Review of TransAsia Airways flight Hualien Taipei City in Economy

Airline TransAsia Airways
Flight GE020
Class Economy
Seat 19A
Aircraft ATR 72-500
Flight time 00:35
Take-off 22 Jun 13, 18:15
Arrival at 22 Jun 13, 18:50
GE   #52 out of 113 Airlines A minimum of 20 Flight-Reports is required in order to appear in the rankings. 21 reviews
marathon
By 2296
Published on 31st October 2013
This is the return leg of my day trip to Hualien:

GE009 TSA – HUN in French here, in English there
GE020 HUN – TSA in French there, and here in English

Yes, it is again Transasia Airways, again an ATR72, again in Y, but on that route, you can't be choosy. Once I had returned the car to the rental agency, I took a taxi to the airport.

The taxi ride with Mrs He was a good omen, because

- She was a lady, no matter her last name, and the fact is that female taxi drivers are very few in Taiwan
- She was a young lady
- She was a pretty lady
- She was a lady with interesting conversation
- She was a lady who did not cost me much, less than 200 TWD to the airport (5 EUR, at current exchange rate)

Of course, at that price, it was a short ride, and my chances to ever meet her a again are next to nil.

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Note that like any self-respecting Taiwanese lady, she protected her skin from the sun with a wide brimmed hat, and also with a long add-on sleeve on the right arm which covered all the way to the top of the hand. Too bad I could not take a picture of that typically Taiwanese garment.

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Much to my immense and platonic regret, young and pretty Mrs He dropped much too quickly at the Departures level of the terminal.

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The architecture of HUN's terminal deserves backtracking a little bit; let us assume that I reach it on foot. They must have had a lot of money and long term vision when they built HUN's terminal, because it is really oversized in relationship to the urban area of Hualien

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I assume that the military took charge of the control tower: they do not have the same sense of aesthetics.
.

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But when you have been dropped here by a taxi:

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… it is from the mezzanine that you have the most comprehensive view of the inner space.

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The inside of the terminal is covered with light grey and black marble, except the wooden floor of the café at the intermediate level between the Departure and Arrival levels. The entrance into the terminal is just beyond the right edge of the picture, GE's check in counter is in the background on the right, and the display of the afternoon's flights is overhead on the left.

Quite frankly, any French airport would look like an international hub compared to HUN, when you discover the list of THE flight departing after 5pm.

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Of course, plane spotting opportunities are rather limited. Believe it or not, even though it is a mixed military and civilian airport, there is a duly signaled observation area.

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Nothing is perfect, and this sign in four languages limits the interest of this observation spot for my FR.

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I do not have any regret, because there was of course zero traffic and zero aircraft on the tarmac. It was easy to identify the planes in the distance under their shelters, because there were a dozen ultra crisp pictures on the wall, under glass which generated lots of reflections.

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Believe it or not again, but I discovered an outside gallery providing a rather good view, without any sign reminding of the military nature of the place.

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My camera's zoom must have had worries, because this enlargement is poorly focused, and I did not to check the picture ostensibly

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After this tourist introduction of the place, let's go back to the normal sequence of events, which means entering the terminal. The departing flights display is masked with a pillar. Will my flight be confirmed?

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Of course, no worry. Note that in HUN, the flights are sorted in both in alphabetical order like in the US, and also in chronological order like in Europe. I defy anybody to prove me wrong.

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When I reached GE's counters, the line looked like this:

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With cardboard cutout FAs, who looked a lot like the life ones of my flight, especially the one on the left. They had the same smile, too.

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You see on the right that the flight was not full, which secured me a seat on the left side which I wanted.

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No problem, the flight is still on time

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But say it quickly, because the display changes shortly after I took this picture.

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All the flights of the evening are late, but only by ten minutes, due to the late arrival of the aircraft which has just taken off from TSA, according to this display which hopes that one day there will be flights to Paris.

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In the meantime, the passengers keep arriving in small groups. There is an inevitable Tsu Chi member among them. If you do not know the meaning of that name, you will have to wait until the tourist bonus of this FR.

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A look at the café

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I now only need to pass airside through a security check where I am alone. The benediction of the Tzu Chi is irrefutable, because the bottle of water which I had filled in their monastery went through without any reaction of the policeman.

Of course, when you try to fill this huge space with the passengers of an ATR72 which is not booked full, it remains quite empty. The architects seems to have prepared for the day when AF operates A380s to HUN.

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Especially since when I turn back, there is this whole empty area in the other direction.

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The blue hue comes from the slightly tinted glass of the windows. Baby care appears to be an exclusively female task (apart from nursing, I have diverging views).

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Since the door is open, this is the furniture for changing the diapers of the baby and for nursing it. The sofa is not very comfortable and I hope that the baby is hungry. The resolution of this picture does not allow you to read that HUN's operator will happily provide diapers to mothers who are in short supply. The day that ADP which manages Paris' airports does the same, there may be more Taiwanese tourists in France.

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For us men, and for all handicapped persons, the access looks like this

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It is irreproachably clean (marble is very easy to clean). Note the real plants between the sinks.

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The urinals are all the cleaner that a sign requests politely to operate closer to avoid messing the place.

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On the other hand, there is no free wifi (but I have my 3G adapter), and electric plugs are few and difficult to find. I used this one which should have powered an equipment which has been removed. The home page of FR has not changed from the morning, because many FReporters are at the Paris Air Show.

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I managed to have place an administrator's FR in the corporate screenshot for the both reports of this day trip !

In the mean time, there comes the ATR72. There is already a future plane spotter at the best spot, but I nevertheless managed to take a picture discreetly.

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In the mean time, a screen keeps displaying the news of the intense evening traffic, and the weather in Taiwanese cities which do not have an airport.

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The aircraft has parked next to the terminal. This picture was taken while walking to try and succeed to catch this picture of the duty free shops of Kinmen.

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The inside of the aircraft is of course the same as for the morning flight.

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There is again an inconvenient seat support, and I am again going to use my neighbor's space for my day pack.

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The seat pitch is compatible with a marathon runner's legs.

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The safety card has a long history: it is seriously warped.

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Boarding is fast because the plane is far from being full: the door is quickly closed, that FAs perform the safety demonstration during the pushback and the pilots taxi at a brisk pace and take off without reaching the extremity of the runway. The pilots obviously want to make up part of the delay.

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Again the coast, with the Qingshui cliffs.

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The lighting is of course unfavorable, but on the other side, there is nothing but the sea.



A nice late afternoon lighting at the level of Yilan.



The weather degrades afterwards. Picture opportunities have all but disappeared at the time when the FA reach my row for the drink service – a good synchronization. Apple juice or an energy drink? I chose the apple juice (quite ordinary, but OK), and a FA slips an energy drink in the seat pocket of my neighbor who has fallen asleep. Since he was not that friendly, I did not mention it when reaching Taipei, in order to have a picture of the complete offering on that 35 minute flight.

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It was definitely cloudy during the descent to Taipei.

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The mountains loom in the distance above the clouds

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In the center of the picture, there are the lights of TPE, which are barely visible on the original picture at full resolution.

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An example of the urbanization which follows the bottom of the valleys, because the terrain is too unstable in most places to build on the slopes.

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The interchange of expressway #1 in the Luzhou neighborhood, in the floodable area which is a former branch of the Danshui river.

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You see in the distance the Guandu viaduct, the last bridge on the Danshui before the sea. The project of a bridge at the mouth of the river has generated many protests from the neighbors who worry that the landscape could be ruined.

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We are going to cross the Danshui.

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We are too low to have a crisp picture at that time of the day: this is the Grand Hotel, which dominates the knot of three expressways above the Keelung river which is alongside the north side of TSA's runway.

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There was too little light for the next pictures taken in flight. We reach the parking place precisely on time, thanks to the speedy departure from HUN. In the distance, a private A318 which I already saw in TSA.

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A close up of the same aircraft.

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A last look at the cabin

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Leaving the airport

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And photo session for the Taiwanese: the plane only, with Mrs, with the daughter…

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I prefer without…

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There is nobody left on the landside sofas

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On the other hand, the model shop closes at 9 pm.

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There is of course always as many BR aircraft in Hello Kitty livery

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There are CI Skyteam models in another display

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A visit at the observation terrace to take a picture of this E-190 at the end of pushback

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This is the end of this FR: you can skip the tourist bonus which comes next.


Apart from the cliffs of Qingshui and the gorges of Taroko, what should Hualien evoke for you? It all started a few kilometers from Hualien for Sheng Yen in 1966, a Buddhist nun born in 1937 who started there a charity in favor of the poorest.

Tzu Chi, the NGO that she created has now some ten million members who are easily recognizable: white trousers and a blue shirt for men and women, or more often a full length blue dress for the latter. You cannot spend a week in Taipei without crossing some in Taipei's public transport system.

Joined hands to offer help: a traditional gesture of the Tzu Chi.

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These are lay people – the nuns are a tiny minority – mostly women and/or retired persons for availability reasons.

Tzu Chi, is a religious movement, clearly Buddhist, whose meditation room in Hualien is huge.

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And also an enormous network of schools in Third World countries, and also this university in Hualien.

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And also a network of high level hospitals, which have pioneered the bone marrow grafts in Taiwan.

The monastery founded by Sheng Yen was originally rhe single building in the center, which served for prayer, work and sleep. There are now over three hundred persons in residence at any time here.

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The Tzu Chi are heavily oriented towards sustainable development, recycling, peace and love… which does not stop them from being extremely efficient in case of natural disasters, for evaluating the needs, bringing the supplies directly to those who need them, and provide a long term relied (First to come, last to leave). They are all the more welcome in such circumstances that they restrain from any political or religious propaganda in their relief efforts.
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Verdict

TransAsia Airways

7.0/10
Cabin8.0
Cabin crew9.0
Entertainment5.0
Meal/catering6.0

Hualien - HUN

8.6/10
Efficiency10.0
Access7.5
Services7.5
Cleanliness9.5

Taipei City - TSA

10.0/10
Efficiency10.0
Access10.0
Services10.0
Cleanliness10.0

Conclusion

The ground and on board staff managed to recover the late arrival of the aircraft from TSA: this deserves a bonus on their rating, especially on a short flight where it is difficult to provide above average service. For such a short flight, the comfort and the drink served on board are OK.

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