Topic Author
Posts: 2046
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm


Fri Apr 07, 2006 5:30 am

Hi all,

Here is the promised trip report for China Airlines’ transpacific first class. (Thanks to grandma!)
My verdict is rather disappointing. The reason is basically because I do not get to fly the brand new first class suites, that are supposedly to be used on mostly LAX routes, and the older sleeper seats are not that well maintained. Another reason is that I was on a full F ticket (not some cheap ex-BKK or CMB tickets), and furthermore, the food service suffers a bit setback (even worst than the food on my NRT-TPE flight earlier in March) from my last China Airlines first class trip, which was almost five years ago when the full flat sleeper first class seats were introduced. The flight attendants however were as good as ever and their cares with my grandmother (escorting to and from the bathrooms and even holding her hands, as she needs to use a walker), but the hardware definitely needs some updates, and the food needs to be expanded to reflect an improvement. Well here is the full report! I also apologize for the lack of pictures because I have to take care of my grandmother most of the time, and don’t have time to take too many pictures.

Photo Link:

March 31, 2006
CI 802 HKG-TPE Lv1340 Arr1520 Boeing 747-400 B-18209
We took a car service to head to HK airport today, instead of my usual Airport Express ride. We arrived at the airport two hours and ten minutes prior to arrival. First class line was pretty busy, but business class line was opened and was immediately directed over there. My first impression of the check-in lady was rather average. She was rushed and did not even smile during the whole time. She really did not change her attitude till she realized that we were in first class. I wanted to check in a fifth piece, which was actually permissible without charge, but I had to sign a waiver. The wheelchair did not arrive till almost ten minutes later, compared to no wait at CX. Ground experience was definitely lacking compared to CX, and even EVA air. CI has its own ground staff at HKG and I think they definitely need some touchups. After saying goodbye to my mother, we headed straight to the CI lounge, but was only admitted to business class section (despite the first class attendant came over ten minutes later, as it was too much hassles to move us back to F section, but she offered us freshly made noodles from F section.) Well the business class section was packed, as there were a number of flights heading to Taiwan at the noon hours (one KHH and two TPE all depart at 1pm). Food wise include muffins, croissants, pastries, some dim sums, and cup noodles. There is free Internet wifi access, as well as newspapers and magazines.

Boarding began at 1:10pm at gate 31. Today, this Boeing 747-400 was also in charge of our TPE-LAX route as well, and for this segment, we could not get the first class seats, as we booked our tickets rather late, and F section was mainly reserved for gold card members (there are no F seats sold at the HKG-TPE market). However, the F/A was extremely courteous and really treat elder passengers very well, and helped her to the seats immediately. The a/c was pretty full with 345 passengers in total. Door was closed at 1:50pm, which was slightly late. We pushed back five minutes later, and headed to R/W7R, and took off at 2:10pm.

Flying time was an hour and sixteen minutes, with a cruising attitude of 37,000feet. Due to the full J cabin, meals were served immediately. Entrée orders were taken prior to departure, and the meals were delivered immediately. Instead of a more elegant service like BR or CX, CI adopts the quick approach, but putting everything in one tray. Beverage was served afterward with the wine trolley rolls out. A silver wine holder was used, which was quite impressive. Other beverages are brought out from the galley. Here is the wine list and menu transcript:

Wine List
J.M. Gremillet, Brut

White Wines
Chablis Chardonnay 2004, France Raoul Clerget
Chardonnay, Lodi County 2004, USA Leaping House
Premier Selection, Riesling 2004, Australia, Lindemans

Red Wines
Bordeaux – Haut-Medoc Saint-Paul 2002, France, Chateau Saint-Paul
Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino County, 2003, USA, Bonterra Vineyards
Premium Selection, Shiraz Cabernet 2004, Australia, Lindemans

Grilled Salmon in Teriyaki sauce, Rice
Braised Roasted Pork with Taro and Red bean curd sauce, rice

Blueberry Crumble Tart in Vanilla Sauce
Fresh Seasonal Fruit Selection

I had the grilled salmon, which was rather average. The fruit bowl features watermelon, melon, and pineapple, and the bread roll selection includes French roll or garlic bread. The meal was completed at 2:41pm, and then there was a duty free service. For the rest of the flight, TVBS/BBC news was shown in the main screen. Descent began at 2:52pm and we landed on Runway 23 at 3:26pm, and parked at gate D1 shortly after.

Due to the late arrival time, we did not go to the lounge, as the wheelchair attendant said that it was too rushed. I thought well we arrived late and it would definitely take some times for the plane to turn over, but giving CI some credits, we parked at gate at 3:31pm, and boarding was available at 4:10pm for the wheelchair folks.

CI 006 TPE-LAX Lv1640 Arr1225 Boeing 747-400 B-18209
Boarding began for general folks at 4:15pm, but wheelchair passengers got in five minutes later. It was really strange that the ground agents insisted that my grandmother (in F) to go first, followed by another lady in J, and then another wheelchair passenger in Y. The F/As in first were every kinder, as they immediately helped my grandmother, and immediately chatted with me to see what her preference is, and what language did she speak. My grandmother made some specific requests throughout the flight (such as requesting extra rose apple during breakfast), and they did it all in a big smile. However, the hardware is really lacking. The sleeper seats were rather out-dated by now, and the entertainment screen was really small, but at least it was touch screen. Also there were lots of scratches on the seats as well. For CI’s premium route, it is rather unacceptable to use a really out of date product. The worst is that I spotted the brand new dreamliner Boeing 747-400 nearby pushing off to go to somewhere in Asia (pushing back from the old terminal). With four 744s with the new configuration, I think it is not difficult to use the brand new a/c on one route at least.

We pushed back at 4:53pm, and with only a few 744s in front of us, we took off from R/W23 at 5:07pm. Flying time was ten hours and forty-six minutes, and the routing took us mostly across the South of Pacific Ocean. First, we climbed to 31,000feet and then headed towards Okinawa, before turning eastward, and then climbed further to 33,000feet, and then up to 35,000feet, and further to 37,000ft and then more to 39,000feet. For the past Pacific crossings, the routing took more southern courses.

Seat belt sign was turned off at 5:14pm, and the F/As immediately distributed the blankets (rather than waiting after dinner). They even brought an extra one for my grandma. BTW, F was not full with three empty seats. Slippers were distributed before taking off. It was a nice pair of terry cloth slippers, but can CI do a better job in the packaging? The cheap polyester slipper bag was really awful looking, and for F, CI can use some nice cotton bag, like the Japanese airlines or the silk bags like the Korean airlines. Those cost minimal. Still no PJ… I still think CI can afford some pajamas.

Service began at 5:45pm with beverage and canapés. Strangely, canapés reduced from three to one single one. Despite its being a lobster canapé topped with salmon roe and chopped vegetables on bread, why would the service reduced from three to one? If UA F can afford hot savories, CI can afford so too. Here is the wine list and menu transcript!

Wine List
Piper-Heidsieck Vintage 1999

White Wines
Chassagne-Montrachet 2002, France, Bouchard Aine & Files
Chardonnay, Lodi County 2004, USA, Leaping House
Premier Selection, Riesling 2004, Australia, Lindemans

Red Wines
Bordeaux, Pomerol 2000, France, Chateau Beauregard-Grand Cru Classe
Cabernet Sauvignon, Mendocino County, 2003, USA, Bonterra Vineyards
Premium Selection, Shiraz Cabernet 2004, Australia, Lindemans

Kaiseki Style Meal
Grilled soy scallop, rolled pepper with salad, goose liver sliced with yam and sweet potatoes, steamed scallop mousse with cod fish roe clear soup

Cold Dish
Slivers of Salmon, tuna and shrimp, marinated squid in Japanese style, Japanese boiled dish

Main Course
Steamed red snapper atopped with pink rice
*Plum wine, cool sake, green tea and dessert are available

Chinese Cuisine
Marinated Abalone Rosette with tossed jellyfish

Clear Chicken Soup with dried scallop and mushroom bundles

Main Course
Dong-Po Style Pork, Cod Fillet with Green Pea Sauce, Kale and Braised Black Mushroom, Steamed Rice

Pacific-Rim Trendsetter
Balik Smoked Salmon
Fresh Mushroom Soup

Crispy Romaine Salad
Ginger-lime dressing, Thousands Island dressing, Japanese soya dressing

Main Course
Grilled beef tenderloin with peppery-mushroom sauce

Cheese Selection and Seasonal fresh fruit

Double Boiled Whole Pear with Herbal Syrup
Sweet Dialogue of Opera Cake
Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream

My grandmother has the Chinese supper, as she does not eat poultry and beef. The Abalone appetizer was pretty delicious, although a bit tough for her teeth. She did not drink the soup for obvious dietary reason, but the main course was pretty delicious, as well as Chinese dessert soup. It was good because she has been coughing and the herbal syrup was good. I had the Western dinner. The appetizer features three slices of salmon, but CX’s selection is much better. I think CI can be more creative with Western dessert and CI should send someone to Asiana Airlines. The mushroom soup was no canned stuff and was delicious. Bread selection includes garlic bread, leek roll, and potato roll. Crispy Romaine Salad was featured next, which was fresh. The beef entrée was good as well. For cheese and fruit plate, there are choices of cheddar, Boursin, Blue, and some pre-packaged cheese (that really do not work well with the rest of collection), and the fruit plate features Rose apple, Guava, watermelon, pineapple, grapes, and melon. The cheese selection comes with dried apricot, pineapple, and walnuts, and of course Carr’s crackers. The dessert is highlight, as the chocolate cake plate was wonderful. Other choices include Mango and green tea Haagen-Dazs ice cream. After dessert, Evian water bottles were passed out, followed by amenity kits (there is no longer separate male and female kit), and shaving kits were offered for male passengers. After dinner, breakfast order was taken, and the F/A reminded us about the new mid-flight snack service.

Braised Beef Noodle Soup
Chicken, Ham, and Fennel Pot Pie

For the rest of the flight, the F/As did not make much beverage run, but as I used the restroom, they almost made an effort to ask if I need anything else. Everything is quiet and tries to be as non-intrusive as possible. So they did not really hide in the galley, but tried to be non-intrusive as possible. Breakfast was served at 9:23am with hot towel, followed by juice. I had the Chinese breakfast, and the side dishes include chilled bean curd in soy sauce, salted egg, dried pork julienne, pickles, braised bean curd with peanuts, preserved egg julienne w/Chinese sausage, stir fry medley of diced hard bean curd, Chinese peas, & diced radish, and pan fried spring onion pancake. Everything can be refilled. For the fruit plate, there were watermelon balls, grapefruit, melon, Rose apple, and pineapple. Breadbasket includes soft milk white bread slice, croissants, and Cheese Danish.


Juice selection, soybean milk, and milk
Fresh Fruit of the season
Muesli and yogurt drink

Main Course
Chicken Crepes with mushroom and grilled veal sausage
Omelette Topped with Smoked Salmon and Grilled Bacon and Ham
Traditional Congee with Delicatessen
Ambassador Chef’s Choice (created by Ambassador Hotel, Taipei)

Bread Basket
Served with Preserve, Honey, and Butter

Jasmine Tea, Oolong Tea, and Coffee

After breakfast, tea and coffee was offered till thirty minutes prior to arrival. The F/A refills our water bottles, and descent soon began at 11:15am LA local time. We landed on R/W24R at 11:53am, and parked at gate 104 at 12:10pm due to congestions at the aisles between TBIT and T4. Here is a list of planes: QF744ER VH-OED, VH-OEC at 102, NH773 JA731A at 103, and SQ 744 9V-SPL at 105.

Well here is my report, and I hope you guys enjoy it.

Posts: 2141
Joined: Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:08 am


Fri Apr 07, 2006 5:58 am

Good report and great pics! Sorry to hear that CI wasn't as good this time as it has been in the past.
I love to fly!
Posts: 208
Joined: Mon Mar 06, 2006 10:26 am


Fri Apr 07, 2006 8:47 am

Quoting Carfield (Thread starter):
Marinated Abalone Rosette with tossed jellyfish


Quoting Carfield (Thread starter):
Sweet Dialogue of Opera Cake

I turn Tops into Bottoms.
Posts: 9605
Joined: Fri Feb 13, 2004 9:34 am


Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:46 am

Thanks for the trip report. Yours are always some of the best (with or without pictures) since you write so well.

I am curious to know how the price of China Airlines compared to Cathay Pacific. CX definitely has better service, so does it command a higher price. I have noticed that the airlines from Asia are really polar opposite. While some strive ahead like CX and SQ, others fall behind like the airlines based in Taiwan.

I also noticed that the meal selection choices did not look good for the western traveler. I know it is an Asian airline, but I have noticed on SQ in particular that usually 3 out of the 4 entrees are more western with only one being authentically Asian, although that might have something to do with the culture in Singapore. I have had hit or miss experiences with food in first class on a variety of airlines. It is always high quality, but sometimes it is so fluffy and fancy that I don't see it as tasting very good. But other times the food is amazing. I guess I just don't have the pallette for such extravagant foods because I certainly can't cook them myself and I live in small town midwest where you can get fancy foods prepared by excellent chefs.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
Topic Author
Posts: 2046
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm


Fri Apr 07, 2006 1:36 pm

That is true... CI is almost half of the price of CX F... I guess you get what you pay for... since I am spoiled by all those $3000RT CMB-LAX SQ F fares... CI seems a bit pricey too... hehe...

However, CI still needs to work on the hardwares... there are three versions of Boeing 747-400 ranging from really old seats to up to date suites... too many variants with their 15+ 744 fleet. The plane is fine in terms of age, but the interior just varies too much, but CI can't seem to be consistent and that is why EVA air is catching up quickly. That is why I really set my expectation low... However, I flew F with my mom from TPE to LAX a few years ago in F, and the food is definitely cut back slightly and the amenity kit is actually smaller... but the price goes higher. That bothers me slightly...

Sweet Dialogue of Opera cake is just a fancy version of describing a chocolate cake with a few decorations...

The Abalone Rosette -- abalone is very highly-priced shell seafood in Asia... it is sliced thinly and forms a rose shape with a few side dishes.

Posts: 432
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2006 9:15 pm


Sat Apr 08, 2006 1:41 am

You have some excellent pictures there, Carfield.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 4):
since I am spoiled by all those $3000RT CMB-LAX SQ F fares

I'm curious, why are fares lower for flights originating from CMB?

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