Route: Shenzhen Boa’an Airport to Hangzhou Xiaoshan Airport
Departure date and time of flight: 11.50am, May 2015
Flight number: ZH9963 (ICAO callsign: “Shenzhen Air 9963”)
Flight duration: 2 Hours 10 minutes
Class: FIRST CLASS
Aircraft type: AIRBUS A320-232 (70 in service)
Aircraft registration: B-1841 (First flight 26th May 2014)
Aircraft Serial Number: 5986
Seat configuration for this aircraft:
First Class: 8 seats in a 2-2 configuration on the main deck
Economy Class: 150 seats in a 3-3 configuration
Comments on check-in:
Located 32 kilometres in the northwest of Shenzhen, Boa’an International Airport is one of the largest airports in the world, however not busy because the majority of flights are domestic (you can fly to Mauritius with China Southern and a few other exotic destinations, mostly on charter flights). In 2014, the airport handled over 36.2 million passengers; the airport is able to accommodate the largest aircraft in the world, the Airbus A380.
The first thing you notice as you enter the terminal is how huge it is. It makes Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport look like a miniature model toy kit.
There were no issues regarding the baggage. Passengers travelling First Class with Shenzhen Airlines are allowed a generous 40kg free of charge, and 30 kg (66 lbs) for Business Class. For domestic flights, each piece of checked baggage must not exceed 50 kg (110 lbs). Shenzhen Airlines has a separate dedicated check-in, and a separate security customs from all the other airlines at Shenzhen Bao’an Airport.
LOUNGE EXPERIENCE at Shenzhen Airport:
Shenzhen Airlines have their own premium lounges dotted around the airport, after security. The lounge can be used by Business and First Class passengers, as well as silver and gold members of the Shenzhen Airlines loyalty program. The lounge has sufficient space for buffet food (Chinese only), comfortable relaxing chairs, electric massage chairs, and a small cinema (25 seats maximum). There are also shower facilities available in all the lounges. There are many options for hot and cold Chinese food and Western food.
Punctuality of the flight:
Departed on time, and landed on time at Hangzhou. Shenzhen Bao’an Airport was not as busy as I would have imagined. Understandably, Shenzhen is not really a touristy city (it is for work), and the added fact that Hong Kong Airport is just a stone’s throw away – on a clear day you can easily see planes taking off and landing at Hong Kong Airport from Shenzhen.
Comments regarding the pre-flight service:
Hot and cold towels were offered prior to departure in the First Class cabin. First Class passengers are offered a selection of drinks including champagne, apple juice, orange juice and a variety of teas (Chinese and Western). The cabin crew took the orders for the lunch service from all the passengers in the First Class cabin prior to departure.
Comments regarding the pre-meal service:
The meal service commended with air hostesses handing out hot towels. A selection of fine nuts was offered along with a choice of drink (orange juice, apple juice, and a selection of teas).
Comments regarding the main meal:
There were two options for the main hot dish meal:
I opted for the traditional Cantonese Dimsum, and vegetables. The Dimsum came with a dumplings (both pork dumplings and noodles). There was also a small plate of creaser salad with seasoning sauce, and a bowl of fresh fruit salad.
It was also a nice thing to see a warm cheesecake being served with the main meal.
Delicious soft and hard bread rolls were offered from the basket (including garlic bread!). All meals were served on fine bone china, and came with Shenzhen Airlines chopsticks, and Shenzhen Airlines branded stainless steel cutlery.
Comments regarding the after meal drinks and in-flight snacks:
Hot and cold drinks were served after the main meal. These included Chinese and Western tea options, as well as soft drinks.
Comments on the in-flight entertainment system:
This Shenzhen Airlines Airbus A320-200 aircraft has no individual TV screens (not even in First Class), only the small screens that pop out for the pre take-off safety video.
Comments of professionalism of the cabin crew:
The cabin crew were very professional and friendly. Most of the cabin crew for Shenzhen Airlines are natives of the Guangdong Region in China (this is especially true for the cabin crew in First Class or Business Class cabins). The airline management is very particular on how their cabin crew staff should be like. They have to be of a certain weight, and height, and must be acquainted to beauty with a smile (this is what I was informed!). Most of the cabin crew do speak good English (especially those in Business/First Class).
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort):
The First Class seats have 58-inch pitch and 20-inch width. The Economy Class seats have a 32-inch pitch, and an 18 inch width. First Class seats feature a reclining angle of 170 degrees. For such a short domestic flight, passengers were offered a pair of luxury cotton slippers, and a thick cotton blanket. The cabin had a pleasant smell, and was very clean. All of the eight seats in the First Class section are covered with a luxury red clothing that comes embedded with the company logo. It creates a sense of comfort, elegance, and belonging to the Chinese culture. It also gives a very warm, fresh, spacious, modern, and touching feeling when you enter the cabin.
Shenzhen Airlines have improved quite a lot on most aspects of their aircraft interior. This includes the aircraft seating, the smell of the interior cabin, the cleanliness of the aircraft toilets, and the general positive attitude of the cabin crewmembers. The aircraft which we flew was the latest new aircraft for Shenzhen Airlines.
Shenzhen Airlines logo and livery:
The back part of the livery is red, with the front half white. Shenzhen Airlines have recently made a change to make the red area longer, which works well in theory, but in practice it has caused problems with being able to read their titles. The paint scheme puts the airline’s name partially on the white, but also partially on the red and gold striping.
The tail sports the “National Roc.” According to the airline’s website this is “the totem aggregating the traditional and modern Chinese cultures. The design is harmonious and the colors of red and gold are gloriously lined with one on the other, agglomerating the soul of the oriental culture. Tallness and straightness, fullness of vitality, are the reflection of progress and prompt response.”
I remember when I first arrived in China in 2002, Shenzhen Airlines had a livery consisting of a green tail-fin with an arrow inside a white circle.
Overall rating 1-10 (worst-best): 10
About Airline PR
This is a special section on Airline Branding, and Airline Public Relations written by me on all the flights I have been fortunate enough to have been on. These are not records taken from somewhere else, but are actual flights I have been on. Most of the flight trips are officially sponsored by the airline companies in order to promote their certain routes, and aircraft. Airline promotion and PR related work in the aviation industry is one of my expertise.
Watch exclusive videos below taken in the cockpit of a Boeing 777-300ER in-flight over Chinese Airspace.
Special thanks goes to
B777-300ER Cockpit Video 1
B777-300ER Cockpit Video 2
Proud media partner of QATAR AIRWAYS