China Southern’s Unusual A320 Business Class

Hello from Singapore! After flying China Southern’s A380 business class from Los Angeles to Guangzhou, I connected to Singapore on a China Southern A320.

Before I talk about that, Guangzhou Airport is just freaking awful. When I transited years ago I was freezing, since the airport’s heating seemed to not be working. My assumption was that something was broken. Nope. The same was still the case. It was SO COLD. In the lounge I poured myself a cup of hot water just so I could touch it with my hands.

The outside temperature was 39 Fahrenheit, and I imagine it wasn’t much warmer inside.

The seats in China Southern’s A320 business class were the same as on most other narrowbody aircraft operated by Chinese airlines, and are similar in comfort to domestic first class within the US.

So what was unusual about the seats? The fact that there was only one row of business class.

I’ve seen this in international first class. For example, Air France’s 777 first class consists of just four seats, and TAM’s 777 first class (which no longer exists) also consisted of just one row. But I’ve never before seen this on a narrowbody aircraft. I wasn’t expecting it either, since SeatGuru suggests that China Southern’s A320s have two rows of business class seats, which seems more reasonable.

While the service on my flight from Los Angeles wasn’t good, this flight was excellent, by comparison. The flight attendant taking care of business class, Shirmee, was attentive and friendly. She even cleared plates between courses, and distributed the menus.

However, I found the meal service to be strange. The flight was departing at 8:20AM, and they served lunch after takeoff, rather than the breakfast I was expecting. It’s not every day you’re asked to make the choice between beef and tilapia at 8AM.

It’s a bit sad to me that the service was that much better on a short flight than on China Southern’s flagship aircraft on their flagship route, but really the only thing consistent about airlines is that they’re inconsistent.

Does anyone know of another airline that has a one row premium cabin on a narrowbody aircraft?

Comments

  1. So you complain about the temperature of Guangzhou airport while youre in Singapore? Dont get it. Sorry. We hope a lack of sunlight did not cause your solar powered self to power down 🙂

  2. Flew them on CAN-KUL in J. Kind of fun to be the only one in J with coach being fairly full, except that one time when the bathroom up front was broken and I suppose with only one passenger there’s no real incentive for them to fix it. At least they held back other passengers when I wanted to use the bathroom up back mid flight.

  3. @ 747always — What don’t you get? I’m not allowed to talk about an airport or flight after the fact?

  4. This is sort of a running joke in China, all the people who complain about winter cold are from the supposedly warm southern part of China. Because in the north, we learn to built practical and sufficient heating system. In the South, their way of surviving winter is just to wear more clothes and tough it out.

  5. Lucky – I’m in Singapore too :). Hope your trip is going well.

    So I was in Shanghai, Fuzhou, and Xiamen this week before heading down here on Xiamen Airlines.

    I found out that the central government does not permit commercial buildings to have heat below a certain latitude in China. This includes FOC, XMN, CAN. It was freezing in my business meetings (we all literally had winter jackets on IN the conference rooms) and the Fuzhou airport was absolutely frigid!

  6. @lucky

    China Southern’s newer A320/21 only has 4 Business+ 24 Premium Economy, they wrote about this in their in-flight magazine in August.

  7. SQ only has one row of first on their 777-300s. Since you’re in Singapore, you can go see for yourself! 😉

  8. Last month I was on two flights with them and in each case their booking system was showing more than 5 C seats available. The seat preselection system was showing 2 rows with the second row blocked out. Both times I found myself in a single row C class onboard. The next row behind partition wall (premium economy) was with unlimited legroom!

    Lucky, waiting for your full review of CZ’s long haul flight. Many of was want to know why it was so much worse than your last TAP trip.

  9. CZ used to have 8 business on their narrowbody (8/24/132 for 738) but they are gradually changing it into 4. (Now it is 4/18/150 or 4/24/150 for 738) They believed that there are limited domestic business customers flying between second/third-tier cities.

    Also, it’s not because the heatings didn’t work, it’s because there isn’t one… And you happened to be there on one of the coldest days of a decade… Ryaies is totally right and we usually just wear as much as possible, even indoors as nobody is expecting heatings inside…

  10. I always carry a small digital temperature and humidity gauge in my backpack to properly assess how hot/cold and humid/dry an area, especially my hotel room, is.

  11. BTW in Chinese culture we often have lunch like items for breakfast. Not far from Guangzhou, out family can even have awesome noodle breakfasts

  12. So in China, there’s a line and everything north of it gets heat (central heating), and everything south does not. It’s around Nanjing as I recall. Guangzhou is definitely south, so they don’t get heat in the winter. It’s a resources issue.

    You can find plenty of photos online of Chinese students sitting in class in their winter jackets and that’s why.

    I guess they apply the same rule to airports also.

  13. @Jim “everything” actually being public facilities. Anyone can use electric heating for their home or business.

  14. Guangzhou usually does not get that cold, and they definitely do not have heating there. Given only a few days during a decade to get that cold, I do not think they should install heating, as it will be a waste of money, just get it out.

  15. @Lucky

    Southern China isn’t equipped to deal with the cold. See, even in the depths of winter the daytime maximum is 60F. It hardly needs the expense of a heating system just for a few hours on a winter morning.

    It’s the same in Southern Europe.

  16. Guangzhou airport is hot in the summer when I transited there back two years ago (flew China Southern A380 F) and goodness I wish they put the A/C on HIGH! I’m not surprised at all that there is heating issues there in the winter.

  17. My wife also complained about the cold at Guangzhou airport! She feels very validated now after I told her about Lucky’s experiences over several years. The cold, combined with China’s lame passport clearance for international transfers and the use of the regional A320 business class, convinced me to fly her on EK for her next SIN-JFK trip. It was worth the extra money.

  18. @Lucky My grandparents live in GZ and I’ve visited numerous times as well as flown in and out of CAN. For a large part of the year, GZ is hot and humid and even in the winter months, it doesnt get THAT cold. Therefore many places are built without heating systems since it seems unnecessary.

    However, I do agree that it gets REALLY cold. I’ve stayed a month with my grandparents in January once and I think i wore more clothing indoors at night than I did outdoors during the day.

    The airport should really find a solution but I doubt it’s a priority.

  19. @him. I just traveled through Hong Kong airport this afternoon and at least once you get it it’s a lot more warmer. By the time I got to the Plaza Lounge I had my jacket off. At least their heating is working

  20. In deep south of US, in summer, the AC makes in door temperature so low, you have to wear a jacket, however in winter, the AC makes the temp too high, you only can wear shirts or shorts. How stupid this is….

  21. Jim is correct except the line goes through Shanghai so any city south of Shanghai does not have in building heating in most cases. It is cold only for a week or so per year in southern China, during that time people use room heaters and sweaters

  22. Also btw I never fly China southern. Their service on the ground is atrocious – I flew in late (their fault) a few years ago and they made NO effort to help connecting passengers – missed my flight

  23. Southern China doesn’t usually get that cold. It’s unseasonably cold and their climate control systems probably can’t keep up.

    They keep climate control to a minimum to save on emissions too.

  24. anon says:
    February 2, 2018 at 8:50 am
    I always carry a small digital temperature and humidity gauge in my backpack to properly assess how hot/cold and humid/dry an area, especially my hotel room, is.

    Also, is the FA’s name really Shirmee or did you just phonetically spell it?”

    I want to party with this guy/gal/bot

  25. btw I flew back in December out of IAD to EWR and the terminal was BLASTING A/C when it was like 10 degrees outside….i literally glued to the window to warm myself up with the morning sunlight. Idk whats wrong with people

  26. @lucky you are always allowed to write about experiences. Hell. It’s your blog. It’s just that, over time, your writing seems to have taken a turn for the worse.
    There is no real connection between the headline of the article and the Guangzhou Airport issue, except that you took off from there.
    It’s understandable that you may feel it’s too trivial a topic to post about separately. But do ask yourself if that actually fits in there.
    Having said that, as a customer (reader) of this blog, I’ve given you my feedback. Have already started reducing my visits to your page, not because of any animus towards you, but because of poor writing and logical inconsistencies, which sadly, are a huge bugbear for me.

  27. I do also understand that one reader more or less is not going to break your blog, nor will my reduced visits really cause traffic to your page to stop. Seeing as how I live vicariously through you amongst others, I felt you should know.

  28. J J is correct. No heating in government buildings below a certain latitude and also temperature needs to be below certain level . ( except HK and Macau ) . You did unfortunately hit Guangzhou on one of the coldest days , in the middle of a cold snap. It is not usually as cold as that.

  29. Guangzhou (and also HKG) has generally damp weather all year (it is a coastal city) and it means it can feel colder than it actually is. 39F in Canton is not as bearable as 39F in Beijing where it gets dry winter.

    When I go to HKG (close to CAN)during winter months the low is usually in mid-40s and not really pleasant without heating. HKG airport of course have heating.

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