Flight Date: 03JUL13—Of the seven airlines flying the Tokyo-Honolulu route, China Airlines offer the most competitive fares in both business and economy. I’ve reviewed Japan Airlines, United Airlines and Delta thus far; so I thought it would be a good time to check-out the new business class seats on China Airlines for my next installment. Up until the end of last year, China Airlines used to offer a three class cabin configuration on all of their B747-400s. With the introduction of their new business class product and subsequent retrofitting, however, the three class cabin 747s are only available on the TPE-SFO and TPE-LAX routes.
With the westerly winds at your tail, the flight to Honolulu from Tokyo only takes about six and half hours. You have to give back some of this time on your way back though: about 8 hours and 15 minutes.
Although the Sky Team terminal is located at Narita Airport’s Terminal One (North Wing), China Airlines still uses Terminal Two.
The Check-in area for the fully booked flight was crowded, but with the Sky Team ‘Sky Priority’ line for first and business class passengers I was checked in under 3 minutes.
I made my way to the China Airlines ‘Dynasty Lounge’ which is located one floor down from the main terminal area after immigration (right across from the American Airlines Admiral Club).
The lounge is about five years old now and while completely functional it’s a tad on the drab side design-wise. There isn’t really much to it: seating area, drink and buffet area and bathrooms. Although there are no longer any China Airlines first class equipped planes flying to Narita, they still have their first class lounge area available to ‘Paragon Card’ level members of the Dynasty Flier mileage program.
Boarding was called and I headed over to gate 72. The boarding area was busy and hectic…everyone eager to get to Hawaii and away from the searing Tokyo heat and humidity. 🙂
I chose the forward cabin area (middle seat) where the first class seats used to be located. The business class seats are the same regardless of where you sit, but this area tends to be quieter than other areas. Business class was fully booked for today’s flight so I tried to get a few photos of the cabin before things got too busy.
China Airlines old-style B747-400 cabins were some of the oldest in the air prior to this latest product renewal—roll down video screen and all. The new cabin looks great; nice and fresh with an understated color palette of light grey and mauve. Amenity kits, menus and slippers were distributed by the Taiwanese and Japanese flight attendants followed by welcome drinks and rice crackers.
The forward cabin area features a 2-2-2 configuration with a total of 18 seats. In total there are 70 business class seats in all. The main deck area just behind the galley uses a 2-3-2 configuration and 2-2 for the upper deck.
The seats are of the angled-lie flat variety with an approx. 170 degree recline; huge improvement over the previous China Airlines product, but not quite up to the likes of Singapore, Alitalia, Delta etc.
Menus were delivered prior to take-off and I chose the steamed grouper along with the appetizer and salad. I went for my usual: Sauvignon Blanc for the wine choice.
Flight today was on time and as soon as we reached 10,000 feet (I know this because some bells sounded and the head purser announced ’10,000 feet’) the crew unbuckled their seat belts and started the service.
The service began with the appetizer, salad and bread and butter. In-flight meals on China Airlines have never been the best, but not the worst either. The steamed grouper was prepared Chinese-style and while nothing to write home about, it was perfectly edible.
Dessert choices were: mango pudding, Haagen-Dazs ice cream or assorted fruit. I went for the fresh fruit and pudding. I had worked all day prior to my flight so I didn’t try out the entertainment system; I opted to try and get some much needed sleep instead.
The seat was comfortable enough and just as I started to doze off the plane started to shake: seats belts signed went on and the captain asked all passengers and crew members to return to their seats and buckle up. The turbulence was pretty rough and lasted for nearly four hours!..ugh. Oh well, these things happen and decided I might as well catch a movie after all. The old style in-flight entertainment system has been replaced with a modern AVOD system with large in-seat monitors and a wider array of movies, games and music.
The turbulence finally stopped and I was able to manage about 90 minutes of shut-eye before the cabin lights were illuminated announcing breakfast and descent into Honolulu International. There were two breakfast choices: Chinese congee or Western spinach omelet. I went for the lighter congee and fruit. Nothing special but better than choices offered by Delta or United on this route.
The airfare should be taken into account when reviewing China Airlines’ B747-400 business class product. The fare was nearly $1000 cheaper than any other carrier available for my travel dates. With that in mind, I would give the all-around experience a nice solid ‘B’. The seats are better on Delta and the food is better on JAL, but for the price paid, this was a nice flight: check-in was a breeze, the Dynasty lounge at Narita is perfectly adequate, new business class cabin and seats are modern and comfortable, food and wine choices were satisfying and the flight attendants all efficient and friendly. I will definitely choose China Airlines again in the future on this route especially.
NOTE: Although I’m not going to write an additional report as the service was identical, I will include all the photos from my return Honolulu-Narita leg on China Airlines (flight date: 09JUL13) below. Enjoy!
China Airlines B747-400 Business Class Trip Report Photo Gallery (Narita-Honolulu & Honolulu-Narita)