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!
For more picture-laden AusBT photo tours:
- Tour Qatar Airways' Boeing 787 Dreamliner
- Business class on Airbus' A350, the Boeing 787 rival
- Step inside ANA's new Boeing 787 Dreamliner
- Lufthansa's super-luxury VIP private jet Airbus A380 cabins
- Inside Qantas' Boeing 787 Dreamliner Sydney event
- Richard Branson's new Virgin Galactic Spaceport
- Kuwait's amazing 'mega-hub' airport
- China's Beijing-Shanghai bullet train
- Inside Donald Trump's personal Boeing 757
And for the very latest, follow us on Twitter: we're @AusBT.
About 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.