Shenzhen Airlines Launches London Service and Fare Sale

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Chinese airlines are increasingly stepping up with their price competition in the aviation market. They are rigorous with launching new routes and receive a lot of subsidies for new flights. Previously, we have seen insanely cheap fares offered by mainland Chinese carriers between Asia and the western hemisphere.

Shenzhen Airlines logo

Shenzhen Airlines is a Chinese airline based in Shenzhen, Hong Kong’s neighboring city. Its major shareholder is Air China. The airlines have extensive codeshare network and elite flyers receive reciprocal benefits. Shenzhen Airlines is also a member of the Star Alliance. Therefore, you can earn and redeem miles on Shenzhen Airlines with any Star Alliance Frequent Flyer Programme.

Today, Shenzhen Airlines has announced the first long-haul destination of its route network – London. The service will begin from 30th of October 2018 and operates three times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays. With the following schedule:

ZH9067 Departing Shenzhen at 2:10pm arriving in London Heathrow at 7:40pm (247)

ZH9068 Departing London Heathrow at 9:40pm arriving in Shenzhen 5:40pm (+1) (247)

Fare Sale

Shenzhen Airlines is also running an excellent introductory fare sale for the new route. The promotional fares books into the “Economy Value” fare on the right of the page. You do not see the full price until you selected your flights.

Promotional fares book into the “Economy Value” fare bucket

Using Shenzhen Airline’s Hong Kong website, I am finding all-inclusive roundtrip fares as low as 3900HKD (390GBP/440EUR/500USD). The cheapest fares are around November and early December. Prices on OTAs such as Expedia are about 100HKD higher than booking directly with Shenzhen Airlines.

Cheapest fares are found in November, picture shows base fare not inclusive of tax and surcharge

Cheapest Fares are in November, as low as 3900HKD all in

This is more than 20% cheaper than the cheapest non-stop options to London out of Hong Kong. If you book a non-stop from Hong Kong, for example on Virgin Atlantic, you will be booked into the Economy light fares and does not include amenities such as seat selections. However, Shenzhen Airlines offers full service for all of their fare classes.

Non-stop fares from the same dates in November on Google Flights

Fares around Christmas are even more tempting. My dummy search around Christmas is showing fares going as low as 4500HKD (450GBP/500EUR/570USD) during Christmas season. Availability for this price is wide open, even though there are only three flights per week. This is less than half the price if you are to depart from Hong Kong. Non-stop flights from Hong Kong around Christmas are asking for over 9300HKD (930GBP/1040EUR/1180USD) for the same dates.

Christmas dates fare calendar Shenzhen Airlines (pre-tax fare)

Shenzhen Airlines Shenzhen to London 4500HKD all-in round-trip fare around Christmas

Non-stop fares from Hong Kong around Christmas, double the price of Shenzhen Airlines

Business class fares, on the other hand, are less impressive, due to the extremely high surcharge. The fares are comparable to those of connecting itineraries offered by several airlines. Nonetheless, it is much cheaper than Direct flights out of Hong Kong.

Very high surcharge for business class fares, but the price is still compelling

The fares have to be booked by 10th of December. Fares into next year’s schedule are slightly higher than what you can get for flights later this year. Nevertheless, it is worth searching it up for comparison with other carriers.

  Aircraft

  Shenzhen Airlines will be using their new A330-300 to operate this route, their only long-haul aircraft type. All of Shenzhen Airlines’ A330s are orders transferred from Air China, with the first pane delivered only last year. I have not stepped foot onto a Shenzhen Airlines A330-300 before, but I assume the planes have the same configuration as those of Air China’s.

Shenzhen Airlines A330-300, image courtesy Airbus

 

Economy class seats on these planes are in a 2-4-2 configuration. There is generous seat width of 18 inches and a good pitch of up to 32 inches. The economy seats are comparable to Cathay Pacific’s economy product on their B777-300ER, with the seat width half an inch narrower. There is a premium economy cabin as well, but only offers slightly more legroom and better food onboard.

 

Shenzhen Airlines A330-300 Economy Class, image courtesy Twitter @StarAlliance

 

Business class is in a 2-2-2 configuration, with 30 forward facing flatbeds spanning five rows. This is similar to what Air China offers on all their aircraft except the A350 (with reverse herringbone seats).

Shenzhen Airlines/Air China A330-300 Seat specifications (SeatGuru)

 

Getting to Shenzhen airport

Getting to Shenzhen Airport is quite simple from Hong Kong. From the city, you can take a cross-border bus via Shenzhen Bay port, and it takes less than 90minutes to get to Shenzhen Airport without immigration delays at Shenzhen Bay. I usually take the Trans-Island bus service, they offer hourly service from almost all around Hong Kong.

The new high-speed rail connection between Hong Kong and Shenzhen is opening in September. Therefore, you can also take a half an hour high-speed rail to Shenzhen Futian station and connect to a 45-minute metro ride on line 11 to Shenzhen Airport. This link brings you to an interactive map of Shenzhen metro.

Partial map of Shenzhen Metro Service

If you happen to travel from Hong Kong International Airport, there is also ferry service on top of the coach and limousine services. Ferry services can save your hustle crossing a busy land border.

This is as good as non-stop fares to London can go, considering the atrocious amount of UK Air Passenger Duty is. I have personally booked tickets for family members through this promotional fare. Take note that since Shenzhen Airlines are a star alliance airline, you can credit the flights to any Star Alliance Frequent Flyer Programme to earn miles as well.

Conclusion

This is as good as non-stop fares to London can go, considering the atrocious amount of UK Air Passenger Duty is. I have personally booked tickets for family members through this promotional fare. Take note that since Shenzhen Airlines are a star alliance airline, you can credit the flights to any Star Alliance Frequent Flyer Programme to earn miles as well.

There are connecting flights originating from Hong Kong offering at a slightly higher price compared to Shenzhen Airline’s sale. However, I find connections to be a nuisance for the most part. Departing from Shenzhen, in my opinion, is much better than transiting at another airport.

Overall, this is an excellent deal for economy class passengers looking for a different option to get to London from Hong Kong and the surrounding cities. The aircraft is brand new, the seats are competitive and the fares are cheap. The only issue is that there are only three flights per week. Nonetheless, I believe this fare worth a shot.

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