Asia Reviews Taiwan Travel

Flying Business Class on China Airlines

What’s the best part of traveling? For me, it’s arriving to my destination, opening the door to my hotel or hostel, and plopping myself onto the bed. I made it! Don’t we all wish we can get from point A to point B with a snap of a finger and skip the flying part? I’m a bit of an anxious flyer so this is something I wish for, always!

Bird's eye view of Busan at night

Bird’s eye view of Busan at night

When I traveled to Taiwan, I actually was looking forward to going to the airport, boarding the plane and coasting 40,000 feet in the air. Why? Because I was flying business class, baby!

China Airlines

I decided I was going to visit Taiwan for four days in September for Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving). Holidays in Korea mean that you need to book your ticket early because prices skyrocket and flights sell out faster than you can blink.

I started looking for flights in May which is considered a little late in the game to be buying flights for September. But things got really busy with teaching and time slipped away. I browsed through Skyscanner, set my email alerts with several Asian airlines and hoped for the best.

Skyscanner will be your new best friend!

Skyscanner will be your new best friend!

A few days later, I was perusing China Airlines when I found a few flights still available for the day I wanted to depart. Nothing was available in Economy; but there were some seats left in Business class.

Hmmm… I’ve never flown business class before… and I am in a “treat yo’self” kind of mood… WHY NOT!?

Next thing you know, I have an email confirmation for my flight to Taiwan and a smile from ear to ear. Unfortunately on the way back from Taiwan, I flew a budget airline but it was basically a first class flight in my eyes. More on that later.

My Experience

Enjoying a glass of vino in the lounge

Enjoying a glass of vino in the lounge

So you’re probably wondering how my flight was, right? When I arrived at Gimhae International Airport in Busan, I thought I’d have to wait in a massive line. Because I’m used to flying economy, I forgot that business class ticket holders can queue in another, much shorter, line. Check-in was super easy! And going through security check was a breeze.

When you fly business class, you get exclusive access to the business class lounge. So of course I took advantage of the amenities. I showed my ticket to the front desk and enjoyed a glass (or two…) of wine and nibbled on some snacks. I knew I was getting a meal on the flight so I didn’t want to fill up too much.

When I boarded the plane, I made my way to my window seat. There are only 8 seats on China Airlines business class so it was nice and cosy. There was a blanket, pillow and slippers waiting for me at my seat. As soon as I sat down, the flight attendant gave me a refreshing towel and asked if I wanted a beverage.  I was feeling like royalty already!

Shortly after takeoff, I placed my order for my meal. I liked that there was a selection to choose from. The meal was served on actual plates and with real cutlery. No plastic forks and knives here!

What I Ate

My business class meal!

My business class meal!

Main Course

  • Roasted chicken in bulgogi sauce with steamed rice and Chinese cabbage
  • Korean banchan (side dishes of kimchi, cucumbers and onions,  and bean sprouts)
  • Korean tapioca bread

Dessert

  • Seasonal fresh fruits
  • Green tea cake

After 2.5 hours in the air, I landed in Taipei, Taiwan; ready for my four-day holiday! I really enjoyed my business class experience with China Airlines. The seats were really spacious and comfortable, and the food and unlimited drinks were delicious. I just wished that my flight was more than 2.5 hours so I could enjoy the luxury of Business class longer. I will certainly fly with China Airlines again!

On my flight from Taipei to Busan, which just avoided a major typhoon heading towards the mainland, I flew with VAir. Because it was a budget airline, there was no first-class flying for me. BUT I had the luxury of having the whole row to myself close to the front of the plane – a first for me! And the seats were actually very comfortable! I think I could get used to flying – especially in business class.

Have you flown business class before? What about first class? Do you know any tips to score an upgrade? Leave your comments below!

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91 Comments

  • Reply
    Rachael
    December 24, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    It’s my dream to fly business class! I keep hoping for an elusive upgrade one day but I think it’s unlikely…..

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      December 26, 2016 at 7:17 am

      You never know! And if you see a good deal on a business class flight, take it!

  • Reply
    Flo @ Yoga, Wine & Travel
    December 20, 2016 at 8:53 am

    I absolutely love China Airlines! It’s such an underrated airline – they have the best business class lounge in Taipei with the most delicious beef noodles, and I’ve experienced nothing but amazing service from them – in business class AND economy!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      December 20, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      I was really impressed with China Airlines. I would definitely fly with them again!

  • Reply
    The SeoulChild
    October 28, 2016 at 2:54 am

    When I planned my birthday trip to Tokyo this year, I booked a business class seat on Korean Air using my Delta Skymiles. Then, when I checked in for my flight, they had me in a first class seat, which was confirmed when I checked in at Gimpo. Once I was settled into my seat, the purser came right up to me and said, “Happy birthday!” which was totally cool of them, LOL.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 28, 2016 at 5:04 am

      That is the best birthday ever!! I should sign up for flyer miles. But I don’t fly TOO often. Well, I have more within the last 2 years since being in Korea. Is it worth it?

      • Reply
        The SeoulChild
        October 28, 2016 at 5:12 am

        It is because most of the frequent flyer programs are free to join (the only exception that I can think of is Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo club). Also, there are tons of ways to earn frequent flyer miles without having to get on a plane!

  • Reply
    Style & Life by Susana
    October 20, 2016 at 9:24 am

    I’ve been quite fortunate in being upgraded to first class (all thanks to how my parents were dressed! Haha!) and business class another time. Great post!

  • Reply
    donandsuji2013
    October 19, 2016 at 11:24 am

    Business is a nice luxury, I’ve only flown on regular seats sadly.
    Seems like a comfy flight business class/ especially short lines in//off easily, earlier. Food, wine, cutlery. awesome.

  • Reply
    Evan Kristine
    October 18, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Aw, such a way to treat yourself thats for sure! Never experienced business class but I won’t say no to one if ever I get a chance!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 19, 2016 at 11:11 am

      It’s a great way to treat yourself, indeed! I hope I can experience it again sometime!

  • Reply
    Tami
    October 18, 2016 at 11:12 am

    I got to fly business class for the first time on my way home from Paris earlier this year. And it was oh, so amazing! Sounds like you had a great experience, too! Isn’t it wonderful to be treated so well and be able to sleep in comfort?

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 19, 2016 at 11:11 am

      I absolutely loved the luxury of business class! I hope I can fly bizz again!

  • Reply
    Elisa
    October 17, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    I have flown with China Airlines already and it was OK in economy. Your experience in Business looks TOP (except for the toothpaste served with the bread)

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 19, 2016 at 11:16 am

      Hehe, it’s not toothpaste. It’s red pepper paste – which is put on many Korean dishes to add spice.

  • Reply
    JEM
    October 17, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    Who wouldn’t love a business class? With the special treatment and comfort. I wish I could do it all the time.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 19, 2016 at 11:16 am

      I wish I could fly business class all the time, too!

  • Reply
    Llamateurs
    October 17, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Ha, we should try this one one day! Looks like you had a great experience 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 19, 2016 at 11:17 am

      Yes, you should. And yes I had a great experience.

  • Reply
    Jackie
    October 17, 2016 at 9:28 am

    Chinese airlines have such a bad rep, so I’m really glad to read your post! Thank you for sharing, and also scheduled it on my twitter! 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 19, 2016 at 11:24 am

      Thanks for sharing! I know usually Chinese airlines aren’t the greatest, but I’ve had some good experiences with them.

  • Reply
    Wendy Flor
    October 17, 2016 at 8:43 am

    Cheers to flying business class! I once did with Korean Air. But whenever I am with husband, we get check-in and airline lounge perks because of his flyer miles premium membership. It’s great to feel pampered once in awhile.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 19, 2016 at 11:25 am

      That’s so awesome! I love the airline lounge!!

  • Reply
    MakeTime2SeeTheWorld (@VickiLouise86)
    October 17, 2016 at 7:21 am

    What a lovely experience – I have always wanted to fly Business Class, but the cost always put me off! The closest we have got was ‘first class’ with AirAsia – comfy, reclining seat with duvet and pillow, pre-ordered meals included – but no drinks or tv screen. But at around $400 for the Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne flight, I would do it again!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 19, 2016 at 11:26 am

      Wow that’s an awesome deal! The price always puts me off, too.

  • Reply
    Emre Kanik
    October 17, 2016 at 2:37 am

    I had a free upgrade to Business Class once in my life. It was on the way from Amsterdam to Seoul with a transfer at London. It happened at the transfer. I had 4 hours between the flights so I was super early. I just waited around Heathrow Airport and went to the gate as usual. This flight to Seoul was overbooked I think because when it was time to board my boarding pass wouldn’t scan. The attendant just said “well, you’re going to sit in Business Class then” and gave me a new boarding pass. It was so awesome!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 17, 2016 at 4:35 am

      That is the coolest story ever! I hope we can experience more (FREE) upgrades in our lives!

  • Reply
    Claire
    October 16, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    I’ve never flown on China Airlines but the business class does look good. Maybe one day i’ll try them out

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 17, 2016 at 4:36 am

      I was impressed with the airline! I’ll have to fly with them on economy though to be certain of feelings towards them though! lol

  • Reply
    Alice Cochet
    October 16, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    Wow, that must have been so great ! I’m waiting for the day I’ll be able to fly business too !

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 17, 2016 at 4:37 am

      It was pretty great and I hope I can fly business (or better, first class!) some day soon!

  • Reply
    thetraveloguer
    October 16, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Sounds like a great experience. I’ve never travelled Business Class, I’d love to!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 16, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      I think we all need to experience it at least once in our lives!

  • Reply
    Shirgie Scf
    October 15, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    You know what? Flying in a business class is one of my bucket list. I just don’t know when i can materialize it, but pretty soon, I can try that too. It feels so good to fly and being treated a royalty right?

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 16, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      Absolutely! And the flight attendant called me by my name!! It was so cool!

  • Reply
    www.justbeingbrooklyn.com
    October 14, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    I’ve only ever flown economy, and like you I am an anxious traveler.
    I feel like flying business would put me more at ease, so maybe someday I’ll have to try it!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 16, 2016 at 12:24 pm

      Flying business really kept me at ease. But of course, I can’t afford to fly business EVERY time. Need to try and find ways to upgrade!

  • Reply
    Ryan Biddulph
    October 14, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    Hi Samantha,

    Business class looks great! Beautiful experience all the way around. I too am a lil bit of a nervous flier. Even after 100 plus flights 😉 But when I string 2 back to back I’m golden. How weird. Like I got my flight mojo back after being on da ground for 1 or 2 months. Oh well. I too interchange biz class and first class LOL 😉 Thanks for the fab review! We flew China Airlines economy from JFK to Shanghai. Loved it 🙂

    Ryan

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 16, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      I just get so anxious and nervous and just want to get to my destination as quickly and safely as possible! That’s great you had a good experience with China Airlines from New York to Shanghai, too!

  • Reply
    Rocio Cadena
    October 14, 2016 at 10:11 am

    Treat yo’ self is one of my all time favorite mantras!!! For better or for worse haha. I’m glad to hear you spoiled yourself a bit and flew in class. I always wonder what it’s like to be in first class as I pass the lucky folk in the spacious and comfy looking seats! I also flew VAir on my way back from Taiwan and loved the experience.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 16, 2016 at 12:18 pm

      Haha, it’s the best saying ever! I was impressed with VAir and would for sure fly with them again!

  • Reply
    kayla
    October 14, 2016 at 4:13 am

    hehehe I LOVE flying. Every part of it. I usually arrive to the airport way to early just so I can explore haha! I also love plane food and sitting for hours watching movies on working away on my laptop. I call it down time with the most incredible view! Im guessing I would love business class even more hey! <3

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:42 am

      That’s awesome that you enjoy flying! It is a good view but I just get anxious with turbulence and if something were to go wrong…knock on wood. I loveeee plane food I don’t care what anyone says about it! Lol

  • Reply
    Sean Keogh
    October 14, 2016 at 3:16 am

    I went to Taiwan for my summer vacation in August. It was awesome. I flew there with Thai Airways for only $287! I’ve never flown business class before, but I’ve got to one day (when I can afford it) now that I know all the benefits.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:41 am

      That’s awesome and a great deal to Taiwan! I got a good deal coming back from Taiwan to Busan with VAir.

  • Reply
    Chasing KM
    October 14, 2016 at 1:47 am

    Ah wow that’s awesome! Last summer my boyfriend and I got upgraded to Business Class (for free)on our trip to Indonesia on Garuda Indonesia airlines. We were so excited and probably looked like fools with our giggling at all the attention and cool gadgets!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:41 am

      Wow! A free upgrade? Was it just luck or how did this happen??

      • Reply
        Chasing KM
        October 17, 2016 at 12:27 am

        Just luck! I came back from the bathroom and my boyfriend had been called up for the upgrade at the boarding gate, and he managed to get them to upgrade me too! HA!

        • Reply
          Expat and the City
          October 17, 2016 at 4:35 am

          Wow — that’s awesome!!

  • Reply
    reflectiveponderer
    October 13, 2016 at 5:06 pm

    Wow! Must have been incredible! I always fly in Economy except for one time when I got upgraded on a short flight. Next long flight is to India. Wondering if there are any ways to try to get upgraded!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:40 am

      If you find out ways to get upgraded, let me know!!! hehe

  • Reply
    Bonita
    October 13, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    This is really cool! The food looks yum! I know this is what they call traveling in style. Very detailed account of your experience!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Thank you! The food was really delicious!

  • Reply
    Jen Ackermann
    October 13, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Sam! That’s so great you took the opportunity to treat yourself and fly first class. After traveling Asia for 7 months and flying strictly Air Asia, you can bet I’m looking forward to flying something a bit nicer on my next travels! It’s always been a dream of mine…still waiting despite the boyfriend getting upgraded to first class for free. *insert grump face*

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:39 am

      Aw well next time you two fly and that happens, you’ll get the upgrade! How is Air Asia by the way? I’ve never flown but I wasn’t sure about it. Is that the airline that had a missing plane….?

  • Reply
    Megan Indoe
    October 13, 2016 at 10:27 am

    I would love to become a frequent flyer of business class! It sounds like the perfect time to treat yo’self! We have long flight coming up at the end of the month, perhaps we should treat ourselves and bump us up to business class to get some pampering like you!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:37 am

      How does one become a frequent flyer? Do you sign up on their website? I don’t fly TOO often with the same airline… so it’s probably not worth it.

  • Reply
    Joanna
    October 13, 2016 at 8:54 am

    You seem to have had a really nice experience. I flew business a couple of times and i absolutely love the lounges (I wish for a lounge card for Christmas this year, haha), but I guess the experience of business is much more impressive when you fly long haul. That’s one of my bucket list items, to fly business long haul at least once in my life. I am an anxious traveler myself and maybe that will help. 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:36 am

      Yes that’s my next goal – a long haul business or first class flight!

  • Reply
    Lindsay @ The Neverending Wanderlust
    October 13, 2016 at 7:07 am

    I’m always curious about people’s experiences – especially with airlines I haven’t flown before. I have a very very bad back and book business class when I travel over 10 hours. I’ve tried it out with American Airlines and Asiana – it’s amazing the difference in comfort and amenities. I still go the coach route under 10hrs, because I’m not made of money haha 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:36 am

      Ah yes, if you have a bad back then a very comfortable seat (with pillows!) is needed. There have been really comfy economy seats (like my VAir flight that I mentioned at the end of the blog).

  • Reply
    Soraya @ Hello Raya
    October 13, 2016 at 6:55 am

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I love traveling Business Class – my favourite was Etihad. I had the option to pay A$600 extra to upgrade from Economy…um YES! Especially as it was a 14 hours flight.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:35 am

      You’re the second or the third person who has mentioned Etihad. What country is this airline based out of?

  • Reply
    mariaisquixotic
    October 12, 2016 at 9:23 pm

    Seeing Busan reminds me of the movie, Train to Busan. That was really an epic film! The only time that I got to try business class was way back 2009 when I opted to go home for All Saint’s Day. I had a great time and that was with Philippine Airlines. The seats were comfortable as well as the meals even for just a 45mins flight. 😀

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:34 am

      I’ve flown Philippine Airlines but they were late leaving out of Boracay. I’ve heard that they are always delayed… boo! Haha I haven’t seen that movie yet. I’ve heard that it’s pretty good.

  • Reply
    Zo Around The World
    October 12, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    Business class is great isn’t it! I got a free upgrade once from India to Thailand and also wished the flight would have gone on for longer! 🙂 Also totally agree that it is such a great feeling when you finally arrive at a destination and then get straight onto a comfy bed!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Wow that’s awesome! I would love a free upgrade. How does this happen? I want to know the secrets!

      • Reply
        Zo Around The World
        October 14, 2016 at 9:11 pm

        I don’t quite know exactly why it happened as I didn’t ask… it was quite amazing though, we were flying from Kolkata airport to Bangkok and a very large group of monks were boarding the rest of the plane, maybe there wasn’t enough seats for everyone or something, because then myself and my boyfriend and about 3 other tourists got upgraded to business class for free! 🙂 the secret is just good luck I guess!

        • Reply
          Expat and the City
          October 16, 2016 at 12:21 pm

          Oh interesting story! Yes, sometimes it’s just luck!!

  • Reply
    Sarah
    October 12, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    It’s nice to fly Business class and luckily experienced it once with Etihad (complimentary upgrade)! But I think now that we are traveling with a toddler, the chances aren’t that much anymore, LOL! Not unless the guys in Business Class wants to travel with a more likely noisy child, HAHA!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Wow! Complimentary upgrade?! Tell me your secret!

  • Reply
    ROBERT LEE
    October 12, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    I have flown in business class. I LOVE IT! First, I was able to go to the airline’s lounge where there is unlimited food and drinks. Once I boarded, everything was done quick and the service, oh my gosh… Once the plane took off, I had my better than average meal and unlimited wine. Coincidentally, I flew Philippine Airlines to TAIPEI! LOL! By the time the plane landed, I was on my second bottle of wine.

  • Reply
    Alisha
    October 12, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    Love the post! So glad you had fun! It’s always awesome to fly first class.

  • Reply
    momi berlin
    October 12, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    I had the opportunity to fly business class when we went to Malaysia about three years ago. And it was quite an experience. The food was way too good than the economy. The seats were a lot comfortable too. The flight attendants were all courteous and amiable. And the co passengers are so well behaved. Ehehe.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:32 am

      That’s awesome! Which airline was it? Is Malaysia a nice place to visit?

  • Reply
    ericatheis
    October 12, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    I’ve never flown business class before but I like the idea of splurging every now and then for long-haul flights or otherwise kinda short vacations where you don’t want to spend your transit time feeling miserable. China Airlines never came to mind for me as a “high end” airline but that meal looks super good!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:31 am

      Absolutely! I would love to fly business class for my trip home to Canada. But… my bank account would not be happy!

  • Reply
    Nerdventurists
    October 12, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    The first time I flew in anything other than coach I was so astonished, I vowed never to go back… alas my wallet disagreed with me haha. I love that you get to choose your meal from a selection and there’s real plates and things, makes it all seem so much more luxurious! Good on you for treating yourself!

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:31 am

      Haha, yes… I don’t think I’ll be living the biz class life every time. But a girl can dream! I just need to figure out how to score those upgrades!

  • Reply
    Noemi of Pinay Flying High
    October 12, 2016 at 11:55 am

    I haven’t used China Airlines before but by seeing the photos, I thought the aircraft was a bit small? But then it’s only 2.5 hours so I guess it doesn’t make sense to use their bigger aircraft. Sounds like a fab experience! 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 14, 2016 at 9:30 am

      Nope, it was a standard size aircraft. Many people in economy. But thank you! It was a fun experience.

  • Reply
    Christina
    October 11, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Don’t you wish you could fly First or Business Class all the time? I’m a bit confused though, did you fly First Class or Business Class? Food looks great and I’m sure the next flight was a bit of a let down after that.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 12, 2016 at 3:16 am

      Ah I was using those two words interchangeably… But now see that first and business class are two different things. I changed it on my blog… thanks for this. I was in Business class by the way! And yes, I wish I could fly like that ALL the time!

  • Reply
    Candy
    October 11, 2016 at 7:15 pm

    Looks like you had an amazing experience flying Business class on China Airlines. I wish we all could have an experience like this on every flight for the price of Economy 🙂

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 12, 2016 at 3:16 am

      That would be a dream!

  • Reply
    Naomi
    October 11, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Flying first class must be such an awesome experience which takes away all the hassle and annoyances of normal flights. I’d love to experience it one day, you’re rocking it

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 12, 2016 at 3:17 am

      It was a great experience. I have had some really comfortable economy class flights though… like with Korean Air. They are a great airline too!

  • Reply
    Cori Carl
    October 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Looks like a great flight! I’m usually so busy finding crazy flight deals, I’m never even considering upgrades.

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 12, 2016 at 3:18 am

      I want to know secrets for upgrading!

  • Reply
    Chantell
    October 11, 2016 at 5:18 pm

    What a lovely experience! I have only ever flown Business and Economy so First Class would be incredible. Looks like you really treated yourself and having access to the lounge is such a great experience

    • Reply
      Expat and the City
      October 12, 2016 at 3:18 am

      I actually flew Business class…. I accidentally used those two words interchangeably lol… I WISH I could fly first class… some day!!

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