You get what you pay for right? So, we really don’t expect much when we fly economy. I mean I figure as long as we get where we’re going in one piece, the job is done. That was until our first date with China Southern, the biggest airline in Asia by fleet size. We’re flying China Southern from Sydney to Guangzhou, and are immediately swept up in a tide of service that goes above and beyond.
Having been unable to make use of the online check-in service before departing for the airport we arrive more than the requisite three hours before our flight, but there’s already an enormous queue, and all ten million people in it appear to boarding our flight. Worried about seating, I dash up to the service desk, explaining I’m not there to queue jump but just want to make sure the kids are allocated seats with us because we’ve been separated before and the tantrums that followed (by me not the kids) almost created an international incident. From that second, I am swept up in a flurry of extraordinary service. The ground staff are friendly and helpful and just a few minutes later I’ve been allocated seats, signed up to the airline’s free rewards program, Sky Pearl Club and handed express path tickets. And the exceptional service continues at boarding. Colour me impressed.
The seat and amenities
Boarding is as efficient and gracious as check in, and the four of us are soon seated in 31D, E, F & G. Confusingly these are situated only about 10 rows from the nose of the plane, but for some reason they jump numbers. These are bulkhead seats and we’re thrilled with the extra legroom. Seats in the economy cabin are in a 2-4-2 configuration, with the exception of a few rows at the back which are 2-3-2. Our very comfortable seats have a generous 37 inch seat pitch and width of 17.2 inches. There’s no under seat storage but there’s enough room in the over compartment to store all our cabin luggage, and pockets to keep things handy.
Along with a blanket and pillows there is a smart amenity kit. China Southern also looks after the kids with Garfield themed zip pouches, filled with activities and a Garfield cuddly toy that Sugarpuff is utterly besotted with.
I have to give a shout out to the cabin crew as the in-flight service is faultless. The cabin crew are welcoming and go out of their way to ensure we are comfortable.
When the drink service comes around I order a G&T and am snuck a bonus glass of champagne by the flight attendant. I must look thirsty. Regardless, I don’t say no. This kind of extraordinary service continue throughout the flight, with the kids getting just as much attention as their alcohol-infused mama.
There are power and USB ports for charging devices but as we’re in a bulkhead row, our entertainment screens are armrest-mounted, and we need to wait until we’ve reached altitude before switching them on. But once we do there’ s over 600 hours of entertainment programming with a decent selection of movies, TV programs and audio programs in English and Mandarin with subtitles.
There’s a decent selection of family programming, a few Marvel movies to keep Raffles happy and some decent comedy and drama for the grown-ups. It’s a night flight so we’re only watching one movie before attempting to catch some sleep, and every member of our crew quickly finds a new release they’re eager to watch.
This is where things get interesting. Fresh crusty rolls are served up at both services, and we are offered a choice of Western or Chinese-style meals. We opt for the latter for both dinner and breakfast. Dinner is a gingery Asian-style fish with rice served with a soft and sweetly delicious cheesecake for dessert. Somehow one of the flight attendants gets a whiff of unfillable Raffles love of food and sneaks him a few sublime samples some of the business class offerings.
There’s a goose liver pate and a stunning crab and prawn salad that has him in raptures. He even manages to sneak in an extra dessert. In fact, the entire meal has him raving, a rare occurrence in flight, as he usually skips eating airplane food. Thoroughly stuffed we all fall into a deep sleep, something even rarer for us in the sky than a good in flight meal.
The following morning, we are woken up by the smell of coffee. Breakfast is hearty and again we go for the Chinese option, thoroughly enjoying the noodles served with mushrooms and fruit.
Feeling quite spoiled by the extraordinary service, we skip off our flight, well rested and fuelled up for the best of Guangzhou.
China Southern offers direct twice daily flights between Sydney and Gaungzhou.
For more info visit China Southern.
Disclosure: Our flights to Guangzhou were supported by China Southern for a print media story. But, because, we loved it so much we’ve decided to share more about our adventures here. As always, all snoozing, scoffing and opinions are 100% our own.