China South­ern A380 Busi­ness Class

Los Angeles (LAX) — Guangzhou (CAN)

Business Traveler (USA) - - TRIED & TESTED -

BACK­GROUND: China South­ern of­fers the only non­stop US-Guangzhou ser­vice from NewYork, San Fran­cisco and Los Angeles mar­kets. Fur­ther­more, it’s build­ing out its home base at Guangzhou as an al­ter­na­tive hub to tra­di­tional Asian gate­ways car­ry­ing pas­sen­gers to be­yond mar­kets through­out Asia.

Be­sides the fact it shaves be­tween two and four hours off the travel time com­pared to one-hop flights, per­haps equally at­trac­tive is the fact China South­ern Air­lines, part of the Delta/SkyTeam al­liance, is rea­son­ably priced and highly com­pet­i­tive.

CHECK-IN: China South­ern is one of 34 car­ri­ers that call the new Tom Bradley In­ter­na­tional Ter­mi­nal home in LA; for­tu­nately thanks to a

sched­ule that cir­cles the planet, their check-in times vary through­out the day de­pend­ing on flight times. In my case the CZ desk was open in plenty of time for our 10:20 PM de­par­ture.

BOARD­ING: I en­joy fly­ing non-US air­lines for the ex­pe­ri­ence. The greet­ings were gra­cious and in­cluded a wel­com­ing bev­er­age, al­though it turned out to be only juice or wa­ter with a slice of lemon in lieu of a pre-de­par­ture cocktail. From the out­set, it was clear one flight at­ten­dant was as un­com­fort­able with her English as I am with my Chi­nese, but our hand ges­tures pro­vided a charm­ing al­ter­na­tive sign lan­guage and got the job done.

THE SEAT: The 70 busi­ness class seats oc­cupy much of the up­per deck of the mam­moth Air­bus A380. The stag­gered seat­ing al­lows for aisle ac­cess from ev­ery seat and an over­all pre­mium feel to the cabin. The 180-de­gree lie-flat seat was com­fort­able with plush fur­nish­ings such as pil­lows

and du­vet. Con­trols were easy and in­tu­itive and in­flight en­ter­tain­ment of­fer­ings were plen­ti­ful. Ameni­ties in­cluded noise-can­cel­ing head­phones, in-seat power, bot­tled wa­ter and a Ferragamo-branded amenity kit.

THE FLIGHT: The Air­bus A380 flight was qui­eter than any other air­craft I’ve ever flown, mak­ing me a huge fan of this gi­ant air­craft. The food and ser­vice, of­fer­ing both Can­tonese and West­ern choices, were very good, es­pe­cially the peach soup which ranked at the top of the de­li­cious scale; how­ever the af­ter-din­ner cheese of­fer­ing was for­got­ten – but not re­ally missed. The ser­vice in­cludes what has be­come pop­u­lar on long-haul flights, a snack bar with fruit, cho­co­lates and liquor for those who take a mid-flight stretch.

AR­RIVAL: The 14-plus-hour flight was sur­pris­ingly close to on-time but its ar­rival co­in­cided with a cou­ple of other in­ter­na­tional flights, so Baiyun In­ter­na­tional Air­port im­mi­gra- tion lines were crowded and long. Noth­ing to do but to wrap one­self in pa­tience.

China South­ern is one of the fastest grow­ing air­lines in the world, which per­haps ac­counts for the un­even ser­vice, but it is clear that it is well on its way to be­com­ing a world-class air­line. At the end of the flight, the purser asked us for our ob­ser­va­tions on how they can im­prove, and took our sug­ges­tions in the spirit in which they were of­fered. Af­ter all, we are all in this to­gether.

VERDICT: Would I fly China South­ern again? Def­i­nitely. The price is more than com­pet­i­tive and, while the ser­vice may need a lit­tle tweak­ing, China South­ern cer­tainly de­serves a chance and even a se­cond look when con­sid­er­ing Asian gate­ways and be­yond.

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