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As I look forward to the travel that I have planned for the first half of 2019, it struck me that I have 4 different transpacific flights booked, each in a different cabin: first, business, premium economy, and economy. While the trips are pretty much simple round-trips as far as visiting a destination goes (with the exception of a 24-hour stopover in Xiamen), I booked each as two one-way itineraries. Here is a rundown on them all and how I booked each one:

Air China 747 First Class

The international travel will start out with my first international first class experience since I flew to Australia via Seoul back in 2017 (SEE: United Polaris First SFO to ICN: A Review), which had me flying in the nose (seat 1A) of one of United’s last 747-400s. It was sad when their final one was retired. Even with a crazy emergency stop in Anchorage, that trip still ranks as my favorite long-haul international premium cabin experience (granted, I’ve only had three).

So I can’t wait to fly first class again. I burnt 90,000 Avianca LifeMiles and ~$65 for the ticket to Shanghai via Beijing, which is about one of the best deals you can find for this product. The final leg is also currently booked aboard a new A350-900 in first. Which is perplexing, as I don’t believe that aircraft has a first class cabin. I’m assuming this will just be business, but I’m still excited to fly it. Air China just took delivery of its first A350-900 earlier this year. My guess is that they will still be training crew on the new aircraft on the PEK-PVG hop.

American Airlines 787-9 Premium Economy

On the return from the same 2.5-day trip to Shanghai, I booked American Airlines premium economy for a mere $367 one-way from Shanghai back to LAX, nonstop. I’ve never seen a one-way transpacific premium economy cabin going for so cheap, and it was one of those times where I just had to jump.

From what I’ve read, American Airlines’ premium economy is among the better products offered by the U.S. carriers. I’m not sure that it will compare to flying Cathay’s premium economy aboard their 777-300ER, which offers a ridiculous amount of recline, but it still ought to be good, and plenty comfortable for the long-haul back to California. I’ve booked my final hop back to Arcata with United miles as a separate ticket, so let’s hope there aren’t any irregular operations!

China Airlines 777-300ER Business

Not to be confused with Air China, the flag carrier of mainland China, China Airlines is the flag carrier of Taiwan. I’ll be visiting Taiwan with the older of my two boys for a few days in May, and I booked us in China Airlines business class nonstop from San Francisco for 85,000 Skymiles each. It was a bit steep, but given the brevity of the trip, I figured getting a good night’s rest on the way there would be ideal for letting us enjoy our first full day in Taiwan.

From what I’ve read, Taiwan is an excellent destination for traveling with kids, and I cannot wait to visit!

Xiamen 787 Economy

Both last and probably least is our flight back to the U.S. with Xiamen Airlines. You know a carrier hasn’t really found a large market in the U.S. when they send you a schedule change email in Chinese. Luckily, I have a friend that is fluent in Mandarin and she was able to tell me that Xiamen had simply adjusted the flight time by 10 minutes.

Our Xiamen itinerary will actually have us stopping in the airline’s hub city for about 24 hours. The ability to add a second destination to our trip wasn’t a necessary part of the itinerary, as there were more efficient options. But I will nearly always take a stopover opportunity when its presented. The city of Xiamen is actually Conde Nast Traveler’s up-and-coming destination for China, so I’m excited for the experience.


So there you have it. Two trips to Asia, both fairly quick and brief, and flying four different products on four different airlines. I’m definitely looking forward to it all, even the economy long-haul with Xiamen. Have you flown any of these cabins on each of these carriers?

Air China photo courtesy of Philip Capper via Flickr under CC BY 2.0 license. Xiamen 787 photo courtesy of BriYYZ via Flickr under CC BY 2.0 license

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