Just right after boarding was called for in the lounge, I head out towards the gate which is a short walk away. Getting on a new airplane is always something special and I was eager to try out for myself the benefits of flying on the Dreamliner!
CZ330 Vancouver International YVR – Guangzhou Baiyun International CAN
Actual: 13:25-17:25 (+1)
Gate D67 Seat 11A
A tray of Chinese newspapers greeted passengers from the entrance on boarding, though there was lacking the smiling crew members or the cheerful welcome that I usually see on great flights with Singapore Airlines. Once onboard, there was no assistance provided for luggage when boarding, neither was there crew members assisting with coat storage.
China Southern has 4 rows of 6 seats on business class spread over 2 sections from the second door. Slippers, shoe case and amenity kit were already below the foot rest while there is a pillow and a thick blanket on the seat. There is also a pair of ordinary flimsy headphones on the seat.
Up front, there is also a small First Class cabin with just a row of 4 seats. First Class was empty when I boarded and thus I took some shots of that cabin. In the middle of boarding, my seatmate arrives which was a lady, though for some reason, she decided to head back and get another seat at the back. Thus the seat next to me remained empty even after take off.
Pre-departure beverages included champagne but there was no drinks menu available so I wouldn’t know what it was. Instead I just chose orange juice. The crew also came around with cold towels that was refreshing in summer.
Menu for the flight was handed out and the crew came around to take orders. There was 2 meal for this long haul flight and several choices are available including at least a western meal choice. Though all the passengers looked Chinese to me, and the business class cabin was nearly full except for my seat beside me in the front section.
Right after we finished boarding, the crew began to prepare for pushback. Between the completion of boarding to eventual take-off, it was quite a fast taxi since there does not seem to be much of a wait. Today’s flight route was via the northerly polar route as we head towards Alaska. This gave me a nice view of Vancouver Island and the Inside Passage as we took off and cruised north. And to think a few days before I was just kayaking over there!
The take-off experience on the 787 feels rough, and it could be due to the small lightweight stature of the plane. There was vibrations in the cabin that could be felt and thus far nothing could beat the composed take-off onboard an A380. I also did not feel that the 787 was any more quieter than the A380, having taken the A380 a couple of times before.
The first meal started with a plate of peanuts with another drink and another cold towel service. It was during this time that I powered up the inflight entertainment since I always enjoy watching some show while dining during a flight.
Inflight entertainment is controlled via a touch screen monitor. It comprises of a good selection of Asian movies and there are also some TV shows but do not expect whole season as they only have one or 2 episodes of each. Overall, it is a good selection that should keep a wide range of audience satisfied but still nowhere near Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.
At this time, someone from 12D came over to sit beside me and the crew did not even bother to tell me about it and just proceeded to move some magazines I had placed on the seat beside me. I thought the service attitude by the crew was a bit lacking. The least she could do was inform me about it.
There was some time in between before meal service, which started with the placement of table cloth and laying the cutleries. In terms of table top set up it felt more like First Class. The menu for the flight was as follow:
Dishes were also served in turns with the appetizers and soup served first. At least the hard product was quite good as the soup was very tasty and made a nice start to the meal.
The crew came around with main courses based on passengers who have finished their appetizers. In this respect the whole meal service was kind of nice actually as it was catered to each individual passengers.
There was also a bread basket for passengers and it includes garlic bread. I actually found the Chinese food to be quite on par with what Cathay Pacific serves or even better!
The only drawback in the meal service is the wine selection is limited and there was a French or Australian Chardonnay, also some reds and Chinese beer I think. Again there was no menu so I wouldn’t know for sure. The crew were also not very good at refilling the glasses. I needed to consistently ask for tea refills.
For dessert the crew came around with the choices on a tray and showed them to passengers. A fruit plate was also served with the dessert. At the end of the meal, everyone was given a bottled water though somehow I had a different smaller bottle and thus I got an additional one from a flight attendant from the galley. By this time my seat mate has fully reclined for a nap.
Since it was a day flight not everyone slept and when I played with the windows to take some photos, the crew made some comments about passengers needing sleep. I prefer the shutters actually since they can be better for discreet photo taking and it is more instantaneous. It took a while for the windows tint to disappear and to darken.
I took the time to walk around the cabin after lunch and had a look at the economy class cabin which was in a 3-3-3 configuration with no premium economy option. Pitch-wise it looks decent enough for an international flight.
Not feeling tired during the daytime flight, I got myself some more tea. The cabin crew also passed out immigration forms during this time and started advertising duty free sales.
After finishing my movie, I reclined the seat to a full lie-flat bed and placed the quilt over the seat as the cabin was warm enough such that I do not need the quilt as a blanket. I had a good nap but did not really manage a deep sleep as it was just a 2 and a half hour rest.
Once I got back up, I pressed the call button for an attendant and a cabin crew came over to assist me. I requested for more tea and some snacks, but apparently they only had chocolates and sandwiches. Thus I got some peanuts instead.
By this time, we were somewhere over the Arctic and making our way back south. About an hour later, the cabin crew started the second meal service. And I continued with my second movie choice while they set up the table cover. For this service, the cutleries were neatly arranged for me, quite a more elaborate dining that once again resembles First Class.
Bread was offered to passengers through a basket, before the starters were presented.
The cold noodle appetizer with the smoked salmon was nice though the beef shank was a bit tough. This is an average appetizer that is average at best.
I got another noodle as the main course as this is a dish difficult to get wrong. Commonly served in Asian restaurants, the stir-fry seafood noodle was as I expected. It is like a comfort food and the seafood was still succulent and delicious.
To end the meal there was another dessert and I got the chestnut sago pudding this time round. The pudding was good but not as delicious as I expected. Though I really appreciated the food quality and quantity as it was good enough to make me full, which was good since I would not really have dinner later due to a series of travel mishaps.
We were somewhere over northern China by the time the second meal service ended and I head to the lavatory to freshen up. The lavatory was nothing special but it was still maintained by the crew at the end of the flight. There are also adequate amenities like lotion, shaver and mouthwash in the lavatory.
On the way back to my seat, I cannot help but notice that the sandwiches and chocolates seems to be left untouched in the galley. I think the amount of food for the meal service is generous for this transpacific flight. That is probably why they did not cater any chips since the chocolates and sandwiches were still aplenty.
As we got closer, I switched over to the moving map and noticed a weird diversion in our flight path. It will start to make sense later as I land in Guangzhou to the reason why we had what seems like a holding pattern.
It was a cloudy day in Guangzhou as we descended and the flight even made a nice fly-by over the city centre before turning back north to land in Guangzhou Baiyun airport.
Upon landing we were actually docked near the gate but for some reason, we had to board a bus to the main terminal. As I am not in a hurry, I did not need to rush since I had adequate time until my connection. There was some delay in passing through immigration as there was quite a bit of a queue but I was able to pass through without the need to collect my luggage.
In summary, the addition of this direct service between Vancouver and Guangzhou is a plus for passengers based in Vancouver or heading there as it brings down the prices. China Southen provides a decent service that is comparable to the North American carriers. And if you enjoy Chinese food, the quality of the food was good while the quantity would not leave you hungry. Other than that I have no complaints to say about anything else really, so for a rate of about $2785, a Transpacific flight to Asia on a Dreamliner is pretty good value for money.