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China Southern Premium Economy SYD-CAN  
User currently offlineThai744 From Australia, joined Jun 2004, 294 posts, RR: 0
Posted (11 months 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 10195 times:
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Hi All,

I've done other trip reports, but not for a while. I've been meaning to get around to this one, but I've just been too busy at work etc.

Before I start, I'm sorry about the layout and size of the photos. I've just started using Google Plus as my photo hosting service, and they look nice and uniform on there, but not when I paste the URL on here - any tips to fix this for future reports would be much appreciated! Pics were also taken with my phone (HTC One in case you were wondering) so some of them are a little low in quality - but you'll still get the idea of what a CZ flight is like!

Anyway, I was heading to Guangzhou (CAN) for a work conference, and the company put me on China Southern (CZ).
They have a double daily service from SYD (one in the morning, one in the evening) through to CAN using A330 aircraft, however, the A380 will start flying to SYD for CZ in late October.

I'm not one for "talking" much in my trip reports. I don't find it necessary to write every bit of dialogue between the flight attendant and myself - we all know what is said on aircraft - and this would be futile when talking about CZ anyway, so I prefer to let me pictures do the talking. If you have any queries then please feel free to comment and I will elaborate in a reply.

Dropped my car off at the long-term parking in Sydney and caught their minvan over to the international terminal. Check-in was easy and smooth and a light load in premium economy today so I was assured of a window seat with a spare next to me. Once checked in, it was through immigration and security quickly and past the duty free shops to the gate lounges. Just for the record, they tagged my bag with a "PREMIUM ECONOMY" tag which didn't make it come out any quicker in CAN of course!



My ride for the day was awaiting when I got to the gate area.



Of course I wandered around to see what other aircraft were on the stands in Sydney waiting for their next port of call.
Mostly QF A330's in attendance this morning.



Boarding was called, and there was a separate line for Premium Economy (which I will now refer to as "W" class in this report to save typing). A flight attendant welcomed us at the door and directed us to our seats which was immediately behind the J cabin and in front of Y.

All of the 20 or so pax in W were western passengers today - no Chinese at all - which I found interesting.

I found my seat and it was really just a Y class seat. Old, but comfortable enough for a long flight. It reclined back the same amount as a Y class seat. In fact, the only real difference for W class on CZ is that you get more legroom. There's no seatback PTV's, no enhanced meal service or anything "premium" about it. It's just the extra legroom and the smaller, "more private" cabin than Y class. Sometimes you can "luck out" and get an aircraft fitted with PTV's out of SYD, but 95% of the time you won't. This changes, as I mentioned, in October when the A380's start up to SYD.



We pushed back about 25 minutes late and watched a manual safety demonstration as we taxied leisurely out to runway 34L where we rolled on to the runway and pretty much took off in the direction of CAN.

One thing to note is that CZ doesn't do ANY announcements from the flight deck at all. Not prior to take off, or in cruise, or prior to decent. This isn't a major problem, but I think from a customer service perspective it would be nice to hear a little from the front office. Most Chinese airlines seem to avoid flight deck PA's for some reason.



The windows were pretty dirty, so sorry about the quality of the shots outside.

One thing I find interesting, is that in order to make themselves "more appealing" to the western market and capture a larger slice of the market here, CZ has hired about 30 Australian flight attendants based in Oz so that each flight has an English native speaker on flights from Australia. I'm not sure if they've done this in the UK/US etc, but it's definitely happened here. However, our "native English speaker" was working in J class today, which seems to limit the purpose of why she would be there. I guess if there's any issues in Y she could head to the back and help sort it out.

Meal service started approximately 45 minutes out of Sydney and there was a choice of two dishes which came after being served a drink and a wet wipe. We were also handed an "amenity kit" at the same time which was a nice thought. The choices of drinks were (warm) beer, red wine, white wine, Coke and Sprite. That's it. The best thing about the kit was definitely the bag, not the contents. (I now use the bag as my cable pouch when I travel and it comes in very handy).



The Coke was warm by the way - as were all the drinks served.



The choice of the meal was "beef pasta" or "prawn rice".



The tray was reasonably well stocked and the beef pasta wasn't too bad, but a little bit bland. Everything apart from the main came covered in cling film or wrapped in a plastic bag which meant there was plastic everywhere by the end of the mean. Not great for the environment when you think how many meals are served every day. Oh well.

The FA's then came around for tea and coffee. Coffee was pre-mixed "3-in-1" and served in a plastic glass as a cold drink would be. Tea was only Chinese Tea - no western tea at all. I didn't realise this until I made the mistake of asking for milk which resulted in a lot of blank stares from the FA. She then went back to the galley and came back with a large 250ml Tetra Pak of milk! Sigh... at least she tried! LOL. Lesson learned for me too - only Chinese tea on CZ. No need to add milk.



I then took a walk back to the Y section to take a pic as we passed the arid Australian landscape over Queensland.



One interesting thing is that it seems to be CZ's policy to leave the FASTEN SEAT BELT sign on for the entire flight! I think I've read this in someone else's CZ report. A very strange policy! No one took any notice of it anyway, and luckily the flight was smooth, otherwise how would you know when you REALLY needed to sit down and strap yourself in. I also think it's policy as this happened on the return flight too.

We then passed the Australian coastline and headed further north.



There were occasional drink runs with water only about 3 times during the flight.



It was nice that they had the airshow on the cabin screens at times (in between some really strange Chinese movies with appallingly bad "Chinglish" subtitles). At least we could see where we were occasionally.



A bit later into the flight I was feeling a bit peckish and thought I would go back to the galley and hunt down some peanuts or cup noodles or similar. Once I'd had many blank looks to repeating the word "snack" quite a few times, the FA understood that I was a bit peckish and wanted something to eat. She told me to wait, and then I looked on in bemusement as she prepared a whole new meal for me and then handed it to me to carry back to my seat near the front of the aircraft. OK - so no snacks on CZ! Just a whole second meal available. LOL. The prawns weren't nearly as decent as the beef, just for the record.



As I knew that the inflight entertainment would be limited, I had loaded up my tablet with movies and TV shows, which proved to be a smart move.

Something else that was a little unusual, was that when the crew went on their breaks, they went into the toilet and changed into "civvies" - ie jeans and t-shirt for example - and then changed back into their uniform after they'd had their rest period. I'm not sure of any other airline I've seen do this.

Ironically, just as I had finished my "snack" / second meal, the crew came around with the second meal service - about 3 hours out of CAN, which seemed an odd time to serve it. This time, the only thing left was vegetarian pasta. I didn't eat much of it, but took a tray to get some photos for the report.
Same drinks - (warm) beer, Coke, Sprite, Water, Red and White wine.



Three-in-One coffee mix this time - very sweet! - and this time served in a coffee cup, not a plastic glass.



This is the contents of the seat pocket. The inflight duty free selection isn't bad, but it's quite expensive in my opinion.
The inflight magazine doesn't have very many articles in English at all.

[img]https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/G9-pkQJGmEtP-mIo8Bd-u2NjlwXluBdJnP00SZOTek0=w110-h193-p-no [/img]



After this, about 90 minutes from CAN, they played some exercise video on the screens which, I noticed, many of the Chinese were doing in the Y cabin. This went on for about 45 minutes and some of the translations were.. well.. amusing.



After the exercises, the cabin crew (kind of) secured the cabin for landing, but there were people with reclined seats everywhere and tray tables down etc.

We landed in CAN very gently, and made our way to the terminal arriving very much on time.



The cabin crew then bade us goodbye and we left the aircraft pretty much 3 minutes after the engines cut.

So, what did I think of CZ?

Well, for the price, they are pretty much unbeatable. You can get to Europe return from SYD for about $1400 to $1500 or so. This is about $500 cheaper than carriers such as EK, QF, BA etc - unless they have some sort of sale on. So, if you just want to save money and don't care how you get there, then they might be just the carrier for you!

They were ok - not bad, and about what I expected. I think it's quite cheeky of them to call W "Premium Economy" when there's nothing really "premium" at all about it. Maybe the A380 will change this.

It's just little things they need to improve on if they want to enhance their reputation with the western market and catch more of this market too - the language barrier needs to be worked on and things such as only serving Chinese tea for example, and serving drinks such as beer, white wine and Coke warm. It's just little things, but it would be SO EASY for them to fix and then this would be a great carrier to fly for the price. As an aviation enthusiast its quite frustrating that these small things get neglected.

Yes, I'd fly them again, but not until they get the A380 on the SYD flights happening.

I've included a few pics of Guangzhou to finish off the report - not a bad city. Great food. Good shopping (especially the "copy" stuff), and Canton Tower is really amazing and well worth a trip, as is a night river cruise.

I hope you enjoyed the report! I'm flying long haul on China Eastern next week (yeah, I know - a sucker for punishment!) so I'll try and get a report done on that one as there is a lack of reports on Chinese carriers for long haul flights on here.

Happy flights everyone!



[

[Edited 2013-08-26 05:20:20]

[Edited 2013-08-26 05:23:16]

12 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinesmi0006 From Australia, joined Jan 2008, 1524 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (11 months 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 9466 times:

Hey Thanks for the great detailed report, it's not often that we hear about CZ long-haul out of Australia! I don't think I've ever seen a report on her for W on CZ. Hope they bring their 787s down here, would be a nice upgrade for us!

Quoting Thai744 (Thread starter):
One thing to note is that CZ doesn't do ANY announcements from the flight deck at all. Not prior to take off, or in cruise, or prior to decent. This isn't a major problem, but I think from a customer service perspective it would be nice to hear a little from the front office. Most Chinese airlines seem to avoid flight deck PA's for some reason.

I think it would be in part be due to the poor English skills of some of the tech crew (i have no idea how they pass the required tests!!), often equal in level to the cabin crew. Although they are hiring a few Aussie pilots atm.

Quoting Thai744 (Thread starter):
One thing I find interesting, is that in order to make themselves "more appealing" to the western market and capture a larger slice of the market here, CZ has hired about 30 Australian flight attendants based in Oz so that each flight has an English native speaker on flights from Australia. I'm not sure if they've done this in the UK/US etc, but it's definitely happened here. However, our "native English speaker" was working in J class today, which seems to limit the purpose of why she would be there. I guess if there's any issues in Y she could head to the back and help sort it out.

I think these Aussie crew only fly out of Sydney, the program was supposed to be expanded to all ports but never was. It would make sense to have one crew member in J and one in Y. Of a side note they also have an AMS and CDG base too.

Did the Aussie crew member do any PA's? I've herd reports they don't which seems to be a big gap in their service.

Quoting Thai744 (Thread starter):
After the exercises, the cabin crew (kind of) secured the cabin for landing, but there were people with reclined seats everywhere and tray tables down etc.

CZ really needs to improve their cabin safety on things like this. There are no excuses, and it would greatly improve their perception amongst non-Chineese travellers.


User currently offlineThai744 From Australia, joined Jun 2004, 294 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (11 months 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 8671 times:
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Hi There,

Thanks for the feedback.

No - the western FA didn't do any PA's on the flight. The "Chinglish" PA's that were made were almost impossible to understand.

Yes - cabin safety is something they need to improve on. You're right.
I was thinking about how many people would have survived if a CZ aircraft had been involved in the crash at SFO instead of Asiana. Maybe an unfair comparison, but I can't help but wonder when I fly an airline like CZ just how well trained the crew are and how effective they would be in a mass-evacuation.


User currently offlineallrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 2003 posts, RR: 4
Reply 3, posted (11 months 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 8519 times:

Thanks for the trip report! Despite their ever expanding presence there is a dearth of economy reports on CZ on the Australian runs. It's nice to know what to expect. I hope they will improve with the A380 because right now it looks to be little better than an LCC with meals thrown in.

Quoting Thai744 (Thread starter):
Before I start, I'm sorry about the layout and size of the photos. I've just started using Google Plus as my photo hosting service, and they look nice and uniform on there, but not when I paste the URL on here - any tips to fix this for future reports would be much appreciated!

Try using the Picasa web albums version of Google+. You should be able to access it at https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/myphotos?noredirect=1. To use the photo on A.Net, open the photo and click on "Link to this photo" in the right hand information pane. Tick "Image only (No link)", select "Image size: Medium 640px" and use the url in the "Embed image" box.

Because that's so convoluted I now write my trip reports up on Blogger.com, which has a tool for inserting pictures from Picasa/Google+ web albums (choose X-Large image size) and copy the html of the report across to A.net. If you use this technique then it's a good idea to give each image a caption (even if it's blank) as it helps removes to unallowed div tags. You may still have to manually delete a few separator divs, but this can easily be done when previewing on A.net.



Applying insanity to normality
User currently offlineRyanairGuru From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 5177 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (11 months 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 8301 times:

Thank you for the report. It is interesting to read about CZ, and airline which crosses my mind so often with their crazily attractive fairs. They have made strong inroads in the Australian market, and it will be very interesting to see them improve over the next 5-10 years. Within a decade they could definitely be a force to be reckoned with. It was therefore interesting to read that they could make such strong improvements just by making some minor tweaks.

The crew sound very accommodating, even if their language skills aren't great. Bringing you a full bottle of milk and preparing you a complete new meal tray are really sweet touches, and show that they are genuinely trying really hard to please you. That's nice to see, and hopefully as their language skills improve they will be able to provide a really great service.

W doesn't sound amazing, but I guess this is the American definition of W, which is precisely what you got - regular Y with more legroom, as DL, UA, and AA have the same approach. Premium economy is a bit of a misnomer, but I just looked and their fairs are something like half what QF charge for Y+ so it isn't as if they are ripping you off too badly. That said, it would be nice to see a real Y+ product in the future.

Quoting Thai744 (Reply 2):
No - the western FA didn't do any PA's on the flight

Interesting. When I've flown to HKG on QF and BA the HKG base crew members have done all the announcements in both Cantonese and Mandarin, including translating the "welcome aboard" from the flight deck! (Does QF have a HKG base or are they locally employed Chinese speakers? I know BA's are HKG based)

Quoting Thai744 (Thread starter):
I'm flying long haul on China Eastern next week

From everything I've heard MU are significantly better than CZ. It will be interesting to read what you think about them, but I think that I would happily fly MU to Europe if the price was right but at this stage would still shy away from CZ.

Quoting Thai744 (Thread starter):
I've included a few pics of Guangzhou to finish off the report

I was in Guangzhou last year, and these pictures brought back some pleasant memories. I really liked the number of trees around the city, which was something that I had completely forgotten until I saw these pictures. I agree that it is a pleasant place.

This was my first (and so far only) trip to the Mainland, I headed up for a night from Honkers. I definitely prefer HK, it seems to be more "alive" and less artificial IMHO, but would like to go back to Guangzhou someday and also explore much more of the country.

Thanks for the great report, it was very educational.
I'm looking forward to reading about MU

Happy flying,
Alex



Worked Hard, Flew Right
User currently offlineThai744 From Australia, joined Jun 2004, 294 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (10 months 4 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 6546 times:
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Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 4):
Try using the Picasa web albums version of Google+. You should be able to access it at https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/myphotos?noredirect=1. To use the photo on A.Net, open the photo and click on "Link to this photo" in the right hand information pane. Tick "Image only (No link)", select "Image size: Medium 640px" and use the url in the "Embed image" box.

Because that's so convoluted I now write my trip reports up on Blogger.com, which has a tool for inserting pictures from Picasa/Google+ web albums (choose X-Large image size) and copy the html of the report across to A.net. If you use this technique then it's a good idea to give each image a caption (even if it's blank) as it helps removes to unallowed div tags. You may still have to manually delete a few separator divs, but this can easily be done when previewing on A.net.

Hi - sorry for the late reply. I've been away for a few days.

Thanks so much for those tips. I will try them when I do my next report on MU in a couple of weeks so it looks neater - hopefully.

Appreciate you taking the time to write back. Cheers.

[Edited 2013-08-30 01:13:03]

User currently offlineThai744 From Australia, joined Jun 2004, 294 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (10 months 4 weeks 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 6543 times:
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Sorry - that post was meant for allrite, not Ryanair - clicked on the wrong link and can't change it now!

Thanks to both of you for replying.

I'm looking forward to seeing how MU compare longhaul with CZ as well. I'll be sure to write it up!


User currently offlinepalmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1221 posts, RR: 17
Reply 7, posted (10 months 4 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 6461 times:

Nice report on CZ out of Australia in Premium. Thanks for this.

I covered my J flights to Australia with them earlier this year from Europe:

The Canton Route To Australia: China Southern In J (by palmjet Apr 14 2013 in Trip Reports)

I wandered into Prem Y and Y cabins on the return BNE - CAN flight and was shocked at what CZ refer to as Prem Y on the A330-300 that I was on. Not even personal IFE. The Prem Y cabin on my flight had 3 passengers in total, although Y was almost entirely full.

CZ in J were very nice. I'd have no problem flying them again although the transfer process in China still needs some tweaking - but nothing that can't be fixed easily.



Eastern - Number One To The Sun
User currently offlineThai744 From Australia, joined Jun 2004, 294 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (10 months 4 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 6271 times:
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I agree.

I think when they actually get their A380's up-and-happening to Australia it will make a big difference.

They're certainly getting better known and selling tickets in good numbers here in Australia. If they keep the same cheap fares when the A380's come online they'll be a great option to Europe for Australians.


User currently offline777ER From New Zealand, joined Dec 2003, 12082 posts, RR: 18
Reply 9, posted (10 months 4 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 6202 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
FORUM MODERATOR

Excellent report, always nice to read reports about Premium Economy flights as they don't appear on here very often!

CZs Premium Economy service certainly looks like a big let down! Heck if you wanted that type of leg room then just book an economy bulkhead seat!

Was the $1400-$1500 fare return to Europe in Y or Y+?


User currently offlineThai744 From Australia, joined Jun 2004, 294 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (10 months 4 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 5844 times:
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Quoting 777ER (Reply 9):
Was the $1400-$1500 fare return to Europe in Y or Y+?

That's the fare for Y.

Y+ is generally not much more - about $300 - $500 round-trip depending on the season/dates/booking class etc.

It will be interesting to see if the fares increase once the A380's start heading to Sydney.


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3203 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 5191 times:

Nice report - i've flown CZ a fair bit, and the quality of spoken English is really an issue, along with the non-PTV Y cabins. I guess both will change with time.

Quoting Thai744 (Thread starter):
I think it's quite cheeky of them to call W "Premium Economy" when there's nothing really "premium" at all about it. Maybe the A380 will change this.

Y+ on the A380 is still just Y with a bit more legroom. I think on some sectors you get a better meal.



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: LHR-GVA-LHR-TXL-LHR-VE-PRN,SPU-OSL-LHR, LGW-DXB-BKK-DXB-LHR
User currently offlinenewbief1yer From UK - England, joined Dec 2012, 175 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (10 months 3 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 4568 times:

Great trip report and yes, indeed great seeing some reviews on Chinese airlines.

Having been on a few domestic sector Chinese flights over the last year, it looks as though their domestic and international (long haul) sector, the service standard seems to be consistent. I have never had any issues with Chinese domestic sectors (Shanghai Airlines, MU, air China and CZ, so far) and in fact have always had a very pleasant experience on board their aircrafts. Decent food, good service, yes English is still a problem, but even on domestic sector, at least the important information is conveyed also in English (Chinglish), but perfectly acceptable.

Ill be trying their Y class on the LHR-CAN-SYD and AKL-CAN-LHR sector in March, on their new 787's and A380. Cant wait to try them out and a trip report shall follow.

As stated above, price was the crucial factor for me and a round trip price of £650 was too hard to resist. moreover, it looks like their routing to LHR from AKL, is the shortest available route, with 28 Hours in total. That combined with the prospect of flying on only their 787 and A380 on all sectors, it was hard to resist. But I have to admit, their website is easily the worst I have encountered. hardly anything can be done via their website, except look and stare at their logo. For everything else, you wood need to call their 24X7 Chinese service centre, who in their defence, were always prompt and always available. Only hoping if they can at least have an online check in facility before March, as they don't have that functionality as of today.

Happy Flying!


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