Review: China Airlines Business Class TPE To BKK

Review: China Airlines Business Class TPE To BKK

To round out the first half of my adventure through Taoyuan International Airport, I had the opportunity to fly China Airlines A330-300 business class from Taipei to Bangkok. I didn’t expect much from this flight and unfortunately was still left feeling disappointed. Let’s get into the review!

Flight Information

  • Flight Number: CI 831
  • Seat: 3A
  • Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
  • Scheduled Departure Time: March 4, 2024 10:05 AM
  • Arrival Time: March 4, 2024 1:56 PM (We were delayed 1.5 hours)
  • Flight Time: 3 hours 19 minutes
  • How I Booked: 29,000 Flying Blue miles transferred from Amex MR + $37.10 in fees booked 6 months in advance. I took advantage of a 25% transfer bonus from Amex MR to Flying Blue. This flight would normally cost 36,000 Flying Blue miles.

Check In And Arrival Process

When I was planning out this trip, I strategically picked CI 831 out of the 3 daily Taipei to Bangkok flights that China Airlines operates because it was the only flight of the 3 that was operated by an A350-900.

For context, China Airlines normally reserves the A350-900 for their long-haul routes like Los Angeles to Taipei so I was surprised to see this aircraft being used for such a short flight. Their A350-900 has a gorgeous business-class cabin with reverse herringbone seats in a 1-2-1 configuration so I was excited to try this product.

China Airlines A350-900 has a beautiful business class cabin
China Airlines A350-900 Business Class Cabin

Well about 1 week before the flight, I got an email from China Airlines saying that my seat assignment had changed because my aircraft had been swapped to the A330-300. China Airlines flies the A330-300 on their two other daily Taipei to Bangkok flights so this wasn’t that surprising.

China Airlines sent me an email about a seat change due to an aircraft change
Seat Change Email From China Airlines

However, I was bummed out because China Airlines’ A330-300s have significantly worse business class cabins than the A350-900 because they have recliner seats in a 2-2-2 configuration. I was really hoping that a last-minute change would swap the aircraft back to the A350 like what happened in my Cathay Pacific business class flight but that didn’t end up happening. Looking back, I got super unlucky as both the day before and days after my flight were operated by the A350 instead of the A330….

My China Airlines flight was the only one in a 5 day span operated by a
My Flight Was The Only One Operated By An A330-300…

For check-in, since I was doing a self-transfer at Taoyuan International Airport after my Starlux business class flight, I never actually went to the check-in desk. After getting off the Starlux flight, there was a separate line for transit passengers and I had to show my passport and connecting airline boarding pass to the agent. Once I showed her my China Airlines boarding pass, I entered the main departure level of the airport and was on my way to the lounges!


China Airlines business class passengers get access to any of their 3 VIP lounges in Taoyuan Airport. I would recommend that people flying out of Terminal 1 go to the Dynasty Lounge in Terminal 1 and that people flying out of Terminal 2 go to the VIP Lounge in level 4 of Terminal 2. Both of these are super solid lounges and I really enjoyed all the dining options, especially the live cooking counters!

The China Airlines Dynasty Business Class Lounge in Terminal 1 of Taoyuan International Airport is solid
China Airlines Dynasty Lounge Terminal 1
The China Airlines VIP Business Class Lounge in Terminal 2 of Taoyuan International Airport is solid
China Airlines VIP Lounge Level 4 Terminal 2


Since I did a self-transfer, I had to talk to the gate agent to show my passport and return ticket from Bangkok. This was because I only had my mobile boarding pass and never went to a check-in counter or transfer counter to get any security checks cleared. After verifying my documents, she said I could scan my mobile pass when boarding.

The boarding process was quick and efficient. There was a dedicated line for business class passengers at the gate and also a dedicated jet bridge for business-class and first-class passengers.

China Airlines business class and first class passengers get a separate jet bridge when boarding
Separate Jet Bridge For Business and First Class Passengers

I liked how the first and business-class jet bridge took me right to the front of the plane!

China Airlines Business Class Cabin

Right when I boarded the aircraft, my mouth dropped. I was completely blown away but not for good reasons. I was amazed at how old and outdated the cabin was. A big part of why I had this reaction was because the cabin looked completely different from what I was expecting. China Airlines shows these A330-300 business class seats on their website.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class Cabin On Their Website

And these are the business class seats I got on my flight…

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class Cabin is sad looking with outdated seats
My Actual China Airlines A330-300 Business Class Cabin

Whatever these seats were, they were shockingly worn down and dirty. It truly was a night and day experience coming from the incredible business class seats in Starlux’s A350-900 to now this. To be fair, these weren’t the intended seats and if I had been on the A350-900, it would’ve been less of a disparity.

China Airlines’ A330-300s have two business-class cabin configurations. There will be either 5 or 6 rows of recliner seats in a 2-2-2 configuration for a total of 30 or 36 seats respectively. I don’t remember how many rows my aircraft had but I want to say it was the 6-row configuration.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class Cabin is not great
Front Of Business Class Cabin

In terms of design, the cabin felt bland and outdated. The seats have a cream-colored shell that blends in with the gray cabin walls and is only contrasted by the maroon seat cushions.

China Airlines Business Class Seats

To be blunt, the business class seats on this flight were sad. The seat leather and cushions were soiled and the controls were filthy. I saw so many scratches and lots of grime built up from years of use.

In addition to that, the seats being recliners didn’t make them feel premium at all. They looked more like domestic US first-class seats or premium economy seats on international flights. This is common in Asia for short-haul flights but even so, the seats here were extremely disappointing.

Japan Airlines regional business class also has a cabin with a 2-2-2 configuration and the Shell Flat Neo seats used there looked miles better than these.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class Cabin has dirty and old recliner seats
Dirty and Old Recliner Seat
China Airlines A330-300 Business Class Cabin has seats with decent leg room
Leg Room and Back Of Seats

The seat controls were a clear indicator of how old the seat was. The control panel was very dirty and had an old-fashioned design. I didn’t use any of the seat functions except for the seat recline and lifting the footrest but when I pressed these buttons, the seat would groan and make creaking noises.

I thought it was pretty interesting how there was even a control to increase the footrest length.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class Cabin has a really outdated TV remote and seat controls
Sad Looking Controls and Remote

The seat does have some small storage containers along with a button to operate the seat light found in the back of the seat in front. There are also charging ports built into the bottom of the armrest. One annoying thing was that my seat neighbor and I were both unable to charge our phones with our charging ports. I saw other passengers using their chargers with no issues so I think we just got unlucky with broken charging ports.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class Cabin has seat storage space in front of the seat
Storage Space and Light

There’s also a coat hanger hook near the top of the seat in front.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class seats have a coat hanger hook in the back of the seat in the front
Coat Hanger Hook

Each seat comes with a pillow and a blanket wrapped in a plastic bag. Since it was a short daytime flight, I didn’t bother opening the blanket.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class seats come with a blanket
Plastic Wrapped Blanket

The dining table is stowed away in the seat armrest and folds out over passengers’ laps. The table storage area inside the armrest was disgustingly dirty and looked very unsanitary.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class seats come with a foldable tray table
Foldable Tray Table

I did like how there is a privacy divider in the middle of each pair of seats I could pull out if needed.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class seats come with an extendable privacy divider
Privacy Divider

The best seat in the China Airlines A330 business class cabin just comes down to one’s preference. If you like window seats and don’t expect to have to go to the bathroom much, I’d take the window seat. If you like not having to move around people when getting out of your seat, then take the aisle seat.

I think any seat in rows 3 and 4 is fine because they’re further away from the bathrooms and will be less noisy.

My only recommendation is to avoid row 1. I didn’t confirm it but I’m pretty sure these seats use retractable TVs that must be stowed on departure and arrival. It’s better to have a TV built into the seat in front of you so you can keep using it throughout the whole flight.

China Airlines Business Class In Flight Entertainment

The in-flight entertainment was very disappointing too. For starters, the TV was small and had low-quality definition. My biggest gripe against the TV was that if sunlight was shining against it, I couldn’t see ANYTHING. The glossy screen just reflected the sunlight and made it impossible to see what was playing.

Luckily I was sitting in a window seat so I could close the window shade to solve this. If you’re on a daytime flight and sitting in an aisle seat next to the window seat, this may be a big problem.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class seats have a small and glossy screen TV
Small and Glossy Screen TV

The content selection also needs a lot of improvement. There were no games, the TV show selection was very limited, and the movies were mediocre. I was surprised at how they didn’t have any of the latest American blockbuster movies.

Each business class seat comes with complementary headphones for passengers. I liked how they came plastic-wrapped and also had China Airlines branding on them.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class seats come with plastic wrapped headphones
Plastic Wrapped Headphones

They weren’t the greatest quality but at least they didn’t feel as cheap as the ones Japan Airlines gave out in their intra-Asia business class.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class seats have China Airlines branded headphones
China Airlines Branded Headphones

The TV is touchscreen but can also be operated by a corded remote that looks like it should be kept in a museum for how old fashioned it is. The front of the remote has all of the standard media controls while the back of the remote is a phone.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class seats have a very poorly designed TV remote
Outdated and Poorly Designed TV Remote
China Airlines A330-300 Business Class seats have a phone built into the back of the TV remote
Phone On The Back Of The TV Remote

The remote worked fine but I hated the design of it. The way I’m holding the remote in the pictures is the natural way most passengers would intuitively think to hold the remote. However, there will be usability issues as the remote is meant to be operated with both hands.

I had to use my left thumb to click the directional arrows and my right thumb to click the “ok” button. This type of design makes sense if you’re playing a video game but there aren’t any games to play…. I really don’t know why they didn’t just put the ok button in the center of the directional controls.

China Airlines Business Class Amenity Kit and Pajamas

China Airlines unfortunately does not offer any pajamas in business class and there were also no amenity kits on this flight. They only offer amenity kits to business class passengers on long-haul flights.

China Airlines Business Class Wifi

China Airlines does not offer wifi on any of their A330-300 aircraft. Wifi is only supported on the 777-300, A350-900, and A321neo aircraft with certain restrictions.

Pre Departure

As passengers were getting situated, the flight attendants would walk around the cabin with a piece of paper that contained handwritten notes on passenger names. They used this paper to help greet passengers by name and also verify that they were sitting in the correct seat.

Once all the passengers were seated, the flight attendants came by with a pre-departure drink of blueberry juice. I’ve never been served blueberry juice onboard before so this was pretty cool. The drink was tasty but I was a little surprised though because airlines usually offer business class passengers their choice of a pre-departure drink.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class serves blueberry juice for its pre-departure drink
Pre-Departure Blueberry Juice

Shortly after that, the flight attendant came by to hand out hot towels and to also take my lunch order. The hot towel was a nice touch and overall it was a pleasant and efficient pre-departure experience.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class hands out hot towels to business class passengers before departure
Hot Towel Handed Out Before Departure

China Airlines Business Class Lunch Service

Although the hard product was a big letdown, the lunch service was quite good and was my favorite part of the flight.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class lunch menu is solid
Business Class Menu

The paper menus looked great and I liked how I could pick from either the fusion cuisine or the Taiwanese cuisine. I ordered the braised beef with garlic fried rice from the fusion cuisine primarily because I was intrigued by the seasonal strawberry bread.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class passengers can pick between Fusion cuisine or Taiwanese cuisine for lunch
Lunch Options

The drink menu was standard and had all the classic liquors and nonalcoholic drinks. The drink that stood out to me was the China Airlines x WooTea lychee oolong tea & sparkling water so I ended up ordering that.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class has a pretty good drink menu
Drink Menu

I was also surprised to see that the menu also included the choices for the reverse Bangkok-Taipei route in the same menu.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class menu includes the menu for the reverse route
Menu For Reverse Route

About 30 minutes after takeoff, the flight attendant came by to set my table and also gave me a packet of nuts and dried fruit. They served the packet on a porcelain dish which I felt was a bit unnecessary since I could just eat from the packet directly.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class gives out a nuts and dried fruits mix before lunch
Snack Before Main Meal

The meal came out soon after that and it honestly looked and tasted pretty good! I really enjoyed the sauce from the braised beef because of how savory it was and how it paired so well with the fried rice. The shrimp salad impressed me with how big and juicy the shrimp were. However, the real star of the meal was the strawberry bread. It was soft, warm, and had a subtle strawberry flavor. I thought it was fantastic and would highly recommend ordering that and the braised beef.

My only complaints were that the vegetables in the salad and the fruits weren’t the freshest. I could see that the fruit wasn’t as ripe and that some of the vegetables were browning already.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class lunch is delicious
China Airlines Business Class Lunch

Another unexpected winner of the meal was the lychee oolong drink. It was delicious and extremely refreshing from the carbonation of the sparkling water and the sweetness of the lychee. This is definitely one of my favorite nonalcoholic airline drinks.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class has a terrific lychee oolong sparkling dirnk
Very Delicious Lychee Oolong Sparkling Drink!

For dessert, I ordered the ice cream and it ended up just being double chocolate ganache Haagen-Dazs ice cream. The ice cream was good but honestly, it tasted like any other chocolate ice cream. I’d recommend ordering the pomegranate cheesecake instead.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class serves Haagen Dazs ice cream after lunch
“Premium” Ice Cream

I also got a black coffee and it was solid. Overall, while it wasn’t perfect, I still really enjoyed the lunch service and thought it was great for a short-haul flight.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class has decent black coffee
Black Coffee

China Airlines Business Class Bathroom

There are 3 bathrooms available to business class passengers onboard the A330-300 with 2 in the front and one in the back. There is a little LED light in the aircraft ceiling near the front of the cabin over the center seats that shows if the front bathrooms are occupied or not.

As for the bathroom itself, there isn’t much to say other than that it was a typical airline bathroom.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class bathrooms are clean but lack any decoration
Bathroom Interior

The interior was clean but very drab in terms of design.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class bathrooms are clean but lack any decoration
Average Bathroom

I did like how there was hand cream and a facial spray available though.

China Airlines A330-300 Business Class bathrooms have assorted creams and sprays
Creams and Sprays

China Airlines Business Class Bed

The business class seats on China Airlines A330-300 aircraft are recliners and do not transform into lie-flat beds.

Landing in Bangkok

Nothing memorable really happened as we were landing in Bangkok except for the flight attendants doing a single pass down the aisle with a brochure for duty-free shopping items. The coolest thing was probably when I saw all of the retired Thai Airways A380-800 aircraft parked at Suvarnabhumi Airport. I’m pretty sad I never got to fly in their A380s before their retirement but it was awesome seeing these giants as we were heading to the gate.

We passed by the retired Thai Airways A380-800s at Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK)
Retired Thai Airways A380-800s at BKK Airport

Overall Service

I found the service to be adequate but very lackluster. There was no warmth or excitement from any of the flight attendants and other than during the pre-departure checks and meal times, the flight attendants were nowhere to be found. I don’t expect much on these short-haul regional flights but I was still surprised at how little interaction there was.

The flight attendants were prompt to come when requested but the interactions felt empty and nonchalant. There wasn’t anything memorable in the service and I don’t even recall them smiling much when talking to passengers.


China Airlines A330-300 business class was disappointing. The sole bright spot was the food but other than that, the old seats, poor in-flight entertainment, and indifferent service made this a very forgettable experience. Being on the A350-900 would have made the hard product better but in terms of the soft product, China Airlines still has some room for improvement.

In my opinion, there really is no reason to pick China Airlines over Starlux or EVA Air which offers far superior business-class products on this route. I would recommend saving your points or cash to fly one of those carriers instead. The only benefit to flying China Airlines was getting access to the priority immigration line at Suvarnabhumi airport because of my business class ticket.

What did you think of China Airlines business class?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *