By Lee Mylne
China Airlines flight CI53; Airbus A350-900 economy class; Brisbane to Auckland; departs 12.55pm; flight time 2 hours, 30 minutes (40 minutes ahead of schedule). This flight runs five times a week.
The loyalty scheme
China Airlines operates its own Dynasty loyalty program. Points can also be earned with Mandarin Airlines, SkyTeam member airlines and some global hotel chains including IHG and Hyatt.
Flying economy class it’s 0.414 tonnes. The airline has committed to net-zero emissions by 2050 and offers an offset program in partnership with UK environmental organisation ClimateCare. The in-flight menu is also designed to be “low-carbon cuisine”.
Despite checking-in online, I’m still inexplicably required to collect my boarding pass from a check-in desk. Mid-morning on a Thursday, Brisbane Airport’s international terminal is almost deserted, with only five scheduled flights over the next five hours. Check-in is fast, efficient and friendly, with an unsolicited offer to try to find me a better seat (not possible on this very full flight).
Economy class, seat 48D (my preferred choice of an aisle seat). Seat layout is 3-3-3 and seats are 18 inches (45cm) wide with a pitch of 32 inches (81cm), offering plenty of legroom (also remarked on by the passenger next to me), which makes for a comfortable flight. There is a power outlet and USB socket in each seat.
A generous allowance of two pieces of checked luggage of up to 23 kilograms each for passengers travelling on standard economy or flex fares, plus one carry-on bag up to seven kilograms. On cheaper fares (discount or basic), only one checked bag is allowed.
There’s a good selection of old and new movies, TV shows and documentaries on the 11-inch (45cm) screen in each seat back. On a short flight like this, it’s wise to choose carefully, as I found myself without enough time to watch the entirety of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis. The entertainment system also includes 16 music channels and there is an online in-flight magazine, Dynasty. Wi-Fi is not available on this route.
China Airlines’ flight attendants are friendly and welcoming, moving through the cabin as passengers get settled, handing out blankets and headphones. Throughout the flight, they are polite, efficient and professional, and happy to help with passengers’ requests or questions. Toilets are kept spotlessly clean.
Lunch is served about an hour into the flight. There are two choices: “chicken and rice” or “beef and potatoes”, which is a tasty roast with beans, carrot and cauliflower. Both come with a small fruit salad and a Tim Tam. It’s perfectly acceptable economy class airline food, with wine, soft drinks and water, followed by tea and coffee. There is an option to order special meals up to 24 hours before your flight.
One more thing
Despite the name, China Airlines is based in Taiwan. Founded in 1959, the airline services 150 destinations, including Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, in 29 countries.
An impressive combination of good service, stylish cabin interiors, competitive prices and excellent schedule. I would definitely fly with this airline again.
Sign up for the Traveller newsletter
The latest travel news, tips and inspiration delivered to your inbox. Sign up now.