Review of China Southern flight Beijing Istanbul in Economy

Airline China Southern
Flight CZ 679
Class Economy
Seat 51A
Aircraft Boeing 757-200
Flight time 11:05
Take-off 31 May 13, 17:45
Arrival at 31 May 13, 23:50
CZ   #38 out of 139 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 129 reviews
CH
By 2387
Published on 14th December 2015
photo untitled
CZ 679 from Beijing to Istanbul/Ataturk (stopover in Urumqi)
DEP PEK 31 MAY 2013 17:45 CST
ARR URC 31 MAY 2013 22:00 CST
Flight Duration: 4:15

—-stopover in URC—-

DEP URC 31 MAY 2013 23:20 CST
ARR IST 31 MAY 2013 23:50 EET
Flight Duration: 6:30
Aircraft: B757-200

photo 2
Courtesy of www.flightaware.com

Following the CZ 318 which took me from Seoul to Beijing, it was time to board flight CZ 679 to Istanbul.
I arrived back in Terminal 2 in Beijing Airport around one hour before departure time. Terminal 2 is exclusively used by Skyteam carriers and China Southern Airlines.

In front of Terminal 2 there were a lot of construction activities going on.
photo 091
I first thought I had to come through domestic side for the Urumqi-bound CZ 679.
photo 092
I was wrong. The security personnel told me to go out and go toward the international side of the terminal (which you need to show passport to go into)
The passengers for CZ 679 are separated into two groups: domestic and international. They board separately with domestic group boarding first.
photo 093
Here is CZ 679 written on the international side, but it's written Istanbul here.
photo 094
I didn't know the gate number so I asked the agent for the number (good thing I did, since it was Gate 50, a special gate within Terminal 2 that is separate from all other international gates in the terminal.)
photo 095
She kindly told me to go to Gate 50.
photo 096a
As you can see, Gate 50 in T2 is different from the other gates. The flights that depart from this gate are generally the international ones that travel out of China with a stopover in another Chinese city. There's really nothing inside this section of T2, so there's no need to be at this gate super-early for your flight. This gate has its own security checkpoint, so once you go in, there's no going back out.
photo 097
This the waiting area for Gate 50.
photo 098a
There were passengers waiting for a China Eastern flight to Sydney with stopover in Shanghai.
photo 099a
My flight's boarding commenced at 16:20. At the end of the gate's boarding bridge was a door which led to the stairs down to the airport ramp. At the ramp there was a shuttle waiting for the passengers bound for CZ 679 flight. The gate agent, who was waiting at the bottom of the stairs, was distributing International Boarding Pass Confirmation Cards to each passengers.
photo 100
They told us not to lose the cards. Istanbul-bound passengers must present this card while boarding the plane. They collect it back when boarding the plane.
photo 101
Here is the Sydney-bound A330.
photo 102
The livery style is very similar to that of China Southern.
photo 104
The B757 that would take me all the way to Istanbul. I believe on May 28th it was A330, but today it was B757.
photo 105a
To the far end you can see the terminal 2 building. The agents on the stairs were collecting the International Boarding cards that were issued to us.
photo 106aphoto 107
Just like the A320 I took from Seoul/Gimpo to Beijing, the seat configuration was in 3-3.
photo 108
It is my first time taking B757-200 ever. I've always taken B737 in USA.
photo 109a
The only empty window seat visible in this picture was my seat. No one ended up taking the middle seat in my row. Only 20-30 passengers on board were bound for Istanbul.
photo 110a
Cabin interior scene looking toward the front.
photo 111a
On the far end you can see Hainan Airlines' Terminal 1.
photo 112
The seat covers were seriously worn out.
photo 113
It seemed worse when I lowered the seat table.
photo 114
After long taxing, we were ready for take-off.

The plane took off, and veered right away toward west.
It was about 17:40 local time. The flight from Beijing to Urumqi would be about 3 hour and 30 min, as been announced by the flight attendant. Other announcements I could not understand because of her bad English accent. There's no time difference between Beijing and Urumqi even thought they are thousands of miles apart horizontally. China adopted official one-time zone policy throughout the country. It was after 21:00 local time in Urumqi but the sun was still up.
photo 121
We were flying over China's central mountains.
photo 122
The headphone I received after take-off. It looked more like a stethoscope.
photo 123
Beverage service was started
photo 124a
And the long-waited China Southern domestic meal was served.
photo 127a
For the dinner service, a box was first given out by the male flight attendant while the female flight attendant distributed the hot noodle dish.
photo 128
The meal was actually pretty good. The noodles were tasty and the box contents had food items such as bread, apple chips, vegetable mix, and pickled vegetable. I ended up eating everything here.
photo 129
I especially enjoyed eating the dried apple chips.
photo 130
Since the plane was bound for a Muslim country, there were Halal meats.
photo 131
Two hours after meal service the plane descended into Urumqi. It was local time 21:00.

That's Urumqi down there.
photo 136
Urumqi is, by all means, not a small city. It's comparable to size of Denver, CO in USA

That over there is Urumqi Airport's new terminal.
photo 142
Our plane arrived into Gate 23, which was at the end of the terminal. The reason why CZ 679 always uses Gate 23 is because it is closest to the passport control checkpoint that the Istanbul-bound passengers must go through.
photo 143
Disembarking
photo 144a
The signs directing both Urumqi and Istanbul bound passengers.
photo 145
This CZ 679 flight's cabin is now being prepped for Urumqi->Istanbul flight.
photo 146
At the end of the passageway, the Istanbul-bound passengers turned left and Urumqi-bound passengers turned right. For the Istanbul-bound passengers, the Chinese border patrol guards were waiting around the corner. They check the passports here and attach stickers with '679' written on them onto the boarding pass.
photo 147
Passport Control
photo 148a
The new stickers on my boarding pass.
photo 149ab
And we are back in the same gate that we got off at.
photo 150
The boarding process for Istanbul-bound CZ 679 started. There was a free wifi in Urumqi so I was able to text my friends and families.
photo 151
They took off one of the '679' stickers here.
photo 152
On the boarding bridge.
photo 153
China Southern Airlines is indeed a valuable Skyteam member.
photo 154
For this flight, each seats had pillows and blankets.
photo 155
Amenity kits were also provided. Inside there were earplugs, socks, toothbrush/toothpaste.
photo 161
There seemed to be many Turkish people on this flight. They probably transferred from other parts of China to Urumqi to make this flight.
photo 156a
At around 23:00 local time, the plane pushed back.
photo 157
And the plane took off toward west about 10 minutes later.
photo 158
The sun was still a bit visible still at 23:00.
photo 159photo 160
The meal service commenced not too long after take-off.
photo 162a
All of the meals here are halal, since we were bound for a traditionally Muslim country.
photo 163
The noodles were a bit hard on some parts, but overall it was a good meal. There were crisp jujubes and pickled vegetables and roll bread. On the left had halal-prepared beef and beans.
photo 164
Lights were completely turned off after the meal service. It was much more quiet than PEK-URC.
photo 165
Just an hour before landing, the flight attendants were passing out hot towels and a light snack.
photo 166
Inside the sandwich were halal-prepared meat and cheese.
photo 167
Istanbul night from above.
photo 169
You can see Sultanamet from here.
photo 170
It took me almost 18 hours to get here from Korea. Had I taken a non-stop flight, it could've been a much comfortable, 10-hour flight…
At least I got here for a great deal!
photo 171
Turkish Airlines' presence was very well felt. I am now sure that I'm in Istanbul.
photo 172
I got off the plane excited to explore Turkey for the first time.
photo 173a
I needed to first get the Visa on Arrival before going through arrival customs. The VoA counter on my side of the terminal was closed, so I went to the one near the immigration customs counters. The Visa on Arrival for Turkey is 20 USD (in 2013) for US Citizens.
photo 174
This is the list of countries (as of June 2013) that need visa to enter Turkey.
photo 175
Since it was late there weren't any people in line.
photo 176
I got the visa sticker and a stamp.
photo 177
Duty-free shops were everywhere in sight after passing through passport control.
photo 178
My baggage already arrived when I got here.
photo 179
This is the arrivals floor in Ataturk Airport Terminal.
photo 180
This is Ataturk Airport Terminal Departures floor at night. It's very quiet and there were a lot of people sleeping. The airport police or janitors don't really bother anyone sleeping on benches or floors.
photo 181
And slept comfortably for good 6-7 hours. Not wanting my friend to drive late at night from far away, I told my friends that they could pick me up 8AM in the morning.
photo 183
I slept next to TAV gallery, which was close to Burger King and many airline offices.
photo 184
And while waiting for my friend, I had a coffee frappuccino in the Starbucks on arrivals floor which set me back 6 EUR…
photo 185
My two friends (who live around Istanbul) picked me up at around 8AM. It was 01 JUN 2013, and they were talking about how protests were really starting to kick-off at Taksim Square in Istanbul. My friend on the right happened to be around the area last night when things escalated very quickly.
photo 186
Sultanamet District in Istanbul. This place is one of the most touristy place in Istanbul (was safe during protests in 2013). Also, many of the most historical places in Istanbul are located in or near Sultanamet district.
photo 194
I decided to go to Hagia Sophia later and went for Topkapi Palace Musuem (where all of the Sultans of Ottoman Empire lived). This picture was taken at a cafe within the Topkapi Musuem.
photo 204
For brunch we had Ispanakli Borek and fruits.
photo 208
Turkish architecture, to me, was a beautiful mix of oriental and occidental architecture.
photo 241
We went to get lunch near the Topkapi Palace near Sultanahmet Station LRT.
photo 260
I had Kofte for the first time also, and it was great. The bread was unlimited, and the tomatoes/beans & olive oil salad was perfect side for the dish.
photo 273
There were protests everywhere in the city against the Turkish prime minister that day (The demonstrations in Istanbul actually started the day that I arrived.) My friends and I followed the crowd toward Taksim Square, when it was still peaceful.
In order to get to Taksim Square from Sultanahmet, this bridge must be crossed.
photo 280
We went up the Galatas Tower. Galatas Tower was built during Constantinople's times. Nowadays there's an elevator inside the structure so there's no need for tourists to walk up the tower. The view is great from the top of the tower. Amazing views of Istanbul and Bosphorus Strait are worth the visit.
photo 315
You can see the mosques of Istanbul
photo 321
We went back toward Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque. There are times when the mosques are exclusively for Muslims. The dress code is very strict for the mosques. Appropriate, respectful clothings must be worn and one must always take off shoes before entering.
photo 335
This is one of traditional ways of eating in Turkey. Meals are served in small side dishes and the guests choose the side dishes they like.
photo 389
This is typical Turkish breakfast here. It consists of a lot of breads, cheese, olives, butter, and pickled vegetables.The cheese on the fry pan you see on the left is called menemen and the butter smothered with honey on the center is called bal kaymak.
photo 409
We walked toward Istanbul downtown after stuffing ourselves.
photo 422
We got to Bebek Mahallesi. From here you can spot both Bosphorus Bridge and Fatih Sultan Mehmet Bridge.
photo 423
Just one of many graffitis I spotted that day. My friend said it reads 'OC Spray is good for your body'.
photo 454
ATM machines were all destroyed and looted.
photo 468
There were people everywhere protesting against Tayyip Erodogan.
photo 475
They tipped over a car to use as a barricade.
photo 478photo 492
There were many people cleaning up on the streets.
photo 494
The building on the right is the building Tayyip Erodogan proposed to demolish (as of 2013).
photo 541
Some scenes from inside Hagia Sophia.
photo 350photo 355photo 376

Overall, China Southern flight from Beijing to Istanbul was a unique one, since it required a domestic segment from Beijing to Urumqi. When booking, China Southern did have an option for another earlier flight from Beijing to Urumqi before CZ 679. Had I taken that option, maybe I would've had chance to explore the city.
China Southern Airlines exceeded my expectations, in terms of cabin services and food. The cabin attendants were attentive and helpful, and the food was pretty good in my opinion. The seats were very comfortable, enabling me to fall sleep for good chunk of the flights.

Istanbul was a beautiful city, even in times of turmoil. Traveling within the city with my friends (who are from the city) was definitely a plus, since I didn't have to rely on internet searches or public transportation. I would definitely recommend Istanbul as a must-visit city for anyone who is looking for places to travel.

Stay tuned for my return flight from Istanbul to Seoul-Incheon via Korean Air KE 956!


See more

Verdict

China Southern

7.5/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi5.0
Meal/catering8.0

Beijing - PEK

6.4/10
Efficiency7.5
Access6.5
Services5.0
Cleanliness6.5

Istanbul - ISL

9.0/10
Efficiency9.0
Access9.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness9.0

Conclusion

Related

5 Comments

  • Comment 152570 by
    MrMax 144 Comments

    Really Interesting FR. It's weird they used a 757, an a330 or 787 would have been more comfortable. There weren't IFEs either, That must suck.

  • Comment 152582 by
    cpdu91 73 Comments

    Very interesting FR. However the only reason why you got Hallal food served was not because you were flying to a Muslim country. Urumqi is the capital of Xinjiang province which count a majority of Muslim population.

  • Comment 152595 by
    marathon GOLD 9580 Comments

    The gates in PEK T2 dedicated to these CZ international flights stopping over in URC or CAN are terrible : no shops, no lounge, no nothing.

    These stethoscope-like headphones are really a thing of the past. Last time I had that on a CZ flight, I was amazed that they were still being produced.
    I love the warmth, refreshing, harmonious, nourishing advertising on the standard lunch box used by CZ (not legible in this FR, but I had the same). It is an accurate translation of the Chinese, written vertically. Decent meal, BTW.
    Most signs in URC have Russian translations, but I am surprised that they did not translate the sign made specifically for IST bound passengers in Turkish.
    Many thanks for this very interesting report and bonus !

    PS :
    - the conclusion ought to be in the conclusion section (it is a simple cut and paste)
    - the pictures deserve being larger than 640x480 : next time, use 1024 pixel wide resizing.

  • Comment 152634 by
    Rl 777 810 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this very interesting FR with us!

    It's really interesting to hear about these different boarding procedures on flights like this one, thanks for giving us all the details!

    The meals looks satisfactory, I like the look of the box on the PEK-URC flight!

    Great shots of the mountains upon arrival at URC!

    Nice variety of shots from Turkey!

    Have a good one, see you!

Login to post a comment.