076 posts, RR: 55
Reply 17, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 30660 times:

I was looking forward to this report, so thoroughly enjoyed it. You are definitely one of my favorite writers here. The details and focus on service from a passenger perspective is really good.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I was unprepared for just how bad China Southern’s website was. For a company that claims to be the largest airline in Asia, with a fast growing international network, it’s online capabilities were woeful when it comes to managing your booking with them. It’s UK website pages were particularly useless. There is currently no online check in functionality offered for passengers departing from European airports. All passengers, no matter what class of travel, must simply turn up to the airport in the “old fashioned way” and request a seat at check in. There is no ability to even request certain seats online at the time of booking via the airline’s website, no matter what class of travel. This is simply not good enough in 2013, particularly for premium passengers, and I hope that China Southern is looking to improve the online experience of all of its passengers. Sure, it may have been possible to call one of the airline’s reservation numbers to do so, but passengers these days in my view do not expect to have to do that. China Southern is going to have to do a lot more in this space to be on par with its Asian, Australian and European counterparts.

= Sorry to have dropped the ball on this. I was going to call a friend, but totally forgot. Life has got a lot more hectic, and I might just be saying goodbye to consulting and joining the airline industry. I just don't like the current offer which is to move to a Gulf country with a crazy guy in charge ...

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
A single young female flight attendant was working the two rows of J. Service was perfunctory and efficient, without being overly warm. I don’t think I saw her smile once the entire flight, even when engaging with passengers. A nice welcome was provided by the flight deck once we reached our hold position before take off at LHR.

= This is weird as most KL crews are good  .

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Apart from being immaculately groomed, the flight attendants working in the Business Class cabin were friendly and welcoming. They were proactively helping passengers during the boarding process and this set the tone for much of the flight. Nothing seemed too much trouble. Before the aircraft pushed back from the gate, a recorded welcome message was played in both Chinese and English (but not Dutch) and the crew bowed at the front of each cabin to the passengers. I’ve not seen these before on other Asian airlines outside of Japan.

When I was updating my journal after departure, one of the flight attendants saw me writing so reached up and turned on the overhead light for me as she passed through the cabin. They were certainly very attentive. Small things, but a nice personalised touch from China Southern.

On the downside, there was absolutely no word from the cockpit at any stage of the flight. I found this to be very disappointing. I find it re-assuring to know someone is up the front looking after us, and if there’s anything we need to know about our flight en-route. This total absence of contact from the cockpit was unsettling and if I had to give feedback to China Southern, this is one point I would raise. The lack of contact from the cockpit was repeated on my three subsequent China Southern flights.

One of my other main observations was that the standard of English aboard was very poor. It was very difficult to understand what the flight attendants were saying in English. I ended up conversing mostly in Chinese with them, which made the flight fun (and good for my language practice) but I can imagine it might be difficult for non Chinese speakers to not really know what’s going on around them.

= I could not have said anything more accurate. My experience has been that CZ is the ONLY airline with decent customer service levels in China. I find Air China pretty horrid, and have never tried Hainan which gets good praise. It is funny because I recall my service on the rather exotic CZ LOS-DXB flight to have been similar. Check this out:

China Southern CZ 332: 22/APR/10: LOS-DXB: J Cabin (by abrelosojos Aug 10 2010 in Trip Reports)?threadid=173869&searchid=179621&s=cz+los#ID179621

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
Firstly, the crew did not undertake any kind of manual seatbelt check before take off, or before we landed in PEK. I found this strange. Even though we did have a detailed recorded safety demonstration, and the flight attendants did point out the nearest exits to us, checking to make sure we were all buckled in did not seem to feature at any time.

= I had the same experience. On a recent MAD-GRU flight on CA, the crew were not bothered that my seat belt did not work and I had no safety memo. She said in broken English that I'd be all right. I guess if I was crashing, a seat belt would not save me ...

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
On the other hand, there were no menus at all and the flight attendants simply walked through the cabin before we left AMS with a photocopied sheet and stopped to explain individually what the dinner choices consisted of. This was not very professional but the friendly Dutch flight attendant made up for the fact that I wasn’t being handed a menu. There was a Western and Chinese option. On this flight, I went for the Western option.

= Very poor.

Quoting palmjet (Thread starter):
I was escorted and stamped through immigration, where I had to complete a landing card (weird, because I had no address in China, nor was I even expecting to go landside). I then found myself what looked like landside and was asked to proceed to the China Southern Business Class check in, where my old boarding pass was replaced with a new one to Brisbane. The agent was intending to keep my old boarding pass, issued out of London, until I asked for it back, because it had my baggage receipt stuck to the back of it!
Landside or airside at PEK - who knows? Just before entering security.

= Confusing transit process annoy the hell out of me ... especially when airlines are creating through flights and selling them as connection itineraries. What if your country needed a visa in China? Will I still get through transit and not need one? I almost got screwed once on an Air China flight where the agent had booked me SIN-PEK-JFK, but I had not seen that the SIN-PEK was with a stop in KMG. It was NOT a fun time.

Thanks again for the brilliant report. I totally enjoyed it.

Saludos,
Alex



Live, and let live.
User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Reply 18, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 30331 times:

Hi Matthew

Quote:
Another good report, Palmjet! China Southern looks really nice, and the food looks tasty. I love some of the photos you took; especially the city scenes from Brisbane!

Thanks! Good to hear from you. Thanks for your comments and glad you enjoyed the pics of Brisbane too.

Hi LuftyMatt

Thanks for your comments. Agreed - I like their colour scheme and it looks great on the A330. Glad you enjoyed!


Hi captainsloo

Quote:
Detailed, excellent and extremely enjoyable trip report. Thank you! This is one of the first time I've heard of the Canton Route and it definitely sounds like an interesting alternative to get to Australia. This might explain why I kept seeing China Southern adverts in the Tube.

Great - thanks for your comments. It's certainly another way of getting down under. China Southern are really ramping up the promotion here for sure - and yes, I've seen those same tube adverts appearing all over the place.

Quote:
Hm I wonder why there are so few routes to North America.

Good question!

Quote:
Hmm is it a common practice to offer alternative starters if you're not very keen on the food?

I could have asked for something else I guess - perhaps the Chinese option but skipping a course did not seem to matter - there were still plenty of other courses that came later!

Quote:
I have noticed, on my last flight from Beijing to Singapore that the plane flew West for about half an hour before turning south. Seems like it happened on your flight too. Maybe to avoid the capital?

Quite possibly - Chinese airspace and the rules around flying in it seem to be one of the biggest mysteries of flying in China. I had a really weird experience coming back through Guangzhou where we were held on the ground for 90 minutes past our STD with no explanation given by air traffic control.

Quote:
One more thing, the FA certainly left a very good impression.

Generally they were great. Very nice crews.

Hi allrite

Quote:
Hi Palmjet, I've been looking forward to reading more reports about China Southern between Europe and Australia as they frequently offer cheap deals. Pity (from my perspective, not the reporter's) that most are about business class, not economy.

Sorry to disappoint you with a business class report! Having flown Economy for many years between Europe and Australia, I no longer look for Economy options these days  
Quote:
Beautiful photography. I loved those morning shots high above the clouds. I've often wondered where fonts go to die, and now I know. The eighties called and they are saying they want a "Ni Hao" back!

Thank you. Morning light and sunshine breaking when you're up at 35,000ft is usually a lovely view. I love that time of the day too.

Quote:
It's good to see that China is finally sorting out transit visa issues at Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. I'm rather put off by the transfer comments I've read on various websites, especially for non-Chinese speakers. When you are dazed from a long flight crossing many time zones, the last thing you want is gate confusion and trying to understand garbled announcements. I'm also interested to know the state of the toilets in the Chinese airports (an important factor when travelling with a young kid!), because it really wasn't good when we were there.

Guangzhou was easier than PEK for sure. On the way back to Europe, the process was actually very smooth - and this applied to travellers from all classes of travel. The immigration counters were divided into three areas - Chinese Nationals, Foreigners, and International Transit Passengers. All signs were in English as well as Chinese so it was easy to navigate. In fact, there wasn't even a second security check at Guangzhou! With kids, this would have been very straightforward. PEK is another matter, but if you fly only through Guangzhou, the process should be pretty easy.

Quote:
It seems to be a common conception that Chinese are generally bad at service, but while there are certainly examples of this, I've experienced plenty of excellent friendly service from mainland Chinese. Looks like you got more of the latter than the former.

I certainly did. Even when I've been in China in the past, I have never experienced really rude or horrible service although I've heard it exists. I think making a little effort to speak a bit of Chinese goes a very long way and I've always benefitted from that.

Quote:
I'm with you about flight deck communication. Back in 2007 when we were flying around China we never heard a peep from the flight deck on any of the various airlines.

It was strange - really off putting. Apparently none of the Chinese airlines have a practice of making cockpit announcements.

Quote:
I just started reading 101 Places not to Visit. Brisbane makes the list! (Actually, it's not a very good list because it doesn't include Rockhampton).

Which is actually a parody on travel guides and it was written by a Londoner... ! Enough said.

Hi Alex

Quote:
I was looking forward to this report, so thoroughly enjoyed it. You are definitely one of my favorite writers here. The details and focus on service from a passenger perspective is really good.

Thank you very much for your comments and so pleased that you enjoyed it. It was a labour of love!

Quote:
Sorry to have dropped the ball on this. I was going to call a friend, but totally forgot. Life has got a lot more hectic, and I might just be saying goodbye to consulting and joining the airline industry. I just don't like the current offer which is to move to a Gulf country with a crazy guy in charge ...

No worries at all! I managed to get pretty good seats in the end, but mostly through luck! I know you're busy. Good luck with the job decision.... hope it works out for you.

Quote:
This is weird as most KL crews are good.

Probably getting toward the end of a long day for her. It wasn't a big issue but like you, I usually find KL's crews to be excellent.

Quote:
I could not have said anything more accurate. My experience has been that CZ is the ONLY airline with decent customer service levels in China. I find Air China pretty horrid, and have never tried Hainan which gets good praise. It is funny because I recall my service on the rather exotic CZ LOS-DXB flight to have been similar. Check this out:

I remember your LOS trip well - I was reading it again before my flights. Notice how they are not flying to LOS anymore (at least not according to the inflight magazine map!) I've not tried the other mainland carriers. My only other reference point is EVA and they were pretty good.

Quote:
I had the same experience. On a recent MAD-GRU flight on CA, the crew were not bothered that my seat belt did not work and I had no safety memo. She said in broken English that I'd be all right. I guess if I was crashing, a seat belt would not save me ..

Good grief! These sorts of experiences don't fill me with confidence!!!

Quote:
Very poor.

Not a premium experience that's for sure. Menus did exist as I was handed one on the return flight to Guangzhou. Inconsistent at best.

Quote:
Confusing transit process annoy the hell out of me ... especially when airlines are creating through flights and selling them as connection itineraries. What if your country needed a visa in China? Will I still get through transit and not need one? I almost got screwed once on an Air China flight where the agent had booked me SIN-PEK-JFK, but I had not seen that the SIN-PEK was with a stop in KMG. It was NOT a fun time.

Yikes! Well that's what worried me initially too. The process seems to be better in Guangzhou than PEK T2, but it could be a whole lot more streamlined. I note that PEK have issued an online survey asking people to comment on their transit experiences now that the new 72 hours transit visa free policy is in place. At least they seem to want to listen to what people have to say.

Thanks again for your detailed comments.



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 26854 posts, RR: 58
Reply 19, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 30161 times:

Great report   Love the product detail it really conveyed the experience.

Love the Skyteam lounge at LHR . Probably one of their best in Europe.

Look forward to the next one .

Regards

Philip  


User currently offlineTheAviator380 From UK - England, joined Feb 2013, 396 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 30063 times:

One of the brilliant TR's to be honest. Three things I loved about your TR,

1. CZ service in Business looks really great compared to some other airlines.
2. That picture of BA 747 while you KLM climbing is just terrific..good job.
3. Brisbane looks so wonderful, lots of greenery around, kool place to be. Seems better place to live than SYD or MEL.

Thanks for TR.


User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Reply 21, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 29988 times:

Hi Philip

Nice to hear from you on a different forum! Glad you enjoyed.

The Skyteam lounge in LHR was very nice, although I think I've been too spoiled by BA's lounges over in T5. I enjoyed the change of scenery this time round that's for sure. More Aussie reports coming!

Morning TheAviator380

Quote:
One of the brilliant TR's to be honest. Three things I loved about your TR,

1. CZ service in Business looks really great compared to some other airlines.
2. That picture of BA 747 while you KLM climbing is just terrific..good job.
3. Brisbane looks so wonderful, lots of greenery around, kool place to be. Seems better place to live than SYD or MEL.

Thanks for your nice comments. Glad you enjoyed. China Southern offered a good standard of service overall. There were some things which I would suggest were not commensurate of a premium class of service but on the whole, I enjoyed flying with them.

Glad you liked the BA pic - it was a stunning scene, as the aircraft approached and got larger and larger very quickly before disappearing behind us. Brisbane has changed so much in the past 15 or so years since I last lived there. MEL and SYD have historically got a lot of the attention simply because they are bigger cities, but in my view, it doesn't make them necessarily better in many respects. Brisbane has a lot going for it these days - I am thinking of moving back there.

Thanks again!



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlineQF175 From Portugal, joined Mar 2007, 677 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 29765 times:

Delightful reading Palmjet. Thanks for taking the time and effort to post your experience flying with China Southern. Indeed, why fly one-stop when you can try something much more interesting, new and exciting?  

China Southern has begun (read early April) operating their A330s with the new J class to Perth and Brisbane, as you experienced from Amsterdam to Beijing - AusBT - certainly helps from a consistency perspective to now have the newer J class seating from Europe through to Brisbane.

Thanks for the fantastic photos of Brisbane, it's such an underrated City.

Your trip reports always make for great reading and I look forward to the next installment.

Cheers


User currently offlineTheAviator380 From UK - England, joined Feb 2013, 396 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 29730 times:

Cheers Palmjet..you welcome.

I was in holding above LHR last time and it was exciting to watch brilliant holding patterns with other aircrafts, following our plane. Same thing happened in DXB recently when I was on A380. When they cross the plane you sitting in, that time only we realize the actual speed they travel with..it's just amazing.

I hope you have a wonderful time if you decide to move to Brisbane. More TR's would be a nice treat  


User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Reply 24, posted (1 year 3 months 2 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 29646 times:

Hi QF175

Thanks very much for your comments. Ha - yes, more stops are always my preference, even on longhaul flights these days.

I think some of the 330-300s are still operating with an older style cabin in the Y and Y+ zones as my aircraft did not have individual IFE but some of the new 330-200s do. I guess they are rolling out enhancements across the fleet.

I love the A330 though and it looks great in CZ's colours.

Quote:
Thanks for the fantastic photos of Brisbane, it's such an underrated City.

Totally agree!

Quote:
Your trip reports always make for great reading and I look forward to the next installment.



Thank you again. Something a bit different coming up next. Quite a contrast from J with China Southern!

Hi TheAviator380 again!

Quote:
I was in holding above LHR last time and it was exciting to watch brilliant holding patterns with other aircrafts, following our plane. Same thing happened in DXB recently when I was on A380. When they cross the plane you sitting in, that time only we realize the actual speed they travel with..it's just amazing.

Indeed. That's one of the great things (if the only thing) about holding over London - you usually get some pretty amazing views of other aircraft around you and a good appreciation of the speed at which they are travelling. Love it!

Quote:
I hope you have a wonderful time if you decide to move to Brisbane. More TR's would be a nice treat

Thanks!



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
25 roberts87 : Hey! Great report as always! Love the detail, thanks for the efforts. And also very nice to read about this not so often covered J way to Aussieland!
26 palmjet : Hey roberts87 Thanks for your comments. Glad you enjoyed the report. It's certainly a different way of getting down under. I'd probably do it again al
27 gabrielchew : Great report James! Looks like CZ provide an adequate product on the "Canton Route". Certaoinly some areas they can brush up on, but not too bad on th
28 MSS658 : Hello Palmjet Another nice review from your side! CZ is a different way to go down under. They seem to have a decent product, while not up to the SQ/E
29 Post contains images sultanils : Hello pj, Wow, I’m mesmerized by this well written and detailed piece, accompanied by excellent photography. Yes, indeed it seems CZ may become a to
30 Post contains images gabrielchew : Er Nils, did you note which plane Palmjet flew to AMS on? E145 and ATRs are also seen occasionally
31 Widebodyroga : It seems like you had an absolutely splendid trip palmjet! I personally have absolutely zero experience from non-economy class cabins so it is hard to
32 Post contains links and images palmjet : Hi Gab Thanks for your comments. Glad you enjoyed. Yes, on the whole, and for the price, China Southern offered a pretty good service. LOL I agree - i
33 planiac787 : Great trip report! CZ is indeed going to giving tough competition to all other airlines flying similar routes. There J class product looks nice..not t
34 Post contains images justinlee : Hi Palmjet, Really a nice trip report. China Southern is promoting their Canton Route aggressively (especially for the low fare) and they really hope
35 palmjet : Hi Pradat Thanks for your comments, and yes CZ is giving the competition a run for their money, especially on price with its new Canton route strategy
36 christao17 : Thanks for a thorough, but not overly so, trip report. Felt like I was along for the entire ride!
37 globalflyer : Hi James...fantastic and exotic TR. CZ looks quite good though they do have some downfalls with the connections. You must have been absolutely exhaust
38 Post contains images akhmad : Dear Palmjet, Yay! I have been looking forward to this CZ experience of yours! I admire your loyalty though as Herman and I keep changing airlines and
39 Post contains images infodesk : Hi Palmjet, Wow! What a super report. So detailed, so well written with great photos – I really enjoyed it. I’m sure trying out this route was an
40 jwhite9185 : Hi PJ, As usual interesting read with great pictures from an airline that I knew existed but didn't really know an awful lot about. Not sure I would h
41 Post contains images adamspotter : Hi Palmjet! What a fantastic and entertaining report with many great and clear pictures! Nice to see you trying SkyTeam out on your way down under All
42 SR 103 : Thanks for a very entertaining trip report Palmjet. I have often wondered about the service offerings on CZ, especially on the European and Australian
43 The777Man : Hi Palmjet! Thanks for a great report with great pictures ! Interesting way to get to BNE from LHR although with a lot of transfers. China Southern lo
44 Post contains images SR117 : Hello PJ: Many thanks for putting together this wonderful report, as always, the luxurious descriptions plus your always excellent pictures make for a
45 Post contains images airbuseric : Great report on CZ. They're not so bad as one might think actually. I wonder if they're easy in giving good seats in Economy to Elite Plus members, es
46 Post contains images PlaneHunter : Hi Palmjet, excellent report with great pictures! CZ reports are rather rare here, so I'm glad you presented such a detailed review. The J Class produ
47 The777Man : It's really too bad you didn't get to try Biman Bangladesh but I don't think you would have been very impressed by the service or amenities. I can ju
48 Post contains images palmjet : Hi Christao17 Thanks very much for your comments. Glad you enjoyed ! Hi Will Thank you. Great to hear from you. Glad you enjoyed – and yes, the conn
49 Post contains images palmjet : Hi PH Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the report and pics. Do you still have friends living in Brisbane? Are you due for another visit soon? Working on that
50 Post contains links and images themit9 : Hi Palmjet, I have to add to the sentiment of the comments so far and say what a great report! I liked the level of detail during the planning stage a
51 palmjet : Hi themit9 Thanks for your comments (and pic!) Glad to hear you enjoyed the report. Yes, I found the route is getting a lot of publicity in Australia
52 ba319-131 : Hi James, Sorry it took so long to get around to reading and putting down replies to comments, I just don't see to have as much time to dedicate to A.
53 palmjet : Hi Mark Likewise - a very belated thanks for your comments. I think we're all on the same page here - there are simply different grades of nutty-ness
54 Post contains images LH4116 : Hi PJ. Great report! I have been looking forward to seeing this report, ever since hearing about your flights on CZ. Glad to know you had a good exper
55 airbuseric : LOL… it has been online here for over 7 months already
56 LH4116 : Well I don't check this forum very often these days.
57 newbief1yer : Great Trip report Palmjet. I am flying with them on the Canton route with them in march (LHR-SYD-AKL-LON) on their new DreamLiner and A380's. Also doi
58 knightsofmalta : Hi Palmjet I finally managed to get round to reading this excellent trip report. From what you write I get the impression that China Southern is in fa
59 parton87 : Hi Palmjet! Thanks for the great story! Sorry for the very late reply. At first I thought it was a new report from you when it was on the top on the l
60 palmjet : Having seen newbief1yer's recent report about the Canton Route to Australia, it brought back memories of my flights with CZ last year, and also that I
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