Flying from Paris to Guangzhou aboard China Southern

Matt Brown flies from Paris to Guangzhou with China Southern.

Plane:

An Airbus A330.

Class: First class — I was, happily, upgraded from Business Class at the gate.

Luggage: 2 x 23 KG plus 7 kg hand luggage.

Check in: Very smooth at Charles de Gaulle airport Terminal 2E where I was able to use the Air France Sky Priority counter for business class. There was no one waiting and I was through security in about 15 minutes.

Airport experience: Charles de Gaulle is a massive airport and has improved greatly over the years. Terminal 2 is a modern bustling terminal with all the latest duty free shops which I skipped, instead relaxing before my flight at the Air France lounge, available to all Sky team premium passengers. It was a bit cramped due to undergoing major renovations, however.

Flight time: Eleven hours. We pushed back just 30 minutes late and were airborne about 50 minutes after the scheduled departure time of 12.25pm. The delay I suspect was due to being bused to the plane; it took a good 10 minutes to get to on the tarmac.

Seat: 1K, right at the front. I had been assigned 4K in business class and received a pleasant surprise when I swiped my boarding pass and it was rejected. The ground staff gave me the new boarding pass and told me I was in first class! Wow, this was going to be an experience to savour. There are only four seats in first class in a 1-2-1 configuration.

It was wider than the business class seat and converted at the touch of the button to a fully flat bed.

Entertainment: Very impressive and the movies had been updated from the previous month when I had departed for Europe. First class has a wide screen and I watched four movies between Paris and Guangzhou, the most I have ever watched on a long haul flight.

Service: Exceptional. There were two flight attendants in the cabin dedicated to the four passengers.

The only disappointment was the flight attendant explaining that the aircraft had the wrong menu so I didn’t get to survey all the options before choosing my meal. She proceeded to ask whether I wanted fish with rice, duck with potatoes or pork with rice for my dinner. I was then delivered a nice soup as a starter, a chicken and tomato salad and the duck dish, which was very tasty. There were also dessert and cheese options but I was too full to contemplate them after my main course.

The wine list was extensive and I had a glass of the Crozes Hermitage 2013 syrah with my meal. I was also asked before we took off what I wanted for breakfast, which was being served two hours before the end of the flight. I had no idea what I would feel like but opted for the omelette. After dinner and watching a couple of movies I popped a sleeping pill in a bid to get enough sleep so I could stay awake during the long 8h 30m stopover in Guangzhou. I got about five hours sleep which is as much as I ever get on a plane.

Arrival: We landed at 6.30am local time — about 30 minutes late — into Guangzhou’s sparkling new Terminal 2, opened in May.

Verdict: The China Southern First Class product is terrific. An extremely comfortable seat, friendly flight attendants and the unexpected upgrade was a real thrill.

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