China Southern - Challenging experiences

Old May 4, 17, 12:42 pm
  #1  
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China Southern - Challenging experiences

I saw some well priced flights just before Christmas with China Southern between the UK and Australia and booked a one-way ticket for myself Sydney-Shenzhen-Beijing-Amsterdam in January and my wife a return Sydney-Guangzou-London-Amsterdam-Guangzou-Sydney for April.

On check-in at Sydney for my flight I was told I had to sign a waiver in case of unexpected visa problems in China as I'd be making a domestic transit... The A330 was pretty basic, food well I looked at it but didn't even try it, IFE was non-existence. Boarding passes were only available up to Shenzhen where I was informed I'd need to collect my bags. Transit in Shenzhen was a lot of messing around, nothing really explained as the staff couldn't speak enough English to explain and none of the transit passengers spoke Mandarin. The domestic lounge was a bit urgh... At the security my boarding pass flagged up that I needed to go to a special room for secondary checking of my bags, it took quite a lot of sign language to figure this one out, but we got there in the end.

My Shenzhen-Beijing flight was a China Southern code on Xiamen metal (SkyTeam and 51% owned by China Southern), this caused lots of confusion and ultimately the flight was delayed resulting in missing my Amsterdam flight.
Nobody really wanted to assist me in Beijing, probably due to the language barrier I was asked many times why I missed the flight and why I'm not on my way to Amsterdam. Nobody could explain what the solution was, so I was sent to the Konggang Lanwan International hotel and told to go back in the morning to the airport. Barely slept, but on arrival to the airport I spent about 2 hours going between Xiamen and China Southern desks trying to find a solution, before being told I could fly back in a weeks time... I had a 48 hour visa so that wasn't happening. Ultimately after a lot of arguing I went on standby for the KLM flight and managed to be the last boarding. Elite Plus status was absolutely worthless and honestly felt that the airline had no idea how to deal with irrops or actually how to deal with Western passengers.

The flights for my wife and children to the UK were overall fine, no IFE and poor food, but they were on time and thats what mattered most. On the return sector we tried checking in online but for the final sector to Sydney my wife was allocated a seat at the front of the aircraft, my 6 year old son in the middle and my 9 year old daughter at the rear. I couldn't change this without an error occurring. So on arrival at Heathrow we tried, but even the supervisor there couldn't change it, the same in Amsterdam and so finally in Guangzhou we thought they should be able to do it, but nope they could not alter the seat assignment. The final result was my wife having to ask other passengers to swap seats, which thankfully they did, but it wasn't ideal.

Would we book China Southern again for a cheap deal? Probably not, I've tried a few other airlines for cheap deals including Vietnam and Kuwait airlines and then appreciate airlines like Qantas, Cathay and Emirates so much more, so perhaps by now I should learn my lesson? But then life is an adventure...
Yachtman is offline  
Old May 4, 17, 9:32 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
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Its unfortunate that you was not treated well with the missed connection. Though flight delays are very common in China.

Such a complex routing will usually cause issues.

I have no idea about the A330 on SXZ to SYD and return but probably not overly surprised by that as I would guess 90% + of the flight will be just Chinese passengers and this route is not really for passengers flying on to Europe.

I think maybe my expectations are low for domestic lounges in China. But the airport lounge for domestic flights (CZ Members/skyteam elite plus lounge) in SZX is actually quite acceptable. I know food is pretty limited and outside certain times even less so but its clean/large and usually nearly empty and comfortable. If you think that is bad then try Chongqing CZ members lounge you can't even get a soft drink all day long.

I am surprised your wife said her flights had no IFE. Because I know definitely the flights to London is a 787 which are less than 5 years old frames plus I have flown them a few times in economy.

Food is well Chinese.. Your given 1 option and its usually rice or noodles. I find most of my relatives who have tried CZ said its fine for the price paid. Depends if you like Chinese food in particular or not.

Go business class with CZ and it would be a huge difference.

Anyway as I fly economy most of the time and its not my airlines program I try to fly with CI if I can even if it means an additional connection. Same for other skyteam members (KE...etc..).
tris06 is offline  
Old May 5, 17, 1:25 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
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I will freely admit that I am a supporter of CZ. I presume you were flying economy; I've never experienced anything like that in Business.I'm not sure what you mean by no IFE..,areyou saying that there was actually NOTHING AT ALL, or you thought it was limited and not to your tastes? It sounds like some of the problems you experienced were due to PRC rather than CZ. I understand that you were delayed and missed your flight...very VERY fortunate that they gave you a hotel: I don't believe that they are obliged to do so. Language difficulties can be frustrating, I have always found CZ very good..,they identify staff who can understand English and when there has been a difficulty, they quickly get hold of an English speaker. Your unusual routing probably didn't help. I wish you better luck in the future.
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Old May 5, 17, 5:12 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
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Originally Posted by Bub001 View Post
Language difficulties can be frustrating, I have always found CZ very good..,they identify staff who can understand English and when there has been a difficulty, they quickly get hold of an English speaker. Your unusual routing probably didn't help. I wish you better luck in the future.
I speak Chinese, but I was flying domestically and found it funny (I guess not funny) that a passenger just couldn't communicate with the flight attendant cause nobody spoke English well enough to understand. I think it is probably easier to get a passenger who speaks English and Chinese passably than a flight attendant
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Old May 5, 17, 5:21 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Originally Posted by Yachtman View Post
I saw some well priced flights just before Christmas with China Southern between the UK and Australia and booked a one-way ticket for myself Sydney-Shenzhen-Beijing-Amsterdam in January and my wife a return Sydney-Guangzou-London-Amsterdam-Guangzou-Sydney for April.

On check-in at Sydney for my flight I was told I had to sign a waiver in case of unexpected visa problems in China as I'd be making a domestic transit... The A330 was pretty basic, food well I looked at it but didn't even try it, IFE was non-existence. Boarding passes were only available up to Shenzhen where I was informed I'd need to collect my bags. Transit in Shenzhen was a lot of messing around, nothing really explained as the staff couldn't speak enough English to explain and none of the transit passengers spoke Mandarin. The domestic lounge was a bit urgh... At the security my boarding pass flagged up that I needed to go to a special room for secondary checking of my bags, it took quite a lot of sign language to figure this one out, but we got there in the end.

My Shenzhen-Beijing flight was a China Southern code on Xiamen metal (SkyTeam and 51% owned by China Southern), this caused lots of confusion and ultimately the flight was delayed resulting in missing my Amsterdam flight.
Nobody really wanted to assist me in Beijing, probably due to the language barrier I was asked many times why I missed the flight and why I'm not on my way to Amsterdam. Nobody could explain what the solution was, so I was sent to the Konggang Lanwan International hotel and told to go back in the morning to the airport. Barely slept, but on arrival to the airport I spent about 2 hours going between Xiamen and China Southern desks trying to find a solution, before being told I could fly back in a weeks time... I had a 48 hour visa so that wasn't happening. Ultimately after a lot of arguing I went on standby for the KLM flight and managed to be the last boarding. Elite Plus status was absolutely worthless and honestly felt that the airline had no idea how to deal with irrops or actually how to deal with Western passengers.

The flights for my wife and children to the UK were overall fine, no IFE and poor food, but they were on time and thats what mattered most. On the return sector we tried checking in online but for the final sector to Sydney my wife was allocated a seat at the front of the aircraft, my 6 year old son in the middle and my 9 year old daughter at the rear. I couldn't change this without an error occurring. So on arrival at Heathrow we tried, but even the supervisor there couldn't change it, the same in Amsterdam and so finally in Guangzhou we thought they should be able to do it, but nope they could not alter the seat assignment. The final result was my wife having to ask other passengers to swap seats, which thankfully they did, but it wasn't ideal.

Would we book China Southern again for a cheap deal? Probably not, I've tried a few other airlines for cheap deals including Vietnam and Kuwait airlines and then appreciate airlines like Qantas, Cathay and Emirates so much more, so perhaps by now I should learn my lesson? But then life is an adventure...
That is a very torturous routing, how much did you save over a simple SYD-CAN-AMS return? An International transfer at CAN is quick and easy, I've only flown in C class on both the 330s and 787s, but also don't understand why you say there was no IFE, that is certainly not normal for CZ.
AJCNL is offline  
Old May 6, 17, 3:33 pm
  #6  
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Thanks for the replies. To elaborate on the IFE, the A330 flights had a small screen playing a a single program for the entire cabin. I think my wifes 787 flight to London was better as they had half decent IFE, but the rest of the flights were similar to mine.

The routing wasn't ideal when I flew, it was a last minute booking at a peak time and China Southern with this particular route was a good $500 cheaper than alternatives. I would like to think that China Southern would be better in Business, but alas it'll be a while until I fly in business class again (unless oil and resources prices come back up again).

I think for straightforward flights are fine, but when things go wrong it seems to be quite difficult. I had to go from desk to desk to obtain a certificate that showed i'd been delayed to present to another desk to have them rebook me and ultimately go on standby with KLM with some pressing. If I'd spoken some Mandarin I also suspect that life would have been quite a bit easier for me and perhaps I naively expected it would be like many of the other Asian carriers, but flying via PRC is an experience in itself.
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