Review of Mandarin Airlines flight Kinmen Taichung City in Economy

Airline Mandarin Airlines
Flight AE 770
Class Economy
Seat 6A
Aircraft Embraer E-190
Flight time 00:45
Take-off 26 Nov 16, 17:45
Arrival at 26 Nov 16, 18:30
AE 13 reviews
NGO85
By 819
Published on 8th 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] – Here
Part 5 – KNH-RMQ [AE 770, Embraer ERJ-190, Economy] – You are here
Part 6 – KHH-HKG [AE 981, Boeing B737-800, Economy] – Here
Part 7 – HKG-ICN [OZ 722, Boeing B747-400(Combi), Business] – Here
Part 8 – ICN-LAX [OZ 204, Airbus A380-800, Economy] – Here





Pre-flight:

Around 16:00, it started pouring rain so I just decided to take the bus from downtown Jincheng Township back to the airport. There is a big bus terminal near the main square where you can catch a bus. As I mentioned at the end of the last report, the bus fare is 12 NTD ($0.37). The bus ride is maybe 10-15 minutes and it is a wild ride so make sure you pack some motion sickness pills.

The bus drops you off right in front of the terminal where it picks you up.

photo 1

The fountain in front of the terminal.

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The wind lion gods that Kinmen County is famous for.

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Inside, I go in search for the AE counters.

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The agent sees me walk up and asks “Taipei?” with a worried look. There was an AE flight boarding for TSA and she was probably worried that I showed up late. I told her "Taichung" and handed over my passport. She looked relieved and asked me if I wanted a window or aisle seat. Window seat of course, which was granted.

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The GE counters with a single agent stationed there, maybe to assist with rebooking flights.

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B7 and FE occupy the rest of the check-in area.

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Who came up with FAT as an acronym? It’s really not an attractive English word for a company and FEAT would be much better.

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Free internet computers seem to be a standard fixture in Taiwan airports.

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The “scenic viewing” is a fancy description to describe the windows that overlook the tarmac.

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A pair of FAT MD-80s outside, I think the skinny MD-80s go faster…

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Since it was raining, B7 offers umbrellas for passengers deplaning. Another nice feature of B7 that I didn’t mention in the last report.

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The AE ERJ-190 was the aforementioned plane leaving for TSA.

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FE MD-80 arriving.

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Another B7 ATR72 departs.

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FIDS. I find the amount of traffic at KNH to be really high for such an obscure airport. It felt like there were always 2 B7, 2 FE, and 2 AE planes on the ground at any time.

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Some pottery on display.

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Worrying about when I was going to have time to eat before getting back to Kaohsiung, I stopped by the restaurant in the terminal to charge my phone and eat some spare rib and taro noodle soup.

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When my flight was listed as “examine,” I went to join the security queue.

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The line was long, but moved quickly. Airside, there is much more to see.

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Phone charging lockers.

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Duty free shopping.

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The waiting area for turboprop departures.

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AE counter. AE only sends ERJ-190s here so not sure why they have a counter in the turboprop zone.

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Fun for the whole family here.

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Something I noticed was that there were bookshelves everywhere. Does anyone know what the origin of these are? Is this to encourage reading? I assume they were free to borrow.

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The waiting areas for departures via jetbridge.

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The AE ERJ-190 leaving for TSA is here.

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The bathroom is okay.

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These “Learning English” signs were posted on all the doors of the stalls as well as in front of all the urinals in the bathroom. Not sure how useful phrases like these are to learn in English.

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Another FE MD-80 is departing.

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My gate.

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Our AE ERJ-190 is arriving from RMQ.





————————-

Mandarin Airlines, AE 770
Equipment: Embraer ERJ-190 [B-16823, delivered August 2007]
Departure: 17:45 (ATD: 17:49)
Arrival: 18:40 (ATA: 18:21)
Flight time: 0:32


As soon as the passengers deplane, we start boarding.

photo 41

Entering the plane, there is a FA greeting passengers as she prepares the galley.

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AE has the standard grey seats in their ERJs.

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Detail of the antimacassar.

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My seatmate is already there, so I just take a seat without any other cabin shots. The pitch is standard for ERJs (in other words, very good).

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There were newspapers on the side of the galley during boarding, along with even more in the overhead bin above Row 1.

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I also noticed that they had the framing for a curtain. I guess they use the front 3-4 rows as J when AE operates international flights for CI.

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The seatback contents.

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Safety card for this ERJ-190.

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Mandarin in-flight magazine.

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AE route information.

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Missed out, AE was offering free flights on their new KHH-MZG service.

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View of the terminal from my seat.

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We pushed back before the departure time. I think they boarded the plane in less than 7 minutes. The safety demonstration was done in Mandarin and English as we push back. They wasted no time in getting out of there before the rain got even harder, there was already at least 2-3 inches of standing water on the tarmac. We taxied down to the end of the runway, made our U-turn and took off to the north.

Lifting up over KNH.

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As soon as we reached altitude the 2 FAs snapped into action with drink service from carts. One FA started at the front and the other started from mid-cabin and worked backwards.

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I asked for a cup of coffee, which was served black along with an oshibori. I declined the sugar and creamer. Taichung catering today.

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I can barely finish the coffee before the trash collection run. This is a 30 minute flight so the drink service is very rushed. The metropolitan area of Taichung is visible below as we drop into RMQ. I was on the wrong side of the plane to see the Taichung city center.



After you land at RMQ, there is some ridiculously long taxi through some forest to get back to the terminal. We passed some guard tower in the middle of the forest where a guy came out with a flashlight to check which plane was passing by. Just a bizarre airport layout at RMQ.

We eventually ended our 5-10 minute taxi by pulling into a gate.

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The AE B738 I saw at HKG is here again, which means this plane will not be operating my flight KHH-HKG the next morning.

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Some very blunt signage.

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Even though we exited through the jetbridge, we were forced to walk down some stairs that led outside. I was really confused, but just followed the crowd in front of me.

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We had to walk underneath the terminal to get to the baggage claim, which is totally bizarre.

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I guess the advantage is the opportunity to get some tarmac shots of my plane.

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FE MD-80 parked for the night.

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Heading inside, we are welcomed to Taichung.

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The deserted arrivals area for domestic flights.

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I follow the signs to the bus.

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Through the empty international flights check-in area. Does RMQ not have any flights after 19:00? Both the domestic and international check-in areas looked abandoned.

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Down stairs to the bus area. Where I find out that it is a 2-hour wait for the next bus to the HSR station. I’m not in the mood to wait, so just take a taxi since I need to get back to Kaohsiung and pack before heading to bed. The taxi fare to the HSR station was 890 NTD ($28) (Uber estimated 750 NTD so not too different). There was no funny business; I just showed the driver the HSR station on my phone, he nodded, turned on the meter and drove the fastest route (I checked in GoogleMaps). RMQ is therefore one of the worst airports for connections to the city and I would not recommend anyone to fly into there unless they knew what they were doing since RMQ is about 30+ km from the city center. TPE is also a pain, but at least has shuttle buses to the HSR station.

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I'll leave off this series here as I leave Taichung to take the HSR back to Kaohsiung.




***BONUS***: A brief photo tour of Jincheng Township.



Juguang Tower.

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Yan Ping Jun Wang Ci.

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Jiangongyu Islet with Xiamen's skyline in the horizon.

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The islet is accessible by foot only on low tide, I missed my chance.



Also plenty of nature to enjoy on the miles of trails through the countryside.

See more

Verdict

Mandarin Airlines

6.5/10
Cabin9.0
Cabin crew8.0
Entertainment3.0
Meal/catering6.0

Kinmen - KNH

5.9/10
Efficiency8.0
Access5.0
Services2.5
Cleanliness8.0

Taichung City - RMQ

6.0/10
Efficiency9.0
Access1.0
Services6.0
Cleanliness8.0

Conclusion

My 3rd new carrier in a row in this series, AE seemed like a good carrier. It's hard to judge on short flights given the crews urgency to complete service, but AE had friendly ground staff, they looked better groomed than CI (despite having the same uniforms), comfortable ERJ-190s, and they had decent cup of coffee. I'd have to fly them on a longer route to better judge them.

Cabin comfort: ERJs are always comfortable IMO, this plane was no different.

Crew: The crew we had on this flight was good, the FA spoke English well and they did cabin service as quickly as possible on this short hop.

Meal and catering: Standard drink and oshibori service. The coffee was decent.

Entertainment: Newspaper available in the galley on boarding and the standard seatback literature. No IFE, as expected on ERJs.

Related

8 Comments

  • Comment 377443 by
    BombieFlyer 92 Comments

    Hi NGO85!

    What a cozy and charming little airport KNH is!! I too would like to know why there are bookshelves around the terminal. Does the airport have airport lounge? If it does not, maybe that's an alternative entertainment, read a book! hahaha

    I am still very amazed that for a small country, Taiwan has so many airlines and domestic air services. Especially now that Taiwan has high-speed rail service, competition must be crazy there! Based on your experience, it seems that AE offers quite competitive product so I guess it is well positioned to compete with bigger airlines

    Thanks once again for this really exciting journey. It really broaden my perspective of Taiwan :)

    • Comment 377497 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      "Does the airport have airport lounge?"
      - I didn't see anything that looked like a lounge in there. Since KNH only handles domestic flights, I wouldn't expect any airline lounges, but there also weren't any pay lounges either (Japanese airports sometimes have these where you pay per hour of use).

      "Especially now that Taiwan has high-speed rail service, competition must be crazy there!"
      - I think there are very few trans-island flights other than TSA-KHH. The HSR has pretty much killed any routes from Taipei down to the southern coast. Flights Hualien from the west coast are the only ones that have a competitive edge over the train. Almost all the flights in Taiwan are to the islands in the Taiwan Strait since the ferry ride would be far too long.

      "It really broaden my perspective of Taiwan :)"
      - It's like a little Japan based on the topology. Really a ton of natural beauty in the center of the country and the eastern coast.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Comment 377449 by
    marathon GOLD 8750 Comments

    GE used to provide umbrellas to their passengers too, if my memory is correct.

    What do you mean, an "obscure airport" ? ^^ Kinmen is the military pride of Taiwan, where they trounced the Mainland back in the late 40's to 50's.. It is also far enough from Taiwan island to make air travel the viable option.

    The Learning English signs are new to me.

    RMQ is actually a mixed airbase - civilian airport, hence the long taxiing and guard on the way. In daytime, there are earthmounds to block the view of the military area, so there is no restriction on picture taking at the terminal, unlike in Hualien HUN and Magong MZG. You made full use of that freedom !

    Domestic flights end extremely early in all Taiwanese airports.

    I took the bus to town when I got stranded to RMQ and it is indeed a loong way. It is an Air force base, originally... my guess is that they had no choice but use it for civilian traffic when Taichung became a major industrial area.

    Thanks for the bonus on my favorite Taiwanese island !

    • Comment 377498 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      Thanks for stopping by Marathon!

      "What do you mean, an "obscure airport" ? ^^"
      - If you asked 100 people on the street in your neighborhood, how many would have ever heard of this island? (other than Ms. Marathon). I'd consider it obscure, but that doesn't take away the fascinating history of the island. I can't wait for my next visit, I will make it an overnight stay and rent a car to better explore the military installations.

      "The Learning English signs are new to me."
      - Finally something new to enlighten Marathon on Taiwan^^

      "RMQ is actually a mixed airbase - civilian airport, hence the long taxiing and guard on the way."
      - Okay, it was hard to tell what was going on since it was already dark outside. I didn't really research the airport before booking the ticket since it was all done last minute before leaving for driving to LAX. There were some seats to TSA, that would have been a more practical choice, but hindsight is 20-20 ;)

      "I took the bus to town when I got stranded to RMQ and it is indeed a loong way."
      - It needs a better, more reliable connection to the city center to be a competent 3rd international airport.

      Thanks for the bonus on my favorite Taiwanese island !"
      - More than Taiwan itself?^^

      • Comment 377602 by
        marathon GOLD 8750 Comments

        Out of 100 people in my neighborhood, how many would know that Taiwan is an island, for that matter ? ^^

        Kinmen is well worth a full week-end, not only for the military heritage, but also for the beautifully restored houses in Shuitou 水頭 and the temples (everywhere).

        • Comment 378240 by
          NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

          "how many would know that Taiwan is an island, for that matter ? ^^"
          - LOL, most Americans confuse it with Thailand, they both start with T(h)ai^^ I can't hear Taiwan without remembering the old Bud Light radio ads (Taiwan's an island too!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dm-UIOQWzOs

          "Kinmen is well worth a full week-end"
          - A trip to Xiamen is being discussed for March some time, I'll try and make sure to get an overnight portion in Kinmen County.

  • Comment 377666 by
    Rl 777 812 Comments

    Thank you for sharing this FR with us!

    KNH seems to have a lot of interesting details inside I do not see too often in airports, interesting!

    Great spotting shots!

    Absolutely wonderful aerials prior to arrival.

    Service looks good on an extremely short flight like this one.

    Nice tarmac shots at the end.

    Sorry to hear about the arrival experience at RMQ.

    Lovely bonus!

    Thanks for sharing.

    Have a good one, see you.

    • Comment 378242 by
      NGO85 AUTHOR 1624 Comments

      "KNH seems to have a lot of interesting details inside"
      - Free baggage lockers is definitely something that would never be seen in the US, TSA would cringe at the thought of people being able to store anything in a terminal.

      "Service looks good on an extremely short flight like this one."
      - I've only been on a couple of flights shorter than this, and few had an actual beverage service, most only handed out single items (water, for example). Cart service is rare on a 30-minute flight.

      "Sorry to hear about the arrival experience at RMQ."
      - That's what I get for not looking carefully at RMQ's location before booking the ticket, luckily I had enough cash to pay for the taxi, otherwise that would have made for an uncomfortable experience...

      Thanks for stopping by RI777!

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