Review: China Southern Business Class A320 Guangzhou To Singapore

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Our bus ride to the plane was so long that I started to wonder whether we were actually parked in Hong Kong.


China Southern A320

Once everyone was standing near the stairs the “security officer” motioned for everyone to wait, and about two minutes later boarding began.


China Southern A320


China Southern A320

China Southern 353
Guangzhou (CAN) – Singapore (SIN)
Thursday, February 1
Depart: 8:30AM
Arrive: 12:30PM
Duration: 4hr
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Seat: 1K (Business Class)

Based on the versions of China Southern’s A320 that I saw on SeatGuru, I was expecting the plane to have 2-3 rows of business class. To my surprise, there was only one row, which made for an intimate cabin. There were four business class seats, in a 2-2 configuration.


China Southern business class cabin A320


China Southern A320 business class cabin

The legroom was better than you’d typically find in domestic first class in the US, though that was largely a function of there being only one row, meaning everyone was in a bulkhead. While the seat featured good legroom, the padding was awful, and the seat was about as hard as a brick.


China Southern business class seat A320

There was a pillow as well as a light, checkered blanket waiting at my seat upon boarding.


China Southern business class pillow & blanket

In the seatback pocket was a newspaper and some slippers.


China Southern business class seatback pocket

The slippers came with a shoehorn and a shoe bag.


China Southern business class slippers

The tray table folded out of the right armrest, and could also be folded in half, if you preferred.


China Southern A320 business class tray table

The cabin only had overhead monitors, and there was a control at the side of the seat to control channels and volume (presumably for audio programming).


China Southern business class entertainment controls

I appreciated that each seat had an individual air nozzle.


China Southern overhead monitors on A320

However, unfortunately China Southern doesn’t have any sort of power ports on their A320s, which is disappointing.

Within a minute of settling in Shirmee, the business class flight attendant, came by to introduce herself. She informed me of the flight time of 3hr20min, and offered me a warm towel.


China Southern business class warm towel

She also asked me what I wanted to drink — while I doubt there was a full open bar, it’s nice to have more of a choice than the usual water or juice. I selected a glass of water. Once I finished that I was offered a refill.


China Southern business class pre-departure drink

A few minutes later she presented me with the menu for the flight, but only ever-so-briefly, as she wanted to take my meal order right away and then take the menu back.


China Southern business class menu

She then also brought me the landing card for Singapore, and proactively offered me a (Sheraton branded) pen.


Landing card for Singapore

The boarding process took a while as we waited on the second bus to arrive. Those passengers arrived around 8:15AM, and by 8:20AM the door was closed. Shortly before the door closed the two other business class passengers boarded. They were both seated on the left side, meaning I had the set of two seats to myself.


View of Guangzhou Airport

By 8:30AM we began our pushback, at which point the safety video was screened.


Taxiing Guangzhou Airport


Taxiing Guangzhou Airport

Our taxi to the departure runway took about 10 minutes, and then we had to wait another 10 minutes before it was our turn to take off.


Taxiing Guangzhou Airport

By 8:50AM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 1.


Taking off Guangzhou Airport


Taking off Guangzhou Airport

While the views of the airport on the initial climb out were cool, after that there was too much smog to see anything.


View after takeoff from Guangzhou Airport

About 15 minutes after takeoff I was presented with a tablet that I could use for on-demand entertainment. The headphones they gave me with it seemed pretty cheap (and not especially sanitary).


China Southern business class tablet

There were about a dozen Hollywood movies and then some sitcoms available on the system. While that’s not a huge selection, at least they had some movies that are popular right now.


China Southern business class entertainment


China Southern business class entertainment


China Southern business class entertainment


China Southern business class entertainment

25 minutes after takeoff the meal service began. The menu read as follows:

I found it odd that they served lunch on this flight, given that it was departing pretty early in the morning. However, my body had no clue what time it was, so I just went with it, and ordered a glass of wine to accompany the meal. The white wine I was offered was terrible, so I guess I’m happy they offered me such a stingy pour. I also had a glass of still water, and was offered a small plate with peanuts and some almonds.


China Southern business class lunch — nuts, white wine, and water

About five minutes later I was brought a tray with the starter and salad.


China Southern business class lunch

The starter consisted of a sesame roasted chicken roulade with Vietnamese prawn roll.


China Southern business class lunch — appetizer

The salad, described as a “marinated kidney bean salad,” was quite good.


China Southern business class lunch — salad

For the main course I selected the grilled beef tenderloin with onion sauce and roast potatoes. As you guys know I almost always go with the fish option, but tilapia is one fish I’m not a fan of. The steak was pretty bad, so I just had a few bites.


China Southern business class lunch — main course

Next up was dessert, which consisted of both a fruit plate and chocolate mousse. The fruit was good and the chocolate mousse was light, though I didn’t like the sauce it was served with, which tasted like Hershey’s.


China Southern business class lunch — dessert & fruit

To finish off the meal I ordered a coffee.


China Southern business class lunch — coffee

While the food wasn’t amazing, the service throughout the flight was attentive and extremely well intentioned. Shirmee was better than any of the flight attendants taking care of me on the previous flight. After the meal I checked out the business class lavatory at the front of the cabin. It didn’t have much in the way of amenities, though was at least in good condition.


China Southern business class lavatory

I dozed off for the next hour or so. 50 minutes before landing Shirmee stopped by my seat and said “we will land at 12:25PM and the ground temperature is 31. I hope you enjoy your trip.”

Just a moment later an announcement was made to prepare the cabin for landing, meaning that seats had to be placed upright and window shades opened. We didn’t even start our descent for another 20 minutes, so I’m not sure why they had to start the preparations so early.

As usual, the views on approach to Singapore were beautiful, including of all the cargo ships waiting to come into port.


View approaching Singapore


View approaching Singapore


View approaching Singapore


View approaching Singapore


View approaching Singapore

We touched down in Singapore at 12:30PM.


View approaching Singapore

From there we had a roughly five minute taxi to our arrival gate. The terminal area was fairly quiet — the only other planes nearby were a Delta 777 and some Jetstar planes.


Taxiing Singapore Changi Airport


Arrival gate Singapore Changi Airport

I was tired at this point in the journey, though had another eight hour layover before my final leg of the day to Sydney, on Singapore Airlines.

China Southern A320 business class bottom line

China Southern’s A320 business class cabin with just one row is intimate, so I liked that. I also liked the tablets they offered for entertainment, and the friendliness of the service.

However, I found the seat to be hard, I wish they had power ports on the plane, and I didn’t think the food was great. So all things considered China Southern is just alright, and not quite as good as some of the other Chinese airlines out there, in my opinion.

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Comments

  1. I flew with China Southern from CAN to KUL last August and had the same exact menu. I had the laksa style chicken which was edible but not much more. The crew was pretty nice and they even let me keep the menu card, which was pretty sensational! My flight was operated by Boeing 737 which felt more comfortable than the Airbus 319 which operated the return leg from KUL to CAN.

  2. Traditionally in China we usually will have lunch items for breakfast, e.g. a bowl of noodles. We also have things like a morning tea, which that is pretty having tea and having ‘brunch’ items. I had an early morning flight with CZ last in Y where we did have lunch as meal service

  3. “not quite as good as some of the other Chinese airlines out there, in my opinion”

    Sounds like you need to rank all the different Chinese airlines you have tried so far. Maybe one list for long haul, and another for short haul.

  4. I wonder what the 777 was doing in SIN. One of them is currently in SIN for D1Suite mods (N863DA), but this one seemed to be a -200LR.

  5. I am also curious what your ranking is for mainland carriers. There are also quite a few airlines that is not covered well on this blog like 9C or HO, which are very big airlines in their markets. I would rank it something like HU>MF>MU>CZ>(FM if it counts)>CA, but HU’s J’s hard product is not the very best, and MU and HU now is starting to allow cellphones in the sky. So even I am not sure about the rankings myself.

  6. Delta flies from Singapore to Narita on daily basis, which is convenient option for getting to Seattle, Portland and Atlanta. It used to be a Northwest flight back in the old days.

  7. Delta now uses a 767 for NRT-SIN I thought? Unless this is a random 777 that made it down.

    And Lucky, you totally have met a FA named Shirmee in the past … on China Southern as well? Was this the same one?

  8. @Naman Berry – Delta inherited the route when they acquired Northwest which flew the route for ages.

    Now downgraded to a 767 but, I actually find the onboard product to be better in the 767 (at least in economy!).

  9. There’s actually a private minivan for the business class travellers (so that you can board first and without having to stand 15 minutes on the economy buss). The reason why the other two business class travellers boarded last was probably the business class minibus was waiting for you (not knowing you have already boarded the economy class bus).

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