China Airlines 747-400 Business & Economy New York-Osaka

The delegation of flying duties between wife and I, she in business, me in economy, lets us sample both in a flight.

China Airlines is the only airline flying nonstop from New York to Osaka Kansai (KIX). It flies both ways on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays, continuing to Taipei. When not in blackout dates, there is decent Delta SkyMiles award availability in both cabins. Easiest to check availability on the Air France website. We were on the 2-cabin version of China Airlines’ 747-400 fleet.

Award tickets from Delta SkyMiles, along with various fare classes bought from China Airlines, do not get advance seat reservation permissions in either cabin. It is possible to select seats 24 hours prior to departure on the China Airlines website.

Thanks to prior research we learned that China Airlines often blocks upper deck seats until airport check-in. The check-in agent was cute, “Yes, we have upper deck, but…oh, you have to sit exit row, is that ok?” Yes, ma’am. The online seat map had shown upper deck as totally full, and the agent also said business class was full, however upon boarding there were several empty seats.

It started out well, I delivered my wife to the upper deck exit row and took a picture of the recliner-style seat. Then she forgot to take pictures the rest of the flight. She reports the food was fine, lots of international options in the AVOD, and the amenity kit had Lanvin.

China Airlines 747-400 01

I was down in economy and picked the very last row hoping that I would have a full swath of four seats to stretch out. My luck held, and I deflected some pre-takeoff snoopers by sitting in the second seat and put newspapers and a pillow in the far aisle. The flight was lightly populated anyway, with a number of people with 3-seat rows to themselves on the sides.

China Airlines 747-400 02

The food was pretty good. Meal service is immediately after takeoff and then next at 7 hours in the 13-hour flight, so you can arrive hungry. My coffee cup was dirty. Second meal had a full Almond Joy bar for dessert, which came in handy later after a skimpy ryokan breakfast in Japan. There were no snacks in between meals and not even a water stand. Except for very rare water distributions the flight attendants hid behind shuttered curtains outside of meal times.

China Airlines 747-400 04

China Airlines 747-400 05

There were few announcements or disturbances. Even duty free sales were cursory, so it was possible to rest. The neck contour pillow was comfortable, especially as I had 4.

China Airlines 747-400 03

The AVOD did not have the most extensive selection, however response was really snappy, with pinpoint start and stop on scanning speeds up to 64x.
China Airlines 747-400 07

Only frustration was the arm rests only go up partway, making it quite challenging to worm under and stretch out.

China Airlines 747-400 06

Good flight, good use of SkyMiles. There are more luxurious ways to Japan however a nonstop is our preference. The lavender color palette is pleasant. Osaka is underrated and has easy access to Kyoto and Nara.

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  • Joey

    That’s so funny that you put the newspaper to ‘save’ those seats from other seat snoopers. I do the same. Whenever it seems like a light load and I have my own row, I’d put my jacket on the other seat, put a book there or make the pillow/blanket disheveled so it looks like someone sits there. Hope you both have a great Thanksgiving wherever you are!

  • Shannon

    I think this review is a little bit too harsh.

  • pu

    How is it too harsh. Its not harsh enough. I’m from Taiwan and I try not to fly them if I can

  • @Shannon – it is an airline that gets few glowing reviews however I thought I gave pros and cons along with tips on the quirks like seat selection. It is no glamorous experience however to get to Osaka nonstop I would do it again.

  • Rice

    I fly CI a lot. CI has one of the best FA and ground agent, however, its hardware in C is by far the worst. CI is the only two trans pacific flyer whose C class cannot recline as a bed (the other one should be Philippine, and most recent HA).