China Southern Airlines (CZ)
China Southern Airlines has emerged as a dominant airline for international travelers in the eastern hemisphere, clocking it as the largest airline in Asia and the fourth largest in the world. Since 2009, it has been rated a four-star airline by SkyTrax (making it the largest air carrier to hold this rating), and became the first mainland Chinese airline to join an air alliance when it became a member of SkyTeam Alliance in 2007. In the United States, China Southern operates out of three major hub airports; Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO) and New York (JFK).
In the past, passengers flying between the US and Kathmandu had a very long layover in Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN), China Southern’s hub airport in the the Guangdong Province of China. Recently, however, the airline has rearranged its flight schedule to cut the layover times to 2-3 hours, eliminating the need for a hotel or a long wait at the airport.
Because the layover is so short, there is a potential for a missed second flight in the event of delays. If your flight is missed, China Southern will provide you with a hotel, but you must go to the airline counter in person to request one; the airline does not allow outside travel agencies, including Zen, to arrange accommodation for you ahead of time. Because China Southern’s staff does not speak fluent English, it can sometimes be difficult to communicate what you need in the event of a delay or cancellation. In addition, as with all airlines, rebooking in the event of a missed flight is under the control of the airline. If it is late at night and nobody is staffing the ticket counter (or if you cannot figure out where to go) please contact us and we will do our best to assist you.
Despite that drawback, China Southern Airlines remains quite popular due to its pricing. Whereas most airlines hike prices during festival and vacation season, China Southern’s rates remain largely consistent throughout the year, and generally less expensive than more luxurious airlines like Qatar or Etihad. If you’re traveling on a limited budget, make sure to check with your Zen travel agent before purchasing tickets, as China Southern occasionally has promotions with much cheaper tickets.
At certain times, especially during festival season, it may be be tempting to purchase non-continuous tickets, meaning that you buy one ticket for your flight from the US to Delhi and another for your flight from Delhi (DEL) to Kathmandu (KTM). While this may seem to save you money, it should be noted that all Nepali passport holders flying to Delhi (DEL) from Guangzhou (CAN) MUST arrange ahead of time for an Indian transit visa, or they will not be allowed to board the plane to Delhi. American passport holders do not need a visa for Delhi, but they will need a visa if they have layovers in two or more Chinese cities, or if they have a layover in Fuzhou (FOC), Shenzhen (SZX), or Yanji (YNJ).
In some cases, the combined cost of the transit visa and tickets may be more expensive than simply purchasing continuous tickets, so be sure to check with your Zen travel agent before purchasing a ticket. In the event that a non-continuous ticket and transit visa are less expensive, Zen will take care of the transit visa and all associated paperwork for you.