Review of China Southern flight Wuhan San Francisco in Economy

Airline China Southern
Flight 659
Class Economy
Seat 42A
Aircraft Boeing 787-9
Flight time 12:15
Take-off 15 Aug 19, 15:00
Arrival at 16 Aug 19, 12:15
CZ 133 reviews
By 1661
Published on 3rd April 2020

China 2019 (and d.c. too)


a once in a lifetime opportunity

After spending 20 days in China with my relatives, it was time to head back home to the US, sadly. After we had lunch, we crossed over on Yangtze on the Second Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge, to Hankou and Huangpi where WUH is located. 

Since I had an uncle that worked in the police department, he was able to get in contact with police who worked at the airport who arranged for my family to go up to the control tower and get a tour of it.

When we arrived on the airport's premise, a police vehicle escorted us in front where it lead us underneath the airport and terminal to where the ATC tower is.

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Wuhan's new control tower was built before the new Terminal 3 was, and became the only control tower after the old one was demolished. It's the tallest in Central China with a height of 114.95 meters.

We were greeted by the police workers of the airport/tower who handed us chains with cards attached to wear around the necks. An elevator ride and stair climb later, we were in the control tower!

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The views from up there were amazing, and the windows had a blue tint to them. What an amazing environment to work in!

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I took a peek at some of the screens in the tower.

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China Southern A330 pushing back.

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Korean Air A330

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Some views of the terminal.

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View of the front of the terminal with the transportation center in the middle, as well.

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After spending some time gazing at the planes outside and taking some pictures, we decided to head down the tower to lower level where you could stand outside and admire the views.

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Beautiful livery on this Air China A320. The Plum Blossom special livery to be exact.

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Enter text here…

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Sadly, eventually it became time to go. As an AvGeek this was one of the most amazing opportunities I have had and was definitely the highlight of this return trip back to NA!

We headed down the elevator, said goodbye to the officers, and were once again led underground below the airport and to Terminal 3 where it was time to check in.

check-in process

Some earlier pictures I took on an earlier visit to the airport.

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The check-in area

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The counters spanned from H11-H20. There were a couple of posters advertising China Southern's newest 787 flights from Wuhan to Istanbul-IST and New York-JFK.

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After waiting in line for around 10 minutes, I was able to get helped at the front of the desk. My two suitcases were checked in and tagged to MSP, which I thought was strange, as my final destination was FAR. I received a cool Garfield boarding pass, now it was time to move to security.

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The International 港澳台 security checkpoint was located in the middle of the terminal, the two domestic checkpoints were located at the ends. 

After spending 20 days in Wuhan, it was time to head home. I had a heartfelt goodbye with my relatives and grandpa, before I waved goodbye and stepped behind the glass barrier. Until next time!

There were two immigration counters open. I grabbed a departure card and filled it out while waiting. The line moved quick enough and the immigration was also quick. Security wasn't a hassle at all, and I was air side fast enough.

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The international portion of Wuhan Tianhe International Airport consisted of eight gates with three level jetbridge systems and one remote stands. The terminal was quiet enough which was nice. There were a couple of business class lounges located along the sides. Moving walkways in the middle made it easy to navigate.

As with all new terminals built in China and other Asian countries, Wuhan's new terminal built in 2017 consisted of a massive structure, that also came with a new runway. Other airports like Chongqing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai have also constructed newer giant terminals as well. Beijing's Daxing airport fits this exactly with its massive one terminal.

There was a China Southern 787-8 at the far left of the terminal, I think it was going to Dubai.

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My aircraft was B-209D, a 787-9 delivered in March of 2019, making it not even half a year old.

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I found a place a bit away from the gate and waited until it was time to board. When boarding was called, and I got in line, it was already a decent size.

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As I handed my boarding pass to the gate agent, it was time to board this majestic beast.

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As per the norm in China, there was a cart with newspapers sitting on it by the airplane door.

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As I boarded the aircraft, I headed right where I first passed through the premium economy cabin. The seats were in a 2-3-2 configuration and seemed pretty similar to what Delta, United, and American offer. China Southern operates two versions of the 787-9, one is a three class config. with C28W28Y220. The other is a two class with C28Y269.

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The economy cabin was split into two sections. My seat was in the forward section. China Southern's 787-9 economy class was in the standard 3-3-3 configuration. The seats were upholstered in a light blue fabric, unlike the leather seen on US carriers.

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There was a thin pillow and a blanket wrapped in plastic on every seat. My seat was 42A, a window seat as I prefer.

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Each seat came with a massive entertainment screen, the biggest I had seen in economy so far. However, the screens on Emirate's economy class still look a bit larger than these! 

There was a double prong headphone jack right next to the USB port under the screen.

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There were universal power ports in between the seats in front which was nice.

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There were no individual air vents found, interestingly enough like the Air China 777-300ER I flew on the outbound. 

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As I settled into my seat, there appeared to be some sort of seating problem with a family that had gotten on board. A mother and her young son (more on this little devil later) and daughter were apparently not assigned seats next to each other, but apparently they didn't know until they got onto the plane smh. Eventually, a young man in the aisle seat would be taken to business class in-flight, another man would be moved to the middle aisle seat, and I was stuck with the son of about three or four right next to me with the mother in the aisle.

The daughter was in the middle seat behind next to another family member/friend.

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Another CZ 787, Wuhan sure gets a decent amount of these :)

As boarding wrapped up, I thought we were all set to go. However, 20 minutes before the scheduled departure, an announcement was made of a 30 minute delay on the ground because of ATC clearance. I sighed as seemed to be all to common in China. 

As the time ticked by, I decided to browse some of the entertainment. The options were at least better than Air China's but still not the greatest as the TV shows were limited. 

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Enter text here…

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Enter text here…

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There was even instructions on how to access free internet.

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Free wifi? I don't think it was available on this particular route, unfortunately.

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Intuitive airshow

There appeared to be some issues with the IFE system as the seat next to me froze and had to be reset by the flight attendant. The same thing also happened to me, so I had to flag down an attendant to fix the issue.

As the time ticked bye, it was apparent this was going to be a more than 30 minute delay. Announcements were made by the pilots that basically said they still didn't know when we would be allowed to depart. However at 4:05, we were finally able to pushback from the gate, an hour and five minute delay.

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Safety video

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Taxiing Wuhan airport, control tower, A380 gate.

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We made it to departure Runway 22R, at 4:18.

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The two GEnx engines spooled to life, and we thundered down the runway.

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We made a left turn and started heading north.

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After leveling off at 4:32, I could start to relax.

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At 5:03, the inflight service began with beverages, first. Twenty minutes later, dinner was served. The options were chicken with potatoes, beef with rice, or fish. I ended up going with the chicken.

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I had a cup of orange juice to drink with the meal. Along with the main dish, there was also some sort of potato salad with mystery meat, a bun with butter, and a sweet Chinese-style pastry that had filling.

As for the main meal, the large potato chunks were bland and the tomato sauce was too watery. However, the chicken was tender. After trays were cleared, I went to use the lavatory when my seatmates went out as well.

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Standard 787 lavatory

The cabin lights dimmed at 6:08, and the sky was gradually growing darker as well. Flight attendants came around with duty free items and also had Garfield theme blankets.

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I witnessed nice sunset, as we were passing Harbin.

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As for the seat, it was comfortable enough. There was a folding tray table in front, and a footrest at the bottom. There were cheap headphones in the seatback pocket, but I didn't use them. On the recline of the seat, I think it was a bit too generous.

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Sigh, now onto the worst part of the flight. Before we get into that I'd like to mention that there was no inflight snack served, first of all. And second, there wasn't a galley between the two economy cabins, so if there were any snacks at all, they would be located at the large rear galley.

Remember that little boy from earlier? Yeah, he was the factor that made this one of my worst long haul flights. He would constantly kick the seat in front to the point where the girl in front had to tell him to stop multiple times. He somehow managed to break off one of the prongs of the headphones and got it stuck in the jack, rendering it not possible to listen anymore. He would then take the cord, and stick it between behind the seatback table and just start yanking hard on it.

Throughout the flight, he just refused to turn off his overhead light. Even as I tried to sleep, it remained off. I tried a couple of times to turn the light off myself, but he would just turn it back on. His mother was useless as she would try multiple times to get him to knock off his behavior, but he wouldn't stop. They even got into a bit of a skirmish sometimes.

With me being unable to sleep, I stayed awake and decided the only way to survive this flight would be to entertain myself with movies. I watched Shazam for the first time, and re watched parts of Crazy Rich Asians and Avengers: Endgame among other things.

I was awake throughout the entire night, until the sun came up. I thought about taking pictures but didn't want to undim the lights and disturb the other passengers. The little demon fell asleep eventually, and I got one hour of sleep, as well.

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The last meal service was served at 11:05 PST. The options were fish with rice or chicken with potatoes (again). I chose the former.

There was once again some sort of gross looking side salad with mystery meat and a bun with butter. There was a cup of Chinese yogurt, and some type of sweet cracker underneath the bun. I had a cup of Coca-Cola as my drink. The fish was pretty good, and I enjoyed the sauce as it provided small nice flavor to the dish.

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As trays were once again cleared, I tried to enjoy the remainder of the flight. We approached the California coast at around 12:30.

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San Francisco couldn't have come into sight anytime sooner!

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We had great views of downtown San Francisco and San Francisco bay during descent.

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Oakland International Airport (OAK)

Flaps were lowered and we began final approach into SFO.

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We touched down on Runway 28R at 1:11 PST.

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I took a picture of a passing Eva Air 777-300ER

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After a fifteen minute taxi, we arrived at 1:26 PM, an hour and eleven minutes behind schedule.

Immigration went smoothly and without any issues. Those APC kiosks are pretty convenient! My bags took a bit to arrive to the point where I was afraid something had happened to them. I eventually got them, and headed off to my connection to Minneapolis/St. Paul! 

See more


China Southern

Cabin crew8.5

Wuhan - WUH


San Francisco - SFO



Thinking back to it, this was my first international long haul flight flying by myself, so it was an interesting experience! To sum everything up, the plane was pretty new and the cabin was in solid condition. The food was average, but it was filling enough. The entertainment was better than Air China, but it was still lacking in some areas. The crew weren't mean or nasty, and they were nice and attentive. The delay at WUH sucked, but Terminal 3 was a nice place to depart from. SFO immigration wasn't too long, and I probably got through the whole experience between half and hour and an hour long. The trip to the ATC tower was amazing, and I don't think I'll ever forget it. I was severely annoyed at the seatmate I had, but stuff always happens. I apologize for the extremely late upload, but I hope to see you all later! peace



If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 549466 by
    NKGflyer 162 Comments

    Thank you for this report and especially the visit of the control tower is interesting!
    Nice cabin, the food looks good especially compared to what I have had on a CZ flight from Paris to Guangzhou.
    I think Wuhan airport is gonna reopen soon.

  • Comment 549554 by
    Rednacks TEAM 132 Comments

    Thank you for this report and especially for the photos from the control tower. That must have been quite an experience!
    This flight on CZ looks pretty decent, although another seat neighbor would have been nice.
    Nice views of SF downtown and OAK airport during the descent.

  • Comment 549667 by
    ThomasDutch SILVER 570 Comments

    Another excellent report written by you. It seems to me that Chinese airlines are gradually improving their service with results in terms of IFE, catering (except those starter salads) and services, however such a shame of that annoying kid... Guess his mother has no authority over her own kid too...
    Wuhan's airport seems pretty new to me with some excellent views from the airport tower.

    • Comment 549671 by
      Aaro AUTHOR 37 Comments

      hey thanks man appreciate it. yeah, the airlines like Air China China Southern and China eastern all have newer modern 787s and A350s, Shanghai Airlines and Juneyao Airlines have 787-9s as well

  • Comment 549852 by
    KévinDC TEAM GOLD 5828 Comments

    Great report as always and what an awesome experience to be able to go up to the control tower! I knew Wuhan was a big city, but I had no idea WUH was so huuuge! It's definitely impressive. Glad that WUH is opening up again, though I imagine it'll take a bit of time before it gets to the 2019 levels we see in this report.

    As for CZ, pretty solid product overall with USB and AC power, big IFE screens, and (maybe?) Wi-Fi. The food looks meh, but that's pretty normal in Y lol. Sorry, you had to play babysitter during the flight. CZ should have figured a way to get that family together way before boarding.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 549857 by
      Aaro AUTHOR 37 Comments

      yeah its a pretty good size 50 or so gates, includes 8 international with 1 hard stand int. yeah the wifi is only operational on select routes thats correct. tbh i'd rather fly on a western carrier next time b/c at least the entertainment is better and sum other stuff but hey a nonstop is a nonstop.

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