More details on China Southern Airbus 380 unveiled

As I wrote about in this post, China Southern will be launching Airbus 380 service between Los Angeles and Guangzhou starting October 12, 2012. This is pretty exciting news because they seem to have a very nice business class product on the Airbus 380 consisting of staggered, fully flat seats. China Southern partners with Delta SkyMiles, so this is a great use of SkyMiles for travel to Asia, given that award availability is wide open and can be searched on ExpertFlyer.

Anyway, at the time of my last posting there wasn’t all that much information on the cabin configuration of their Airbus 380, though China Southern now has a dedicated website for the plane, which I recommend checking out. To see pictures of their business class you’ll actually have to select “First Class,” as that’s how they market the product (while the “real” first class is marketed as “Deluxe First Class”). As you can see, it’s a really solid hard product.

Their “real” first class (“Deluxe First Class”) looks pretty great as well:

Anyway, I’m going to make an effort to sample both cabins this year — business class using Delta SkyMiles, and first class using Ultimate Rewards points transferred to Korean Air’s SkyPass program. In the meantime if you’re eying travel to Asia and have SkyMiles to redeem I’d certainly be aiming for China Southern on the A380.

(Tip of the hat to Point Me to the Plane)

Filed Under: Advice, Awards
  1. Nice post! Got me thinking as I have UR points and those deluxe first class seats look great.

    On expertflyer, is the first class availability they show the businessfirst or the deluxe first?

    Very cool.

  2. I can’t even remember the last time I worked for a US company that paid for first class travel without some sort of secondary approval process. Which is how we ended up with business class in the first place, or so I thought. Regardless if China Southern has a great product and great service it would seem as though they’re making things harder on themselves when it comes to average business travelers trying to get their expenses approved quickly and easily. Am I missing something, or are they risking shooting themselves in the foot here?

  3. Lucky-do you know about how much fuel surcharges run on China Southern through using SkyMiles. I believe I read that China Southern is one of the few partners where Delta levies the surcharges on the passenger.

  4. Within China:
    First Class = Luxury First
    Business Class = First Class

    Luxury First = First
    First Class = Business Class.

    This is due to regulations in China. The are not selling “Business” class as anything else for int’l flights.

  5. PS: I have flown their A380 several times. Good product, great service. Very attententive without being obtrusive. Prefer this of the medieval servant behaviour of some SE-Asia airlines.

  6. @William IV Actually, it’s basically all but the European partners for which DL collects YQ (and even some of them have YQ collected). The YQ will depend on your routing, so put the China Southern segments into ITA Matrix and see what it reports in the YQ and YR categories. (I’d set the sales city to LAX and the currency to USD, as these surcharges do vary by ticket issuance in some cases.) Don’t search segment-by-segment, for example, if you’re flying from LAX to BKK via CAN, just do a the LAX-BKK search since that’s how DL would price it.

  7. @Dax: Air Canada markets their business class as Executive First and seems to be doing OK (although maybe some company travel offices refuse to buy it). I would hope that most travel offices look at the situation and realize that it’s business class, especially since when you search for business class on any booking engine other than the carrier’s, that’s what comes up. I suspect that most business travellers are booking through corporate travel portals or travel agents, and I’d bet that the receipts come through as “business” regardless of what the carrier calls it (e.g., BA shows “Business” and not “Club World”).

  8. The “First Class” (J cabin) looks a lot like AZ’s new J product. Don’t get why airlines do this marketing nonsense all it does is confuse people.

  9. Nice photos of the seats, but they left out one of the more important sets of photos: how the seats look when reclined and in bed mode. Are they true lie-flat seats?

    lucky, get on one of those planes and let us know how it compares to Korean’s product!

  10. I’m assuming that you can only get the business class seats (“first”)using Delta Skypesos given that they block international in real first class?

  11. @ Dax — Yeah, I completely agree with you. Kind of like what Singapore did with Suites. While some executives can justify flying first class, flying “Suites” just seems excessive. In fairness they do still code it with business class fare buckets, and they are often the cheapest option, so maybe it’s not that much of an issue in practice.

    @ Josh G — Yeah, seems to be similar to Alitalia and Brussels Airlines.

    @ Autolycus — Since the seat is very similar to that of Alitalia and Brussels Airlines it should be fully flat.

    @ Stephan — Correct.

  12. @ William IV — Typically under $300 roundtrip to Asia, though I suggest using the method Mitch outlines above.

  13. 2 questions:

    1. is there a comprehensive list anywhere for which partners DL charges YQ on and how much one would expect the YQ to be on a typical itinerary?

    2. Why is expert flyer discussed so much more than KVS? Doesn’t KVS have better coverage (in terms of searching nearly all partner airlines) for award searches?

  14. @ HoKo — I don’t think there’s a list anywhere, though in general YQs apply for:
    — ALL awards originating in Europe
    — Awards on non-SkyTeam partner airlines, as well as China Southern, China Eastern, and Korean Air.

    Did I miss any?

    As far as the second question goes, it’s a function of personal preference. I refuse to use KVS, though I know others find it useful.

  15. @lucky, @HoKo: Kenya Airways, Air Europa, Aeroflot, China Airlines, and Vietnam Airlines generally also incur surcharges. We did have a report on MilePoint recently of someone booking a trip that included NRT-SGN-SIN on VN but the YQ charged was only for the KE segments PVG-ICN-LAX on the return. There’s little rhyme or reason to it, unfortunately.

    The other broad class of awards that incur surcharges are awards originating in the Middle East with travel on AF or KL (and maybe AZ, but no one’s tested it).

    Good things to know: SV and AR don’t charge fuel surcharges on revenue tickets, so it’s not there on award tickets. Not that either is an aspirational award, but if you really want to get somewhere…

  16. I doubt you can redeem CZ deluxe first CAN-LAX via KE. And if you want to see more pictures for CZ’S A380 deluxe first, just email me. I flied PEK-CAN once before.

  17. Looks good for the hard product, but I’m still skeptical for the soft product, or to be more specific, the service. The impression that China (airlines and as a whole) left on me was that appearances can be deceiving. Service, kindness and warmth were lacking, and if something goes wrong, it’s your fault. It felt like they were using good hard product to compensate for poor soft product.

    Look fwd to the report. Are you going to try and fly other Skyteam airlines other than CZ on this trip or in the future?

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