Review: China Southern A380 First Class Los Angeles to Guangzhou

Filed Under: China Southern, Travel

I arrived at gate 148, the departure gate, at around 9:20PM. My boarding pass said boarding was at 9:30PM, though that’s an hour before departure, so I was fully expecting the actual boarding time to be 10PM or something (in my experience non-US airlines usually board 30 minutes in advance at most).

Tom Bradley International Terminal

China Southern departure gate LAX

The first thing I noticed about the gate was the number of duty free packages people on the flight had purchased. There were several massive carts, and there were so many people that had made purchases that they “roped” off the area and created a queue.

China Southern departure gate LAX

China Southern departure gate LAX

To my surprise there was already an agent holding up a sign for business class passengers to queue, so I asked the agent where first class passengers should queue. He looked at my boarding pass and said “first class no wait, you can board anytime.” So to my surprise he directed me to the lady scanning boarding passes and she let me aboard over an hour before departure.

First aboard translates to more cabin pictures, woohoo!

China Southern departure gate LAX

China Southern A380

China Southern 328
Los Angeles (LAX) – Guangzhou (CAN)
Thursday, February 6
Depart: 10:30PM
Arrive: 5:40AM
Duration: 15hr10min
Aircraft: Airbus A380
Seat: 2A (First Class/Platinum Private Suite)

China Southern’s first class cabin is on the lower deck, so I boarded through door 1L. Of the airlines operating the A380, Air France, British Airways, Korean Air, Malaysia, Qantas, and Singapore have first class on the lower deck, while Emirates, Lufthansa, and Thai have first class on the upper deck. While airlines with first class on the upper deck typically have more first class amenities (since there’s an area in the front of the first class cabin with a bit of extra space), the lower deck is significantly wider, so the cabin feels more spacious.

China Southern has just eight first class seats on their A380s, in a 1-2-1 configuration. Per SeatGuru, here’s the seatmap:


Of the A380 products I’ve flown it reminded me most closely of Malaysia’s, which also has eight seats on the lower deck, though they’re not fully enclosed suites.

China Southern A380 first class cabin

China Southern A380 first class cabin

China Southern A380 first class cabin

China Southern A380 first class cabin

Anyway, China Southern’s A380 cabin felt a bit sterile in terms of the colors, though was ridiculously spacious and comfortable.

The flight attendant at the door directed me to place my belongings in the locker. There were eight lockers in front of the first class cabin on the left side, similar to what Lufthansa has in their A380 first class. That’s a great feature, given the lack of overhead bins in first class on the A380.

China Southern A380 first class closet

I took seat 2A, which I had pre-selected, though as soon as I sat down the flight attendant came by and asked me if I wanted to switch to seat 1K because “it may be more quiet.” I was a bit puzzled. Yes, the galley is immediately behind the first class cabin, but unless they were planning on having a Chinese New Year party in the galley with a live horse performance, I didn’t think that would be relevant.

China Southern A380 first class cabin, seat 2A

China Southern A380 first class cabin, seat 2A

China Southern A380 first class cabin, seat 2A

Since I couldn’t really figure out whether they were trying to extend a courtesy or were requesting I make the change, I decided to move to 1K. I think I figured out the logic on that later, stay tuned.

So I settled into 1K. The seat was extremely spacious. There was a large ottoman which contained a storage compartment big enough for shoes.

China Southern A380 first class ottoman

China Southern A380 first class ottoman storage

The seat controls were located on the panel to the right, while behind that was a storage compartment and the entertainment controls.

China Southern A380 first class seat controls

China Southern A380 first class entertainment controls

There’s a power port on the right side of the seat as well.

China Southern A380 first class seat power port

China Southern A380 first class pillows

At my new seat they brought the pre-departure “tray,” which consisted of a drink in a martini glass, the first class menu, and some sweets.

China Southern A380 first class pre-departure beverages

While I thought the presentation was beautiful, as it turns out it’s apple juice in the martini glass. Really… really?

China Southern must have one of the least reviewed first class products in the world, and based on asking on Twitter I couldn’t figure out which champagne they served before my flight. So I was really curious, and requested a glass of champagne pre-departure. What will they serve? Dom? Krug? Grand Siecle? Cuvee Louis?

I ordered a glass and asked her to bring out the bottle. What do they serve in international first class? You ready for this?

China Southern A380 first class Duc de Paris sparkling wine

Duc de Paris sparkling wine. It retails for 3.75Euro (~$5). I mean, is that the world’s cheapest airplane champagne? I don’t think any other airline even serves champagne that cheap in coach. I mean, I joke about airlines serving Korbel, but this is on a whole different level…


I had a glass just to see how bad it was. It tasted just like the Welch’s sparkling grape juice my mom would be me for New Years Eve when I was about 11.

So hands down this was the worst champagne trip of my life, between the lack of champagne in the lounge and the $5 champagne aboard. Anyway…

I was then offered a Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit, pajamas, slippers, and headphones. I appreciated that when she brought them to me they were packaged, and she asked if it would be alright if she unwrapped them for me. She also placed the slippers on the floor by my feet. Classy touches!

China Southern A380 first class slippers

China Southern A380 first class pajamas and amenity kit

The pajamas – while not branded – were comfortable and large.

China Southern A380 first class pajamas

The amenity kit consisted of face cream, lip balm, cologne, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a comb, earplugs, and eyeshades.

China Southern A380 first class amenity kit contents

While the headphones weren’t Bose or anything, they were fairly comfortable.

China Southern A380 first class headphones

Within 10 minutes of settling in the flight attendant came by to take both my dinner and breakfast order. I found that a bit odd, because I didn’t yet have the opportunity to review the menu. I said, “okay, let me take a look at the menu please.” So I opened the menu and instead of her giving me a few minutes, she stood here and waited for me to order.

So she took my complete dinner and breakfast order, and then asked to take the menu. I asked if I could hold onto it for a bit because I wanted to review what I was eating later, which she was fine with. Then five minutes later she came back to try and collect my menu again.

I found it odd that there was no wine or beverage list. I mean, in business class Air China has a tea list that’s as long as the Bible, and as a tea enthusiast I quite appreciate that. Meanwhile China Southern doesn’t list beverages anywhere, aside from their website, where they state that they offer “over 8 kinds of of beverage.” I guess that kinda explains things… 😉

Since business class boarding still hadn’t started I quickly headed upstairs to take a peek at the business class cabin, which looked really nice. Business class is in a staggered configuration, similar to what Alitalia has in their business class.

China Southern A380 business class cabin

China Southern A380 business class cabin

China Southern A380 business class cabin

China Southern A380 business class cabin

Sadly there was no bar or lounge in front of the business class cabin, but rather just a small beverage display and some counters.

China Southern A380 upper deck business class counter

China Southern A380 upper deck business class bar display

Once back at my seat another flight attendant came by my seat and said “my English not good, what I can call you?” I said “Ben” would be great, and she introduced herself as Tian Yuan.

At this point (seemingly out of nowhere) she closed the door to my seat. I’m not sure if they were sick of me already or they thought that was a courtesy, but I just found it a bit odd that they closed the door without asking. They didn’t check on me for about 30 minutes.

Anyway, at around 10:15PM the two other first class passengers arrived, and they were seated in 1D & 1G.

Shortly before 10:30PM the captain came on the PA to advise us of our flight time of 15hr12min – yowzers, now that’s a longhaul!

At 10:30PM we began our pushback as the safety video began to play.

Korean Air A380

Tom Bradley International Terminal A380 lineup

We had a really odd taxi which lasted 45 minutes. First we taxied to the northern runways, as if we were going to take off on runway 24L. Then we crossed the airport and taxied to the very end of runway 7R, where we held for about 10 minutes. And then we taxied along the entire length of runway 7R till we were at runway 25L, where we eventually took off at around 11:15PM. Given that our flight was blocked at 15hr10min and we had a flight time two minutes longer than that, it was clear we’d be at least an hour late (which worked great for me given the super-early arrival in Guangzhou!).

Our takeoff roll felt odd from the cabin. Usually I find they apply a bit of power for a few seconds and then the maximum power they’ll apply for the takeoff roll after a few seconds. In this case the pilots seemed to apply moderate power for at least 10 seconds, before going to takeoff power. Not judging them, but was just an odd sensation I wasn’t used to on the A380.

Our climb out over the Pacific was smooth, and eventually we turned north and overflew Santa Barbara, San Francisco, etc.

One cool thing worth noting is that China Southern makes their entertainment system available on the ground, so I could watch TV and sitcoms during the 45-minute taxi. I did find it a bit odd that all of the ads before the entertainment programming were in Chinese, even if the show was in English. Seems like a missed opportunity for advertisers…

China Southern A380 first class entertainment selection

China Southern A380 first class entertainment selection

China Southern A380 first class entertainment selection

China Southern A380 first class entertainment selection

One not cool thing worth noting is that the airshow was more or less broken. It would work for about five seconds, and then would say “Flight Data Unavailable.” The same thing happened the entire flight. They don’t have a nose or tail camera either, sadly.

China Southern A380 first class airshow

China Southern A380 first class airshow

About 10 minutes after takeoff the flight attendants got up. The seatbelt sign remained on – actually, the seatbelt sign remained on for the entire flight despite it being one of smoothest transpacific flights I’ve had in recent memory.

First the flight attendants distributed blankets and the mattress pads, which were placed on the ottoman. I found that a bit odd as well, figuring they’d distribute the mattress pads on request when the time comes.

China Southern A380 first class blanket and bedding

Then 10 minutes later the flight attendant came by to offer me a drink. I ordered a Diet Coke, which was nicely presented on a tray with some (room temperature) nuts.

China Southern A380 first class Coke Zero and nuts

At that point the dinner service began. The dinner menu read as follows:


And for reference, the Guangzhou to Los Angeles menu read as follows:


Service began with my table being set. So I thought the presentation itself was quite nice. There was also a breadbasket with two pieces of garlic bread and two rolls, though they were all lukewarm by the time they were served.

China Southern A380 first class table setting

They served the soup first, which was a cream of carrot ginger soup. It was fairly good. I’m not sure why they served the soup before the appetizer, which seems backwards.

China Southern A380 first class dinner — cream of carrot ginger soup

Then they served the hors d’oeuvre. I selected the tomato mousse and crabmeat with sundried tomato dressing. That was the only part of the meal that was exceptional, in my opinion.

China Southern A380 first class dinner — tomato mousse and crabmeat

Then for the main course I ordered the stir fry prawn dish, which was also fairly good, though not exactly “first class.”

China Southern A380 first class dinner — stir fried prawns

Next I had a cheese course, which was nicely presented, if nothing else.

China Southern A380 first class dinner — cheese plate

And lastly I had blueberry cheesecake with a cappuccino.

China Southern A380 first class dessert — blueberry cheesecake

So the service was extremely efficient. From the time the soup was served to the time the cheesecake was cleared was just over 30 minutes. I was the only one eating, so the flight attendant was like a hawk when it came to clearing plates.

I can’t say service was friendly or unfriendly. I understand when there’s a language barrier it often makes the crew less confident in their service, and that can be perceived as indifference.

So I didn’t get any smiles and didn’t get any questions as to how the food was, but at the same time she was on top of the service, so…

But the food itself was really a good business class meal at best. None of the food really “felt” very first class, and between that and the lack of decent champagne…

After dinner I asked for my bed to be made, which was promptly taken care of.

China Southern A380 first class suite

China Southern A380 first class suite bedding

China Southern A380 first class suite bedding

I took the opportunity to check out the first class bar, which is located on the left side in front of the cabin. It just featured a fruit basket and some wine.

China Southern A380 first class bar

I also visited the lavatory. There’s just one for the first class cabin, and it’s located in front of the cabin to the right. It also seems to be the official bathroom for the entire 20-person crew, because it was occupied for 20-minute periods for 90% of the flight, and smelled accordingly. Not only did it smell accordingly, but there were consistently brown “streaks” in the toilet bowl. It sure seemed like they took the whole “year of the horse” thing pretty seriously.

China Southern A380 first class lavatory

China Southern A380 first class lavatory amenities

I was tired so headed back to my seat to sleep. The mattress pad itself was really thin and more of a sheet than anything. The blanket was great – it was comfortable and at the same time not too hot. And there were two pillows which were good as well.

The seat was incredibly spacious and it’s great to have a door that closes, so I slept exceptionally well – possibly the best airplane sleep I’ve gotten in a while. I slept for six hours solid, and woke up with about eight hours to go to Guangzhou. Man, these ultra longhauls are long!

China Southern A380 first class airshow

China Southern A380 first class airshow

At this point I noticed that all eight suite doors were closed. I couldn’t quite figure out why since there were only three passengers, so I peeked over the barriers to see what was going on. As it turns out the other five were all occupied by flight attendants.

Ultimately that didn’t bother me since it didn’t detract from my experience (or lack thereof) in any way, but I just found that a bit odd, as most airlines have a policy against that.

I eventually fell asleep again for another four hours, and woke up with about four hours to go to Guangzhou. Again, all the suites were still occupied, though this time with different people. The (one person) suite behind me had one lady and two small kids in it. What the…?

When I went up to use the restroom I saw the captain sitting in the flight attendant jumpseat reading a newspaper. Just very, very odd…

I was rather hungry at this point, and couldn’t believe that China Southern really doesn’t have any in-flight snacks on a 15 hour flight. Heck, on Cathay Pacific I’m pretty sure my favorite food they serve are the mid-flight snacks, between the crab cakes, noodles, and egg tarts.

Meanwhile China Southern only had saran wrapped ham and croissant sandwiches. So I had one of those, and followed that up with some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream from the dessert menu from dinner.

China Southern A380 first class snack

China Southern A380 first class snack

At this point I was awake so watched a few sitcoms on TV. I eventually ordered another cappuccino and accidentally spilled some. I was in the “bed” position and the lavatory was occupied (or else I would have gotten napkins myself), so pushed the flight attendant call button and asked for some napkins. She didn’t understand me. I pointed at my shirt, made a “rubbing” motion, and again asked for some napkins. She nodded her head as if she understood what I meant.

A minute later the other flight attendant shows up — “my partner says you need something?” “Yes, I spilled coffee all over my shirt, could I have a napkin please?” Again, I’m pointing at my shirt which has coffee stains all over it. She says “ah, you would like more coffee?”

I again said “napkin,” and made a rubbing motion on my shirt as if I was trying to clean it. She comes back a minute later wearing gloves with a box of Kleenex tissues. Maybe she misunderstood the rubbing motion I was making? I dunno…

China Southern A380 first class coffee

After that ordeal I decided to watch some more TV shows, and started with The Mentalist, which I found oddly enjoyable.

China Southern A380 first class entertainment

About two hours before landing breakfast was served. The breakfast menu read as follows:


And for reference, the Guangzhou to Los Angeles breakfast menu read as follows:


I had ordered the dim sum. It really wasn’t good at all, unfortunately, though the presentation was nice at least.

China Southern A380 first class dim sum breakfast

China Southern A380 first class dim sum breakfast

China Southern A380 first class dim sum breakfast

It was served with cereal, and I selected Frosted Mini-Wheats, which was probably the best part of the breakfast.

China Southern A380 first class breakfast

There was also a breadbasket consisting of a muffin, croissant, and toast. I’m not sure why, but the toast was hard as could be, unfortunately.

China Southern A380 first class breakfast

After breakfast I changed out of my pajamas and stowed my carry-ons. We began our descent, and as we initiated our descent one of the flight attendants came by to say “I hope you fly with us again.” I wasn’t sure what to say, so just said “thank you” and nodded.

China Southern A380 first class airshow

We touched down in Guangzhou on runway 2R at around 6:15AM, and had a roughly 10 minute taxi to the gate.

We arrived at gate 106, and from there it was quite a hike to immigration. The flight from Amsterdam had just landed so there were quite a few passengers ahead of me, though fortunately they were almost all Chinese citizens. So the foreign immigration line was short.

Unfortunately once I got to the window I was informed that since I was transiting without a visa I’d have to go to “the transit office.” I asked where that was, but he didn’t understand me. So I got out of line and another agent approached me, and I showed him my e-ticket and said “transit.” He directed me to the “Special Services” lane, where the agent helped me. It did take him about five minutes to process my entry, though soon enough I was on my way.

Guangzhou arrival hall

Once past immigration it was just a quick walk through baggage claim to the outside roadway.

Guangzhou arrival hall

I took a taxi to the W Hotel, which took about 45 minutes.

Guangzhou arrival hall

Bottom line

China Southern has a really solid hard product on their A380. While I’m not a huge fan of the color scheme, the suites are spacious, and with only eight seats it’s a very private cabin. That being said, the soft product left a lot to be desired. The food was business class quality, and the alcohol selection was pathetic. The service seemed indifferent at best, though that may have in part been due to the language barrier.

Believe it or not, I wouldn’t really avoid them in the future, though I would come in with different expectations. At the end of the day there’s not a much more comfortable product in which to get ~15 hours of sleep… assuming you can sleep that long.

  1. Thanks for reviewing, definitely not going out of my way to try this product…. I would be keen to see if anything will improve on the back of your detailed review and comments. The line: “It sure seemed like they took the whole “year of the horse” thing pretty seriously”. Seriously had me laughing out loud!!!

  2. The pajamas and bedding look exactly the same as what they gave me when I flew business class on that flight. Amenity contents are same. The food looks slightly better than what I remember in biz. I think the main differentiator between biz and first is the suite. The good biz seats are the ones where the seat is directly next to the window, separated from the aisle by the table – when you are sleeping it feels reasonably private.

  3. If I had boarded that first class 1 hour prior to other passengers and they served me “French Korbel” as first class champagne I would still have time to get my smartphone and look for award space in any other Asian airline leaving LAX on that night. Good bye China Southern….. Welcome real first class!!! 🙂 As for the in-flight loading of the first class cabins that seems to me that FAs had their own side business and were making something by “allowing” passengers to use them. If I had paid for a first class seat I would be very mad. It reminds me of that BA flight couple years ago when the guy on first class woke up in the middle of the night to find a dead woman sitting next to him. Classy!!!!!

  4. Two words to summarize this trip report: condescending, melodramatic.

    Admittedly, the service wasn’t as “First Class” as CX, LH, OZ, SQ, or TG. You didn’t have to be so cynical about flight attendants who didn’t speak “your language” well.

    It’s not that you can’t post negative comments on an airline’s service. It’s the general undertone between the lines that makes you sound condescending and like a spoiled little princess, or maybe that’s what you were aiming for? lol

  5. @ Gabe — Nope, sadly not, though there does seem to be quite a bit discussion at China Southern regarding the flight, based on what I’ve been told.

  6. @ Tam — I respect your opinion. I aim to write detailed trip reports which comment on every aspect of a flight’s service. China Southern had, by far, the worst first class “service” I’ve had on any foreign carrier. Period. Hopefully that’s useful to my readers, who may have fewer miles and fewer vacations days than I do.

    And I wasn’t intending to be condescending. I think the language barrier is worth noting. Just as I think airlines should have at least some German speaking flight attendants on routes to Germany, I think they should always have English speaking flight attendants on flights to the US. Just my two cents…

  7. Ben,
    Any tissue is fine but napkin is a women thing.
    She just didn’t understand why you want to wipe your face with that? and lucky she didn’t give you one of those….

  8. Lucky, at least you had edible food! My flight from CAN-YVR on CZ was quite bad… dripping condensation water on my head in a tired 777, and completely inedible food.

  9. Not sure what fares are like ex. LAX but from MEL their business class fares to LHR via CAN tend to be cheaper than CX/BA/QF premium economy fares and first tends to be cheaper than business. Good hard product and low fares wins out for me.

  10. Funny, Ben and Jenny’s ice-cream – you would think they would have someone in their LA office proof the English on the menu. Also, I’m legitimately curious what “snow fungus and lotus seeds with apple sweet soup” is…

  11. @ Ed — That’s a great point, their business class fares do seem to be very reasonable, so it can still be a great value.

  12. As usual, informative and entertaining (and just the right tine). Sadly, you had a very typical experience of Chinese service. I’ve seen things improve drastically over the years going back to see friends and family, but they’re coming from a very different place with regards to customer service (itself a new concept). So…thanks for taking one for the team.

  13. Thanks for the great trip report. Sometimes, when you have a negative impression of one aspect of a trip it’s very easy to generalize add negative comments to everything. You avoided that. I felt that your report was fair and balanced and you supported your opinions with facts. After reading your review, I’ll stay in China Southern business class – the upgrade cost to first doesn’t support the added value of the first class product.

  14. Greg: The Chinese have a word for English errors like Ben and Jenny”s: Chinglish. It usually comes from hiring Chinese who also “speak” English (so to speak).

    Lucky: Did you happen to notice if the Champagne was upgraded after takeoff? It used to be a fairly common airline practive to serve cheaper champagne before takeoff, then upgrade to the good stuff while in flight.

    Great review. Really informative.

  15. Informative review. Makes me want to try this product in a few months. Seems your initial review and this review will may have some affect on CZ.

    I know this is a subjective question, but for yourself, what’s the ranking of F products?

    As for the communication issues, that’s what charades are for, as you demonstrated. Makes it fun imho, at the very least memorable!

  16. Wow. Sounds like an abuse by the China Southern Air Cabin Staff.

    Sleeping in the First Class Cabin is one.

    Then putting non-First Class passengers there. Some may be family members and friends. I just hope it is not like someone here suggested earlier, a paid upgrade but into the staff’s pockets.

    I think you did a good job with your review and if there was a complete abuse of the system, perhaps you could have gotten a better First experience than what you have.

    Pls share with us as we all want to know what exactly is the airline policy (when they get back to you) with Staff sleeping in Suites & non-First passengers being upgraded to First later.

    I really do think it was an abuse of the system. Do not forget that this increases the security risk when you wanted the First Cabin to be exclusive, and yet almost anyone could get into it. Just on this alone, I would not be able to justify the spending on First Class with them.

  17. WHAT?! They served you the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream instead of the Ben & JENNY’s? How disgraceful! Now, I really want to try the Ben & JENNY’s ice cream(see the menu?). 😉

  18. is the Ferragamo amenity kit real or also a knock off ? they did a pretty good job copying the CX pyjamas ? i have a paid of those blue and orange.

  19. For what it’s worth, I find the word serviette is better understood in Asia than napkin.

    Overall this flight has no shortage of memorable quirks. Some of the awkward moments remind me of one of my short haul 777 Air China flights… I had a cabin of 49 seats to myself, and the cabin crew had no idea what to do with me. Instead of a menu, they just prepared one of each item and asked me to pick.

    Anyway, thanks for the informative trip report.

  20. A couple of the things you are calling out are “normal” from a Chinese perspective:

    1) Waiting while you look at a menu (typical in restaurants across the country)

    2) Limited differentiation between napkins and tissue…often used in the same situations.

    Again, your right to find these odd, but can go both ways.

  21. Laughed the whole way through. I just pictured you in these awkward situations, perusing the cabin and seeing different people in seats throughout the flight.

  22. Hmm… After the fireworks that occured when you posted the preview, I was expecting it to be worse or — I suppose — I was already prepared for it 🙂

    @ Lucky — so you think that FAs wanted all people to move up to first row so that it was more convenient for them to use row 2 themselves? And, at least, I didn’t see any mention of smoking which, upon reading of FT, seems to happen pretty often on Chinese airlines (pilots and crew can smoke).

  23. again, I hope someone here forward this full report to head of the company and let them see with their own eyes. Its not to shame a company but to point out whats going on with the functionality of its airlines and crews. Its a shame to have a $300 million dollars airplane and the crew treated as a commuter bus in F class.

  24. I’ve had a similar experience at immigration in PEK but I actually was in transit. Taking LX from ZRH, landed really early and since I was in transit I had to use the special transit desk at immigration. Which wasn’t manned. I was the first person there and waited about 8 minutes for someone to arrive as the line grew behind me. Eventually got through and went through other kind of immigration desk/passport check before I went through security to get back to the departures area.


  25. Flew business on CZ a couple times last year… had pretty much the same experience.

    Started with 10 passengers in the whole section, woke up and every seat was filled with crew and/or other people who weren’t there for dinner.. the crew member across the aisle from me slept without pants on (I didn’t notice until he stood up just before landing, to put them back on).

    The language barrier was pretty hard in general. The seat was pretty great though, so I would do it again!

  26. @ Anthony — Thanks for the clarification, makes perfect sense! Was my first time flying on an A380 out of LAX, so guess that’s why it was unusual to me.

  27. @ GlobalGourment — Nope, I specifically asked, and they said it was the same champagne (though like everything else it could have been a communication issue). Then again, on Guangzhou to Tokyo it was the same champagne in first class once again.

  28. @ CL — Best A380 first class products? Stay tuned for a side-by-side comparison. After all, that’s why I tried all of them. 😉

  29. @ Ivan Y — My guess is they wanted all the passengers in the first row so that they had the second row and area around the galley all to themselves.

  30. Mainland China carriers have a history of premium cabin abuse. I remember flying on CA in the mid ’90s, and our family would always get bumped up to C/F because we did business with the station manager (who has since retired). And this was an allowed practice back then! It really tightened up when CA joined *A, and the last unofficial “bump” we got was in ’08. This occurred after boarding was completed. I am glad that the abuse is not as rampant as before; recently I have heard that CA has been firing abusers of the system. Hopefully CZ will tighten up their policies as well. It truly dilutes a premium cabin experience.

  31. @hkairlinenews – When I fly first class I do not separate hard and soft product. It is first class all the way or it is not. Can I pay just for the hard product of the first class (1/2 of the ticket price) and bring my own food? No. Thus, real first class is the sum of hard and soft product such as Emirates, Ethiad, Air France, Cathay, Lufthansa and a few others. China Southern, United and even AA should be forbidden to use the term “first class” on their planes. They are misleading their customers.

  32. If the company’s senior officials are truly discussing this flight based on your online feedback, seems that the crew picked the wrong flight to screw around with the F cabin seats and F lavatory. I somehow get the feeling that the China Southern crews won’t be doing that anymore. But clearly there was more going on than meets the eye on that flight, and i suspect it started with the cheap champagne you were served.

  33. Thank you for the informative and entertaining trip report. Really enjoyed reading it with my 3 year old son 🙂 First class seats situation really puzzled me, hope we will find out what really happened. I am of the opinion, that hard and soft must go together, based on your report, I would not fly them, no matter how wonderful suite is by itself. Thanks !

  34. @Santastico,
    Funny how LH still has a ton of aircraft with dated F seats, worse than UA, AA (even 772), CA, CZ.

  35. Hi lucky, thanks for the report! I didn’t expect a raving report especially since it was a china southern product! Having sat in business from can-sin, the only real benefit that I thought was worth it was the amount of check in baggage you’re allowed -3 pieces at 23 kg each! Also, we paid extra for an additional piece of luggage for something like usd90 which is a steal because SQ is like usd200+. But beware, the ground staff refused to accept my chase sapphire preferred. We asked for a reason (we speak good Chinese) and they refused to explain and tossed the card back to us and asked for another. They were very rude and with 3 representatives being available, nobody took the time to assist us!! Either way, my husband was transferred to guangzhou for 4 years and our experience there was a horror. We’ve since moved to taipei and it’s like a whole other world. Btw, napkin is ”zhi jing” in mandarin in case anyone is interested. 🙂

  36. Excellent trip report!
    This report clarifies my imagination of China Southern first class experience.
    Thank you for scouting!

  37. An amusing review: First, that one heck of a long flight! But eight seats in FC – three occupied by ticket holders – should boost the soft service, even without the Engrish problems.. I guess not. That personal suite reminds me of a long-haul Amtrak train, but muuuch cleaner. The duty-free baggage is amusing; don’t those folks understand that they are still getting screwed? The PJs, both colors and the rope-knot buttons are fun; I hope you kept them. And the food and beverages? What can I say? the pix show nice presentation, but with minimal care, it could be presented so much better. The half egg with the b’fast spread is pathetic, likely cooked 24++ before service and beyond help. One has to ask if they test this stuff at the age of actual service and after 12+ hours on a horribly dry environment. Most really do, but I guess China Southern does not listen to their caterers. And lastly, LMAO about that ‘sparkling wine.’ Sleeping crew in the UO seats is understandable – sort of, but their domination of the single FC lav, and their residuals is probably worth a letter to their principal U.S. agent or office. Disgusting! Good report and clearly not the line that I would select, especially for a 15+ hour trip.

  38. Seems you are becoming a little obsessed with champagne 😉

    All in all, while it does seem to have a solid hard product, the soft product leaves quite a bit to be desired. I guess this is an airline you just fly to mark off a checklist, and not one to fly again (unless you plan on sleeping the whole time).

  39. @NO Fly Zone, the half egg is a traditional Chinese delicacy called Salted Egg. It supposed to be a little bit chewy and hard.
    @Audreyu8 Napkin would be “can jing”, tissue would be “zhi jing” I don’t think we differentiate the usage of the two woods that much
    @lucky I believe the crews are facing disciplinary actions according to source. The original chief purser is now working in the main cabin.

  40. @Tam – You want condescending and negative racial undertones, just go over to Gary at View from the Wing. Just make sure not to click on any of his credit card affiliate links. He can’t help himself and usually says something ‘condescending’ or something with ‘negative racial undertones’ once every other week or so.

    Ben on the other hand is the furthest from that. He was real nice when I met him at one of the FT Universities. I met and saw Gary a while back to and he just came off as an arrogant, insensitive jerk. Then I read some of his postings and that confirmed it for me.

    Lucky is the BEST!!!!

  41. From what I read from Weibo (Chinese microblog), the cabin crew who served you in the first class cabin on that LAX-CAN flight already received “punishment” from CZ. Basically everyone of that crew is now put on lower ranks and some of them are not allowed to serve in first class any more.

  42. @Lucky

    In general not just on A380. To narrow it down, how did this flight compare to International F on US Carriers? From what I’ve read in this review, it seems even worse than US Carriers F, which is a feat in itself.

    I personally would’ve chalked this trip experience to meeting expectations when flying a China based carrier.

  43. Is this “upgrade” practice standard for Chinese airlines? I’ve got a flight in economy coming up with China Air and would love to upgrade after takeoff.

  44. I try to book CZ with skymiles but the delta agent can’t find any seats. I tried 3 different agents and the answer was the same. LAX-CAN-LAX, 4/9 to 4/24. Expertflyer show O-9, O-5 respectively. I called Korean Air and use Air France’s site and they were both available. Does CZ restrict business class booking to delta?

  45. you may be suprised to see the discussions triggered by this trip report on Chinese media. Looks like CZ is taking it very seriously

  46. I think this is an excellent review. I love the China Southern product and it is attractively priced. At the same time, it does look like the crew did some things they should not have done here and the restroom issue is a problem.

  47. Lucky, if you were flying China Southern in business and could upgrade to first at reasonable price, would you do it? Have an upcoming flight from LA to Kuala Lumpur on CZ and wondering if it would be worth it to see if a paid upgrade is possible if the price is reasonable.

    A few months ago, I took CX business from Dubai to LA via Guangzhou and was pleasantly surprised (although my expectations were low.) A380 hard product is quite good, comparable to Emirates and better than Korean and Malaysia; the food and beverage was adequate although not stellar.

    One other thing, shortly after boarding in CAN, an announcement was made over the PA system that “On board upgrade system is in process” (or something like that.) Anyone know what that is?

  48. @ Bill Sweeney — I’d definitely consider upgrading if the cost were reasonable for the superior hard product. It is a great hard product if nothing else.

  49. @ Bill Sweeney – Upgrades are definitely possible with SkyPearl miles in most cases but one needs to call Guangzhou and it is a lot easier in Chinese than English. First is sometimes even empty and offers great value in most cases. I’ve heard the same announcements about in-flight upgrades and am not sure what they are.

  50. Well… about the First Class being occupied… see, that is the reason every time I fly Air China I am in either business or first. It is popular in China to go through unofficial “side channels,” where around $200 USD will get me into business, or first depending on the specific flight attendant. This of course hinges on the fact that you know someone who is a FA or a captain.

  51. The tray that hold the dim sum is obviously a plastic tray from Y ! Even if they have to serve food from Y, wouldn’t you think the FA would at least put the dim sum on a F plate to serve at the very least ?

    @ No Fly Zone – It seems like you are not familiar with Chinese or southeast Asian cuisine at all ! That half egg is a salted egg rather than a fresh egg ! No one eat congee with a fresh broiled egg ! Salted egg is a very common side dish/condiment to accompany congee, just like the pickles next to it, as plain congee has no flavor at all, the salted egg and pickles are used as to “spiced up” the congee ! The salted egg is an “old” egg rather than “fresh” egg, as it has to go through a salt curing process that takes up weeks at a time in order for the entire egg that including the yolk to be completely salted, rather than just add salt on the top the egg. Also, you won’t crack open the shell of the egg not til you re ready to eat, so it wouldn’t be dry at all. Salted egg is also very common to accompany with, when you order a barbecue pork and roast duck over rice dish in a Chinese restaurant.

  52. Upon being seated, the apple juice martini and dire $5-a-bottle champagne were probably as prescient a tip-off as to the remainder of the flight as anything. Nice review. One of the most interminable layovers I’ve ever had in my life was at the woebegone Guangzhou airport a few years ago. Twelve hours of hell, followed by a 15-hour flight on China Southern. I should have gotten a medal when I got off the plane in L.A.

  53. Sparkling white wine should NEVER be confused with, or refered to as, champagne! Two entirely different things in every respect. I do notice in most Economy cabins, the FAs refer to it as champagne in offering around the water/orange juice/champagne (not) tray around take-off time.

  54. This is one of the MOST USEFUL reviews I’ve ever written. It was a novel with three acts… I am so grateful! And I’m sending my client on Cathay.

  55. I flew the Guangzhou to LAX on the A380 last year. They don’t offer paid upgrades at the desk. I was told I had to ask the attendants once I was boarded. I did ask upon boarding as well as they announced that if anyone wanted an upgrade to ask. I got upgraded from economy to business for $1100 which they charged my card before I was allowed up. Once in business they gave me the Salvatore kit but for meals they said since we were originally booked in economy they didn’t have any extra meals so I was given my economy meals for the duration.

    It’s possible that the family sitting in first had also paid the upgrade during the flight and not a upgrade as a favor.

  56. Thank you for writing this report. I enjoyed reading your opinion on China Southern Airlines.

    What I enjoyed most was all the photographs that you took during your flight, that made the trip more real for me.

    What you have done though, is make me want to take a trip on this airline. You have given a truthful view on how you felt about it all, BUT it actually reads well for China Southern Airlines.

    I actually burst out laughing at the way you viewed things, but I understand why you felt that way, it was a different cultural experience for you. The way you reacted was understandable, but IMHO, you wrote a good report for your experience flying the China Southern Mighty A380.

    Have you flown any other trips on the Mighty A380 with other airlines?

  57. This review is truthful and breaks the experience down nicely. I was thinking of taking business class from JFK to CAN in November with CS. I have always been flying business class with Cathay as long as this kind of crazy long haul trips are concern. I have always appreciate the kind of service Cathay was able to offer. The only thing that made me ever consider taking a flight with CS is to avoid the transit time I will waste at the HK airport if I take Cathay. But this review is making me think twice about flying with CS since all the times I have flied with them was not pleasant regardless of long or short haul. I still remember my CS flight from Guangzhou to Seoul that a passenger open the overhead while the plane was on the runway to take off and the FA just walked by. The luggage was literately jiggling in the overhead ready to bounce out. That freaked me out as to how professionally trained these crews can be. Honestly, when I broad the plane my life is in their hands. That’s why I have always try to avoid CS flights ever since. I think this review is giving me better insight to reach my decision.

  58. Personally, I agree that CS did not have the “best” servace. But please, it came across as a bit rude about what you said about the flight attendent…

  59. If an airlines has for destination the US the least they could do is speak ENGLISH !! nothing condescending about that, thats just common sense . Never mind the common sense thing or professionalism , I understand its entirely waisted on a Chinese carrier . I do thank the reporter for his article I just wish I would have read it earlier and for my part I can honestly say business class on china southern was a horrible experience never to be repeated , its united airlines from now on . Ho ! and for good measure they manage to loose my luggages LOL.

  60. I must have had the same crew on my two flights his week. On the a380 fight was woken up by the smell of cigarette smoke five times and then again on my a319 flight twice I could smell someone smoking in the plane. Food was lack luster. Service was atrocious. It’s an experience I’d never like to have again.

  61. probably thiefery and conartists. 5$ champaigne–seriously for F? This again presents yet more examples of abuse and fraud in Chinese airlines. Lotsa funny business and BS.

  62. At least from a hard product perspective, the first and business class seats look like what is used by Asiana on its A380s.

  63. And that’s why I never want to fly on a china airline, and on more general terms, I never want to use anything made by china

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