Friday, June 26, 2009

China Southern Business Class: PEK to CAN

I've been so off in my post these days. When I first started this blog, I had already wanted to write this post. Gee...I already even posted my photos beforehand onto Photobucket (which I deleted later on) and Biggest Menu. Talk about spoiling the blog post! Well now, it's almost 7 months later, and here I am with the post. Finally.

*Note- This is going to be long with the many photos*

Background info before we start: This trip was taken as part of our summer trip last year in wubibiAsia during July/August. We were taking this flight mainly because we needed to go back towards Hong Kong so that we could fly back to LA due to our roundtrip fare for Cathay Pacific, and we went to Guangzhou as well due to the fact that we would pick up our luggage which we had left some of at our hotel in Guangzhou.

Photos for this trip were taken by our P200, just a few days before the Carl Zeiss lens broke down and could not open anymore. You can tell its age with the many scratches in the photos which are scratches on the lens. Smaller photos this time around because I edited these photos beforehand and back then I made them sized to 800 by 600 pixels (which is oversized for many of my readers). And since Flickr's options for the "large" size photo is the original size, I can't switch the size to 640 by 480 unless I change each photo's html code to 640 by 480. So...medium it is at 500 and 375 pixels. Now everyone can be happy...even people with smaller screen resolutions!

Start of Trip: It was a great morning to begin with in Beijing. Amazingly, it was sunny and bright. The sky was blue. Obviously, this was for the Olympics (usually it is all just grey and foggy looking), but for us, it was a great way to send us off away from Beijing. Our hotel, the China World Hotel, was preparing for the Olympics as well. A new planter was at the port cochere, and the rooms were diligently being renovated and cleaned, as well as the public spaces. Events even started occuring for the Olympics people, and there were also a fair share of cars with the Beijing 2008 logo on it. But, we had to leave, and after check out, we drove off in a taxi.

And on the taxi, there was a fair share of things to see. Tons of Beijing 2008 stuff all over the place.

DSC05500-1

See how that lane to the left was so empty? Well, that is the "Olympics" lane, which is designated for the Olympic cars to travel on. And look all around. Each light had a banner for the Beijing 2008 Olympics. That is a LOT of those banners.

DSC05497-1

And look here. Due to the fact this building was still in construction and didn't have its facade over the building yet, they covered the building...well most of it, with a huge Beijing 2008 ad. How nice is that?

Signs

There were tons of these Beijing 2008 countdown clocks all over the city too. You would also find them in parks as well as airports and other places. One was actually even decorated in flowers.

Terminal 2 Check In

Soon, we arrived at Terminal 2 of Beijing Capital Airport, and it was most certainly decorated with tons of Beijing 2008 things. What used to be for us that looked like a okay looking terminal now looked much more beautiful.

Signs

Near the terminal, there was a red ad again on the Olympics. This one though had the Paralymics mascot on it.

PEK

There was also a circular area with tons of flags connecting to the center pole. Interesting thing, but I didn't know what it was for at all.

Terminal 2
Terminal 2 Check In

We walked further away from the taxi drop area, and what did we see while on the bridge? A picturesque landscape which...you guessed it, also was just for the Olympics. The displayboard on top of the photo also seemed like something new.

Terminal 2

Does this give a better view of the garden?

London Taxi

And look at this! A London taxi in Beijing? Unheard of. I've never seen one of these before in Beijing. But it is probably one of the taxis made by the Chinese manufactuers rather than the original manufacturer that makes them.

Anyway, after all this photo taking, we entered the terminal, only to find out we needed to go through one of the security scannings. Anything metal that beeped (one piece of our luggage) was wiped with a cloth and checked if there was something dangerous. We ended up being fine and got an okay to the terminal, which was pretty bright and airy.

Check in Hall Terminal 2

We also noticed in the terminal that there were people doing decorations on the spot for the Olympics. Why not do it when there is less peak traffic I do not know! They could have done it in a closed off room. Instead, they did it in the terminal check in area where the space was emptied off with no people walking through it.

Time Clock

In the terminal there was yet another countdown clock, but this time it was by Omega, the watch maker. We would actually see some more of their ads across the terminal.

We then walked towards the China Southern check in area and checked in. It was very smooth, with the exception of a problem we encountered with something we bought, which later on got cleared off. We also found out we got the benefit of going through a special VIP area for the security check, as well as lounge entries.

Sponsors

And you guessed it. There was more Beijing 2008 stuff along the way. Like a big board of sponsors in the check in area...

Ad

As well as another Omega ad for the Olympics. I think I shot everything Beijing 2008 while I was there in the Terminal...with the exception of some more ads and posters, like the control tower which had Beijing 2008 stuff too.

Beijing Signs
Smile

But these "Welcome to Beijing Capital Airport" signs could also be considered as a Olympic item too. I've never seen these before, and the smile you see in the lower photo actually has a Air China "Fuwa" Boeing 737 on it.

Anyway, the VIP security area was mainly just a special line that was separated from everything else. It was very small and efficient, with several people manning the process. We got caught again, and they told us what it was, and we had to take it out. After asking a few questions though, we were okay again and were permitted to go to the lounge, which we happily did.

The lounge wasn't too special or beautiful, compared to extravagant airport lounges like Air New Zealand's LAX location, Emirates' DXB location, or Cathay Pacific's two lounges in HKG, but it was okay, and had plenty of food offerings. No, not all of them were of a great quality (China Southern's lounge in Guangzhou is better), but there were many things, including porridge, instant noodles (which I got plenty of), snacks (like chinese beef jerky which we snatched a lot for the flight later on as well as for general snacking in the lounge), bakery items (wrapped in plastic), and a wide selection of beverages. And plus, there was a good view, as well as many outlets for people with laptops.

You could also see the new Terminal 3 from the lounge. Here are some pictures I took:

DSC05535-1
Terminal 3

Airport
Looking farther right

Terminal 3
Zooming in to part of Terminal 3

After staying in the lounge for about an hour or so, we walked towards a small, but airy satellite building, and were whisked away by bus to go to the aircraft. However, we got onto a special Toyota bus which was for business class passengers/Sky Pearl members with elite status, and inside there were some comfy leather clad seats. Our route gave us some nice views of aircraft, like a Hainan Airlines A330, aircraft that were sitting in remote areas with engine covers on them, as well as good views of terminal two. However, the windows were tinted, which would make photo taking difficult. Plus, very little people were in the bus, and they were all business people. Hmm...a random person taking photos when everyone else is quiet would be really weird!

China Southern A321

We then arrived at the footsteps of the aircraft and were dropped off, and we were allowed to board by stairs! Usually, I have gotten off the plane by stairs, but never gone onto the plane with stairs. So...this was definitely something special.

And some photos of going up the stairs:

China Southern A321
China Southern A321

Once on board, we settled into the business class cabin, which was right in the front of the aircraft. The plane felt very new, and the seats were all clad in the standard China Southern fabric which you can find on many of their aircraft. Each seat had a metal footrest in front of it and had plenty of legroom to stretch out- five foot people could extend their feet horizontally with no problems. Recline was the standard amount for a domestic flight- the same as China Southern's long-haul premium economy product. In addition, there was a audio system in the seat where you could plug in your headphones and listen to the LCD TV screens above, or listen to music. We also received slippers and shoe bags as well, but no amenity kit. (Photo below taken in flight, not before flight)

Cabin Interior

The flight was full, but we actually left the boarding area on time. But, we had to wait in a long taxi line. And what was worse? A delay, with little movement on the plane. We were ordered to sit down, as it was unknown when our plane would ever move. But, we did know it was raining- sprinkling is the better word. No sign of saying it was a delay, but we sat around for as long as 20 minutes in one period of time. And so, with the luckiness of having a window seat, I entertained myself by taking photos. You see, this is why I recommend window seats on long flights:

Rainbow
"Nice to meet you United 747-400!", say the China Southern Airbus.

Rainbow
"Sorry! I have to go now.", says the China Southern Airbus.

Rainbow
"Bye!", says the China Southern Airbus.

No, I didn't take those photos for your entertainment pleasure. Instead, I was trying to capture the rainbow you see in the background. Anyway, we departed soon enough after this China Southern Airbus and United Boeing 747 encounter. And so, a selection of take off roll photos:

PEK
PEK
PEK
PEK
PEK

And off we went, smoothly into the air. Right?

No. Instead, it was a load of bumpy turbulence that was very harsh on the plane. It obviously wasn't light turbulence; the turbulence shook the plane wildly, almost like as if a monster was lightly shaking something they didn't like. In other words, the plane waddled back and forth, at times feeling like the plane was stuck mid air. The nose of the Airbus went up and down.

Soon enough though, it was fine, and service soon started. We were asked what entree we wanted from the menu which was large, and drinks started to flow around. The lead flight attendant in the flight served the left side of the plane, which I was in. She was very friendly to me and called me with names like "Cool guy" in Chinese, and she also was the person who did all the on-board announcements.

Food started to come and it started out with an appetizer, soup, bread, and salad.

Appetizer

The milk and the bag of mixed nuts were from the round of drinks, but everything else came later. The appetizer plate was cold, and there were pieces of roast beef, smoked salmon, a meatloaf, and a tomato and a orange segment. I didn't touch the smoked salmon though, due to its off putting color- it looked artificially pinkish red. Garlic bread was good as usual on China Southern- a bit crisp, chewy, and soft. And the soup, even with its clear looking color, was very flavorful, like a slow cooked soup in a Chinese restaurant. So far, so good, with the exception of the main appetizer plate.

Appetizer and Soup

And if you can notice in this photo, a moist towelette and metal silverware went along with the meal. No plastic forks, spoons, and knives.

Salad

A small bowl of salad was also served with Kewpie Thousand Island dressing. Although simple and easy to make, the ingredients were fresh (other than the corn which was canned obviously), and there was enough dressing for the salad. Yum.

Beef Stew

The main entree then arrived after cleaning up the extra plates from the appetizer round, and it was some black pepper beef stew served with carrots, potatoes, and broccoli. What saved the dish was the sauce. Otherwise, the potatoes had barely any flavor, and the broccoli the carrots would taste as if it was by itself. The beef was a bit tough but otherwise, a okay dish.

Dessert

And lastly, dessert came, which was some red bean bread pudding, snacks that said to be from Lao Beijing, or Old Beijing, a selection of cut fruit, and a small wedge of President cheese which was creamy, sweet, and yummy. Unexpectedly, the bread pudding was very good, although it was served cold. It was not too moist, and it went great along with the red beans and the vanilla sauce. There was some dragonfruit in the cut fruit bowl which was nice too. Certainly it was a great way to end the meal. The food service wasn't rushed, and they went along by how you finished your food.

The rest of the flight, we looked at magazines, which some talked about the Olympics, of course. There was Beijing 2008 peking duck, a Bird Nest dish, as well as other fun dishes. And also, there was plenty of sleeping after the delays and such. We arrived at Guangzhou Baiyun Airport at night and went back to our favorite hotel in Guangzhou, where we had another great, but short stay.

Thanks for reading!

5 comments:

KirkK said...

Hey ETE - Great photos...but we want more food!!! ;o) he-he-he....

shavedicesundays said...

Very nice and thorough post. The airplane food actually looks decent.

EatTravelEat said...

KirkK,
The food is coming! And tons of it too- at least 20 places on my queue right now.

shavedicesundays,
Thanks! I've had better of airplane food, but the dessert on this flight was good. Air New Zealand and Cathay Pacific have pretty good catering. China Southern also used to but it's getting worse with the domestic services these days. I remember years ago where I would eat a yummy fish or roasted duck course. It tasted just like being in a restaurant.

noobcook said...

what a coincidence, I just got back from Beijing two days ago! But poor me sat economy, not business class, lol ;p

EatTravelEat said...

noobcook,

Certainly is a coincidence :). I've flown on economy before on this route too. But there was a big special we found online and just couldn't pass it up at the time of booking.