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

China Airlines Transpacific Flights In First Class

Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:44 pm

Here is the more interesting part of my trip, and as I mentioned before, here was the second (and final) ticket that I bought during the Yangon error fare episode last year. China Airlines is one of the other airlines that release these error fares, so I decide to use it for a pure mileage run back to the US from Asia in February. There were a few schedule changes that affected me, and Opodo handled it poorly. I originally scheduled an overnight at Bangkok in the return, so I could take the more convenient daytime flight from LAX to TPE. However China Airlines decided to play around with its schedule, and I ended up having to take the late night combo for both flights – CI 7 and 8. China Airlines has cut back much lately in the late night flights claiming that passengers wanted to rest. So let see how things turn out. Of course, China Airlines has another schedule change later and my original flights would have worked out, but anyway, as of this point, I have no intent to use Opodo again in the near future and do not bother to deal with the switching. My final routing is RGN-TPE-LAX-TPE-BKK-RGN (last segment on TG Y). Just for your information, China Airlines is perhaps one of the few airlines in the world that does not provide pajama in first class on long haul flights, considered American and United Airlines finally joined the trend, and most Mainland Chinese airlines offer pajamas even in business class now. China Airlines continues to be generation behind in terms of amenities and seats in premium class.

February 20, 2013
CI 7916 RGN-TPE Lv1110 Arr1635 Boeing 737-800 Winglet B-16801

Check-in at Yangon airport is relatively straightforward and the China Airlines counters are not too busy. There were one servicing the business class area, and three servicing economy passengers. Singapore Airlines on the other end is busier and no wonder it is sending its Boeing 777 to Yangon now. The agent spoke limited English and for unknown reason, it could only check me as far as Taipei, and apparently all connecting passengers have to collect their onward boarding passes at Taipei. (Well at least the TPE staffs were ready when our flight arrived.) China Airlines uses the Sky Smiles Lounge at RGN, and since I had already covered the lounge on my RGN report, I am not going to repeat again. It is a nice lounge with free wifi (not high speed but okay for basic stuff), some snacks, and beverages. It has its own in-house restroom, which is a plus. The admission price for non-elite/J passenger remains at $15, which I will be happy to pay. It has a nice apron view, and for some reasons, all the staffs were hovering over the SQ boarding area trying to spot a movie star.

Anyway, the inbound plane arrived early from Taipei, and a familiar bird, B-16801, one of the first China Airlines’ B737-800 and my first CI’s 737-800 flight a few years ago, arrived at gate 3 at 9:46am with a slight difference. It has a pair of winglets now.

The apron was very busy at Yangon today – Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-200 9V-SRG, Thai Airways’ A330 HS-TED, Mynamar Airways A320 XY-AGI to KUL, Bangkok Airways’ all white Airbus A320-200 HS-PPE, and Jetstar Asia’s Airbus A320 9V-JSN.

Anyone knows anything about this all-white Bangkok Airways A320 – not the typical colorful livery
All I found out that it was from TAM and was delivered November 2012 to PG!

Boarding began at 10:25am at Gate 3, and here is a close-up of China Airlines’ Baby Boeing!

There was a male purser welcoming passengers at the entry way, along with a J class F/A preparing beverages inside of the J galley.

My seat 1K

And empty seat 1J next to me

Pre-takeoff beverage (choices of Orange juice, apple juice, or water) with a bag of mixed snacks

Load was almost full in economy and business class is 75% full with two empty seats – 1J and 2B.
Boarding was completed quickly and door was closed at 10:45am. We pushed back from Gate 3 at 10:52pm, and taxied towards R/W21. There were some military activities, and we did not take off till 11:13am.

Flying time was a quick three hours and thirty minutes with a cruising attitude of 37,000feet. We headed towards Hanoi before turning towards the PRC over Nanning, and then Guangzhou and Shenzhen, before making across South China Tea towards the West coast of Taiwan. Since the Sky map only made its appearance in between video programming, I am unable to give you a more detailed routing report.

One F/A was in charge in business class cabin today and she was your typical China Airlines F/A, which did all according to the book.

Menu was passed out after takeoff and here is our choice this afternoon.

Wine List (Boeing 737-800)
Champagne Gremillet, France
Mosel Valley Riesling White Wine 2009 Germany
Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc White Wine 2010, New Zealand
Chianti Riserva DOCG 2007, Italy
Napa Valley, Merlot Reserve 2008 USA
101.07 738

January to March 2013
CI 7916
Yangon to Taipei

Refreshment Menu
Hawaiian Chicken Salad
Mushrooms, lolo rosso, red cabbage and pineapple

Main Course
Grilled Chicken Tandoori
Assorted Vegetables, Lemon Rice
Stir Fried Sliced Pork in Oyster Sauce
Cashew nuts, sautéed vegetables with flat noodles

Assorted breads served with butter
Soft roll, hard roll, garlic bread

Dessert Platter


I have to say China Airlines usually has a high standard of catering, but the food catered from Yangon was definitely below standard, and for a three hours plus flight, I expect more in terms of quality and quantity. China Airlines has gone through a major cost-cutting a few years ago, all these SE Asia to Taipei flights really suffered. There is no longer a canapé service prior to meal, and no longer a separate appetizer and salad, as well as a separate fruit and dessert service. Canapés are not necessary, but I feel that there should at least be another round of pre-meal beverage and mixed nuts service – packaged or not. The appetizer should be heartier. Anyway, the quality is so bad that quantity will not help anyway. I am glad that I had breakfast in the hotel earlier in the morning. I also expect a full beverage service prior to landing – not only juices and waters. The cutback in catering has definitely hurt the already lackluster service and hardware, including seats and entertainment system.

To no surprise, China Airlines does not install personal entertainment system in business or economy class on its Boeing 737s. However, overhead video monitors are available and BBC News was first shown, followed by the main feature movie, “Here Comes the Boom.” In between programs, Sky Map will make its appearance. There is no universal power outlet but the seat is pretty comfortable, and seat pitch is pretty generous for a narrowbody plane.

Here is a picture of the seat in full recline position!

I took a nap and read for the rest of the flight. Descent began at 3:45pm Taiwanese local time (Taiwan is an hour and thirty minutes ahead of Yangon). We landed on R/W5L at 4:13pm, and parked at gate A1 a few minutes later. As said before, I had to get my onward boarding pass from the transit desk. I presume the Yangon system cannot process the US immigration data, and that’s why China Airlines has to make everyone getting their boarding passes at Taipei and does the related document check.

[Edited 2013-02-26 06:46:12]
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RE: China Airlines Transpacific Flights In First Class

Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:48 pm

With seven hours at Taipei, I spent most of it here at the China Airlines’ First Class lounge. It is a mini version of its business class with more personal service and strangely I prefer self-service. Anyway, the staffs bring you food and drinks on demand, with a small buffet selection. There is complimentary WIFI and the speed is good. There are two computers available for surfing, but no printing and photocopying service. The staffs are mostly friendly, despite a bit rushed at times. Given that I was alone for an hour between the late afternoon China rush and late evening long haul flights rush, I had some chances to take photos.

New joint promotion with Xiamen Airlines, China Eastern, and China Southern Airlines for cross-strait flights

Map of lounge

Entry corridor with newspapers and magazine area

Main seating area

Restaurant/Dining Area

Internet/Business Center

Food Buffet

Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup

Chinese Dim Sum

First Class Lounge Menu
Topic Author
Posts: 2184
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

RE: China Airlines Transpacific Flights In First Class

Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:50 pm

February 20, 2013
CI 8 TPE-LAX Lv2350 Arr1915 Boeing 747-400 B-18210

Boarding started a bit late due to the late arrival of the crews or the longer than usual pre-flight check! The inbound plane arrived two hours prior to departure from Shanghai. China Airlines really works its plane hard. There were many wheelchair passengers (at least ten or more) on this flight, so priority boarding finally began at 11:22pm. I was trying to get on as soon as possible so I could snap a few cabin shots before the passengers arrived. My plan almost worked. When I boarded, 5A was already occupied by a flight crew (possibly heading to LA to work the return flight). There were basically two F/As working in the first class cabin, and they immediately offered me a beverage of my choice. I had a glass of still water, served with a plate of mixed snacks.

As well as the mandatory hot towel served in a tray

Newspapers and magazines were offered next, along with slippers. A pair of noise-canceling headset was already placed at each seat.

Here is the cabin shot I took – B-18210 features the latest Boeing signature interior (Boeing 777 style) with enlarged overhead bins and a bit more headroom. To me, it is more cosmetic than a major improvement. For the nose of the flight, the overhead bin can handle the roller bags better, but other than that, nothing major!

My seat 2K

Despite a late start, boarding was completed at 11:46pm and we pushed back seven minutes later. Taipei Taoyuan airport was fairly quiet as of this point, as we were one of the few last departures for the late night rush to North America, Australia, and Europe. We took off from R/W5L at 00:04am. Flying time was ten hours and thirty-three minutes, and the routing was fairly typical. We climbed to 33,000feet first, as we headed towards Nichinan, Japan, and then towards the Pacific Ocean. We climbed progressively and ended at 37,000feet before we reached the California coast and Monterey Bay. The flight was very quick due to tail wind, but we certainly hit a few rough spots throughout the night.

Menus and meal orders were taken prior to departure, and the F/As were very flexible regarding when to serve the meals. But they definitely want to know about passengers’ meal choices, so they can save the meals for everyone. I have mixed feelings about rushing the breakfast order – maybe for those passengers, who declined dinner. But it is more proper to ask about breakfast when supper was completed for those passengers that were having the first meal. The F/As on the return flight took the breakfast orders prior to commencement of the service. But I appreciate the effort to make an efficient supper service.

Here is the wine list and menu:
I type out the whole beverage list, since China Airlines First Class is not frequently reported here.

First Class Wine List
January to March 2013

Cozy Lounge
Gin Tonic
Bloody Mary

Johnnie Walker Blue Label Blended Scotch Whiskey
Kavalan Single Malt Whiskey
Matisse 19 years old Highland Scotch Whiskey
Jim Bream Bourbon Whiskey
Smirnoff Vodka
Bacardi Light Rum
Bombay Dry Gin

Deau Cognac XO
Camus XO Cognac
Taylor’s 10 Years Old Tawny Port, Portugal
Cherry brandy
Bailey’s Irish Cream

Chinese Rice Wine
Premium Shaohsing 10 Years Old (For Japan Routes only)

Gekkeikan “HORIN” Junmai Diaginjo

Golden Medal Taiwan Beer
Heineken Beer
Sapporo Beer

Tea and Coffee
Oolong tea
Jasmine Tea
Japanese Green Tea
Twinings Darjeeling Tea

Freshly Brewed Coffee
Decaffeinated Coffee

Champagne Pol Roger 2000 France

White Wines
Chablis Chardonnay 2009, France
Mosel Valley Riesling White Wine 2009, France
Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010, New Zealand

Red Wines
Saint-Julien Chateau Langoa Barton 1997, France
Barossa Valley Shiraz 2009, Australia
Napa valley Merlot Reserve 2008 USA

Let say I am not particularly impressed with the choices of wines here! None of them were priced over $40! Most of them in the $20 to $30 price range! The most expensive item on this list is the champagne. I know many Asians are not big wine drinkers, but this wine list is weak at best. For the non-alcoholic items, I feel that the tea selection can be better and the only Western tea selection is Darjeeling. I think CI can offer a few more tea selection, such as English Breakfast, Chamomile, Earl Grey, and Mint tea. Twinings certainly offers more than just Darjeeling tea.

Anyway, supper is a simplified dinner service, and for first class passengers, the only course being cut is the hot savories/canapé service, but the F/A asked me if I wanted mixed nuts to go with the champagne. The catering is definitely better on this flight, compared to the pathetic catering out from Yangon with an underwhelming premium refreshment service. China Airlines is having this promotion with the chefs at W Taipei, so that is why I go with the Chinese meals tonight, except the soup course. I also want to highlight the bakery items used by China Airlines. Most of you possibly don’t know this bread master, Master Wu Po Chun, but his breads were amazing. I went to their bakery at Kaohsiung and was not disappointed with many of the popular choices including those offered on this flight. If you are ever in Kaohsiung, go to Master Wu’s bakery and I love their pineapple cakes, as well as the Red Wine and Longan bread, as well as their spring onion bread.

Late Night Supper
You may create a lighter option for your supper. Please inform your crew of your choice.

“T” Goose Liver Mousse, Hawthorn Jelly, Pineapple Beer, Braised red yeast duck breast served with Woobar Signature cocktail “Doctor Goes Away”

Scallop Terrine, tomato, asparagus, bell peppers

“T” Shampignon, yam, Nantou chicken consommé
Chef’s Recommendation
Creamy Onion Soup with Crispy Cheese crouton

Main Course
“T” Cod Fillet, Chinese olives, black beans, arrowroot

Pork belly ribs, Worcestershire kumquat sauce

Heart of Tender Shoots, Sakura Shrimp flakes with crab paste

Sausage, pickled turnip, fragrant fried rice

(Energy 457.8 kcal)

Steamed rice and healthy grain rice are available on request
Grilled NZ Beef Tenderloin
Grilled onion, bell peppers, asparagus, tomato, potato
(Energy 450.8 kcal)
Pan seared cod fillet with shredded smoked salmon, zucchini, pumpkin, tomato, mashed potato
(Energy 381.8 kcal)
Choice of Western Main Course sauce: Creamy Pesto sauce or Black Truffle sauce

The Bakery

*French rye baguette
*Sun dried tomato, basil and cheese bread
Black rye beer bread
Multi grain bread
Garlic Bread
Above all served with homemade butter

Sweet Finale
Fresh Fruits of the Season

Selection of cheese
“T” Purple Yam, Garbanzo beans, red dates soup

Blueberry Fondant Chocolate pudding

Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream

“T” A special menu designed by Chef Kong Khai Meng – Yen Chinese Restaurant W Taipei
“Doctor Goes Away” cocktail designed by Mixologist Kenny Miau – Food and Beverage Service Manager, W Taipei
*Specially designed by Master Wu Pao-Chun

After supper, I had a cup of green tea.

Hot towel and Evian bottled waters were offered, and the F/A passed out the amenity kit, as well as offering the turndown service. As I mentioned above, pajamas were not offered on China Airlines. I really think if American and United are offering them, it is definitely not an expensive item to offer, and just can’t help to feel that China Airlines remains a generation behind with its product. If turndown service is offered, a pair of pajama cannot cost CI anything more than $10-$20. Many local Taiwanese fashion brands will jump at the chance to offer China Airlines a bargain by featuring their clothing brand, sort of like Cathay Pacific and Shanghai Tang, or Lufthansa and Porsche Design.

Turndown service:

There is no self-service counter on China Airlines, but there is a full light bites menu. I had the beef noodle soup later at breakfast, which was an amazing juice. A very hearty noodle soup with good amount of Beef briskets and tendons!

Light Bites Menu
Should you desire a little snack or something more substantial in between your meals, simply make your selection to our crew during the flight

Authentic Beef Noodle Soup (Fast and delicate of Taiwan Delight)

Traditional Flavorful Sticky Rice with sweet and spicy sauce
Turnips with pork ribs soup
Vegetable and Chicken Pot Pie
Vegetarian instant noodle
Cheese platter
Mixed fruits

I pretty much slept till breakfast time. Two hours prior to landing, the F/A turned on the lights in first class (a bit earlier for business and economy class). It was a lovely breakfast and China Airlines uses a different tablecloth for the breakfast service – the red-checkered linen. Hot towel once again made its appearance. However I wanted to remind everyone that I choose to have the beef noodle soup as my main course, and the F/A offers me all the side dishes that go with the congee. All the four side dishes – two cold and two warm are excellent.

Breakfast menu

Choice of juice: orange, apple, tomato
Soy Bean Milk
Fresh Fruits of the season


Assorted breads served with butter and jam

• Green soy bean bread (stuffed with grainy mustard) Specially designed by Master Wu Pao-Chun
• Longan bread mixed with red wine Specially designed by Master Wu Pao-Chun
• Croissant
• Whole Wheat Toast
All served with homemade butter

Main Course
Double Color Egg Wrap with Vegetables, tomato, pork sausage, potato roesti, hollandaise sauce (Energy 396.2 kcal)
Corn pancake with banana, chicken thigh, bacon, Vanilla sauce (Energy 725.7 kcal)
Plain Congee (Energy 78.0 kcal) or Sweet Potato Congee (Energy 116.8 kcal)

Homemade dishes:
Steamed minced pork with Chinese pickles

Pan fried egg with dried turnips (Energy 170.4 kcal)

Shrimps with Green Soy Beans

Marinated Coral seaweed and shimeji mushrooms

(Energy 101.9kcal)

Shredded dried pork, homemade Taiwanese bun and savory

Traditional Taiwanese Side dishes were available upon request

I visited the bathroom after breakfast and took the following series of pictures. (I took advantage of the daylight!)

Seat Control Panel

Mirror – yes your personal mirror

Seat in the preset recline position

Heading towards Monterey

Descent began at 6:09pm and I almost forgot to mention. China Airlines has installed the nose camera and I love to be able to view landing in that perspective. The landing at LAX could be confusing with all these lights. We landed on R/W24R at 6:37pm, and as usual, we had to wait a little bit for our gate, since we landed early. Not too bad, we parked at gate 104 at 6:52pm. With my global entry and no checked bag, I went through all the formalities in ten minutes. However lines were fairly long, as the China Southern A380 and Philippine Airlines Boeing 747 landed around the same time.
Topic Author
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Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

RE: China Airlines Transpacific Flights In First Class

Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:54 pm

February 22, 2013
CI 7 LAX-TPE Lv2325 Arr0550+2 Boeing 747-400 B-18212

Check in on the return flight went smoothly, and China Airlines has separate check-in for first class passengers (also its Paragon and Emerald members), and business class passengers (CI own mid-tier elites and Skyteam Elite Plus). There was a bit of wait, as all the agents were busy with the early bird arrivals.

Here’re a few pictures of the check-in area!

Lots of constructions are going on in TBIT and I really hope these expansions will be completed by the summer peak travel season! There were lines and people everywhere, given that it was the end of February and the Lunar New Year was over. TSA was busy on both north and south side, and the priority lane was able to save me a bit of time. However, I really don’t know if TBIT can handle so many A380s flights. I saw some China Southern F/As, and some of the boys were pretty cute. LOL! Some eye-candy to make the wait at TSA went by quicker.

China Airlines uses Los Angeles International Lounge, not the Skyteam lounge. I have been to the Skyteam lounge, which was pretty crowded and I don’t think it can accommodate any more passengers, other than Korean Air, which has two daily late night departures. It is interesting that China Eastern, the other Skyteam partner, also uses the Los Angeles International Lounge. There is a separate first class section, and the food selection is weak, but passable for a third party lounge. There is complimentary wifi, but no business center! Here are a few pictures of the lounge! I did not take many pictures, as there were already guests here. The lounge got really crowded tonight, as it also admits the top elite members of EVA Air, and EVA has two evening flights to Taipei tonight. Air Tahiti Nui also had a flight to Papeete tonight. The elevator situation was also quite chaotic during the late evening hours, as there were many Qantas and Cathay Pacific flights departing within the midnight hours. I left the lounge a bit better, since I had already been there for a while.

Busy night

Boarding began at 10:50pm at Gate 104, which seems to be China Airlines’ designated gate for the evening service.

B-18212 also has the same interior as B-18210, which also features the Boeing signature interior and here are a number of pictures, before the crowd arrived. First class went out almost all full with only two empty seats.

I seated at 2K for the return flight.

Two F/As and the purser did their greetings and asked for the order for my pre-takeoff beverage. No alcohol was served (well no one asked for it), but passengers were asking for hot tea and even Iced Oolong tea. A very demanding group tonight!

Here is the pre-takeoff service trio – hot towel, beverage, and plate of mixed snacks.

The flight was busier on the return flight, and due to late passengers and cargo loading, door did not close till 11:29pm. We pushed back at 11:38pm, as there were a number of planes pushing back from the narrow alley between TBIT and T4 at these midnight hours. Thankfully things were not too bad, and after a few US domestic redeye departures, we took off from R/W25R at 11:54pm.

Flying time was very long tonight, due to strong headwind, and we hit a number of significant turbulence spots. The routing was very new to me, so here are a number of pictures that I took of the inflight map throughout the flight. We flew a more inland track this evening, and we stayed at 30,000feet after passing Santa Barbara and then heading to King City, Hollister, San Jose, Fremont/OAK, Santa Rosa/Sonoma Valley, and then Ukiah, before reaching 32,000feet. The whole ride along the California coast was rough, and the whole supper service took place during chops. I was surprised that the F/A continued with the service. I could barely eat due to the shaking and spilling. We finally left Fort Bragg and then heading towards the Gulf of Alaska. We passed Woodrow, Sterling, and Nikishka, before climbing to 34,000feet. Then we passed Iditarod/Discovery, Shageluk, Grayling, and Pikmiktalik before entering the Bering Sea, and then entering Gulf of Andayr, Ugolny Airport, Gizhigin Bay, and Sea of Okhotsk. Then we climbed to 36,000feet and then crossing the Sakhalin Islands and then cruised along the coast of Primorsky Krai region of Russia before entering Sea of Japan, and headed towards South Korea. We passed the east of Ullegundo and then cities of Ulsan and Busan, and finally climbed to 38,000feet. We then passed East Sea and then heading to Taipei. Very interesting route! Here were the pictures of the flight map throughout the flight!

Once again supper was served quickly after takeoff. However, there was some moderate chops throughout the first two hours of the flight, but the F/As persisted with the meal services. Many soups were returned to the galley and the F/A managed to serve me my soup during a short period of time. But the supper was not pleasant because of the turbulence. The meal service was okay and the Chinese appetizers are nice, as well as the consommé soup with mushroom panna cotta, but the main course was a disappointment. The lobster ravioli was not freshly prepared and had a strong fishy smell. Thankfully the bread pudding was nicely done and the meal ended in a better note.

Late Night Supper

Cumin lamb chop, marinated jelly fish, chicken with ginger sauce

Nicoise Salad – tuna, green beans, potato, tomato, black olive

Braised Chinese Soup – Conch & Chinese Herbs
Chicken and Mushroom Consommé garnish with mushroom Panna Cotta, shimeji mushroom

Main Course
Braised sea cucumber and meatballs in garlic sauce, Steamed Chicken with Chinese ham, Assorted mixed vegetables, steamed rice
Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Bell Pepper, Duchess Potato, Red wine sauce
Lobster Ravioli with Prawn
Vegetable Bundle, Lobster Tomato Cream Sauce

The Bakery

Ciabatta Bread
Brioche Roll
Multi-Grain Roll
Focaccia Roll
Garlic Bread
All served with homemade Butter

Sweet Finale
Fresh Fruits of the season

Cheese Selections
Authentic Almond Drink with Chinese deep fried donut (can be served warm or cold)
Chocolate bread pudding, mixed berries, vanilla sauce

Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream

Unlike the lack of snack tray, an individual snack basket and Evian bottled waters were passed out after supper. The basket featured kumquat cake, two kinds of mixed snacks, 72% chocolate thins, and Sesame Oats crackers.

The cabin became busy after it reached the morning hours at LA time, and the busy F/A was serving drinks and snacks left and right. However I just stayed quiet, as I felt a bit tired and this trip was a very short one. Breakfast was served about two and half hours prior to landing.

Light Bites Menu
Authentic Beef Noodle Soup

Deep fried pork cutlet with noodle soup

Chicken Wellington with salad
Vegetarian Instant Noodle
Cheese Platter
Mixed nuts

I started with a cup of hot lemon tea.

Breakfast Menu
Choice of juice: orange, apple or tomato
Fresh fruits of the season

Drinking yogurt – strawberry flavored

Assorted breads served with butter and jam
Carrot Walnut Muffin
Almond Croissant
Blueberry Scone
Thick White Toast

Main Course
Nutella bread pudding
Mixed berries, pork loin, vanilla sauce
Scrambled egg with crème fraiche
Zucchini, tomato, chicken sausage, potato cake
Plain Congee

I had the pork chop noodle soup with the light bites menu and the breakfast side dishes were served.

Homemade dishes:
Sautéed green bean with minced pork (served chilled)

Pan-fried Chinese dried turnip omelet (served warmed)

Tofu with minced pork (served warmed)

Lotus root with shiitake mushroom (served chilled)

Shredded dry pork, home made steamed bun
Traditional Taiwanese side dishes are available upon request

Descent began at 5:36am Taipei local time, and we stayed at 36,000feet first, before descending further at 5:42am. It was a beautiful morning here at Taipei but it took a while to get sequenced into arrival, as most transpacific flights arrived at the early morning. Here was a beautiful shot of Taipei before arrival!

We landed on R/W5L at 6:09am and parked at Gate D7 ten minutes later. Due to the short transit time, I headed straight to transit checkpoint, which was quiet, as the San Francisco flight arrived even later than us. I guess one benefit in flying first class was to beat the queue.
Topic Author
Posts: 2184
Joined: Fri Dec 19, 2003 5:49 pm

RE: China Airlines Transpacific Flights In First Class

Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:56 pm

February 24, 2013
CI 833 TPE-BKK Lv0715 1005 Boeing 747-400 B-18202
Transit at Taipei was very rush, due to the late arrival of the LAX flight. I was also caught by surprise that there was a last minute aircraft substitution. Instead of a three-class Boeing 747-400 used as a two-class seating (which means that I will get a F seat with J service), a real two-class Boeing 747-400 was used, but thankfully, they were all recently updated with the Boeing 777 style overhead bin and panels, and the new business class cradle seats. China Airlines also kindly blocked the seat next to me and I appreciate their efforts without me saying anything. Indeed, only the upper deck and our nose section was sold as business class, and the second section between door 1 and 2 are business class seats too, but today used as a premium economy section (sort of), and many elites are seated there but obviously got economy class service. I noticed that they used the economy blanket and the curtain was shut. I was hoping for the newest Boeing 747-400 with updated first class seat, but at least I got to try something new. With two seats, I am happy (but too tired to be upset).

Sky Priority boarding at A9

Boarding started late for no obvious reason, and I did not have time to trace the aircraft. I had a feeling that the flight possibly arrived late from Vancouver due to strong headwind, and it took a bit of time to clean the plane up. Two F/As were serving the nose section, and they were very friendly and gave the same attentive service, as one would expect in first class. We were all addressed by our last name, and Judy, the main F/A, is extraordinary and nothing seems to bother her. The purser is an older gentleman and also did his welcoming to all the elite passengers. You could choice of juices and water this morning, along with typical packaged snacks.

Unlike the Yangon flights, slippers were offered to passengers. I did not take any, as I still had my first class pair from the last flight.

Here is a few cabin shot before takeoff – please note that the overhead panel and overhead bins were updated with the Boeing’s signature interior (777 style).

Best seat in the cabin – 1AB & 1JK; however, there are less storage spaces, and you will have to put your hand carryon inside of the lockers in front of the cabin.

My seat 2A

Back of the seat

Due to our late boarding and some issues with seat assignments (last minute aircraft substitution and our flight was very full, as many passengers from last night’s diverted and delayed CI 5 were rebooked on this flight), door was closed late at 7:20am. We pushed back at 7:23am, and slowly taxied to R/W5L.

Busy Apron – China Airlines’ land

Boeing 747-400 B-18212 towing to the hangar to rest for a few hours

We took off at 7:37am. Flying time was three hours and thirteen minutes with a cruising attitude of 38,000feet. The routing took us towards Makung, and then into South China Sea and then passing the coastal city of Vietnam, Danang, and then passing Surin, and then into Bangkok.

View of Taoyuan airport

Breakfast was served after takeoff, and like most China Airlines’ regional business class meals on medium haul flights, the quality was okay, but I can’t help to feel that a glorified version of an economy class meal is served to me. The portion is also on the small side and I had to ask for an extra bread roll. I think China Airlines really needs to serve more food in its premium cabin.



Main Course
Wok Fried Japanese Udon with Chicken and Tomato

Bacon, Cheese, and Spinach Frittata
Broccoli, Mushroom, Tomato, Chicken Sausage, Hash Browns

Assorted Bread served with butter
Croissant, Flaxseed Rolls – specially designed by Master Wu Pao-Chun


Please note that there is no hot towel service – only one round prior to takeoff. It is a bit unusual for an Asian airline to have only one hot towel service. I don’t expect SQ’s obsessive rounds of hot towels, but at least one round after the main meal service or prior to arrival.

Feature of seats


Seat in recline position (preset)

Seat in fully sleeping position

The new two-class Boeing 747-400 is nothing fancy, but definitely an improvement over three-class Boeing 747-400s. I love the light purple upholstery and I felt okay in the sleeping position. It is not full flat, but good enough and I do not feel like sliding down the seats, like EVA Air older generation of business class seats. Considered how China Airlines discounts its business class, I have no issue flying this particular plane to JFK via Kansai. The width is a bit of an issue but since I can lower one of the armrests, I am fine. I caught a short nap on this flight. However, if China Airlines really wants to regain its status in the Asian airline world, it really needs to install one of these new generation of full flat suite style seats, like EVA Air’s diamond laurel seats and CX’s new business class seat.

Descent began at 9:27am Bangkok local time (an hour behind from Taipei), and the F/A passed out a tray of juices and waters. We were using R/W1R this morning, so we needed to pass the airport and then turned around to line up with the runway. We landed on R/W1R at 9:50am, and then we parked at gate G4 at 9:59am.

Flight attendants – I had two different sets of crews on both flights. I was actually surprised at either a very short layover (one night) or generous layover (three nights) that China Airlines gives this Los Angles flights. Anyway, two flight attendants work first class, and they rotate throughout the night during the non-meal hours. They definitely are more experienced (and yes it means that they are older than your typical Asian airlines crews), but are very good in providing all the services. They really go beyond their means to please passengers, and I noticed that these passengers were pretty demanding with many requests, including complaining about dishes and the F/As all patiently came back with new entrée. I honestly believe that they know how little China Airlines has to offer these days but still feel proud of this airline and want the premium service to continue. That’s why they really go the extra step. I was addressed by my names on the last three segments (except the first flight), and the F/As all noticed my Delta’s elite plus status and inquired if it was my first China Airlines flight. It is also interesting to note that all four flights have male pursers, despite you don’t see any male F/A. For the transpacific flights, these four F/As were definitely top notch and provided very personal service. Nothing was ever too much, and they always asked if I wanted any refills before taking away empty glasses and cups. On the return flight, things got pretty busy towards the last five hours of the flight, and considered only one of them was on duty, it was a lot of work.

BTW, all China Airlines transpacific flights were code-share with Delta Air Lines and Vietnam Airlines. There is a Vietnamese speaking F/As on both flights, and Vietnamese announcements were made too (of course only the pre-takeoff and after landing announcements). Vietnam is obviously a big market for China Airlines’ transpacific flights.

Entertainment – China Airlines has audio video on demand and PTVs throughout the plane. It is okay and since I am Chinese and fan of Taiwanese TV, I am okay with the selection. However, it might be a bit weak for foreigners. The main complaint was the confusing way in operating the system. The system was slow to response to prompts, and it was not user friendly. It is confusing and on all the long haul flights, the F/As have to step in and teach passengers how to select movie. It will actually be great if they are touch screen, but they are not, even on the newer recently renovated two-class Boeing 747-400 on my last segment from Taipei to Bangkok. They do have one of the Taiwanese dramas (the whole season) in the system, but that drama has some characters working for China Airlines, so no surprise. The movies are relatively new, including the Best Picture winner of Oscar, “Argo.” However the sitcom selection is very weak and even the Taiwanese television selection is very weak. Cathay has a better selection of Taiwanese television variety shows. Considered how many TV shows Taiwan produces, it is quite a shame on how little China Airlines wants to invest in enhancing its entertainment program.

In conclusion, China Airlines offers a fair first class product and the seat/suite is not the most fancy one in the market, but is very comfortable for both seating and relaxing. The Personal television is sort of awkwardly located and took up some spaces. I felt that the seat could be better with more storage spaces for small items. With the turndown service, the seat turned into a comfortable bed. My feelings about its amenities remain the same, and China Airlines really needs to offer sleepwear or pajama, just to stay on par with your competition. Even the second tier airlines offer pajamas now, and many airlines including the Mainland Chinese ones are even offering pajama in business class now. So China Airlines… it is not the time to go cheap. Catering is strong in terms of food especially Chinese food and catering out from Taiwan, which should be China Airlines’ focus and most of your passengers are Asians/Chinese. However the wine list needs some work and please hire some wine connoisseur and invest in some better wines. You don’t need to serve Krug or Dom Perignon or Chateau Lynch Bages, but this wine list is basically not first class. At the same time, the regional business class meal service was really below standard in both quantity and quality. The cutback has gone too far.

IMHO, China Airlines really needs to decide if it is going the EVA Air track, which eliminates first class and has a premium economy cabin, or go with the traditional first, business, and economy division. For now, its first class (not as outdated as business class) is okay, and the F/As are experienced, efficient, and friendly, but it really needs to bring its amenities up to date. The ground experience can be better especially there are only San Francisco and Los Angeles flights that still offer first class. If China Airlines wants the traditional track, it really needs to improve the suites to higher quality seats, as well as improved amenity and pajama. However, if it does not want to make those investments or feels that the demand is not high enough, it might want to go EVA Air track. I have a feeling that China Airlines heavily discounts its first class and offers many upgrades, so the product really suffers in both cabins. First class is borderline acceptable, and its business class really passes its prime – newly renovated or not. With the new Boeing 777-300ERs coming on line soon, this will be the time to really kick up a notch on its premium class product.

For this flight, I pay next to nothing, so my expectation is reasonable. Compared to Korean Air, which is also second-tier IMHO, China Airlines’ first class is really not that behind from KE. Yes the Kosmo suites and the Airbus A380 is great, but if you are flying KE’s normal Kosmo suite on its 777s, the experience will be similar. Since I speak some mandarin, the inflight experience is definitely better and I communicate well with the F/As. The catering is slightly better with China Airlines, and the lounge experience is similar. China Airlines has the potential to jump to the top, but has to decide whether the investment is worthwhile with only two long haul destinations (even JFK is two class now) featuring first class.

I hope you enjoy the trip report and hope to give you an interesting look into an unusual airline. I anticipate some comments regarding China Airlines’ past safety records. I am aware of it and believe that China Airlines has invested much manpower in overcoming its troublesome past. I have full confidence with China Airlines and hope that you can also try to refrain from safety related comments on this thread. This is more about its service, rather than its safety record. Now I regret no buying one more set of ticket on China Airlines, but it is a nice experience.

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RE: China Airlines Transpacific Flights In First Class

Tue Feb 26, 2013 4:01 pm

Sorry I left out a few parting shots...

Some farewell shot of the cabin:

Gulf Air Special Painted A330-200
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RE: China Airlines Transpacific Flights In First Class

Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:06 pm

Hi Carfield,

Great report as usual.
Looking at all your flights I have too say CI looks quite OK overall.. Although as you point out correctly, they are still behind on their competitors.

Thanks once again for sharing!


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RE: China Airlines Transpacific Flights In First Class

Tue Feb 26, 2013 6:40 pm

Hi Carfield

Thanks for the interesting report. I'm quite amazed by the copious amounts of food you were served in First Class. And especially the desserts look rather tasty.

I think I recognise the seats on those flights you took. If I'm not mistaken the First Class seat looks pretty similar to the model Asiana has installed in First Class. The Business Class seat on the last leg on the other hand, very closely resembles the seat Turkish Airlines has installed on its A340s.

Thanks for posting!

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RE: China Airlines Transpacific Flights In First Class

Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:26 pm

WOW! Impressive detailed TR. It looks like a good product!

Sorry the wine selection was disappointing, but it appears that JW Blue is avail  

Thanks for posting!
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RE: China Airlines Transpacific Flights In First Class

Wed Feb 27, 2013 3:14 am

What a wonderful selection of food on China Airlines!
Speaking from my personal experience, CI has a much better service than EVA.
Your quote about Service according to the book applys without fail to every fight I took with EVA but with CI, it has always been very special for me.....
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RE: China Airlines Transpacific Flights In First Class

Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:09 am

Great trip report Carfield. I took the same flight as you did in mid January LAX to TPE except I was seated in 7K on the upper deck. It was not a good value by today's standard. It could be a great and fantastic flight ten years ago. The so called New business class seat was truly unacceptable and a whole generation behind other regional competitions. It reclined at an angle and I kept sliding down when trying to get a good sleep. Food service and IFE were only OK. Nothing great. Both CX and SQ have MUCH BETTER products. I believe BR's new J class on the 77W is better because they use the same seats as CX. My trip back to LAX was via NRT on NH....... Comfortable lie-flat seats and service onboard was taken care of to the last detail........and I give them an A-. China Airlines? B- / C+ at best.
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RE: China Airlines Transpacific Flights In First Class

Wed Feb 27, 2013 5:50 am

Thanks for all your kind comments.

Well the last set of 747 seats are similar to the so-called new J class seats featured on B-18206-8! But the legroom, I believe, is more generous on the two-class aircraft, so I don't feel like that I was sliding down the floor at all. Anyway, the two-class Boeing 747s are the latest a/c that got a new J class, so CI might have address the sliding issues.

Regardless, these J class seats are still behind from main competitions, especially EVA Air has a new Diamond Laurel seat (well, the diamond seats - same as CX/US are only featured on limited flights now - JFK and some LAX flights, but CI definitely needs to come up with something similar when it receives its Boeing 777-300ERs soon!) I have a feeling that these 747-400s will all possibly go towards 2-class and used on the busy Cross-strait flights (Taiwan & China).

Anyway, I am disappointed that I do not get the real new F class, but maybe next time!

Yes I agree that China Airlines in general scores better than EVA Air, in terms of flight attendants' quality. Some of the EVA Air F/As are just going through the motions and are "distant" at times.

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RE: China Airlines Transpacific Flights In First Class

Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:54 am

Trans Pacific flying is always my favorite, and LAX is my favorite airport for it. I am well aware of lots of late night departures for Asia, and TBIT can be a zoo (all my trans Pacific departures have been on CX or AA during the day). I always find TBIT fascinating with all the Asian flights to several different countries. I will be anxious to see what TBIT is like when the construction is finished.
I have never flown CI before, so your TR gave a good look into what their service is like. Although when I see most airlines have gone from the 747-400 to the 777-300ER, I wonder why CI hasn't. The 747-400 (after the 747SP) is really the airplane that made these ultra long haul flights an every day occurence. I have flown several of them (UA, CX, QF, NZ) crossing the Pacific (and for shorter flights like NRT/HND-BKK on JL/TG and even BKK-CNX on TG! But it seems the 777-300ER is more fuel efficient and can fly the same routes.
It seems like the service on CI was good, but they don't rank as high as CX or SQ. But the Asian carriers, in my opinion, offer the best service.
You mentioned CI's safety record, and I can't help but remember the CI 747SP that lost power in an engine and went into a dive.
Thank you for your TR, and if you are ever in BKK again, please let me know. I live here.
Have you kissed a 777 today?
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RE: China Airlines Transpacific Flights In First Class

Wed Feb 27, 2013 4:02 pm

For some reason, I feel the breakfast quality is in general better than dinner...

We will have to see what they roll out on the 77Ws for First and Business in September 2014, but I have no hopes on that.

Service is pretty much what CI has left...

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