PHOTO TOUR: all three classes inside China Southern's Airbus A380

By John Walton, September 25 2012
PHOTO TOUR: all three classes inside China Southern's Airbus A380

Wondering what you'll find inside China Southern's Airbus A380 superjumbo? As one of China's Big Four airlines, CZ's chief executive confirmed last month that "China Southern does have a plan to use the A380 on the Canton Route" on the long hop from Guangzhou to London.

It's a real upgrade to the airline's existing Boeing and Airbus seats and cabins -- whether you're in economy, First Class (which is really business class) or Platinum Private Suite (AKA first class).

Confused? Let's start with an overview, thanks to a handy cutaway the airline has provided. (Click to expand the image.)

At the front of the main cabin downstairs you'll find the "Platinum Private Suite" first class, in the same place as Qantas' first class -- though with Singapore Airlines-style suites.

Upstairs, the first three quarters or so of the smaller upper deck cabin is the airline's confusingly named business class offering, "First Class". Good luck trying to swing that one past your travel people! You might want to show them this article and ensure they refer to the airline's booking fare codes when you're trying to get them to approve business class travel.

Economy class (refreshingly named "Economy Class") is towards the back of the main cabin in the usual 3-4-3 seat layout. Nothing major to report there -- much more interesting is the smaller upstairs economy cabin, which has a roomier 2-4-2 layout with extra elbow and surface space for window passengers thanks to the standard upper deck A380 bins. 

First Class: the "Platinum Private Suite"

China Southern's Platinum Private Suite is a spacious and private seat ensconced by shoulder-height walls. It's refreshingly bling-free, outfitted in a calm and elegant royal purple.

The eight suites on board are laid out across two rows, in a 1-2-1 configuration, which means that the middle pairs are the ones you want if you'd like to talk to your travelling companion or colleague en route.

The seat controls and extra-large table are found in the handy armrest, which is itself a pleasing size for marshalling all your first class gear.

The suites take advantage of the extra-large A380 windows, too. 

Business class: or, as CZ calls it, "First Class"

If this looks similar to the Emirates A380 business class you're familiar with, award yourself some bonus frequent flyer miles. The seats are the EADS Sogerma staggered seating with direct aisle access for every passenger, which we reckon are among the best in the sky. 

Simple and clean lines are the order of the day once more for China Southern, with a calm -- if corporate -- light blue seat and off-white plastic surrounding shell.

Compared with Emirates, gone are the soft drink minibars (alas) and the faux wood (not alas), and the backs of each seat structure are more curved. That'll bring a bit more space -- but a bit less privacy -- to the middle pairs and the side window seats.

The centre pairs -- E and F seats on China Southern -- are still the ones to pick if you're travelling with your other half, and to avoid if you're not.

Aisle seats on the side and in the middle -- that's C and H seats -- are also the ones to skip since your elbows will be right out in the aisles, ready to be banged by the first trolley or passenger that goes past.

While China Southern hasn't released precise seat-by-seat bed length, Emirates' version sees a slightly shorter bed in the aisle seats as opposed to the middle and window ones.

That all makes the A and K window seats, which have a large armrest/cocktail table between you and the rest of the plane, plus a few inches extra bed length, the ones to snag.

And, of course, you get the elbow room on the other side from the window storage bins -- put together, the extra surface area makes a great office in the sky.

China Southern's entertainment screens are slightly smaller than Emirates -- you can tell since there's more of a plastic bezel around the edge. 

Fortunately, since your feet tuck into the cubby beneath the TV, you're not immensely far away from the monitor. 

Looking more closely at the seat, you'll find the controls sensibly up where the contents of your pockets won't brush up against them.

A water bottle holder sits in the corner, with a full universal power point at a handy spot right next to your arm. 

We like the clever recessed cupholder/plateholder too: no glasses sliding around here. The table, like Emirates', slides out sideways and extends awayfrom you.

Economy class, thankfully called "Economy Class"

Nothing revolutionary about China southern's downstairs economy class. Standard seats, in a standard 3-4-3 layout.

Also standard: entertainment monitors -- though they're a fair bit smaller than the best that are currently being installed around the world.

Upstairs, though, there's a very handy little cabin that will be popular among those in the know -- which, happily, now includes you. Its less dense 2-4-2 seating and A380 upper deck window-side bins mean that window fans and anyone travelling in pairs should definitely aim for an upstairs seat.

And if you thought that distorted fisheye lens photo was eye-straining, take a look at what the photographer got up to outside!

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John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

Qantas - Platinum One

18 Jan 2011

Total posts 82

Is it just me, or is there something odd about access those window seats?

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 666

You mean the bit where you slip past the table? That's normal in these seats, but the fisheye lens that China Southern's photographer used has caught it at rather an odd angle, I agree.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 May 2012

Total posts 580

Is it just me or does "First" have a hospital-type feel with a good measure of cheap plastic thrown in? These don't entice me to fly China Southern at all.

02 Nov 2011

Total posts 6

All the cabins look cheap had plasticky.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2207

Unfortunately, CZ isn't pulling off the clinical look nearly as well as, say, ANA. It screams BORING, but the hard products look comfortable enough.

Hopefully their service has improved since the last time I flew with them.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 784

Good luck to them. At least they're having a go at it. 

10 Jun 2011

Total posts 56

I note there has been a really heavy focus on CZ recently.  Im assuming its because they are on a big PR campaign in Australia/NZ/UK and USA/CANADA at the moment and trying to win those travel communities over.

From those pictures, really boring and bland sums it up and it all looks really cheap and plasticky. You can just see how tired and worn it will look very quickly with those colours.  Of course they are only pictures and experiencing the product would be the only way to determine if you like it or not

I know the airline is investing a lot of money in trying to produce a quality product that will appeal to Western markets and compete with the likes of EK CX and SQ, but they still appear to be falling well short of the mark

Having said that they do price themselves competively, and that will win them some business, but connection times are not great in Guangzhou especially inbound from London and that is not going to attract premium business traffic

28 Feb 2014

Total posts 2

Wow.. I have to say.. it is a very good domestic airline also. Why, Its national security protocol makes me wanna just fly with them everytime. I recall this one time, a moment of weakness, I had a container that was too big to put on the plain. But wait.. after a quick investigation , I found two cargo crew negotiating price regarding the flight plans of my prototype furniture desk which was too big to put through the normal rigmoral in GUANGZHOU INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. Safer. safer indeed. I thought to myself again and said.. bad Idea son.. and called a truck. 


28 Feb 2014

Total posts 2

sorry i meant plane :D

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