Flying China Southern & Korean Air A380 First Class Later This Week!

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As I’ve said in the past, one of my goals for the blog is to try every A380 first class product out there. So far I’ve flown A380 first class on Air France, British Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa, Malaysia, Qantas, Singapore, and Thai. That means of the airlines operating the A380 right now, the only ones I haven’t tried are China Southern and Korean Air. I’ll be knocking those off my list later this week, meaning I will have flown all A380s out there. Of course I’m waiting patiently for Asiana, Etihad, and Qatar to announce their first A380 routes, as they should all be taking delivery of their first A380s this year.

Now that MileagePlus miles are devalued, time to look at other ways to redeem Ultimate Rewards points

There’s no doubt that the United MileagePlus devaluation was a big hit for the value of Ultimate Rewards points. That being said, as far as I’m concerned this is an opportunity to explore some of the other great uses of Ultimate Rewards points. Cards accruing Ultimate Rewards points are still incredibly valuable, in my opinion, given the bonuses they offer. It’s tough to argue with the 2x points on dining and travel offered by the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the 5x points offered on office supply stores, and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services on the Ink Plus® Business Card and Ink Bold® Business Card in select categories (not even factoring in the huge sign-up bonuses). That has translated into cardholders earning bonus points on the bulk of their spend, which has been incredibly compelling.

My Korean Air SkyPass award

In looking at my calendar for the next two months I’ve realized that I don’t have more than a week at a time for new travel due to previous commitments, so this will be a bit of a whirlwind trip. Ultimately it’s important to me to be able to review China Southern and Korean Air A380 first class, since I know how many of you have Ultimate Rewards points and want to know about the quality of their products.

Korean Air SkyPass does have an attractive award chart for travel between the US and Asia, as they charge just 160,000 miles in first class roundtrip. This includes travel on their partner airlines, so I’m flying China Southern on the way out and Korean Air on the way back.

Given how good award availability is in first class on both of these airlines (Korean Air often releases as many as four first class award seats per flight), I’m sure many others will find these redemption opportunities lucrative as well.

What I’m looking forward to with China Southern

China Southern has eight fully enclosed suites in first class on the A380, and they look quite nice, if not a bit bland.


From Guangzhou I’ll be connecting on an A330 to another destination in Asia. I’m quite excited about that as well, as China Southern’s A330s have just one row of first class with four seats, which is the smallest first class cabin I’ve ever been in.

What I’m looking forward to with Korean Air

I’ll be returning on a Korean Air 777 flight to Seoul Incheon, connecting to a Korean Air A380 back to the US. Initially I was most excited about the champagne that I thought Korean Air served on their routes to the US. I was under the impression they serve 1998 Laurent-Perrier Alexandra Rose in first class. Then I realized they apparently only serve that on their routes to New York and Paris. And after posting about whether it’s worth routing through New York instead of Los Angeles for better champagne, it was pointed out to me that apparently Korean Air doesn’t even serve Laurent Perrier at all, but rather serves Perrier-Jouët nowadays.

So I guess that’s a moot point…

And while 110% style over substance, I do love Korean Air’s A380 video:

Anything I shouldn’t miss in Guangzhou?

I’ll be spending two days in Guangzhou during this trip. I realize it’s probably not the most exciting tourist destination, but I’m excited to visit nonetheless. Anything I shouldn’t miss while there?

Also, if anyone has any tips for maximizing China Southern or Korean Air first class (either on the ground or in the air), I’d love to hear them!

Filed Under: Awards, China Southern
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  1. Canton Tower is worth seeing, and maybe stay at the new W Hotel. The is a Sheraton resort out of the city with villas that have private pools.

  2. Guangzhou is not a very nice city, very dirty and not at all geared towards tourists (granted I was last there in 2007 when I was 9 years old).

  3. I’m so thrilled to see you are coming to Guangzhou for two days! Welcome to my base city in China. It’s a shame that I’ll be in the states when you are in China. But still, I’ll give you some tips about Guangzhou. For accommodation, I recommend the new W or the four season hotel which is located in a very cool spot, inside the new IFC tower. For shopping you’ll say you definitely need to check out the Zhengjia Square and the Tee Mall. These two malls are closed to each other in a very short walking distance. If you got some extra time, you can go check out the chimelong paradise in the suburban area(Pan Yu), they have day zoo, night time zoo, water world and a recreational park similar to the universal studios in LA/MCO. Canton Tower and the IFC is definitely worth seeing. One more thing, the traffic is extremely crazy during rush hours, the buses or the subways are oftentimes overcrowded. Guangzhou is extremely famous for its food, especially cantonese food and dimsum. It’s so unfortunate that I will not be there during your time to visit Guangzhou. Otherwise I’ll definitely show you around! Enjoy your time in GZ!

  4. We will be also traveling from LAX-ICN this weekend. I hear you can get a personalized “metal tag” (luggage tag) made at Korean Air first class lounge. By the way, I was under the impression that mixed partners are not allowed. Or maybe Emirates is not a really “Skyteam” partner that I can’t do LAX-DXB (EK) CDG-LAX (AF) in one redemption.

  5. @AC, I believe you are not able to redeem AF’s F using KE’s program. Only flyingblue members can redeem AF’S F using miles.

  6. Definitely visit Canton Tower and I would say at night better than day time due to smog. Be sure to buy the combo ticket that comes with outdoor observation deck and the “bubble car” (so I call them) circling around the tower. It is a very cool experience, but do bring a warm jacket as it might be freezing cold up there! We nearly got blew away when we there last month!

    Maybe spend a few hours strolling Shamian island, a little escape from the hectic GZ traffic. The area is very different from the rest of GZ partly due to its old European structures built in the old old days. On the street opposite to the riverside park, there are couple Chinese restaurants, one of them has tanks of swimming creatures on display –fish, crab, lobster, snake, bugs (!!) etc. And yes you can order any of them! The place also had the best pigeon I had ever had. If you rather have a burger and fries, then cross the street to Lucy’s, a blue yellow building which is hard to miss.

    A stop at the Chen family temple might also interest you. Aside from the regular stuff, they also have exhibitions. Last month was tea pots, all kinds – different color shapes types, and even a set with 12 zodiac animals! it might still be there.

    Guangzhou isn’t exactly a tourist destination and in my opinion it has unfortunately gotten worse over the years.

  7. @ Jay — Yep, there were fuel surcharges, which I’ll cover in more detail in my post tomorrow about the booking process. They were about $350 roundtrip, which isn’t horrible compared to what fuel surcharges are between the US and Europe.

  8. @ AC — You can mix SkyTeam airlines on an award, but can’t mix Korean Air/SkyTeam with their non-SkyTeam partners. Also keep in mind that Korean Air doesn’t have access to any Air France first class award space.

  9. could you elaborate the booking details of this trip, such as miles cost and are both flights on a single itinerary or separate booking using UR pts. thanks

  10. Awesome! Looking forward to this because these are two of the cabins I’m considering for my next trip to Asia!

  11. For a taste of the old China, don’t miss Quinping Market! Here’s the description from TripAdvisor: “Not recommended for the faint hearted, the largest street market in Guangzhou features 2,000 stalls, the most infamous section being the meat market where live chickens, cats, dogs, turtles and anteaters are frequently slaughtered on the spot to provide customers with fresh meat.”

    I was there in ’91 and remember the whole roasted dogs hanging on hooks like it was yesterday.

  12. Look forward to your trip reports!

    Will both of your Korean Air segments be in the Kosmo suite product or will one of them be in the Kosmo sleeper seat product?

  13. Lucky, I agree, nothign compares to private jet. I hope your trip to Asia goes well this week. I just shifted my spending to Chase UR a year ago and was depressed about the United and Hyatt devals. You are giving me a small ray of hope. I am eager to see your post about the booking process for these tix.

  14. The Grand Hyatt Guangzhou is very good. The breakfast buffet is one of the best! The area behind the Grand Hyatt walking path is good for a stroll at night with very colorful nights. Vastly improved this area of town after the Asia Games a few years ago.

  15. As others have said traffic can be a problem but only peak hours between 5-7pm still I would stick to using Uber during your stay. The 4 Seasons is amazing also check out Xing Guo Lu which is just behind the W Hotel has a good variety of bars and restaurants. Would also suggest checking out Canton Place nice little area of restaurants.

    The Mandarin Oriental opened about a year ago and their rooms are fantastic I’ve put up a few of my clients there and they enjoyed and its connected to a mall Taikoo Hui.

    Unfortunately there isn’t much to do in GZ other than roam the malls, I would stick to Tian He district and Zhujiang New City during your short stay. You can check out Mall of the World which is completely underground equipped with an IMAX theatre and spans 130,000sqm. However due to China censorship laws we don’t get too many foreign movies each year.

    Since its just 2 days you shouldn’t have a hard time keeping yourself busy. I would offer to show you around but I arrive into CAN on Saturday and fly out Sunday for Toronto.

    Enjoy your stay!

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