I joined a new team in mid November last year and I was lucky enough to be selected to visit my new team in the Philippines. All flight/hotel bookings had to be made with a specific TA rather than booking yourself. After looking through various flight options, I selected China Southern to get to Manila via Guangzhou. The odd thing about selecting this routing was that there was a misconnection in Guangzhou when flying back to Toronto. This meant staying overnight in Guangzhou for 24 hours and it included a free hotel room for the night courtesy of CZ. The TA could not understand this rationale when there was a direct flight on PAL to Manila. Seriously, direct flights are so boring, can I get an amen?
Here's the kicker: I had carry over vacation from the previous year and my office boss and home boss were perfectly ok with me taking some time away to explore some of the beautiful beaches in the Philippines. After planning with Manila team members who would be coming with me on the local trips, the final trip looked like this:
1. CZ J - YYZ-CAN 2. CZ J - CAN-MNL 3. 1 day layover in Manila 4. PR Y - MNL-CEB 5. One week in Cebu that included: 4 nights in Malapascua + diving with the Thresher Shark, 3 nights in Moalboal + diving with sardines and swimming with the whale shark. 6. PR Y - CEB-MNL 7. One week of work in Manila (nothing much to report here other than random pictures) 8. CZ J - MNL-CAN 9. 24 hour stopover in Guangzhou 10. CZ J - CAN-YYZ
Intro done, lets do this.
We begin the TR with the taxi dropping me off at Pearson T3. Like most international carriers, China Southern is the last door at the departures drop off area. As I walked in, I could not immediately find the check in counter and the FIDS were of no help. After a little walking around, I found the CZ counters way in the back corner with Cathay Pacific. There were no people waiting in the Business class queue but there was one person being helped at the counter. As the check-in agent motioned me to come forward, the person in the economy line next to me started shouting at the check-in agent to the effect of “Why are you helping him first? I was here before him.”, but in Mandarin or Cantonese. Being the kind Canadian that I am, I waited and within seconds, the supervisor at the next counter called me up to help me check-in. Patience – a Canadian virtue.
The Cathay check in counters on the opposite side of the CZ counters.
A quick pic of the PAL check-in madness.
The new board (and a nice addition) way up on the wall of T3. What the hell, WJ – whats up with so many delays?
Security was quick with no line ups and no priority line.
Schlepping all the way down to the C gates where the big international flights leave from.
Lounges were located one floor above and I headed off to find the PP lounge. This PP lounge may have been recently renovated and looked in line with other PP lounges around the world. The PP lounge at T1 is just small and awful.
I think this is the way.
I found a seat by the window overlooking the gate where CZ would be docked at.
This is what regret looks like.
Well, hello there beautiful.
After 20 minutes, one of the lounge attendants came around calmly announcing the boarding of the flight to CAN.
The economy scrum.
No need for me to wait in that line. LOL.
I approached the FA standing at the door and he pointed me to my seat.
My seat – 18A.
And what 19A looks like behind me. The cabin was in a 1-2-1 layout similar to the Emirates A380.
A female FA came by offering me a towel while another came by with a tray of PDBs. I chose the apple juice and there was no offer of champers.
Lady in red giving me a pose (totally coincidental).
The touch screen remote to control the TV functions. Very slick to use and resolution was great.
A shot of the engine.
Let’s peruse through the food menu, shall we?
Digging into the amenity kit and its usual “nothing too exciting” contents.
Setting the mood.
Air Transat from god knows where just pulling in.
Door closed and we were getting ready for push back. In the mean time, the safety demo began.
And another shot of the remote control with TV to show the resolution.
PAL getting ready to pushed back.
We taxi-ed pretty quickly to the runway and passed by T1.
Total flying time to Guangzhou.
Thirty minutes into the flight, service began with a little sip. While we were on the ground, the FA working my side of the cabin came by and took everyone’s orders for dinner and breakfast along with drink choice. Once the choices were made, the menus were taken away.
Followed by the amuse bouche.
Smokey cauliflower potato soup. I was never asked for my soup choice and this was just plunked down on my tray table – um, ok. Nonetheless, it was tasty.
Some type of beef roll with scallop even though the menu said something else.
Canadian cod with scallop sauce. Bland.
Followed by cheesecake and fruits.
As the service was down, the FA came by everyone and offered rock hard chocolate ice cream. Needed a good 20 minutes for it to partially melt.
Obligatory wing shot somewhere over the great white north.
Took a walk to stretch out and see what premium economy was like behind the curtains. I peeked behind the curtain to check out economy and quickly ran away after laying eyes on the unwashed masses.
Shot of the bar set up in between the mini and main business class cabins.
After a few hours of Zzzzz’s, we were woken up for an early breakfast. Traditionally, most carriers start breakfast 2 hours before landing. In the case of China Southern, breakfast started a good 5 hours ahead of landing. Eager beavers.
Prepping breakfast for us.
Cereal to start the early breakfast.
I went with the wonton shrimp and meat soup and skipped everything else.
Back to la la land.
All nice, cozy and snuggly under the blanket.
Soon, it was time to land and preparations were made. Seat up, headsets taken away. We landed at 5am in darkness.
And a final shot of our plane as we disembarked.
Plaza Premium Lounge Management Limited Plaza Premium Lounge (International Departures)
Toronto - YYZ
Guangzhou - CAN
There are no complaints with the hard product that CZ offered. In regards to the soft product, the crew did the best they could given the language barrier. When making selections for dinner and breakfast, I made it easy and pointed to the item on the menu. Service was friendly and efficient as it could be and during the lull period, you did not see any of the crew. I would even go as far as saying that the service was a lot friendly compared to Cathay Pacific business class because lets be honest - CX J service has gone drown the drain a little. Oooooooh, shots fired.
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