Airline review: China Airlines economy, Taipei to Sydney

THE ROUTE

Taipei to Sydney

THE PLANE

Airbus A330-300; the airline has 24 of these aircraft in its fleet with business and economy cabins.

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Dynasty Flyer. Passengers can earn points with China Airlines, Mandarin Airlines and SkyTeam member flights. 

CLASS

Economy, seat 9B – an aisle seat towards the front of the cabin. 

DURATION

Just over nine hours. We leave and arrive 30 minutes late. 

FREQUENCY

The Taipei to Sydney route is flown four times a week. From October 26, 2015 to March 26, 2016 the frequency increases to daily. The frequency increase was introduced last year (for a total of three months) and was popular, hence the five-month daily service from October.

THE SEAT

There are 277 seats arranged out in a 2-4-2 configuration (which turns into 2-3-2 towards the back). China Airlines doesn't charge for exit row seats so it's worth checking in early to try and secure one. The economy seat has a pitch of 31.5 inches (80 centimetres) and a width of 18 inches (46cm).

BAGGAGE

Two pieces of baggage, not weighing more than 20 kilograms total, is the allowance for economy-class passengers. Carry-on luggage is restricted to seven kilograms. 

ENTERTAINMENT

Economy passengers have a personal Fantasy Sky 9-inch (22.9-centimetre) LCD touch screen with an AVOD in-flight entertainment system and a USB port. The movie selection is in line with other carriers, with adequate new releases and classics to keep movie marathon enthusiasts entertained for the duration of the flight (although it's a red-eye service so most people slept). A range of sitcoms, documentaries and games is also available. 

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COMFORT

Pillows and blankets are already on seats when I board. The lighting isn't garish and the lavender and mauve interior scheme is agreeable. Seats recline liberally, overhead storage space is generous, amenities were kept clean and toiletries regularly replenished. 

SERVICE

Service was flawless from check-in until disembarkment. The Taiwanese people are known for their generous and calm nature and it was nice to see the airline staff echo the spirit of their country. The majority of passengers slept through most of the flight, but for night owls, staff were available and happy to help. 

FOOD

Dinner was served within an hour of leaving Taipei and breakfast about two hours prior to landing. Dinner was either deep-fried pork with black beans and rice or chicken chunks with corn and rice. I had the chicken, and although a little tough it was a nice change from my mainly-pork diet while in Taiwan. In the morning I opted for cheese scrambled eggs with chicken sausage. The second option was rice noodles teamed with pork and that was too much for my palate upon waking.

ONE MORE THING

China Airlines is Taiwan's largest airline, headquartered in Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (not in China like the name might have you believe) and the airline is ramping up its presence in Australia. In October 2014, China Airlines and Qantas finalised a codeshare agreement and in December 2014 China Airlines started flying from Sydney to Christchurch with thrice-weekly seasonal services, further expanding into the Oceania market. Sydney to Christchurch and Sydney to Auckland services will continue this year from October 26 for five months.

THE VERDICT

There are no comfort packs or water bottles in economy. I travel with an eye mask, earplugs and an empty water bottle (which I refill on the plane) and prefer a no-frills flight where seats are comfortable, food and service are good and I'm left alone unless I need something. I arrived into Sydney feeling fresh and happy. See www.china-airlines.com.

Tested by Tatyana Leonov, who flew courtesy of Taiwan Tourism Bureau. 

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