China Southern Airlines Inflight Duty Free
Asia’s largest carrier China Southern Airlines takes a no-nonsense approach to its inflight duty-free shopping business.
The twice-yearly ‘Shop In-Flight DutyFree’ magazine may not be the most stylish or readable inflight publication out there, but it does boast an excellent range of luxury brands. This is especially true of skincare and cosmetics.
The magazine is written in both Chinese and English, but the product prices are only marked in Chinese Renminbi. If you are short of local currency, don’t despair, however. China Southern accepts a range of international currencies and most major international credit cards such as Master Card and Visa. Should you decide to pay with plastic, remember the airline’s credit card spending limit is $400 (£260).
China Southern also offers its passengers the convenience of an online pre-order service. Find it at http://www.csairdutyfree.com/en_index.html. Online orders have to be made 48 hours before you fly. The site itself is pretty easy to navigate and straightforward even if the English version does contain some rather odd-sounding translations!
Alternatively, passengers without web access can pre-order on the phone (call 4001-000-019). Once again orders have to be made at least two days before your flight departure. Note also that this telephone service is only available Monday to Friday during working hours (08.30-17.00).
Skincare and cosmetics dominate China Southern’s duty-free magazine. High-end European skincare brands such as La Mer and La Prairie go up against best-selling Asian skincare names such as Shisheido and She Uemura. One listing, which appears unusual for an Asian airline, is Kiehl’s: a trendy New York-based brand packaged in apothecary-style bottles.
Kiehl’s prides itself on the use of natural, plant-based ingredients, and in many cases, the absence of alcohol. A good example is Kiehl’s Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol Free Toner (RMB265/£28), which claims to be able soothe and cleanse oily skin types without the use of alcohol or harsh synthetic drying agents.
On to the fragrance pages, and we like the fact that beauty houses are now increasingly offering travellers gift packs containing a selection of mini-fragrances suitable for wearing different occasions. They make great gifts. They also take the stress out of spending a lot of money on one fragrance, which you could easily get bored with after a few months.
Two examples listed onboard China Southern are, firstly, the RMB315 (£33) Best of Lancôme Coffret, which contains the best-selling fragrances Tresor, HypnOse, Poême and Tresor in Love, and secondly for men, a Giorgio Armani fragrance set for RMB360 (£38). Inspired by the designer’s love of books, the pack contains five fragrances – Giorgio Armani, Emporio Diamonds, Acqua di Gio, Armani and Code Men – packaged to look like little books.
Specifically Chinese gifts and souvenirs are rather thin on the ground in China Southern’s duty-free catalogue. The only product to fit the bill here is the attractive Wang de Chuan Oolong Tea Set (RMB350£36.50), which contains four different classic Chinese teas from around the country.
In contrast, the airline’s watch selection is extensive. Brands stocked include Frederique Constant, Emporio Armani, Arbutus, Police Cerrutti 1881, Escada, Levi’s and Aigner to name but a few. However, the assortment of travel gadgets carried is much narrower. It only extends to some mini Lifetrons MP3 speakers, a world USB charger, and a couple of travel adaptors.
The limited onboard liquor selection concentrates on super-premium Chinese spirits such as Moutai, Shui Jing Fang and Wuliangye, which aren’t well known outside of Asia. Fancy Cognacs abound. For instance, Rémy Martin XO is listed, priced at RMB1,950 (£204), while Camus XO Elegance is a much cheaper RMB855 (£89.50). The Scotch whiskies listed such as Chivas Regal 12 Year Old (RMB235/£24.50) and Johnnie Walker Black Label (RMB235/£24.50) are less pricey, but not very exciting.
By Western standards duty-free tobacco prices onboard China Southern are very cheap. A 200-stick carton of Marlboro Gold is just RMB120 (£12.50), for instance, while. State Express 555 Mandarin will cost you RMB165 (£17). If cigars are more your thing, look out for the pack of six Davidoff Primeros cigars, which are priced onboard at a very reasonable RMB270 (£28).
To recap: China Southern’s duty-free offer is naturally targeted at its massive Chinese customer base. However, travellers from other nationalities will find lots to interest them because of the high number of international brands carried. The selection of skincare and cosmetics is particularly first-rate.
• Online and telephone pre-order service available
• Product selection available to browse online
• Excellent range of cosmetics, skincare and watches
• Limited range of travel gadgets and toys
• Not enough Chinese gifts and souvenirs