Delta Skymiles partner China Southern is introducing an Airbus A380 on the Los Angeles – Guangzhou route starting October 12th. They’ve got a new lie-flat business class product, and award availability (per Expertflyer) appears to be wide open.
You can fly to destinations beyond Guangzhou without too much difficulty, as intra-Asian award space tends to be pretty good.
Delta does add fuel surcharges onto China Southern award tickets, but they’re usually pretty modest — under $300 in most cases rather than $500 per ticket (in addition to taxes). And if it gets you business class award space using Delta miles, you’re already way ahead of the game.
Of course, this does require you to find a Delta call center agent that has heard of China Southern, believes that China Southern is a Skyteam member, and knows how to search for award availability. That can, at times, be a reasonable ‘hang up, call back’ sort of challenge.
Update: You can search award availability yourself, even without an Expertflyer account, using the AirFrance.us website. You’ll need to log into your account (or sign up for one), but you do not need any miles in order to search for award travel. The Flying Blue frequent flyer program will show availability online for China Southern seats.
Note further that you can of course combine Delta partners on a single award — so fly for instance Alaska Airlines to Los Angeles and then China Southern to Guangzhou and beyond.