Taiwanese carrier China Airlines has just received its first A321neo passenger aircraft which heralds a new era in the airline’s narrow-body fleet. A total of 25 of these advanced Airbus aircraft will enter the fleet over the coming years, which will operate short-haul routes including Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, and Cross-strait.

The aircraft itself features some of the same design language found in its A350 and its B777 fleet, including Persimmon wood veneers, patterned carpets and signature blue features through the business class cabin. However, there are new design touches including butterflies, new ombre dividers and the economy cabin has a new look and feel too.

At the front of the aircraft are 12 full-flat Stelia Elysium seats which features plenty of personal space, and a 2 x 2 configuration. In light of COVID, these seats are also ideal with large personal dividers between each seat and thanks to the architecture of the seat, there’s built-in privacy, albeit having to step over the neighbour to get to the aisle, but considering the short-haul nature of these flights, that’s a perfectly adequate compromise.

In fact, the seats are comparable on paper to Starlux’s A321 product, and it’s not surprising that China Airlines has upped the ante to be competitive on these thinner routes. Both Starlux and CAL have created really stunning executions though, making it hard to pick one over the other.

What’s impressive to see are the thoughtful details such as personal vanity mirror, super clean touch seat controls, wireless charging for mobile phones and a personal storage unit that has a door which folds to become a secondary cocktail table.

Further behind the curtain lies the economy cabin with 168 economy seats. The design reflects the plum blossom colour palette that plays throughout all the touch-points of the passenger experience.

The cabin manages to look fresh, light and keen-eyed readers will notice the carrier is showcasing a fairly unique lighting design on the ceiling panels shifting between the two colour tones throughout the rest of the cabin.

The seats also feature a well designed seat back, including an impressive IFE monitor, and utility seat pocket, with various pockets designed to manage personal items from glasses to mobile phones and tablets.

We’re delightfully surprised that the airline has continued to invest in its signature design style even post-pandemic when many other airlines might have curbed such a program to opt for a more affordable execution. But this approach will pay dividends for the carrier in the long run, with a coherent and consistent passenger experience design emerging across the fleet.

The Big Picture

Posted by:Jonny Clark

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