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It has been four years since I last went home and I was very excited to finally get a chance to come home. After all the necessary documents such as passport renewals were completed I immediately purchased my plane ticket home from Orbitz. I chose China Airlines since they offered the cheapest tickets ~About the Flight When you look at the itinerary it looks pretty hectic because the flight had three legs. The journey started from JFK (NY) Airport and I had a stop at Anchorage (AK) for the first leg. The second leg was from Alaska to Taipei, Taiwan. The final leg was a short flight from Taipei to Manila. The whole journey took approximately 22 hrs. to complete. It was very tiring especially if you have a five and two year old with you. ~Check in at JFK We checked in at Terminal 1 in JFK airport and I was glad that we arrived about 5 hrs early before the scheduled takeoff because the line for checking in was building up fast. Another half hour would have meant a longer wait time. Checking in was a breeze and the attendant was very helpful and she assigned seats so that we will be together in one row. We brought a stroller for our 2 year old daughter and the attendant arranged for it to be checked in just before we boarded. I was also very much happy that whenever we had a stop they returned the stroller so we can use it on Taipei and Anchorage. We were asked to board first because we had kids with us. I appreciate that they do this because I can choose were I can put my carry-on's and seat my kids properly without disturbing or being disturbed by other passengers. The plane that we took was a 747 with a 3-4-3 row seating configuration and we occupied a row in the middle column (the one having four seats) ~New York to Anchorage Leg The journey was pleasant but was quite long and it took us approximately 9 hrs to reach Anchorage. The stewards and stewardess were very helpful and they also provided fresh milk for my daughter. The standard amenities like pillows and blanket were provided and I even asked for a toothbrush. I have this habit to brush my teeth in the airplane and see the different toothbrushes an airline has to offer. They had this single use toothbrush with dried toothpaste already on the bristles of the brush. I have no complaint about leg room as me and my wife have a small build and we are not tall either. The food was Asian food such as meat with rice or meat with noodles. They served us three meals and I felt bloated after this flight because I was finishing the food that my kids did not finish. I noticed that the sauce is the same but the meals are either in beef, pork or chicken. I observed that some passengers arrange for no meat meals and other special dietary issues and I am glad that they provide this. The stewardess was very helpful and seems to be popping all the time offering coffee, tea, juice or water. ~Anchorage to Taipei Leg This was a long flight also. I am glad that they chose Anchorage as the entry point as this airport is not very busy. I tried LAX before and the queue at the immigration was very long and I missed my connecting flight. Because I had kids with me, they gave us special consideration on the immigration queue during the return flight. My daughter is a US citizen so they sent us to the line for permanent residents and US citizens. The immigration officer was very helpful and courteous and we didn't have any problems at all. Another good thing that China Airlines did was not to change airplane. So we had the same seating arrangements as with the JFK-AK leg. This is very helpful because now my kids are very familiar with the plane and seems to know where there places are. ~Taipei to Manila Leg This was the last leg and the shortest one. The flight was about 1.25 hrs long. We had an Airbus plane with a 2-4-2 seating arrangement. Naturally we took the middle column so that we can seat together. This airplane was newer and I wished this was the plane that took us from Taipei to JFK. It had a more ergonomic seat and it had an LCD screen on each seat. I and my wife even played in flight trivia. I guess this was a smaller capacity plane that it is why they chose it for shorter distances. ~Summary To sum it all up, I was satisfied by the service provided by China Airlines to their passengers. They were very sensitive to the needs of passengers traveling with kids and they provided all the standard amenities that a modern airline would. The stewards and stewardess as well as the ground crew were very accommodating and courteous. My only complaint is that during flight announcements that they don't broadcast in English first rather than last. (They broadcast in Mandarin, then Cantonese or some Southern Chinese dialect then in English) because more than half of the passengers are not Chinese. Another thought (not really a requirement) would be to have the LCD screens on the long flights as this would help me entertain my kids. ~posted in ciao US by the same author
Concerning China Airlines flt. CI 065 and CI 066 Amsterdam- Bangkok. Bangkok- Amsterdam. If you like comfort, modern aircraft and pleasant flight attendants please pay the extra and fly with "any" other carrier! Believe me these were the two worst long haul flights ive ever flown. My wife was in tears on the return flight! Very cramped grubby seats, poor central video screen with half the screen obscured by huge chinese subtitles, food edible...just! So the only thing to do is have a few good drinks and hopefully pass out for 11 hours or so, but unfortunately they ran out of alcohol in the first 2 hours of outbound flight and were very relunctant in serving alcohol on return flight. I guess you get what you pay for but in China Airlines case we reckon we got a lot less than we payed for.
I recently traveled with China Airlines so thought I would share my thoughts on them. Despite its name, this is the airline of Taiwan not China. In some countries it is called Mandarin Airlines. I traveled with China Airlines from Glasgow to Bangkok via Amsterdam. Amsterdam is their main European hub, depending on where you are connecting from the first flight will probably be with KLM UK. The first leg was on a Fokker regional jet, which is reasonably comfortable with legroom, seat size etc ( I am a six footer ) The main out leg was in an Boeing 747 with a standard passenger layout holding over 300 passengers. The plane was relatively old and showed it inside with average facilities - no personal LCD screen, only the older overhead TV screens, limited audio channels. The seats did have "head wings" that are supposedly there to support your head. Unfortunately, I find them next to useless for helping me sleep. The meals served were average western airline food with no real flavour but still edible all the same. The level of service despite me hearing horror stories with effective without being notable, anything asked for was brought but no extra smile or effort. One thing of course that some people don’t like is that there are no native speakers of English. But I found that all the staff had an excellent level of spoken English. They were the cheapest for the length of ticket I needed and are usually very competitive for price. I had a 1 year ticket and they allow unlimited free changes on the return leg. Some airlines will restrict you to 1 or 2 changes or charge you a fee. The airline does unfortunately have not the highest reputation for safety or service, they have had a couple of big crashes in the last 10 years. The fleet is a quite modern one though, which tends to support the claims that pilot error has been the cause. The routes are more widespread within Asia as y ou can imagine and to some major cities in Europe and America. The airline is not part of any alliance but does have agreements for connecting flights with various airlines. It does have its own mileage program - Dynasty Flyer. Their official web site is at www.china-airlines.com Overall, I would have to say that if price is your main concern then I would recommend them, otherwise I would go with a main European flag carrier like KLM or British Airways.
It is worthwhile to note that there are lots of Chinese airlines, and while I am not aware of the relationships between them all, I guess from their names that they each serve different zones of China (e.g., China Eastern, China Northern, China Sichuan...). Which you choose makes a great difference, it seems, considering the number of criticisms I have heard (not just in dooyoo) regarding Air China. Air China have a poor reputation, but this is not so with all Chinese airlines. I found China Eastern Airlines to be surprisingly nice. The seating was standard in size, for economy, but the cleanliness and presentation of the cabin was immaculate. Staff were courteous, attentive, and well-presented. The food was Chinese-style fare (I had chicken noodles) and was very fresh and of a high quality for airline food. The landing, flight and takeoff passed without a hitch, which is more than I can say for European Air Charter (but that's another story!). For more information on different Chinese airlines, this is one site offering an overview: http://www.tradezone.com/tradesites/GREATALENT.html The commentary on China Eastern is quite positive, but I note little is said about Air China other than it is the largest operator in China.