The airline with the best average rating is Singapore Airlines with 8.7/10.
The average flight time is 4 hours and 21 minutes.More information
As a teenager who has yet to earn his own money, flying business class is surely a treat and something to be grateful of. However, enjoying the experience is a story while reviewing is another. In this highly competitive market between Singapore and Taipei,China Airlines offers 2 daily flight between these 2 cities (Namely the morning CI753 and the afternoon CI751). Let us see how China Airline's regional business class is like and how it stacks up against the competitions.
The hub of China Airlines, Taipei Taoyuan International Airport sits about 45 km west of central Taipei. It is easily accessible by subway from Taipei and highway buses from other cities. Its close proximity to the high speed rail station makes the airport very accessible.
China Airlines flights to South East Asia departs from the older Terminal 1 and it can get crowded at times, however the cleanliness is largely upheld properly. Business class passengers on China Airlines, Skyteam member airlines flights and Skyteam elite status card holders have access to priority check-in desk to expedite check in process. This definitely comes in handy as standard economy lanes can be an absolute zoo. Business class passengers also have a 40 Kg baggage allowance– more than adequate to fit all the local snacks and gifts into one's luggage.
Check-in agent was friendly and the whole process was uneventful. However, an important notice to people in a hurry or business travelers who value lounging time, Taoyuan Airport has NO express lane security for business or first class flyer so it is preferable to arrive at the airport at least 2 hours prior to departure as security lane can get very lengthy.
Taoyuan airport T1 has decent amount of duty-free shops ,souvenir shops and bookstores so there are plenty of things to see around. Plane spotters however should take note that to capture close up view of aircrafts , one must go down a level below for individual gates since the actual boarding gates are a level below the main transit area.
China Airlines operates 2 lounges out of Terminal 1. I visited the A-side lounge which is located at the 4th floor after security check. Upon entering the lounge , you will have to present lounge invitation cards and walk down towards the hallway. Passengers with China Airlines Emerald and Paragon Member will be in separate room than that of the normal business class flyer ( I am not a high tier member so i had access to the normal business class room that is located at the very end of the corridor ).
The whole lounge adopted an oriental style and its heavy on stones and wooden furnishing. Personally i quite like the design but some may find the lack of natural light and dark colour claustrophobic. The entire lounge was kept very clean and organized which made a fantastic experience. However, this is not the massive Cathay Wing Lounge or the absurd Qatar Al Mourjan Lounge people might expect so it can get crowded during rush hour since the main Business class section solely consist of a single large room. Seating consist of dining area and lounging area with sofa like seats. Taking the center stage is the noodle stand , food buffet and kitchen.
This lounge emphasize heavily on food and beverage offering. It has a full selection of tea and dessert,hot buffet, a dim sum section, a salad bar, soup station and fresh noodle cooking stand . The food quality is great (we can't deny this nation is a food heaven after all) and the selection is dazzling . Coffee machine, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages are available too. For those Taiwanese beef noodle addicts, this is your final chance of having one before leaving. However there is no manned bar.
For facility wise, the lounge is rather mediocre. Aside from sofas and dining tables, that are not many options to lounge or work. Luckily power ports are available in every sofa. It has a small business center , a nap room and 2 showers which means availability is low. Toilets and showers were largely kept clean, a huge plus to the lounge staff. As a side note, the Wifi is amazing with a mean upload and downlaod speed of 25Mbps.
Today's flight is blocked at 4.5 hours flight time. However due to technical issues the flight was delayed by 20 minutes. Boarding process was a bit hectic since there are groups of Indonesian workers having trouble communicating with the ground staffs (CI751's final destination is Surabaya, the 2nd largest city in Indonesia. Singapore is a 5th freedom stop. ). However, arranging process largely went peacefully and the boarding commenced. The aircraft that operated this flight was B-18309, a 14 years old A330-300 equipped with CF6-80E1 engines. China Airlines has a sizable fleet of A330 (23 of them) and they operate flights within Asia, selected Australian routes and Hawaii. It is considered a backbone of their regional to mid-haul operations.
First impression of the seat: Very Outdated. It is a regional recliner style business class seat with 20 inch width and 63 inch pitch, so it does not go fully flat. The arrangement is in a 2-2-2 hence no direct aisle access, despite being more than adequate for a 4 hour day time flight, it is far behind its competition. Singapore Airlines and Eva Air offers direct aisle access flat bed business class seats on the same route using 787-10 and 777-300ER respectively. The old seat also showed clear sign of wear and tear and the padding is not the greatest of all seats. It also does not come with adjustable head-rest which can hamper the overall ergonomics of the seat. However, seat controls are intuitive and easy to use and it comes with privacy partition for added privacy . One major surprise is that China Airlines retrofitted these old seats with universal power outlet. Tray table pops out from the armrest, it is large and sturdy enough to work on a laptop. Below is the seat in full recline mode.
Due to the age of the seats, some stains could also be spotted. However, the crews did their best to keep the overall cabin clean.
As a rather short day time flight, no amenity kit was given. However, plush pillow and blanket were offered right from the start of the flight. Slippers were also provided for added comfort.
Infotainment wise, old seats come with the expected old screen, Its graphic quality is at least acceptable for movies but renders nose-wheel camera useless. No touch screen is available so it is down to the not so great remote control. Content wise, there are plenty of Mandarin TV shows, songs and movies while international selections were fairly decent (in particular Japanese and Korean content). Several Hollywood latest release were also available. 3-pronged noise canceling headphones were provided but the sound quality is not impressive.
There is no on-board Wifi and sadly overhead air vents is also not available too. The wing view as we over flew South China Sea was epic so absence of Wifi is not a big deal :)
As I boarded the aircraft, the crew's greeting already shows that this will be a good flight. They are courteous and welcoming. Through out the flight they constantly patrol the cabin to see if passengers have any needs. The low cabin load (only 12 of the 36 seats are taken) also made the service flow efficient and more personal. The cabin crews also maintained the cleanliness of the cabin and bathroom well so kudos to them.
Welcome drinks and hot towel services are standard practices. China Airlines also offered pre-departure snack mix but it does not offer cold towel service or on ground alcohol. As an under-aged , I opted for water and tea through out the flight.
Menu cards were offered at the beginning of the flight. There were 3 options for main course. However, Business class passengers are entitled to pre-select meals online 24 hours before departure with 5 additional options aside from the 3 that will be shown in the menu. The dining experience itself is broken down to Canapes , Appetizer+Main and Bread while sum up with fruit + a choice of dessert. Each with its own tray. Thanks to the crew's efficiency , the entire meal process is kept under 1 hour while not feeling rushed . A wine card was offered with a single choice of champagne and red/white wine , 2 selections for each. For Tea lovers like me, tea offering is extensive and they offer decent Taiwan-sourced tea - a great bonus.
The food quality was not a mind blowing but well within edible standard. I selected the white fish pasta which luckily does not have soggy pasta and fishy meat. Portion wise, it was filling enough. The highlight was the dessert rice cake which went well with my tea. However, the bread was stale and cold, a let down.
So, was a 4.5 hours day flight in China Airlines regional business class worth it? It depends. If one values work space and overall comfort, an upgrade might be justified. However, the upgrade for me is not entirely justified for this route as there is no need for a good sleep. Competition wise, if one is a Star Alliance (Eva Air, Singapore Airlines) loyalist, just stick with the 2 as they offer far superior products.
A terrible hard product, but makes up for it with great service and lounge . It might not be justified to spend money on such product especially if it is a day time flight or has better option.