Hello from Beijing, where I am resting up at the Beijing Capital Airport Hilton after a surprising flight on China Southern aboard the A380 in first class.
In all honestly, I sort of dreaded this flight…in a good way (I was still looking forward to it). We don’t have many reference points for China Southern first class and most reviews skew negative. Quite candidly, after reading Lucky’s famous China Southern first class report my expectations were so low that I had essentially given up before I even stepped onboard, especially after a seat assignment issue and the poor lounge in Guangzhou.
But I am very happy to report that I had a WONDERFUL flight on China Southern. In fact…and I do not say this lightly…the service rivaled that of ANA and Thai first, two carriers I have flown earlier this week. I am not exaggerating. I know better.
Thanks to the 4.5 hour delay, first class went from 8/8 to 2/8. I ended up with my window seat after all and enjoyed essentially 1:1 attention from flight attendant Liu. She was charming, professional, and spoke excellent English. I point out the English because communication has traditionally been an issue for non-Chinese speakers on Mainland carriers, particularly on domestic flights.
Liu knelt down at my feet and presented slippers to me prior to takeoff, in a way that reminded me of Garuda Indonesia First Class.
The first class cabin contains eight closed-door seats and is located on the lower level of the A380, like fist class on Qantas. The suite cushioning felt much firmer than other 1-2-1 first class products and the ottoman and suite itself offers less personal storage than other, similar-looking first class suites.
After boarding, I was presented with a welcome drink of sparkling water with mint in a martini glass with cookies, served on a silver-colored platter.
How about champagne? China Southern offered a $50 bottle of Piper-Heidsieck Vintage Brut 2008. It’s no Krug, but certainly an upgrade from the Duc de Paris sparkling wine served in years past.
After takeoff, mixed nuts and a beverage were offered.
A menu offered several main course choices and I asked the flight attendant for a recommendation. She ended up bringing me a feast. First, I had Chao Zhou beef ball soup, which Liu claimed was a China Southern specialty.
For my entree, I ordered braised fish maw with marinated goose wing and mixed vegetables. Good thing I did not know what fish maw is (at the time). So unbeknownst to me, I had fish bladder as my main course…
Now that should have been enough, but Liu next insisted that I have some beef noodle soup. I obliged and was surprised when she promptly delivered a huge portion. With the fried peanuts and coriander on top, this really made for a tasty second meal.
Next Liu wanted me to try some soup with red beans and lotus for dessert, but I just had some fresh fruit and Chinese ice cream.
Obviously not my normal western meals choices, but overall I liked the meal. Liu also made an excellent cappuccino.
Full bedding was available on this short flight (mattress pad, comforter), though I just used the lighter blanket in the seat to take a one-hour nap after dinner.
Finally, let me note I was fascinated by the IFE library, which included recent movies but all kinds of 1990s and 2000s Hollywood movies I had never heard of. Some of them looked interesting…
I was so pleasantly surprised with the crew overall that I requested to take a picture prior to landing and was happily obliged.
I don’t believe in luck, but I could not resist the double entendre in my title. Believe it or not, I did not have a Lucky (Ben) experience on China Southern, but a Lucky (surprisingly good) experience. Well-done China Southern. Well-done. Pretty amazing this was just a 2.5 hour flight…