Helen van Berkel flies with China Airlines, from Auckland to Taipei via Sydney

The plane:

Boeing A330-300.

Class: Economy.


My seat: 18D on both legs; the aisle seat of the four in a two-four-two configuration.

Price: Return fares in Economy Class start from $1182.

On time: Yes.

How full: Almost empty on the first leg: an empty row behind and an empty row in front - and a perfectly acceptable gentleman on the end of my row. He moved forward and stretched out, I moved sideways and stretched out and we both got a nap. The second leg was full, so no stretching out.

Fellow passengers: All very ordinary and well-behaved. Most of those on the second leg were Asian, ranging from students to families and businessmen.

Entertainment: A broad selection of television shows, movies and games, but I kept losing volume. As we neared Taipei, I discovered a nose cam (on the plane, that is) so was able to watch our arrival on my screen. Very thrilling.

Service: On the brusque end of efficient. "Chicken or pork?" was the extent of engagement.

Food and drinks: Finger-burning hot chicken with noodles and vegetables for dinner. The cup for my chardonnay was cracked, as was the replacement. When the third cup also leaked I gave up and put the leaking cup in my coffee cup - then licked that clean. A frittata was served for breakfast as we approached Taipei.

Toilets: Clean and spacious.

Airport experience: Emerging into Sydney Airport after the quiet of the Customs hall when you have nothing to declare and your baggage is checked through is like arriving at the carnival. It's loud, it's bright, it's shiny, it's very Australian.

Would I fly again? Yes: It's all about the destination.