China Airlines to feature ‘Sky Lounge’ and ‘Family Couch’ on new B777-300ERs

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Special thanks to Kai-Chin Shih at >talkairlines for providing input for this article.

As part of its ‘Next Generation Plan’ Taiwan’s flag carrier China Airlines is transforming its products and services with the airline’s new Boeing 777-300ER (which will enter service this month) becoming the airline’s flagship aircraft to showcase the upgrades it has come up with in partnership with well-known Taiwanese architect Ray Chen. Besides using the texture of persimmon tree grain to decorate the partition walls of the cabins and the parts of the Business Class seats, two eye-catching innovations include a ‘Sky Lounge’ in Business and ‘Family Couches’ in Economy.

Galley as social area
Airlines operating the A380 superjumbo – such as Emirates, Etihad, Qatar Airways and Korean Air – have been using the relatively large amount of cabin space on this flagship aircraft to feature social areas such as onboard bars and lounges in their premium cabins. The A380 provides 50 percent more floor space compared with the B747, but airlines on average install only 35 percent more seats.

On the B777-300ER – which is replacing the B747-400 as a flagship aircraft – airlines such as British Airways (‘Club Kitchen’), American Airlines (‘Lobby Bar’) and Japan Airlines’ (‘Sky Gallery’) have been reimagining how the galley located in the premium cabin could become the domain of passengers as well, after regular service is over.

‘Sky Lounge’
The latest example of how the galley in the premium cabin can be turned into a social area (on non-US flights where it is prohibited for passengers to stand or group together on board) comes from Taiwan-based China Airlines, which will feature a ‘Sky Lounge’ in the Business Class on its upcoming fleet of B777-300ERs.

Designed by well-known Taiwanese architect Ray Chen – who has been responsible for the design of the flagship store of book chain Eslite in Taipei – the new design of China Airlines’ Business Class cabin aims to give customers a feeling of relaxing in their personal reading space. The texture of persimmon tree grain has been used to decorate the partition walls of the cabin, and the Business seats feature stand-alone reading lamps.

The ‘Sky Lounge’ galley located in the middle of the Business Class cabin of China Airlines B777 (seatmap here) doubles as a self-serve bar and social area. During the flight, passengers can choose to walk up to the lounge to enjoy food and drinks while chatting with other passengers.

The ‘Sky Lounge’ is divided into three sections: A tea, alcohol and coffee area. The tea area provides tea, green bean cake, nuts, and other Taiwanese traditional tea snacks; the alcohol area provides cocktails, bar snacks, and cup noodles; the coffee area provides coffee from coffee capsules and locally grown coffee beans along with pastries.

The two outer sides of the Sky Lounge have been turned into bookshelves, on which a monthly selection of publications, in both Chinese and English, will be placed. On the opposite sites of the galley area two small areas have been created for passengers to stand when socializing.

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‘Family Couch’
China Airlines will also feature a ‘Family Couch’ on its new Boeing 777-300ERs. Family Couch is a version of Air New Zealand’s (ANZ) revolutionary Skycouch. ANZ licensed the seating type to China Airlines earlier this year, making China Airlines the first airline other than ANZ to install the seats.

Family Couch is a row of three Economy Class seats that together adapt to create a flat flexible space to stretch out and relax in. Passengers can raise the footrests and armrests 90 degrees during inflight and enjoy a comfortable sleep. The experience can be further enhanced with the mattresses, pillows, and blankets provided by the cabin crew.

Specially designed seat-belts, to be attached to the passenger’s seat and the front seat-back (which is the reason why Family Couch won’t appear in the first row) are also handed out by the cabin crew, indicating that unless one buys Family Couch ticket, he/she can’t enjoy the bed-seat. When all the footrests and armrests are raised up, the total area of the seat set will be 64cm wide and 140cm long.

This new type of seat will be installed in the ten rows after the first row of Economy Class. However, they will only be limited to the far right section. A three-person ticket for Family Couch can be up to 60 percent cheaper than the fare of three Business Class seats.

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