Competitive fares for airline on the move

ANTHONY DENNIS
Last updated 09:00 11/05/2014

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CHINA SOUTHERN AIRLINES DREAMLINER BUSINESS CLASS

The route London to Guangzhou, China

The plane Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The loyalty scheme Sky Pearl Club, with all business-class passengers entitled to visit the airline's international business lounges prior to departure.

Up the back or at the pointy end Business class, seat F12H

The seat stuff 2-2-2 configuration with a generous seat pitch of 1.95 metres.

Baggage allowance In business class, three pieces to a maximum weight of 23 kilograms per piece, along with cabin/hand luggage.

Comfort factor China Southern's powder-blue and white business cabin, while not yet quite in the same class as some of the more established competitors such as Singapore Airlines and Emirates, features the now-requisite flat-beds for long-haul overnight flights.

But it's the Dreamliner itself that gives this flight much of its comfort, with the aircraft's new oversized windows allowing generous amounts of natural light into the cabin.

But this flyer will reserve his judgment as to whether the new plane's much-vaunted ventilation system moderates jet lag, as has been claimed by its manufacturer, especially as the second leg of the flight on to Sydney was aboard an A380.

That's entertainment Happily, I was asleep for much of this extended flight but business-class passengers have an individual 25 to 38cm LCD video screen and can expect a choice of 127 movies plus 258 television programmes.

The service China Southern's flight attendants are clearly still learning the nuances of Western expectations. English proficiency needs attention, with only one attendant in business class on this flight speaking fluent English.

Feeding time There's a choice of Western and Asian dishes, but it's the Chinese dishes that really tantalise - breakfast items like dim-sum with congee, or fried bean thread noodles with beef red chilli julienne.

The light dinner menu tends to revert to classic Western-style choices like grilled rack of lamb with rosemary sauce and polenta ratatouille tart, though there's also a choice of deep-fried and poached chicken roll and sauteed shiitake mushrooms and steamed rice.

The frequency Daily between Guangzhou and London; twice daily between Sydney and Guangzhou and Melbourne and Guangzhou (note that from March 29 there will be 10 flights weekly between Melbourne and Guangzhou).

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The verdict Already Asia's biggest airline, 440 aircraft-strong at last count, China Southern is on the move in more ways than one. Its solid but uneven offering is rapidly improving and may one day soon prove a threat to more fancied regional competitors. The airline is offering extremely competitive fares to Europe as it aggressively establishes itself in this market before launching into other international territories.

Anthony Dennis flew as a guest of China Southern Airlines, Railbookers and Visit Britain.

- FFX Aus

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