Heading to Taiwan anytime soon? If not, you may soon find yourself itching to making plans. This summer, I was able to experience business class premium on the inaugural 777-300ER Boeing flight from SFO to TPE. Let’s just say, it was the most comfortable 13 hours I’ve ever spent in an aircraft flying across the world.
China Airlines is redefining the phrase “flying in style” with its introduction of the 777 Boeing this year, flying direct between San Francisco International Airport and Tao Yuan International Airport in Taiwan. Founded in 1959, the airline is Taiwan’s largest airline carrier, and holds a long-standing reputation for modern, top-service flights in Trans-Asia travel. The airlines has gone to lengths to completely renovate their main airbus model, in a fleet of 81 aircrafts. It’s paid off, as just last year China Airlines won the Golden Pin Design Award for “Best Design of the Year” with this NexGen 777 cabin design. Here’s a breakdown of the complete Premium Business Class experience: from check-in at SFO, to stepping off the plane in the tropical paradise of Taiwan.
Right from check-in, I was on my way. Being used to standing in the longest line for everything, from post offices to airport customs, skipping past the long lines never felt so good. I was presented with a handy e-card in the cutest packaging, put together by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. The card acts as a sort of credit card, which can be loaded and used at convenience stores, the MRT (Taiwan’s subway system), and other shops onsite. Neat stuff! After passing through security, I headed over to the VIP Dynasty Lounge, where there was a multitude of complimentary drinks, snacks, and soft couches to relax on.
Impeccable, professional, warm, and kind. One of my favorite things about China Airlines is that the air stewardesses are incredibly attentive to the needs of the passengers, no matter what class you fly in. But there’s no doubt that Business Class Premium is up there on the top line of luxury and comfort. Upon boarding the aircraft, the ladies come around with warm towels for you to freshen up for the long flight ahead, and also offer beverages–the orange juice is strangely different from American OJ, but better. I had more than a few glasses during the flight.
You know that ‘new car smell’ that we all love? Well, this plane certainly had what’d we call ‘new plane smell’. After toying around with all the tech in my pod (that’s what I called it, because we looked straight out of a sci-fi movie!), I realized it was a bit chilly in the cabin. I asked my attendant, Cynthia, if she had a thicker blanket than the one we’d already been given, and she nodded before whisking away. A minute later, she came back with a fluffy down blanket that made my IKEA throw at home feel like a dish towel. But before I got too comfy, I told myself that I wasn’t going to sleep through the entire flight, despite being on a red-eye schedule. This experience was just too good to be snoozing through!
I browsed through the touch screen TV (which boasted a larger screen than my Apple Macbook) and settled on watching the cheesiest movie possible: “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”. It was actually incredibly entertaining, but I felt the need to stimulate my intellectual side afterwards, so stood up for a stretch and strolled over to the “Sky Lounge”, where I picked up a quick read from the modest collection of books.
A couple hours passed as I was reading “The Happiness Project”, when I began to feel the familiar old rumble in my stomach. Perfect timing, as I was very excited to try the dining service on the flight. Full disclaimer now: I am a huge foodie. The menu was very detailed, and featured both ‘Chinese’ and ‘Western’ options for both dinner and breakfast.
I went with the Chinese-style dinner, which featured stir-fried shrimp and scallop in XO sauce with steamed rice, broccoli, mushrooms, carrot & red bell pepper. The other options were:
-Beef filet with wild mushroom ragout in red wine sauce & steamed parsley potatoes.
-Moroccan chicken tagine with couscous, zucchini, carrot, and red bell pepper.
I know what you’re thinking–don’t worry, of course I didn’t forget dessert. They had a choice of seasonal fresh fruits, cheese platter, mango mousse cake or Haagen-Daz ice cream. Guess which I went with…
For breakfast, we had a choice between:
“Chinese Classical”–Congee and assorted side dishes like steamed tofu stuffed with shrim paste, stir-fried pork strips with pickled cabbage, gluten with snow peas, pork floss, and Chinese donut chips. Steamed bun and seasonal fresh fruits.
“Western Favorite”–Chive scrambled egg with potato rosti, Irish bacon, tomato, button mushrooms. Plain yogurt, seasonal fresh fruits, toast, croissant, apple danish.
So interesting that small details like ceramic plateware and fine silverware make such a profound difference in the flight experience! It really begins to feel more like an actual restaurant rather than eating in a suspended cubicle.
After what seemed like a short nap (I tried my best, but the lie-flat bed was just too tempting…) we were nearly in Tao Yuan International Airport! Time really does ‘fly’ when you’re having fun, and this experience in Premium Business Class on China Airline’s 777-300ER put the start of my 5-day trip in Taiwan on a high note. Amazing service, delicious eats, a beautiful and comfortable atmosphere made it plain and simple: the classiest flight of my life thus far. It’s a no-brainer, that is if you’ve the funds to book one of the seats, at $4300-$5300 a “pod”. Otherwise, start saving up now for your next vacation!
Safe travels and a happy trip to all!
Photos, article by reporter Jocelyn , News for Chinese
從辦理登機手續起，開始了我的體驗之旅。早已習慣在辦理每件事都必須排長長的隊伍-從郵局到機場海關等，所以當不用再站在長長的隊伍中等候，感覺是如此輕鬆暢意。我拿到了一張由臺灣觀光局整合的電子卡-包裝可愛，使用便利。這張卡有點信用卡的意思，可以在便利店、MRT(臺灣地鐵系統）以及其他當地商店充值和使用。很棒的東西！通過機場海關安檢後，我直奔華航貴賓室(VIP Dynasty Lounge)，貴賓室有各式的免費飲料和小吃，還有柔軟的沙發讓你放鬆休息。
我流覽了觸摸屏電視（螢幕比我的Apple Macbook螢幕要大），最後選定了一部電影「Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter」。實際上，這部電影娛樂性十足，但看完後我覺得還是有必要激發我知性的一面，所以我站起來伸了伸懶腰，然後踱步去往Sky Lounge，在那裏儲藏量還算可以的書籍中挑了一本書，速讀一番。
讀著「The Happiness Project」，不知不覺過去了幾個小時，我開始感受到胃中熟悉的咕咕聲又響了起來。完美時機， 想到可以嘗試飛機上的餐食服務，我心中不免一陣激動。先來個免責聲明：我是一個胃口不算小的美食家。菜單非常詳細，正餐和早餐均有中式和西式可選。
經過似乎一個短暫的小憩（我盡我最大的努力，但平躺的床實在太誘人…），我們馬上就要到達桃園國際機場！當你有樂心之事可做時，時間的確在「飛」，中華航空777-300ER豪華商務艙的愉快體驗讓我5天臺灣之旅有了好的開始。服務令人嘆服，餐食精美可口，氛圍優雅而舒適，而整體上你感覺卻是樸實無華：我生活中目前為止最為經典的飛行。如果預定一個座位的錢對你來說不在話下-一個「商務艙」$4,300 – $5,300，那麼無需費腦，直接開飛吧。如果還沒有，那麼開始為你下次度假攢錢吧！
攝影及文章: 老中地方新聞記者Jocelyn Ho