On the Ground: With construction at the LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal finally complete, traffic was easy, and I found the China Airlines business-class priority check-in counter quickly. While checking in my one bag, the flight attendant gave me directions to the SkyTeam lounge. Breezing through TSA security, I made it to the lounge in a surprising 10 minutes. It offers light snacks and basic drinks, but the real perk is the upper-level seating outside the lounge doors — if you can snag a seat — offering a perfect perch from which to people-watch but still quiet enough to get some last-minute emails done.
Pre-Flight: My seat was located in the second section of business-class seats, right after the second aircraft doors. I just got a chance to get settled before the rush of passengers heading to the back crowded the aisles. My flight attendant quickly took my coat and offered a choice of juices and a warm towel to freshen up. My favorite detail was when she offered the in-flight reading choices, with Global Traveler’s current issue among the magazines, of course. With my slippers on, I relaxed and got ready for takeoff.
In-Flight: The seat configuration of this new Boeing 777 NexGen aircraft is 1-2-1. My window seat gave me lots of personal space, storage and aisle convenience at the same time. China Airlines’ designers did a wonderful job combining old and new elements into a unique décor — light bamboo wood adorned the surfaces and walls, with black lacquer in the galley. After takeoff, I explored a bit more and found multiple compartments for storage, along with electrical outlets for numerous media devices. A small lamp adorned each seat, giving off a warm glow while I did some work and read. The entertainment system was better than any I have experienced on board — an 18-inch Panasonic widescreen offered dozens of new-release movies (I openly cried watching The Theory of Everything), thousands of songs and 3D world maps and flight tracking. WiFi was also available on board.
Dinner service began a few hours into the 12-hour flight. I started with a delicious glass of 2014 Konig Johann Riesling, which tasted perfect 30,000 feet in the air. The appetizer course included a garden salad, grilled prawns and rosette roast beef with an aioli garnish. With the dinner menu, China Airlines debuted its custom-designed tableware — petal-shaped plates and bowls with painted landscapes and metallic touches. For my main course, I enjoyed a tender beef filet with mashed potatoes and warmed garlic bread. To end the meal, I chose fresh fruit and decaf green tea.
Our flight attendants helped us bed down for the remainder of the flight as hues of the sunset lit the cabin. My 180-degree lie-flat seat was comfortable and roomy, and I asked for extra pillows. The air temperature was just cool enough for me to burrow into my blanket for a few hours of sleep.
The Experience: China Airlines’ unique décor and amenities — from the furnishings to the tableware to the teas in the galley — set the bar for my future flights. The attendants were helpful when I needed to set up my WiFi, kept me in cups of green tea during the flight and maintained quiet in the galleys while passengers were resting. I arrived safe and sound in Taipei and already looking forward to my return trip.
[item check=yes]Less than 10 minutes for check-in[/item]
[item check=yes]Friendly and helpful agents[/item]
[item check=yes]Priority tagged baggage[/item]
[item check=yes]Airport lounge[/item]
[item check=yes]Complimentary in-lounge food[/item]
[item check=yes]Priority boarding[/item]
[item check=yes]Helpful and courteous flight attendants[/item]
[item check=yes]Pre-flight beverage service[/item]
[item check=yes]Pre-flight newspapers and magazines[/item]
[item check=yes]Extensive on-demand entertainment[/item]
[item check=yes]Amenity kits[/item]
[item check=yes]Lie-flat seat/bed[/item]
[item check=yes]Turn-down service[/item]
[item check=yes]In-flight menu with three entrée choices[/item]
[item check=yes]Top-shelf wines and liquors[/item]
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