|From Urumqi to Bishkek|
After confirming our fly-in and out destinations, the two 'contending' flight carriers for me was China Southern and Emirates*. I've only flown with China Southern once before this trip to China and the flight was delayed so I have not had great experience with them. I have not flown with Emirates before but of course reviews were excellent. Most of my friends urged me to go with Emirates especially when it only involved one transit (but I was later told by the customer service when I rang that the flight I was looking at had 2 transits - a very short one in KL and the other in Dubai).
Anyway after considering that both flights needs two transits and China Southern was much cheaper even after visa cost, I decided to give China Southern another try. There were a few flights options and I opted for a longer transit in Urumqi (approximately 17 hours and 11 hours respectively). Transit in Guangzhou was 4 hours on my way there and 3 hours 15 minutes on return flight.
I have heard of complimentary overnight stay if one transits in Guangzhou and wondered if there is one on offer for a long transit in Urumqi. I found that from China Southern's US-English website, under "free accommodation service" that they do with following criteria.
There are three criteria for the free accommodation service:
1. Travelers transiting from domestic to domestic flights: If a traveler has purchased an overnight China Southern Airlines-connected flight ticket and the transit time is less than 24 hours, China Southern Airlines Transit Services will provide the traveler with free accommodation for one night (each traveler will be provided with one standard room with one bed, checkout by 2:00 PM the following day, no meals included), and will provide a shuttle service between the hotel and the airport.
2. Travelers connecting to international flights: If a traveler has purchased China Southern Airlines-connected flight tickets connecting to an international flight and the transit time is longer than 6 hours, China Southern Airlines Transit Services will provide the traveler with free accommodation for one night (each traveler will be provided with one standard room with one bed, checkout by 2:00 PM the following day, no meals included), and will provide a shuttle service between the hotel and the airport.
3. Accommodation service for travelers that miss connections: This applies if the late arrival of the departure flight taken by the traveler makes it impossible to connect with the original connecting flight (for China Southern Airlines flights connecting to China Southern Airlines flights). If such a situation occurs, China Southern Airlines transfer services in Ürümqi will provide the traveler with free accommodation and free shuttle services between the hotel and the airport.
Notes: Travelers arriving on domestic flights are asked to proceed to the China Southern Airlines transit accommodation desk next to Luggage Carousel No. 4 in the Domestic Arrivals Hall to complete accommodation procedures. Travelers arriving on international flights are asked to proceed to the China Southern Airlines transit desk at the entrance to the International Arrivals Hall to complete accommodation procedures.I fulfilled criteria number 2 and if you read word by word, the free accommodation is only one bed in a standard room meaning I would be sharing the room with a random stranger. One could pay extra to secure the other bed though. I rang the China Southern customer service to confirm the free accommodation. I was assured that a booking had been placed and a bed would be ready for me subject to valid entry requirements (i.e. visa) on my part. However, they were not able to confirm on the hotel beforehand. I applied for a double entry visa to China. I'll write about the hotel in another post ;)
I had a query from a friend on Emirates flight to Central Asia. Thought I'll be clearer, it was Emirates from Melbourne to Dubai, followed by flydubai from Dubai to Bishkek. Flydubai is not an entity owned by Emirates so there is no information of this "connecting" flight. However if you ring up Emirates, they will assist on booking the whole journey.
However if you run a search on flight search engine (e.g. Webjet), the results will show connecting flight via flydubai.
Side note: I got to exercise better self control over food :(