To summarise Part 1 – I’d spent 3.5 hours in the non transit friendly Guangzhou Airport, boarded the aircraft in a well executed manner, turned down a not so badly priced on board upgrade and asked my seat-neighbour to move from my pre-assigned window seat in order to have the luxury of the extra storage between the seat and the window.
As we taxied past the Los Angeles bound China Southern Airlines a380, I flicked through the 40 or so movies, dozens of T.V shows and other entertainment options, games books and a moving map, on offer through the airlines AVOD (Audio Visual On Demand) on the 9″ seat back screens. There wasnt the largest library of new release films but a variety of international movies from a number of countries. One of the good things I noticed was the ability to watch a movie or show from as soon as you sit down, there is no waiting to be up in the air before the system to start streaming the content. Obviously, the programming is stopped when the safety demonstration is played. The only major drawback I found with the system is that the headphone jack is located on the seatback underneath the screen which meant my seat-neighbour had to pause her movie or show and remove the headphones from the jack each time I wanted to pass her to go to the bathroom – poor girl, she lost her window seat with extra storage and elbow room and now I’m annoying her during the flight….
While on the subject of the bathroom, there were some lovely hand cream and moisturiser in a neat little cane basket – a nice little touch for economy I thought!
As soon as we were in the air, the cabin crew loaded up the drinks trolley for the economy passengers and made their way down the aisle. I ordered a white wine, a Chinese brand, of which half a cup was poured from the bottle into a thin, almost lip-slicing-as-you-sip plastic cup. Although not as chilled as I would like it, it wasn’t as warm as I have had on some airlines. Not long after the drink service and the crew were back in the rear galley preparing the trolleys for the dinner service.
There was no seat-back carded or on screen menu indicating the options for dinner but rather the old fashioned “chicken or fish?, chicken or fish?” was asked, row by row as the trolley made its way down the aisle. ‘Chicken or fish’ really only describes a small part of what the dish is, not how its cooked or what it comes with, so when the trolley reached my row I asked to take a look at both meals. The fish dish was exactly the same as what I had on my previous flight a few hours earlier, so as you can see, I chose the chicken dish. The main nothing special but everything was cooked properly and it did have a bit of flavour about it. The meal highlight, believe it or not, was the small side salad, the cucumber was still crisp and the prawns or shrimp, depending on where you are from, retained their flavour and weren’t those watery tasteless variety so often had in flight. The desert, however, was tasteless and I only really had half a mouthful and left it.
Blankets, pillows, drinks, magazines everything was placed on that storage area as people settled in after dinner for the 7 or so hours we left had ahead. I had another plastic cup or two of white wine – only medicinal – to try and help me sleep 😉 I wouldn’t have asked for a third as the crew seemed a little shocked that I had asked for more than the glass offered with dinner – but I did manage to get a couple of hours eye-rest. Sleeping sitting straight up isn’t easy and most of the semi-conscious state I was in was spent wishing I was now in that Business Class bed!
When the sun rose, we were flying over Australia’s Northern Territory and only had a few hours left to go. The crew were busying themselves again in the galley preparing the trolleys for the breakfast service. I did try to go and take a picture of the long galley area but the crew asked me not to take pictures why they were working – fair enough.
When the flight attendant reached my row he asked whether I would like the Chinese or western breakfast. I asked for the western and he accidentally gave me the Chinese which, upon peeling back the tin foil lid, didn’t look like something I could eat. I asked to swap to the western and the attendant promptly did so. The western breakfast was ok, and tasted a bit better than it looked. The eggs and potato hash were the highlight, the baked beans not so much, they tasted under cooked. Surprisingly, the croissant was quite decent for airline pastry, although came with no butter. There was a small side dish of fruit, watermelon and jack fruit, which was also quite nice.
The decent into Sydney was a slightly rough one due to the miserable weather the city was experiencing but we landed on time and parked next to another Airbus a380 operated by Qantas Airways.
After we landed and the seat belt sign was extinguished – and my seat neighbour making a dash for the doors – those in economy got to make one last walk through the Business Class cabin and get to look at what we didn’t have – should I have taken that upgrade?
Overall the flight was good. The food and entertainment sufficient for a 9 hour overnight flight however on longer flights you might find them both a little lack lustre. The crew were a little perfunctory and didn’t engage in much conversation with or have to many smiles to provide. The highlight was the aircraft itself, very quiet and I loved those side storage compartments! I would fly China Southern again in Economy although, Next time I think I want that upgrade and not just the extra storage.