We live in Iceland and several of our family members live near Melbourne, Australia, so we decided to spend Christmas there. The two airports - Keflavík and Melbourne - are not exactly close to each other, the distance being 10,539 miles (about 17,000 kms). If there was a direct flight it would overfly Svalbard, Eastern Siberia, North-East China and Eastern Indonesia and it would take about 21 hours. But there's of course no direct flight. So how should we get there?
We knew we didn't want to fly economy and we didn't have the budget for most business class flights, so we had to look for an exceptionally good deal in business class. Connecting flights from Iceland to Africa, Asia or Australia are never good value. London, Copenhagen, Frankfurt or Germany are usually among the more expensive departure airports. Amsterdam or Paris can have better deals but none was available at that time.
We checked premium economy as well, and although Singapore Airlines' great premium economy was bookable at a reasonable price from Stockholm to Melbourne via Moscow and Singapore, we still hoped for a good price in business.
We considered for a long time, and we even held a booking for some time, to fly from Cairo. A CAI-MCT-KUL-MEL in business class was offered by Oman Air and Malaysia Airlines at a price similar to many economy class flights from Europe to Australia. But direct flights from Europe to Cairo are overpriced even in economy and connecting flights can have unfavorable schedules.
So what was the solution? Oslo is usually, maybe surprisingly for some of you, the cheapest airport for long-haul business class flights from Europe. And there came a promotional offer: Oslo to Perth with Qatar Airways and Auckland to Oslo with China Southern. Yes, we wanted to fly to Melbourne but why not to visit Western Australia for a few days? And yes, the return leg was from New Zealand but we could finally visit NZ as well - and the flight was even slightly cheaper than a return from Australia.
China Southern is not among the best known airlines outside of China. It is certainly less known, at least in Europe, than Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines or Singapore Airlines but it has a larger fleet than any other airlines in Asia or in Europe with 817 aircrafts - that's a lot! Its main hub is Guangzhou. It is of course one of the options if you want to fly from Europe to China but it also offers good connections to Australia and New Zealand.
We arrived to the airport at about 9m by metro line 3. Station Airport North Terminal 2 is about 45 minutes from downtown Guangzhou. A ticket costs only 8 yuan (1 €) or you can buy a day pass for 20 yuan (2,5 €).
The terminal building is grandiose, really impressive.
There is a separate area (called area Q) for business class check-in at the end of the building
There was nobody in front of us and we were checked in in 10 minutes. We got our boarding passes all the way to Oslo.
There's a lounge at the business class check-in but it is not for China Southern's business class passengers
We also had priority security which had no queue at all and was stress free.
There were only a few people and almost no wait at passport control.
It was time to go to the lounge
Let's first have a look at the departures tonight
There is enough seating in the lounge
Do you know what it is?
The lounge has a few desks with computers
A play area for babies
Left luggage facilities
The shower at the lounge was very large and comfortable, similar to size in what you would find in a five-star hotel
How do you like the towels?
Let's have a look at the choice of food. You can order noodles from the menu
Mines looked good but they were not really tasty
The hot buffet choice not only looked good but everything I tried was very good
You can also have some yoghurt…
….or Ferrero Rocher chocolate
I found altogether the lounge very good, comfortable and with a good choice of food. I especially appreciated the spacious showers before the night flight.
We walked to the gate at about 23.00. Priority boarding was quick. Our plane tonight was an A330-300. While it offers less space in business class than the B787 it is nevertheless very comfortable.
Configuration in business class is 1+2+1 in seven rows. A and K seats in rows 2, 4 and 6 are closer to the window while the same A and K seats in rows 1, 3, 5, 7 are closer to the aisle.
A K seat closer to the aisle
And another K seat closer to the windows
Middle seats in rows 1, 3, 5 and 7 are right next to each other, ideal for couples or families, while middle seats in rows 2, 4 and 6 are a bit further away from each other.
A divider can be raised if you sit in the middle seats that are closer to each other
All seats in the business cabin have direct aisle access. The middle seats in rows 1, 3, 5 and 7 have however a very narrow access that would be difficult or impossible for an overweight person.
This is legroom for seat 3F - it is better than it looks on this photo
Slippers were already at the seat
I had some champagne as a welcome drink
The amenity kit was the same as on our flight from Auckland to Guangzhou
So were the good quality headphones
On-board upgrade was offered from economy to business class through PA - I don't know the price, I didn't ask the cabin crew.
Seat and screen controls
My screen was large enough
Flight information before departure.
An expected flight time of 11 hours and 40 minutes was announced for a scheduled flight time of 12 hours. Push-back was at 00.02 and take-off at 00.32 only for for a scheduled departure time of 00.05.
Flight information after take-off
A hot towel was offered 30 minutes after take-off
Dinner and breakfast order were taken after boarding, before departure. Here's the dinner menu:
Here is the wine list and drink menu
The table was nicely set
Creamy Sweet Corn Soup
Salmon with Tartare Sauce, Parmesan Cheese with Mixed Vegetable
Stir-Fried Scallop and Arctic Surf Clam with XO Sauce, Seasonal Vegetables and Aromatic Steamed Rice
Cheese was offered from the trolley which looked nice but which I declined as I was quite full. But I had some fresh fruits
Cake and ice cream were offered at the end. I choose the Opera Cake
Overall this was a five-star, five-course dinner. Everything was good, and the main was especially very good. The cabin crew was nice, friendly, professional. Courses were served immediately one after each other which I really appreciated given that the flight left after midnight.
I completed dinner at 02.15 and I slept until 7.35 Guangzhou time. We were near Magnitogorsk in Russia on the border between Asia and Europe. Flight information a few minutes later:
I tried to use WiFi after I woke up. Internet was was available but it was not easy to connect. The cabin crew came to help so I managed to connect, although Facebook or Messenger were not available - the same as in China.
I eventually watched a movie. See my previous flight report from Auckland to Guangzhou about China Southern's in-flight entertainment.
Breakfast came at 10.00 CAN time, about nine and a half hours after departure and a little bit more than two hours before landing. Breakfast order was taken before take-off at the same time as dinner order. Here's the breakfast menu
I spent time watching some more movies after breakfast. We landed in Amsterdam at 05.08 and we were at the gate at 05.20 for a scheduled arrival time of 5.55.
Thank you for reading my flight report.
China Southern Business Class Lounge
Guangzhou - CAN
Amsterdam - AMS
Guangzhou Airport is modern, nice and easy to access; the lounge had plenty of food and nice showers; the seat was very comfortable; cabin crew was friendly and professional; dinner was excellent with an efficient service; we landed in Amsterdam on time. Altogether I don't hesitate to give five star for this flight.
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