This morning I had the chance to fly from Shenzhen to Kunming to Lijiang in China Southern’s A320 economy class. While I’ve flown a similar route before (Hong Kong to Kunming to Lijiang on China Eastern), it was my first time flying China Southern, which I’d been looking forward to for quite some time.
China Southern Airbus A320 Lijiang Airport
The airline intrigued me in different ways as I expected, but I’m left confused over my verdict. Here are my first impressions.
We were bussed to Shenzhen Bao’an Airport in the morning. There’s security on the way into the airport terminal, and I was pulled over because there “was a can in my suitcase” (there wasn’t). My portable charger was also confiscated as the power capacity wasn’t stated, leading Chinese security to categorise it as a potential explosive. I had to buy a replacement, which brought me down CNY 398 – ridiculous. Nonetheless, I was on my way.
Shenzhen Bao’an Airport
China Southern’s A320 is configured with three cabins – a business class cabin, an “economy plus” cabin and an economy class cabin. The business class cabin featured recliner seats in a 2-2 configuration, which seems standard and substantial for regional flights.
China Southern Airbus A320 Business Class
The “economy plus” cabin was configured with seats no different to economy, but was partitioned off from the rest of the economy cabin and featured more amenities. More of that in the full report.
Meanwhile economy class featured blue seats in a 3-3 configuration. While that’s standard, I was impressed by how padded the seats were and how well-kept the cabin was (at least for a six-year-old plane).
China Southern Airbus A320 Economy class
It was interesting to see advertisements on all the headrest covers, as well as on top of all of the tray tables.
China Southern Airbus A320 Economy Class Cabin
More than anything I was happy to see individual air nozzles, which more than made up for the variable cabin temperatures inflight.
China Southern Airbus A320 Economy Class Air Nozzles
The service struck me as well-intentioned, though flustered at the same time. China Southern is bound to many asinine policy that Chinese airlines have to comply to, including not using mobile phones on flights, etc.. Incompliancy with these rules did not go well with this crew. They were otherwise nice, though – when I asked for a pillow, they apologised that they had run out and gave me a blanket instead (and shortly returned with a pillow after one was made available). As for the pillow itself, China Eastern still wins in the amenities category.
China Eastern Airbus A320 Economy Class Pillow
Some of my friends had ordered vegetarian meals (they actually didn’t, but that’s another story), and they ended up switching seats, so I offered to help the flight attendants find them. Unfortunately at this point I was basically serving the meals myself, as the language barrier between the flight attendants and my English-speaking friends was inexplicably large.
As for the food itself…I’ve come to learn that dim sum is always by far the safest option on flights, as my dim sum was fine. Unfortunately all of the other choices were subpar. My friend Marco was offered the chicken noodles – the chicken meat was dark, and the spaghetti was too spicy for any sane human being to handle.
China Southern Airbus A320 Economy class Meal – Dim Sum
On a side note, flying into Kunming Airport also allowed me to revisit one of the most architecturally stunning airport terminals I’ve been to.
Departing out of Kunming Airport
The transit process was really easy – an agent simply stood there and handed us new boarding passes, and we were let out into the departures area.
Kunming Airport Terminal
Bottom Line: China Southern A320 Economy Class
I was pleasantly surprised by the modern cabin and the pleasantness of the crew (at most times). The flight was also on time, which I can’t say about my flights on Chinese airlines in the past.
However, the food was as bad as I expected, and China is still bound by a plethora of asinine policies when it comes to aviation. I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly China Southern, but based solely on this flight, I guess I wouldn’t mind flying them again.