A quick look at China Southern A330-300 economy (if you dare to see it)

A quick look at China Southern A330-300 economy (if you dare to see it)

From my US-centric perspective, flying in and around China is a little different than flying domestically here at home. One of the best ways to explain these differences is to show you what it’s like to fly China Southern A330-300 economy class from Hong Kong to Beijing (Daxing).

Whether or not it’s technically (politically) correct to call HKG-PKX a “domestic” flight is irrelevant. Call it a regional flight if you must. What is relevant are the free (and rather substantial) meals. The colorful seats. The friendly – yet structured – cabin service.

It’s pretty good. A little quirky. Probably even a better than economy class in the US. At least a little.

Hong Kong (HKG) – Beijing (PKX)
Sunday, December 17, 2023
Aircraft: A330-343
Registration: B-300V
Duration: 2 hours 40 minutes
Seat: 51A (Economy)

China Southern A330-300 (B-300V) side view
China Southern A330-300 (B-300V) side view illustration by NorebboStock.com.
cz310 flight track
The route from Hong Kong to Beijing today as CZ310.

The China Southern A330-300 economy experience from Hong Kong to Beijing (PKX)

Quick note: what you’re about to read is a really quick overview (as opposed to one of my typical full length airline reviews). My friend Yuxuan was the one who took this flight. She also took all the pics. All the commentary is mine (based on what she told me about the experience).

Think of it as a tag team approach to reviewing one of China’s most common domestic / regional economy products. 

Arrival at the Hong Kong International Airport

There’s no other airport in the world quite like HKG. If the wide variety of airlines flowing in and out of it every day doesn’t impress you, the architecture surely will. Unless you’re the kind of person who complains about everything. If that’s you, there’s nothing from this point forward worth looking at.

Hong Kong international Airport departures hall
Welcome to Terminal 1 at HKG! Who cares if you can’t find the China Southern Airlines check-in counters? The simple act of being in the greatest airport in the world will (probably) cancel out any negativity you may feel brewing inside of you.

China Southern Airlines uses Terminal 1 at HKG. The location of the check-in counters changes on a regular basis, so do be sure to check the overhead monitors to find out which pier to walk towards.

China Southern Airlines economy class check in HKG
You can learn a lot by taking a quick peek at the ticket counter before your flight. Not only does it appear as if this flight up to Beijing is going to be fairly full this afternoon, nobody seems to be all that concerned about flying to a destination clocking in at what feels like 20° below zero.
Hong Kong international Airport departures board
A quick look at the afternoon departures out of HKG. If these two women are anything like me, they’re waiting (patiently) for the departures board to switch to English. #beentheredonethat
Inside terminal 1 Hong Kong international airport
How Yuxuan managed to take pics of the inside of Terminal 1 with hardly any people in it, I have no idea. I’ve never seen it so empty.
Hong Kong airport terminal 1 seating areas
Honestly, it won’t be a big deal that lounge access isn’t included with your China Southern economy ticket here at HKG. The open seating areas look awfully damn loungy to me. You’ll have to supply your own food though.
China Southern A330-300 Hong Kong airport
Japan vs. China. This 8 year-old China Southern A330-343 (B-300V) will be operating as flight number 310 up to Daxing Airport this afternoon. That All Nippon Airways 787 though? Be sure to read my ANA 787-8 economy review if you’re curious to see what the competition is like.

The boarding process for CZ310 to Beijing (Daxing)

Gate 68 was the departure point for this 2 hour and 40 minute flight up to China’s capital city. Boarding started 36 minutes late, which, according to the Flighty app, only happens 7% of the time. This flight goes out early nearly 85% of the time. 

Gate 68 terminal 1 Hong Kong airport
“Oh look, there’s nobody here at the gate yet! This is too freaking easy…”
Boarding queue for china southern airlines flight in Hong Kong
Meanwhile, back at the end of the boarding queue…
China Southern HKG-PKX economy class boarding pass
While we wait, this is as good of a time as ever to take a look at her boarding pass I guess.
China Southern A330-300 B-300V
Slowly inching down the jet bridge to the plane. Dat a**!

The seats

If there’s one thing to love about China Southern economy class, it’s the courage of their brand team. Turquoise blue seats? Why the f**k not.

China Southern A330-300 economy class seats
Bad news: it’s an awfully tight 2-4-2 layout here in economy class. Good news: the only thing on your mind will be how vividly blue (and awesome) the seats are.
China Southern A330-300 economy class seat headrests
Don’t even worry if you can’t read Chinese. Unless the text on these headrest coverings is the meaning of life, it probably isn’t all that important anyway.
China Southern A330-300 economy class misaligned window
Nevermind the misaligned window either! When the seats are this blue (and the meaning of life is – maybe – right there in front of your face), you don’t really have anything to complain about IMHO.

There are 197 economy seats on the China Southern A330-300. Yes, it’s a fairly dense configuration, but typical of what you’ll find in regional economy class across Asia.

China Southern A330-300 economy class seat pitch
32″ of seat pitch ain’t nothing to scoff at. Those of you who can’t help but to scoff should maybe consider business class instead.

Thing that strikes me the most when looking at these pics is how similar it seems to my China Southern A321 economy experience a few years ago. Other than the video screens in the seatback headrests, pretty much everything is the same. It’s always nice to see consistency from one aircraft to the next across an entire fleet.

China Southern A330-300 economy class QR code in flight information
Blah blah blah. Scanning the QR code takes me to the China Southern Airlines website, where I assume (if I could read Chinese) I’d be able to see information about the flight. Maybe the meaning of life too. Mental note: learn Chinese.

The departure out of Hong Kong

Overcast skies seem to be a permanent thing in Hong Kong, but no matter. There’s always interesting things to look at on the way out, and this particular day was no different. If you’re just dying to know, the departure happened exactly 46 minutes behind schedule. Ouch.

China Southern A330-300 economy class safety video
Buckle up! You know s**t is about to get real when the safety video has English subtitles.
Taxiing to runway Hong Kong airport
This is what it looks like when sh*t gets real at HKG. Check out the size difference between that 777-300ER and the baby business jet!
Departing Hong Kong in a China Southern A330-300
See? That lady wasn’t kidding when she welcomed us to fly. Hong Kong departures never disappoint.

In-flight entertainment

Video entertainment on China Southern Airlines will probably be one of the most interesting things about the entire experience for foreigners. A large chunk of the content is Chinese (or Asia specific), so it’ll be a pretty good way to get immersed into the culture whether you like it or not.

China Southern A330-300 economy in-flight entertainment menu
That’s a fairly decent looking catalog of in-flight entertainment, isn’t it? As you can see, they do offer an English version of the user interface. But what fun is that? IMHO, you haven’t truly lived until you’ve pecked at complex menus in a language you don’t understand.

Yes! Wi-Fi is available as well – for a fee. Tread carefully though. “They” will be watching your every move, so it’ll probably be a good idea to avoid controversial websites or kinky message boards. Save that sh*t until you get home.

China Southern A330-300 economy in-flight wi-Fi
Wi-Fi anyone? “Passengers wishing to visit the Internet need to have their names verified as per the relevant laws and regulations of China.” *gulp*

The food

I love the fact that they provided a full meal service in economy class on a relatively short 2 1/2 hour flight. Was it the best looking economy class food I’ve ever seen? Nope, but it it certainly looks edible. As a matter of fact, I would say that this looked just as good (if not better) than the food I was served in Sichuan Airlines 330-200 economy class once.

China Southern A330-300 economy tray table
Folding tray tables! As you’re about to see, it’s a good thing that these things fully unfold.
China Southern A330-300 economy class in flight meal
There it is. The in-flight meal makes it clear why China is dominating the US at the moment. Hot food on a 2 1/2 hour flight?? United, Delta, and American can suck it.

The fact that Yuxuan is still alive (and I assume reasonably healthy) should tell you everything you need to know about the quality of that meal. I especially like the fact that it consisted of more than one tray. I don’t think we’ve seen that here in the US since the 1960s.

Cabin comfort (and ambience)

As typical with most Asian airlines, the cabin was noticeably warm for the duration of the flight. It’s probably a good idea to dress in layers.

Also noteworthy is the fact that the cabin crew was very attentive nearly the entire way to Beijing. Waiting on a drink refill never was never long – which is pretty much opposite of what my China Southern economy experience was like.

The descent and arrival into Beijing

The cabin crew began preparing for landing about 40 minutes out, which is typically sooner than it is on most western airlines. It’s just the way they do it in China I guess.

China Southern A330-300 descending into Beijing at sunset
I wasn’t even there, and this pic of the frigid descent into Beijing is making my teeth chatter. That looks a little chilly.

Good news: despite the late departure, this flight arrived into PKX 19 minutes early. Bad news: the temperature was beyond deadly. It gets cold in Beijing! Especially in late December. Yuxuan was also kind enough to record a video of the final approach and landing:

Arrival at snowy Daxing airport in Beijing
Unfortunately, there was no one left alive at the airport to appreciate the early arrival. Beijing winters are that brutal.
Daxing airport in Beijing
But wait – there’s more! It wouldn’t be a complete HKG-PKX review without showing you how awesome the Beijing / Daxing airport is. I don’t care where in the world you’re reading this from – PKX is better than your airport.
Daxing airport interior pics
Even if you absolutely hated your China Southern A330-300 economy experience, arriving at Daxing Airport will be a sure fire way to turn a frown upside down. I like this. A lot.

Pros and cons of the China Southern A330-300 economy class experience

Other than the sketchy a** Wi-Fi thing, China Southern offers a really nice domestic / regional economy class product. If there’s anything to be learned from this quick overview, it’s that you probably shouldn’t go out of your way to avoid it. Unless you want to fly business class. In that case, Air China A330-200 regional business class is where it’s at.


  • Although legroom is similar to smaller aircraft types, flying on the A330-300 will feel more spacious in economy class. The higher ceilings and wider cabin makes a huge difference.
  • Free meals! As long as you’re not a total food snob, it’s a nice perk indeed.
  • The in-flight entertainment looks excellent. Westerners probably won’t recognize half of what’s in the catalog, but that’s what makes it fun.


  1. Ain’t no way I’d connect to that Wi-Fi service. I mean, just think what they’d do to me if they found out what I’m about to say about the seating configuration…
  2. It’s a very dense seating configuration. Neanderthal-esque foreigners (such as myself) will probably feel a bit pinched.

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