On the Ground: Flying out of LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal can be hit or miss with the recent construction. Luckily, the foot traffic was flowing and I was helped right away in the first-class line. I was quickly checked in and given my boarding pass. The VIP lounge security checkpoint was efficient and got me to China Airlines’ shared lounge on the fourth floor within 15 minutes of walking in the door of the terminal.
Pre-Flight: China Airlines shares the business- and first-class lounge with seven other airlines, bringing a good mix of travelers. The lounge is located in the middle of the terminal, so it does not offer any windows with views of the tarmac or L.A. That being said, the closed space and calming grays and blues provide a great environment to get work done or savor a coffee before the flight. Both the first- and business-class lounges give you access to a fully equipped business center, complimentary WiFi and two buffet and bar areas that serve traditional Asian and Western cuisines. The first-class lounge is just off to the right, with an abundance of club chairs and couches, all within reach of electrical outlets.
My flight was delayed 30 minutes, and the lounge staff were proficient in keeping us updated and rounding up a group of us to be escorted to our gate. Using first-class boarding, there were no lines, and I was shown to my seat within seconds. Before takeoff, I was offered an assortment of beverages and nuts. I opted for water, and we were soon leaving the gate.
In-Flight: First class is in the nose of the plane, with each single pod facing its own set of windows. Having the pods facing away from the aisle gave more privacy and helped keep unwanted light away while trying to sleep on this 14-hour flight. My fourth-row seat was a spacious, fully lie-flat seat with all the bells and whistles. The seat controls were constantly lit, so I could easily adjust positions in the dark. The entertainment system, with a personal 15-inch screen, offered American movies just out of the theater and a great music selection in all genres and languages. There were not many TV programs in English, so I watched a few movies. My seat was finished with an elegant burl wood that gave the front of the plane a classy feel.
The amenity kit included Salvatore Ferragamo lotion products and full toothbrush and hairbrush set. I donned the plush slippers before takeoff and did not take them off the rest of the flight. The in-flight menu had lots to offer, and I could not resist a full dinner — sea bass perfectly cooked in a light teriyaki sauce and mashed potatoes, which turned out to be unexpected-but-wonderful yams; it was a great combination for the fall season. I paired my main course with a 2010 Wairau River Sauvignon Blanc. With the satisfying meal behind me, my flight attendant made my seat into a bed and gave me extra pillows so I could cocoon myself in the cool air. The crew woke up passengers a few hours before we reached Taipei and offered a small breakfast and coffee or tea.
The Experience: This was my first time flying China Airlines, and I was impressed with the staff from beginning to end. We had a turbulent flight, and they worked on instinct when serving meals, making sure we had all our needs met so we were not required to move around the cabin. I was looking forward to my business trip in Taipei, and this was a great start.
- Less than 10 minutes for check-in
- Friendly and helpful agents
- Priority tagged baggage
- Airport lounge
- Complimentary in-lounge food
- Priority boarding
- Helpful and courteous flight attendants
- Pre-flight beverage service
- Pre-flight newspapers and magazines
- Extensive on-demand menu
- Self-serve in-flight pantry
- Amenity kits
- Lie-flat seat/bed
- Mattress and comforter
- In-flight menu with three entrée choices
- Top-shelf wines and liquors
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