Hello from EVA Air Flight BR215, we are at FL360 now and it’s currently 11.18am, 1h 4min from take off. The flight was slightly delayed as TPE was so busy this morning, you’ll see in the photos later. As a reminder, I will repeat a small section of the series introduction in FR #1, for the full introduction, read Part 1 please! (:
[Somewhere southwest of Taiwan, 790km from our origin, TPE, on board Flight BR215]
A few pointers before we proceed:
1. I intend to do this series semi-live; i.e. I shall type as I fly and publish the FR soon after arriving at a destination. I do apologise if there are delays but I will try my best to be as up to date as possible.
2. I will do away with my usual “timeline” style (see my past reports), otherwise it will take me much, much longer to get my reports ready.
3. Those square brackets in italics will give you an idea as to when exactly I was writing parts of the reports in this series, i.e. right now I am typing on board this flight (BR215) being reported.
4. And lastly for now, my apologies for not catching up on those previous series of mine. Was so super busy in school and also, busy preparing for this massive trip of mine. (:
A look again at the flights included in this series:
EVA Air BR215 Aircraft Registration: B-16718 Origin: Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan (TPE) Destination: Changi International Airport, Singapore (SIN) Date: Saturday, 30 April 2016 STD/STA: 0925h (UTC+08:00) to 1350h (UTC+08:00) ATD/ATA: 0944h (UTC+08:00) to 1424h (UTC+08:00) Estimated Duration: 04 hours 45 minutes Actual Duration: 04 hour 23 minutes Flight Distance: About 3,212 miles / 1,996 km
Welcome to Chapter 2 of this series! And I’m reporting “live” from BR215 and shall try to complete the first portion of this report before I make myself comfortable for the rest of this flight, I think I have the best seat in Economy today – you’ll see why later!
As mentioned in Part 1, EVA Air flies twice daily (almost, since there are 13 flights a week) to Singapore. We covered the journey from SIN to TPE in the previous report and today we shall backtrack. Out of its base in TPE, EVA Air has two flights bound for Singapore every morning, the first is BR225 departing at 7.40am and the next one is my flight, BR215, which leaves at 9.25am.
A few weeks ago, I almost booked myself on the earlier flight when I was finalising this itinerary. Fortunately, I realised there’s a 9.25am flight, which will allow me about 1h+ more of sleep. It was a right decision!
I caught a taxi at about 5.40am and arrived at the airport bus stop at 5.45am.
My mom was really nice to have woken up with me and she even accompanied me to the bus stop. We had a quick breakfast at a nearby convenience store and the airport bus came promptly at 6.16am, just 1 minute behind its scheduled departure. (Compare this to a past experience of ours, where we had to wait for almost 20 minutes after the scheduled time before the bus arrived; if one’s rushing for his/her flight, I think it would have been really frustrating.)
The journey to Taoyuan Airport (i.e. TPE) was quick, coupled with the light traffic early in the morning, I arrived at TPE Terminal 2 around 6.42am. So the bus ride took just 25 minutes or so.
The drop-off point was just outside of the arrival hall. To get to the departure hall with all the check-in counters, I had to go two storeys up to level 3.
Like I have mentioned in the outbound flight’s report, I used to be a frequent traveller on EVA Air when I was younger, but as I grew older, my family’s yearly Taiwan trip began to see us flying solely budget carriers to and fro. Most (if not all) LCCs utilise Terminal 1 at TPE, so Terminal 2 has since became quite unfamiliar to me.
As I entered the check-in hall, I was a little taken aback by the crowd. Gosh, it was CROWDED.
No wonder Emirates refused to shift here despite TPE’s attempt to get them over from Terminal 1. (FYI, from 1 May 2016, which is tomorrow, EK will be replacing its daily TPE flight with an A380, and this will also be TPE’s first regular A380 flight – it’s a big thing for the airport!) In TPE, there’s currently only one gate in Terminal 2 that can handle A380 operations. However, Emirates operates out of Terminal 1 ever since they first set foot in Taiwan. When the decision was made to send A380s to TPE, the airport’s management tried persuading the airline to shift over to Terminal 2, but EK insisted to remain in Terminal 1, citing the latter as a terminal with “larger check-in areas that will be necessary for an A380 flight”.
Well, from what I’ve observed this morning, I think Emirates is right. For the purpose for defining “crowded”, we need to keep in mind that it was not even 7am in the morning, and TPE seems to be a busy airport all day (without significant peak or non-peak periods, in my opinion).
Back to BR215, I completed online check-in the day before so was able to use the much-shorter OLCI and Self Bag Drop queue.
The photos above don’t really do justice to the how crowded the airport truly was. I will try depicting that with a few more photographs later.
A little bit more about BR’s OLCI service. It was smooth and easy to use, but the only main issue I had was I couldn’t really choose a seat. What I mean is, there was a seat map and the website says “seat selection available”, but when I scrolled down, there were totally no seats available for selection. Thankfully I managed to snatch a “less-than-ideal” aisle seat a few days ago. An ideal aisle seat in my opinion is one that’s in the centre part of an aircraft.
After I was done with OLCI, the system prompted me to print my boarding pass. But I had no access to a printer so I just conveniently ignored it. It turned out that this wasn’t an issue at all this morning!
The agent who attended to me looked really tired. Her face was black and she looked like she just wanted to get home ASAP. I guess the crowd since early in the morning must have made them really tired, so I don't blame her at all. She processed me very efficiently and 5 minutes after I started queueing, my boarding pass was issued.
Before heading airside, let’s go upstairs to the restaurant area. On the way, I bypassed the “self-service check in” kiosks. I knew that as an EVA Air passenger, I was eligible to use these machines, but I ignored this fact since I wanted a proper boarding pass.
From the 4th level, we can look down at the check-in hall. The queues here, right in the middle of the departure hall, are empty now. But these are queue lines dedicated for security checks, so you can imagine how crowded it will get a few hours later. Seems like the airport was already prepared for that even larger crowd.
The premium counters you see here weren’t too crowded.
But the rest of the counters just saw queues forming up slowly.
Many other airports are much more crowded than this; I am aware. But the thing about TPE is it seems quite limited in size. The airport seems to be at risk of overcapacity in, say, another decade or less?
Look at the TV monitor and you know who’s the boss in TPE Terminal 2.
I went back to the departure level and prepared to pass through security and immigration. Today, we see Hello Kitty again. (If you want to know more about EVA Air and its partnership with Sanrio – the Hello Kitty company, please do read Part 1 of this series.)
Queues were building up but everything was executed just so smoothly. I managed to be airside in just under 10 minutes. Nice efficiency here, keep it up TPE! Don’t let the crowds topple you, haha.
I tried to find my flight’s information on this FIDS, but it was not listed yet. This photo was taken at 7.11am and only flights up to 9.20am were listed. I counted 21 departing flights over the next two hours, that’s quite a lot for an airport of this size I guess. This was just Terminal 2, there’s still Terminal 1.
Walking pass the lounge. Like I said in Part 1, I’m not really a Star Alliance person. The reason I am travelling on BR for this itinerary is really just because I missed flying EVA Air and wanted to try them again after so many years. And of course, the price was cheaper than the other airlines.
My flight departs from Gate B6. Hmm… Wait. B6? Where is it? Oh! It’s in Terminal 1, haha! Looks like it won’t be just Emirates’ passengers having to walk from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2. Apparently, this is a super common affair in TPE because of the serious shortage of gates.
Let’s go over to B6. Go straight, turn left and walk all the way! I could’ve taken the inter-terminal shuttle train, but there wasn’t any signage for it, so I figured I should just stroll over. I was super early, anyway. (Correction: The inter-terminal shuttle train isn't available for departing passengers.)
Erm yes, you just saw Hello Kitty again. That was the Hello Kitty boarding gate.
Anyway, I saw the BR aircraft in Star Alliance livery too!
EVA Air / B777-300ER / B-16701 / BR67 TPE-BKK-LHR
After a 12 minutes’ walk, I arrived at Terminal 1! Frankly speaking, such a duration of walk is certainly acceptable and nothing to complain about. The Taiwanese media are just making a big fuss out of everything about the EK situation, and their only intention is to mock Taoyuan Airport whenever they can. Haii… Taiwanese media, nothing more to comment about them.
In fact, my flight wasn’t the only BR flight departing out of Terminal 1. There was this 8.50am service to Tokyo as well.
Anyway, according to my understanding, EVA Air technically operates out of Terminal 2 only, so if your flight departs from Terminal 1, it means you have to check in at T2 and walk over. But for China Airlines, they have operations at both terminals so that makes it a little bit less (or maybe more?) complicated.
A few tips for plane-spotting in TPE’s Terminal 1. There’s this library that’s one level up, from there, you’ll be able to observe tarmac activities. I didn’t stay long enough to see anything interesting, so all I have is this.
Also, for most gates in this terminal, if you intend to take a good photograph of the aircraft that you’ll be travelling on, go downstairs to the boarding lounge of the adjacent gate and you should be able to get a good photo. I wanted to do that this morning, but Cathay Pacific’s ground staff was restricting non-CX passengers from entering Gate B5, and I didn't understand why they were stopping other passengers from entering – first time seeing this in TPE.
At about 7.30am, I was already outside of Gate B6. Gate information display was still showing flight details of the previous service to Tokyo operated by TransAsia (IATA: GE). Anyway, I think it wasn’t just me who found the boarding lounge to be an interesting subject for photography!
I found a seat in the boarding lounge and then cleared some work I have on hand. Anyway, boarding lounges in TPE are themed, so almost every single boarding lounge has different decorations to it. The one in B6 was about fruits.
The GE flight was delayed. So I expected there to be either a gate change for my flight or a delay. True enough, ours was delayed too.
1h+ later, I packed my belongings and left the boarding lounge since I wanted to take a photo of my aircraft from “the adjacent gate”. On the way out I saw CX with its new livery. Oh by the way, I will be flying out of SIN on CX tomorrow!
As mentioned above, I couldn’t get into Gate B5, so I came back to my gate. The gate information display was updated with BR215’s details – but still showing a departure time of 9.25am. It’s a lie…
At about 8.40am, the “cause” of our delay was still occupying our gate. It would be pushing back in just a few more minutes.
Aha! There it goes. Oh and look, my aircraft was already being towed to the gate. The gate shortage situation in TPE was very clearly shown here.
A series of photos of B-16718 being towed into position at our gate.
On top of the aircraft do you see a “lump-like” thing? That’s got to do with the Wi-Fi service provided on this flight. More about that in a while.
At this moment, the delay of our flight was already announced. The gate lounge became noisier and noisier as everyone started to stream in for boarding. I took advantage of the additional waiting time to charge my MacBook a little, and took a corporate shot - never do I know that a new version of Flight-Report will be released so soon!
Boarding then commenced at 9.16am. It was an extremely orderly affair. We had to board in zones so Zone 1 boarded first, followed by 2 (at 9.18am), 3 (at 9.21am), 4 (at 9.24am) and 5 (at 9.25am). I was in zone 5.
We took a while to reach our aircraft but it wasn’t long.
Walking pass the Royal Laurel Class (i.e. Business Class) made me so tempted to try out EVA Air’s premium service one day. The next time I set a goal for award tickets, maybe it’ll be on BR? We shall see how it goes, for now, I am working hard to accumulate Krisflyer miles for a ride on SQ!
The Premium Economy cabin was fully occupied; from what I observed, there weren’t a single empty seat. Moving on, we see the familiar Economy seats again! I felt a little sad that I’ll only be flying 4h in these seats ‘cos they are really quite comfortable.
[The rest of this report will be completed while I am in Hong Kong. I wanted to finish this up right after my flight but was so busy preparing for the rest of my two-months trip, hope to catch up with the reports for the two flights I’ve flown ASAP!]
I reached my seat at 9.30am, about 15 minutes after boarding commenced.
View of the seats behind me from row 48.
As usual, I selected the aisle seat for this flight, I know most of us here prefer the window seat and will always do all we can to secure one. I love looking out of the windows too, but to me, having access to the rest of the cabin (i.e. to go to the washroom or to just walk around the aircraft when I want to) is kinda more important. Row 48 was randomly selected.
The legroom was good, pillow was pre-set on the seats and blankets were available upon request. I also remembered to take a photo of the power socket on this flight; a great facility that I will later utilise throughout the flight. There was also a coat hook by the side of the seats – a feature which I did not take note on my previous flight.
Boarding continued. I really love EVA Air’s welcome screen!
The boarding process was completed at about 9.37am and when the announcement “cabin crew all pax on board, ground staff please leave aircraft” went off, it totally made my day because it’s been confirmed that I’ll have all three seats (48H/J/K) for myself!
Before push back, the captain and purser both made a short welcome announcement. Something interesting about our captain on this flight is that he only made announcements in English, even though I’m quite sure he is a Taiwanese. All his announcements were translated into Mandarin by the chief purser.
The menu for this flight was given out quickly after boarding was completed.
Allow me to recycle the photos from Part 1.
The safety video was then played at 9.40am. You can see Part 1 of this series for the full video, and also for a much more comprehensive description about the cabin of this EVA Air B77W.
We pushed back about 20 minutes after scheduled departure at 9.44am.
The ground staff then waved goodbye to our aircraft as we taxied off at 9.49am.
As we taxi, I took the opportunity of having the window seat to spot some aircrafts! First we have Cathay Pacific’s B77W with the new livery. This was the aircraft that I’d already saw from the terminal just now.
As we vacated from gate B6, I noted that the ground staff were already busy preparing the gate for yet another aircraft to be towed in. The gate shortage issue is indeed prominent at this airport.
We continue our plane spotting with this EVA Air A321 which was heading to Hokkaido.
EVA Air / A321 / B-16208 / BR116 TPE-CTS
And then I saw the new livery of EVA Air! Do you think the old one or new one is nicer? We will see both at one go. First, B-16711 with the new livery and then B-16709 with the old one.
EVA Air / B777-300ER / B-16711 / BR801 TPE-MFM
EVA Air / B777-300ER / B-16709 / BR271 TPE-MNL
As we turned left towards the next taxiway, it was quite clear from this picture who’s the boss in TPE’s Terminal 2.
Our taxi to the runway will take us pass some of the more interesting aircrafts typically found in TPE.
By the Evergreen hangar, we first see two Thai airlines parked side by side – Orient Thai and JetAsia.
Then, in front of the hangar was Saudia Cargo that arrived from Jeddah a day before. Apparently, this aircraft is operated by Air Atlanta Icelandic.
Saudia Cargo / B747-400F / TF-AMQ
What other aircrafts can we find here? Of course there will be EVA Air planes. That day, there were also the UPS and Thomson Airlines aircrafts.
The B763 in the middle belongs to Thomson Airlines and is registered as G-OBYF.
This EVA Air B744 was properly just undergoing some slight maintenance as it was flying both the day before and the day after my flight took place (i.e. 29 Apr and 1 May 2016). Apart from short-haul flights, it also flies the Seattle and Vancouver routes frequently. Those would be good opportunities to try out BR’s B747 before they are all retired.
EVA Air / B747-400 / B-16411
The last interesting aircraft we would see here is one that’s donning the Aerolineas Argentinas livery; it’s so cool to see this livery in Taiwan!
Turns out that this is an ex-EVA Air aircraft. It’s currently still BR-registered but ownership will probably be transferred to its new South American owner soon.
EVA Air / A330-200 / B-16306
Back in our aircraft, here’s a random photo of the area below my seat. In the last report I mentioned about how I found EVA Air’s cabin interior to be very clean; I thought that we will need more evidence to justify this – so this is it. By the side of the aircraft wall, sometimes it’d be very dirty and full of dust / unsightly rubbish. I’ve observed this as the case on many airlines previously, thankfully BR’s B77Ws aren’t part of those aircrafts with dirty cabins…
(Hmmm. Remember there's an airline whose aircraft cabin was once infested with rats? Oh! EVA Air is an alliance partner with this particular airline!)
The IFE became functional soon after the safety video was played. I decided to finish watching the last 10 minutes of a variety talk show, continuing from where I left off the previous flight. Of course, before watching it, I gotta video the take off first!
BR215 took off at 10.14am and here’s a view after we broke through the very thick cloud cover above TPE.
At 10.23am, 9 minutes after take off, cabin crews were released from their jump seats and they immediately got themselves busy. Seat belt signs, however, remained illuminated for a long period of time after take off – presumably due to the slightly turbulent air outside (but passengers were still allowed to walk around freely).
Soon after take off, the purser gave her welcome announcement once more. It was done in Mandarin, English and Min-Nan Hokkien.
I checked out the on board Wi-Fi offered on this aircraft while the FAs went around distributing drinks and snacks.
I don’t use inflight Wi-Fi but I think the rates on EVA Air are quite reasonable, especially so if you are flying a long-haul into Taipei, and then connecting onwards to your final destination on a regional flight – since you will be able to carry over the 24h plan on to your second BR flight (not all BR aircrafts offer inflight Wi-Fi, though).
Anyway, we soon levelled off at our cruising altitude of 36,000ft and our captain came on the PA informing us about the planned flight route and destination information. The first video is the captain’s announcement in English and the next one is the purser’s translation into Mandarin. Also in the first video, you can hear the friendly FA serving drinks.
Before meal service commenced, I took a short walk around the Economy cabin and observed the load of this flight – about 90% I guess. This was followed by a visit to the lavatory. I am repeating myself (mentioned it in Part 1) but, flower in an Economy class lavatory is definitely a nice touch.
Back to my seat with two windows! I wanted to work on this report for the rest of this flight, so I shifted to the centre seat that will give me more room both to my left and right – how I hope I can have such freedom and space in every other flight.
Lunch was soon served at 11.14am, an hour after take-off. This time, I still went with the pork option despite the disappointment on my outbound flight. It tasted better than the meal I had ex-SIN, but still not the best I have tried in Economy (which was a flight on Malaysia Airlines). In general, though, this was much better than the meal on BR216 (the outbound flight).
Hot beverages were provided and there were three choices – coffee, black tea and oolong tea. I did not heed Marathon’s advice and went ahead with a Taiwanese-airline-coffee. HAHA, it was okay. Nothing good but nothing too bad. I guess I was too tired that morning, waking up at 5am for the flight; so I really needed the caffeine boost.
Random remark: even the stirrer was BR-branded.
When the drink and meal services concluded, it was about 12.05pm and there was about 2h 20min left for the flight. I worked on this report and caught up to the boarding phase. The FAs were constantly walking down the aisles attending to needs of passengers; I asked for a cup of juice and also for the playing cards too.
Half an hour after I asked for a drink, the FAs walked down the cabin once again with trays of drinks. I took “apple juice” again, but it turned out to be cold “oolong tea”, which was nice too! I shouldn’t drink too much sweet drinks, anyway.
When we were about 40 minutes to arrival, I kept my MacBook and enjoyed the last bit of this EVA Air flight for a while. Like I said, I am a biased person when it comes to EVA Air. While BR is generally good in many aspects, I have also seen reviews that criticised the airline quite a bit. But to me, this airline is quite special since I have quite a bit of “childhood memories” with it.
Anyway, an evidence of me working on the report! xD
That was at about 1.30pm sharp and here’s the view outside. We were still at 36,000ft and were about 514km to SIN, that’s about 45 minutes or so left in the flight.
An announcement came from the flight deck prior to descent to give us more information about weather at our destination and etc.
Before the seatbelt signs came on again at 2.03pm, I headed to the washroom again – this time to the one at the back of the aircraft, so that I can take a cabin shot from the back. Cabin lights were switched off after meal service, by the way.
The washroom at the back is the bigger one. Towards the end of the flight, there were some shreds of tissue paper on the floor. But it was good that the floor did not feel sticky, so I guess it shouldn't be considered as “dirty”. Sorry about the lines on the second picture below, I don’t know what was wrong with my iPhone.
Back at my seat, my flight was approaching SIN and this was our route from TPE.
It’s always nice to take pictures out of the window especially during the descent.
The aircraft’s slowing down.
The satellite view of SIN could also be seen on the air show during our final approach.
A video of our approach into SIN and the trilingual announcement made after touch down.
There weren’t many other airlines parked at SIN Terminal 3 besides Singapore Airlines. This B772 was bound for HKG – my destination the day after this flight! (That’s why I am writing this from my hotel in Hong Kong now.)
We arrived at our gate at 2.24pm, so that’s a 34-minutes delay.
I left the aircraft at 2.31pm and took one last shot of it. EVA Air, thanks for the pleasant ride on both flights! It was a good start to my series of flights these two months!
The walk to immigration was quite far and will probably take slightly more than 5 minutes at a casual pace. I had quite a bit to settle before heading out of SIN again, so I brisk-walked to immigration.
Arriving in Terminal 3 is relatively unfamiliar to me since most of the oneworld airlines I fly with operate from Terminal 1. I always find the baggage carousel area for Terminal 3 very beautifully designed!
Anyway, it was about 10 more minutes before my bag appeared. There were a lot of priority baggage on this flight. And I had fun observing the luggage tags – there were many passengers who connected from Houston (BR51), so they arrived at about 6am that morning after a 15h flight and connected on to my flight. That adds up to a 23.5h journey for just the flights!
Anyway, for me, my journey continues the next day after I complete some errands in Singapore. I will see you then!
Next up: Cathay Pacific.
[Signing off from Kowloon, Hong Kong]
(To be continued)
This report was completed on 3 May 2016 at 12.22am (UTC+08:00).
On this B77W flight operated by EVA Air, I must say I indeed do not have anything to complain about. I guess having three seats to myself makes a huge difference! If only this was a long-haul flight... Cabin crew members on this flight were even friendlier than those on the outbound leg - there were no scary and fierce instructors on board this flight, so I guess that allowed the FAs to be much more at ease. The score for entertainment remains the same as the previous report. And the meal on this flight was slightly better.
Overall, I love EVA Air's B77W and look forward to flying them again. Hopefully in Business one day!
TPE and SIN are airports I have reviewed quite a number of times before. They are good and it's always a pleasure to use these airports!
1 LIKESLIKE TO THANK THE AUTHORTHANKS ! FLIGHT-REPORT LIKED
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