Matt Brown flies from Auckland to Guangzhou aboard China Southern's flight CZ336.
The plane: An A330.
Luggage: Two x 23kg, plus 7kg hand luggage.
Check in: Very smooth for a 9am departure. There were no other passengers at the Business Class check in and I was through Customs and into the comfort of the Strata lounge within half an hour.
Airport experience: When I went through, the major renovation of Auckland Airport's retail and duty free was still under way, so it resembled a construction zone with many of the new outlets not open.
That said, I found the Strata Lounge that China Southern uses to be quiet with a good range of breakfast items to choose from.
Flight time: We were 11hr 15m in the air, and we pushed back just after the scheduled departure time of 9am.
Seat: 3K is a window seat in the first cabin of Business Class just behind First Class in a two row configuration of 2-2-2. There was an empty seat beside me, the only one that wasn't occupied in the section of the plane. The seat was extremely comfortable and spacious and converted at the touch of a button to a fully flat bed. This is the first time I have flown long haul from New Zealand departing in the morning and had no intention of sleeping much on the first leg however after the lunch service I found myself nodding off and got a couple of hours sleep.
Entertainment: The entertainment system was easy to navigate and offered a selection of more than 200 movies plus music, documentaries, games, etc. I watched a couple of action films before reading a book I picked up in duty free. Service: This is where I was pleasantly surprised. Six years ago China Southern were new to the New Zealand market and I remember asking for the wine list and the flight attendant said: "We have red or white." However I could not fault the crew on this flight. They responded to each request in a timely manner and always had warm smiles.
Food and drinks: China Southern delivered big time with an impressive wine list including French medoc, Tattinger champagne, South Australian shiraz, and a lovely Te Mata chardonnay.
The main meal was served when I wanted it, three hours into the flight, and was tasty — I loved the soup, smoked pork lardon and puy lentil, while the Chinese-style pork belly with kai lun and aromatic steamed rice hit the spot. However I steered clear of the panzanella jelly with white anchovies. We landed around 4.15pm but for the second meal service were offered breakfast, which consisted of fresh fruits, a smoked fish hash with scrambled egg, congee with siu mai, shrimp dumpling and pork steamed bun, or chicken dumpling in soup. I opted for the hash which was delicious.
Fellow passengers: Mostly Chinese including a young family whose kids were — amazingly — quiet the entire flight.
Arrival: After departing about 10 minutes late we arrived at the new Baiyun International Airport terminal T2, on time. I was greeted by a member of the China Southern ground staff who guided me through security to the fantastic new China Southern Business Class lounge.
Verdict: Possibly the best value for money Business Class product in the sky. China Southern had deals last year for less than $3900, return to Paris. They operate a modern fleet of Airbus A380's, A330's and Boeing Dreamliner aircraft and their international Business Class on this sector from Auckland to Guangzhou was excellent. I would have no hesitation flying with China Southern again.