- beautiful lounge with a full buffet
- toto washlet in the lounge
- brand new 737 with sky interior
- excellent staff on the ground and in the air
- decent food
- fairly expensive
- no jetway; bus out to remote stand instead
- no priority security line
- no wi-fi
how i did it
I just paid a bunch of money (US$450 per person, one way TPE-KLO). Since China Airlines is Skyteam I should earn some Delta miles, so there's that. I'll also get the airfare 3x bonus from Amex.
We really didn't want to fly Taipei to Manila and then on to Boracay, just because this under-two-week trip already had too many legs on it. But, this flight was kind of a unicorn – when I first started planning this trip it appeared to exist but didn't seem to be bookable anywhere. Eventually I found it by booking directly on China Airlines website.
The Taipei airport is quite far from the city, and given that we needed to be at the airport by 5am for a 7am departure, we had to take an Uber. Taipei has a fantastic public transportation system but it only runs 6am to midnight, and the traffic was fine at 4:30am. Surge pricing was in effect, but UberX is so cheap in Taipei that even with surge pricing it was only US$33 for the 44km journey.
While the 2.5 hour flight was expensive, springing for Business Class definitely paid off at check-in. There were huge lines at China Airlines' Economy Check-in counter and we got to skip right past that giant mess. Like many other Asian airports I've been to, Taipei didn't appear to have priority security lines, but it was moving quite quickly so that wasn't a big deal. We cleared exit immigration and headed to the lounge.
The lounge is quite pretty, with lots of stone and Edison bulbs and natural wood. It had the usual lounge offerings (espresso machine, soft drinks, beer, snacks) and also a full hot buffet with Chinese and Western options. The bathrooms were clean and had Toto Washlets. Showers were available.
a little video of the buffet
|The lounge was unusually pretty so I took pictures|
|Standard lounge coffee, tea, and snacks|
|Lots of stone and wood|
|Hooray for Washlets!|
|Showers also available|
Our gate was a remote stand that we had to be bussed out to, and the B1R gate (i guess the R stands for "Remote?") is basically a giant bus terminal. The ground staff did a good job making order out of the chaos.
|The bus terminal known as Gate B1R|
|Boarding the bus|
|Our brand-new bird|
I thought we were going to be on an A320, but instead we boarded a brand-new 737 with Sky interior. The 8 Business Class seats had a standard US Domestic First Class-type seating: 38" pitch recliners. Entertainment was on overhead screens. They were showing an Anthony Bourdain program about holiday food traditions around the globe (omg I had no idea the Catalonians have a Christmas log that poops presents! 💩🎁)
We were offered cute snacks, water, and menus before takeoff. While taxiing I managed to spot EVA Air's new Gudetama plane! I'd love to fly that sometime but after my terrible luck trying to get onto the Hello Kitty plane I think I'll just wait for lady luck to put me onboard. The food was decent but nothing to write home about, and the coffee was surprisingly good.
The flight is only 2.5 hours, so we were in Kalibo soon after finishing up the food. The 90 minute van ride from Kalibo to the Boracay "ferry" terminal was scenic and interesting… Definitely a world away from Taipei.
|OMG Gudetama plane!|
|TPE from above|
|Business Class Seats|
|Overhead entertainment system|
|Saw this on the drive from Kalibo to the ferry :)|