Review of China Airlines flight Seoul Taipei in Business

Airline China Airlines
Flight CI161
Class Business
Seat 10A
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 02:35
Take-off 03 Jul 17, 12:35
Arrival at 03 Jul 17, 14:10
CI   #7 out of 133 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 74 reviews
Rewardflying
By GOLD 1354
Published on 8th August 2017
photo ci161 cover

Greetings fellow Flight-Report #avgeek fans. They say if you fall off a horse the best remedy is to get right back on. Well after my last disaster trip I got right back on. This trip came a whisker of being cancelled, but the opportunity to fly Lufthansa and Asiana first class was too much to pass by. Then as I like to say, the stars aligned when United's 777-300 with Polaris seats became available the day I was headed home.

The original plan:
ORD-FRA United 777-200 Polaris First
FRA-DUS Lufthansa A320 Business
DUS-NRT ANA 787-9 Business Staggered
NRT-ORD Japan Airlines 777-300 First Class

turned into this:
ORD-FRA Lufthansa 747-8i First Class
FRA-ICN Asiana A380 First Class

ICN-TPE China Airlines 777-300 Business Class - This Flight Report


TPE-NRT China Airlines A330-300 Business Class
NRT-SFO United Airlines 777-300 Polaris Business Class
SFO-ORD United Airlines 757-300 First Class

The only problem taking Lufthansa to Frankfurt then Asiana to Seoul is my destination was Japan. This trip came about after United made changes to their routing rules in 2016. One last time I wanted to take advantage of the lenient rules offered on reward tickets, including a free stopover in a different region of the world. So almost a year in advance I booked the following:

ORD-FRA on United 777-200 First class
2 day stopover in Germany
FRA-DUS on Lufthansa
DUS-NRT on ANA 787-9 Business class
Overnight layover in Narita
NRT-PVG on ANA 787-8 Business class
2 day stopover in Shanghai
PVG-VIE on Austrian 777 Business class
Overnight layover in Vienna
VIE-ARN on Austrian something that hadn't been decided
ARN-ORD on SAS A330 Business class

If you are counting that is 4 cities, 160,000 points with a first class segment.

photo ua original ticket 7-17

After visiting Shanghai at the end of 2016 I soured on the idea of this trip and focused on Japan. In the end, my self-negotiations settled for a few days visiting some Ryokans in the Nikko area. I was able to keep the first half of this United itinerary until 2 weeks before departure when Lufthansa releases their first class space.

Returning to the issue of getting from South Korea to Japan, there were a lot of options. The least expensive ones were using 15,000 BA Avios or Delta Skymiles. Using Avios got me to Narita on a Japan Airlines 737, but availability was not certain. Much more availability was out of Gimpo where I could easily have taken the subway from Incheon, flown to Haneda then taken the train to Narita where I was staying, but this is Reward Flying not Reward Trains. Much to my surprise Delta Skymiles had the best deal and availability. There were multiple options such as China Airlines via Taipei, Korean Airlines direct and China Eastern via Shanghai. A direct Korean Airlines flight would seem the most obvious, but it didn't depart until late in the day and arrived at 8:30PM, the same time China Airlines arrived. Having been to Seoul and not all that keen on taking the train into town, I opted for China Airlines, mostly because one segment was on their international 777-3.

A note on United: Before the route rule changes last year it would have been easy to add the Seoul-Tokyo segment to the ticket at no extra cost. Not anymore, I tried a couple times and they wouldn't do it. There was plenty of availability within 24 hours on Asiana to NRT and HND.

After an insanely expensive breakfast at the Nest Hotel near Incheon I took their convenient shuttle bus to the airport.

photo ci106 nest hotel

I used the China Airlines mobile app to check-in but was only issued 1 of 2 boarding passes. That wouldn't get me to Narita. Why remains a mystery.

photo ci icn-nrt boarding pass 2 edit

The ICN gate agent was super friendly. She invited me to visit the Korean Air lounge as well as the China Airlines lounge in Taipei plus gave me specific transit directions upon arrival in TPE.

photo ci161 icn ap 1

China Airlines departs out of the satellite terminal. The tram is a breeze.

photo ci161 icn ap 4


ICN is a great airport. The memory card in my camera was full so I stopped in one of the electronic stores and got a card. Talk about timing, the card reached its limit as I was recording the Asiana A380 take-off roll viewing from the IFE outside tail camera. It quit halfway down the runway.

photo ci161 icn ap 2

There are many places where you can relax or sleep while waiting for your flight in ICN. This one has a particularly nice view. 

photo icn kel outside 1

The Priority Pass Sky Hub lounge is located next to the Korean Air lounge. Showers were available in this lounge.

photo icn kel outside 2

Upon entering the Korean Air lounge you are greeted by the newest addition to their aircraft fleet. Boy would I like to have this model aircraft. 

photo icn kel model 787 1photo icn kel model 787 3

Another smaller version was found inside the lounge. I'd settle for either. 

photo icn kel model 787 2

The wooden floor lounge was dressed largely in plain white with turquoise and taupe furniture. 

photo icn kel room 1

Except for a lime green chair. 

photo icn kel room 3

In the back by the restroom was an isolated TV room. 

photo icn kel room 2

The facilities included a shower room.

photo icn kel room 4photo icn kel room 5

Food and beverage was limited at best. The time was around 11AM. 



I grabbed a coffee and plastic cup of water to sip on while plane watching.

Enormous.

photo ci161 scenic icn 1

While heading to the gate I stopped for a bit and listened to a performance featuring traditional Korean music. 

photo ci161 icn ap 5

It's a beautiful aircraft.

photo ci161 airplanephoto ci161 entry 1

China Airlines sets a warm and welcoming atmosphere once you enter their aircraft.



The front cabin of this triple seven holds 24 J passengers. So far my suitcase is the lonely bag. The final tally would be five adults and one baby who occupied their own seat (and extremely well behaved) on this two hour journey.

photo ci161 cabin 5 center forwardphoto ci161 cabin 6 right forward

The mini-cabin holds another 16 passengers for a total of 40 business class seats. Because of the proximity to the engines as well as premium economy class, I would recommend trying for the front cabin.

photo ci161 cabin 2 centerphoto ci161 cabin 8 mini 1

At door two between the J cabins is the SkyBistro. The bistro would be closed on this flight. 

photo ci161 entry 3 skybistro

There are 3 lavatories for business class, 2 between the cabins and 1 in front by the cockpit. This one has a view. 



n addition to the oversize 777 overhead bins, plenty of storage is available in front of the first row. 

photo ci161 cabin 9 storage

However row 1 is numbered row 10. 

photo ci161 cabin 7 row 1

10A as presented upon entering the 777.

photo ci161 seat 1

10A on the A350. Almost the same seat with adjusted colors. The seat cushion looks thicker, there is no head pillow on the A350 and it has a shoulder belt.

photo ci641 seat 1

Back to the 777.

photo ci161 seat 2

I believe the footwell is deeper on the window bulkhead seats.

photo ci161 seat 3 10a footphoto ci161 seat 10a foot 2

Seat 10C

photo ci161 seat 4 10c foot

The tray has two heights, higher for working and lower for dining. 

photo ci161 seat a1 tray 1photo ci161 seat a2 tray 2

The side table offers two compartments for storage items as well as securing the IFE controller which doesn't need to be used with the responsive touch screen monitor and electronics.



The aisle side armrest that can be adjusted for more width in bed mode and can hold water, headphones, etc.



I wish the flight was long enough to sleep. 

photo ci161 amenity 3photo ci161 amenity 4

The IFE is excellent with a brilliant touch screen monitor,


although you have to wonder who catalogs the movies?
photo ci161 ife 2

Finally the seat controls located on an easy to understand touch-pad.

photo ci161 seat a13 controls

Time to go. Korean Air doing some ground transit along with a couple 777's needing engine work and the soon to be defunct United 737 Seoul to Narita 5th freedom route that is never available for reward ticketing. If it's so popular why are they cancelling it?



Menus were distributed for today's lunch. 


A glass of merlot complemented this dish of braised pork belly. 

photo ci161 food 1

The main

photo ci161 food 2

And various Kimchi dishes and side dishes. 

photo ci161 food 3photo ci161 food 4

Followed by dessert completing a substantial lunch for such a short 2 hour flight.



All too soon the descent began. Landing to the south today.

photo ci161 scenic 2

And another fantastic China Airlines flight comes to an end. 

photo ci161 scenic 1

Flight Path

photo ci161 flight path

Ratings and full report on Rewardflying.com
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Verdict

China Airlines

7.8/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Meal/catering7.0

Korean Air Prestige Class Lounge - - 1

6.5/10
Comfort6.0
Meal/catering5.0
Entertainment/wifi8.0
Services7.0

Seoul - ICN

7.9/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Taipei - TPE

7.9/10
Efficiency8.0
Access7.5
Services8.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

Having flown short Asia routes on EVA Air and China Airlines I honestly can't say which one is better. They are both fantastic and I'd fly either anytime. China Airlines might hold the edge for me as I like the Super Diamond seat a little better over the EVA Cirrus seat. But it's marginal. Great job by the Taiwanese.

Information on the route Seoul (ICN) Taipei (TPE)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 8 reviews of 4 airlines on the route Seoul (ICN) → Taipei (TPE).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is China Airlines with 8.3/10.

The average flight time is 2 hours and 36 minutes.

  More information

2 Comments

  • Comment 407543 by
    socalnow GOLD 924 Comments

    Thank you for this excellent report on the striking new CI 777-300ER. The cabin is really unique and both warm and inviting. What an awesome product for a two hour flight.

    " A direct Korean Airlines flight would seem the most obvious.... I opted for China Airlines, mostly because one segment was on their international 777-3."
    -I would make the exact same choice! Far more interesting than a non-stop.

    "This trip came about after United made changes to their routing rules in 2016. One last time I wanted to take advantage of the lenient rules offered on reward tickets, including a free stopover in a different region of the world. "
    -Oh man do I miss those days of calling and building your own itinerary segment by segment.

    "The tray has two heights, higher for working and lower for dining."
    -That's a clever feature.

    The meal looks very substantial for the short flight. And tasty too!

    Thanks again for sharing, happy flying.

  • Comment 407561 by
    Rewardflying GOLD AUTHOR 466 Comments

    Hi SoCal. Thanks for the comments. I'm anxious to try China Airlines long haul. Very impressed with 3 Asian flights.

    Oh man do I miss those days of calling and building your own itinerary segment by segment

    Back then their mobile app was like a video game. I was addicted building crazy itineraries!

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