China Southern A380 First Class Platinum Private Suite

As I posted about a few days ago, I booked an award in Korean Air and China Southern A380 first class. I redeemed 160,000 Korean Air SkyPass miles for the roundtrip ticket, which would allow me try the two A380 products out there that I’ve yet to fly.

I flew the outbound from Los Angeles to Guangzhou in China Southern A380 First Class (aka Platinum Private Suite) on Thursday night, and figured I’d share my initial impressions. I’ll keep this brief, since I’ll actually be publishing the detailed trip report in about a week. Anyway, my initial thoughts:

China Southern A380 first class seats

China Southern has just eight first class suites on the lower deck. They’re spread across two rows, in a 1-2-1 configuration.

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The seats look bland based on the finishes, though are incredibly comfortable, spacious, and fully enclosed. Purely in terms of the hard product it’s one of the best out there, in my opinion.

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The flight time was just over 15 hours, and I managed to sleep for nearly two thirds of that.

China Southern A380 first class food & drinks

Lets start with the drinks. China Southern A380 first class must be one of the least reviewed first class products out there, so I had no clue what to expect in terms of champagne. I figured maybe they serve Krug, maybe Dom, maybe Grand Sicele, etc.

I was legitimately in disbelief when I found out their “champagne” is Duc de Paris sparkling wine.

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This retails for less than $5 per bottle.:

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I mean, sometimes I joke about airlines serving Korbel, but that would have been considered premium compared to this. I mean, it tasted worse than the Welch’s sparkling grape juice my mother would buy me for New Years Eve when I was a kid. Interestingly there was no wine or beverage list on the flight. I guess that shouldn’t really be surprising from the airline that markets themselves as “serving over 8 kinds of beverage” in premium cabins on international flights.

As far as the food goes, it was perfectly edible and tasted good, but certainly simple. The meal is what I’d expect from a solid business class product, and not really first class. There was no salmon, caviar, etc. Then again, I’ll take a simple meal that tastes pretty good over an overly complex meal that’s entirely style over substance.

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The other thing that surprised me is that there was no snack menu. I mean, we’re talking about a 15 hour flight here, and the only snacks they had available were saran wrapped ham and cheese sandwiches. My favorite part of flying Cathay Pacific first class is their snack menu, between the egg tarts, crab cakes, and noodle soup.

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China Southern A380 first class service

Is it reasonable to expect a crew on a US bound flight to speak at least a decent amount of English? I dunno, you guys let me know in the comments.

Simply stating a fact (as opposed to judging, since I know how tough it can be to learn additional languages) — the crew didn’t speak English well at all, and there were constantly communication barriers. I’m sure someone will say “well how’s your Cantonese, Lucky?” So I’ll answer that up front and say “no bueno!”

One small example. A few hours before landing I was drinking coffee and spilled some on my (white) shirt. The lavatory was occupied (more on that below), so I pushed the call button and the flight attendant showed up immediately. I asked for a napkin. She didn’t understand me. I pointed at my shirt, made a “rubbing” motion, and asked, for a napkin. She nodded her head as if she understood what I meant.

A minute later the other flight attendant shows up — “my partner says you need something?” “Yes, I spilled coffee all over my shirt, could I have a napkin please?” Again, I’m pointing at my shirt which has coffee stains all over it. She says “ah, you would like more coffee?”

I again said “napkin,” and made a rubbing motion on my shirt as if I was trying to clean it. She comes back a minute later wearing gloves with a box of Kleenex tissues. Maybe she misunderstood the rubbing motion I was making? I dunno…

So there were three passengers in first class, but for the middle 12 hours of the flight all the suites were occupied. It was bizarre. I slept after dinner and then woke up, only to find five flight attendants sleeping in the empty suites. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t bother me or detract from my enjoyment of the flight in any way, I just found it odd since I’d assume most airlines have a policy against that.

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I went back to sleep and woke up, and this time all the suites were taken once again with totally different people. Except this time they didn’t appear to be flight attendants, but rather passengers. One suite even had an older lady with two kids in it. What the…?

It’s also worth noting that there’s one lavatory in first class. That’s a perfectly reasonable ratio of eight passengers to one lavatory. Unfortunately that also seemed to be the lavatory for any flight attendant looking to go number two, since it was probably occupied for 90% of the flight in 20 minute chunks intervals.

I know it’s Chinese New Year and the “year of the horse,” but that doesn’t mean the lavatory has to be scented as such. Literally every time I went in there it reeked and there were “stains.” I feel like crews should have better bathroom etiquette than that! Compare that to Singapore Airlines, where the flight attendant is literally standing outside the lavatory waiting to refresh it after every use…

Bottom line on China Southern A380 first class

Top notch hard product, lacking soft product. Lots more service “details” I’ll share with the full review — stay tuned!

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Comments

  1. Oh, maybe the FAs thought the pilot asked them to help with a fuel “dump.” 🙂

    Lucky, how would you compare the China Southern FAs’ command of English compared to Air China FAs? Looking forward to hearing more details on the service.

  2. I have flown this flight and this is the about the standard from what should be expected from China Southern. Flight attendants that speak very little english, bad food, and great hard product. Something that bothered me was to see Chinese business men going seat to seat stealing in flight amenity bags. Literally 5-6 men digging in each seat and walking back with a stack of 8 bags. There were also many babies in the business class. When I flew first class I was hoping that things would be much different. There were 3 babies who cried for a majority of the flight. For a 15+ hour flight it can be somewhat miserable. I surprised there was no mention of the lack of IFE options.

    Interested in seeing your thoughts on the lounge at the Canton airport on your flight out.

  3. @ Scott — ROFL! I’d say on my Air China flight back in October the flight attendants had a slightly better grasp on English than on this flight.

  4. You have a way of pricelessly describing your reaction to certain faux pas such as the cheapo sparkling wine, strangers in the suites (“hey look kids, these are empty!”) the napkin miscommnication (seriously, gloves and tissues?) and the bathroom cleanliness (or lack thereof). Keep ’em coming Ben! Safe travels.

  5. There’s an urban legend here in NYC. When water meters were installed a few years ago, they discovered that water usage in Chinatown was through the roof. After some head scratching, it was discovered that lots of apartments had two families living in them. One family was allowed to be there from midnight to noon, and the other from noon to midnight. Sounds like your suite experience.

  6. My first language isn’t English and even I think it’s perfectly normal to expect FAs to speak a language of a country they are flying to/from (especially, if it’s a common one like English). If, for whatever reason, they don’t have enough FAs that speak English, why not let English-speaking FAs tend to English speakers and those that speak language(s) in China tend to Chinese?

    Serving $5 alcoholic beverage in first class in unbelievable! And I thought it was bad when you were served <$10 wine in business class (I think someone pointed that out about your LAN or AA flight).

    Not having snacks on a very long flight is absurd as well. You'd expect that in economy, let alone a first-class cabin where a RT ticket is over $12000.

    On the other hand, I am a little more forgiving about FAs using suites to rest or, assuming it's an airline policy, letting some elderly passengers rest there (seems very nice, actually).

    Flying IAH-PEK (in F) and PEK-HKG (in J) on Air China later this year so I guess I should keep my expectations fairly low with regards to soft product.

  7. Bear in mind that Air China flies between Sao Paulo and Madrid, continuing on to Beijing with a crew that barely speaks English, no Portuguese and no Spanish – not even in their premium cabin.

    This is an international long haul flight between a Portuguese and a Spanish speaking country where the crew barely speaks… English.

    It must be a Chinese standard…

  8. Just imagine if you had spilled the coffee on your pants and made rubbing motions…..They might have come back wearing latex gloves and a hand lotion 🙂

  9. On second thought, perhaps this is a good money-making opportunity to Mandarin/Cantonese FTers — they can put together a short guide with words/phrases that are commonly used during a flight. And even if FAs don’t understand us, we can just point to a word on a page.

  10. It’s a shame since they serve the first class passenger the same “business standard” meal as to the business passengers. The only difference is the first class passenger got an extra appetizer…

  11. I didnt realize there was sparking wine for less than 5 dollars and I certainly wouldnt expect to discover it in first class.

  12. “She comes back a minute later wearing gloves with a box of Kleenex tissues.”

    You never did finish what she ended up doing with the gloves and Kleenex 😉 Perhaps just let her go with what she had in mind ?

  13. @Blandon
    “When water meters were installed a few years ago, they discovered that water usage in Chinatown was through the roof. After some head scratching, it was discovered that lots of apartments had two families living in them.”

    If there were simply TWO families, as opposed to 3, 4 or say 5, then wouldn’t usage be just DOUBLED? Shouldn’t that be within the acceptable range? I only ask because it just so happened that a rental property I just bought got tagged by the city for having above normal water usage so I gotta deal with that on Monday.

  14. Just imagine the quality of the food. I don’t mean the way they cook it but the actual food itself. Like the chicken or shrimp. The lowest quality.

  15. @PB, I first thought they flew to MSP as one English page of their website had it translated to St Paul!

  16. Oh God, that meal looks very “Dennys”, and the wrapped sandwich….like the one I see on Locked Up series. Did they serve Tang by any chance?

    The HP looks like an office, but seems comfortable. I guess they need to polish up a bit and they will have a solid product. China is improving quality and they are becoming a more demanding nation.

    I spoke to this sweet Chinese lady and she joked: ” Americans come to China and buy fake Louis Vuittons, we go to America or France to buy the real ones, cheaper!!”

  17. I’ve flown this flight and the best thing is that the departure times and hard product (in biz and 1st) are conducive for long sleeping…and revenue tickets can be pretty cheap (example: I booked a round trip biz ticket for ~$3700 about 1 week in advance). Like you I slept 2/3rds of the flight. The food and service are well below the standard of other global airlines – they should just call it China Pullman.

  18. “Top notch hard product, lacking soft product.”

    Forgot to mention:
    This is exactly my overall impression on Air China; It must depict a country, culture and education wise, where it becomes much more inexpensive to invest in the hard product than training and enhancing their staff.

    @anon
    For a Chinese.., both St Paul/MSP and Sao Paulo/GRU are in the Americas, thus, they cannot be that far appart 😉

  19. I was looking at flights to Hong Kong saw that China Southern had inexpensive JFK to Beijing to Hong Kong itineraries in business class. Sub $4,000 compared to the $8,000 you see Cathay charge. After reading this post, now I know why. I’d rather just book Cathay coach long haul to Asia if necessary (which I have done and tolerated pretty well) than to deal with this. Over time, these mainland Chinese airlines will improve, but now is not the time to waste money or miles on them

  20. I had a very similar experience with the cabin occupancy on Air China’s 773 first class recently over a series of flights. On each occasion there were maybe 3 or 4 seats occupied at take off, but at various times during the night the cabin filled with mostly identifiable cabin or flight crew. However there were also some who just looked like normal passengers taking a nap in first! Perhaps Air China has a strange non rev policy that allows it?

  21. Are you sure this flight wasn’t operated by United? Thank God we switched our China Southern business class tickets for Cathay Pacific first class for our trip to Thailand next week. I am very much looking forward to lots of Krug!

  22. Trying to burn my ua miles before devaluation, i booked iah-pek-tpe in 1st with air china. Now it looks like i got burned too. Only saving grace might be that i speak mandarin:) but dang what a waste of miles, should have gone Eva both ways.

  23. I was on this flight a little over a year ago in business class on a Delta award. I found the flight very comfortable and the food very decent.

    The bathrooms were immaculate and I never had a problem. I don’t know what size the first class bathroom is but there was a fantastic A380 bathroom in business class that’s almost triple the size of the typical bathroom. My part of the cabin (towards the front on the top deck) was about 75% full.

    Although I didn’t have any unusual issues arise like spilled coffee, I had no problems with the little communicating that I needed to do. I found the FAs reasonably attentive and friendly. There was also a good selection of movies.

  24. @Lucky:

    “Purely in terms of the hard product it’s one of the best out there, in my opinion.”

    This might be THE blandest looking international F hard product I’ve seen. It’s certainly the blandest of the A380 F’s.

    You must have had too much of that Welch’s sparking grape juice if you think this holds a candle to the hard products of SQ, EY, EK or CX F 😛

  25. Welcome to China! I was born and China and go back every year. For all of it’s “modernity,” it is still a very basic and utilitarian culture.

  26. Like Craig, I took this flight last year in business class and had a great experience. Either the service has degraded significantly or they may just have better service and food in business class. Chinese New Year is also a crazy time to travel and I bet most passengers on your flight was Chinese, which may explain their staffing choices.

    Anyway, if you think the flight is bad, just wait till you get to CAN. This flight lands early in the morning. Unless you are connecting to another china southern flight, you will be sent to the ticketing area and have to wait there for hours before anybody come to work at 7ish to check you in. I couldn’t find a single person working there in such an huge airport and couldn’t even buy drink or food, and hundreds of passengers just wondered around in a zombie movie. Really weird.

  27. This is Chinese standard service, you have to accept it, Lucky. I believe if you could speak some Mandarin or Cantonese, the treat will be different.

    Similar to airlines in US, airlines in China don’t care too much about whether FAs can speak good language of the destinations because enough domestic customers will let the route survive and be profitable. Most (or 99%) customers on board speak either Mandarin or Cantonese, so FAs don’t really need to learn some foreign language.

    Same thing applies to United or American. Until recent years, they started having one or two Chinese American FAs serving on board on US-Sino routes. Before that, maybe five years ago, it’s nightmare for my parents to fly United or American to the States to visit us as American American FAs don’t speak Chinese at all.

    I would say until 30% passengers on board is not Chinese nationals, you won’t expect FAs speaking good foreign language when flying any Chinese airlines.

  28. Sounds like a complete waste of miles – thanks for TOFTT. Main land Chinese carriers (CA CZ MU) have a long way to go and should only be considered for cheap revenue fares – much better use of miles out there.

  29. Sounds like standard Chinese operating procedure…Will be switching my Air China business class flight coming up next X-mas to more civilized airline like Asiana, Thai, or EVA.

  30. OMG!!!! They certainly took first class to a different level. And I though AA first class on a GRU outbound serving Ferrero Rocher chocolate on first class was bad. I know you want to fly all A380 first class out there but I hope Air India, Saudia, Kuwait and Aeroflot never get a A380 or you will have to try them 🙂

    BTW, napkin in chinese is Cānjīn. Just in case you need when you fly them again.

  31. you are expecting young chicks in 18 or 19,or newly graduated in non english majored speaks good english? comeon. they’ll enrolled by other forienger airlines like EK EYor LH.

  32. That’s exactly what I experienced on China Southern. They have top notch hard product, but the soft product, especially service details, left a lot to be desired. Don’t forget that Cathay and Singapore started their international market decades ago, when the Chinese airlines are still flying Russian airplanes under one big consolidation called the CAAC(Civil Aviation Administration of China). These Chinese airlines will learn and improve, but it takes time. I can see them being major players in international markets in a decade or two.
    BTW, grwoing up in China and received 3-8 grade English education there, I totally see why FAs don’t even understand the word “Napkin.” CHINESE TEXTBOOKS DOES NOT TEACH THAT WORD! They teach “tissue” to refer to all paper wiping thingy, paper towel, napkin etc – they are all called “tissue” in China without distinction. Personally I first learn what napkin is when I moved to the States in 9th grade. Next time try tissue, and they will understand what you are looking for.

  33. It’s straightforward to bribe your way into pretty much anything in Chinese culture. That explains your first-class customers, who in all likelihood slipped the flight attendant $30. Easy peasy if you’ve ever spent any time at all in Asia.

  34. Well, Chinese standard of service is just like the country, fascinating in hard but lacking in soft. The food, in fact I believe it is better than most of the food served by US carrier on US-Sino flights, like United. For the language issue, think about how many FAs on United flights to Beijing speak decent Chinese. Comparing to some american FAs who even ignore your request and show their poker face and bad attitude everywhere happened to my United flight, I will definitely stay with Chinese carrier.

  35. Folks, please don’t confuse this with Air China. I’ve had pleasant (much better than UA) experiences both times I’ve flown CA F!

  36. @ HF — That’s a good point, and certainly sort of a “what comes first, the chicken or the egg?” argument. There were very few non-Chinese passengers. Is that because non-Chinese passengers stay away from China Southern because the service isn’t good, or is that why they don’t bother speaking proper English?

    I mean, I think China Southern’s business class fares kind of speak for themselves in terms of what they’re missing out on compared to what Cathay Pacific, Singapore, etc., charge.

  37. @ AJK — Bland? Yes. But I do think it “holds a candle” to some of the products you mention.

    Emirates? Love the shower, the bar, and the bling, but the seat itself is actually really cramped. I don’t find it all that comfortable for sleeping, it’s tight and restrictive.

    Singapore? I do love A380 Suites, but the seat just isn’t that practical. You can’t really “lounge,” since you have to flip the seat over to turn it into the fully flat position.

    Don’t get me wrong, all things considered I’d take either airline over China Southern, but I do think their hard product is competitive, despite the blandness.

  38. Part of me is now thankful that DL was never able to price my China Southern leg of my trip correctly. I ended up booking on Thai instead before the United devaluation.

  39. “These Chinese airlines will learn and improve, but it takes time. I can see them being major players in international markets in a decade or two.”

    I doubt it, the service attitude/culture is different in China vs Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong. Those are the 4 regions where the most of Chinese population reside in the whole world. China is the worst of them in multiple aspects, social, political, ethical.

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  41. Great trip report.

    I wanted to burn some Sky Miles of China Southern business. After reading what first class is like, I’m afraid of what business is like on China Southern. I may look for Korean Air or Delta space instead.

  42. @Lucky

    I’ve flown China Southern in first quite a few times in the past six months and haven’t experienced as bad as your flight.

    The food and beverages are shared between first and business class (with a few minor additions in first).

    Are you sure the suite jumpers were flight attendants? CZ offers onboard paid upgrades so they could have been passengers.

    On one flight a pilot grabbed one of the first class seats for his rest. Given he selected a seat as far away from mine as possible so as to not disturb and I was the only passenger in the cabin I didn’t mind.

  43. @ The Global Traveller — Yep, I’m sure that at least for the first half of the flight they were flight attendants. I assume if they were onboard paid upgrades they would have stayed in the cabin for landing, no?

  44. Lol I had to have a wee Google at ‘saran wrap’, had never heard of it before – we call it cling film in the UK, although apparently in Oz/NZ it’s called glad wrap!

    Amazing how cheap they are on the drinks – first class ?!

  45. Oh boy, the hardcore “China southern airlines customer service center” left you a message in this blog, lucky! Just by looking at this message we can understand how much of a improvement in lingual skills they need to make.. I wonder if you will actually try to call that number, and create a case on the bad F service you received. @Lucky Will be fun to see how they respond to you. BTW, how’s your trip in GZ going? Discovered anything fun?

    Pablo

  46. Typical Google — nope, Baidu Translate of a canned boilerplate insert-word-here from Chinese. CZ not being sincere at all.

    I fly CA because I know it’ll never kill me. CX, BA, or at times LX for all other international jaunts…

  47. Re: Chinese-speaking FAs on US airlines

    My wife and I (both ethnic chinese) flew ORD-PVG last summer in AA F. The male chinese FA right inside the door tried to direct us in chinese, I got confused and went in the other aisle he wanted us to go in (we had two center seats). He then made a comment in English to the other FAs that his chinese must be slipping.

    My wife later told me based on his announcement translations that his chinese is really bad, on par for an ABC.

  48. “She comes back a minute later wearing gloves with a box of Kleenex tissues. Maybe she misunderstood the rubbing motion I was making? I dunno…”

    lmfao. you really should have said nothing, leaned back, and seen what unfolded. given the quality of everything else on the flight, such word of mouth/hand could raise their soft product to the same level of the hard.

    on a more serious note: if i had paid for first class and it was like this, with the sleep over of crew and anyone wanting a nap in FC, i’d feel like a chump paying for the seat.

  49. “She comes back a minute later wearing gloves with a box of Kleenex tissues.”

    This could have really changed the tone and theme of this website.

  50. I hope someone forward this post to the China Southern President and have his staff translates this. this is a mockery of a 400 million dollars plane and its airlines and a fool to national “Face”.

  51. I flew rt LAX – CAN in CZ business, then on to PER and SYD – all on DL award. I agree with your assessment of good hard product, poor soft. However, my expectations were set accordingly and I (masochistically) find some enjoyment out of the bizarre scenarios that unfold. I still think CZ is a decent DL redemption (given all the constraints of finding a good DL award).

    One issue I did have, was my checked luggage was soaking wet when I picked it up in CAN, and on my return to LAX it was significantly damaged. The whole claims process took over 8 months to resolve working with the CZ desk at LAX. It was one of the most painful “customer service” experiences I’ve ever had.

  52. Thank you Lucky for taking one for the team. Now I know to stay as far away as possible from China Southern!

  53. Remember 5 years ago, on flights to China operated by a US carrier(UA,DL,AA), the flight attendants barely speak Chinese, or very poor Chinese. Do not expect the flight attendants on CZ can speak as much English link CX or SQ which are from an English speaking country

  54. @Lucky – You are such a nice young lad. You experience a flight that many would have lambasted and peppered with mildly racially insensitive overtones like many of the idiotic comments on this posting yet you always seem to refrain from doing that, likely because you are a nice young man raised properly to respect ALL people. I wish the same could be said about some of your peers, *cough* GARY!!! *cough* VIEW FROM THE WING *cough*.

    Anyway, keep up the good work and many of us wished there were more good people like you in the blogosphere.

    Take it easy Lucky.

  55. I have a slightly different idea to the whole experience here. I’m a Australian Chinese, and when my parents came to Australian visiting me on Qantas (HKG – SYD/ SYD – PVG) last year, they basically think the whole meal was really terrible (steak/bread), drink was terrible (why drink wine on plane but no good tea?), and service was terrible (no one can speak proper Mandarin).

    For AA/UA/etc.. flights between China and USA:
    Do they have Mandarin speaking crews on every flight who understand meaning of ‘Canjingzhi’ ?
    Do they have oolong tea/tieguanyin on every flight or just Lipton teabag for X cents a bag?

    So I think this basically comes down to the culture difference as well as the target passengers.

  56. Sorry for your experience but frankly I am not too surprised. There is still long way for them for these Chinese carriers to catch up their service standard. But based on past record, you seem always to be too dramatic about your experience. Maybe it’s to boost traffic of you blog? But aren’t there any better ways to criticize in a more sophisticated and adult way like Gary? I am sorry but a lot of times you simply act like a spoiled child crying for attention.

  57. @Lucky

    I think for most passengers travelling in coach cabin, there’s no such a “what comes first, the chicken or the egg?” argument. IMHO, the only factor determining which airline to fly is language. Take my parents as an example. Their language skills: Mandarin and Cantonese native speaker; English four words: Yes/No/Hello/Bye. With such background, each time they fly United/American, I have to prepare some Chinese-English translation stickers for them to “communicate” with FAs. Now they are very happy to fly Air China/Chine Eastern/China Southern on US-Sino routes, though services on those Chinese carriers are as su*king (or even su*ker) as American carriers. Same thing applies to my American friends around. They tend to pick up American carriers, unless there’re huge discount tickets on sale on Chinese carriers.

    I don’t know how biz or first cabin passengers’ thought. I would guess similar pattern exists.

    Another reason as I stated above, is Chinese carriers don’t care non-Chinese passengers too much. They have enough domestic customers to fill in the cabin, though biz/first are not always full. Plus they get huge financial subsidy from government (either central or provincial).

    For Cathay Pacific and Singapore, both carriers don’t have domestic routes at all. So they have to get something better than competitors.

    Well, I may overweigh the language over other factors when picking up an airline, it is the first and most important thing for people like my parents and friends thinking about.

  58. OK. So my friends working for CZ told me that they do have FAs from Australia, France, Netherlands, Japan and South Korea serving on board. Though no American FAs so far. I guess labor union plays a role? lol.

  59. I’m really sorry for your terrible experience during your trip. It’s a shame to be provided sparkling wine. You know, Guangzhou is the major airbase for China Southern Airlines, Air China for Beijing, China Eastern Airlines for Shanghai respectively, and there are only 3 state-run airline airline companies who have monopolized the entire aviation market. Improving service or not has nothing to do with the crews on the flight since the salary for fight attendants in China is pretty low in China compared to that of Hongkong and Singapore. Guangzhou is my hometown, and the T2 terminal of Baiyun International Airport is under construction, I guarantee that you will experience a much more comfortable service when you next fly to Guangzhou. Perhaps you had no idea we had been using the Boeing 777-200ER in this air route for over 10 years which is the first sino-US route operated by mainland airlines, it’s already a great progress to change to A380, we used to have no PTV during the entire trip!!! You might have not noticed that we change the newest flight for destinations like London, Sydney, Vancouver, Auckland just in order to provide better service. For us, it’s just the beginning, and you will see our hospitality and considerate airline services soon in the future. I apologize for any inconvenience that have caused!

  60. @Lucky and @Nick
    Same thing happened to me on Air China’s First Class. I was the only passenger there but during the flight several people showed up to sleep in some of the seats and they also put 2 kids at the end of the flight in the cabin for landing.

    Strange I never experienced this on any other airline. Maybe just a chinese thing?

  61. First of all, sorry for the poor experience, and I agree that there are many aspects of both inflight and ground services of Chinese carriers that need to be improved greatly. Your opinions are pretty precious actually, and have already caught attentions in the Chinese aviation industry.

    However, I found some of the following comments low, irresponsible and even racist.
    For example, Kivon said, “Just imagine if you had spilled the coffee on your pants and made rubbing motions…..They might have come back wearing latex gloves and a hand lotion.” That’s not funny at all by indicating Chinese or Asians are cheap and easy!
    Another example is that DJ said “China is the worst of them in multiple aspects, social, political, ethical” I admit that there still have many issues in China, but judging and catergorizing others isn’t the best way to be “socially, politically and ethically decent”. Also, the cynical attitudes towards “labor unions” and “communist” aren’t necessary here. We are all different, and if you don’t understand or care other cultures, it’s fine, but FYI, the sense of superiorty is ignorant.

  62. Lucky,
    this was a classic post! Agree w/ post #6 above (Alex): this is why we read your blog every day. Informative and downright hilarious reading!

  63. Did I just see a sauce plastic container on the plate there?? Is it allowed on First class?

    I always have a concept of trying things once (or even more than once) before saying that you like or dislike them. But I think I will pass for this one! Very nice post!

    @Keith,
    I totally agree with your comments about some comments compare all the way to social, politics, ethical. However, I think it is also more common among Asians that people are more thick-skin and aren’t (for some cases “overly”) sensitive about racial, cultural comments like the westerners. Some of the comments about mainland China come from the facts that have various statistical citations but are too well known for the need to state e.g. “ethical”.

    Sense of superiority is everywhere: Sweden/Norway, Italy/Spain, Brazil/Argentina, and 100 of other pairs, then it is other Asians over Mainland China.

    I think the sense of superiority is OK to a certain level, because some cultures/countries/cities better fit with certain lifestyle and personal interests. NYers think NYC is a great place because of 1).., 2).., 3).., but they also hate it because of 1)..,2).. but overall they like it better than other places. It is totally acceptable. However, I live in a city that most people think it is the best in the world because of 1),2)…100) when it is nowhere near world class city and most people have not been to more than the route-map of the local airlines, so this is ignorant (like you said).

  64. @Lucky For gloves & Kleenex tissues comment.

    What I guess is the second crew did understand your need was napkin. However, I am thinking is there napkin available onboard the aircraft, apart of the one that they may provide you when they service the meal. By Chinese Culture, there is no napkin, unless is for babies, I think you will experience that when you went out at local restaurants in China. In the restaurant, they will provide tissues for you, but do you notice they actually charge you for that? So I presume similar circumstance and culture different will appear onboard China Southern’s flight, which they provide you with Kleenex Tissues. For Chinese, there is no different. At least, for myself, that is my experience until I live in Western world.

    And I agree with your comments,(even with a shock), they definitely have a huge gap to catch up, and it is actually a industry research area that could looking into it in the later point. I sometimes feel shame about Chinese carries’ service when people judging it or mentioning about it (9/10 are bad comments). But as a Chinese I understand the situation in certain way than most of the people here, which @Yuxiang mentioned, is the historical problems from the Chinese air transport system. I do hope they could overcome all issues and become first class airlines in the future (CA,CZ,MU). Maybe could start from to understand the culture difference between China AND Western World.

  65. @rocky

    China Southern is headquartered in Guangzhou, aka Canton, home of Cantonese. Mandarin may be the official language of the PRC, but it is not the dominant language in that region. I bet CZ passengers are relatively evenly split between the two languages, and the FAs must be bilingual.

  66. I flew China Eastern/Shanghai Airlines (they’re in the process of merging) SIN-PVG for a quizbowl tournament, the plane was a late 80’s 767, with shared TV’s, the crew didn’t speak english (luckily I speak mediocre Chinese). But the food was edible and the toilets clean. I saw an ad by them recently, with lie-flat seats, maybe one day you could give them a try? 😉

  67. @zz
    I’m a graduate who have quite a lot of former classmates working for China Southern Airlines, and I know how hard they try to learn English in order to squeeze into international airlines, but they really have poor English bases. Those who can speak good English are reluctant to be just a crew member. I once gave out several proposals for the construction of our Airport since 2004, and I’m a plane fan who is really concerned about my Airport development as well as the base Airline–China Southern Airlines. So, I feel quite responsible for any complaints related to the aviation industry of my own hometown. Hope that you can share more experience with me, I might not be the person to solve the problem, but I’m trying my best.

  68. Chinese airlines have come a long way. I was on a flight in ’89 where the pilots got lost at night and had to fly very low/slow to get their bearings towards the airport. Back then, ticketing was an all paper process and airports looked like train stations.

  69. @ Kivon – And if it was frothing on his mouth and he made a wiping motion they’d probably start cleaning the inside of his up with their tongues

  70. you have no idea how most Chinese cabin crews got this job. it is very normal to buy the job, so it is not hard to explain their English skills. even if those Chinese cabin crews who got the job by themselves, the main reason is because they are pretty and slender. that is how Chinese airline companies hire cabin crews.

  71. @ Elgs — thank you for sharing. I think someone else suggested that at the moment Chinese airlines don’t pay enough to attract quality FAa (for example, if they had good language skills, they’d go work for a non-Chinese airline). Do you agree?

  72. yes, the Chinese cabin crews who work for a foreign airline company have better English skills, in fact, many of them have master degree, overseas education background or graduated from top universities (sounds crazy,huh?)
    I worked in a foreign airline company for 3 years before. however in foreign airline companies, usually Chinese nationality cabin crews don’t serve first class (almost in all the foreign airline company, I mean for Chinese nationality, not Chinese born).
    I tell you another fact, when Chinese cabin crews get attacked or insulted by passengers in ANY Chinese airline company, the company never protects their employees, they even request the crews to apology to the passengers, many poor Chinese cabin crews post the photos online to tell how they got mistreated, that is really hurt.
    Chinese cabin crews are most young and pretty, that is true, but also, they are not mature enough, they don’t understand well about “service”. the job title “stewardess” still sounds sparkling to Chinese.
    I would suggest you to choose Korean or Japanese airline companies. I promise you asiana airlines provides you BEST food.

  73. 本来就是航空公司的错,但是你本末倒置赖到空姐头上。因为你随手写的这么篇文章相关的空乘都遭到了处罚,可以说是“城门失火殃及池鱼”,你文中提到的口语不好。那我想请问贵国的航空公司飞中国航线的空姐的中文就很好吗?5刀的起气泡酒你可以选择不喝,拿起碗吃肉放下碗骂娘!做爱的时候叫人家老婆,射完了叫人家碧池,你这是什么心态?至于空姐睡觉,人家也是人也是父母养的,既然没影响你至于这么较真吗?现在整个乘务组就因为你的一篇文章停飞的停飞降级的降级,等于是你折断了人家的翅膀,断了人家的生路,这回你该开心了吧!
    PS:我不知道你看不看得懂中文,但是这些话我一定要说。
    PS2:我不是什么航空公司的枪手,也不是专门针对谁。但是我的妻子以前也是空姐,她的辛苦我看得到。至少在我这里看来,把航空公司的制度问题全部推到空姐身上是十分幼稚甚至是愚蠢的。

  74. To the guy above , I can totally read what you’re saying in chinese. Come to think about it if you’re flying $15000 first class service , and you’re being served for cheap 5 dollar sparking wine . What the hell is the expectation for you think is for people over at top of pyramid that splurge themselves with their hard earning capitals ? NO OTHER AIRLINE ever came across for this cheap service airline. Granted you may see how hard your wife works for her airline being air attendant. But this doesn’t mean what Lucky has shown us with his own experience on the unbelievable cheap service provided by China Southern. You don’t see other bloggers making news with any other airline do you ? perhaps maybe United. It is no doubt china southern names are not making it out there!

  75. I’m Chinese and working as an international trader, I have no problem communicating with those who speak English as well at all, but honestly, I don’t understand what “napkin” is until looking it up from a online dictionary today. We never learnt this word during our 10-plus year English studying at school!

  76. Hi,
    Thanks a lot ! it was very useful to me… i live in HK (but not HK people) and need to fly to LA for personal reason : i got a good deal on that flight GZ to LA, first class ticket with China Southern… but i did not pick that one because of the “champagne” ! for me, it is just outrageous..
    i will be following your articles 🙂

  77. Thanks for the review, especially the complaints part! I don’t need to read another internet “first class” article filled up with words like luxury, top notch, bragging, showing off etc… I fly a lot between US and China, too much already I guess…

    Two points I want to make (and to partially comment on the Chinese comments above):
    1. Based on my experience, 95% complaints with soft product will not exist if you speak (a bit ) Chinese/Mandarin. Unfortunately we are not in star date 2616 yet, so no universal translators, e.g. I am pretty sure you can ask for wine or liqueur (try Chinese liqueur!), and also night snacks if you speak Chinese.
    Why FA doesn’t speaking good English? they are not paid that well! The same goes with US airlines FA, 95% of them are not paid that much to speak good Chinese. Only recently I saw some Chinese immigrants serving as FA (who speak very good Chinese AND English), I think we need more, many more.
    2. That remaining 5% complaint is actually more critical, e.g. the one that FA or other passengers sleeping in the empty first class seats, this is intolerable by any standards and any languages! As pointed by the Chinese comments above, some FAs were fired or transferred because of this (thus the angry comments, clearly he/she is or was related to the airline), of course there are MORE than one incidents/complaints. This might explain the reason why I did not see this happening in recent flights. I myself will complain to the cabin manager right on the spot if I see this. The only exception is humanitarian or medical emergency (totally another category anyway).

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