The only problem taking Lufthansa to Frankfurt then Asiana to Seoul is my destination was Japan. This trip came about after United made changes to their routing rules in 2016. One last time I wanted to take advantage of the lenient rules offered on reward tickets, including a free stopover in a different region of the world. So almost a year in advance I booked the following:
ORD-FRA on United 777-200 First class
2 day stopover in Germany
FRA-DUS on Lufthansa
DUS-NRT on ANA 787-9 Business class
Overnight layover in Narita
NRT-PVG on ANA 787-8 Business class
2 day stopover in Shanghai
PVG-VIE on Austrian 777 Business class
Overnight layover in Vienna
VIE-ARN on Austrian something that hadn't been decided
ARN-ORD on SAS A330 Business class
If you are counting that is 4 cities, 160,000 points with a first class segment.
After visiting Shanghai at the end of 2016 I soured on the idea of this trip and focused on Japan. In the end my self-negotiations settled for a few days visiting some Ryokans in the Nikko area. I was able to keep the first half of this United itinerary until 2 weeks before departure when Lufthansa releases their first class space.
Returning to the issue of getting from South Korea to Japan, there were a lot of options. The least expensive ones were using 15,000 BA Avios or Delta Skymiles. Using Avios got me to Narita on a Japan Airlines 737, but availability was not certain. Much more availability was out of Gimpo where I could easily have taken the subway from Incheon, flown to Haneda then taken the train to Narita where I was staying, but this is Reward Flying not Reward Trains. Much to my surprise Delta Skymiles had the best deal and availability. There were multiple options such as China Airlines via Taipei, Korean Airlines direct and China Eastern via Shanghai. A direct Korean Airlines flight would seem the most obvious, but it didn't depart until late in the day and arrived at 8:30PM, the same time China Airlines arrived. Having been to Seoul and not all that keen on taking the train into town, I opted for China Airlines, mostly because one segment was on their international 777-3.
A note on United: Before the route rule changes last year it would have been easy to add the Seoul-Tokyo segment to the ticket at no extra cost. Not anymore, I tried a couple times and they wouldn't do it. There was plenty of availability within 24 hours on Asiana to NRT and HND.
After an insanely expensive breakfast at the Nest Hotel near Incheon I took their convenient shuttle bus to the airport.
I used the China Airlines mobile app to check-in but was only issued 1 of 2 boarding passes. That wouldn't get me to Narita. Why remains a mystery.
The ICN gate agent was super friendly. She invited me to visit the Korean Air lounge as well as the China Airlines lounge in Taipei plus gave me specific transit directions upon arrival in TPE.
China Airlines departs out of the satellite terminal. The tram is a breeze.
ICN is a great airport. The memory card in my camera was full so I stopped in one of the electronic stores and got a card. Talk about timing, the card reached its limit as I was recording the Asiana A380 take-off roll viewing from the IFE outside tail camera. It quit halfway down the runway.
There are many places where you can relax or sleep while waiting for your flight in ICN. This one has a particularly nice view.
The Priority Pass Sky Hub lounge is located next to the Korean Air lounge. Showers were available in this lounge.
Upon entering the Korean Air lounge you are greeted by the newest addition to their aircraft fleet. Boy would I like to have this model aircraft.
Another smaller version was found inside the lounge. I'd settle for either.
The wooden floor lounge was dressed largely in plain white with turquoise and taupe furniture.
Except for a lime green chair.
In the back by the restroom was an isolated TV room.
The facilities included a shower room.
Food and beverage was limited at best. The time was around 11AM.
I grabbed a coffee and plastic cup of water to sip on while plane watching.
While heading to the gate I stopped for a bit and listened to a performance featuring traditional Korean music.
It's a beautiful aircraft.
China Airlines sets a warm and welcoming atmosphere once you enter their aircraft.
The front cabin of this triple seven holds 24 J passengers. So far my suitcase is the lonely bag. The final tally would be five adults and one baby who occupied their own seat (and extremely well behaved) on this two hour journey.
The mini-cabin holds another 16 passengers for a total of 40 business class seats. Because of the proximity to the engines as well as premium economy class, I would recommend trying for the front cabin.
At door 2 between the J cabins is the SkyBistro. The bistro would be closed on this flight.
There are 3 lavatories for business class, 2 between the cabins and 1 in front by the cockpit. This one has a view.
In addition to the oversize 777 overhead bins, plenty of storage is available in front of the first row.
However row 1 is numbered row 10.
10A as presented on the 777.
10A on the A350. Almost the same seat with adjusted colors. The seat cushion looks thicker, there is no head rest on the A350 and it has a shoulder belt.
Back to the 777.
I believe the footwell is deeper on the window bulkhead seats.
The tray has two heights, higher for working and lower for dining.
The side table offers two compartments for storage items as well as securing the IFE controller which doesn't need to be used with the responsive touch screen monitor and electronics.
The aisle side armrest that can be adjusted for more width in bed mode and can hold water, headphones, etc.
I wish the flight was long enough to sleep.
The IFE is excellent with a brilliant touch screen monitor, although you have to wonder who catalogs the movies?
Finally the seat controls located on an easy to understand touch-pad.
Time to go. Korean Air doing some ground transit along with a couple 777's needing engine work and the soon to be defunct United 737 Seoul to Narita 5th freedom route that is never available for reward ticketing. If it's so popular why are they cancelling it?
Menus were distributed for today's lunch.
A glass of merlot complemented this dish of braised pork belly.
And various Kimchi dishes and side dishes.
Followed by dessert completing a substantial lunch for such a short 2 hour flight.
All too soon the descent began. Landing to the south today.
And another fantastic China Airlines flight comes to an end.
Carrier: China Airlines
Date: July 2017
Flight #: 161
Aircraft: Boeing 777 #B-18006, delivered January 2016
Configuration: J40 / W62 / Y256
On Time: Yes
Reward Flying Rating: 7.6 out of 10 ✈
✔︎Truly a stunning cabin to enter
✔︎B/E Aerospace Super Diamond remains my favorite business class seat
Cabin/Seats Rating: 8 out of 10 ✈
✔︎Excellent for this short flight, substantial blanket and pillow
✔︎Typical airline style
✔︎Tasty and substantial lunch
Amenity/Food rating: 6 out of 10 ✈
✔︎High quality touch screen monitor
✔︎Yes, pay for
IFE rating: 8 out of 10 ✈
✔︎Greeted by name on entry. Insisted she take a photograph of me and didn't stop until she got the perfect one. Notice I still fail to post.
Flight Attendant rating: 8 out of 10 ✈
✔︎B777. China Airlines has 10 777-3 and they are all within 3 years old at this writing.
Aircraft rating: 8 out of 10 ✈
Having flown short Asia routes on EVA Air and China Airlines I honestly can't say which one is better. They are both fantastic and I'd fly either anytime. China Airlines might hold the edge for me as I like the Super Diamond seat a little better over the EVA Cirrus seat. But it's marginal. Great job by the Taiwanese.