Hi ALL, Welcome to my first report on this website! Today I'm flying China Southern in Economy from my hometown Changsha(CSX) to Xi'an(XIY), where the famous Terracotta warriors were unearthed. The day of travel also marked the first day of a 3-day Chinese public holiday - Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu.
Seat Selection and Web Check-in: For solely domestic travels, China Southern allows you to select Exit row seats free of charge. And I did so by grabbing one by the wings(44K or something). But later on my Xi'an friend reminded to get off the plane as early as possible in order to catch the last bus at 9PM to where I will be staying, so I changed to a non-exit window seat (39K) closer to the front. What's more interesting is, China Southern last minute changed the plane and so does the layout. I eventually got exit row with the same seat number 39K. LOL Mobile Check-in and Web Check-in opens around 1200PM two days before your flight. I did it minutes after it opened and it turns out to be SEQ 001.
Surprise Lounge Invitation: Skyteam rules don't usually give alliance elite plus members lounge access for domestic flights (with the exception of CI/MU/MF/CZ EP members visiting some domestic lounges at designated airport in China under a quadrilateral agreement). What surprised me is the check-in agents did give me (Delta Silver, not even elite plus) a handwritten invitation to their elite member lounge. There are two CZ lounges at CSX: V1 for business class travellers and V2 for elite members, with V1 offering more food options and much more spacious. Though not the best lounge on the offer, I would never deny some free food lol.
Another good thing about the boarding pass is the paper they used is still very solid, unlike those thin papers being given out at kiosks. Also, the gate layout of T2 is printed on the BP.
Elite members lounge: The lounge is probably the smallest lounge I've ever been to. It houses not more than 30 seats in total with a small snack bar which also offers 1 soup 2 dish options during dinner time. There's a fridge offering some sandwich/bread right next to the hot dishes. You can find beer and soft drinks as well. Despite the small size, it is never crowded during my time there. The service is also quite personal as the 3 or 4 lounge staffs will monitor every visitor's flight status and make announcements when it's time to board.
Boarding Process: The aircraft just finished a round trip from CSX to NRT and thus was parked at an international gate. Shuttles were used to board as a consequence. The time I arrived boarding for economy passenger already commenced. They usually use a separate smaller bus for first class passengers, and at some occasions elite members can use this service depending on agents. Since I didn't see the smaller bus, it make no sense to stand out and use the "priority" lane to board the economy bus first. I just queued at the normal queue instead.
Plane Spotting: Before and during boarding, I did some random plane spotting. CZ is the most primary carrier at CSX, followed by MF(Xiamen airlines) and HU(Hainan Airlines, the only skytrax 5 star carrier in mainland China). International or regional (HK , Macau and TW flights, which are neither 'international' nor 'domestic'. As there are still de facto border controls between these for regions in place.) I saw includes KA and CI. Some time you also see KE/OZ as the nearby Zhangjiajie is one of the most popular destinations for Koreans.
The aircraft and seat: As we all know, China Southern quited Skyteam start this year. There's a huge compaign to cover all signs of Skyteam logo right after. So does the logo on our plane. You can clearly see it's being covered up. The leg room is quite spacious as compare to normal seat with newspapers distributed to your seat before boarding for elite members. There's even personal greetings from the crew after all passengers on board for frequent members, where flight time, weather at destinations etc are told.
Onboard meal: The plane departed only 10 minutes behind schedule. Given it is only a 500-mile flight last 1hour30mins, I find the complimentary food really acceptable compared to what you would get in most European or North American 'legacy' carriers. Yogourt is really a plus. Probably to save time, there are no beverages available except the bottle of water being given out before the meal.
Flight log: Handed in my flight log to the cabin crew and it returned just in-time before landing. The pilot even wrote some blessing for Duanwu festival on the log.
Bottom Line: I find this experience with China Southern very pleasant. Surprise lounge access, free exit row seats and the quite decent meal all add up to the experience.
How do you feel about the experience? Comment below! P.S. PM me if you want to hear some local tips in Changsha and Zhangjiajie area XD