Review: China Airlines Business Class A330 Taipei To Singapore

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Review: China Airlines Business Class A330 Taipei To Singapore
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China Airlines 753
Taipei (TPE) – Singapore (SIN)
Thursday, June 23
Depart: 7:50AM
Arrive: 12:25PM
Duration: 4hr35min
Aircraft: Airbus A330
Seat: 4K (Business Class)

I boarded through door L1, where I was greeted by the cabin manager, Amy, and pointed towards the far aisle.

China Airlines’ A330 business class cabin consists of a total of 30 seats, spread across five rows in a 2-2-2 configuration.

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China Airlines A330 business class cabin

The seats are angled flat, and similar to Singapore Airlines’ regional business class product. The catch is that China Airlines actually uses these planes on some longhaul flights.

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China Airlines A330 business class cabin

In general if you’re traveling alone you may be best off going with one of the seats in the center, so you don’t have anyone climbing over you.

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China Airlines business class seats A330

However, I had assigned myself seat 4K, the window seat in the fourth row. While the product as such wouldn’t be the most comfortable for a longhaul flight, the seats felt “fresh” and were well maintained.

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China Airlines business class seats A330

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China Airlines business class seats A330

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China Airlines A330 business class, seat 4K

In the seatback in front of me was a personal television as well as a magazine rack and water bottle holder.

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China Airlines A330 business class seat

The legroom was generous in the upright position, but when reclined it was definitely a tight fit for my feet, as the seat “slides” pretty low.

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China Airlines A330 business class seat legroom

The center console was fairly large, and had two cupholders of sorts.

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China Airlines A330 business class seat

Beneath the center armrest was an exposed storage area where you could place a pair of glasses, wallet, phone, etc. Otherwise the seat really lacked storage.

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China Airlines A330 business class seat storage

On the right side of my seat was the entertainment controller.

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China Airlines business class entertainment controller

The seat controls were easy to use, though I felt like the diagram of the bed in the flat position was giving the seat a bit too much credit. 😉

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China Airlines business class seat controls

Under the center console was a 110v outlet and USB outlet.

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China Airlines business class seat adapter

Also waiting at my seat was a pillow and blanket. For a fairly short daytime flight they were perfect.

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China Airlines business class pillow & blanket

Within a minute of settling in, one of the super friendly flight attendants came by to welcome me aboard and offer me either water or orange juice. While she was clearly reading my name off a list and butchered it, I was impressed by the effort.

While I thought the crew on the previous flight was well intentioned and efficient, this crew was exceptional. They were charming, friendly, and attentive.

I selected a glass of water as my pre-departure beverage, and it was once again accompanied by a snack consisting of rice crackers and nuts.

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China Airlines business class pre-departure water and snack

Moments later I was offered a hot towel, as well as slippers.

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China Airlines business class hot towel

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China Airlines business class slippers

As boarding continued I mostly gazed out the window. The China Airlines 777 at the gate next to us pushed back, and a Delta 767 took its place.

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China Airlines 777 Taipei Airport

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Delta 767 Taipei Airport

As boarding finished up, the cabin manager came around to each passenger to welcome them aboard and inform them that the flight time would be around four hours. She had the manifest in her hand, and proactively asked how my flight from Los Angeles was, which I always find to be a nice touch that shows a great attention to detail.

While boarding was complete within 20 minutes, we were at the gate for another 30 minutes without further updates from the pilots. For that matter, the pilots didn’t make any announcements the entire flight.

Finally at 8:50AM the main cabin door closed, with 25 of the 30 business class seats occupied (fortunately the seat next to me was one of the unoccupied seats).

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China Airlines business class cabin A330

At 9AM we began our pushback, at which point the safety video began to play.

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Pushback Taipei Airport

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Pushback Taipei Airport

As we taxied to the departure runway, I got to see just about every plane in the China Airlines fleet, including the A330…

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China Airlines A330 Taipei Airport

…777…

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China Airlines 777 Taipei Airport

…747…

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China Airlines 747 Taipei Airport

…and A340.

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China Airlines A340 Taipei Airport

The traffic at the airport was interesting as usual, with a mix of China Airlines, EVA Air, and a bunch of foreign carriers.

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Planes taxiing Taipei Airport

Eventually we taxied by the cargo terminal, where several 747s were lined up. I think China Airlines has a gorgeous livery, especially with the flower on the tail.

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China Airlines Cargo 747 Taipei Airport

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China Airlines Cargo 747 Taipei Airport

As we approached the runway, a bit of a commotion erupted at the seat behind me, as the passenger got into a dispute with the flight attendants. I didn’t think much of it until a second flight attendant showed up… and then a third flight attendant.

Finally the cabin manager showed up to tell the other flight attendants they needed to be seated for takeoff, but then she got dragged into the situation as well.

If I was understanding the situation correctly, the lady seated behind me didn’t want to put her bag in the overhead bin for takeoff because it was expensive.

She’d alternate between speaking Mandarin and English, and one of the things she said in English was “now you just leave me alone or I will hit you.” The flight attendants did a great job diffusing the situation, and eventually she gave in. She was civilized for the rest of the flight.

At 9:20AM we made it to runway 23R, where we were cleared for takeoff after an Airbus landed.

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Plane on final approach Taipei

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Taking off from Taipei

Our takeoff roll was pretty quick, and climb out was smooth.

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Taking off from Taipei

I looked out the window during the climb out, though departures out of Taoyuan Airport aren’t exactly the most scenic in the world.

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View after takeoff from Taipei

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View after takeoff from Taipei

The seatbelt sign was turned off about 10 minutes after takeoff.

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View after takeoff from Taipei

A few minutes later the flight attendants distributed the menus and wine list for the flight. As was the case on the last flight, they distributed them and then collected them again a few minutes later, after they took meal orders.

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China Airlines business class menu & wine list

The menu read as follows:

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And the beverage list read as follows:

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I guess I didn’t read the menu closely enough, because my initial assumption was that brunch would be served after takeoff. On a vast majority of flights, the main meal is served after takeoff, so I assumed that was the case here. Instead on this flight a snack was served after takeoff, and then brunch was served about halfway through the flight.

The snack consisted of a savory turnip pastry, which was delicious. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I had a glass of sauvignon blanc to accompany it. For some reason I was thinking the entire brunch was going to be served at the beginning of the flight, and coffee didn’t seem like a very good fit with the beef I was going to order.

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China Airlines business class snack — savory turnip pastry

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China Airlines business class snack — savory turnip pastry

But instead my tray was cleared after the snack was served, though the crew did a good job keeping my drink topped off.

After the snack I browsed the entertainment selection, which was very similar to the selection on my previous flight.

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China Airlines entertainment selection

I checked out the airshow, which was the same interface many airlines have, where you can choose your view.

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China Airlines airshow enroute to Singapore

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China Airlines airshow enroute to Singapore

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China Airlines airshow enroute to Singapore

The entertainment selection was decent. I certainly could have found something to entertain myself with, though I’m not really big into movies. It’s worth noting that China Airlines’ A330s don’t have wifi, unlike their 777s.

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China Airlines business class entertainment selection

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China Airlines business class entertainment selection

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China Airlines business class entertainment selection

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China Airlines business class entertainment selection

I was tired at this point, so decided to try and nap for a bit. I’m not sure if I actually got any sleep, but rather it was more just closing my eyes and relaxing a bit.

Thank goodness many airlines have flat beds nowadays, as I really don’t get why angled seats were ever a thing. Maybe it’s just me, but I find a recliner seat to be much more comfortable than an angled seat, even though the former is technically considered a worse product. This seat seemed to have an especially steep angle, so was particularly uncomfortable.

At 11AM the crew began the brunch service, which was 1hr40min after takeoff. I suspect that’s the service protocol the company dictates, but I really think that’s silly. A vast majority of passengers on this flight seemed to be connecting off a longhaul flight and just wanted to sleep. So serving a snack after takeoff and then the meal an hour later really draws things out, and means there’s no time to get any real rest.

Anyway, the meal service began with hot towels being distributed, and also tablecloths being placed on the tray tables. I had ordered the beef goulash as my main.

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China Airlines business class brunch 

The beef was surprisingly delicious. It was tender and the sauce was great, though it sure didn’t seem like “tomato sauce” to me, as described on the menu.

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China Airlines business class brunch — beef goulash in cream tomato sauce with steamed rice

The smoked trout was good for what it was, though trout isn’t my favorite kind of fish.

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China Airlines business class brunch — smoked trout with vegetable terrine

I was also offered a selection from the breadbasket.

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China Airlines business class brunch — bread

Once plates were cleared, the crew came around with dessert.

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China Airlines business class brunch — dessert

I selected the milk tea mousse cake, which was exceptional. I was also proactively served some fruit.

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China Airlines business class dessert — milk tea mousse cake

The crew asked if I wanted ice cream as well. Sure, might as well grab a picture of it. 😉

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China Airlines business class dessert — Haagen-Dazs ice cream

The meal service was done within an hour, and as I said above, the crew on this flight was really great. They had genuine smiles and were attentive.

The A330 had two lavatories behind business class, where were quite basic.

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China Airlines A330 business class lavatory

The only amenities worth noting are the ACCA KAPPA toiletries.

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China Airlines A330 business class lavatory amenities

I dozed off for a bit more after lunch, and before I knew it we were beginning our descent into Singapore. There were no announcements from the pilots, so I was just going off of what I felt, and what the airshow said.

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Airshow enroute to Singapore

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Airshow enroute to Singapore

I freshened up in the lavatory as we approached, and then the seatbelt sign was turned on about 20 minutes before landing.

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View approaching Singapore

The views on approach were interesting as usual, especially as you see just how many ships there are in the area.

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View on approach into Singapore

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View on approach into Singapore

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View on final approach into Singapore

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View on final approach into Singapore

We had a smooth touchdown on runway 20R in Singapore at 1:20PM, and from there about a five minute taxi to our arrival gate.

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View on final approach into Singapore

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Taxiing Singapore Changi Airport

China Airlines uses Terminal 3 at Changi Airport, so we taxied by many Singapore Airlines planes, including a 777 and A380.

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Singapore 777 Changi Airport

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Singapore A380 Changi Airport

We pulled into a far gate at the terminal, right next to a Garuda Indonesia 737.

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Pulling into gate Changi Airport

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Garuda 737 Changi Airport

We arrived at the gate about an hour behind schedule, and I bid the excellent crew farewell, ready for a nap at the transit hotel.

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China Airlines A330 upon arrival in Singapore

China Airlines A330 business class bottom line

Ultimately I don’t love the hard product China Airlines has on their A330s. While it’s rather modern in the sense that it’s in good condition, I find angled seats to be uncomfortable. Of course this isn’t a big deal for a four hour flight, but on a longhaul flight I’d avoid this plane.

On this sector the crew was fantastic. They were friendly and attentive, so kudos to them.

However, I do think China Airlines should modify the way they do meal service on this flight, so it’s not such a drawn out affair. That would allow people to rest more, especially since many people on this flight seemed to be coming off longhaul flights.

Not that it’s really relevant, but China Airlines flight attendants went on strike for the first time in history the following day, so I guess I took this trip at exactly the right time.

If you’ve flown China Airlines A330 business class, what was your experience like?

Enjoy this review? Check out hundreds of other reports on airlines, hotels, and airport lounges worldwide!

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. Great review. I’m with you angle seats are the worst and I prefer a big recliner. I’d rather save my money, miles, or upgrade versus fly with an angle seat. Seriously it feels as though I am sliding down the seat the entire flight. Totally pointless.

  2. Sauvignon blanc isn’t exactly a traditional pairing with beef, either, Lucky! That meal did look pretty tasty though. I’ve been enjoying the flurry of reports lately – nice thing to come into the office to.

  3. That moment when there’s a typo on the China Airlines brunch menu. It says ‘Braised SEE bass with steamed rice’ instead of ‘Braised SEA bass with steamed rice’.

  4. Goulash is made with tomatoes and other aromatics like onions garlic celery, sometimes you would get potatoes and carrots as well. Water or stock sometimes even beer or wine can be added along with spices (paprika & caraway traditionally). This is just a bad translation/description. Goulash is very slowly cooked to make the cheaper, tougher beef tender, the tomatoes and aromatics get cooked so much that they become part of the sauce which is a combination of all the above mentioned plus the juices from the meat (sometimes Veal or Lamb). In a preparation like this it wouldn’t surprise me if they pureed and strained the sauce to give it a more consistent less chunky feel. Sometimes it’s presented as a soup others as a stew. Tomatoes are there it’s just not usually the predominate flavor. I think it would be interesting if you actually took a chef or someone knowledgable about food with you on a trip to give an “expert” opinion like you did with Champagne and wine.

  5. Ben,I don’t think it was fortunate you had no one next to you as in Chinese culture no.4 is very unlucky and sounds like death so I am guessing most of the passengers would actively avoid those seats although you may know this already.I love your reviews.

  6. The seat design looks identical to Singapore Airlines regional business class seats – the drawers, the pockets on the seats etc. The airshow (flightpath) also looks identical tot he Singapore offering.

    Great reviews

  7. If that unruly passenger had threatened to hit a flight attendant on an American airline she would have been offloaded and possibly arrested immediately.

  8. Lucky, the seats are almost exact replicas of SQ’s regional products! Do you know if these planes were taken over from SQ, and subsequently “refreshed” with new upholstery etc?

  9. Yes those angled ‘seats’ are very bad. These seats look the same as the new regional SQ seats. They are super uncomfortble, the old blue ones were much better. I always wonder which morons do the actual seat selction for airlines. Probably not people who fly a lot themselves.

  10. CI has the best FA for the past 15 years and the worst management last 7 years. The plane you took is actually lease from SQ, CI used to lease 330 from Virgin and SQ due to high regional demand. I truly hope the recent management change will bring CI back to past glory.

  11. I know it is an old thread… but just want to add… for some reasons, both China Airlines and EVA Air now serves their meals on these Taipei to KUL/SIN/CGK/DPS flights mid-flight. I never quite figure out why. Maybe they presume passengers eat in the lounge, and on the 3pm SIN-TPE flight, they just assume passengers want to eat closer to local time. That applies also to economy and premium economy class passengers too. I agree with you… these flights are relatively short and if passengers want to eat later, they can always request the meal to be served later. However I have a feeling that if you tell them you want to eat now, they will accommodate you too. The meals look basic enough. but I miss the days when they serve the meals in three courses (with a separate appetizer course).

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