Taipei-based Skyteam member China Airlines has a great but understated reputation for excellent lie-flat, direct-aisle access Business Class seats and warm and professional customer service.
Earlier this month, its Sydney services were upgraded to double-daily Airbus A350s, and from 25 March 2018, its Auckland services will enjoy the same aircraft.
While China Airlines’ current Christchurch – Melbourne flight will end on that day, its Auckland flight will be upgraded from an angled-flat A330 seat to the newer lie-flat A350 one.
Given that Emirates will also cease its Auckland – Melbourne/Brisbane flights on the same day, that may make China Airlines’ A350 between Auckland and Brisbane the best Business Class product on the Trans-Tasman route (the First Class honours go to Emirates, who will be the only carrier operating this cabin across The Tasman, between Christchurch and Sydney).
This is a product that I am planning to try out when I head off to meet Keith at the Frequent Traveler University in April.
When flying to Taipei, you can continue on in the same seat on an A350 or 777 to London, Rome, Frankfurt or Vienna in Europe, or LA, San Francisco or Vancouver in North America. Also consider a flight to Ontario Airport between LA and Palm Springs, which commences service on 25 March.
Redeeming points for travel on SkyTeam alliance partner airlines is hard for us in New Zealand. Your best bet is to earn or buy Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints and transfer them to Air France/KLM Flying Blue, or Korean Air SkyPass (although partner redemptions through the latter must be for roundtrip travel, not one-way).
Here are the points redemption rates for Trans-Tasman travel, of which there is abundant award seat availability:
- Flying Blue: 37,500 miles one-way, 48.85 Euro taxes/fees (98,500 Amex Membership Rewards Points)
- Korean Air SkyPass: 60,000 miles return, $165.95 USD taxes/fees (151,600 Amex Membership Rewards Points)
Business Class flights on the Auckland – Brisbane route are actually pretty cheap to purchase outright – only $1,006 NZD return for most dates across 2018. As such, it may be more worthwhile paying for a flight on this route rather than making a redemption.
Do you plan to fly on China Airlines’ new A350 service? Let us know in the comments below.
Supplementary images courtesy of China Airlines.