Introduction: Flying Halfway Around The World For Half A Day
Review: China Airlines Business Class 777-300ER Los Angeles To Taipei
Review: China Airlines Lounge Taipei
Review: China Airlines Business Class A330 Taipei To Singapore
Review: Singapore Changi Airport Transit Hotel
Review: British Airways Lounge Singapore
Review: SATS Premier Lounge Singapore
Review: Japan Airlines Business Class 767 Singapore To Tokyo
Review: Royal Park Hotel Tokyo Haneda Airport
Review: Japan Airlines First Class Lounge Tokyo Haneda
Review: Japan Airlines Business Class 777 Tokyo To San Francisco
I arrived at LAX at around 10PM for my 12:05AM flight to Taipei. While the rest of the airport is pretty quiet at 10PM, Tom Bradley International Airport is bustling at that hour.
That’s not surprising, given how many late night flights depart from the terminal, in particular to Asia.
While the economy queue at China Airlines check-in was long, there was no one in the business class line, so I was checked in within minutes.
As you’d expect, security was as much of a zoo as the rest of the terminal. Fortunately there’s a premium security line. The process still took about 20 minutes, but that was much better than for other passengers, as I imagine the regular line took at least twice as long.
Fortunately Tom Bradley International Terminal is gorgeous once you’re past security.
China Airlines uses the Korean Air Lounge at LAX, which was also a zoo (noticing a pattern here?). There was barely an empty seat. I won’t be reviewing it this time around, because I’ve reviewed the Korean Air Lounge before.
Boarding was scheduled to start at 11:25PM, so I decided to head to gate 132 at 11:10PM (after all, I make every effort to be the first person on the plane).
Much to my surprise, there was no plane, though.
There were 14 flight attendants and four pilots standing around the gate. The first thing I noticed about them were their uniforms, which really stand out, and almost look like they’re out of Star Trek. Here’s a video where they’re debuting the uniforms:
At around 11:20PM the plane was finally towed to the gate.
The ground crew was pretty bad at keeping people updated about the delay, though at 11:50PM they rather abruptly announced that they’d start boarding, beginning with business class.
China Airlines 9
Los Angeles (LAX) – Taipei (TPE)
Wednesday, June 22
Arrive: 5:00AM (+1 day)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 23K (Business Class)
I boarded through the forward door, where I was greeted by the cabin manager and directed to the far aisle, where my seat was located.
China Airlines’ 777 business class consists of reverse herringbone seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration. There were a total of 40 seats, spread across 10 rows.
The forward cabin had a total of 24 seats, spread across six rows.
Meanwhile the rear cabin had a total of 16 seats, spread across four rows.
I had selected seat 23K, which is the last seat in business class on the right side of the plane (in a previous post I explained why I always like sitting in the last row of the cabin).
Reverse herringbone seats are pretty common nowadays, and China Airlines has the same type of seat that’s found on Air Canada, Qatar Airways, etc. However, I thought the finishes were especially gorgeous, possibly my favorite of any business class seat I’ve seen.
I was impressed by how much “counter space” there was in this configuration, as there must have been an area about a foot wide where I could store things during the flight.
In this version of reverse herringbone seats, the tray table slides out from underneath the TV, so it’s quite easy to use.
As I said above, I just loved the finishes in this cabin, including the tray table. The light faux-wood was a very nice contrast to the otherwise dark cabin.
Speaking of the big “counter space,” it consisted of two separate compartments that opened.
The right compartment was just a flat storage area, where you could place an iPad, book, glasses, etc.
The left compartment had the entertainment controls, headphone jack, two USB outlets, and a 110v outlet. This area can also be used to store bulkier things, as it’s quite deep.
Below this area and on the right side of the seat was a monitor with the seat controls, which were easy to use.
There was plenty of legroom, including a large footrest. Even though I have big feet, I had plenty of room for my feet while in bed mode.
Then on the right side and to the bottom of the seat was another storage area.
As if there wasn’t enough storage already, the aisle-side armrest had even more storage. The armrest has to be placed in the “down” position for takeoff, but otherwise can be lifted during the flight. I was so impressed by the amount of storage this seat had.
Waiting in the aisle-side storage compartment was a bottle of Evian water and an amenity kit.
The amenity kit was in a fold-over pouch with an elastic band, which I found to be a bit of an odd design.
The amenity kit featured a toothbrush and toothpaste, a brush, eyeshades, and some ACCA KAPPA amenities.
These included lip balm, body lotion, and face moisturizer.
Also waiting at my seat were a pillow and blanket. The blanket was fairly light, which worked out well, since most Asian airlines tend to keep cabins pretty warm. The pillow was a bit flat for my liking, though fortunately the cabin was pretty empty, so I was able to snag an extra pillow.
There were also some comfy and fairly sturdy slippers waiting at my seat.
Lastly, there were also headphones waiting at my seat. They were fine, though I ended up using my Bose headphones instead.
Moments after I settled in, one of the flight attendants came by to offer me a newspaper — I selected the Los Angeles Times.
She came back moments later to offer me either water or orange juice (there was no choice of champagne). I selected the orange juice, and was offered some snack mix to accompany it.
Moments later she brought me a hot towel.
Boarding was pretty efficient, and I found it interesting that just about everyone boarding the plane seemed to be impressed by the cabin. That’s often the case when you’re in business class and people are walking past you, but I don’t remember the last time I’ve heard so many people say “WOW THIS IS THE NICEST FIRST CLASS EVER.”
As boarding finished up the flight attendant working my aisle came by to offer me the menu and wine list for the flight. China Airlines is a bit odd, in that they present you with a menu, but then come back five minutes later to take your order, and collect the menu once again. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like on a longhaul flight it’s helpful to hang onto the menu so you know what you’re eating, and can take a look at the beverage list anytime.
Fortunately I knew in advance that they collect menus quickly, so I snapped pictures during that short time.
Boarding was complete within 20 minutes of when it started — economy was completely full, premium economy mostly full, and business class about two thirds full. Fortunately I was in the most isolated part of the cabin, as there was no one else seated on the right side of the plane in the rear business class cabin, so I was the only passenger in the eight seats by my aisle.
At 12:25AM the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, which was brief. He informed us that our flight time was 13hr10min, and explained that due to heavy volume the luggage transportation system at LAX was broken, and that it would cause a delay. He said he’d update us when he knew more.
Even though boarding was otherwise complete over 30 minutes earlier, at 12:50AM an out of breath family boarded the plane. Since they were the last passengers they just tried to sit down in the empty business class seats, though the crew quickly caught them and told them they had to take their assigned seats.
A minute after those passengers got on the plane, the captain made another announcement, asking passengers to make sure they’re on the right flight, as China Airlines has two flights just an hour apart. “Make sure you’re booked on CI9, because CI7 leaves from the gate next to us.”
Finally at 1AM the main cabin door closed, though we still didn’t move. A few minutes later the captain announced that baggage loading should be completed within 15 minutes.
That was delayed further, though finally at 1:50AM we began our pushback, almost two hours behind schedule. As someone who usually gets up and goes to bed super early, it was way past my bedtime at this point.
As we began our pushback the safety video was screened.
At 2:05AM we made it to runway 25R, where we were cleared for takeoff behind an Air China 777.
Our takeoff roll was long and climb out was smooth, and less than 10 minutes after takeoff the seatbelt sign was turned off.
I browsed the entertainment selection, starting with the airshow (I should note that you can use the entertainment system when on the ground as well… I just chose not to).
Then I checked out the entertainment selection. The entertainment selection was better than I was expecting, though certainly not great.
There were a decent number of US sitcoms and movies, though not as many as on some other carriers.
When an airline offers wifi I typically don’t care at all about the entertainment, as was the case here. China Airlines has wifi on their 777-300ERs, and it’s very reasonably priced, with no data caps.
It’s the same interface you’ll find on American, Etihad, and Lufthansa. For $21.95 I got unlimited wifi for 24 hours. Awesome!
The only thing that made this wifi system unique is that every time a PA was made, my computer screen froze and the below showed up. I’ve never seen that before.
I was so impressed by the speed at which the flight attendants started their service. The supper service started just 15 minutes after takeoff.
The menu read as follows:
And the wine list read as follows:
A tablecloth was placed on my tray table, and then I was served soup. I had a glass of champagne to accompany it. China Airlines serves Pol Roger 2004 champagne in business class, which is fantastic, and one of the most expensive champagnes served by any airline in business class. Big kudos to them on that (not just because it’s expensive, but because it actually also tastes good).
The soup was extremely flavorful.
I finished the soup within minutes, and then literally a minute later I was served the starter. In terms of plating, the starter reminded me a lot of KLM’s business class product.
The appetizer was fantastic, though admittedly I’m a big smoked salmon fan.
I was also offered a selection from the breadbasket, including garlic bread and a roll.
For the main course I ordered the “filet mignon.” It was mediocre — it was overcooked and tasteless, so the sauce helped with adding some flavor to it. The sides were nice, at least.
To finish off the meal I ordered the coffee cream with chocolate crumbles, and I had a coffee to accompany it. While the dessert was delicious, I found it strange that it was served in a plastic cup. That’s some trashy presentation for business class.
I was curious about the presentation of the ice cream, so ordered that as well, since they had extras. That was just served in the carton.
Overall the meal service itself was fine, though mainly I was impressed by how efficient the service was. The meal service was done an hour after takeoff, which I love, given that it was after 3AM at this point. Furthermore, they didn’t use any carts, but rather everything was served off trays (as it should be).
There are very few airlines where a meal service is actually an “experience” in business class, so personally I love when they serve you quickly so you can start sleeping or working right away.
As far as the service goes, I’d say the flight attendant working my aisle was both friendly and reserved, if that makes sense. She was outrageously attentive, but also didn’t come across as especially charming, which I think might have been due to the language barrier, as her English wasn’t very good.
After the meal I checked out the lavatory. There are two lavatories between the two business class cabins, in addition to one by the cockpit. The lavatories were fairly basic, aside from the fact that there was music in them. I’ve seen that on a couple of airlines, and it always gives me a good chuckle.
What was also impressive was the self serve bar between the two business class cabins. It was aesthetically gorgeous, probably the nicest self serve bar I’ve seen on any airline.
In the center of the bar were some whole fruit and packaged snacks.
There was a display case with some liquor above that.
I was also fascinated by the system they had for displaying snacks. Basically there were cartons with little gold packages that could be dispensed. When you removed one of the packages, the next one fell in its place, if that makes sense.
The snacks included things like rice crackers, almonds, instant noodles, etc.
Then along the sides of the walk-up bar were delicious sweets.
Each display had a picture and description of what the snacks were.
Seriously, what a stunning setup! One of the other flight attendants saw me looking at the snacks, and she insisted I try some of the pineapple cakes, as she said they were very good. She was right.
Apparently she was disappointed when I only took two snacks, because she then came by my seat to bring me even more.
I saved the snacks for later, and decided to sleep for a bit. I ended up sleeping for just under four hours, and woke up with about eight hours to go to to Taipei, as we were passing Alaska. That meant it was time to work, as it was already morning back in LA. I should note that while there aren’t individual air vents on China Airlines’ 777s, the cabin never got too warm, which I appreciated.
It was a beautiful day outside, though I kept the window shade closed since most other passengers were sleeping.
I ordered a coffee to try and wake up, and funny enough the same flight attendant brought me even more snacks.
I wish I had something exciting to report, but I worked for the next five hours, and before I knew it we were 2hr30min out of Taipei.
Throughout the five hours the cabin manager passed by my seat several times, and eventually he said “why you work so much? You should sleep!” He was a super nice guy, and we chatted for a bit.
Usually I’m pretty good about figuring out timezones and also whether it should be light or dark at a given point in a flight. However, this flight stumped me. The flight was landing at around 6AM and we were coming in over Japan, so as far as I know it was around 3AM there… yet it was light. I know it was the peak of summer, but still, I found it strange that for the last eight hours of the flight it didn’t get dark, despite the fact that we were landing early in the morning.
About 2hr30min before landing the crew began the breakfast service. The menu read as follows:
I had another cup of coffee to start, and was also offered a hot towel.
The entire breakfast was served on one tray, and it was excellent.
The frittata was exceptional, probably the best I’ve had on a plane.
The yogurt with fruit was good as well.
The same is true of the fresh fruit.
I skipped the croissant and blueberry muffin, but they looked good.
Eventually we were about an hour out and flying over the East China Sea, at which point I changed back into jeans.
35 minutes before landing the captain came on the PA to provide us with updated arrival information. He said we would land at 6:30AM, about 90 minutes behind schedule. He immediately turned the seatbelt sign on, which seemed a bit early, given that it was a smooth ride and we hadn’t even started our descent.
As we descended I just looked out the window and enjoyed the views. The entire flight was extremely smooth, as I don’t think we hit a single bump the entire way.
Soon enough the landing gear dropped and we were on our final approach into Taipei.
We had a smooth touchdown at 6:30AM sharp.
From there it was just a five minute taxi to our arrival gate. We taxied right ahead of a China Airlines Cargo 747.
The terminal was pretty quiet, and we pulled in next to a China Airlines 737.
At 6:35AM we arrived at the gate, meaning we were about 95 minutes behind schedule.
China Airlines 777 business class bottom line
China Airlines 777 business class exceeded my expectations. Of course we all look for different things in a business class product, and I’ve shared the 11 things that matter most to me. What did I love about China Airlines business class?
- The seats were fantastic; reverse herringbone seats are great to begin with, and the finishes in this cabin were particular nice, including the walk-up bar
- The wifi was reasonably priced with no data restrictions
- The meal service was extremely efficient, and the food was edible
- The champagne was great, among the best offered by any airline in business class
For me, that’s 90% of a great business class product. Sure, the food could have been a bit better, and there could have been a few more amenities, but overall this is one of the best transpacific business class products I’ve flown, based on what I look for.
If you’ve flown China Airlines business class, what was your experience like?