Justine Tyerman flies from Taiwan to New Zealand via Australia.
The route: Taipei to Auckland, via Sydney.
The airport experience: The China Airlines express check-in at Taoyuan International Airport was super-efficient. After my bag weighed in at under the generous 30kg-allowance, I was directed towards the lounge, an oasis of quiet in the midst of an airport as densely populated as the nearby capital, Taipei. After six days of hectic touring in Taiwan, the five-nozzle shower was bliss. The buffet had a good selection of Taiwanese and Western snacks and a palatable chardonnay. A haven to recharge physical and techno batteries from the comfort of an armchair.
Boarding: The queue-less boarding was a breeze and the welcoming smiles, tray of fruit juices and hot flannels once seated in my window seat, 3A, made me feel like royalty.
On time? The flight was spot-on time leaving the terminal at Taipei but delayed on the runway... who cares when you are sipping French Gremillet champagne?
Fellow passengers: On our late evening flight from Taipei, there were 26 in business, mainly Chinese and European men in black suits, and economy was full. On the Sydney to Auckland sector, there were only five passengers so we all had two large armchairs each.
Entertainment: A comprehensive inflight entertainment system with large screens embedded in the seat in front. Feeling incredibly perky after so much sleep, I watched a delightful movie - A Time For Love starring Bill Nighy, Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson, which had me chuckling out loud.
The service: Superb service delivered by three beautiful Taiwanese girls - no stewards in sight. Cabin manager Christina welcomed me by name when I re-boarded the plane bound for Auckland. She had been with China Airlines for 25 years and was a true professional.
Food and drinks: Dinner - Braised pork ribs with mushrooms, asparagus, carrots, rice and a mixed green salad with tomato and mandarin slices followed by fresh fruit... and a glass of Italian chianti. The linen serviette and stainless steel cutlery were a treat. The meal was cleared away as soon as it was finished allowing me to take a trip to the bathroom and prepare for "bed".
Breakfast - I woke up to tomato juice, yoghurt and cereal and a fresh croissant with strawberry jam. I passed on the cooked version of breakfast which did look tasty.
Lunch - Delicious grilled beef tenderloin, snow peas, zucchini, bell pepper, anchovy gratin potato and green pepper sauce with a garden salad and ciabatta roll followed by fresh fruit... and a glass of French chablis.
The toilets: Immaculate the whole time I was on the plane, 13 hours in total. The perfume, moisturiser and liquid soap were kept topped up and all surfaces were spotless.
The armchair/bed: Once I had investigated the contents of my business class pack, applied the lip balm and moisturiser, found the eye mask and played with the buttons in the armrest until I had converted my armchair seat into a fully-horizontal bed, I was quite exhausted. From the moment my feet were elevated, my head touched the soft pillow and I snuggled under the soft duvet, I was out to it for six and a half hours.
The view: I'm a high-altitude geography nut so I love a window seat. During the night we had flown over the Philippines, West Papua and the Gulf of Carpentaria. In the morning, looking out my two windows, I could see a mosaic of red, ochre and black somewhere over central Queensland. Straight lines intersected and then diverged where roads criss-crossed the vast empty land.
Would I fly this again? Absolutely.
Justine Tyerman flew business class courtesy of China Airlines.