After a little over 6 months in Hong Kong, what China has laid claim to in the form of a Special Administrative Region (SAR), we figured it was actually time to visit the “mainland”. After securing our Chinese visas, we booked our flights on China Southern flying from Shenzhen (just across the Chinese border from Hong Kong) to Guilin, one of the most naturally beautiful places in China. By taking the bus to Shenzhen and then flying to Guilin, we could save a lot of money on the flights. It’s like the Toronto equivalent of driving to Buffalo to fly to the US.
We ignored the fact that China Southern was voted #6 on the list of the world’s 10 worst airlines in 2010 (joining 2 other Chinese Airlines on the list – China Eastern & Air China)….How bad could it be?
We left on Thursday (Friday and Monday are Easter holidays in Hong Kong) to catch the 5:00 pm bus to Shenzhen, thinking that would clearly be enough time to make it for our 8:35 pm flight. After delays leaving Hong Kong and long lines at the border, we were left rushing to make our flight. We literally arrived at the airport at 8:10 pm and starting running to our gate. We made it to security (next to the gate) at 8:15 pm only to find out that our flight had been cancelled. The incoming flight had been diverted and did not land as expected in Shenzhen.
After an hours long wait in line to talk with the airline, we were informed that we would be booked on the next available flight…sounds reasonable. Only one problem, the next available flight was on Saturday night (2 days later) and our return tickets were booked for Monday morning. No other options from the airline: fly standby the next day, book us on another airline, pay for hotel/transportation costs to airport…nothing. Spend one day in Guilin or cancel the whole thing. Thank you China Southern…
We turned around and took the bus back to Hong Kong. It was a very disappointing first visit to China, not to mention a complete waste of the first entry on our double entry visa.
Note: I am back in Hong Kong posting this. Otherwise, you may never read this as it would probably be quickly scrubbed by the internet filters on the mainland!