This year is our fifth anniversary and so we’re heading back to Santorini…..how time flies and how life can change in a few short years…
So, as I do when we’re on a budget and I don’t want to scare Ty with holiday expenditure too early in the planning phase, I managed to find a relatively cheap business class flight from Sydney to Paris via Guangzhou with China Southern then onto Athens with Aegean. A long trip to Athens but for comfort and cost this was the best option at the time. So it’s a case of “suck it up princess” if we want to travel business class. The flights were booked in October the previous year and once flights are booked we worked on where we wanted to be and what we wanted to do. One of my friends, Lesley, had travelled with CS last year when we met for a few days in Paris and she was happy with the planes and the service, a few others had also flown with this airline.
We arrived at the airport with 15 minutes to wait till check in opened. We had tried to check in the night before, for no less than 45 minutes,and it just wouldn’t let us. We gave up and left it for the check in staff. The check in member had the same difficulty as we did which was good in one way …we knew the problem wasn’t with us! It took him around 25 minutes to get the system to accept us. We’ll accept Ty, it accepted me immediately of course!! We think it has something to do with his first name being consonants and appearing to be two initials T Y. We found this out on MSC Splendida last year when the Indonesian and Pilipino crew read his onboard card and name on the computer as T Y so they would call him T Y…. ‘Hello T Y ‘ ‘Have a good day T Y’. It was amusing.
Our seats this flight are 3 H&K and the second leg we are in 2A&C The flight left 55 minutes later than scheduled departure time. Many other reviews I had read mention the same thing. We received the usual toiletry bag containing toothpaste, toothbrush, comb and moisturisers but also a pair of scuffs for pottering around the plane a drawstring bag to put bits and pieces needed during the flight such as iPods, iPads, glasses etc. beats losing them under the seat when the seat is extended!!! Which is what happened to my book. and glasses😔 There is a little shelf beside the seat that holds the remote control plus has room for other items , thankfully the cabin crew managed to retrieve them for me…..left me a bit embarrassed. It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have some little mishap….now would it my readers?
Lunch was several courses: chicken soup, salmon and prawn entree and I chose lamb cutlets for main. Ty chose a rump steak for his main. Not sure what happened to my main but it ended up with pieces of pasta that looked like rice, Cabin person was apologetic but I couldn’t remember what was supposed to come with it. A little later she bought me a mini lemon meringue pie as a peace offering. A short time later a fruit platter arrived for each of us and Ty also opted for a cheese platter. I abstained.
Wine was offered with the meal – 2 whites and 2 reds although only one white was available. This one was a little dry for my taste but I still managed to have a glass! All drinks that should be icy cold were warm so a bit to learn there.
After lunch the attendants came around offering water, cup cakes and fruit.
Could hear a slapping sound behind me and thought it odd but maybe someone had dropped something and perhaps it had broken…..eventually, when the noise hadn’t stopped, I took a peak and the young woman behind me was reading a book and the passenger beside her was watching a movie but looking unimpressed. I could still hear the noise and as I went to turn back I saw what it was. The young woman reading the book and what looked like a spatula and she was reading whilst slapping herself with this object.
Not long into the flight an announcement broke the sound of the planes engines and buzz of conversation. ‘Is there a doctor on the flight?’ ‘ If so could you make yourself known to the crew please’. I thought to myself, there always seems to be a doctor on board which to my mind says either we have a large number of doctors per head of world population or all doctors travel more than the average individual.
Very soon a man was brought through into business class and seated in one of the spare seats in row 1. The female doctor was with him as were several crew members. I was very pleased there was a doctor on board because China Southern tend to run late regularly and I wasn’t keen on the plane making an emergency landing in some other country. Trip is long enough already and another delay would not be welcome.Fortunately for all of us the young man was given a little whiff of oxygen and only required one further check.
Second meal of the day, a light meal prior to landing in Guangzhou, was getting underway. We had preordered drinks earlier…no alcohol was offered on the second meal. Just water, juice or soft drink. Ty chose coke light and I an orange juice. His coke was flatter than flat…if that’s possible and the glass my juice was served in was not a clean crisp glass but rather murky and crusty on the outside. I abstained from drinking the juice and as the cabin crew didn’t understand a lot of English left it at that. Tea or coffee was not offered again, as wi the meals we were required to choose all meals and drinks in the first hour of the flight. I don’t mind ordering the meal but would prefer to have the option to choose my drink at the mealtime. I thought this a little strange.
The cabin crew are friendly and efficient and service good and polite but don’t expect exceptional service as they’re not there. CS is only a relatively new player in the market and there’s still some room for improvement if they want to attract a larger share of travellers outside Asian markets.
As our arrival into Guangzhou approached the crew gave us thank you cards. A very nice gesture.
The Sky-team Lounge was very hot, air conditioning only worked in one small section so at 30 Celsius with humidity at 90% it was very uncomfortable in the upstairs lounge area. Thank goodness for the ability to have a shower before boarding the next leg.
It was a long wait for the Paris leg but we chatted to a woman on her way back to Sydney after a 7 week holiday in Europe and, later, to a man from Birmingham who had been working in China.
We knew access to Facebook is banned in China but didn’t realise Google is also banned. We needed to print boarding passes sitting in our gmail account for the Paris to Athens leg but that was not possible. Very odd to think in this technological age that countries would stop their people and visitors from accessing websites!!
We wandered to our gate with plenty of time to find the gate had actually been changed. We turned and headed back in the direction from which we came….a little bit of extra exercise would do us good. The new gate number was downstairs…’I think this means we’re being bused to the plane’ I said to Ty. We stepped onto the escalator that took us to a smaller departure hall crowded with people. There were 6 gates down here and hardly any seats and definitely no air conditioning. It was stifling. We couldn’t find empty seats so we stood for about 10 minutes Ty decided to ask the young airline worker manning the our gate number for the boarding time but he spoke no English. No help there and it was so stuffy we decided to go back upstairs and find a seat.
About 15 minutes later Ty went to check the indicator board to see if the flight was boarding yet…it was so off we trundled back down to the hot dungeon below. The crowds were even worse as we made our way to the far end of the room and our check in counter. There was a small area for business class passengers to stand. After a few minutes we were checked through the gate to waiting buses. Economy class in one and us on another. We were then driven away from the main arrivals and departures area across the tarmac and down a couple of roads to another area where planes sat. We drove by a large number of planes and eventually pulled up at our plane….A330-200. One high set of steps at the back and all the economy passengers lined up at the stairs came into view We were told to wait on the bus for a minute. The airline staff member came back and ushered for us to leave the bus. The economy passengers were stood aside to allow us to head up the stairs onto the plane.
A family with a baby just under 12 months joined our bus and the child was already crying. At that point I wondered whether my ear plugs were up to the challenge of drowning out any screams throughout the 11 hour flight. I really needed to sleep on this leg! The business class cabin on this flight was in 2 sections, thankfully we were in the first section and the baby in second section…the galley and loo separated us. Unfortunately the man of Asian nationality opposite us made disgusting sniffling noises instead of blowing his nose….just disgusting. We did have a small reprieve when he slept for a few hours. There’s something to be said for the first class fully enclosed pods that some airlines have on the A380……unfortunately the cost is prohibitive for the budget conscious traveller and majority of travellers😕
This second left was also late by about 45 minutes.
Breakfast was not too bad this morning…orange juice, cereal (careful not to take in too much milk), French toast, brioche and toast more like a cruskit with strawberry jam and a cup of tea. Only strange thing is they serve the juice and cup of tea at same time. I like my cup of tea (when I drink tea) towards end of meal. As well as the Chinese cabin crew we had a French girl, who had excellent English…made the flight a little easier language wise. When they were clearing our breakfast plates away I hadn’t finished and the Chinese girl went to remove the food I was still eating, French crew member said you must leave it till passenger has finished!!! I know they gave a timeframe for completing all tasks but Even though Ai was enjoying a leisurely breakfast without the water views I wasn’t going to rush it!!
It was very foggy and 16 degrees as we descended into Paris Charles but I’m certain it won’t be at all foggy when we land in Athens later today, Our landing at CDG was very fast so braking was quite sudden – had to push back in our seats…amusing.
Would we travel with this airline again? Most certainly but would only fly with them if stopover was shorter, 6 hours is too long for me, if travelling on to Europe.