Review of EVA Air flight Taipei Hong Kong in Premium Eco

Airline EVA Air
Flight BR871
Class Premium Eco
Seat 21K
Aircraft Boeing 777-300ER
Flight time 01:40
Take-off 06 May 12, 16:40
Arrival at 06 May 12, 18:20
BR 120 reviews
marathon
By GOLD 2386
Published on 30th March 2016
TPE-HKG is for the Taiwanese what CDG-LHR was before the Channel Tunnel. This is high density traffic, with not much to see on the way since most of the flight is above water, and with a cloud cover in HKG which matches the clichés about English weather. Altogether, not the most exciting route, although the service on board shames that on CDG-LHR.

I thought this vintage report was worth adapting in English because:
- for mysterious reasons, I got to travel Premium Economy on that business trip, despite having an Economy ticket.
- to date, there has never been a report on a TPE<>HKG Eva Air flight in Premium Economy posted in English
- there is a plane spotting bonus on the TPE traffic, which unlike that of TSA, requires your own means of transportation and is therefore inaccessible to casual visitors in Taipei
- Jetsetpanda appeared to like my plane-spotting bonus in MAN, posted here

Ideally, I would have flown on one BR’s Hello Kitty jets, advertised here in a travel agency in Taipei, but the schedule of the HK service did not fit my business constraints.

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I promised you some plane spotting : I took the train the previous week-end to Zhongli, a town which had both a tourist office (and therefore local maps), and a scooter rental agency that could be seen from the station’s exit (in the background, above the hood of the second taxi).

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The white on blue sign was impossible to miss, and better not miss it, because everywhere else around the station, there were scooter parking lots, and in Taiwan, they don’t rent to third parties scooters which have been parked there for the day.

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All I needed to do then was find the best plane spotting location, by dead reckoning. I did not need to pray for that in this temple, because on a bright weather day in a flat plain, planes on a final descent could be seen from far away.

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I was very close to BR’s freight facilities, but all I could see of it were tails.

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I was nearly alone in the strategic location for Runway 5R, except two lovers who did not stay long (OK, I was taking pictures above the horizon level only, but they would rather be alone), and then somebody who parked his car where the lovers were and did not seem very interested in planes.

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Another more serious spotter came afterwards. See here the water stream with concrete banks which serves the same purpose as the moat of Middle Ages fortresses, and the nets which dissuade the herons from taking off where much large birds take off too. The area around TPE is full of ponds and therefore of herons.

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It did not matter ; there was space for all, and here are some pictures of my week-end there. It was a very green environment, on the ground and above the ground.

Eva Air MD-90-30, registered B-17923

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CX B777-300, registered B-HNH

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Since I could not get any closer, it was hard to avoid the foreground of barbed wire, like here with a BR A330.

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From where I was, I could see the planes landing on Runway 5L too, but I would have needed a much more powerful telelens for that. A CI 744.

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I’m positive on this one : it was a B777-300ER. I'm good at plane identification…

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… especially when I do not need to go an surf on Airfleets to find the solutions. It was registered B-18702.

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Eva Air A330-200, registered B-16309

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For runway 5L, SQ A330

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Eva Air MD-90-30, registered B-17913

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CZ A321

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Another CI 744 CI, a freighter

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The reason I had come there in the middle of the day was to spot this plane :

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This was B-16331, i.e. one of Eva Air’s A330-300 in Hello Kitty livery, on final descent to Runway 5R. There were two Hellow Kitty flights within five minutes of each other (BR169 at 13:35 and BR2105 at 13:40), and I saw only one (the other presumably landed on the other runway), so I could not be sure of where she was arriving from.



Tiger Airways (a Singapore low cost)A320 registered 9V-TAV.

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From a distance, an Eva Air744 freighter to Runway 5L

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And the CI 744 in Skyteam livery that I had seen several times in TPE

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TG A330-300 registered HS-TED, ready to go

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Only the tail appears now, as the preceding aircraft flies away.

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There she is again on the other side of the thicket.

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Hong-Kong Airlines A320 (B-LPB)

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The same tail effect, with an Asiana A330-300 registered HL7740…

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.. . there she was in full…

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… preceding a Shanghai Airlines 738, registered B-5315

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Arrival of a CX A330-300 CX, registered B-LAA

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.. and a Jetstar A320, registered 9V-JSA, coming from KIX, before a fifth freedom flight home to SIN.

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Another CI 744 CI in the distance

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And a Malaysian Airlines 738, perched on an electric utility pole.

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This one was difficult to spot at landing : the reactors were fake – this was the emergency services training ground.

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I went to the extremity of Runway 5L, with some difficulty because I had to detour around the expressway reaching the airport.

A departing SQ A330

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And from a distance, Air Asia A330 in final descent to Runway 5R

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With adverse lighting conditions, a CI A330-300, registered B-18305

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And a CI 744, registered B-18215, with a correct lighting

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Do not worry, she made it above the barbed wire.

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Last, from the distance, a CX 777.

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There were nearly twin aisle aircraft only, because the traffic in TPE is mostly either medium / long haul or high traffic.

The next Sunday, I returned to TPE, but not with a scooter this time. Arrival in Terminal 2, the one which was not under renovation at that time, since I had chosen to fly Eva Air on that trip. Although my company had a strict cheapest flight policy, I could select any flight or airline, because they all had the same rate on this oligopolistic TPE-HKG market. At that time, all flights were about 8,000 TWD for a round trip at fixed dates, which was not cheap for the distance.

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The interior of the terminal landside. The waiting time was minimal, say five minutes, to obtain my BP.

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I had checked in on line the day before, but I did not have a printer at home. Surprise: even though I had no status with BR, my flexible fare gave me access to the Premium Economy seats towards the front of the aircraft, and I was lucky that there was still a window seat available ahead of the wing. It was possible to check in between ETD-24h and ETD-3h, and also cancel the check-in on line. A good point for BR; it would not be the only one.

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The chekc in counters for Eva Air’s Hello Kitty flights were impossible to miss

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The FIDS for Terminal 2. The destinations in early afternoon were rather short haul, apart from a flight to LAX.

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There was a very long line at the BP check counter, before the security check and then the immigration, but it went quite fast, at first alongside thie Eva Air sales counter,

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… and then these self-check in machines dedicated to six special Eva Air flights :

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It was in this so sweet and pink surrounding that the passengers on Hello Kitty jets could selfcheck. My only avgeek regret now that I am no longer in Taiwan is that I never got a chance to board one of these flights (there are reports on this website, though).

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There was of course a whole collection of branded items, all in outrageously cute livery.

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Mothers’ Day was coming up in Taiwan too, and many shops were decorated with hearts as pink as possible, because everybody knows that the best way to show your love to your mother is to buy her a major brand item in a duty free shop, or, even better, several items.

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By the way, this was the tax refund booth just after the immigration counters, where the waiting time was considerably less than what I had seen in CDG’s Terminal 1.

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Guess what was the theme of this baby care room ? TPE must have had a special discount on a bulk order for pink paint.

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A shop for French longing for home (I did not qualify), and first and foremost for Taiwanese longing for a trip to France.

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There were self-serve computers for free internet access in various places, but it was typically Taiwanese that some were wheelchair accessible: Taipei is by far the most wheelchair friendly city I know in the world.

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Anyway, it was time to think corporate…

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…while using a keyboard with Bopomofo script that you are unlikely to see anywhere outside Taiwan

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One of the control towers, and the track of a people mover which I never used because it does not provide a view on the tarmac.

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Because what I was interested was the tarmac only. TPE is quite simple in this matter : Zone C is fully BR, with an extension towards Zone B for the other airlines in its alliance, and Zone D is fully CI, with an extension towards Zone A for the other airlines in its alliance.

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The lighting conditions in the afternoon were better for the BR side, and I’ll let you look at the pictures (which means that I did not spend adequate research time to identify each and every aircraft).
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Flight BR160 boards at gate C3

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Gate C3 was that of the children playground of that terminal ; it was extensively sponsored by a well known character:

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A drawing workshop at the far end, with the model on the blackboard.

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And for all those who are old enough to have pocket money, or money in the pocket, or a credit card in the wallet, there was a shop in the vicinity to spend all your leftover cash and plastic limit.

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There are many cultural and artistic promotion in TPE, and their displays are changed at regular intervals.

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These posters related to three major faiths signal prayer rooms. The proximity with advertising with a spirit brand, on tarp mask an area undergoing renovation in the background, was a somewhat unfortunate coincidence.

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The plain doors were all identical, but the rooms themselves were very difference. There were no flight calls in these prayer rooms.

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The advantage of the Christian prayer room was that it had a view on the tarmac,

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… which gave me opportunity to pray for the safety of this Hong Kong Airlines flight. Note the hollow cross on the seats backrests. On the other hand, the room suffered from a ventilation unit noise.

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I liked the Buddhist room whose fake stained glass windows were hiding the fact that it had no windows at all.

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The Muslim prayer room was the one with the least creativity. A screen to separate women in the back from men in the front, a prayer mat with the orientation of Makkah… the decorator could have done better.

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A souvenir shop for traveling children or travelers’ children, targeting the two main nationalities visiting Taiwan : the US and Japan. I let you guess the star on the right (in two words, beginning with an H).

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Terminal 1 was then undergoing a massive interior and exterior renovation operation.

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The other control tower

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The entrance of the men’s room was decorated with a mosaic. There was a similar one on the female side, but I could not take a picture, because taking pictures of women’s rooms is extremely poorly thought of in Taiwan, to the point that there is usually a reinforced video surveillance of their surroundings in the subway system.

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A long ramp for wheelchair handicapped passengers, like this one pushed by an airport staff.

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And on the other side the shortest escalator that I ever saw.

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I meantime had reached the China Airlines side, where the lighting was in the wrong direction. There were all kinds of aircraft, from 738 to 744.



Landings are not exclusively CI on this side, so there comes an Asiana.

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A variant of the CI livery

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The playground of the D wing, which would not be out of place in a Smurfs comic book.

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This KLM aircraft operated the then brand new direct AMS-TPE flight, continuing to MNL. That flight was much more attractive than the previous AMS-BKK-TPE flight, and was among the few Skyteam options from Europe to Taiwan. Oddly, it did not have the markings of KLM Asia (a face-saving subsidiary created so that the same airline would not operate flights to Mainland China and Taiwan).

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Landing of a China Airlines 744 freighter

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An Asiana aircraft leaves in contre-jour

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Pushback was completed for this JAL 737

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I visited all four sides of the square, ending up here at the exit of the automatic passport reading gates for the Taiwanese.

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The reason I returned to my starting point was that I had been filling my memory card with pictures for two hours and that it was time for me to reach this B777-300ER. ER stands for Extended Range, and it was somewhat paradoxical to use an aircraft capable of flying 14,000 km with a full load for a 800 km hop, but BR did not have a very diversified fleet, and what mattered was having a large seating capacity, because this flight in mid afternoon on a Sunday was 80-90% full.

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In TPE, you must go down one level to reach the actual boarding gate.

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This provides a view of the aircraft from a lower position.

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The neighbor, an Air Asia at push back

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Going through the so-called "Laurel class" a.k.a business class.

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And installation at my seat, that I had chosen for its view on the GE90 and on the landscape ahead.

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The seat pitch was enormous for a such a short flight.

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Some views from my seat during boarding

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The tablet was in the right armrest

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The safety card, both sides (I borrowed that of the neighboring seat)

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And the duty free catalogue which was much thicker than the in-flight magazine, headphones that I did not test and a barf bag that I did not test either. The illustration of the Sky Shop represented Paris, that BR served with three (now four) flights a week.

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The tablet was far from filling the entire space to the preceding seat.

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Departure of a Transasia Airways A321 towards China

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A few tails on the right

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If you can’t identify this red logo on a white background, you can push back the BR aircraft which is on the way to identify an Air China aircraft.

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It was our turn to push back

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再見台北! (Good bye, Taipei !)

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The plane taxies alongside freight an maintenance of Evergreen (the parent company of Eva Air), and this Dreamlifter (a freighter built from a 747, with an oversized hold) that I later saw in NGO.

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This one is only a "small" 747

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My doubts about this MD-11 seen from outside the airport perimeter were confirmed : the three engines had been removed, and only an empty tube remains in the vertical stabilizer.

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Imminent take-off from Runway 5R…

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… after this Eva Air 777-300ER (this was the type of aircraft I was best at identifying).

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Take-off

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To the right of Runway 5R, this was an air force base, identified by the silos hiding the war planes from indescrete onlookers.

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The Taoyuan municipality on the right and the expressway to Taipei on the left,

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With the viaducts of the future subway line to TPE as a bonus.

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The GE90 and the wing with slats extended

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And the same in cruising configuration.

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A FA distributed immigration cards : few passengers took them, which meant that the passengers on board were mostly connecting to another flight, or HK residents, or HK frequent visitors (from four annual round trips, you could apply for a card providing access to extremely fast contactless machines)

The FA distributed this meal : a (very) hot meal of noodles and meat, a small salad as an appetizer, and a 25cl fruit juice container. There was no choice and no menu, but remember this was a Premium Economy flight lasting 1h40’ (according to the schedule) and 1h18 (in reality, on all airlines serving this route). It was excellent.

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9'25" later, the FAs came back to propose oolong tea or coffee. Coffee was a make or break test on that flight, because on the many domestic Taiwanese flights I flew, the coffee was downright awful.

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The test had to be made with all the required pomp and circumstance. It was of course more difficult to create artistic lighting effects than with a cup of champagne, but I tried my best with a GE90 in the background.

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My appreciation was that this was excellent coffee, and I did not spoil it with sugar.

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The FAs came back very quickly to recover the trays, with smile that you can see in the background. Also with fake eyelashes, but I do not value them.

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All to my Flight Reporter duties, I went to the toilets for the sole purpose of taking a picture of the three Economy cabins – there were only seven rows of J in the front, with two sections of 4 and 3 row, respectively.

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A nearly 100% Economy B777-300ER is very long, but there was fortunately a galley with a charming FA on the way to break the perspective.

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… before the last Y cabin

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.. and these extremely standard toilets where I only had the time to take the picture before the « return to your seat » signa came on, due to the beginning of the descent.

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The 3-3-3 seat layout and the narrowness of the trolleys made it possible for a FA or a marathon runner to pass without being blocked.

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Back to my seat to find that there was a power port which was really powered. Another bonus point for BR.

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This is a close up. It was not all that multistandard: my Type E+F would not fit in, and I chose not try as hard as possible, since I had a Type A adapter with me.

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Another view of the GE90.

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The approach was unfortunately above water this time (I often had a descent above HK)

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A few seconds from the runway threshold and the touchdown

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A rather soft touchdown and a rather energetic braking.

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HKG, isCX-land, but the Hong-kongese are very welcoming people, and there were planes from around the world.

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I find the control towers very ugly.

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A Mandarin Airlines E-190, probably coming from Kaohsiung.

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Two Emirates aircraft, one with a much taller vertical stabilizer…

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.. betraying an A380

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Virgin Atlantic A340

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The passengers waited patiently for the “seat belts on” sign for standing up, and behind the Y/J limite without stepping into the first J cabin even though it was empty.

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No HSBC advertising outside the airbridges : it was inside, but not only there.
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Because as you probably all know, HSBC means Hong-Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, and there is advertising for them all the way to the local bank notes (which are issued also by the Standard Chartered Bank and by the Bank of China, so there are three different sides for a given bill in HKD).

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Now I only needed to take the Airport Express train to Hong Kong Island, in 24 minutes.
See more

Verdict

EVA Air

8.8/10
Cabin10.0
Cabin crew10.0
Entertainment/wifi5.0
Meal/catering10.0

Taipei - TPE

9.2/10
Efficiency10.0
Access9.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness10.0

Hong Kong - HKG

9.8/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

BR would receive a beating it its rating if this had been a long haul flight in J, but this was a hort haul flight in Y+. Fort this class and distance, the comfort was exceptional, with a gigantic seat pitch, seats which really reclined and space to move around even during the meal service. With regards to the meal, it was difficult to require more in Premium Economy on such a short flight, and the FAs performed their duties with both smiles and an impressive efficiency. They also deserved a bonus for their special attentions towards the two very young kids seated in the row before mine.

What more could I ask ? I did not test the IFE (no time for that!): I hardly saw any airshow on the standard display, but that does not mean that it was not available. It would be pure bad faith to count a demerit for that. The FAs : what could be expected of them beyond their efficient and smilind service on such a short flight? And the meal was excellent, much better in quality than that served on longer domestic flights in Economy in Mainland China, where there is no hot meal on flights of that duration. Of course this was not up to First Long Haul. But once more, what more could be reasonably expected?

Why should perfection be for First class only ? I had not remembrance of anything better on any of the evaluation criteria on an other airline, for a flight of that duration, and did not think of anything to be improved.

Information on the route Taipei (TPE) Hong Kong (HKG)

The contributors of Flight-Report published 55 reviews of 4 airlines on the route Taipei (TPE) → Hong Kong (HKG).


Useful

The airline with the best average rating is Cathay Pacific with 8.4/10.

The average flight time is 1 hours and 50 minutes.

  More information

7 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 160830 by
    NGO85 1622 Comments

    Thank you for sharing Marathon!

    Jetsetpand appeared to like
    - Appeared to like ;)

    This was B-16331, i.e. one of Eva Air’s A330-300 in Hello Kitty livery
    - I always thought the Hello Kitty planes were only B777s. Great spotting none the less, reminds me of LAX. The 5L arrivals do seem fairly distant. My favorite spot at LAX (Imperial Hill) is also only accessible by car.

    the best way to show your love to your mother is to buy her a major brand item in a duty free shop
    - What mom doesn't want a new Louis Vuitton purse?

    There were no flight calls in these prayer rooms.
    - Did you feel a different calling in these rooms?^^

    A variant of the CI livery
    - Fascinating livery.

    this Dreamlifter (a freighter built from a 747, with an oversized hold) that I later saw in NGO.
    - No stranger for me :) Do you know what parts were being sourced in TPE?

    The catering by BR on this route is by the far best of the major operators (BR, CI, CX, KA).

    Getting Y+ on this flight is a nice bonus, did you have a full fare Y ticket to get to select these seats?

    • Comment 337446 by
      marathon GOLD AUTHOR 9849 Comments

      You were crystal clear. Self-deprecating tongue-in-cheek humor is part of my trademarks ;)

    • Comment 337394 by
      marathon GOLD AUTHOR 9849 Comments

      Jetsetpanda appeared to like
      Appeared to like ;)
      - You don't seem to dislike either ;)

      This was B-16331, i.e. one of Eva Air’s A330-300 in Hello Kitty livery.
      I always thought the Hello Kitty planes were only B777s. Great spotting none the less, reminds me of LAX. The 5L arrivals do seem fairly distant. My favorite spot at LAX (Imperial Hill) is also only accessible by car.
      - I'm bad at plane identification, but this one really did not look like a 777 ;)
      This spotting location is admittedly not a must for a short term visiting avgeek, as opposed to that of TSA (Taipei's domestic airport), which is both easily accessible in the city center and much closer to the runway... and has some international traffic too.

      the best way to show your love to your mother is to buy her a major brand item in a duty free shop
      What mom doesn't want a new Louis Vuitton purse?
      - French moms see a LV purse as a quintessential female Asian tourist buy ;)

      There were no flight calls in these prayer rooms.
      Did you feel a different calling in these rooms?^^
      - Haha, I love it !

      A variant of the CI livery
      Fascinating livery
      - It looked to me like a promotional Boeing livery, only that the 744 is no longer a novelty.

      this Dreamlifter (a freighter built from a 747, with an oversized hold) that I later saw in NGO.
      No stranger for me :) Do you know what parts were being sourced in TPE?
      - Thanks for restraining a yawn at the sight of this aircraft ;)
      It was built in TPE, but I do not know the sourcing details.

      The catering by BR on this route is by the far best of the major operators (BR, CI, CX, KA).
      - I was impressed by CX (in J) on that short route too.

      Getting Y+ on this flight is a nice bonus, did you have a full fare Y ticket to get to select these seats?
      - Yes it was full fare, and that was the likely reason for having a Y+ seat. But on the way back, also at a non-rush hour schedule, I could select Y seats only.

      Thanks for your detailed comments !

    • Comment 337407 by
      NGO85 1622 Comments

      I'm bad at plane identification, but this one really did not look like a 777 ;)
      - Maybe I was not clear. I was not questioning the identification of that plane, but the existence of non B777 Hello Kitty jets since I had only seen B777s before.

    • Comment 337603 by
      marathon GOLD AUTHOR 9849 Comments

      Now you have the proof that your model is fully accurate, up to the registration number ! :)
      The introductory plane spotting session was outside TPE, not HKG ;)
      Thanks for your enthusiastic comment !

  • Comment 161071 by
    Rl 777 806 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    Thank you for the fantastic spotting bonus, I absolutely loved it.

    This was B-16331 - Nice catch! I have a 1:500 scale model of the same reg.

    Wow, the seat pitch is great.

    Stunning engine views! Love that GE90.

    Great meal for a flight of this length!

    Fantastic spotting shots at HKG!

    Have a good one, see you!

    • Comment 337668 by
      Rl 777 806 Comments

      Oh yes, I know haha. Thank you for the fantastic spotting bonus, I absolutely loved it. - This one was about the spotting at TPE.

      Fantastic spotting shots at HKG! - This one for the pictures taken from your plane when you were taxiing to your gate at HKG :).

      Have a good one, see you!

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