Review of China Airlines flight Singapore Taipei in Economy

Airline China Airlines
Flight CI752
Class Economy
Seat 38K
Aircraft Airbus A330-300
Flight time 05:00
Take-off 16 Oct 15, 10:24
Arrival at 16 Oct 15, 15:24
CI 97 reviews
tn92
By 1858
Published on 8th November 2021

Introduction


China Airlines to me is a blurry childhood memory.

Before 2000, there were no budget airlines flying between SIN and TPE. My most frequented airline as a kid when returning to my grandparents’ place in Taipei was EVA Air, followed by flying occasionally on Singapore Airlines, before finally having just a handful of experience flying on China Airlines (CI).

In the 90s, CI was still a troubled airline, constantly trying to recover from its numerous unfortunate accidents in the decades preceding. Unless there were absolutely great offers, my parents seldom book us on CI flights.

Many years later, CI has improved tremendously in all aspects. I had been keen to fly on CI again and back in Oct 2015, I had plans to return to Taipei over a weekend and after searching a little for air tickets, I found a offer price on CI Economy and hence decided to try them again after many years.

On this flight, I also managed to record enough footage / audio clips to come up with a YouTube video that captures some of the sights and sounds of flying that many of us are missing dearly over the past two years (2020 & 2021) of pandemic. 



Routing

  • 2015.10.16 CI752 Singapore to Taipei You are here
  • 2015.10.18 CI751 Taipei to Singapore Coming soon

China Airlines CI752
Aircraft Registration: B-18316
Aircraft Type: A330-300
Origin: Changi International Airport, Singapore (SIN)
Destination: Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan (TPE)
Date: Friday, 16 October 2015
STD/STA: 1025h (UTC+08:00) to 1510h (UTC+08:00)
ATD/ATA: 1024h (UTC+08:00) to 1524h (UTC+08:00)
Estimated Duration: 04 hours 45 minutes
Actual Duration: 05 hours 00 minute
Flight Distance: About 3,212 miles / 1,996 km


Check-In


CI752 was a flight from Surabaya, Indonesia to Taipei, Taiwan, with a transit stop in Singapore. It has fifth freedom rights between Surabaya and Singapore.

I arrived at the airport about 2h before scheduled departure time. 


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The CI check in counters were located in Terminal 3 at Row 11.


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This was the first time I flew with CI after they joined SkyTeam. The last time I flew with SkyTeam was just about a year ago before this, on Vietnam Airlines and China Eastern in Dec 2014.


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The check in queue was not long, so I got my boarding pass very quickly.


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After not flying CI for many years, I was finally trying their Economy Class product again. Hoping also to try their new Business Class products on their B77W and A359 aircrafts in the near future too.


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Check in process took me a total of just 5 minutes. I was happy to get myself a CI boarding pass after so many years.

As I was not a frequent SkyTeam customer, I decided to just accumulate the miles for this flight into my Vietnam Airline’s mileage programme, a purely random decision. Expectedly, these miles later expired without me even noticing… 


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The check in staff also provided Taiwan‘s arrival immigration form at check in; very efficient in my opinion, saving cabin crew the trouble to distribute these forms one-by-one on the plane later.


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With some time left, I took some photos of Changi’s Terminal 3. This is probably my favourite terminal in Changi Airport.


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A favourite photo spot for all Singaporeans going overseas!


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Airside in SIN


Passed immigration when there were another 2 hours left before departure. Time to walk around the airside area a bit.


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Changi Airport has never been an easy airport to take photo of planes. There are only a few areas outside of the boarding lounge where one can do this. In Terminal 3, usually you will just see an abundant of Singapore Airlines’ (SQ) planes.

Here’s one that had left Singapore Airlines’ fleet since August 2019.

Singapore Airlines / B777-200ER / 9V-SRO


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Another B777-200ER that is currently stored. This Air New Zealand aircraft was in the airline’s old livery back in 2015.

Air New Zealand / B777-200ER / ZK-OKG / NZ281 SIN-AKL 


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9.04am, taking a stroll across the terminal’s corridor of gates to my boarding gate.


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Boarding


Boarding gate for CI752 was B8. This flight codeshares with Garuda Indonesia too, carrying the flight number GA9995.


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When I arrived at the gate, our plane was still in the air. So I used FlightRadar24 to track the inbound.


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After the inbound flight touched down, passengers from Surabaya disembarked first. Based on my observation, around half of them continued their journey to Taipei.


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Shown here is the aircraft that flew me to Taiwan that day.

China Airlines / A330-300 / B-18316 / CI752 SUB-SIN-TPE 


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The boarding lounge was not very crowded as the load factor for this flight seemed to be just around 60+%. There were quite a lot of empty seats at the back of the aircraft.


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The aircraft parked at the neighbouring gate was a Singapore Airlines A380 with a special livery to celebrate Singapore’s 50th National Day. It’s a pity I couldn’t take a good photo of it, as there were simply no appropriate angles from this boarding lounge.


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There were two boarding queues: Sky Priority and Economy Class.


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Upon boarding, I was sad that the main bulk of my China Airlines boarding pass was ripped off. I thought airlines don’t really keep boarding pass stubs anymore?


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While the boarding time stated on the boarding pass was 9.45am, boarding process began at only around 10am.


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Onboard


Once onboard, I was disappointed to see that this was an aircraft with the older seat type.


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Hopefully I will be luckier on the return trip to get the newer CI A333 seats?


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Seat configuration in Economy was 2-4-2, and it reduces to 2-3-2 towards the back of the aircraft.


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Each seat came with an adjustable headrest which was actually pretty comfortable.


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There were also pillows and blankets pre-set on the seats prior to boarding.


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Headsets were only provided by the cabin crew after boarding.


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Seat pitch was good.


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But not so much the personal entertainment screen. With a very tiny size and poor resolution, it’s no wonder I saw many people giving up on using it during the flight and choosing to take a nap instead.


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To the right of the screen, there was the phone / spectacle holder that was already starting to show its age. This storage area was however too small to fit almost any modern day smartphones.


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To the left, there was a small mirror.


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A coat hanger was also available on the bottom left of the screen.


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Finally, we have the tray table which was a tad flimsy.


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In this aircraft, there were no individual air vents; no good… On top of us there were only one reading light for each passenger.


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The boarding process concluded at around 10.15am. And I had an empty seat next to me!


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As the flight was not very full that day, the boarding process took only around 10 minutes.


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10.24am, push back.


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While we left the gate one minute early, the duration we took to taxi to the runway was pretty long that morning. We also crossed the airplane bridge that always looked very cool when seen from the roads beneath it.


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Click here to read an article describing how it looks from the roads when aircrafts are crossing the bridge.


On this aircraft, even though the in flight entertainment screen’s picture quality was not too good, there was an option to switch to the cameras outside the plane to watch it taxi to the runway. This was good enough for me!


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Taxiing pass Terminal 4, which was still under construction at that time.


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And this was Tigerair, that is already part of Singapore‘s aviation history at the point of writing.


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Ready for take off.


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Take Off


10.45am, took off from Runway 02C.


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Started off the flight by listening to some music and watching the beautiful skies outside.


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10.55am, seatbelt signs were switched off as we continued our climb beyond 17,000ft.


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In-Flight Entertainment System


Time to take a look at the in flight entertainment system.


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The screens have to be controlled by remote controls, they were not touch screens.


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On the back of these remote controls were telephones that passengers can use to make calls from the plane. I think these are rarely being used nowadays.


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Entertainment classifications: Movie, TV Shows, Music, Child Friendly Programmes.


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While the screen resolution was not too ideal, I found the movie selection pretty decent. The downside was that users can only view three movies at one go, and it was also a little hard to scroll.



TV shows were also sub-categorised. 


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For each programme available in the IFE, the corresponding duration for was also shown on the screen so passengers will be able to decide whether there were enough time to finish watching the selected shows.


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Music selection featured contains many choices of Mandarin pop music, which were my preferred choices personally. There were some international music choices too.


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If I remember correctly, the system even allowed us to personally curate our own playlist; pretty cool in my opinion!


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Kids zone in the IFE.


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There were also games like Tetris; good choice to kill time when stuck in Economy on a long flight.


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Video clips introducing various China Airlines destinations.


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Flight map and camera view options.


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There were two external cameras providing different angles for passengers to view the flight as it progressed.


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And the last part of the IFE system was the “information” section, which provided information about the airline, functions for passengers to send messages, emails, or make phone calls.


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We left Malaysian airspace at around 11am, and continued heading north east, reaching our initial cruising altitude of FL360 at around 11.11am.


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Soon after, cabin crew came down the aisle to provide a quick drinks service, along with a small packet of snacks that was very tasty. 


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Meal Service


The actual meal service started at lunch time, around 1h 20mins after departure.


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Appetiser was something that looked like char siew, though it was not. Accompanied with a little bit of cucumber salad. This just tasted… Odd.


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Nopes, no metal utensils on Economy. Well I guess, plastic ones will do the job too! 


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On this meal tray, the bread with butter was the nicest and most tasty thing. Everything else fell short of the average standard, in my own opinion.


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Here’s the main dish: salty chicken, undercooked rice, overcooked vegetables… Hmmmm… Nothing else to say, wait for my score at the end of this report; that shall sum up everything about the meal service.


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Black coffee: Not ok. Tasted like flavoured hot water.


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Dessert: Not ok. It was definitely just a huge cube of sugar in disguise. 


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Fruits: They were alright, relative to everything else. 


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After the meal service, I concluded that perhaps I should not put too much hope on Economy in-flight meals catered out of SIN in future.

Chose a Hong Kong aviation-themed movie “Triumph in the Skies” to watch, but I gave up after a short while. I remembered that the drama series was really good, but as for the movie version… (Pardon my memory, this flight was from 6 years ago) It seemed like the characters spent more time in the pubs than airports(?)


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As mentioned previously, this flight was not very full so generally throughout the flight it was very quiet. Except perhaps for the man wearing a yellow shirt below, who got a little excited (and loud) at times when chit-chatting with his friends along the aisle. 


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Soon after meal service, I made a quick visit to the lavatory. There were two at the back of this A330-300. 


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Hand soap and moisturiser were provided in the washrooms.


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In the photo below, even though the seatbelt sign was on, it had actually been turned on for very long at this stage. Our aircraft met some slight turbulence during the meal service, and the seatbelt signs were turned on at that time, and it remained as such throughout almost the rest of the flight despite it being generally smooth without any further turbulence. Everyone else went to the washrooms and flight attendants resumed their duties as per normal after a while.


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The washroom was kept very clean throughout the flight; it appeared that the crew members did very frequent checks on the cleanliness of the aircraft’s lavatory, keeping them at almost immaculate conditions. 



After failing to choose a movie that could effectively help me kill time on this flight, I went back to the safest option - The flight map. Maps on CI rotated between Mandarin, English and Japanese; a clear sign that this airline serves many Japanese passengers. 


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12.58pm, our location was just in between Vietnam and Philippines above the South China Sea, with about 2 hours of flight time left.


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In-Flight Publications


These were the in-flight publications available on this flight. There were four of them.


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I actually wrote very extensively to introduce the contents of these publications, but I decided not to include them in this report as it will be very, very long-winded, and adds on to the number of photos significantly. If you are interested, feel free to read more at this link.

For now, we shall just take a look at the key points: The airline's fleet information as of Oct 2015, and its route map.


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At Cruising Altitude


1.35pm, the seatbelt signs were eventually turned off when there were about another 1h 45mins of flight time left.


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I don’t usually collect playing cards from the airlines, but since I have not flown on CI for many years, I decided to ask one of the cabin crew if they were still giving out free playing cards (like in the good old days) and he immediately told me “yes, let me get some for you”. 


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After a while, he came back with two sets of playing cards that featured the airline’s new cabin crew uniform. 


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1.50pm, approaching Taiwan’s airspace soon.


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Here’s the approach route captured on FlightRadar24.


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Our aircraft arrived at the southern tip of Taiwan (Hengchun) at around 2.30pm. Flying altitude was 39,000ft. 


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Descent & Holding


2.30pm, started descend. Anyway, flights bound for TPE will approach the airport by flying along the Western coastline of Taiwan.


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2.47pm, seatbelt signs turned on again in preparation for landing.


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During the descent, cabin crew came around the aisles for another round of quick drinks service. Quite surprised that they were still offering beverages at this stage of the flight, that’s definitely some pretty amazing service. 


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It was also a pity that the aircraft windows had some scratches and hence I was not able to take proper photos out of the window that day.


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We were held in a holding pattern prior to final approach.


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Pre-Landing Safety Checks


3.06pm, cabin crew only started pre-landing safety checks and preparation after the aircraft left the holding pattern.


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Finally seeing the coastline of Taoyuan! This meant that the airport was near.


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3.14pm, final approach route, as seen on FlightRadar24.


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Enjoy the final few shots out of the window before we touch down in TPE.


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A view of the cabin during our final descent into Taoyuan International Airport.


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The personal entertainment screen was also showing some information about electronic devices that were disallowed during landing.


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Landing


It was kinda cool to see our aircraft's approach through the lenses of the external camera. Just a pity that the screen resolution was really bad.


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3.19pm, touched down at TPE runway 05R.


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Our aircraft taxiing in an airport that I was very familiar with.


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TPE has always been known as Cathay Pacific's secondary hub, and the photo below shows it all. There was also a TransAsia Airways aircraft in the photo below; the airline closed down in Nov 2016.


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Taxi route after landing.


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3.24pm, arrived at gate.


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Looking at the neatly arranged pillows and blankets on these seats, it's quite obvious that nobody occupied these seats during the flight.


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The process of disembarking was very orderly.


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As I walked pass Business Class, one of the first things I realised was how small the screen was. This product is definitely quite outdated, not one that I would like to pay or redeem miles to try. I am still more keen to experience CI's B77W or A359!


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Arrival


3.33pm, left the aircraft. Heading for immigration clearance.


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3.39pm, this was not the most busy period of TPE so immigration clearance was quick without much waiting time.


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However, it took me about 20 minutes before my checked in baggage appeared on the carousel.


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3.55pm, passed arrival customs.


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I used the airport coaches to head to my final destination that day. And unfortunately, the next bus only leaves in 45 minutes. That means I had to grab some coffee while waiting for my bus to leave.


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5.25pm, finally arrived at my final destination.


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See more

Verdict

China Airlines

7.0/10
Cabin7.5
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment/wifi6.5
Meal/catering5.0

Singapore - SIN

10.0/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness10.0

Taipei - TPE

9.2/10
Efficiency9.0
Access8.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

While the cabin product was a little old on this China Airlines' A330-300, it was actually still pretty comfortable even on a 5-hours flight. One of the biggest downside to this product was definitely the in-flight entertainment screen - Really poor resolution and unintuitive user interface. It was a pity because I recall that the entertainment options and selections were actually not too bad. The meal service standard was pretty disappointing too. Perhaps on the return trip, catering from TPE would be better?

All in all, it was still a very pleasant trip onboard China Airlines after not flying with them for many years. Hopefully I'll be able to fly on one of their newer aircraft types soon.

Information on the route Singapore (SIN) Taipei (TPE)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 20 reviews of 6 airlines on the route Singapore (SIN) → Taipei (TPE).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Starlux Airlines with 9.0/10.

The average flight time is 4 hours and 10 minutes.

  More information

2 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 586398 by
    KévinDC TEAM SILVER 6051 Comments

    Hi Tn92, thanks for sharing this retro-report! In this case, I believe these cabins, which were already old school in 2015 were still flying around until recently, not sure if all 333s have new cabins yet. I will say that the seats look quite comfortable with the thick padding.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Comment 586517 by
      tn92 AUTHOR 174 Comments

      Hi Kévin! Yeah I believe these aircrafts are still flying as of today. But I am not too sure if CI did upgrade the cabin or not, don't think so.

      But you are right, the seats were indeed quite comfortable.

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