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
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
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.
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.
'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.
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
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
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]