TESTED BY Delia Yin
PLANE TYPE 777-300ER
SEAT CONFIGURATION 1-2-1
SEAT PITCH 78 in/198 cm
SEAT WIDTH 28 in/71 cm
SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees
PRICE Internet fare for Business Class was $3,542 roundtrip
VERDICT: With a long, comfortable bed, very good food and friendly cabin crew, this is an excellent option for the long-haul route between Europe and the Far East.
BACKGROUND: China Airlines rolled out its 777-300ER aircraft in October 2014, and has ten as of August this year, operating them on routes to New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Shanghai and Hong Kong. The Taipei–Frankfurt service is now a daily flight.
CHECK-IN: My flight departed from Terminal 2, and China Airlines’ check-in counters are located in Zone D. Business class passengers can check in two bags, but I was reminded to keep any luggage containing items I wanted to claim tax refund for. China Airlines’ check-in process was quick, but it took me 40 minutes to queue up for tax refund. China Airlines and other Skyteam members share the Sky Lounge at Frankfurt Airport, which is situated opposite gate D8. It’s large, with plenty of seating, lots of natural light, and provides all the requisite amenities, including a good German breakfast, snacks, drinks, fast WiFi and pay shower facilities. However I noticed that the lounge is only open until 9 PM.
BOARDING: Boarding started punctually at 1020, and I didn’t have to wait at the gate. Once on board, a flight attendant delivered a hot towel, soft drink, and in-flight food and wine menus.
THE SEAT: This plane has three classes: business, premium economy and economy. The Sky Lounge bar separates business class into two cabins, row 10 to 16 and 20 to 23 (with no row 13), configured in a 1-2-1 herringbone pattern and offering 40 seats in total. The center seats face slightly inwards but the curving of the moulded shell means you are slightly recessed, which gives more privacy. Access to the aisle is good for all seats.
A touchscreen panel above the generous armrest controls seat adjustment, there’s a nice side table lamp and a reading light. The seat extends to a 198cm flat-bed, and its ergonomic design made it comfortable to lie on. The 18-inch touchscreen TV is paired with a Panasonic Ex IFE system, providing Chinese, English and Japanese languages and a comprehensive entertainment selection. The noise-canceling headphones provided were of high quality.
THE FLIGHT: Lunch was served quickly after the seatbelt sign was switched off – and the portions were big. The appetizer alone included smoked duck breast, a garden salad, and chicken soup with shiitake mushrooms and ham. The main dish options were pork, fish or duck. I chose the pan-fried red snapper in velouté sauce paired with a glass of Rudolf Muller Riesling Spatlese 2014. This white wine is very fruity, and is a good match for seafood.
The aircraft provides a WiFi service offering three packages: one hour ($11.95), three hours ($16.95) and 24 hours ($21.95). I bought the one-hour package and found it quite smooth for uploading photos and browsing the Internet. The Sky Lounge in-flight bar is another plus for China Airlines’ passengers. Designed with both Western and Eastern influences, it offers Taiwanese and Western teas and sweets, coffee and instant noodles as well as alcohol.
ARRIVAL: We touched down at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport on schedule. There were not many travelers that early in the morning, so clearing immigration and collecting my luggage was a swift affair.