Archive for the China Southern Category

China Southern Airlines Seoul-Incheon (ICN) to Guangzhou (CAN), China Southern Airlines Guangzhou business class lounge, China Southern Airlines Guangzhou (CAN) to Bangkok (BKK), April 2011

Posted in Airline Lounge, Airlines, China Southern, Miles, Trip Report with tags , , , , , , , , on June 9, 2011 by getgowing

The previous posts of this two and a half week quasi-‘Round the World adventure:

 
China Southern Airlines
Flight #340
Seoul-Incheon (ICN) – Guangzhou (CAN)
April 15, 2011
Departure: 09:40 (scheduled 09:40)
Arrival:  12:25 (scheduled 12:40)
Duration: 3’45”
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 2A (Window, Business class)
Miles flown including this flight: 15,289

I haven’t had any prior experience with China Southern, and not being very famous, I wasn’t expecting much.  None of my friends nor the main blogs/forums that I read have taken any China Southern flights.  It felt a little like flying into the Bermuda triangle.

Check-in

Bags were already checked through all the way to Bangkok, and I already had this boarding pass in hand from JFK.

Lounge

See my previous post HERE.

Boarding

Curiously, my boarding pass said boarding was to start 08:40, one hour before departure.  Shocked me a little bit, as this wasn’t a large plane.  Nonetheless, it was fairly straightforward boarding, or so I thought.  There was one scanner, one side of it was for general boarding, the other side for priority boarding.  When I got there, there was a line of about 6 people waiting to board.  After I entered the first door, this lead to an escalator down to a large staging area where there was another security checkpoint.  And here was about 50 people all waiting to have their carry-ons inspected.  Luckily there were about 10 stations set up, so the wait was not that long to get on the plane.

There were only 2 cabins, economy and business class, and business only had 2 rows, 8 seats total.  I had 2B all to myself, 2C had a VERY large westerner (European, shockingly not American), and there was a couple sitting in 1C+1D.  Half full cabin, so service would be very attentive.

Small plane, only one jetway

Saw this as we were taxiing. Never heard of them before. But apparently they're big enough to own a B777.

Seat

It was a short haul flight, so I wasn’t expecting much.  It was comparable to a Delta domestic First Class seat.  Though the shared armrest had some more space than Delta’s A320 first class.  On the side, there was a small table that swung out for your beverage.  There was no plug-in power (110V or USB), and their in-flight entertainment was a first for me.

Doesn't look like it, but it reclined enough to still be comfortable for a nap.

Personal in-flight entertainment and free headphones.

As usual, at least with Asian carriers, the complimentary slippers.

Bigger than normal pillows, with a really comfy blanket. Too bad I passed out before I remembered to use them.

I went through the entire personal media player, and anything they had in English was really old, or something obscure I’d never heard of.  The games weren’t too amusing either.  Didn’t really matter….up to now, I just went from Amsterdam – New York – Seoul in about 2.5 days, my body was all screwed up.  And I stayed awake the whole time in the lounge so after about 20 minutes after takeoff, I passed out.

Service

The one good thing about a smaller plane is that the only two galleys are at the front or back of the plane.  So even though we had a dedicated flight attendant, even the ones in economy would make sure all our needs were met.  For my preflight beverage, I chose OJ.  It was awful.  It was closer to orange drink (think Tang-like) than orange juice.  This paled in comparison to the OJ that Korean Air offers.  (I’m really picky with OJ.  As close to fresh squeezed as possible.  I LOVE it with pulp.)  I still drank it because I hate wasting food though.  A hot towel accompanied it.

……aaaaand two hours later, I wake up in a jet lagged haze.  Immediately, the stewardess asks if I would like to eat.  There was a choice of beef or something else, but I don’t remember what the other one was.  Still half asleep, I say yes to the beef.  I almost never say no to food!  I check the time, and realize there’s only about 30 minutes left in the flight.  A couple years ago, I used to be a waiter.  I know what it feels like when customers walk in 20 minutes before closing time.  IT SUCKS.  And now, I was that customer.

What time is it again? Lunch? Breakfast? Brunch? Either way, it was delicious even though I scarfed it down quickly.

I’m assuming if I didn’t sleep through when the normal meal service was, everything wouldn’t have been crammed onto the tray.  The pilot announced we were on final approach as I finished up the fruit and dessert.

Deplaning

I didn’t know this at the time, but Guangzhou is one of the most air polluted cities in the world.  There was a thick yellow-orange haze hovering over the land as we flew into it.  Gross.  After exiting the plane we were herded to immigration.  Its a fairly small area (at least compared to what I see in the US) with about 15 booths for immigration.  Travel Tip:

If you are only connecting in Guangzhou (CAN) and continuing your travel, you need to visit the transit desk along the left wall.

I didn’t have a boarding pass yet for the Guangzhou (CAN) – Bangkok (BKK) leg, and this was the only place I could go to get it.  After a couple minutes of typing away at the computer, the agent at the China Southern desk handed me my next boarding pass and lounge invitation card.  Another Travel Tip:

When flying internationally, if you know/think you should have lounge access, always ask for an invitation card to the lounge when checking in.  The worst they can say is you don’t need it, or you’re not eligible.  Keep up with the benefits of your airline if you fly enough to have status.  Its an awful experience when you walk up to the lounge, and can’t get in because you don’t have the invitation card that you can only get pre-security.

I got to wait in a much shorter line than everybody else because I was on transiting there.  After I showed immigration all my documents, I thought I would be on my way.  For some reason, they needed to hold on to my passport and boarding pass.  They just told me to wait off by the side until they came to me.  There were about 25-30 other people waiting in the area around me.  I had no idea what they needed to do.  AND, just in case, I still had a valid multiple entry Chinese Visa.  The thought did cross my mind that I was about to be stuck in China forever, and become a slave or something.  Thankfully 10 minutes later, an immigration officer came by with a stack of passports returning them to the passengers around me.  Whew.

Now to find the China Southern lounge…..

View from the hall just outside the lounge.

Here it is!

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport China Southern lounge
April 15, 2011

The lounge is situated in the center of the building, so there are no windows, no views.  😦  But it has three medium-sized rooms all interconnected.  The outer two rooms each had entrances like above.  The furnishings were kinda old, and it looks like the rooms haven’t been updated in 25 years, but there was a TON of food selections.  Oh Happy Day!  Each of the three rooms had their own food & beverage selection, and surprisingly they were all mostly different.  Even though it felt like I’ve been eating for 14 hours straight, I’m not going to turn down the opportunity to eat Chinese food in China.

There was wireless internet available, but I couldn’t get it to connect on my computer.  I tried using the computers at the terminals, and it seemed like identity theft central.  So many popups, and sketchy sign in screens.  Oh well, internet will have to wait.  I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking.  Sorry for the abundance of food pictures.  I’m not sure if you can tell yet, but I really like eating.

Food in Room 3

 

Food in Room 3

Food in Room 3

Room 3. Loose leaf teas, though I didn't partake. Definitely in China now.

Room 3, entrance to the right

Room 2, from the side closer to Room 3

Food in Room 2

Food in Room 2

Food in Room 2

Drinks in Room 2

There were 2 massage chairs, located between Room 2 and Room 1

Room 2, from the side closer to Room 1 and the massage chairs

Room 1

Room 1's spread

Make your own cappuccino, and more crappy OJ.

Pumpkin soup

Some beef stew type dish and rice. It was pretty tasty.

More stews. The chocolate balls were decent, though there was a weird taste in them that I couldn't place.

LOL. I am Man.

China Southern Airlines
Flight #363
Guangzhou (CAN) – Bangkok (BKK)
April 15, 2011
Departure: 16:30 (scheduled 16:00)
Arrival:  15:59 (scheduled 15:55)
Duration: 2’29”
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 2A (Window, Business class)
Miles flown including this flight: 16,348
 

Lounge

See Above.

Boarding

Nothing noteworthy.  There was again, a westerner in seat 2C, though this time, he was from Salt Lake City, and much more healthily proportioned.  Though the larger guy seemed nice when I asked him to take this picture of me.  Only 5 out of 8 seats taken in business class.

Seat

Same seat as prior flight.

Service

Again great service.  I couldn’t exactly tell, but this time, I was awake with excitement as I was finally getting to my next destination.

Page 1

Page 2

Some chardonnay, nuts, and a wet towelette to start

Various breads. I chose pieces of 2 garlic bread.

The meal. Chose the fish, I think. Unfortunately, for the most part, tasted as good as it looks. 😦 And gelatinous thing with the orange specs was not good. At all.

I had a linen with a hole like this on the Korean Air flight too. I just then realized that its supposed to go on your collar button to hold it up as you eat. Geniuses.

Dessert

The Chardonnay

After I finished eating my meal, the stewardess would hawk my wine glass to see if I needed a refill.  I think after my fourth refill, I was thinking I should probably stop.  Then she came by and asked, “Would you like some more, sir?”  Ah what the hell.  I’m on vacation.  Of course I’ll have another.  (In my defense, those wine glasses were maybe 1/3 the size of a normal wine glass.  I probably only went through 2 or 3 normal glasses of wine)

They asked the other American what he wanted to drink, and he asked for vodka.  Then they gave him a weird look, as if they didn’t know what it was.  “Do you know, whiskey?  It is like clear whiskey……can you just bring the bottles of what you have, and I will see….”

After the stewardess went to look, I replied,”I’d laugh if they bring you back a glass of tequila.”

I can’t remember the guy’s name, but we ended up talking for a good bit for the last 20 minutes of the flight, and in the airport after getting off the plane.  For ease of writing about him for the rest of this post, I will refer to him as “John.”

Deplaning

Flying in to Bangkok, Thailand

More livery I don't usually see

The remainder of the flight went off without a hitch.  The lines for immigration looked long, and on our way there, it seems a few large planes arrived at the same time.  The scene made me think of the mad rush at an electronics store opening on Black Friday.  John’s been to Bangkok several times, and we talked about where I should go, what I should see, etc.  Eventually, we both get through immigration, and its time for me to find my contact in Thailand, Junt.

Now usually when I am meeting somebody in a strange place, I will try and do as much research as I can online to find a good meeting point.  I had done none of this.  I just assumed it was like any other major international airport arrival areas where arriving passengers spill out into either a large room, or walk by long railings with people behind them holding signs with names on them.  When I finally walk out into the non-security, real world area for the first time in 30 hours I don’t see Junt.  We unloaded at the end of the terminal, so we walk to the right down the long hallway.  About 30 yards down, there is another arrivals area.  Great, he’s probably here.  NOPE.  Again we walk to the right and there is a sign that says “Meeting Point.”  Well duh.  Of course he’s there.  Another 40 yards later, and we’re at the meeting point, except no Junt.  This is now the other end of the terminal.

At this point, I’m starting to worry a little bit.  Good thing John said he would wait with me until I find my friend.  I decide to walk again to the other end, and you can guess what didn’t happen.  Still no Junt.  I’m now freaking out on the inside, since I had no phone, no nearby internet access, and I hadn’t done much research of Bangkok since I knew I would be picked up and I could just ask Junt.  I had no idea of what public transportation is like, no idea how the city is laid out, NO idea how to say anything in Thai.  One of the first times I was scared.  I request to walk down the terminal again.  THANKFULLY, about halfway down the terminal, I run into Junt and a couple of his friends.  Introductions happen, then I thank John for sticking it out with me.  What a way to start my visit in Thailand.

Wrap-up

These were my only flights on China Southern.  I was really pleasantly surprised about the service I received.  Depending on the seat available for a long haul flight, I would consider taking them over Korean Air.  Unfortunately, their website isn’t very helpful, and no pictures or much description is given about their long-haul business class product.

Advertisements
%d bloggers like this: