Coming Up: China Airlines & Japan Airlines Business Class Reviews!

Filed Under: Awards, China Airlines
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As y’all know, my 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.

Air-Canada-777-Business-Class - 1
Air Canada business class

Coming up I have reviews of SAS business class, Aeroflot business class, Air 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.

Swiss first class

However, there are two incredibly practical business class products to Asia which I haven’t yet reviewed, and didn’t have any immediate plans to review. I have some days this week there I don’t have any other commitments in terms of where I need to be, so I decided to book a quick trip to review two new products — over the coming days I’ll be flying China Airlines business class and Japan Airlines business class. Let me explain.


Reviewing China Airlines business class

China Airlines is part of SkyTeam, and has some gorgeous new Boeing 777-300ERs equipped with wifi and reverse herringbone seats. Combine one of my favorite hard products and one of my favorite business class amenities, and it might just be one of my new favorite transpacific airlines.

Most importantly, this is a great use of Delta SkyMiles. My ticket from Los Angeles to Taipei to Singapore costs just 70,000 SkyMiles without fuel surcharges — the total taxes were just $5.60. That’s a value which is tough to beat!

China Airlines business class

This is one of the best values using Delta SkyMiles, and one of the many reasons to consider signing up for one of the offers on the Delta American Express Cards.

Delta Amex Cards

Stay tuned, because I’ll be live reporting from the flight, given that it should have wifi.

I’ll then be connecting onto one of China Airlines’ A330s to Singapore, so I’ll get to experience their older business class product as well.

I’m also curious to see how China Airlines compares to their Taipei based rival, EVA Air. I’ve flown EVA Air business class from Taipei to San Francisco, Tokyo to Taipei, and Taipei to Los Angeles.

EVA Air business class

Reviewing Japan Airlines business class

This is a product I’ve long wanted to review, as Japan Airlines business class is a great use of American miles, and soon it will also be possible to redeem Alaska Mileage Plan miles on Japan Airlines.

I’ve reviewed Japan Airlines first class before, but since American’s award chart devaluation, the sweet spot for award redemptions is now often in business class.

Japan Airlines first class

I got really excited about reviewing Japan Airlines’ new business class after flying Oman Air’s excellent Apex Suite, which is one of my favorite business class hard products.

Oman-Air-787-Business-Class - 3Oman Air business class

Japan Airlines has the same seats in business class, and I managed to snag a window seat. So I’m excited to see what Japan Airlines’ soft product is like.

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Private window seat in Oman Air business class

Furthermore, for the flight within Asia I’m flying Japan Airlines’ 767 business class. This plane’s business class is in a staggered configuration, similar to what you’d find on Austrian, Brussels, Delta, etc. I’m curious to see how Japan Airlines’ product compares.

Delta-One-London - 3
Delta business class, similar to what I’ll experience on the JAL 767

The entire trip from Singapore back to the US cost 70,000 American AAdvantage miles.

Bottom line

This is a very quick trip I’m taking exclusively to review new products, so I’m excited to check them out. I’m confident Japan Airlines will have a great product, though I’m very curious to see what China Airlines’ new business class product is like. I know the hard product will be excellent, though it’s the soft product which is more of a mystery.

Stay tuned for the review, as these are two very practical airlines for transpacific business class travel.

Are you more curious to read about China Airlines or Japan Airlines business class?

  1. Make sure to visit China Airlines’ multiple lounges at TPE. You’ll not be allowed into the lounge for their premier members, but having visited and reviewed all of the lounges, you’re not missing out – it’s very much geared towards Chinese culture. The best is the Dynasty Business Class Lounge by far. I’d say it EASILY holds its own among some of the better F lounges I’ve been in. Full drink/food menu, gorgeous decoration, and incredibly attentive staff – no spa services though.

    I found CI to be supremely underrated, at least on the TPAC services on their 777-300ERs. There’s several reviews out there, including a couple from that get into great detail on the new designs of the planes and lounges. It’s really worth your time to familiarize yourself with their options ahead of flying with them since they generally not terribly well-know, it seems, outside of the West Coast of the US, Asia, and some key spots in Europe. for a pretty comprehensive covering of their products.

  2. I am very interested in the China Airlines review. My partner and I recently traveled on JAL business class 787 from DFW to NRT. The hard product was very nice, although I didn’t care for the ‘mattress’ and hated the pillow. I thought the food was outstanding. The service was typical Japanese – very attentive and paid attention to details. I spoke to the attendants in Japanese and I think that helped give us better service. We flew during my partner’s birthday and the attendants gave him a birthday card signed by all the attendants, a model of the 787 and other gifts.

  3. Speaking to the JL crew in Japanese (even just basic pleasantries) unlocks a whole different level of service. Otherwise, they are very reserved and distant with gaijin pax. Luckily, if you don’t speak Japanese, you can order food and drink via the IFE remote.

  4. JL 2, although a very convenient flight for connections from other parts of Asia, is perhaps not the best flight to experience fully JL’s wonderful food and service, as it’s a late-night flight and the main meal is breakfast. The F lounge in HND is wonderful, though–so much better than the NRT lounges.

    Looking forward to your CI review!

  5. What Andrew said. You will not get the full business class experience on JL 2, and you should set your expectations accordingly.

  6. Very happy to see a CI review! Absolutely looking fwd to it.

    And jl biz review will be great too. When i last took jl 767 planes, they were in the terrible regional recliner combi. (Not even angled flat.)

    Lets see what it will be like now.

    And welcome to Singapore!

  7. Were you able to book beyond-Taipei CI tickets on Delta’s website? Tried doing that a few times last week and it wouldn’t pull availability or piece itin together.

    Look fwd to the CI review most of all since they are so rare…

  8. Lucky, I was booked on CI business using SkyMiles but CI changed schedule and would not allow Delta to book. By now though, it should be resolved. The A330 hard product though is old, and it is angle flat. I think CI starts receiving A350 this year, and you might want to time your plan with the route that have converted to A350 so you can try that as well.

  9. How do you book CI with no surcharge? On i am having issue to book any of these CI fare for the exact route. It shows on the search and when you click on the date it’s not there. Thanks

  10. @ Lucky, you should try the St Regis Singapore or the Ritz Carlton Singapore if you have a chance.

  11. Very much looking forward to your review of the newest CI long-haul biz class! It would be interesting to see how your CI inflight experience stacks up against that of BR.

  12. @Peter, you need to call and feed the flight number (or segment by segment) to Delta phone agent. Mine was booked that way. I think for 1 segment (SFO/LAX to TPE), it will cost $5.6, but if you add a connection the tax and fee can increase.

  13. @Peter, I have had a similar problem with Delta’s search. Every once in a while, when I am on the flights results page, it will default to Delta Only results. I have to go back into advanced search, remove the flexible day option and make sure Delta & Partners is selected.

  14. Do you know of any “trick” in force to book China Airlines? From east coast at least, the engine would not choose CI automatically. And now’s multi-city function doesn’t seem to work at all for me for mileage booking.

  15. I just came home on JL 4 and loved the new lie-flat suites. (I still can’t believe they originally put angle-flat into their 787s! but glad they’re gone). The curry on the snack menu was super tasty, as was the whole Japanese meal.

  16. I’m also interested in CI’s 77w business class, although many people warned me not to expect too much from their catering…… Btw, the CI flight attendant union just decided to go on strike. Don’t know exactly when the strike will take place, but hope that won’t affect your journey!

  17. These are the two I’ve been waiting for! China Airline’s new Business Class on their new 777-300ER’s looks Fabulous, and Japan Air Lines new Business Class looks equally appealing. Hard product-wise, these look to be two of the Best going!

  18. @Lucky have you reviewed CI’s compatriot EVA Air yet? Also very competitive premium cabins from what I hear.

    Looking forward to the reviews.

  19. Your review of BR is outdated to what they offer now. Even though they haven’t switched the seats, they have overhauled their soft product so a comparison now is not an accurate one.

  20. EVA also has Wifi on their SFO, LAX, JFK, and IAH flights. The ORD flight will also get it.

  21. Having flown both CI and BR business class on a short-haul flight (TPE-HKG), I think both airlines have extremely friendly flight attendants, great service and a smooth ground experience, but the food leaves a bit to be desired (which I don’t blame these two airlines due to the short flight time).

    +1 to Oscar above – I have flown BR long-haul J 2 times, once in 2014 (SEA-TPE) and once in just a month ago (JFK-TPE). Agreed that their service is much more polished and the food is much better (if you reserve your main in advance via their website). The lounge at TPE, on the other hand, still hasn’t changed much (in terms of food offerings, service, etc.). That said, I did get my Rimova amenity kits, so no complaints at all

  22. @Lucky —
    While I look forward to your CI review, I actually found a Boeing 777-300ER flight in the U.S.!!!! AA snuck the plane in on a LAX-MIA transcon flight this summer. But the price tag for F class is hefty — $2600. I’m dying to fly it but I don’t fly enough on AA to have the miles to do. And it looks like the plane goes away in September. I’m sure there are others in the U.S., but this is the only one I’ve found so far.

  23. CI is state-owned compared BR which is a privately owned airline. CI is also quite dangerous and they skimp on maintenance. In contrast, BR is one of the safest airlines in the world. My family has flied BR since their founding from Taiwan to our homes in Toronto, Los Angeles, and Brisbane. It will be quite interesting to read your review of CI since there’s no chance I would ever fly them.

  24. As others have pointed out:

    The HND-SFO or SFO-HND flight timing is not the best. I nonetheless enjoyed the food and service when I flew in F from SFO-HND.

    The JAL First Class Lounge in HND is very nice (not to the level of CX Pier nice). The “Red Suite” is a nice relaxing area with travel-themed design, shoe shining, and a separate champagne bar. The lounge also offers 10 minute shiatsu massages.
    The Cathay Lounge at HND is also nice and worth a visit, but it’s not as nice as the JAL F Lounge.

  25. Looking forward to what you think about China Airlines business class. I flew them from JFK-TPE (still here) and really enjoyed all aspects of the flight!

  26. “That’s a value which is tough to beat!”

    Why the tortured sentence structure and weird obsession with “which”?

  27. I disagree that JAL F lounge HND is better than NRT. I am of the opposite opinion. Only NRT has sushi bar and choice of massage (HND only offers one option and it’s awful IMO). The semi-private room in HND is nice but it feels like I’m intruding the shoeshiner’s space.

  28. I’m super excited for some JAL Business reviews!. I have a pile of AS miles that should be going toward that product shortly (assuming it looks good in your review 😉 ). Enjoy your trip!!

  29. Flying JAL flt # 31 HND > BBK in J on 772 metal.
    Seat guru shows what seems to be a ‘three seat’ middle row configuration….
    I’m sure that’s not correct, however not having flown JL I would like to confirm….

  30. @ Algis – Unfortunately SeatGuru’s probably right – the new 777-200 products haven’t rolled out yet so right now you’re stuck in angled 2-3-2 business class.

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