Introduction: Flying Halfway Around The World For Half A Day

Filed Under: Awards, China Airlines

My blog goal for 2016 is to review as many new premium cabin products as I can, especially in business class.

So far this year I’ve reviewed Finnair business class, Air India first class, Iberia business class, LAN business classOman Air business classAir France business class, Avianca business class, Aeromexico business classAir Canada business class, and South African Airways business class.

Coming up I have reviews of SAS business classAir Tahiti Nui business class, Fiji Airways business class, Royal Air Maroc business class, China Eastern business class, Saudia business class, Pakistan business class, and Swiss first class.

I have so many more airlines I want to review, though only so much time I can spend flying around to try different airlines (good problem to have… I know!). With that in mind, a couple of weeks ago I found myself with a few days where I didn’t need to be anywhere in particular, so I figured I’d try to review two more business class products that have long been on my list.

Specifically I’m talking about China Airlines business class and Japan Airlines business class. Why?

With that in mind, I had a few days to review these products without necessarily needing to fly anywhere in particular. As I usually do, I chose the destination based on being able to review multiple versions of the airlines’ business class products.

Typically you’re not paying extra miles to add a connection within a region, so I chose a destination based on what had availability for both airlines and would allow me to sample different versions of their business class products. In other words, I wanted to try two versions of business class offered by both China Airlines and Japan Airlines.

In the end, my routing looked as follows, along with the cost of the redemptions:

6/22 CI9 Los Angeles to Taipei departing 12:05AM arriving 5:00AM (+1 day)
6/23 CI753 Taipei to Singapore departing 7:50AM arriving 12:25PM

Cost: 70,000 Delta SkyMiles + $5.60

06/24 JL38 Singapore to Tokyo Haneda departing 1:50AM arriving 9:50AM
06/25 JL2 Tokyo Haneda to San Francisco departing 12:05AM arriving 5:25PM (-1 day)
06/24 AA1926 San Francisco to Los Angeles departing 9:15PM arriving 10:46PM

Cost: 70,000 American AAdvantage miles + $71.96


Redeeming miles for China Airlines business class

Redeeming Delta SkyMiles for China Airlines business class is super easy. The availability shows directly on Delta’s website, and it’s bookable there as well.

The flight from Los Angeles to Taipei was operated by one of China Airlines’ new Boeing 777-300ERs, featuring a fantastic reverse herringbone configuration. Not only was it a great configuration, but I thought the cabin finishes were gorgeous as well. I was most excited about the fact that the flight had wifi, because without wifi on my longhaul flights, I would have had a really hard time justifying taking this trip during the week.

China-Airlines-Business-Class-777 - 10

Then from Taipei to Singapore my flight was operated by an A330, featuring forward facing angled seats, which I don’t find especially comfortable. Then again, my goal is to review as many airlines as possible, and not just the good ones.


Redeeming miles for Japan Airlines Airlines business class

I was redeeming American AAdvantage miles for the return, and unfortunately Japan Airlines awards can’t be booked through American’s website. So I used British Airways’ website to search for availability, and then called American to book.

The routing from Singapore to the US worked out perfectly, since the Singapore to Tokyo Haneda flight was operated by a 767, featuring forward facing staggered seats, similar to what many airlines offer (including Austrian, Brussels, Delta, etc.).

Japan-Airlines-Business-Class-767 - 1

Meanwhile from Tokyo to San Francisco I was on a 777, featuring fantastic Apex suites. One of the reasons I chose this routing isn’t just because there was award availability, but also because a window seat was available, which wasn’t the case on many other flights I was looking at. For this configuration, the window seats are significantly better than all the other seats.

Japan-Airlines-Business-Class-777 - 2

While I wouldn’t really get to experience the full Japan Airlines service due to both flights being redeyes, I was excited about transiting Tokyo Haneda Airport for the first time, and visiting the Japan Airlines first class lounge there, which I could access on account of my oneworld Emerald status. In the past I’ve only used the Japan Airlines first class lounge Tokyo Narita, and I found the one at Haneda Airport to be significantly better.

Japan-Airlines-Lounge-Tokyo-Haneda - 21

Bottom line

While I’m used to taking quick trips, this one was crazy even by my standards. I spent a total of half a day on the ground in Singapore, and half a day on the ground in Tokyo. Thanks to the fact that all of my long flights had wifi, I was even able to take the trip without too much lost productivity, which is awesome.

While I was curious about China Airlines and Japan Airlines in general, I was actually really impressed by both of them. Between the excellent seats and good value wifi, I was a happy camper. The soft product of both carriers impressed me, which was the icing on the cake.

Thanks for reading, and as always, any questions/comments are welcome!

  1. @ Tom — Nope, I slept, since I stayed up during most of the flights to work, since they were doing the US business day. I essentially stayed on US time the entire three day trip.

  2. @ Utah saints — I’m reviewing airlines I haven’t reviewed before. If there are other airlines you’d like me to review, let me know. If you find trip reports in general boring, perhaps just don’t click on them?

  3. Thank you Ben for reviewing business class per the request of many of your readers, me included. Listening to your readers is part of what makes your blog so helpful.

  4. I’m hoping Utah is being sarcastic because I am loving this year of different airline reviews. Keep it up, Ben!

  5. @Ben, My understanding was that Air Tahiti Nui was planning to retire their A340’s and replace them with 787’s. Don’t know the date for this or even if it’s still planned, but though I doubt their Business Class seat will be significantly better, you may want to postpone your review.

  6. Hi Lucky, is there anyway you could do a review on TAAG Angola Airlines First Class. I’m not sure they are partners with anyone for redemptions, do you know?

  7. @ meow — I REALLY want to fly with TAAG. I’ll see what I can do on my next trip to Africa.

  8. Why Hard Products have been getting better over the years, the soft products have been in a state of degradation for a long time.

  9. @Ben, I am not a blogger but I do share your passion for flying and trying out new products. A couple of weeks ago, I did a similar trip: JFK-AUH-SIN-AUH-JFK to try out the EY’s 388 business class. I spent a whole 8 hours on the ground in Singapore. It was quite fun explaining the trip to the immigration officer in AUH, an unavoidable event despite having Global Entry. A great trip though!!!

  10. We did the same HND-SFO flight in JL F and it was wonderful. We had the entire F cabin to ourselves, it was great. Their J cabin looked great as well, and it’s tops on our list now that F is prohibitively expensive to book these days. The JL F lounge in HND was very good, but I’ve also head the newish CX lounge at HND is also good to go.

  11. I’m afraid @Utah saints is correct. Your posts aren’t much of a review lately. No detailed reviews on pre-flight service, amenities, meals, IFE, meal service, turn-down service, or anything remotely similar to a proper review. We want substantive content here.
    Step up.

  12. Haneda is way better than Narita in every aspect as you mentioned. They have premium selections on Japanese Sake in the chill room, as well as a shoe cleaner from John Lobb 😀

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