China Southern begins Sydney-London flights on 'Canton Route'

By David Flynn, June 6 2012
China Southern begins Sydney-London flights on 'Canton Route'

China Southern's new 'Canton Route' from Australia to London via Guangzhou takes flight this morning, increasing the pressure on Qantas and its long-established Kangaroo Route via Singapore (and, to a lesser extent, Hong Kong).

The world's fourth-largest airline is hoping that cheaper fares and a 26-hour elapsed time from Sydney to London will draw business travellers over rival airlines' hubs at Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.

Flights will depart Guangzhou at 9am for a 3.25pm arrival at Heathrow. On Wednesday and Friday the return flights leaves London at 10.30pm, arriving in Guangzhou at 5.30pm the next day; on Sunday there's an earlier wheels-up time of 6.25pm, which gets you into Guangzhou at 1.25pm the following day.

(For more details, visit or call China Southern’s national reservations line on 1300 889 628.)

Guangzhou is just over 100 km from Hong Kong, and like the Kangaroo Route's Singapore stop-over Guangzhou is a key business class destination in its own right. And as China's second-busiest airport it has extensive connections to other Chinese cities.

China Southern already runs double daily flights between Sydney-Guangzhou and Melbourne-Guangzhou, with four flights per week from Brisbane and three from Perth. The airline aims to almost triple the current tally of 35 weekly flights from Australia to Guangzhou to "more than 110 ... by the end of 2015" said He.

China Southern's Airbus A330 fleet have the airline's new first and business class seats installed in the pointy end.

In business class you'll find a 1.9m angled-flat bed in a 2-2-2 arrangement with 64 inch pitch, 15 inch video screens and up to 40 kilos of checked luggage.

First class class is a more spacious 1-2-1 arrangement with each passenger ensconced in a cubicle-style layout.

Since China Southern is a member of the SkyTeam alliance, travellers can earn and burn frequent flyer miles across the SkyTeam network -- although we're yet to see an Australian-based SkyTeam member airline.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Sep 2011

Total posts 9

The problem with this route is mainly the visa requirements to be able to transit through Guangzhou Baiyun Airport.

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 666

Hang on, there aren't any visa requirements for transiting Guangzhou (or any PRC airport) within a 24-hour period.


04 Nov 2010

Total posts 670

I like the idea, the more alternatives we have to SYD-SIN-LHR the better, would be better yet if we had an alternative to LHR! As long as the connection time for incoming from SYD is not too long to wait, the SIN flights line up pretty neatly.

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 666

Well, your alternative to LHR on China Southern is CDG. It's one of those "would you prefer poisoning or ax-murder, sir?" decisions, isn't it?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 Nov 2011

Total posts 244

The design of the airport is not efficient that passengers on connecting flight need to go through immigration and not just head straight to the gate directly. This applies to LAX as well where to change to next flight e.g. Canada requires transit visa.

Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Doha, Hong Kong, Seoul airports are quick and efficient where you just walk straight to your next gate.

14 Jan 2012

Total posts 14

I would never consider flying with China Southern after my latest trip to China. I flew them from Sydney to Guangzhou. After landing I was considering flying another airline back! The crew were so rude, their seats are a joke and very lacking in In Flight Entertainment. The food was horrible aswell. The only benifit is, I got to see beautiful China and they were cheap. Definalty wouldn't recommend them to anyone, especially when you have to sit on the plane for 9 hours!

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

05 Jan 2012

Total posts 335

sagidec and swan2281 have said enough to make me want to fly with someone else. Seriously, apart from the fact that it is cheap, what makes it better than anyone else?

19 Jan 2012

Total posts 3

So not worth flying economy on Chine Southern. Also Guangzhou airport is the worst place to transit in.

I have not read many positive reviews on China Southern, regardless of cabin class. I have read pages of reviews on China Southern and found only a handful of positive reviews.

Whether its first, business, premium or economy, the overall and majority of reviews are not very positive.

Yes its cheaper compared to $6,700 to $8,000 the other airlines charged, but for $5,000 grand to London, I think passengers still expect a good business class product.

And they can't exactly argue that the product is inferior to the other airlines due to costs, because its not as if China Southern pays its flight attendants western wages. According to world salaries, an average Chinese flight attendant get paid around $200 Australian dollars per month compared to western flight attendants who get paid around $60,000 to $80,000 AUD per annum.

Besides for $5,700 you can fly Qatar Airways to London and Qatar Airways has superior service.

Until China Southern improves its service, I doubt the canton route will catch one with business travellers.

And China Southern doesn't have to look very far for inspiration on how to be a top airline, they just need to look at Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, who are only 100km away from Guangzhou.

03 Apr 2012

Total posts 2

hi everyone
i just wanted to let you all know that i am one of a group of australian girls that have recently been hired by china southern to be flight attendants on the up and coming canton route. we have been put through the proverbial ringer for the past few months training for our new position and i can garuntee that you will receive nothing but the highest quality of service whilst on board. china southern is trying to turn its service reputation around and there is alot of retraining going on. while there are only 13 of us in my crew there will be at least one of us on each flight to help with any communication barriers you may be having during the flight. the next hiring process is happening right now and so im sure our numbers will multiply very quickly. there was also a dutch crew starting their training as we were leaving and a french crew have already graduated aswell. it is a prerequisite for all of their newly recruited international flight attendants to be fluent in english so that the service provided to customers is never second best.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

Hi Heather - welcome to AusBT, so nice of you to drop in and share your traning experience (and congrats on the job, by the way!).

03 Apr 2012

Total posts 2

thank you :) its very exciting!

congratulations heather.

that is great news. And its great to hear that China Southern is listening and wants to improve, thats +10 in my books.

:) If things improve, I might give the canton route a go.

25 Feb 2012

Total posts 78

congratulations Heaher I am looking to fly to Europe later in the year and I have been very annoyed at the price difference of the Majors depending on which way you travel

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 783

I hope your training as a flight attendant includes English punctuation and grammar skills.

12 Apr 2011

Total posts 71

Are the J class seats flat or angled beds? The article talks about flat beds at the top, but then mentions angled lie flats when describing business class. Also the first three pics which seem to be of J class, don't match the photo of the business class cabin (which looks like fully flat seats). 

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 666

Sorry about that autvir -- some confusion caused by the airline's odd website and a bit of conflicting information. I've updated the article to hopefully make things clearer! 

11 Mar 2012

Total posts 181

There's the issue that has been reported elsewhere that while in transit in Guangzhou there are no lounges for business/first. This is a major let down given that connecting flights to DXB are 5hours+ away. Instead you would have to pay for your food/drinks from the retail outlets. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Nov 2011

Total posts 186

Congratulations to Heather who will no doubt be on some of the debut services.  However, my prais ends there.  I have been in China several times reccently and have multiple issues with several of their airlines.  I flew internally with China Southern to Guangzhao and found the waiting times and chaos at the airport terrible, it has nothing on Hong Kong or Singapore (both of which I have been through multiple times with multiple carriers and found relaxing and enjoyable).  As for onboard product, some of the glamour shots of J look half deccent, but what I have flown on was nothing compared to that, older and tackier than the oldest of QFs 'Dreamtime' seats....China Southern will need to seriously be ontop of their game with hard product if they want to offer a serious alternative.

As for lounges, well OW are generally touted to have the best lounges of all the alliances, and if you combine the Syd F lounge with Cathay F offerings in HKG, new QF F offerings in SIN/HKG and BA's Galleries First in Heathrow then China Southern has nothing on OW to offer high teir FF.

I can immagine some first time uni backpackers being lulled in by cheap fares, but unless there is some real game changing action in place a few western smiles and accents on board wont cut it when you have to spen 26 hours in a cramped china southern ecconomy seat and hours in Guangzhao Int. airport they may think twice before booking again.

AusBT I am eager to see you trip R/V, which I anticipate.  I have one question though, can you confirm if the 'First' class seat really is as coffin like as it appears?!?

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 666

Hi Dr T, good to hear your feedback. I was in China a few years ago and China Southern was about as good as the rest -- which is to say, a little limp on the service standards, but trying hard.

We're currently in discussions with China Southern's media reps about getting on board. Watch this space!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Sep 2011

Total posts 181

Cheaper flights, tempting.  Stuck in an aircraft on the tarmac in China because the Chinese military keep shutting down the airspace for military exercises, no thanks.  I have missed so many connections due to that and it happens at nearly all airports.

There is much talk of the inflight experience being attributed to the nature and quality of the cabin crew and the airline's hardware such as seats and inflight entertainment systems.

However has anyone ever considered the nature and characteristics of your fellow travelling companions in affecting one's inflight experience?

It is my expereince that each airline is predisposed to attract a certain type and calibre of passenger due to its network bias and its postion as price maker/follower.

It really is far more sensible in my opinion to consider these other factors, when considering a flight. You will after all be trapped in a cabin with people whom you would otherwise not voluntarily associate with.

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