Review of China Airlines flight Taipei Kaohsiung in Economy

Airline China Airlines
Flight CI309
Class Economy
Seat 24A
Aircraft Boeing 737-800
Flight time 00:55
Take-off 14 May 16, 22:15
Arrival at 14 May 16, 23:10
CI   #12 out of 66 Airlines A minimum of 10 flight-reports within the past two years is required to appear in the rankings. 96 reviews
tn92
By 1707
Published on 25th June 2016
Graduation Trip – The AvGeek Style | Flight #12

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 began to write this report in Melbourne, Australia.

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:

photo 1462499183-2520110386

(All flights in Y unless otherwise stated)

Flight #01 (CLICK HERE) 28.04.2016 / BR216 / SIN-TPE / B77W
Flight #02 (CLICK HERE) 30.04.2016 / BR215 / TPE-SIN / B77W
Flight #03 (CLICK HERE) 01.05.2016 / CX710 / SIN-HKG / A333
Flight #04 (CLICK HERE) 04.05.2016 / KA454 / HKG-KHH / A320
Flight #05 (CLICK HERE) 08.05.2016 / KA451 / KHH-HKG / A333
Flight #06 (CLICK HERE) 08.05.2016 / CX739 / HKG-SIN / B773
Flight #07 (CLICK HERE) 08.05.2016 / BA15 / SIN-SYD / B77W
Flight #08 (CLICK HERE) 09.05.2016 / QF461 / SYD-MEL / B738
Flight #09 (CLICK HERE) 13.05.2016 / QF37 / MEL-SIN / A333
Flight #10 (CLICK HERE) 14.05.2016 / JL38 / SIN-HND / B763
Flight #11 (CLICK HERE) 14.05.2016 / CI101 / NRT-TPE / B744
Flight #12 (THIS REPORT) 14.05.2016 / CI309 / TPE-KHH / B738
Flight #13 (CLICK HERE) 15.05.2016 / GE361 / KHH-MFM / A320
Flight #14 (COMING SOON) 17.05.2016 / GE362 / MFM-KHH / A320
Flight #15 (COMING SOON) 19.05.2016 / JL812 / KHH-NRT / B763
Flight #16 (COMING SOON) 19.05.2016 / JL786 / NRT-HNL / B763
Flight #17 (COMING SOON) 19.05.2016 / AA162 / HNL-LAX / A320
Flight #18 (COMING SOON) 30.05.2016 / AA5955 / LAX-SAN / ERJ175
Flight #19 (COMING SOON) 30.05.2016 / JL65 / SAN-NRT / B788 / Business Class
Flight #20 (COMING SOON) 31.05.2016 / JL811 / NRT-KHH / B763
Flight #21 (COMING SOON) 01.06.2016 / GE207 / KHH-KNH / ATR72
Flight #22 (COMING SOON) 01.06.2016 / B78890 / KNH-TSA / MD-90
Flight #23 (COMING SOON) 02.06.2016 / CI102 / KHH-NRT / B738
Flight #24 (COMING SOON) 02.06.2016 / QF62 / NRT-BNE / A333
Flight #25 (COMING SOON) 03.06.2016 / QF613 / BNE-MEL / B738
Flight #26 (COMING SOON) 10.06.2016 / QF153 / MEL-AKL / B738
Flight #27 (COMING SOON) 15.06.2016 / NZ8109 / WLG-NSN / DHC8
Flight #28 (COMING SOON) 19.06.2016 / NZ628 / ZQN-CHC / A320
Flight #29 (COMING SOON) 21.06.2016 / QF138 / CHC-SYD / B738
Flight #30 (COMING SOON) 21.06.2016 / QF493 / SYD-MEL / B738
Flight #31 (COMING SOON) 24.06.2016 / QF422 / MEL-SYD / A332
Flight #32 (COMING SOON) 24.06.2016 / BA16 / SYD-SIN / B77W
Flight #33 (COMING SOON) 02.07.2016 / QF38 / SIN-MEL / A332
Flight #34 (COMING SOON) 02.07.2016 / QF37 / MEL-SIN / A333


China Airlines CI309
Aircraft Registration: B-18657
Origin: Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan (TPE)
Destination: Kaohsiung International Airport, Taiwan (KHH)
Date: Saturday, 14 May 2016
STD/STA: 2215h (UTC08:00) to 2310h (UTC+08:00)
ATD/ATA: 2205h (UTC08:00) to 2313h (UTC+08:00)
Estimated Duration: 00 hours 55 minutes
Actual Duration: 01 hour 08 minutes
Flight Distance: About 181 miles / 291 km

[Qantas Club Lounge @ Melbourne Airport]

Welcome to Part 12 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.

1. MEL-SIN QF37
2. SIN-HND JL38
3. NRT-TPE CI101
4. TPE-KHH CI309 (We are here!)
5. KHH-MFM GE361

photo 1463233291-2624226991

Here’s a boring but realistic way to start off this report. I alighted from my inbound flight and my next boarding gate was D3, but the only signs I saw for “transfer counters” were towards the B and C gates. So I just followed these signs all the way.

photo 1

Only to eventually realise that… I was wrong! The B & C transfer counters were solely for EVA Air customers and I needed to backtrack! Argh.

photo 2

After about 20 minutes of endless walking, I finally arrived at CI’s transfer desks.

As mentioned in the previous report, TPE has not quite established itself as a transit hub yet, so there are only specific time periods in a day when the airport will see large groups of transit passengers. At other times, the transit counters will just be empty like what you see in the photo below.

photo 3

One example of a flight that sends passengers into TPE to transit on a daily basis is KLM’s service between Manila and Amsterdam, one that stops over in TPE on both ways.

photo 4

Anyway, once the CI staff checked my onward boarding pass to KHH, I was cleared to go through security. There was absolutely no queue at all. In fact, I was the only one and the security officers even had to restart all his screening machines for me. HAHA, I felt like a VIP. Just kidding.

photo 5

My next task was to locate the free shower rooms in TPE. I asked the CI staff about it and he said it’s located near Gate D1.

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I followed his instructions and searched around Gate D1. But, after 5 minutes, there were still no signs of any shower rooms.

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Finally, when I looked into this Adidas store, I saw it! Can you find where’s the shower room?

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Here’s a closer look.

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Still can’t find it? Here!

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I eventually figured out that this is a free gym area for all passengers. And since it’s technically a “gym”, the airport has decided to include in it a free shower facility.

It’s not a very fascinating shower room but definitely functional. Most importantly, it’s free for all to use, so logically there shouldn’t be complaints as long as it’s clean and hygienic.

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Prior to this trip, I’ve already read up about this free facility as introduced in reviews written by some Taiwanese bloggers. From what I’ve gathered, it seemed that no amenities are provided in these showers. (i.e. You got to bring your own toiletries and towels.)

However, only the part about “bringing your own towel” is true because shower gel and shampoo were actually available.

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As for the towels, you can purchase them from the “D2 Beauty & Health” store within the airside even if you didn’t bring your own.

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There’s even a hair dryer so you won’t catch a cold in the airport terminal after showering.

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After I was done with showering, I headed back into the terminal, feeling refreshed and all ready to embrace the next 4h of transit time.

First up, just some random aircraft spotting.

This TK B77W had just arrived from a long flight from Istanbul.

Turkish Airlines / B777-300ER / TC-LJE / TK24 IST-TPE

photo 17

And then another A333 from China. Heading back to its base in Beijing.

Air China / A330-300 / B-6511 / CA190 TPE-PEK

photo 18

Finally (for now), the last aircraft I’d photograph before night falls - the CI B747 that brought me in from Tokyo that afternoon. What a gorgeous aircraft, isn’t it?

China Airlines / B747-400 / B-18205 / CI101 NRT-TPE

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After I was done with planespotting, I decided to find a place with free Wi-Fi to settle down and finish some work on hand (and of course to continue writing my flight reports).

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The normal dining tables looked good, but those that had tarmac views looked even better. They even had power sockets, and that’s why I eventually settled for those seats. And this was at about 6.20pm (UTC+08:00, Taipei time).

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About 40 minutes later, a Delta plane arrived from Tokyo-Narita and I enjoyed watching the ground operations after that flight’s arrival. This aircraft will then stay overnight in TPE before heading back to Seattle via Tokyo the next morning.

Sadly, it was too dark out at the tarmac and I couldn’t take a good picture of it.

photo 23

One more look at where I spent most of my transit time before I have my dinner, and then pack up to prepare for boarding.

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The dinner was not that tasty but definitely edible and really filling.

Anyway, time to check the FIDS and reconfirm my next boarding gate.

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There was no change of gate and boarding of my next flight was confirmed to be from Gate D3, just like what was stated on my Tokyo-issued boarding pass.

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The gate wasn’t very far from the Gloria Jeans café so it took me just a very short while to arrive at the boarding lounge.

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Before heading downstairs, just a quick look at the boarding lounge decorations. This gate had exhibitions about the Chinese zodiac signs, which contained twelve animals. Find yours!

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Alright let’s go downstairs.

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And here’s my aircraft! I personally like this photo a lot. It clearly depicts how airport ground staffs work hard to ensure the smooth departure of every flight they are responsible for. Thank you to the ground team of every airline, and for the matter of this report, to the CI staff members.

China Airlines / B737-800 / B-18657 / CI309 TPE-KHH

photo 31

The boarding lounge wasn’t very full when I arrived but more passengers gradually streamed in as boarding time approached. A group of them were communicating quite loudly and I overheard that they had just arrived into TPE on a trans-pacific flight from the US.

Apart from CI’s long-haul passengers connecting onto this shuttle flight to KHH, I observed that there were also quite a number of Southeast Asian passengers from Philippines, Vietnam or Indonesia. Presumably, many of them work in southern Taiwan.

photo 32

Boarding soon began at about 9.47pm and I was on board the B737-800 by 9.50pm.

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[Continuing this report aboard BA16 SYD-SIN]

I was glad to be able to take some nice cabin shots of this CI narrow body aircraft. I’ve been flying with CI since a young age but this was my first time travelling on a narrow body aircraft with the airline - hence, it’s probably one of the rare few times that I felt quite excited to be on a narrow body. I mean, everyone prefers B777s / B747s / A380s to B737s or A320s, right?

Anyway, the cabin design was really nice. Even though the seats had no IFE screen, they still appeared to be quite elegant, in my opinion. And I personally liked the colours of these seats. Here are some photos of the cabin before I settled down at my seat.



A few more photos of the cabin and seats, specifically - the overhead panel & TV screens, the seat’s legroom, tray table, the remote control on the armrests, and the Boeing Sky Interior ceiling design / lighting.



Parked adjacent to us was another CI B747, whose registration I couldn’t identify.

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As boarding continued, commercial advertisements were being played on the overhead screens throughout the cabin. Like I said in the previous report, CI should really invest in creating its own boarding music to make the entire cabin atmosphere more welcoming during boarding.

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The purser also came on the PA during the boarding process to make a welcome announcement.



Anyway, the boarding process concluded at around 1 minute to 10pm. After which, ground staff were told to leave the aircraft at 10.02pm. Our aircraft was then pushed back at 10.05pm.

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During push back, the safety video was played on the overhead screens. After that, the “welcome aboard” screen and flight maps rotated on the screens before they were finally being “stowed” for departure. Cabin lights were also turned down prior to take off.

Here’s the cabin crews taking their positions before the safety video was broadcasted.

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The “welcome aboard” screen and flight maps.

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Cabin shot when the blue mood lighting was turned on prior to take off.

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Eventually the mood lighting was also almost switched off.
(This photo was taken soon after take off.)

photo 58

(UTC+08:00, Taipei time)
2202 Ground Staff to Leave Aircraft
2205 Pushed Back
2208 Began to Taxi
2213 Crew to be Seated
2224 Took Off from Runway 05L

We waited at the threshold of the runway for a few arrivals before we took off into the night skies.

Here’s a photo I took after take off. The night views were simply gorgeous - I was so grateful that the check-in staff back at Tokyo gave me a window seat on the “right” side of the aircraft. (Which happened to actually be on the left side of the plane.)

photo 57

So, have I successfully lured you into watching the take off video after showing you the photo above? Really. Do take a look at the video and be patient to wait for the night views to appear after the aircraft make those series of left turns after take off!



At this point, I think it’s appropriate for me to elaborate a little about the special aspect(s) of this flight (i.e. CI309 TPE-KHH) being reviewed in this report.

Basically, this is an “international” domestic flight - i.e. a flight that flies domestically but departs from and arrives at international terminals of international airports.

This is technically an international flight since almost all passengers use it as a shuttle flight - and in this case, it was probably filled with passengers that had arrived into TPE on another international flight (not necessarily a CI flight) and heading to KHH as their final destinations.

What makes this experience more exclusive (at least in my opinion) is that the flight is not individually available for booking on CI’s website. You can only see it when booking an international itinerary with KHH as the origin/destination. In my case, I booked a round-trip NRT-KHH itinerary and was offered the options of flying direct on both ways, or to fly via TPE (also on both ways). Initially, I really wanted to transit via TPE on both directions, but due to time constraints, my final itinerary was booked as NRT-TPE-KHH-NRT.

Apparently, it is possible also to fly on another carrier (i.e. a non-CI airline) from or to TPE, and then book this shuttle flight so that you can leave from or end up in KHH. However, I couldn’t find any clear-cut information regarding this anywhere, and probably the only way to book these flights would be to do so via a travel agency. Either way, if you aren’t travelling CI, these shuttle flights will probably be quite expensive to fly on and most of the time, you’d be better off just catching the High Speed Trains between Taoyuan (the nearest station to TPE) and Kaohsiung.

Anyway, precisely because these flights are operated as international services, certain aspects of it actually mirror what you’d observe on any other international CI flights bound for TPE/KHH:
- The broadcasting of a video containing information about Taiwan’s custom restrictions and limitations;
- Also, another video regarding health declaration; and
- The distribution of arrival cards by FAs.

photo 68photo 74photo 69

Alright, let’s get back to the flight proper.

This is the video of another welcome announcement made soon after take off.



Here are a few photos of the flight maps and other stuffs shown on the overhead screens.



With regards to “service provided” on this flight, all that we received was a cup of water and nothing else. Better than nothing, I guess. I do wonder what Business Class passengers get?

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In contrast, when flying on other “true” domestic flights within Taiwan, you’d at least get a juice and/or a cup of tea/coffee. The service on TransAsia’s domestic flights even includes a complimentary cookie.

Since there weren’t any IFE screens, the next best thing you can do will be to look through the magazines (and other seat pocket contents).

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Looking at the flight maps and listening to the captain’s announcement may also be some other interesting activities you can do on this flight.

Flight information updates from our captain. At this point, we were probably already on our descent into KHH.



And the flight maps were broadcasted almost the entire way. Oh anyway, the cabin lighting remained dark all the way until our arrival in KHH.

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At about 10.47pm, we were already more than halfway through our flight.

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City lights began to appear again about 5 minutes prior to our arrival.

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Here’s the announcement for landing preparation.



During our final approach, a lady suddenly decided that she needed to use the washroom and stood up to walk down the aisle towards the lavatory. Immediately, the cabin manager “shouted” into the PA system in Mandarin “please be seated immediately! (旅客請立即就座!)” Okay, maybe she didn’t really “shout” but she definitely sounded extremely stern. Another FA then ran down the aisle from the back of the aircraft to escort this lady back to her seat.

Anyway, that was just a small incident and everything was alright eventually. We touched down in KHH at 11.04pm and arrived at the gate after a 9-mins taxi.

(UTC+08:00, Taipei time)
2252 Landing Preparation
2254 Crew to be Seated
2301 A Lady Stood Up From Her Seat (During Final Approach)
2304 Touched Down
2313 Arrived at Gate

I know it’s a funny thing to include, but I just felt that this incident actually reflects a serious message that many passengers onboard flights (anywhere) are simply oblivious to instructions and sometimes do not even know what’s happening around them.

That aside, let’s look at the landing video, which includes the announcement made after touch down.



Well anyway, soon after we docked at our bay. There was a mad rush to retrieve bags and then get out of the aircraft.

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I was quite eager to disembark as well since, at that point in time, I was already on the move for close to 34h.

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Once out of the aircraft, I made my way quickly to the immigration counters and baggage claim area.

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About 25 minutes after my flight’s arrival, I stepped into KHH’s arrival hall. Not bad!

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My initial plan was to take the Kaohsiung MRT to my mom’s place. But, by the time I headed out of the terminal, I wasn’t sure if I could catch the last train. So in the end, I just took a taxi.

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The taxi driver that sent me to my destination was a rude fellow and unfortunately, he pissed off the wrong person at the wrong time (I was dead tired at that point in time). He was unhappy with I-don’t-even-know-what and since he showed me an extremely rude attitude when asking me how to get to my destination, I replied “find it yourself and don’t get lost.”

Eventually, I got to where I want to go safely and upon arriving, the driver suddenly became extremely polite and even offered to help with my bag (I denied since back at the airport, he basically just smashed my bag into his taxi). Well, he probably sensed that he should be better off not pissing an extremely tired person late at night, haha.

Sorry that I got off topic, but that basically starts off my final layover in KHH before my last flight to Macau the next day.


[Signing off from British Airways Flight BA16, bound for SIN]

(To be continued)


This report was completed on 24 Jun 2016 at 5.27pm (UTC+10:00).

Full sized photographs of this flight will be available soon.
See more

Verdict

China Airlines

7.1/10
Cabin8.5
Cabin crew7.5
Entertainment/wifi6.5
Meal/catering6.0

Taipei - TPE

9.0/10
Efficiency9.0
Access8.0
Services9.0
Cleanliness10.0

Kaohsiung - KHH

8.6/10
Efficiency9.0
Access8.0
Services8.0
Cleanliness9.5

Conclusion

To anyone else, this would have just been a super short and uneventful flight. But to avgeeks like you and I, knowing how this flight is kinda special, it was certainly an interesting experience to fly on it. I wouldn’t say that I went out of my way to fly on this flight since I actually did had to position from Tokyo to Kaohsiung, but this extended trip between NRT and KHH (via TPE) had not only allowed me to experience transiting in TPE for the first time, but also try out a flight that I’ll otherwise not get to fly on (especially since I’m based in SIN).

China Airlines: The B738 cabin was comfortable and really nice, like I said in the report, I think the cabin is nicely designed and the colours chosen for the seats were very appropriate. Cabin crews weren’t exceptionally busy despite the very short flight time, since there were at least four of them and they just had to distribute a cup of water to everyone. Nonetheless, given that this was probably one of their last flights for the day and thus they were probably all quite tired. With that, they did their job well and there’s nothing in particular to complain about. It sounds so weird, but since there was a cup of water (as compared to nothing at all), I’ll be giving the “meal/catering” aspect a passing grade. So the cup of water gets 6/10. LOL. Lastly, like I mentioned, “entertainment” was basically just the magazines and nothing else.

TPE: Transit security was quick and efficient. The airport in general is a really nice one to transit in - the free shower facility adds more points.

KHH: As I’ve reviewed previously, this is more of a regional airport and it serves its purpose well. Even though I didn’t have any status with China Airlines (and hence did not qualify for priority baggage delivery), my bag was still delivered quickly and it allowed me to leave the airport within half an hour after the flight’s arrival.

Related

4 Comments

If you liked this review or if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to post a comment below !
  • Comment 354863 by
    marathon GOLD 9819 Comments

    This is the one flight that I could not board when I was a resident in Taipei - yes, I knew about it.
    I did not know there was a free shower in TPE, or a free gym, for that matter. You need to bring or buy your own towel, which makes sense, but how many airports in the world offer this facility !

    "everyone prefers B777s / B747s / A380s to B737s or A320s, right?".
    No, I prefer narrow bodies, and twin prop even better, because the proportion of window seats is higher, and you deplane faster since there are fewer passengers. ^^

    Superb night view at take off !

    No coffee served, but then it was awful on Taiwanese flights, IMO. The cookie on Transasia domestic flights is something new. Maybe to win back passengers after two deadly crashes ?

    Many thanks for sharing this flight in detail !

    • Comment 354909 by
      tn92 AUTHOR 173 Comments

      Hello Marathon! Nice to see your comments again. (:

      "This is the one flight that I could not board when I was a resident in Taipei - yes, I knew about it."

      Yeah, it really isn't an easy flight to book. Even if a chance arises, the price may still not be right sometimes. Nonetheless, it's alright because I'm very sure you still have the most extensive coverage of all the different domestic routes in Taiwan!

      "I did not know there was a free shower in TPE, or a free gym, for that matter. You need to bring or buy your own towel, which makes sense, but how many airports in the world offer this facility !"

      The free shower is really a good facility. In fact, when I was contemplating whether to book myself on oneworld or CI so as to position from NRT to KHH, TPE's free shower facility (outside of any lounges) became the deciding factor. On one hand, I think I'll feel extremely uncomfortable if I were to transit in TPE for that many hours without a shower (and after flying for more than a day). On the other hand, I really couldn't make the decision to book either JL or CX because they were just so expensive during that period of time. Finally, when I came across information about this facility of TPE, I made up my mind to go with CI and take advantage of the cheaper tickets.

      "No, I prefer narrow bodies, and twin prop even better, because the proportion of window seats is higher, and you deplane faster since there are fewer passengers. ^^"

      Ah! You do have two good points there. For me, most of the time I prefer aisle seats and therefore wide bodies. But regardless of my preference, I still find myself flying a good mix of both wide and narrow body aircrafts.

      "Superb night view at take off !"

      Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it cos I definitely did.

      "No coffee served, but then it was awful on Taiwanese flights, IMO. The cookie on Transasia domestic flights is something new. Maybe to win back passengers after two deadly crashes ?"

      Yeah, I was kinda expecting coffee, but in the end only water was provided. And anyway, I guess you are very right about TransAsia because in the recent years, they've been trying really super hard to regain confidence with the public in Taiwan. But I think they aren't very successful so far, given that they have recently announced to remove A330 from their fleet and also to slash three scheduled destinations by the end of 2016.

      "Many thanks for sharing this flight in detail !"

      Merci Beaucoup! Thanks for your comment in great details! I've been diligently catching up on your reports recently, you complete them too quickly. xD

  • Comment 354901 by
    eminere™ 274 Comments

    Another pleasurable report to read. I must really commend you on your incredible level of detail and narrative that goes into your reporting.

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