CHECK-IN Checking in was a breeze, the whole process took a matter of minutes.
THE LOUNGE The Dynasty Lounge has a separate area for business and first passengers. The business class area is sizeable, decorated in neutral wood tones with colourful accents and soft furnishings. Compared to the airline’s lounge in Taipei the food offerings were dire, consisting of four dim sum choices that had seen better days, cheap instant noodles, two bakery items and sliced orange. I found this doubly disappointing as I was hungry, but not hungry enough to eat anything on offer save the orange. The drink offerings were also a bit odd, for example there was red wine and vodka, but no white wine or beer. On the soft side there were the usual fizzy drinks and boxed juices. I occupied my time by reading from the selection of magazines and newspapers. The lounge has free wifi, local power sockets and wired connection points, plus internet stations and public phones.
BOARDING The flight was delayed 45 minutes but once on board things started to look up. The spacious surroundings impressed as did the staff’s attention to detail when delivering the welcoming drinks, snack, hot towel and international selection of newspapers that occupied my time while economy class passengers boarded.
THE SEAT I found my wide leather seat (3K) to be comfortable and even though it was not fully flat the incline did provide a relaxing position in which to have a snooze. The seat features many adjustable sections, including head, feet, back and also a varied-angle leg rest option, all accessed from the set of 12 arrows. Other features include a power outlet and satellite phone.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE Any seat would be a viable option. If flying a long-haul flight, I would steer clear of row 1 near the bathroom, and row 5 near the galley.
THE FLIGHT The flying time is less than two hours so I didn’t have much opportunity to enjoy the on-demand entertainment system, with my time filled by reading and the meal service. I selected the beef option over the fish and thought the dish showed potential and was miles beyond economy class food. It had a sound flavour profile but the beef itself was a little chewy. The vegetables it was served with had retained their colour and texture, quite a feat on a plane. The fruits served all tasted great and the cheesecake with berry coulis was decent. A good selection of premium wines and champagne were also served on this flight.
The staff seemed genuinely friendly and appeared to be enjoying their work. I was impressed that despite the tight timing needed to get the meal service completed they took the time to interact with customers in a meaningful way – the gentleman next to me chatting at considerable length with one member of staff.
ARRIVAL Like the flight, touchdown was smooth and we landed punctually. I cleared immigration quickly and arrived at the baggage collection point to find my bags already delivered – a bonus of flying business.
Despite some ongoing refurbishment of the airport it was reasonably easy to find the free shuttle bus to the nearby Novotel where I was staying.
PLANE TYPE A340-300
SEAT CONFIGURATION 2-2-2
SEAT PITCH 60in/152cm
SEAT WIDTH 21in/53.3cm
SEAT RECLINE 146 degrees
PRICE Internet rate for a flight in December HK$5,010 (US$644) all inclusive
As a first-time flyer on China Airlines, based on this experience (and also its recent membership of SkyTeam) I would certainly consider the airline for other flights. Hands-down much friendlier staff than many of its international competitors.