Back in May my son and I flew China Airlines 777-300ER business class as our outbound flight to Taiwan for a brief father-son trip over Memorial Day. There aren’t many great ways to book SkyTeam business class flights over the Pacific (at least no crazy deals I know of). The easiest was using 85,000 Delta SkyMiles and $5.60 per person for the nonstop, which isn’t all that bad, considering what other programs charge. Given the typical cost of the flight, I was getting over 2.6 cents per SkyMile.
The single daily China Airlines nonstop out of SFO departs during the middle of the night and arrives in Taipei around 6:00 AM. This makes it an ideal candidate for splurging for business class, as we would be able to sleep a good chunk of the 13-hour trek and wake refreshed to start the day. Flying economy for such an itinerary sounds miserable.
Arriving at SFO
If Delta flew up to our local airport, I surely would have tried to tack on a connecting segment. But this is not the case. We left home around dinner time, arriving at SFO around 10:40 PM. The one consolation was that the rental was basically free using Hertz points. The total came to just $1.16 (SEE: Getting 13 Cents per Point on a Car Rental).
China Airlines check-in is on the south side of the International Terminal. Business class check-in was quick. The agent identified our larger carry-on bag as oversize, but backed off after discussing with another staff. I could see why we’d need to check it if flying economy, but didn’t expect such scrutiny flying business class. The overhead bins would surely have plenty of room.
I’m quite glad that we were flying business class in this case. The economy class check-in line was long, and I would not have enjoyed waiting for our turn in the queue. This is one of the reasons I try to fly with only a carry-on, although you sometimes still need to check in at the counter if flying an international carrier. We weren’t able to check in online in this case. I tried the Delta PNR, China Airlines PNR, and ticket number. Nothing worked.
China Airlines does not participate in TSA Precheck. This wasn’t much of an issue, as the security line into International Terminal A was quite quick. With only three daily flights to the United States, I’m not surprised that they don’t participate.
We spent a couple hours in the China Airlines Dynasty Lounge SFO before our flight. My son plowed through most of his schoolwork (I was pulling him out for a couple days), and I was able to work for much of the time.
Boarding was announced in the lounge, and it started early. I wasn’t wrapped up writing, so we ended up boarding in the middle of the economy boarding.
But our amazing China Airlines 777-300ER seats were still waiting for us. At 1:00 AM, I was starting to *really* hit a wall. So was my son. It’d be dinner and bed soon enough.
I’d booked us in 22A and 23A, at the very back of the business class cabin. The galley divides the business class cabin into two sections, and ours was the smaller. I was late to the game selecting seats, something I’d initially tried to do right after ticketing, but was told that China Airlines only opens seat reservations six months in advance of their flights. Something to keep in mind.
After two previous flights with kids in a reverse herringbone business class, I’ve found that two or three window seats in consecutive rows works just fine.
The cabin was nearly full with only one or two open seats. The wood finish aesthetic of the cabin and seats is pleasant and definitely unique. I’ve not seen anything similar, and I really like it.
China Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Seat
China Airlines business class on both their 777-300ER and A350 is in a reverse herringbone configuration, laid out 1-2-1 across the cabin. Each seat faces away from the aisle, giving you a good amount of privacy. At each seat is a blanket and pillow.
Each seat has a reading light, a holder containing the safety card, magazines, and a lamp. It took me a while to figure out how to turn the lamp off.
There are headphones and slippers in the storage compartment to the side of the seat. Each seat also offers a universal power outlet and two USB outlets.
The amenity kit and a water bottle were placed in the aisle armrest storage. The arm rests move up and down, but must be down for takeoff and landing (for safety reasons).
The amenity kit contained the essentials, but nothing more. I was not expecting a tiny North Face bag.
The seat controls are on a small screen directly to the side of the seat. You can adjust individual section of the seat, or use the buttons below to put it in recline or sleep mode.
Pre-departure beverage options were water, orange juice, and apple juice. The flight attendant served a snack mix as well.
The flight attendants then brought hot towels and menus to the business class cabin. Orders were taken in full for both dinner and breakfast, including drinks. I guess decisions don’t get to be deferred. We weren’t all that ready, but my son and I made our choices.
With everyone settled, we pushed back and started our adventure! The west-bound flight is blocked for 13 hours 55 minutes, which would give us plenty of time to enjoy the service and then sleep for several hours. We’d begin a new day in Taipei, so being able to get rest and maximize our short trip was the primary goal.
As expected, we taxied to southeastern corner of airport, taking off from runway 28L. Given that these runways (28L/R) are longer than runways 1R and 1L, it makes sense that more wide-body aircraft take off from here.
China Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Service
We’d already selected our entree and breakfast, but here are the menus as of May. Overall, all the options sounded good.
And the drink menu, at least everything except the wine list.
The wine list turned out to be the bulk of the menu, with pages of options. Everything is described in Chinese and English, which takes up a lot of space.
At the tail end of the safety announcement, I noticed that the flight attendants referenced age 18 as the cutoff for serving alcohol. This must be the legal age in Taiwan. Dinner service kicked off about an hour into the flight. The rose champagne served was excellent.
After the aperitif, the flight attendants served the tray with the starter, salad and roll.
This was followed by the soup. The starter and salad were far better.
And then the main course. The beef filet was downright excellent. I was blown away by how tender and flavorful it was. The last couple business class meals I’ve had on American Airlines don’t come anywhere close to this. I’d about given up thinking that airplane food coupld truly be great, but China Airlines proved me wrong.
I went with the fruit and cheese plate for dessert, which may have been a mistake. By the time I finished, ice cream sounded a whole lot better.
The China Airlines 777-300ER business class took a full hour, start to finish. By this time I was most of the way through a movie, which I planned to wrap up and then get to sleep.
The in-flight entertainment screen is fixed and doesn’t stow into the wall. There is a decent selection of movies, both Chinese and western.
The IFE controller is stowed in the same compartment as the headphones. The screens are touchscreens, though, so the controller isn’t entirely necessary.
The family/kids selection of movies was small, which surprised me. There were only 17 titles loaded. It’s enough for a flight, sure, but you could quickly exhaust this in just a couple trips unless China Airlines frequently updates their titles.
Mid-Flight and Sleep Experience
At about 4:00 AM California time I flattened the seat so that I could sleep. I had my son do the same. We’d already been over the fact that business class is primarily for sleeping. We needed to arrive rested.
I slept well enough for the first few hours, gradually waking more and more. My estimate of the total rest time is about 6 hours, which is pretty good. Even if I got 4 hours of solid sleep, this is excellent, compared to what I normally get in economy.
It seemed prudent to check in with work one last time, as we still had a few more hours of flight time. I purchased 3 hours of WiFi access. The speed was poor. Web pages took a while to load, and Outlook wouldn’t always stay connected and updated, which was frustrating. I’m not sure if it is because of where we were, or if China Airlines internet is generally this poor.
I couldn’t make it until breakfast without a snack, so I did call the flight attendant and requested some noodles. My son had just woken up at that point and continued his movie.
As we got further across the Pacific, we encountered what I’d like to call a continual dawn. A bit of light stayed in the sky for hours, with the sun finally rising once we were only a couple hours out from Taipei. It made for some beautiful moments looking out the window.
The China Airlines 777-300ER business class lavatory was kept clean. It’s not all that big, however. I like when airlines install larger spaces in the forward cabins.
Breakfast service started about 3 hours before landing. The lights were increased to an orange glow, and soon a flight attendant brought by hot towels. This is when I realized how in need of a shower I was. As far as I understood, there is no arrivals lounge for China Airlines business class passengers, so my first chance might have to be once we made it to the hotel.
Breakfast was good. I’d opted for the noodles for breakfast as well when the orders were taken, so I got to enjoy them twice. It might have been nice to switch to the congee. I hadn’t had that since I flew Asiana business class back in 2017.
Breakfast was served with a side of fruit, bread, and museli. Soon after things wrapped up, the flight attendants came through asking if anyone would like to purchase duty-free items. It surprises me that airlines still do this.
Arrival into Taipei
The first officer addressed everyone for the first time as we began our descent into Taipei Taoyuan airport. Our arrival was estimated at 5:45 AM, just ahead of schedule. I decided I better get the arrival cards filled out that were distributed at the beginning of the flight.
It was overcast and hazy headed into Taipei. The sun was already well up when we were arriving. The views of Taipei and the mountains approaching from the north are stunning. My fuzzy photos don’t do it justice. This is the best of flying.
The business class view can also be enjoyed through two windows. I was entranced the whole descent into TPE.
We landed on the east runway and taxied around to Terminal 2 on the other side of the airport. Good morning, Taiwan!
Overall, China Airlines 777-300ER business class is a solid product. The seat is nice. Reverse herringbone is pretty much the standard these days, as many airlines use it, and China Airlines’ is just as good as any of them. We both slept well and arrived rested enough to tackle Taipei.
It is the service and food that makes China Airlines 777-300ER business class an excellent choice for visiting Taiwan. The flight attendants were attentive and friendly, and the dinner service excellent. It was a much better experience than my recent trip in American Airlines business class. If I have the chance, I would love to fly China Airlines business class again. It’ll just clean me out of SkyMiles pretty quick at 85,000 per trip.