It is always tough to find award seats availability during the holiday season of December. Since I couldn’t find any seats for 3 people, I’ve decided that I had no option but to purchase the tickets outright.
Forget business class, because it’s way too expensive, ranging from USD 3,500 to USD 8,000 per seat departing in December, so no thanks.
The next best thing is to purchase the most affordable Premium Economy seat, and my best two options were either flying Eva Air or China Air (both layovers are in Taipei, Taiwan).
Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines and Singapore Airlines’ premium economy fares already skyrocketed at the time of booking so I decided to ignore these 3 airlines altogether.
I have flown in Eva Air Premium Economy multiple times in the past and kinda knew what to expect but I was widely intrigue to try out the new China Air Premium Economy as I have read and heard good reviews about their new retrofitted aircraft.
Important thing to note is that China Air and Air China are two completely different airlines, China Air is a Taiwan-based and Air China is Beijing-based. If possible, avoid Air China at all cost.
One-way seat from CGK to LAX on China Air Premium Economy ranges between USD 900 – USD 1200 depending which date you choose to fly.
Check-in at Terminal 3 Soekarno Hatta
I was glad that China Air operates out of Terminal 3 in Soekarno-Hatta, even Cathay Pacific has not moved into the new terminal yet.
There’s a dedicated check-in counter for Premium Economy passengers and when we arrived there was only 1 other group in front of me.
Boarding is also dedicated for Business Class passengers and Sky Priority members, Premium Economy passengers and Economy class would board the last.
Jakarta to Taipei
Route Jakarta (CGK) to Taipei (TPE)
Flight Number CI 762
Flight Time 5 Hours 25 Minutes
Seat Configuration 2-3-2
Seat Numbers 30D, 30E, 30G
As I boarded the plane the cabin looked bright, fresh and felt brand new. The lighting really played a big part in setting up the mood of the plane.
I was glad that I managed to score the bulkhead (first row) seats with two of my kids, as it gives us a lot of legroom and space to move.
I love the fact that the premium economy seat is a hard shell which means when you recline the person behind you will not get interrupted and if you’re sitting behind someone you would always get consistent legroom. The seat has both footrest and leg rest, other premium economy seat like Eva Air would only have a footrest.
The legroom was so generous that I couldn’t even reach the wall when I extended my legs.
The downside of bulkhead seats is the distance to the IFE (in-flight entertainment) system that makes the touch screen pointless and makes the screen looks a smaller than it actually is.
The IFE options and movie selection were great combining new releases and all time movie favorites. It also has a great selection of games and kids entertainment which worked really well for my part.
The only long-haul carrier that I had flown in and didn’t have a wide range of movie selection was Asiana Airlines, it was kind of a bummer flying 12 hours with very few selection of western movies, but China Air did not disappoint.
We were served snacks and beverages not long after take-off, with lunch about an hour into the flight.
Another pleasant surprise about this particular flight was the very tasty food and the additional of Belibis (sambal package).
About 5 hours later we arrived in Taipei in the evening and had about 3-hour layover before our next flight to Los Angeles at midnight.
Taoyuan International Airport was not exactly Changi Airport where you would have an array of activities and variety of lounges. However it did have a great kids playground and each of the boarding gate has a thematic decor which was quite a nice touch.
Taipei to Los Angeles
Route Taipei (TPE) to Los Angeles (LAX)
Flight Number CI 8
Flight Time 11 Hours 35 Minutes
Seat Configuration 2-4-2
Seat Numbers 33D, 33E, 33F
This time around, we weren’t so lucky to score the bulkhead seats or even window seats but it turns out my kids were happier to seat in the middle because the touch-screen IFE was much easier to reach.
China Air Premium Economy Cabin
I would personally choose for window seats since you’d only be sitting with one other person.
The tray table does not have a gap at the end of the tray so you won’t be dropping anything there.
There’s also a secondary mini tray to put your snacks and drinks.
Another small detail I love is the water holder in between seats which would save you some space in your personal seat pocket. They also give out slippers (which is a bonus as this normally doesn’t come as a standard amenity when flying premium economy or even business class).
The food on this route was alright not as good as the flight originating from Jakarta.
The 5-hour something flight from Jakarta to Taipei was definitely pleasant and perfect all throughout even the service was nice.
I did think the 11,5 hour flight to Los Angeles was a bit too long to be sitting in Premium Economy even though it was bearable, but you’d require a few sitting positions if you’re trying to have a good sleep.
Out of a number of Premium Economy seats I had flown in including Cathay Pacific and Eva Air, I’d say China Air would come out at the top mainly because it feels like a more modern cabin, the delicious food and the hardshell seat. The hard product definitely wins this time.
This is a great option to fly long-haul to the US as the price is quite competitive and business class is clearly something not everyone can afford. Although very possible to rack up some points which does take some commitment and time.
China Air is part of the SkyTeam alliance, the same alliance as Garuda Indonesia, Air France, Delta Airlines, Korean Air, Vietnam Airlines and 14 others.
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