Saturday, April 23, 2016

China Southern Airlines and Guangzhou Baiyun airport in China

On my recent trip to the UK, I flew with China Southern Airlines to London Heathrow via Guangzhou Baiyun airport [ICAO code: ZGGG] for what was to be a three hour break before proceeding to London Heathrow.

For the first time ever, I was flying business class. The first leg was in a Boeing 777 and it's amazing what a difference a flat bed makes for the comfort on the trip! Despite not getting a lot of sleep [that's just me, not an indication of comfort levels], I was still reasonably fresh. Being comfortable, I didn't need to walk around as I do in economy which probably helped a lot also.

The remaining long haul sectors would be in a B787-8, and I was very interested to see what the differences would be - especially the benefit of better cabin pressure and humidity. I did feel better after the B787 flights, I noticed that my mouth and throat did not get dry - it was just more comfortable.

The windows on the B787 were much larger and much easier to look out of from anywhere in the cabin, although the electric blinds are a gimmick. Hopefully the next version of them will actually be dark and therefore useful.

Movie and TV episode selection on the IFE is quite limited, but there's probably enough for most people. Personally, I don't care as I don't watch a lot of movies. I think I managed 1 full movie per sector, plus a couple of shows. I prefer to try and rest, which is very easy when you get to lie flat!

Food was nice. There's not a lot of menu options to choose from [that is, two for each of breakfast and the main meal], but the meals themselves were nice. Alcohol options were also limited but tasty - no problem as I don't drink much [except water and fruit juices] on planes anyway.

Overall, service levels were a bit variable, but the staff were all friendly and helpful. The only annoying thing was on the flight from Guangzhou to Auckland, one of the staff told me to turn off my mobile. Yes, it was in flight mode [I showed her this], and I was told "I understand but you must turn it off". I don't know if there was something missing in translation, but nothing I would have an argument about.

Keep in mind I paid half of what you would pay to fly Air NZ, Emirates or similar, so little things like the food and slightly inconsistent service levels are nothing. In any case, I purchased the ticket for comfort, not food :-)

The biggest benefits of a business class ticket? The lie-flat bed, plus lounges at all stops and priority queuing.

Anyway, on to some pictures. These are a few from Guangzhou. There are not that many - I spent most of the time in the lounge and only took a couple of walks to stretch the legs and get some photos. Also, they were shot through glass, so they are not all that great...

Airbus A321-211, B-6685, operated by China Southern Airlines

Airbus A330-221, B-6515, operated by China Southern Airlines

Airbus A330-223, B-6528, operated by China Southern Airlines in Skyteam livery

Boeing 767-381/ER, JA626A, operated by ANA

Airbus A330-323, HL8027, operated by Korean Airlines

Boeing 737-87L, B-1711, operated by Shenzhen Airlines

View across the airport and apron to the FedEx cargo apron

PS: I'm still a little tired, so this post will probably get updated as I re-read it :-)

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