Last October I wrote about China Southern’s CEO suggesting they were eying service to New York in 2014, and it appears as if that’s finally materializing. Per airlineroute.net, China Southern will launch service to New York as of August 6, 2014:
China Southern 399 Guangzhou to New York departing 1:40AM arriving 5:45AM
China Southern 300 New York to Guangzhou departing 11:15AM arriving 3:15PM (+1 day)
The route will operate four times weekly — Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays in both directions. The route is over 8,000 miles and blocked at roughly 16 hours per direction.
It will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, which China Southern hasn’t actually taken delivery of. So it’ll be a brand new plane, and will feature a first, business, and economy class cabin. My guess is that the first class cabin will consist of fully enclosed suites, and I think it’s a given that business class will be fully flat.
Anyway, this is an exciting new route for anyone looking to redeem Delta SkyMiles, since it can be really tough to find award space on SkyTeam partners with a solid business class product from the east coast of the US to Asia. Delta charges 140,000 SkyMiles for roundtrip business class between the US and most of Asia under their new devalued award chart.
Award space on the route is fairly good. It’s nowhere near as good as the award space China Southern had when they first launched A380 service to Los Angeles, where they literally had at least nine business class award seats per flight. But on the New York service I’m seeing an average of 1-3 business class award seats per flight, which I’d say is pretty good. Keep in mind that China Southern award space can’t be searched or booked on delta.com. Instead you can search space on ExpertFlyer and then call Delta SkyMiles to book.
It’s worth noting that Delta does impose fuel surcharges for travel on China Southern, and in pulling up a roundtrip fare it looks like the taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges would total ~$400USD.
Alternatively, this is a great way to fly one-stop from New York to Sydney using Delta SkyMiles in a fully flat business class product the whole way. Under their new award chart Delta charges 160,000 SkyMiles for roundtrip business class between the US and Australia, and they let you route via Asia. China Southern even flies the A380 between Guangzhou and Sydney, and the flight times line up fairly well. The Guangzhou to Sydney flight has an unbelievable amount of award space.
You can also plan a stopover in Guangzhou, given that you can now do a 72 hour transit there without a visa.
As a reminder, you can’t redeem Delta SkyMiles for travel in international first class. If you do want to redeem for first class, your best bet is to book through Korean Air SkyPass, which is transfer partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards. While Korean Air allows one-way awards for travel on their own flights, when booking partner airlines you have to book a roundtrip (though you can mix partners on a roundtrip award).
Korean Air SkyPass charges 120,000 miles for roundtrip business class between the US and Northeast Asia (which includes China), while they charge 160,000 miles for roundtrip first class. I’d say the latter is an especially good value given that China Southern seems to consistently release two award seats in first class on the flight.
Anyway, this is an exciting new route for SkyTeam. I’ll be flying China Southern’s A380 from Los Angeles to Guangzhou next month, and am quite looking forward to the experience!
(Tip of the hat to The Hustle Blog)
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