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The Definitive Guide to China Southern’s Direct Routes from the U.S. [Plane Types & Seat Options]

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Stephen Au

Stephen Au

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China Southern is known as one of the “Big Three” when it comes to Chinese airlines (along with Air China and China Eastern Airlines). They’re also known for being the only Chinese airline that operates the beloved and recently discontinued A380.

Importantly, China Southern connects the city of Guangzhou in the Guangdong province to the rest of the world. As one of the premier cities in China and one of the fastest growing cities in the world, the economic powerhouse of Guangzhou sees a lot of business and passenger travel to/from the United States.

In this guide, we’ll detail the routes that China Southern operates to/from the United States. We’ve also written about the best ways to fly to mainland China if you’re looking for additional options.

Update: Due to COVID-19, China Southern may temporarily suspend routes, frequencies, and/or aircraft flown. Please check with the airline directly for the most current information.

Seat Options by Aircraft Type

China Southern’s relatively small route network to/from the United States isn’t the best representation of the sixth-largest commercial airline in the world, but it’s worth discussing.

This airline pretty much only operates flights to/from regions where there are large numbers of Chinese people. These cities and the routes operated are shown in the table below:

RouteFlight No.AircraftCabin ClassesFrequency
Los Angeles (LAX) – Guangzhou (CAN)CZ 328A380First, Business, EconomyDaily
New York City (JFK) – Guangzhou (CAN)CZ 600/300777-300ERFirst, Business, Premium Economy, EconomyCZ 600: 3x weekly

CZ 300: Daily

San Francisco (SFO) – Guangzhou (CAN)CZ 658777-300ERFirst, Business, Premium Economy, Economy4x weekly

Best Points to Earn to Fly China Southern

The best points to earn to fly China Southern will depend on what cabin you want to fly in. China Southern is a SkyTeam airline, and their only other non-alliance partner is Sichuan Airlines (which doesn’t have a practical mileage system to accrue).

If you want to fly in first class, you don’t have any solid options. Korean Air SKYPASS has suspended first class awards on China Southern since 2017, with the exception of domestic Chinese flights — so you can’t redeem points and awards for China Southern first class.

Hot Tip: Note that Korean Air will still display China Southern award availability on the award search, so don’t be misled by this!

If flying business class, you can utilize Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Delta SkyMiles, or Korean Air SKYPASS.

Here are the transfer partners you can use:

Hot Tip: You can also check out these ways to earn China Southern’s own Sky Pearl Miles.

China Southern First Class Options

China Southern A380 first class. Image courtesy of

Although China Southern is nearly impossible to book in first class with points and miles, we should still discuss what is one of the best first class hard products in the sky.

China Southern first class can best be summarized with one word: space. These first class suites, particularly on the A380, are some of the biggest in the business.

Even though China Southern’s first class hard product is excellent, you can expect a depressing ground experience, decent food, bad beverages. However, it may be worth it for one of the most comfortable sleep experiences you’ll ever get on a plane due to the huge space you’ll have.

If you’re able to overlook the ground experience and mediocre catering in return for a great hard product, let’s get talking about first class. Here’s our ranking of the aircraft offerings:

  1. A380
  2. 777-300ER

1. China Southern A380 First Class

China Southern’s A380 first class suites are enclosed with sliding doors and are ridiculously huge. The seats are 26″ wide and 83″ in pitch/bed mode. There are only 8 first class seats over 2 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.

The suites are truly big enough to fit almost anybody comfortably (with plenty of room left over).

Here’s the seat map:

China Southern A380 first class seat map. Image courtesy of

The lavatory is located on the right side at the front of the first class cabin. Row 1 will generally see the most foot traffic, so picking row 2 seats is the best move in China Southern’s A380 first class.

You’ll find this first class suite product on this route:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Guangzhou (CAN)

2. China Southern 777-300ER First Class

These first class suites are somewhat similar to the A380, with a smaller first class cabin (only 4 first class suites!). This is to be expected, however, since the A380 is a much larger aircraft compared to the 777-300ER.

The seats are the same width at 26″, but a smaller pitch drops the 777-300ER to second place. Whereas first class suites on the A380 are 83″ long in pitch and bed mode, suites on the 777-300ER are only 78″ long in pitch and bed mode.

The seat map on the 777-300ER looks like this:

China Southern 777-300ER first class seat map. Image courtesy of

Couples traveling together will enjoy the privacy of 1D and 1G while still being able to have a conversation with one another. Solo travelers may want to reserve 1A or 1K due to the great views through the 4 windows for each first class suite.

You’ll find the 777-300ER on these routes:

  • New York City (JFK) – Guangzhou (CAN)
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Guangzhou (CAN)

China Southern Business Class Options

China Southern 777-300ER business class. Image courtesy of

China Southern employs a staggered configuration for their business class product. The main benefit is the additional footwell size when compared to a reverse herringbone seat. But the main sacrifice of a staggered business class seat is a lack of privacy.

Our business class ranking of the available aircraft is opposite the first class rankings:

  1. 777-300ER
  2. A380

1. China Southern 777-300ER Business Class

China Southern’s 777-300ER business class features fully lie-flat seats in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration with a total of 34 seats.

Each of these seats is 26″ wide and 74″ in pitch. Here’s what the seat map looks like:

China Southern 777-300ER business class seat map. Image courtesy of

As you can see, the business class cabin on the 777-300ER is split up into 2 mini-cabins. The stern cabin consists only of 10 seats, while the aft section has 24 seats. Lavatories and galleys are situated between the 2 mini-cabins.

Because of this configuration, you should do everything you can to reserve seats in rows 11 or 12. If you want to sit close to your traveling companion, seats 11E and 11F are great! These are called honeymoon seats — the distance between them is virtually zero.

For solo travelers, the best seats are 12C and 12H, which are very private. Not only are those seats located at the front mini-cabin section, but they’re also true window seats, separated from the aisle by a large seat table.

You can find China Southern operating the 777-300ER on the following U.S. routes:

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Guangzhou (CAN)
  • New York City (JFK) – Guangzhou (CAN)

2. China Southern A380 Business Class

China Southern’s A380 falls behind the 777-300ER in business class for 2 main reasons:

  1. Huge cabin size
  2. Smaller seats

Business class on the A380 takes up around two-thirds of the upper deck — it’s massive, with 70 business class seats in total. These seats are arranged in the same staggered 1-2-1 configuration as the 777-300ER, alternating between aisle and window/center seats.

Hot Tip: Because of the huge business class cabin, you can find 1-stop connecting flights to Asia via Guangzhou (CAN) on China Eastern for extremely good prices (~$2,500 round-trip).

However, business class seats on the A380 are smaller than those on the 777-300ER. This is because the upper deck width is slightly smaller than the lower deck from an engineering standpoint.

Each of the 70 lie-flat seats features direct-aisle access, and is 24″ wide and 77″ in pitch/bed mode. Here’s what the seat map looks like:

China Southern A380 business class seat map. Image courtesy of

Avoid row 29, as it is uncomfortably close to the lavatories. Instead, opt for seats in row 13 or 15: solo travelers should reserve window seats, while couples may enjoy the middle seats together.

You can find this business class cabin on China Southern’s A380, which is flown on a single route:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Guangzhou (CAN)

Hot Tip: For more information, check out our guide on the best ways to book China Southern business class with points.

China Southern Premium Economy Class Options

China Southern 777-300ER premium economy. Image courtesy of

Surprisingly, China Southern doesn’t operate a premium economy cabin on the A380, though they do offer premium economy seats on the 777-300ER.

China Southern 777-300ER Premium Economy Class

There are 44 premium economy seats in a 2-4-2 configuration on the 777-300ER. Each of these seats is 18.5″ wide and 38″ in pitch. These seats are actually a tad narrower than the industry average, which is 19″ wide and 38″ in pitch.

Here’s the exact premium economy layout:

China Southern 777-300ER premium economy class seat map. Image courtesy of

Since the lavatories are located aft of the premium economy section, the best seats will be in row 31. If you can, try reserving side seats 31A/C or 31H/K for maximum privacy with your traveling companion. 

Because it’s the only premium economy option, you’ll find this seat map and configuration on the following 777-300ER routes:

  • New York City (JFK) – Guangzhou (CAN)
  • San Francisco (SFO) – Guangzhou (CAN)

China Southern Economy Class Options

China Southern A380 economy. Image courtesy of

China Southern has some of the most competitive economy class fares to Asia in the entire industry. Although all of these low-cost tickets typically involve transiting through Guangzhou’s Baiyun Airport (CAN), it can be worth it to save several hundred dollars.

Here’s our ranking of your options:

  1. A380
  2. 777-300ER

1. China Southern A380 Economy Class

Our economy class winner is the A380, which has a lot of preferential seats and the best seat size. China Southern has a whopping 428 economy class seats on the A380. This “very large aircraft” arranges its seats in a 3-4-3 configuration on the lower deck and a 2-4-2 configuration on the upper deck, which is par for the course on an A380.

Hot Tip: A very large aircraft, or VLA, is defined in aviation terms as an aircraft that can transport 400 passengers or more. 

On China Southern’s A380, economy seats are each 17.2″ wide and 32″ in pitch — a bit narrower than the industry average of 18″ wide. Still, the low ticket prices might make this a worthwhile decision for you.

Here’s what the seat map looks like for the upper and lower decks, respectively:

China Southern A380 economy class seat map upper deck. Image courtesy of

China Southern A380 economy class seat map lower deck. Image courtesy of

As we alluded to, there are a lot of preferential seats in economy on the A380. These are in 31A, 31C, 31H, 31K, 32A, 32K, row 60, row 70, and row 49.

Given a choice, the top seat rankings would probably be as follows:

  1. 32A, K
  2. 31A/C/H/K
  3. Row 70
  4. Row 60
  5. Row 49

You can find these A380 economy seats on the following route:

  • Los Angeles (LAX) – Guangzhou (CAN)

2. China Southern 777-300ER Economy Class

The 777-300ER has an economy class cabin nearly half the size of the A380’s economy class. There are 227 seats arranged in a 3-3-3 configuration, each 17.2″ wide and 31″-33″ in pitch. Here’s the seat map:

China Southern 777-300ER economy class seat map. Image courtesy of

On the surface, it may seem like the China Southern 777-300ER has a more favorable economy class product due to the smaller cabin size — but you’ll find very few preferential seats on the 777-300ER.

If you’re on this aircraft, you can try to reserve row 51 seats for extra legroom from the exit row. But try to avoid 51A and 51K due to the protrusion of the exit row door. Other OK  options would be seats in row 37 at the very front of the economy section.

You can find these economy seats on China Southern’s 777-300ER, which is flown on these routes:

  • San Francisco (SFO) – Guangzhou (CAN)
  • New York City (JFK) – Guangzhou (CAN)

Final Thoughts

Although China Southern doesn’t have a practical way of booking their huge first class suites, it’s still worthwhile to discuss the seat and route options. China Southern’s business class product is solid, and if you want to save your points and miles, they sell ridiculously cheap cash fares.

All in all, your route options on China Southern aren’t plentiful, but each of them is worth considering. The China Southern A380 has the best first class suites and economy class seats, while the 777-300ER wins out in business and premium economy class.

Now, you have a great idea of how to navigate China Southern’s route options!

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the best way to book China Southern first class?

There’s no good way to book China Southern first class awards anymore, after the removal of Korean Air SKYPASS. The only way you can book China Southern first class is on domestic flights using Korean Air SKYPASS.

What's the best way to book China Southern business class?

You can spend 85,000 Delta SkyMiles or 115,000 Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles for one-way business class flights on China Southern.

If you’re open to round-trip bookings only, Korean Air SKYPASS offers the best rates at 155,000 miles round-trip between the United States and China. Remember, however, that the only Korean Air transfer partner is Marriott Bonvoy.

Additionally, Aeromexico Club Premier has a round-the-world itinerary that you can utilize, and include China Southern business class.

What are the best ways to book China Southern premium economy class?

Premium economy awards for long-haul international flights are to book with points and awards. Currently, one of the only options to book premium economy is with Air France/KLM Flying Blue. At the moment, prices are 68,000 Flying Blue miles one-way, and double the price round-trip for the routes listed in the guide to Guangzhou (CAN).

What's the best way to book China Southern economy class?

The best way to book is with Air France/KLM Flying Blue miles. They only charge 34,500 miles one-way in economy, and they’re transfer partners with virtually all transferable currencies.

Another option is Delta SkyMiles, which is ever-so slightly more expensive at 35,000 miles one-way.

Other options include Korean Air SKYPASS, which charges 90,000 miles for round-trip economy, or Alitalia MilleMiglia, which charges 60,000 miles one-way. Aeromexico charges 120,000 miles round-trip during off-season.

About Stephen Au

Stephen is an established voice in the credit card space, with over 70 to his name. His work has been in publications like The Washington Post, and his Au Points and Awards Consulting Services is used by hundreds of clients.


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