Review of Uni Air flight Kaohsiung Kinmen in Economy

Airline Uni Air
Flight B7 8915
Class Economy
Seat 8K
Aircraft ATR 72-600
Flight time 01:00
Take-off 26 Nov 16, 10:05
Arrival at 26 Nov 16, 11:05
B7   #66 out of 124 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 31 reviews
NGO85
By 953
Published on 6th December 2016
Background:

This series covers a trip to Kaohsiung (高雄) and Kinmen (金門). Refer to Part 1 for a detailed background. As a reminder, the routing for this series is:

Part 1 – LAX-ICN [OZ 203, Boeing B777-200ER, Economy] – Here
Part 2 – ICN-HKG [OZ 721, Airbus A330-300, Economy] – Here
Part 3 – HKG-KHH [CI 948, Airbus A330-300, Economy] – Here
Part 4 – KHH-KNH [B7 8915, Aérospatiale/Alenia ATR 72-600, Economy] – You are here
Part 5 – KNH-RMQ [AE 770, Embraer ERJ-190, Economy] – Here
Part 6 – KHH-HKG [AE 981, Boeing B737-800, Economy] – Here
Part 7 – HKG-ICN [OZ 722, Boeing B747-400, Business] – Here
Part 8 – ICN-LAX [OZ 204, Airbus A380-800, Economy] – Here



Pre-flight:

The next 2 reports are part of my trip within in a trip. In Part 1, I explained the debacle I was in when GE cancelled their operations suddenly on November 21, so I had to scramble to get tickets rebooked on different carriers. I picked B7 for the outbound, and with no return seats on any carriers to KHH, I just booked an AE ticket to RMQ figuring the HSR would suffice to return to Kaohsiung. These 2 tickets were booked on November 22, so the fares were on the high side ($68 and $48). Even with the higher prices than my GE tickets, it was well worth the daytrip out to Kinmen County and it’s some place I expect to return to soon to finish exploring.

My last day in Kaohsiung started with a lazy breakfast at the hotel before taking the MRT to the airport. As I mentioned before, it is 26 NTD ($0.80) for the short ride from the city center to the airport. The MRT is similar to Taipei’s and uses Siemens cars.

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Reaching the airport’s station, there are 2 exits. One exit goes to the international terminal and the other goes to the domestic terminal. I head towards Exit 2 today.

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FIDS. You can already see all the GE flights listed as “Cancelled.”

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Heading to street level, there is a bunch of artwork on the wall leading towards the domestic terminal.



Entering the domestic terminal.

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It’s one long corridor with a restaurant on this end and the check-in counters on the far end.

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There was only 1 agent working at the B7 counter. I tried to use the self-service kiosks, but they were in Mandarin only.

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The FIDS on display, like in Japan I guess you can just buy plane tickets like train tickets on the day of departure if there are seats. My flight is listed as fully booked so I’m hoping there is still a chance to get a window seat. Since B7’s website is only in Mandarin, I couldn’t figure out how to do seat selection or check-in online.

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The agent greets me in English and takes my passport. She doesn’t ask about seat preferences and just hands me back a boarding pass and my passport. Thankfully I was issued 8K, so no complaints.

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The back of the boarding pass says that you can buy/pay for your tickets at Family Mart using the FamiPort. At least in Japan, that is an accurate statement since I did this for many JH tickets so that’s what I’m guessing is also true for B7 in Taiwan.

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The abandoned GE check-in counters.

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KHH’s domestic terminal may be a dump on the outside, but they have one of the fanciest bathrooms I’ve seen since FCO. Love the mural above the urinals.

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An advertisement for our destination today^^

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I went outside, since I saw a fountain out front. For some reason, this reminds me of the Unisphere in NYC, lol. Regardless, an elaborate fountain in front of a dilapidated terminal.

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Back inside, I head upstairs towards the view deck.

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I’m guessing this map has not been updated in some time; don’t recall any NGO-KHH routes still existing…

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Display cases for the 4 main domestic carriers in Taiwan: GE, B7, AE, and FE.

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Hello ladies! I should have stolen that GE one…

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The view deck was way over the top. There were windows along the walkway connecting the domestic and international terminals. The windows came with bar stools and a set of binoculars that you could use^^



Very sad to see the grounded GE planes out on the tarmac. We have an A320 and 3 ATR72s parked at KHH. After the disasters they have endured recently, it was no surprise that they had to pull the plug. With the reformation of FE and growth of AE, they were probably already feeling pressure on domestic routes. They said in the newspaper they had already faced 2 billion NTD losses in the first half of this year so just decided to call it quits.



BR A321 taxing out and taking off.

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CI B738 taking off.

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The holy grail of models is based here at KHH. I have never seen such a display in my life at an airport.



KA A320 in the new livery arriving.

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B7 ATR-72 arriving.

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Seeing the B7 ATR72 arrive, I went back down to go through security. The entrance to the security, they check passports and boarding passes then there is a security screening. I will say that it seemed pretty “relaxed” in that at least half the people set off the metal detector and they were never patted down, granted most of those people were over the age of 60 so maybe they are more lenient for the elderly.

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Airside, there was a small room displaying local artifacts.

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FIDS. As you can see, almost all the domestic traffic out of KHH is to the islands in the South China Sea. There were a couple of elderly foreign couples heading to Magong.

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The domestic waiting room. I was a little shocked entering this room, it was nothing like the Japanese domestic terminals that I’ve seen. It was jammed packed and there was not enough seating so everyone was just standing around.

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They had the famous water fountains in China/Taiwan with your choice of hot (102C), room temperature (33C), and cold (17C) water. I refilled my water bottle here.

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There were 2 computers that had free internet connections.

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Or you could stop and get a massage.

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I found some outlets on the wall to give my cell phone a quick charge while I waited to make sure it would last the rest of the day.

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————————-

UNI Air, B7 8915
Equipment: Aérospatiale/Alenia ATR 72-600 [B-17005, delivered June 2013]
Departure: 10:05 (ATD: 10:18)
Arrival: 11:05 (ATA: 11:04)
Flight time: 0:46


At 9:50 (15 minutes before departure), an agent makes an announcement that boarding for my flight was starting in Mandarin followed by English. There are no boarding pass checks as we walk outside.

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FE MD-80 that we will be following to KNH. Not sure where that wheelchair was going…

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My B7 ATR-72.

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No English on this sign marking our gate.

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I join the queue.

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The agent checks my boarding pass and passport before letting me walk out to the plane. Last chance to make sure you are on the right plane, lol.

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She is gorgeous. I find it strange that they let us walk under the wing, I always thought that was forbidden for passengers on the tarmac. They only had some cones around the engine.



The new B7 tail. They dumped their old red livery to mimic BR.

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The FA in the rear galley greets me in English. Turning in, I noticed there were newspapers placed in the little storage compartment, but they were only Chinese titles.

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The cabin from the rear.

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My seat.

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Seat pitch is very good.

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Seat back.

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View of the cabin from my seat.

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I don’t think I have ever been on an ATR72 that is this new. This plane is only 3 years old and has the modern overhead.

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Seatback contents.

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The safety card for this ATR72.

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The new special livery for B7 based on Sanrio’s Bad Badtz character is on the front of the inflight magazine.

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B7 fleet info, complete with the route guide.

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B7’s international route map (including China).

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B7’s domestic route map.

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The guide to all the BR and B7 special liveries.

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The FE MD-80 backs up next to us.

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We get backed up right after then. The ground crew waves goodbye as we taxi out to take off.

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DA Dornier 228, one of the most exotic domestic carriers in Taiwan, too bad they don’t fly any route I’d likely need to take.

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Taxing, the FAs do the safety demonstration in both Mandarin and English. Throughout the flight, all announcements by FAs and from the flight deck were bilingual.

Aligning onto the runway.

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We lift up and make a loop over the industrial wasteland just south of the city center.



We then cross over the top of KHH.

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JL B763 is heading down the runway as it heads home to NRT.

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Some views of Kaohsiung through the haze.



We followed the coast up to near Tainan before turning west.

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I’m guessing this is TNN in the center of the picture.

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The cabin midflight.

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I thumbed through the magazines while drink service was being done. I’ve always wanted a Hello Kitty apron.

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The FAs did drink service by cart. My seatmate apparently ordered for me in Mandarin. He should know it’s bad taste to order for your date on a first date ;) So I was handed a cup of some sort of juice (Marathon probably knows what B7’s juice is, it was maybe lychee?). The FA saw my confused look when she handed it to me and realized that I didn’t want that. She asked me what I wanted and then gave me the cup of coffee that I actually wanted. This coffee baffled me too; it seemed to already have sugar and milk in it. I like my coffee black, so this wasn’t what I really wanted either. An oshibori was handed out with drinks.

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Flying past Penghu County.

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This is a really short flight (45 minutes), so we quickly had the cabin cleaned and prepared for landing, which was really turbulent.

Reaching the southern coast of Kinmen County on our descent.

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We get a low altitude view of the south half of the island.

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The Gugang Tower (古崗樓) is visible in front of Gugang Lake.

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Zhu Shan Village (珠山聚落), one of the popular places to see Fujian architecture.

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We come to a screeching halt on the runway as the propellers power down.

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Turning off the runway. There are no taxiways at KNH so planes have to taxi on the runway and make U-turns to take off.

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The B7 ATR72 was waiting for us to clear the runway before they could depart.

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KNH.

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The FE MD-80 that was in front of us leaving KHH.

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Cabin shots deplaning.

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You deplane out onto the tarmac and walk back to the terminal.

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No surprise, this plane will immediately head back to KHH.

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Walking towards the baggage claim.

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The ceiling is lined with pictures from the island.

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I follow the signs towards the exit.

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Somehow I think this picture on the wall promoting “Flight Safety Prevention Week” will be there for more than a week…

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There are free baggage lockers at the exit of the airport if you are just doing a daytrip here.

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Outside, I try and figure out where the bus leaves from.

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The façade of KNH.

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Since Ms. NGO85 wants to come here too, I decide to spend the day just in Jincheng Township on the south side of the island and save the rest for when she can come too.

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The bus arrives on time and comes every 30 minutes or so, but seems well timed with arrivals. I was going to take a picture of the bus, but noticed the driver was not any mood to wait for me and started closing the door, so I quickly slipped on and dumped 15 NTD into the tray. The bus fares is only 12 NTD ($0.37), but I didn’t have enough exact change.

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I’ll leave off this series as I begin my day in Kinmen County. I’ll make you wait until the next report for a bonus.
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Verdict

Uni Air

6.4/10
Cabin8.5
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment3.0
Meal/catering5.0

Kaohsiung - KHH

7.0/10
Efficiency8.0
Access9.0
Services4.0
Cleanliness7.0

Kinmen - KNH

6.8/10
Efficiency9.0
Access7.0
Services3.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

My first time taking B7 and I liked their domestic product. Their brand new ATR72s are a breath of fresh air and they have the same in-flight service standards as BR with well-groomed and friendly FAs. This is my first domestic flight in Taiwan and it seemed to be exactly on par with what is offered in Japan with a limited drink service. This is probably one of the longest domestic flights in Taiwan (45 minutes), so it's not surprising that they have such minimal inf-flight service standards.

Cabin comfort: I didn't even know they were still making ATR72s, really nice to get one. The cabin was pristine, the seats had good pitch, and the seats were acceptable in comfort (on the stiff side, but this was a short flight).

Crew: The B7 crew was about on par with BR and had the same image. They were friendly, smiling, and efficient. The 2 FAs both spoke English well. The pilots made a couple of announcements with flight information.

Meal and catering: Thanks to my seatmate ordering juice for me, I actually got 2 drinks with my service, lol. The coffee wasn't very good since it was already polluted with milk and sugar. Oshibori distribution is a one-up on Japanese domestic service.

Entertainment: Newspaper available in the galley on boarding and the standard seatback literature. No IFE, as expected on a turboprop, just natural IFE out the window.

Related

11 Comments

  • Comment 377269 by
    AK SILVER 462 Comments

    Wow, the display of baby planes is impressive ! This airport looks really cool.

    • Comment 377273 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      "Wow, the display of baby planes is impressive ! This airport looks really cool."
      - It was a surprisingly a very interesting airport. I thought the view deck was a nice concept offering indoor viewing with seating. The entire view deck is accessible from landside so anyone can go and sit there.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 377277 by
    flybywesley 2 Comments

    Great report and pictures! Thanks for sharing! I've never flown out of KHH before but it seems like a decent enough airport. Prior to the HSR-era, I flew TSA/TNN frequently on GE on their A320/321. :)

    • Comment 377428 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      "I've never flown out of KHH before but it seems like a decent enough airport."
      - The international part of the airport is very modern and nice. The domestic terminal is not very impressive.

      Thank you very much for stopping by and commenting!

  • Comment 377379 by
    Numero_2 SILVER 8218 Comments

    Thanks Michael

    I wonder what' the most unexpected in the KHH domestic terminal : charging for (purified) tap water or having PCs with free internet access. ^^

    The flight itself ins't bad with this new cabin.

    Did you thank your neighbour for ordering you a drink ? ^^

    • Comment 377429 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      Bonjour Clement, merci^^

      "charging for (purified) tap water" <== with 3 water temperatures and digital display, so fancy^^

      "Did you thank your neighbour for ordering you a drink ? ^^"
      - I think he was just as embarrassed when he saw my reaction to the whole situation, so it was too awkward to thank him, lol.

  • Comment 377442 by
    BombieFlyer 92 Comments

    It always amazes me how fluent many staff are In English. It seems that it is widely used in Taiwanese airports. Meanwhile... across the strait, it is a gamble to find an airport staff that would even blink to help you if you don't speak Mandarin to him/her. Most of the time I am replied with blank stares or "wo bu zhi dao"

    Back to topic, I would have died in tears of joy if I were to see that many airplane models. If I were you, I would have missed the flight because I would be stuck in front of the display. I could stand there for hours and just enjoy the moment :)

    All in all, thanks for this very interesting flight report. I googled Kinmen County and it surely has an interesting history! Lucky that you were able to be there!

    • Comment 377496 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      "It always amazes me how fluent many staff are In English."
      - Given the US influence on Taiwan, it's not surprising that English is more mainstream there. There are a lot of SoCal vibes in the younger generations. I will say that English in Kinmen County was essentially non-existent outside of the airport.

      "Most of the time I am replied with blank stares or "wo bu zhi dao""
      - Much more blunt than in Japan, where you will just get an awkward smile to be polite and a response in Japanese even though you asked a question in English (which they clearly understood).

      "I would have died in tears of joy if I were to see that many airplane models."
      - It's really over the top, and most of them were dedicated to the Taiwanese carriers. I think it only included carriers that operated at KHH.

      "I googled Kinmen County and it surely has an interesting history! Lucky that you were able to be there!"
      - I'm surprised they let you google Kinmen County from China :P I'll go back again soon for a longer stay, this was just to poke around and see what it was like.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      • Comment 378244 by
        BombieFlyer 92 Comments

        Yes foreigners rely on VPN service to be able to use modern day convenience like google and facebook. Without VPN or proxies, I won't be able to make flight report as uploading so many pictures would kill the bandwidth of internet in my apartment building *chuckles*

  • Comment 377665 by
    Rl 777 812 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    Intriguing, especially with all those model planes. Thanks for showing us all these notable details of KHH.

    Stunning spotting shots, great catch of that Cathay Dragon 320. It will take some time to get used to saying Cathay Dragon now, definitely felt slightly weird to write that here.

    Great shots of your ride, looks exceptional.

    Impressive, the cabin looks sleek, modern and fresh. Not bad at all, glad the seat pitch was good as well.

    Wonderful aerial shots throughout the flight, great catch of that JL 763 on the runway.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Have a good one, see you!

    • Comment 378239 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      "it will take some time to get used to saying Cathay Dragon now, definitely felt slightly weird to write that here."
      - Then just call it KA, some things never change ;)

      "Impressive, the cabin looks sleek, modern and fresh. Not bad at all, glad the seat pitch was good as well."
      - Compared to the old cabins you normally see on Dash8s and the old ATRs, it was very surprising to walk into such a modern plane.

      "Wonderful aerial shots throughout the flight, great catch of that JL 763 on the runway."
      - It was taxing behind us, so I cheated in the identification ;)

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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