China Airlines rolled out its B777-300ER 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.
My 1120 flight (CI62) was 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, 300 metres from the immigration counters on level 3. Because of the time I’d spent at the tax refund counter, and given that my boarding gate was E5, I didn’t have much time to use the lounge, but it was large, with plenty of seating, lots of natural light, and provided all the requisite amenities, with a good German breakfast offering, snacks, drinks, fast wifi and pay shower facilities. I noticed though that it’s only open until 9pm.
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.
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 centre 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.
I was in seat 16D, and in the sitting position I could see my neighbour when the dividing panel was down. A touchscreen panel above the generous armrest controls seat adjustment, there’s a nice side table lamp and a reading light. The seats on this plane had a dark blue and gold cloud pattern. 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-cancelling headphones provided were of high quality.
This seat design offers a lot of storage space, the dining tray is pulled out from under the TV, whilst the handset, USB and power ports, a pair of slippers and an amenity kit (with comb, eyeshades and Acca Kappa products) are all hidden in a cubby hole under the side table.
Lunch was served quickly after the seatbelt sign was switched off – and the portions were big. The appetiser alone included smoked duck breast with quince chutney, a garden salad with balsamic vinaigrette, 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 with spinach orecchiette (a type of pasta), then finished with a cheese plate and seasonal fresh fruits to help ease my stomach after such a feast. I paired my meal 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 (US$11.95), three hours (US$16.95) and 24 hours (US$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 gets much praise, and as well as alcohol offers Taiwanese and Western teas and sweets, coffee and instant noodles. Breakfast was served three hours before landing.
We touched down at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport before 6am on schedule. There were not many travellers that early in the morning, so clearing immigration and collecting my luggage was a swift affair.
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. Delia Yin
Internet rates for a return business class flight from Frankfurt to Taipei in mid-December start from €2,672 (US$2,987) including taxes and surcharges.