Review of China Southern flight Seoul Beijing in Economy

Airline China Southern
Flight CZ 318
Class Economy
Seat 49A
Aircraft Airbus A320
Flight time 02:10
Take-off 31 May 13, 12:30
Arrival at 31 May 13, 13:40
CZ   #42 out of 134 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 122 reviews
CH
By 1993
Published on 14th December 2015
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CZ 318 GMP-PEK (Seoul/Gimpo->Beijing)
DEP GMP 31 MAY 2013 12:30
ARR PEK 31 MAY 2013 13:40
Flight Duration: 2:10
Aircraft: A320
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Flight route map courtesy of www.flightaware.com

These upcoming flight reports (CZ 318 and CZ 679) will be unique ones…
Today, I'm off to Turkey.
I had couple of college friends living in Istanbul. They were both Turkish and went back to their hometowns after graduation, working in some construction companies. I knew the best way to experience Turkey was to travel with the locals, since locals know the best. Turkey was one of those countries I was always inspired to visit. Ever since I learned about the Constantines, Ottoman Empire, and Hagia Sophia through history classes in high school, I knew I would someday visit Istanbul.
I decided it was now or never so I pulled the trigger by purchasing tickets early April.
I had mileages to spent through Korean Air, so I booked the return flight from Istanbul/Ataturk to Seoul/Incheon first, since I could always cancel the booking at any time without penalty.
For the outbound flight, I spent many days searching for the cheapest flights from Seoul to Istanbul. The lowest price offered was through China Southern Airlines site at around 400USD. But the problem was that there were several stopovers within China with this choice. Another problem was that I would be arriving into Istanbul at 12AM local time, and I didn't want my friends to bother coming to the airport at that late time.
Anyways, after a week-long research, I decided to go with China Southern. The flight segments were separated into three. First I would take CZ 318 from Seoul Gimpo to Beijing on May 31st, have 4 hour layover there until boarding the CZ 679 flight that would stopover in Urumqi for about 2 hours. CZ 679 would eventually land in Istanbul at around 12AM as previously mentioned.
I was apprehended by such tiring-looking schedule, but apparently a lot of Korean travelers used this route to travel to Turkey. Reading other travel reports on this same exact itinerary helped me out.
I arrived at Seoul/Gimpo Airport at around 9:50AM.
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It's been a while since I've departed internationally through Seoul/Gimpo Airport. The last time I departed internationally here was in 1999. Since then, a LOT has changed in this airport. New shops, restaurants, and theaters opened up ever since. It's a completely different scene in here.
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China Southern Airlines doesn't have its own check-in counters at the Seoul/Gimpo Airport. The check-in process is actually done by the Korean Air check-in agents.
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The check-in for CZ 318 started promptly at 10:00.
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Apparently there were other fellow travelers going to Istanbul. The Korean Air agent gave me some advices on where to check out in Istanbul. He told me he took the same exact itinerary through China Southern to Istanbul.
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I received two boarding passes. One for CZ 318 and one for CZ 679.
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After passing through passport control and security checkpoint.
It's apparent that Seoul/Gimpo Airport removed a lot of gates from the international terminal after turning over most of the international traffic to Seoul/Incheon Airport. I think about half of the gates were taken out of commission. I still remember walking around this terminal as child more than 10 years ago.
My gate (34A) is visible on the left. There's no boarding bridge for this gate so a shuttle to the aircraft would be provided by the airport.
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And right next to my gate was Taipei/Songshan bound T'way Airlines.
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Here is a Tokyo/Haneda-bound Japan Airlines B767.
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And ANA that just arrived from Tokyo/Haneda.
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It's hard to see, but behind the JAL plane is the China Southern A321 plane.
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The boarding process began on-time.
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The shuttle was ready for us when we got outside. Here is the scene on route from the gate to the plane.
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There seemed to be a good mix of Korean and Chinese passengers. There were also some Caucasian people on board for today's flight.
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Panorama shot of the plane
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And a quick snapshot toward the international terminal
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Walking up the airstair.

Interior cabin view.
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The CZ flight attendant on the left here was yawning (without covering her mouth) as passengers were passing by, not even greeting them. It showed how unprofessional some CZ flight attendants (not all) are.
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Not my seat, but since there were passengers next to my seats already, I took a quick snap shot of some other seats.
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The seat pitch was less than that of Korean Air, but the seats were incredibly comfortable. Cleanliness, not sure about that though.
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Windows were a bit dirty, so it was harder to see outside.
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Cabin panorama shot
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Safety Information video being shown.
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About to get ready for take-off!
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It's been a while since I've taken off from this runway!.
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The domestic terminal down below.
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And the Seoul city.
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I spy the Seoul World Cup Stadium.
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Passing over Guro Digital Complex. Subway line 2 is visible.
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See ya Korea! Flying over the Yellow Sea.
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Not too long after the take-off the meal service commenced.
The flight attendants for today's flight didn't really speak English well (which is understood), but they kept on talking to me in Chinese hoping that I'd understand. I went back and forth with the female flight attendant on the right who kept asking me if I wanted fish or beef.
After asking me about 5 times in Chinese, she must've realized I don't speak Chinese. She asked me in broken English if I wanted 'fish or beef'. She wasn't rude or anything, but she was very direct.
I chose the fish.
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Here is the fish meal I chose. The meal seemed to be catered by Korean Air Catering.
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Fish fries turned about to be pretty good. I particularly liked the sauce that came with it. The carrot cake above wasn't too sweet, which was perfect for me.
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After two hours of flight, the plane was approaching into Beijing airspace.
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And the plane started a rather quick descent toward Beijing Airport.
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And the braking after touchdown was one of the most extreme I've ever experienced. I literally collided with the seat in front of me.
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Beijing Terminal 3 far away.
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We parked near Terminal 2, requiring us to take a shuttle to the terminal.
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There were no escalators available in the terminal. We had to walk up and down the stairs It would really be inconvenient for people who are old or disabled.
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To the terminal we go!
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The immigration customs. Starting 2013, China allowed 72-hour Visa-free stopover program for travelers traveling through Beijing or Shanghai. All international transfer passengers still must enter China by showing the onward ticket or boarding passes at the passport control, but no Visa is needed. I could perhaps squeezed in a 3-day long trip in Beijing or Shanghai in the future.
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Fortunately, there weren't too many people today.
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After passing through passport control, I was officially in China.
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The arrivals floor of Beijing Airport Terminal 2.
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I got the 24-hour stay permit since I'll be traveling 'domestically' to Urumqi with CZ 679. The stamp was unnecessarily big, IMHO. Just taking up a whole visa page…
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I had 4 hours to kill so I decided to check out Terminal 3 for the first time.
There are free shuttles offered between all of the terminals here in PEK. It takes about 15-20 min to get to T3 from T2 and vice-versa.
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Snap shot on the way to Terminal 3. It feels weird to be able to roam within the city without visa.
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The bridge ahead of us is the highway that connects Terminal 3 to the airport express highway, which runs between PEK and Beijing downtown.
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Terminal 3 was no joke. This terminal was huge!

The layout of Terminal 3 seemed very similar to the layout of the main terminal of Hong Kong. Both terminals are built by Norman Foster, world-famous architect.
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Ceilings were incredibly high.
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BibiGo is a Korean-fusion restaurant which gained popularity in the recent years.
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Passport control area for the departing passengers.
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The west side of the Terminal 3. Terminal 2 is visible far away.
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The arrivals floor down below.
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Boarding the bus back to T2.
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For my CZ 679 (Beijing->Urumqi->Istanbul) flight report, please look through my reports list! It's surely an interesting flight report!
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Verdict

China Southern

5.1/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew4.0
Entertainment/wifi2.0
Meal/catering7.0

Seoul - GMP

8.9/10
Efficiency9.0
Access9.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.0

Beijing - PEK

7.0/10
Efficiency7.0
Access7.0
Services7.0
Cleanliness7.0

Conclusion

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2 Comments

  • Comment 152542 by
    NGO85 1622 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR.

    by such tiring-looking schedule
    - Not if you enjoy flying and trying new aircraft types within a carrier :)

    without covering her mouth and wasn't rude or anything, but she was very direct.
    - Different countries have different cultures, you just have to keep an open mind when traveling.

    The cabin looks standard for CZ, the presence of the ads on the antimacassars always bothers me and reminds me of a LCC. The meal service looks very strong by CZ on this short flight (comparable to what you would get for a meal on a long-haul flight). I'm surprised it wasn't a simple chicken or beef option.

    Why was the IFE score so low? This plane had overhead screens, didn't they play cartoons or travel programs or something?

    could perhaps squeezed in a 3-day long trip in Beijing or Shanghai in the future.
    - I did this last year flying CA through PEK, it is pretty painless as long as you have your itinerary in hand (to confirm onward travel).

  • Comment 152543 by
    CH AUTHOR 29 Comments

    Different countries have different cultures, you just have to keep an open mind when traveling.
    That is very true. To some people of the culture where excellent inflight is expected, traveling to other countries where direct-ness is valued can be a culture-shock.
    As for IFE, they did play some kind of movie/TV show in the cabin. I just didn't know what score to give them since I didn't watch them (they were all in Chinese). I'll perhaps change it to 4. Perhaps I am also spoiled by the fact that a lot of international carriers provide personal IFE system in economy seats.

    Stay tuned for my CZ 679. The meals on China Southern really aren't bad at all!

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