This trip was booked two month in advance for CAD 800. The transfer time in Guangzhou was about 1.5 hour both ways for a total trip time of 20 hours. As China Southern claims to have improved transfer procedures at their hub in Guangzhou, we decided on this fly this itinerary and share the experience with those concerned about the transfer time.
Anticipating it could be busy at check in, we arrived 2 hours and 40 min ahead of our flight. A line had already snaked around economy checking in, and within 10 minutes it grew to twice the length. 30 minutes later our luggage was tagged with “short connection” tag and we received boarding passes all the way to Singapore.
Three security lanes were open at 11am on a Friday, so there were hardly any wait. Getting to the Skyteam lounge involved walking through duty free shops (promote impulsive buying?) as well as an indoor green space featuring a small aquarium. You will also pass by the plaza premium lounge, the other priority pass accepting lounge in international terminal.
Friendly therapy dog.
Upon exiting the only elevator for the lounge, you are presented with a glass walled floor that overlooks the departure gates. Past the magazine racks, chairs lines the corridor that leads to the food area.
Further to the right is a wine bar with variety of red/white local and international wines. Champaign on ice is also available.
The food area consists of salad, cheese, and deli station, sandwiches, hot food, and a made to order noodle and dim sum bar. The spread was one of the most comprehensive I have seen for a North America non-first class lounge. The noodles were especially good, I went back for seconds.
There are more alcohol in this area. Alcohol is served from 9am-4am due to archaic liquor laws. I made myself a Baileys coffee.
Gate D71 has one of the larger waiting areas complete with its own washrooms. The zoned boarding process was organized and the plane was loaded quickly.
The 787-9 economy has a 3-3-3 configuration. The seats are the thin type similar to other airlines with new cabin configurations. Leg room is more generous than some domestic economy flights but it is by no means first class experience. Row 46 is the last row in the first section of economy. You can recline without worry. However the lavatory is also directly behind, the noise can be distracting. It didn’t really bother me though.
Every passenger was provided with a blanket, small pillow, and IFE headset. The quality of headsets are typical for economy class (cheap).
IFE has a good selection of latest Hollywood films such as Marvel and Star Wars, Fantastic Beast, Bumblee, Animated films from Disney and Pixar. If you have experience with the Panasonic system, they will be similar.
In flight Wifi is also available for free, it require you to sign in using your seat number and last 4 digits of your ID. However there is a limit per flight and I wasn’t fast enough to get it.
Lunch service started with drink service where you can get tsingtao beer/wine/pop/tea coffee.
First meal had choice between beef and rice . The western choice was fish with potatoes. The fish was quite juicy for airline food. My only pet peeve was the salad, I wish they could just put less sauce.
The second meal of this flight was chicken with potato, and pork with rice.
The crew walked around with water and sandwich in between the meals, but I think the frequency could be improved.
Upon arrival in rainy Guangzhou, the plane taxied for a long time before stopping at a remote stand. Deplane also took a while as all the economy passengers went down a single staircase. We then got on one of the buses already lined up outside the plane and went on yet another very long ride to the terminal. At this point we thought we were going to miss the transfer.
Fortunately, right inside the terminal we saw China Southern staff holding sign for Singapore flight. They helped us jump ahead a small line at transfer document check (why is this necessary?), as well as the line at security check.
We made it to the gate for our connecting flight about 10 minutes before boarding started.
The check in experience, and some of soft products offered onboard stopped me from giving the experience 5 star. On the other hand there wasn't anything to complain about and the airline seems to have a process in place for short transfers.