Airline Review – China Southern

‘Cheap and cheerful’ is the best way to describe China Southern Airlines.

Or, more simply put, ‘you get what you pay for’.

I don’t know about you, but I have been amazed at the growth in the number of new airlines over the past 20 years, and the consequent decrease in the price of airline tickets. When I first started traveling, a ‘cheap’ ticket to Europe was around AUD$2200.00, and now if you are a savvy shopper, you can snaffle a ticket from AUD$899.00 (recent deal to Paris with Flight Centre). What a difference!?

I have flown with China Southern Airlines a couple of times and have always found it to be a satisfactory experience.

A woman checks in for her flight with the assistance of an information man
Everybody smile! Photo:

Check in at Sydney’s Kingsford Smith Airport is pretty effortless. This airport seems to attract a lot of bad press from both incoming and outgoing passengers, but I have never had a problem. I am one of those daggy travellers who like to line up early and be at the front of the check-in queue. Yes, I look like a bit of a loser, but it means I get to be one of the first to request an exit row seat, and it means I can wave off my luggage as it disappears down the chute, and relax at last.

China Southern planes are your stock standard aircraft. There is never enough overhead luggage space for the folks who insist on traveling with their kitchen sink (go figure??) and I always thank my lucky stars that I travel light. My small calico bag packs easily under the seat in front, or in a small corner of the locker overhead.


In this instance, my flight was leaving Sydney bound for Guangzhou, at 1010pm. They still insisted on feeding us on take-off, which was hardly worth the effort. When you pay a discounted price for a plane ticket, you can’t have high expectations about the food, and the China Southern food met those expectations perfectly. Who needs to eat at that time of night anyway?

A China Southern plan in flight

In-Flight Entertainment

Flights are the perfect time to catch up on reading and/or all the movies that you missed at the cinema. This is particularly useful, if like me, you find it nigh on impossible to sleep on planes. Do not choose China Southern if you want a deep, broad and up-to-date range of movies to choose from. In the viewing selection, I doubt that there was a movie released in the last 12 months, but if you love the ‘classics’ or are a Harry Potter fan – you will be very happy!

Yep, First World problem!


The China Southern staff are friendly and professional, and most speak good English. I guess this is not as important on an overnight flight when we all hope to sleep anyway.

Guangzhou Airport - internal view
Guangzhou Airport. Photo:

Guangzhou Airport

At the scheduled time, we were preparing for landing at Guangzhou airport in southern China. This airport is the main home, or hub, for China Southern. I was pleased to see that the airport had been significantly upgraded since first visiting in 2013. On that earlier trip we had a five hour layover which was excruciatingly uncomfortable and boring. Now there seems to be more seating, food and beverage outlets, and generally more to amuse yourself with as you wile away the hours.

The one thing I really loved about this airport (Yes, I know I am easily amused) was the large number of very clever water dispensers. You could choose from chilled to boiling water, so pack your teabags so you can enjoy your favourite cuppa while you wait. I had the teabag, but not the cup to drink it in. Better planning and packing required on my part.

If you have a longer layover, it is possible to get a free 72-hour visa for Guangzhou. Catch the train into the city for a far more interesting use of your time than walking endlessly through airport corridors.

Guangzhou Airport - internal view
Guangzhou Airport. Photo:

Be Warned: Allow plenty of time to connect or transfer to your next flight. Guangzhou airport is large and rambling with many bureaucratic hoops to jump through. As with many other airports throughout the world, these buildings are a great source of employment, so even though you are checked, stamped, and scanned when you step off your first plane, you must then be checked, stamped, and scanned again before you step onto the next one! Even when you haven’t left the international transit area! I was interested to note that even though I went through the full body scan, they insisted on patting down my knees! No nobbly knees allowed on China Southern airplanes?

Overall, China Southern is a reliable and user-friendly airline. I would recommend them if you are in the market for a bargain-priced ticket, but double check the layover times in Guangzhou. They can be long and boring, and I am happy to pay a bit more for a ticket if it means more seamless connections.

Overall rating: 7/10

What airlines would you recommend?


The Basics

What: Flight number CZ302, Airbus A330. Sydney – Guangzhou – Delhi – Guangzhou – Sydney – AUD$1010.00. Flight time Sydney to Guangzhou – nine hours and thirty minutes.

Where: Sydney to Guangzhou then Guangzhou to Delhi, and return.

When: Outbound in mid-November and inbound in early December.

Why: Because they are on time and on budget.

How: Economy seating with an exit row seat on one flight leg.

Who: Myself and about 300 of my closest, and heavily laden, friends.

Related Posts: To read more about where I was going on China Southern, have a look at my post about being intrepid in India.

Related Blogs: To preview your next airline, have a look at TripAdvisor.

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