The airline with the best average rating is China Airlines with 8.3/10.
The average flight time is 5 hours and 16 minutes.More information
1.This flight is intended as a repatriation flight for Taiwanese citizens , permanent residence and their immediate family members during the Covid-19 pandemic. Please avoid all kinds of traveling during times of pandemic, practice social distancing and safeguard the health of your family and friends
2. Due to the special circumstance, this blog is not intended as a normal review but to highlight the condition of a Covid-19 repatriation flight.
3. Each airline has different safety protocols so different repatriation flights may offer varying services, if not no services.
Hi, after a few months of hiatus from flight report I am back with a report in this seemingly awkward time to be flying (at the time of writing, Covid-19–a new type of coronavirus that is a close relative of SARS is spreading) . This flight report will only cover my flight from Jakarta to Taipei. Since I was coming from a domestic flight originating from Surabaya, I had to check in and repeat normal international flight security and immigration. Luckily, since I was on a Garuda flight, I arrived at the newest Terminal 3 which handles all Garuda flights and International flights.
My flight arrived at 9am, which means 6 hours of transit time in Jakarta. The ample amount of time only exacerbated the experience lifeless atmosphere in the airport. It is hard to imagine just months ago ,the vast Terminal 3 of CGK was bustling with people and more than 200 flights departing daily. On my day of departure however, there were only 3 scheduled international flights- a far cry from its maximum operation. Here is a perspective of what Jakarta Airport is truly capable of:
Soekarno Hatta Airport of Jakarta (IATA:CGK | ICAO:WIII)- It is the busiest airport of Indonesia and 17th in the world with annual passenger flow of 68 million passengers and more than 450,000 flights per annum. It has 3 runways, Runways 07L and 07R are 3.6km and runway 6 being 3km long. It has 3 passenger terminals with 3 being the international and Garuda terminal. The other 2 are for low cost carrier domestic operations.
A Garuda 737-800, the aircraft that brought me from Surabaya.
Throughout the journey, the surgery mask was always on my face and I used gloves to touch surfaces of public infrastructure. This is to reduce our chances of infecting my family and protect myself. However some people have gone excessive with medical grade personal protective gear. I must reiterate that those are unnecessary, please donate them to the frontline health workers who really need them if you can.
Flights being cancelled left and right………
China Airlines operates their check in desks at island C. Check in was swift and easy. Due to my sister and father’s Dynasty Gold frequent flyer status we were able to access the priority check in. However this is largely unnecessary considering the queue in normal economy class was also relatively short. Each economy class passenger is entitled to 30kg of luggage. Dynasty Gold are entitled to 40 kg and Jade are entitled to 50 with prioritized upgrade availability.
Clearing security and passport control had never been easier than this time despite only 1 immigration desk opened. I completed all formalities in under 5 minutes.
Normally you would expect the airport of this scale to be packed with duty free shops,boutiques and restaurants. That is correct, but not at this time. There was barely a single visible soul in this 423000 meter square area so obviously all the stores except a handful of them are closed. Heck, I could see the end wall of the Terminal from Gate 10- the center of the terminal. However, lounges remained open so my dad was able to access it.
Eerily silent terminal
Some duty free are still open, but they are unlikely to receive any customer today……
One of 27 Garuda's A330 being grounded in CGK.
More grounded Garuda aircraft. As of 12th April 2020, all 10 of their flagship B777-300ERs and 60% of their A330s are grounded.
After the long and boring 5 hours, the first highlight of the day came. As an avgeek is hard to contain the excitement of flying an A350 and China Airlines operate them regularly between Taipei and major cities like Jakarta, Sydney, Amsterdam and London. It remained the only airline in Taiwan to operate the A350. It has 14 A350-900 and configured in 32 business class, 31 premium economy and 243 economy class. My particular aircraft, B-18909 is 2.7 years old. An A350 being the latest addition to many airline’s fleet boasts modern cabin, quieter engine, lower cabin altitude and higher humidity which increases passenger comfort. Its capability of flying some 15000km makes this 5 hour trek a piece of cake. Our boarding commenced on time and not long after the 2 XWB-84 engines took us off for the sky.
The iconic A350 carbon fiber swept winglet, a true art of modern material science.
China Airlines is known for its oriental style cabin finishes on its A350 and 777 aircraft. It has won numerous design awards and in my opinion it looks stunning.
Economy class is laid out in the standard 3-3-3 configuration with 46cm (18 inch) wide and 81 cm (32 inch) pitch. Due to the seat’s slim-line design leg room was plentiful and padding was great. A 14 hours flight to London would have been perfectly comfortable. Since social distancing measure is in place, each middle seat is blocked so space was plentiful . Recline is generous too with seats going as far back as 15 cm, however the seat base also moves forward to make some room for people seating behind you. Storage however are limited to the magazine rack under the screen and a netted pocket. Luckily the large overhead bin of A350 makes storing carry on bag easy.
Pillows and blankets are not provided to minimize chance of infection and also to cut cost of cleaning. No amenities aside from soap and paper towels are provided in the toilet.
Each economy class passenger gets a 10 inch HD infotainment screen. The screen display was crystal clear and the touch screen sensitivity was faultless. Content is on the acceptable side and banks heavily on the East Asian palette. There are a total of 54 kinds of TV series from all around the world and 180 movies ranging from blockbusters to classics.
Yes i apologize….. that is my trash. Otherwise this aircraft was kept immaculately clean
Flight maps are interactive and provide a decent amount of telemetry of the aircraft, however the lack of a tail camera on China Airlines’s A350 is a big negative for an avgeek. At least the massive windows made up for it. On the charger front, each passenger gets a USB port. There are 2 universal chargers between 3 seats so sharing is needed.
China Airlines’s A350s do not have overhead air vents but temperature is kept rather cold. Due to the extraordinary circumstance, no earphones were distributed. The have even forgone in-flight magazines and duty free service to minimize objects that might be contaminated by the virus. The A350 comes with Wifi, however on that flight such function was disabled too.
For hygienic issues, this flight has deleted hot meal service. It was replaced by packaged snacks and bottled water. Tray tables are folded into 2 when stored to maximize legroom. They are sturdy and decently sized. However it is not recommended to work on it if you are using a laptop. A tablet would be optimum.
The crews had minimal interactions with passengers to protect themselves and fellow passengers. However I have nothing aside from words of praise for the crew. For the duration of the flight they wore surgery gowns, masks , gloves and goggles while also keeping the toilet clean. It must have been a hard time for them as every flight completed they are subjected to 5 days of home quarantine by the government. If it were not their willingness to take up the mission of repatriation, fellow Taiwanese would have been stranded around the globe. Pilots, flight attendants and mechanics are the unlikely heroes of this extreme time, regardless of airlines and nationality. Therefore it is appropriate to show our greatest gratitude to them. As a side note, I have flown China Airlines several times in the past. The services are generally acceptable and efficient so you are not likely to get a bad crew even during normal times.
This flight demonstrated what aviation is truly meant for- getting people home. It is not hard to see why people love aviation. It is not limited to the great views on the journey, exotic destinations it can reach nor just a human endeavor of technology. Rather, it gets people and supplies to where they need the most and a sense of mission or responsibility to connect the world in times of crisis and normal life. Beneath the passenger deck my flight carried essential fresh food produce from Indonesia while the return flight to Jakarta will be carrying the precious N-95 masks that Indonesia needs urgently which clearly demonstrate the stated purpose. Finally, let us hope that the crisis will end soon and allow the world to recover and continue to run sustainably.
Please note that Taiwan has banned foreigners from entering nor transit on Taiwanese soil. Citizens and permanent residence that return will be required to self quarantine for 14 days under surveillance.
When Covid-19 pandemic is over. I would strongly recommend people to try on China Airlines especially their business class on A350 and B777 which had garnered its reputation for being the most underrated business class. For people that are Skyteam loyalist, connecting through Taipei to various destinations in America or Asia by China Airlines is also a good option as they have strong presence in China, USA and Japan. However please be noted that their A330 and B737 have sub-par hard products so avoid that if possible. Go check out my review on their A330 business class to find out why :)
A China Airlines A330