Airlines: China Airlines (中華航空)
Aircraft: B-18051 Boeing 777-36N/ER (77W) (波音777-300ER) (358-seat configuration/ 40C 62PY 256Y)
Class Type: Premium Economy Class (豪華經濟艙) (PY Class)
Seat: 30K (First row in the class type; window seat)
Origin: Taipei/ Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport – Terminal 2 (TPE/T2) (台北/台灣桃園國際機場/第二航廈)
Destination: Los Angeles International Airport – Tom Bradley International Terminal (LAX/TBIT) (洛杉磯國際機場/湯姆·布蘭得利國際航廈)
Date: 13 September, 2015
ATD: 05:57 PM TST
ATA: 02:25 PM PST
It was around a year ago when China Airlines received its first Boeing 777-300ER. Over the past 14 months, the fleet has quickly grown to consist of 8 aircraft. With this new flagship, China Airlines started a “renaissance” (as described by Runway Girl Network) and transcended into a designer brand. In this post, I will be introducing the Premium Economy Class product onboard the China Airlines 777. As various cabin features of the class overlaps with that of Premium Business Class, I will not include details that are unnecessary for repeating. Please refer to my Premium Business Class trip report for more information, such as Wi-Fi usage guide and cabin artistic elements.
The flight from Taipei to Los Angeles was my second leg of the day. I arrived from Tokyo-Narita around noon and had to wait for four hours before the next flight. During the layover, I spent some time resting at the Dynasty Supreme Lounge at Terminal 2. The Chinese-themed lounge was designed and opened before the NexGen project. Despite being luxurious and comfortable, the lounge had a design that was rather out of place when being compared to the new flagship Terminal 1 Dyansty Lounge and the to-be-renovated Terminal 2 Dynasty Lounge. Nevertheless, it was still an amazing lounge, offering all the facilities and services essential for a premium lounge.
As the layover time was rather lengthy, I decided to also walk around for some plane-spotting. Luckily, I was able to catch two special jets: the Scoot “Happy Birthday Singapore” SG50 Special Livery Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and a KLM new livery Boeing 777-300ER. I was also able to spot a number of China Airlines Boeing 747-400s. Four passenger version of the type were retired in 2014-5 and replaced by the Boeing 777-300ER.
At around 4:30PM, I proceeded to the gate for boarding. As always, boarding was efficient and I was able to quickly find my seat and settle down. As I was sitting in the first row, my “seat pocket” was installed on the divider between Premium Business Class and Premium Economy. In the pocket were magazines, a safety card, a menu, slippers, an Acca Kappa amenity kit, and a Wi-Fi login guide. The menu and amenity kit were the first elements that put the “Premium” in Premium Economy.
Besides providing toothbrush, lotion, lip balm, and slippers, the amenity kit even offered some items that weren’t offered in any other classes, even Premium Business Class. I was delighted to find out that the airline was thoughtful enough to offer inflatable neck pillows and socks.
The neck pillow would later help make sleeping a lot more comfortable. I previously travelled with EVA Airways and ANA All Nippon Airways in Premium Economy Class and read various reports on other Premium Economy Class services. To my knowledge, China Airlines was one of the handful of airlines worldwide to provide neck pillows. This was an amazing touch to the service and worthy of applause.
Hardware-wise, China Airlines utilised the Zodiac AIRgo FX Premium Seats in a 2-4-2 layout. Each of the fixed-back seats provided 39-inch of legroom with leg-rest and foot-rest. Additional features included the personal reading light, bottle holder, coat hook, and multiple storage areas.
Excluding the first row seats, all Premium Economy seats had tray tables that could act as iPad holders. There was a slot on the table that customers could place the bottom of their tablets in. (The top of the tablet would lean on the seat-back.) By moving the table back-and-forth, the angle of the iPad could be adjusted. USB sockets and universal power outlets could also be found, further complementing the design.
During my time of travelling, Taoyuan Airport was operating with only a single runway as the second one was undergoing major upgrade constructions. This situation combined with the unprecedented 16.6% year-to-year passenger growth at TPE resulted in ridiculous traffic, with an overwhelming 12 jets waiting for takeoff when my jet joined the queue. Take-off occurred after around 40 minutes of wait.
Around 45 minutes after take-off, meal service started. The tray consisted of the following:
- Starter – Prawn salmon rosette salad with sesame salad dressing
- Main Course – Stir fried chicken with ginger and scallions with steamed vegetable rice
- From the Bakery – Soft roll and butter
- Dessert – Seasonal fresh fruits, Häagen-Dazs ice cream, wheat sesame cookie with white chocolate, cheese, and cracker
The main dish was spectacular. I especially loved the steamed vegetable rice. Other plates were also appetising.
While enjoying my meal, I checked out the in-flight entertainment (IFE) in my 12.1-inch personal television (PTV). The welcome screen featured children releasing sky lanterns (天燈) into the night skies (as opposed to the National Palace Museum artifact in the Premium Business Class PTV background). Launching sky lanterns is a Taiwanese tradition, especially popular in Pingxi (平溪), to pray for good luck. The PTVs featured the latest Panasonic eX3 systems. As introduced in various earlier reports, choices of entertainment included typical ones, such as movies, music, videos, games and 3D maps, along with more special ones, such as seat-to-seat chat rooms, e-books, duty free shopping catalogues and survey taking.
During my trip on the 777 in late-2014, I found out that passengers were unable to order duty free items via the PTV despite having the button to do so. To my disappointment, the feature was still unavailable a year after the debut of the 777. I am rather curious about why China Airlines decided to put the service on hold.
Throughout the flight, the cabin crew walked around the cabin numerous times to offer food and drinks. In China Airlines Economy Class, cabin crew usually provided basic items such as crackers, nuts, juice, and water. However, in Premium Economy Class, hot food was also provided. On my flight, I was given a smoked chicken and mushroom cheeseburger. It was rather tasty and made a wonderful mid-flight snack.
About 2 hours before landing, breakfast was served. The tray consisted of the following:
- Main Course – “Taste of Taiwan” Noodles and vegetables in stewed minced pork with soybean sauce
- Side Dish – Soft roll and butter, seasonal fresh fruits, and yogurt
The main dish, despite being promoted as “Taste of Taiwan”, was not as authentic as it sounded. The flavour was also rather average. The large serving of fruits, however, was rather soothing and refreshing to wake up to.
Soon after breakfast trays were taken away, the plane began its descent into Los Angeles.
Our plane landed at 02:25PM. The landing was smooth and the weather in Los Angeles was, as always, beautiful with clear blue skies and no clouds. While taxiing to the gate, our plane passed by the typical LAX A380 line-up: a total of 5 Airbus A380-800 owned by Air France, British Airways, Emirates, Lufthansa, and Singapore Airlines. Another surprise occurred later, when I realised that the plane parking next to ours was the Air New Zealand Hobbit Special Livery Boeing 777-300ER.
In conclusion, traveling in China Airlines Premium Economy Class was an extremely comfortable and satisfying experience. From the hardware and variety of amenities, to the food and the cabin crew services, every detail was close to perfect. China Airlines has successfully distinguished this new class type from the existing Business and Economy Class products. I am positive that more customers will choose to spend a little extra money while traveling intercontinentally for the additional comfort offered in the class.
China Airlines will be taking delivery of 14 Airbus A350-900XWB from summer 2016. According to exclusive information obtained by >talkairlines, the new A350 Premium Economy Class will stick to the Zodiac AIRgo FX Premium fixed-back seats while offering a 2-3-2 layout. As the delivery of the first A350 to China Airlines approaches, we will be unveiling more details of the its A350 interior design. Stay tuned!
For other trip reports on the NexGen China Airlines products, please click on the pictures below: