Mark Garrison flies aboard China Southern from Auckland to Guangzhou..
The plane: China Southern Airlines flies the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on this route twice daily.
Class: A very full Economy Class with a 3-3-3 configuration.
My seat: 48C, a surprisingly comfortable aisle seat. Although not the roomiest seat I have ever experienced in Economy, I actually had a remarkably good sleep on this overnight flight. I love the Dreamliner for its overall comfort and lack of stuffiness. Often on long-haul flights I get overheated and uncomfortable but felt great through this flight. The blanket provided was also surprisingly nice.
Price: The ticket was bought about a year in advance, when China Southern was offering incredibly low fares to many of their international destinations. The return fare to Delhi from Auckland via Guangzhou was $1100.
On time: The flight left the gate on time at 11pm and arrived in Guangzhou slightly early, just after 5am.
Fellow passengers: A mix of Indians headed to India for Diwali, Chinese nationals and Kiwis going on vacation.
Entertainment: There were about 110 films on offer, most of them falling into the sci-fi/action realm. I made it through one film before I fell asleep.
Food, drink and service: I had preordered Indian vegetarian meals beforehand, not because I am Indian or vegetarian but rather because these meals tend to be the most flavoursome options available and they are often delivered first. The dinner was very bland and unmemorable but the breakfast (chickpeas and a spinach curry) was surprisingly tasty. There were two trips made through the cabin with drinks although the selection was very limited, with one red and one white wine. Cabin crew were polite.
Toilets: Neat and clean despite the length of the flight. There were only tissues to dry hands instead of hand towels, which was not ideal.
How full: The Economy cabin was very full, with perhaps two empty seats, one of which, mercifully, was next to mine.
Luggage: You're allowed 30kg in Economy Class between New Zealand and China.
Airport experience: Boarding in Auckland was smooth and speedy.
On arrival in Guangzhou it took ages for the aircraft to reach the gate and unload.
Guangzhou airport is decidedly dreary and early in the morning there are few shops or services open. The line for transit passengers was slow-moving, although they did expedite those who had tight connections (myself included).
Would I fly this again? Unlikely. Though the fare was great and the flight generally comfortable, I had to phone China several times to reach customer service when I had issues with my ticket and I wanted to prebook my seat and order a special meal. This was frustrating, particularly as it is not a toll-free number (86 4008695539 1-4). The customer service agents speak fairly limited English and were not helpful. The website is also very user-unfriendly. I would recommend China Southern for travellers who aren't as concerned with the experience of getting to their destination as they are with their experience in their destination itself. You get what you pay for.