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China Southern Airlines New Airbus A330 Service

CocoonChina Southern Airlines is introducing the “all-new First Class and Business Class travel experience with all-new Airbus A330 – available this coming November 2007.” I’m intrigued, how about you? According to the press release, “The airline will be offering world class amenities and enhanced cabin layout to ensure that passengers experience a journey of the utmost in luxury while feeling like they’re at ‘Home in the Air.’”

How exactly does the airline think they will make you feel at home in the air? Well, they’ve done several things.

Reconfigured Layout

China Southern has adopted a new three-class layout on the new A330-300 with four seats in First Class and 24 seats in Business Class. That’s a pretty far stretch from the U.S. based airlines who generally only offer a two-class layout.

First Class

The high rollers in First Class get all kinds of bling like tailor-made “Apollo” seats designed by Contour in Britain. Hmmm. “Similar to a cocoon, each First Class seat is 194cm long – 70cm wide and can be programmed to recline to 180 degrees at the touch of a button on the armrest.” The cocoon reference is a little creepy to me. Reminds me of those pods in that 80’s movie Cocoon with Steve Guttenberg and a bunch of old people. Anyway, each seat will have an attached foot stool that will raise up as high as the seat itself, as well as an attached LCD on which passengers can enjoy on-demand video. And here’s something different – to make the cabin more spacious, the designers removed the overhead compartment. Not sure where they stow their gear now, though.

Business Class

The Business Class seats are just about as roomy as those in First Class, with an inside length reaching 190cm and a width of 60cm. Being spatially challenged, that means nothing to me but China Southern maintains that amount exceeds most passenger requirements. I’m sure it will until some gigantic American businesspeople head over.

About those seats

The new Apollo First Class seats were modeled on those offered by Air France and adopts an innovative “cocoon design.” Still creepy. When the seat is laid flat, the back shell that surrounds the passenger functions like a curtain – offering passengers the ultimate in privacy to sleep or work in one’s own private suite. Above your seat, there is a flexible reading light allowing you to adjust the angle and the brightness. And for once you can leave your Bose noise cancellers at home. The airline is equipping you with a special headsets to block out noise from the aisle and enjoy a good sleep in your cozy “cocoon.”

Both First and Business Class Passengers get a real treat on those long haul flights (and I don’t just mean the extra dessert). With the new seats, you get a built-in seat back massager! How cool is that?! You can use them to listen to the movies and music on your personal on-demand entertainment system, complete with remote control.

After that the press release rambles about the tray table and praises the fact that there is a closet available to hang things. That’s like patting themselves on the back for having wings or seatbelts, so I won’t go in to it.

On-Demand Dining

China Southern Airlines is offering an On-Demand Dining service to passengers. This gives you the ability to order your meals and set your own dining times from the airport lounge – in advance of the flight. Kinda cool.

In addition to the revamped service, the meal options have been completely upgraded with cocktail service available during long haul international flights and flights to Japan and Korea. On domestic flights, passengers can enjoy cuisine served on delicate Chinese porcelain, colorful glass and stainless steel plates. After dining, “passengers may enjoy a glass of claret from France, fresh orange juice from North America or a cup of freshly brewed tea.”

Every passenger will also be presented with a silk book-bag containing newspapers and current periodicals. Do they have to give them back?