Review: China Airlines
In November of 2012 I bought a one way ticket from Los Angeles to Taipei, Taiwan with China Airlines which at the time was offering the best rates between the two locations. I expected the typical airline experience of seats sized for 12 year old kids, small bags of peanuts, and a microwave quality meal which would leave you wishing for a dozen donuts. However, the flight with China Airlines turned out to be quite surprising in several ways.
For me legroom is paramount. I’m six foot six inches (196 cm) which is an uncomfortable challenge for almost any economy class seat. I was prepared for a brutally uncomfortable 14 hour flight with my knees rammed into the seat in front of me. Instead, prior the flight when checking in luggage, the ticketing attendant gave me a seat with a bathroom wall in front of me, which meant I had a health two feet in front of my knees. I was in paradise.
The flight attendants were amazingly helpful and polite. For the first time I felt like they really did want to help me rather than being annoyed that I had the audacity to activate the call for help light on the console above my head. Want some water to clear your throat or maybe even some apple juice? No problem; the flight attendants were jumping to please passengers like a doting wife concerned about her husbands health. Want to try the coffee for breakfast, but later switch to tea? No problem.
Unlimited Electronic Entertainment
Each seat had a small 6×8 sized LCD panel and controller. One size of the controller was for video games, and the other for the television. Clicking the home button brought you to a myriad of choices between about sixty movies, TV shows, or travel documentaries of destinations China Airlines services. I watched the documentary about Taiwan which was in Chinese with English subtitles followed by two recent Hollywood movies. The only disappointing thing was the poor quality headphones which had a buzzing sound like a blown speaker and could not fully compete with the sounds of the large aircraft engines. The best part was it was all free with no commercials or attempts to get your to whip out your credit card to pay for in-flight entertainment.
The food was the big surprise. They served two full meals, breakfast and dinner, both of which had a main course and two side dishes, a dessert and with multiple drink options. The food was tasty and about the quality of a Denny’s restaurant in the States. Not bad for flying 30,000 feet above the ocean. I really liked that you could get multiple juices and swap between coffee and tea. The coffee was a bit strong for my tastes and I found the tea to be quite good (I’m normally a coffee drinker and not a fan of tea).
About half the flight was in near darkness as passengers went to sleep. To be honest, I didn’t sleep well, but then again I’ve only been on one flight where I did and that was an upgraded first class 747 from Paris to New York with fully reclining luxury seats which could almost fit two people. Each passenger was given a blanket and small pillow. Seats had adjustable height head rests with small adjustable angle wings which you could rest your head agains.
For an economy class ticket I felt almost like a first class customer. Simply put, I have never experienced an airline anywhere which put such heart felt effort into my comfort at a budget price. Except for the standard seat size, I would say it was a near first class experience. Given the choice I’ll definitely take China Airlines over any other carrier I’ve flown.