On October 28, China Southern Airlines ramped up its service between Perth and Guangzhou by replacing its A330-200 aircraft with the newer, larger 259-seat A330-300 and boosting the schedule from four to five flights a week. JESSICA ZOITI was on the flight for Traveltalk.
THE FLIGHT AT A GLANCE:
The flight: CZ319 direct from Guangzhou to Perth
Flight time: 7.5 hours
Departure time: 2230, arriving into Perth at 630 the following morning. Our flight departed 25 minutes late but arrived on time.
Cabin configuration: 2-2-2
Seat: 3A (window)
China can be a frenetic place. Traffic is chaotic with constant honking and jostling and disregard for basic road rules. Sidewalks are claustrophobic with thousands of people bustling for space on the pavement as they go about their daily business.
Truth be told, I like the mayhem, and I like China in equal measure, but after living in high gear for a week, I was pooped and eager to return to the more zen-like pace of Perth, the place I call home.
As fortune would have it, my business class flight on Sunday, October 28, was onboard China Southern’s first A330-300 service between Guangzhou and Perth. By flying the newer, larger 259-seat aircraft between the two cities (previously the company flew a 218-seat A330-200), and upping its schedule from four flights a week to five, the airline is adding 43,888 seats a year to the route. That’s a big deal for WA, which saw a 15 per cent increase last year in the number of Chinese nationals travelling through Perth Airport.
So how did the aircraft stack up, and did I find the rest and relaxation I craved? You betcha!
The cabin and comfort
The aircraft offers 259 seats in total – 30 in business class with a 2-2-2 configuration, 42 in the roomy new premium economy class with a 2-3-2 configuration, and 187 in economy class with a 2-4-2 configuration.
Making myself right at home in seat 3A against the window on the left hand side of the cabin, I was first struck by how modern and clean the A330-300’s business class was. The seat didn’t have a screening partition however, at 26.5 inches wide, it was roomy enough to lounge in, and more importantly, sleep comfortably in once it was fully reclined into a flat bed.
CZ319 was an extremely smooth flight, made even more enjoyable by the pleasant service. The cabin crew’s English was excellent (this hasn’t always been the case on the Perth-Guangzhou route with China Southern), they were confident, friendly and patient.
My requests to skip dinner and swap the offered glass of OJ on boarding for Champagne were met with a pleasant ‘can do’ attitude. Slipping off my trainers, a crew member immediately appeared at my side to help locate my slippers, which were stowed neatly next to my complimentary amenities bag.
During the seven and a half-hour journey to Perth, business class passengers are offered dinner and breakfast, plus a range of mid-flight snacks.
One thing is made abundantly clear on China Southern: the company takes its food seriously. Many of the onboard options reflect the company’s roots in the Canton Province. The menus offer a mix of traditional Cantonese delicacies and elegant western favourites.
For dinner, the choice of two hors d’oeuvres, two soups and three mains was tempting however, I opted to skip the meal in favour of extra shut-eye (the option of stir fried conch and black mushroom with abalone sauce and Dongjiang-style salty chicken made this decision an agonising one).
Come breakfast I was ravenous and heartily tucked into my exotic tropical fruit plate and dim sum-style meal of traditional congee with soy egg, sauté whitebait with chili peanut, lotus root and pork patty and steamed golden dumplings. It was one of the most enjoyable airline meals I’ve ever had (matched only by the clear chicken broth and steamed barramundi I devoured on my China Southern flight from Perth to Guangzhou a week earlier).
The beverage choice onboard is adequate – there’s a French Champange, a French red and white wine and couple of West Australian premium wines – although the Champagne I had was not as chilled as I would have liked.
Overall I don’t enjoy flying however, binge TV watching is a guilty pleasure of mine and a good entertainment system is a bonus. China Southern’s wasn’t the best I’ve experienced but it was by no means the worst either.
Two and a half hours before landing, I was gently woken by cabin crew for breakfast. Pulling on my noise-cancelling headphones and flicking on the 25cm TV screen nestled into the back of the seat in front of me, I initially struggled to change the language from Chinese to English (it turned out to be an embarrassingly easy process). This hiccup overcome, I found the system extremely easy to use and full of movies I’d been dying to watch (I settled on The Big Sick and can highly recommend it).
Beyond movies (including 150 multi-lingual) there are more than 1200 program options ranging from music, TV, children’s entertainment and games.
The baggage allowance
Travelling on my own, I had just one suitcase weighing less than 20kg to check in, but as a business class passenger I was entitled to check-in up to two items weighing up to 32kg each.
Also worth noting is the generous baggage allowance offered to premium economy and economy travellers – each passenger is allowed to check-in two pieces of luggage weighing up to 23kg each. A huge concession compared to most other airlines.
From the quality food to the comfort of my lie-flat business class seat and the polished service of the cabin crew, my flight with China Southern was smooth sailing from start to finish. To date I’ve chosen to transit through ports in the Middle Eastern enroute to Europe, but considering China Southern’s network from Guangzhou extends to around 40 destinations across the globe, I’ll seriously consider the airline for my next long-haul flight.