China Southern Airlines BNE-CAN-CTU

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drcam

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In March of last year, I went to China for my grandfather's ninetieth birthday party. Sadly, he passed away this year after what was really an excellent innings.

At that time I was living in Brisbane, and the only airline that flew directly to the mainland was China Southern Airlines. At $888 including taxes, it was a very good deal linking Australia and China's third largest cities and onto the home of the panda.

The plane was actually very comfortable, with a seat pitch in economy of 34 inches. This is more than enough for a small person like myself (then about 5'7'' and 150lb), but many may still find themselves squished at this pitch. It is important to remember that I am still (marginally) taller and heavier than the average Cantonese male which is meant to be the default clientele. The service, while not up to the standards of most Western airlines, was not nearly as bad as what I was anticipating. Having Mandarin as my first language certainly helped, but certainly if you asked for a glass of water you were given it, unlike my previous experience on Air China when I was brusquely told "No!" when I asked for a glass of water being thirsty mid-flight.

There were no personal entertainment screens, but I kept myself busy with reading material from work, and Chinese movies were shown from drop-down screens from the ceiling. I was too engrossed with my journal articles to bother about it and I had plenty of things to keep me occupied throughout the flight (work).

Two edible, mediocre and forgettable meals were served, nothing to write home about. They were forgettable certainly in the sense that I certainly forgot what was in it.

We got into Baiyun Airport in Guangzhou on time, about 6pm in the evening. I then had what was meant to be a 3 hour layover before my late flight from Guangzhou to Chengdu. After waiting over an hour to get through customs, I got stuck in a section that reminded me of limbo, where we were told that the plane was delayed due to weather conditions (it was raining). We were given access to tap water as well as wireless internet (luckily I had my laptop in my carry on luggage). Then we were finally informed that delay was indefinite and were allowed into the main domestic airport waiting area.

At about 11pm, two hours after scheduled departure, we were given one can of Cantonese canned porridge. I was hungry by this stage and had long eaten a bowl of dumplings at exorbitant airport prices. I was feeling distinctly tired. The rain had apparently stopped by the time we were finally allowed to board at 1.30am. No mention of a night's accommodation was ever given. Many passengers by this stage had lost their patience and were yelling at the stewardesses. However, we did not take off, and when we asked WHEN it would take off (despite it not raining), the response was "I don't know".

The connecting flight finally took off at about 3.30am. We were given NOTHING in compensation for our denied boarding and delay. We finally arrived in Chengdu, at 5.30am on Sunday morning, at a deserted airport with almost no services open, an absolutely surreal feeling for China. I took a taxi to my pre-booked hotel and slept until about lunchtime, after which I was still too tired to do anything in the afternoon.

On the return flight, everything occurred on time, and arrival in Brisbane was within ten minutes of the scheduled time. However my bad experience (that my mother had forewarned me about) during the outbound trip has convinced me NEVER to fly this airline EVER again.
 
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Myrna

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My cousins are flying with this airline from MEL to LHR (via CAN) to visit me over Christmas and New Year, in pleb because their fares were the cheapest! I will warn them.
 
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