Guangdong, China: Day 1 Manchester > Amsterdam > Beijing > Shenzhen

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Guangdong, China: Day 1 Manchester > Amsterdam > Beijing > Shenzhen

Center map

Although it sounds like quite an epic itinerary, the total travel time is only 15 hours. I normally expect it to take 20 hours to Shenzhen so I had some really tight connections.

I identified the flights I wanted on the KLM website and was quoted £780. Refusing to pay that, I employed a very simple trick to save a fortune….

Identify which other airlines are in your chosen airlines alliance and then go to their websites and price the same itinerary. Simples. It wasn’t long before I got to China Southern Airlines and for the same flights they were charging £72 plus unavoidable taxes which brought the total to just £330… A saving of £450!

I’d be on identical flights, 2 of the 6 flights are operated by China Southern anyway. The only difference is that my trip will be ticketed CZ instead of KL.

Manchester > Amsterdam

I left home for the airport at 08h30. I’d planned to leave earlier but faffed about. Traffic was horrendous! It normally takes about 35 minutes to the airport but today it took 2 long hours!

I arrived at the check in desk with just 40 minutes to spare… I was the last person checking in for the 11h10 to Amsterdam.

I politely explained that the website wouldn’t allow me to change my seats on the long haul flight to Beijing, and as I had a phobia of sitting in the middle seat block that had been allocated (I don’t enjoy it but I wouldn’t say phobia!) I wondered about the possibility of moving seats? The checkin girl said the flight was full but as everyone else had already checked in she could see just one available seat not in the middle block and would happily move me to it…

My first flight was delayed due to the late arrival of inbound equipment. In the end we set off 40 minutes late. I’ve done this flight many times, KLM is one of my preferred airlines for long haul (it avoids the greedy UK airline passenger duty if booked as separate components) but I’ve never done it this quick runway to runway! Nonetheless, on our descent into Schiphol my Beijing connecting flight was announced as a very tight connection.

Amsterdam > Beijing

I had a brisk walk from one end of Schiphol to the other and was the last passenger they were holding for. Fortunately I’d booked straight through due to the incredible price so it was in the airlines interest to wait a few minutes.

I was last on the flight and almost expected passengers to clap as I entered and did the walk of shame.

I didn’t have to walk far. The only empty seat, and presumably the only seat the lovely checkin girl at Manchester could move me to… Was in Business Class. Boom!

It’s the cheapest business class seat I have ever had, just £55 (or £12 without taxes!). I was given a welcome drink as I explored the seat and entertainment. There was a large tray between my seat and the person next to me, for the first time in my life I hoped the passenger in front would recline as I couldn’t reach my touch screen! It wasn’t business as I’ve had before, China Southern have a slightly lower standard (the seat went nearly flat but not quite a bed) but it was fantastic for a free upgrade!

On the menu was pulled pork… I kept quiet about the vegetarian meal I’d booked!

Beijing > Shenzhen

I landed at Beijing as the sun was rising. As always, the air was thick and sickly and a haze prevented visibility of the terminal building from the plane.

Although the last flight made up time, there were long delays at customs and baggage reclaim in Beijing. I had to collect baggage and recheck it in, and by the time I got to a check in desk, the hold had closed. I was told I’d have to carry my suitcase on… This caused problems at security as there were toiletries containing liquids in my checked bags and they couldn’t understand why I was trying to ram a suitcase through a hand baggage scanner.

In their rush a young security guard clumsily dropped one of my lens. They were so apologetic and gave me contact details in case it was broken. He then insisted on escorting me and carrying all my bags the long distance to my gate where again, I was last to board and had to do the walk of shame to my seat.

Cattle class was going to be a come down after the treatment in business on the last flight!

Once airbourn the food trolley made its way slowly down the aisle with 2 crew members but didn’t stop to serve anyone. When it got to me they proudly announced “Mr Cwis, you order special vegetarian meal”. I nodded and they served me a huge box of food (it said contents were ‘nourishing and harmonious’) and then slowly retreated to the galley.

I have no idea why I was the only passenger to be served food on the flight but with all eyes on me I figured I’d better eat it and be grateful, even if it did look like boiled jelly fish.

I finished my food and drifted to sleep. About an hour later I was woken abruptly by a flight attendant tapping my shoulder. Confused and dazed I must have looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights. “Heloo Mr Cwis, China Southern Airlines would like to bring to your attention that it is 79 degrees and sunny outside” he smiled and walked away. Is this a wind up?


Manchester > Amsterdam

Amsterdam > Beijing

Beijing > Shenzhen

£36 plus taxes = £165

The hotel was booked a month ago using and rewards nights. This had brought the price down from £356 to £256 (including breakfast) for 8 nights and I’d even got £11.52 back using the Top Cashback website and £25.60 loyalty credit from bringing the effective price to £219 or just £27.38 a night.

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