Hello, this series covers a total of 34 flights that I have flown and will be taking over the next few weeks. Please read Parts 1 or 3 for the full introduction, I’ll just duplicate a small portion here as a reminder.
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 know I’m quite behind time now but I promise to keep the reports coming! (:
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, for example, I completed this report in Australia and New Zealand.
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 map and flights included in this series:
China Airlines CI101 Aircraft Registration: B-18205 Origin: Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan (NRT) Destination: Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan (TPE) Date: Saturday, 14 May 2016 STD/STA: 1430h (UTC+09:00) to 1715h (UTC08:00) ATD/ATA: 1436h (UTC+09:00) to 1658h (UTC08:00) Estimated Duration: 03 hours 45 minutes Actual Duration: 03 hours 22 minutes Flight Distance: About 1,356 miles / 2,182 km
Welcome to Part 11 of this series! From Parts 9 to 13, I will be flying all the way from Melbourne (MEL) to Macau (MFM), making 4 stops in between, with a total journey time of 49 hours.
After a 1-hour bus ride from Haneda Airport, which seemed extremely long, I finally arrived at Narita Airport that is 80km away from HND. (More details about the transit from HND to NRT by the limousine bus service can be found at the end of the previous report on JL38.)
The bus arrived 10 minutes ahead of schedule at 12.20pm; couple this with the fact that I managed to get on the earlier service (as compared to what I've planned beforehand), I was very happy with the Japanese level of efficiency (i.e. quick arrival formalities and extremely punctual bus departures).
I stepped off the bus, thanked all the friendly staff working for the limousine bus company, and headed into NRT's Terminal 2.
When I arrived at NRT, it was about 12.25pm (Tokyo time), 2h to my next flight's departure. The first impression I had of NRT was that the interior seemed much older than HND.
I wanted to quickly complete check in formalities and see if I'd have some spare time to check out the observation deck at NRT – just like what many of our friends on this website have done before. But this hope of mine vanished the moment I saw the China Airlines (IATA: CI) Economy check-in queue.
I started queueing at 12.25pm and finally reached the front of the queue at 12.57pm. The ground handling agents for CI at NRT were actually Japan Airlines' staff – it's a pity they won't recognise my oneworld Sapphire membership on this flight (just kidding).
The agent who assisted with my check-in was very smiley and friendly, but she got a bit confused when she saw my return ticket between NRT and KHH. I guess she couldn't figure out intuitively why I have a Singapore passport, stayed only a few hours in Tokyo and is holding such a round trip itinerary.
Sensing her slight confusion, I briefly explained to her that I was and will just be transiting via Tokyo on both ways, connecting on to another separate itinerary. Thankfully, she was satisfied with that explanation and didn't ask further! Can you imagine if she said "could you show me your return ticket back to Singapore?" HAHA, scroll back up and look at my list of flights – which itinerary should I show her? =P
Anyway, there were 4 Economy class counters and 4 more other counters for CI & Skyteam Elite members. I don't think I'll ever be a loyal Skyteam customer so I've never took the initiative to find out about Skyteam's FF structure.
Not knowing how long security and immigration procedures will take, I headed to the airside immediately after receiving both my boarding passes for the next two flights on CI.
Fortunately, I was through security and immigration in just 10 minutes! When I was queueing for my turn at the immigration line, I was already able to see my aircraft docked at Gate 71. It's so lucky to have the gate right after immigration; the walk there was just about 20-30 seconds.
Once through immigration, I walked to the window and took a few photos of the aircraft I'll be getting on in a while. I was really happy to be able to travel on a B747 again! The last time I rode on this aircraft type was already quite a few years ago.
I took a look at the departure FIDS just to confirm again that my gate was at 71. Affirmed.
If you look closely, there was actually another CI flight direct to KHH at 2.55pm. If I'd booked myself on this flight instead, my journey wouldn't have been this long and I'd be able to arrive in KHH before dinnertime. But, the CI101 + CI309 combination was cheaper and I get to ride on CI's unique shuttle flight between TPE and KHH – why not?
On top of that, I am sure many of you (avgeeks like me) will agree with me that an itinerary with two flights is better than one with only a single flight. Agree?
I stood there for a few more minutes to admire the beautiful aircraft!
Then I turned around, passed the sign for China Airlines Lounge, and headed back towards the corridor to find a place to have my lunch.
It didn’t matter that I couldn’t get into the lounge because I had such a nice view from the restaurant where I had my lunch.
I finished up my lunch and decided to walk directly to my gate since boarding time was soon approaching.
My flight was departing from Gate 71. Adjacent to my gate was also a flight bound for Taipei – Cathay Pacific’s CX451 from Narita to Taipei, and then to Hong Kong.
As I went down to my gate, I realized that there were even better views of my aircraft from the boarding lounge!
China Airlines / B747-400 / B-18205 / CI101 NRT-TPE
The Queen of the Skies was really gorgeous, and I couldn't resist but to just take a few more photographs!
And then from the front.
[I’m continuing this report in New Zealand!]
There were still no signs of boarding at about 1.45pm and I even contemplated buying a Haagen Dazs ice-cream to eat while waiting. Eventually, I did not.
The next two photos were taken before and after the boarding announcements. The first photo was taken at 1.47pm, and the second at 2.03pm.
Most passengers who were going to fill up this B747 were either Taiwanese or Japanese; to many of them, queueing up systematically and orderly is a very established habit since a young age – hence, after the commencement of boarding was announced, there wasn’t much of a mad dash to get through the gate but rather a rush to get in queue properly.
Anyway, boarding was done by zones, so many other passengers in zones not boarding yet were still enjoying the sight of the Queen.
I was in boarding zone 2 and my zone began to board at about 2.12pm. One more shot of the gorgeous B747 before we head inside its cabin.
Many other passengers were already aboard when I stepped into the aircraft. Nonetheless, I still tried to take as many cabin and seat shots as I could.
The colour tones of the seats were not very exciting. But I personally found them to be very soothing and pleasing – the entire atmosphere was really quite comfortable.
The IFE screen was playing some advertisements during the boarding process. China Airlines could really invest in some kind of boarding music instead of playing all sorts of ads during boarding and after landing.
I noted that these seats were designed by Recaro.
Anyway, as usual – closer looks at more features of this aircraft. Namely, the seatback, legroom, overhead panel, luggage compartments etc.
A welcome announcement was also made by cabin crews in three languages.
Before boarding was completed, I went to the lavatory quickly and took some photos.
Back at my seat, I started to look through the seat pocket contents – there were four different magazines and the safety card. Also, the headset was pre-set in the seat pocket too.
We shall look through the seat pocket contents in more details later on in this report (after take off).
During boarding, the FAs came around to distribute blankets. They were of quite a good quality.
I observed that cabin crews were very proactively assisting any passengers who required assistance.
We pushed back 2.36pm, just 6 minutes after the scheduled departure.
(UTC+09:00, Tokyo time)
1433 Ground Staff Leave Aircraft 1436 Push Back 1442 Taxi to Runway 1444 Crew be Seated for Take Off 1458 Take Off 1506 Seatbelt Signs Off
The safety demonstration video played soon after push back. It was followed by a video containing information regarding Taiwan’s customs limitations and restrictions. Thereafter, the AVOD system was switched on.
I tried to select the nose camera, but it was not switched on (or maybe not installed on this aircraft).
The other best alternative would be the flight maps – of course!
Prior to take off, I also attempted to find a short TV programme to watch – but nothing was of interest to me, so I switched back to the moving maps.
I was two seats away from the window, but still tried to take a video of the take off using my iPhone in a portrait orientation. You can’t see much actually, but it’s better than nothing. xD
As promised, now let’s explore the magazines!
The contents page of the in-flight magazine.
An advertisement about CI’s twice weekly flight to Yangzhou in China.
A sample of the articles within the magazine – this one is about a desert hotel in Egypt; not that CI flies to Egypt, though.
And of course, we can’t miss out the SkyTeam pages within this publication.
Here’s the information about SkyTeam’s flagship lounges in London, Istanbul, Sydney, Hong Kong, Dubai and Beijing.
Another interesting article about “Vessels” – this article mentioned a lot about human beings’ Dream to Fly.
As I flipped the magazine, suddenly I saw a familiar sight popping up randomly. Anyone knows where is this?
Ohhhh and this is about New Zealand – the beautiful country I’m in now!
And then we’ve reached the section of the magazine that many of us would be most interested in – the airline’s information!
This page lists out all the awards CI recently received – not bad!
For SkyTeam, they were awarded the “Alliance of the Year” in the “latest Air Transport News Awards.”
And this is CI’s controversial new uniform. Why controversial? Hmm… Long story.
Information about the beautiful cabin of CI’s newest aircraft – the A350. I really want to fly on an A350 but still no chance so far.
Anyway, another information page about CI’s subsidiary’s new route – Mandarin Airlines’ Taichung-Wuxi route. Wuxi looks beautiful here!
“Rule for portable electronic devices” – you can now use them throughout the flight.
CI’s fleet information.
And the two aircraft types that I flew on that day – B747 and B737-800.
Information about CI’s frequent flyer programme – Dynasty Flyer.
The next few photos will look at the airline’s network map.
Starting off with European destinations. The green routes are codeshares with SkyTeam partners if I’m not wrong.
The very comprehensive network within Asia.
And these are the destinations in north and southeast Asia in particular.
Destinations in North America comprise of Honolulu, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Vancouver and New York.
And last but not least, destinations in Oceania include Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Auckland and Christchurch.
These purple routes refer to Mandarin Airlines’ operation out of Taichung Airport (IATA: RMQ).
The list of CI’s codeshare partners.
CI’s cargo routes.
Now we take a brief look at the entertainment guide.
There were quite some movies on offer and there were also articles discussing specific shows/movies.
Some of the TV shows available in the IFE.
CD selections, radio channels and games.
CI also has many aircrafts that are not equipped with AVOD. So entertainment on flights operated by these aircrafts will only be those programmes broadcasted on the overhead screens.
Later on in this trip, I will be flying on a CI B738 out from Kaohsiung (IATA: KHH). So this list will work for me.
Instructions on how to operate the different remote controls on various aircraft types.
There was of course a catalogue on duty free shopping. Two of such catalogues, in fact. The other one consisted of products on sale for home delivery.
On board the flight, you can buy a B777-300ER aircraft model.
But if you opt for home delivery, another choice was available.
You can also place your order first and collect the products only on your return trip.
Finally, the safety information card for this B747-400.
Alright, we are done with looking through the seat pocket contents and let’s get back to the flight now.
Seatbelt signs were switched off at 3.06pm (UTC+09:00, Tokyo time).
Very soon later, as we were flying past Osaka, the drinks and meal services commenced.
I got my lunch very quickly at 3.49pm, slightly less than an hour after take off.
The appetiser consisted of veggies, egg, and another unknown object that surprisingly tasted nice.
There were then fruits, a hot bread and packaged muffin/cake – which was also nice.
The main dish was fish with rice. And the sweet and sour sauce went well with both the fish and rice!
I didn’t take a photo of the utensils. But the towelette had a nice CI flower logo printed on it.
Both hot and cold drinks were served together. As I felt quite thirsty, I asked for three cups of drinks – haha!
I finished up my meal at about 4.15pm. The flight time left was about 1h 15mins.
After my tray was cleared, I got up to take a short walk around the economy cabin – which was quite huge (and full!) – definitely some good business on this route. I also used the rear washroom again.
This is the progress of the flight so far; photo taken at 3.49pm (UTC+08:00, Taipei time).
At about 1h before arrival, the connecting gates information became available on our IFE screens.
It was not a whole long list like what you get to see on CX flights, but rather just three flights. One of which was mine – CI309 to Kaohsiung.
Looks like someone on this aircraft has had an even longer layover in TPE than I did! (i.e. the 11.50pm service to Brisbane).
The FAs went around the cabin a few more times before landing to distribute one more round of drinks, collect trash and attend to passenger’s other ad-hoc requests. I asked one of them if they could give me some playing cards and the request was gladly accepted.
As we were approaching TPE, an announcement about our flight information came from the flight deck.
We made two left hand turns on our approach and touched down at 4.47pm.
Some timekeeping for the last phase of this flight:
(UTC+08:00, Taipei time)
1613 Signs On 1634 Crew be Seated for Landing 1647 Touch Down 1658 Arrived at Gate
This is the after-landing announcement.
We arrived more than 15 minutes early at our gate, which was good – because it means I can enjoy more time in TPE. It’s one of the airports that I’m extremely familiar with, though I have never transited there before.
It was really an interesting experience to be arriving in TPE and heading to another international port in Taiwan as my final destination. But for now, I’ll leave it here and come back in the next part with TPE’s transit experience and CI’s “international flight” that flies domestically between TPE and KHH.
Once again, greetings from New Zealand! Kia Ora!
[Signing off from Queenstown, New Zealand]
(To be continued)
This report was completed on 18 Jun 2016 at 1.11am (UTC+12:00).
Full sized photographs of this flight will be available soon.
Tokyo - NRT
Taipei - TPE
I liked CI’s B747. In general, the seats felt comfortable and I guess I wouldn’t mind flying on them for longer journeys. If I’m not wrong, these B747s are still used quite a lot on long-haul flights as well (for example, the Vancouver flights). There were several Japanese cabin crews on this flight so the needs of many Japanese passengers were well taken care of. It was observed that many Taiwanese crew members were also able to speak Japanese fluently, and this clearly shows how much the airline is investing into its Japanese routes. In fact, across all airlines that flies between Taiwan and Japan, CI operates to the most number of Japanese destinations. Entertainment on this aircraft was so-so, there were definitely movies available to kill time – it’s just that I didn’t wanted to spend my time watching a movie. Finally, the meal was nice, and I attribute this to the high-quality Japanese ground catering.
My first time at NRT was also pleasant. The airport’s interior looked a little bland/plain but it served its purpose extremely well. While this was my first time there, I will be visiting this airport for another three times later on in this series, so I guess by then, I’d quite a bit more familiar with it.
Transiting at TPE was also a nice experience. I had quite some adventure trying to find a shower room (that’s free for all to use!) but I will leave this to the next part. For now, I’ll just grade the airport based on my experience up till the transit security portion of my journey.
I’ll catch you on the next flight!
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