In Photos: China Airlines’ Smart New Airbus A321neo

China Airlines has taken delivery of the first of 25 A321neos set to arrive at the airline. With up to seven hours of flying time available on these aircraft, China Airlines is keen to ensure passengers have a great experience onboard. Working with JPA Design, the airline has undertaken a complete nose-to-tail refresh of the cabin.

Step onboard China Airlines’ A321neo. Photo: JPA Design

China Airlines’ new aircraft type

It’s been a couple of weeks since China Airlines took delivery of its new A321neo, the first of the type for the Taipei-based carrier. Set to replace its Boeing 737-800s, the A321neo has the capability to fly a lot further, adding around 1,000 miles (1,600 km) to the narrowbody reach of the airline.

As such, the airline is ensuring its passengers get a comfortable ride. With the capacity to fly 180 passengers onboard, the airline is offering a two-class configuration, with 12 business class seats that convert to a fully flat bed. But the refresh undertaken by China Airlines for these long-range narrowbodies goes much further than just the seating.

Working in partnership with the UK’s JPA Design, China Airlines has undertaken a complete nose-to-tail interior upgrade, touching everything from the color palette to cleaning requirements. We take a walk through the China Airlines A321neo to see what’s new.

What’s onboard the A321neo?

The update of the cabin begins as soon as you step onboard. In the aircraft’s entryway, JPA Design has brought in natural materials and high-end artworks to create a hospitable and unusual welcome for passengers. The persimmon wood textures and complemented by butterfly projections, a nod to the traditional art of shadow puppetry.

Through into the cabin, and the first stop is the premium business offering. Here, JPA has looked to recreate a ‘tea pavilion’ atmosphere, channeling lush green landscapes and the rich dark brown of the tea house interior.

Inspired by tea pavilions, the premium business cabin uses dark, rich colors. Photo: JPA Design
China Airlines A321neo cabin
Large IFE screens and the small cabin add to the exclusive atmosphere. Photo: JPA Design

Although the seats are not direct aisle access, being 2-2 in layout, they do offer increased privacy through the use of an extendable divider. Integrated into the divider is a small vanity mirror, a nice touch from the designer.

The compact cabin features large IFE screens and plenty of COVID-safe features. These include wireless charging facilities, capacitive seat control buttons and other easily cleanable surfaces for passenger health and hygiene.

Down in economy class, JPA has taken inspiration from a more urban landscape. The combination of light and dark leathers makes the cabin feel fresh and modern, while the stitch detailing picks out the airline’s brand colors in a thoughtful manner.

China Airlines A321neo cabin
The economy cabin got a makeover too. Photo: JPA Design
China Airlines A321neo cabin
All economy seats have IFE and a small amount of recline. Photo: JPA Design

Each seat offers plenty of storage for personal effects and charging for all devices. The seats incorporate a tailored cable management solution, with a strap to keep items organized in flight.

A journey within a journey

The design is intended to represent a journey for the customers onboard. JPA Design notes that the journey “begins in the tranquil nature of calm tea gardens, crosses mountains and forests, and ends in the surroundings of energetic cities, resulting in a cabin full of cultural connections and inspired touchpoints.”

Elliott Koehler, Creative Director at JPA Design, commented,

“It has been a pleasure to have the opportunity to work closely with the team from China Airlines and to offer their customers a sense of familiarity and surprise as they experience these exciting new aircraft cabins.”

While lie flat seats on narrowbody aircraft is still a market in its infancy, it’s interesting to see the different takes on the solution from different airlines. While JetBlue went for a very private lie flat experience for its new Mint suites, China Airlines’ take on the solution also looks very promising.

This is the first of 25 A321neos headed for China Airlines, with 11 delivered directly from Airbus and 14 on lease.

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