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What is it REALLY like to Fly with China Southern Airlines??

June 9, 2019

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If you’ve ever looked for flights between Europe and Asia and Europe and Australia (and vice versa), it’s likely that some of the cheapest flights you’ve seen are with China Southern Airlines!

I remember seeing such a cheap flight back in 2013 from the UK to Melbourne but I did a google search for ‘China Southern Review’ and the reviews for China Southern Airlines were not good! I remember seeing that there was no inflight entertainment which is not what you want to read when planning to do a 24+ hour trip to Australia, that the staff were rude and the food was bad, so I didn’t book it!

Fast forward a few years and I needed to fly from South Korea to the UK and the cheapest flight was with.. you guessed it, China Southern!

With the first flight being just 2 hours from Seoul to Beijing and the second being 11 hours from Beijing to Amsterdam overnight I figured, what could go wrong? I’ll take one for the team and see if China Southern really are that bad!

I’ll let you in with a secret before I get on with the rest of the post – they were great, and I’d fly with them again!

Southern China Airlines Review

Here are a few facts about Southern China Airlines that I read and found interesting:

I also want to point out here that it seems Southern China Airlines has been upgraded in the last few years. It did used to be 3 stars but is now 4.

Many of the bad reviews I read a few years ago don’t seem to be there anymore. It’s rated as 3.5/5 on Trip Advisor but reviews like this are usually only done when people have bad experiences aren’t they. Many people on my social media shared experiences of them travelling with Southern China when they saw I had and they were either good recent stories or bad stories from a few years ago.

So if you flew with Southern China back in 2011-2014 it seems safe to say they have improved since then!

Southern China Airlines Review Tripadvisor

The Plane

I have zero technical terminology for planes to provide a Southern China Airlines plane review but as far as I was concerned I was very happy with both planes I went on for the short haul and long haul, both were new looking and comfy- more details on that below.

Southern China Airlines Review

The Seats

I was really surprised by the seats on both my China Southern Airlines flights. My short haul flight was a 3-3 row, the long haul was 2-4-2. 

Both had more leg room than many budget airlines I’ve been on both in Asia and in Europe! It was extremely roomy, and although I didn’t recline the seat on the first flight, the seat went so far back on the second! I was really impressed and for a night flight this was perfect.

I booked the flight through Kiwi who gave me the following information:

Short Flight: Seat Pitch 78cm. Seat Width 45cm. Seat Recline 11cm.

Long Flight: Seat Pitch 81-83cm. Seat Width 45cm. Seat Recline 100Β°.

I give them a big thumbs up for this!

Southern China Airlines Review Seats

Southern China Airlines Review Seats

The In-flight Entertainment

I genuinely did not expect any in-flight entertainment from my Southern China Airways flight after the reviews I read a few years ago. Admittedly there was none for the 2 hour flight but thats to be expected, however for the long haul Southern China flight from Beijing to Amsterdam there was in-flight entertainment and it was good!

Well over 100 movies in English and Chinese. TV shows. Music. Again, I was impressed!

Southern China Airlines Review inflight entertainment

Southern China Airlines Review Seats

The Food

I was served lunch on flight one and dinner and breakfast on flight two. Unfortunately, because I booked it through Kiwi and didn’t log in online I couldn’t add that I was vegetarian and they didn’t have any spare veggie meals on board. I thought this was a bit strange as I think airlines usually have spare meals but I spent a few weeks in China before this and know that Vegetarian-ism isn’t that popular so this wasn’t a total shock and I had eaten anyway.

The main meals were a Chicken or Fish dish although probably because we came from Seoul the lunch was Kimchi Rice with Fish.

I did have the bread and desserts which were fine. I wouldn’t say China Southern Food is the best food out there but again, it wasn’t bad especially seen as they’re one of the cheapest airlines to fly with.

The Staff

I only had the normal amount of staff interactions as you usually have on a flight but all of them were fine. I didn’t note any rudeness and everyone was very pleasant.

The Timing

If I was going to give Southern China Airlines a bad review it’s because both flights were delayed. This wasn’t a problem for me as I had long connections either side but would have been annoying if I didn’t or worse, the connections were short.

I would keep this in mind for when you fly with them. Of course, if you’re booking flights all together on a platform like Kiwi or Skyscanner they will give you the best flight recommendations so you can make your next flight in an ideal world but if you’re booking flights individually keep the delays in mind.

I also had a few people message me on Instagram when I shared I was flying with them telling me they were delayed.

Side Note – Note that if you have a stopover in China you do not need a visa, you can get a 24-hour transit visa and sometimes longer at the airport. This is what I got in Beijing as I had to leave the airport and re-check in. If you want to stay in China, you do need a visa!

Southern China Airlines Review Visa

The Check-In Process

Another negative is that I couldn’t complete the form on the China Southern Airlines website to get onto the online check-in. This wasn’t that much of a problem as flying long haul usually means queuing up at the check-in desk, doesn’t it. There was quite a long queue in Seoul but that was my fault for getting there late and the bag drop queue was long too.

However, if I could have worked out China Southern Airlines check-in online system I could have said I was a vegetarian!

The Price

Let’s end with the price because this is why most people will fly with China Southern I’m sure or are tempted to because they do have really competitive prices and are often the cheapest airline flying from the UK to Australia, or at least one the cheapest with a quicker flight time.

As you can see below, they are not the cheapest when searching London to Melbourne using Kiwi (I much prefer Kiwi over Skyscanner!) because the lowest are 2-4 low cost short-haul airlines totalling 40 hours, but they are the cheapest taking just 25 hours which is not bad!

London to Melbourne Flight Price Southern China Airways

I hope this helps you make a decision as to whether to travel with Southern China Airlines or not.

As I said I had a great experience with them and will definitely look to fly with them again. I did only experience Seoul to Beijing and Beijing to Amsterdam, not one of their flights going to Australia but I would hope and think they are all pretty much the same standard these days.

If you have any experiences to share, let me know in the comments!


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I’m a travel addict who has been travelling on and off since 2010. In the Summer of 2018 I quit my office job in London, left my flat and I now travel and blog full time! Yes, I’m living that dream!

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