On returning from my snowboarding trip to Salt Lake City, I came upon the poster by China Southern promoting their new service between Guangzhou and Vancouver that was operated by the 787. According to their press release, the flight is numbered as CZ329 as the outbound from Guangzhou, departing at 2pm arriving into Vancouver at 9:40am the same day. CZ330 operates the inbound from Vancouver, leaving at 11:30am, arriving into Guangzhou at 5:20pm the next day. Both flight times does not seem to provide much connecting opportunities into South-east Asia, especially for the flight out of Vancouver which will arrive in the evening. However the timing is very similar to the Cathay Pacific afternoon flight out of Vancouver into Hong Kong, and given the size and seat capacity of the 787, I doubt they were targeting connecting passengers in the first place.
One interesting thing to note about this service is that China Southern possibly operates the only 787 with First Class onboard. The seat map shows First Class in a 1-2-1 abreast configuration while the Business Class is in a 2-2-2 abreast configuration.
The seats onboard First Class seems to be similar to what Oman Air uses in its business class and similar to the First Class cabins on ANA’s 777-300ER (pre-First Square model). This is definitely something to take note of especially if China Southern can maintain a service standard to match that of Cathay Pacific. There is only one row of First Class seats giving a total of 4 seats so they are definitely super-exclusive and might be difficult to book as an award redemption.
Business class seating is similar to the one used by Air China on their A330s. In fact Air China uses the A330s that only has Business and Economy class cabins between Vancouver and Beijing. Again, this business class seat is extremely comfortable with full lie-flat seats. Couples will really prefer this seating arrangement compared to the reverse herringbone layout that Cathay Pacific uses where passengers are angled towards each other or towards the window. The business class cabin on this plane is also relatively small with only 4 rows, totalling 24 business class seats. Certainly, this is smaller than Air China’s A330 business class cabin.
Economy class on the 787 is a 3-3-3 seating configuration that might be a bit tight but it seems most airlines uses the same configuration on the 787 nowadays. I would prefer Cathay Pacific economy class in this respect since they fly the 777-300ERs, also with a 3-3-3 seating arrangement ensuring more space in the cabin as the 777 is a wider and larger plane than the 787. What is also lacking is a Premium Economy cabin as I believe Air Canada and Cathay Pacific both have Premium Economy on routes between Vancouver and Southern China (Guangzhou and Hong Kong). Though from their seat map key, I believe China Southern might offer Premium Economy on their planes sooner than later.
What I think is that this service is definitely a plus to Vancouver and adds First Class capacity between Vancouver and Southern China. In addition, this might also be the first 787 to serve Vancouver on a daily basis, so this flight might be a consideration for me should I need to fly to south Asia since I have yet to fly onboard the 787.