TRIED & TESTED

Business Traveller (Asia-Pacific) - - CONTENTS -

China Air­lines A350-900 Busi­ness Class; The St Regis Ma­cao, Co­tai Cen­tral; Grand Hy­att Taipei; Grand Am­bas­sador Seoul associated with Pullman

BACK­GROUND China Air­lines be­came the first Tai­wanese car­rier to in­tro­duce the A350-900 XWB (ex­tra wide body) when it launched on re­gional routes last year. This year it be­gan serv­ing long-haul routes in­clud­ing Am­s­ter­dam, Vi­enna and Rome. CHECK-IN I ar­rived at Tai­wan Taoyuan In­ter­na­tional Air­port’s Ter­mi­nal 1 at 1620 for my sched­uled 1830 de­par­ture on flight CI923. The pri­or­ity queues in Row 9 were empty, I was quickly checked in to a win­dow seat, and se­cu­rity and im­mi­gra­tion pro­cess­ing took just a few min­utes. THE LOUNGE China Air­lines’ Dy­nasty Busi­ness Class Lounge, lo­cated one level up on the left past se­cu­rity, is stun­ning, with a whim­si­cal de­sign aes­thetic “based on the lifestyle and tastes of a lit­er­ary recluse”. I ar­rived dur­ing the “af­ter­noon tea” food serv­ing (3.30-5pm) and en­joyed a de­li­cious bowl of Tai­wanese beef noo­dles from the live cook­ing sta­tion. The lounge of­fers a full com­ple­ment of fa­cil­i­ties, in­clud­ing show­ers, sleep­ing rooms, fast wifi with no pass­word re­quired, etc (read the full lounge re­view on busi­nesstrav­eller.com). BOARD­ING Gate B8 was a 5-10 minute walk from the lounge. Board­ing started rather hap­haz­ardly for pre­mium pas­sen­gers at 1800 (there was no an­nounce­ment, I just saw other pas­sen­gers be­ing ad­mit­ted and fol­lowed suit). On board I was shown to my seat and asked if I would like a pa­per. My re­quest was un­avail­able on ex-Taipei flights – fair enough, but no al­ter­na­tive was sug­gested, which would have been help­ful. As it later turned out, the flight at­ten­dant had shown me to the wrong seat. We didn’t re­alise the mis­take un­til meal se­lec­tions were taken some 30 min­utes later, by which point it was rather an­noy­ing hav­ing to move seat when al­ready set­tled in and un­packed. THE SEAT China Air­lines has al­ready won awards for its A350 busi­ness class prod­uct – and rightly so. The 32 busi­ness class seats are con­fig­ured in a 1-2-1 her­ring­bone ar­range­ment, cre­at­ing a great sense of pri­vacy and di­rect aisle ac­cess for all.

The cabin de­sign is beau­ti­ful, with striking wood pan­elling ve­neers and res­i­den­tial touches such as the charming per­sonal ta­ble lamps. The B/E Aero­space Su­per Di­a­mond seat fea­tures a com­fort­able, 78-inch lie-flat bed, with fully cus­tomis­able po­si­tions. Plenty of stor­age space in­cludes a gen­er­ous split-level footwell, a shal­low tray, and a deeper space un­der the side panel – where the noise-can­celling head­phones, IFE re­mote and USB/charg­ing ports are lo­cated. The un­der­side of this panel also re­veals a gen­er­ously large mir­ror. The seat it­self is comfy, with silk-polyester blend cush­ions and a soft blan­ket. The seat­belt set-up re­quired an ex­tra shoul­der strap to be worn dur­ing taxi­ing and take-off. THE FLIGHT Printed menus were brought round be­fore take-off at 1825, with two op­tions for the main, plus an ex­ten­sive drinks menu with two white and two red wines. I chose the beef goulash with steamed rice when the stew­ardess came to take my or­der five min­utes later.

The flight pushed back at 1840, and took off at 1850. Shortly af­ter, the cap­tain an­nounced a shorter flight time of 80 min­utes. Din­ner was served roughly 20 min­utes into the flight; it was good, but not ex­cep­tional – the pre­sen­ta­tion could have been im­proved, and the taste was also slightly un­der­whelm­ing. The Ital­ian Conti Ser­ris­tori Chi­anti Clas­sico wine was very nice, how­ever.

With no time to waste, I dived into the IFE sys­tem (it was a shame we couldn’t ac­cess the IFE while wait­ing on the ground) and found a wide se­lec­tion of the lat­est Hol­ly­wood block­busters, plus TV shows, mu­sic and games. On­board wifi was also avail­able cost­ing US$11.95 for one hour. AR­RIVAL All too soon, the cap­tain an­nounced our de­scent and we touched down in Hong Kong at 2028, ar­riv­ing at the gate five min­utes later, and were off the air­craft by 2037 with just a short walk to im­mi­gra­tion. Bag­gage ar­rived swiftly.

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