A Transpacific Flight Where You Can Get A First Class Seat For Business Class Miles

Did you know there’s a transpacific flight where you can redeem miles for a business class ticket but get a first class seat?

China Airlines’ 747 first class is sold as business class

Specifically, I’m talking about China Airlines’ flight between Vancouver and Taipei, which is their only remaining flight to North America operated by a 747-400.

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I suppose this is a very low yield route, given how they choose to sell the plane. China Airlines’ 747 features 12 first class seats, 49 business class seats, and 314 economy class seats. However, rather than selling first class as first class and business class as business class, the airline sells first class as business class, and business class as premium economy (with service corresponding to business class and premium economy).

For example, here’s what the business class seatmap looks like on the route (which corresponds to the location of the first class cabin):

CI-Fare-1

I guess there really just isn’t a lot of business class demand in the market. Despite there being only 12 business class seats, business class award availability is wide open in the market:

China-Airlines-Awards-1

When you click through, you’ll see the flights are operated by the 747, and sure enough when you book you’ll be able to select a first class seat.

China-Airlines-Awards-2

That’s a pretty cool option to have access to. While each first class seat features direct aisle access and looks spacious, do note that this won’t be some cutting edge first class product. Here’s a video of the seats:

Is it even worth booking China Airlines’ 747 first class seats?

I recently flew China Airlines’ new 777 business class, which they now use for most of their flights to the U.S. It’s a phenomenal product.

The seats are in a comfortable reverse herringbone configuration.

China-Airlines-Business-Class-777 - 8

The food & drinks are pretty good, as is the service.

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The plane has wifi and great amenities.

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The point is, I’m not necessarily sure I’d choose China Airlines’ outdated first class over their new business class with wifi and superior entertainment. If I were originating in Vancouver I probably would, but I’m not sure it’s worth going out of your way to route through Vancouver to get a first class seat.

Bottom line

At a minimum I think China Airlines’ unique service between Vancouver to Taipei is worth pointing out, as it’s the only transpacific flight I know of where a first class seat is sold as business class. Ultimately a brand new business class product may end up being about as good as an outdated first class product, but to each their own…

Comments

  1. Lucky, the route will convert to A350 this year. I am not sure about the date, maybe around late Summer? So the 744 will be no more, and A350 will just have Business, Premium Econ, and Coach. On another note, their SFO-TPE route, which is now operating with 77W will also convert to A350.

  2. @Bob, YVR will go to A350 from August and SFO will go to A350 from May with increased frequencies.

  3. Lucky, it’s also worth mentioning that you can get on a business class cabin if you purchase a premium economy fare from YVR to most cities in Asia. For example, YVR-TPE-MNL gets you on a biz cabin (although angle flat) to TPE and biz recliners onwards to HKG for ~US$1,400.

  4. No, it’s not because it’s a low yield route nor there isn’t enough business class demand, the reason is because this particular 744 has the old recliner-type business class seats, which only recline deep enough but not angled-flat (but they are electrically-operated). CI realized it will be inconsistent if the 49 seats be sold as business class as well. So they have no choice but to sell the 12 first class seats as business class and the 49 business class seats as premium economy. The challenge for them is to how to convince business travellers to try their premium economy once business class is sold out. If you decide to review this ‘business class,’ hurry! it’s only 12 seats. book it as soon as possible, unless you may want to try their ‘premium economy.’ the seats on the upper deck have side storage bins, and it might be the best ‘premium economy’ out there even better than their A350’s.

  5. @Clippergoodwill5280 – ok, thanks. I did not know the cut off date, now I do. I only know that by December, SFO-TPE route will operate A359, since I am booked on it!

  6. OK, this article doesn’t say what mileage program Lucky is looking at. Very strange. China Airlines? Delta? (the screenshots look like Delta). Did I just miss this somewhere in the article?

  7. “If I were originating in Vancouver I probably would, but I’m not sure it’s worth going out of your way to route through Vancouver to get a first class seat.”

    I’m surprised at this advice. I thought you’d have jumped at the opportunity to snag a first class seat, since it’s a, you know, first class seat.

  8. The final China Airlines 747 flight to Vancouver is 28 July 2017. Afterwards it will be serviced by the new A350.

  9. I booked TPE/HKG on A350 outbound and B747 inbound, rev biz class. The phone agent checked my DL DM status and put me in a first class seat on the lower deck of B747–1A right by the nose. The upper deck 2-2- angled biz class seats are for CI elites and SkyTeam Elite Plus on economy tix with economy meal.

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