China Southern Airlines

A pilot speaks to its passengers
What do you mean, “this ain’t gonna fly”?

English is hard and doesn’t always make sense; it’s incredibly easy to make mistakes, especially for non-native speakers. That’s totally fine. What I don’t get is how deep-pocketed corporations like China Southern Airlines can have websites and safety videos that are clearly full of mistakes.

Let’s start with China Southern Airlines’s website. Or maybe I should say websites, because there seem to be multiple versions under the domain:

  1. The original, mainland Chinese version, which looks like a typical East Asian website. This is the version you’re redirected to if you go to and have not visited any of their localised versions yet.
  2. An international version. It looks a wee bit outdated, but is reasonably functional otherwise. You might end up here if you select a different country and language in the country picker.
  3. A slightly worse-looking version with a completely different layout. You can end up here via that same country picker.
  4. The translated version of their main website. This is the version with the highest organic ranking in my Google search engine result pages, which is really, really bad because the website looks really, really bad.

    The first thing you’ll notice is that all text is displayed using a serif fallback font, because whoever worked on the CSS only bothered to include Chinese fonts in the list of font-familys;

    Then there’s the text itself, which is an absolute train wreckCan you spot all the errors?:

Screenshot of China Southern Airlines’ website
A screenshot of in April 2019. The content and design haven’t improved much since then.

China Southern’s safety videos aren’t half as bad, but don’t seem to have been checked by a native speaker either:

China Southern Airlines safety video

The captain welcomes his passengers around 0:10; first in Mandarin, then in English. The English version of his greeting was clearly dubbed in afterwards by a professional native speaker, but I can live with that.

After that it’s the turn of the flight attendant to provide the actual safety instructions (0:33). Her Mandarin sentences sound elegant and effortless, but the poor lady is clearly struggling with the English onesAt least her voice-overs were intelligible enough to be used in the video – I wonder how bad the pilot’s English was…. It’s cringy enough that it actually becomes distracting.

Throughout the flight Please turned off the following electronic devices

Seriously, who approved this?