Trip report: China Airlines 737-800 HKG-TPE

Greetings from Japan! Ecstatic to be back (it’s only been a month!) and to be breathing clean, crisp air. Hong Kong’s winter air really is disgusting.

My phone died just as we arrived in TPE and our bags with phone chargers inside were checked through to FUK and after the nightmare that was TPE immigration last night, I’d only had about four hours’ sleep, so I didn’t bother to write up that flight.

So,without further ado, our China Airlines 737 flight to Taipei:

We pushed back on time and took off about thirty minutes later, which is pretty darn good for HKG.

Light pollution from Tung Chung poking through the clouds 

As is often the case, it was really bumpy at the start of the flight and I find I notice this a lot more in narrow body aircraft. Our last trip to Thailand on a Thai Air Asia A320 instilled the same churning in my stomach.

No AVOD on the 737, but the flight path is enough on this short hop

One thing I really noticed and appreciated was the general silence of the cabin. It was really only the Hong Kongers in the two rows behind me who, typically, couldn’t gauge that no one else was making any noise and they didn’t need to shout. At one point before take off they were so loud that I couldn’t hear my husband, and turned around to glare at them. A screaming baby later in the flight was quieter! Unfortunately, the lack of AVOD meant they nattered away at the tops of their lungs all the way to Taipei. We would later encounter them in the lobby of our transit hotel while checking in, and there too they were yelling at each other at the tops of their lungs. Hong Kong, represent. 🙄
Anyway, annoying Hong Kongers aside, in my experience, Cathay just isn’t this quiet. Must be the target demographic, more of the kind of people seated behind us, who can’t bear to go anywhere without a dozen of their nearest and dearest and need to shout across the cabin at each other. I was also surprised at this level of quiet on Singapore Airlines at Chinese new year.
Arrival cards were handed out as soon as the seatbelt signs were switched off,and special meals were also distributed lightning fast on this short flight. I was glad that our meals were confirmed before take off- not all airlines do this. I can’t say the vegetarian oriental meal was anything spectacular (no Indian vegetarian on CI, unfortunately), but still impressive that a hot meal is served considering the flight time. In contrast, Cathay doesn’t serve hot meals in economy to Taipei, and the many Hong Kongers ahead of us in the immigration queue who’d obviously been on the CX service that landed at around the same time could be seen brandishing the sad little snack bags served on short CX flights in lieu of a decent meal. The regular meal, one choice, didn’t look that spectacular either – some kind of shanghai style noodle dish.

The vegetation gloop option, with sweet tofu for dessert 

As I tucked into my vegetarian gloop on rice, the Hong kongers behind me treated me to not only a loud conversation, but one with mouths full of food and lip smacking. Thank goodness it’s a short flight. At least my seat mate, a Taiwanese lady, was pleasant and quiet.
Oolong tea and coffee were served about 40mins to Taipei. Once again, I was impressed with the efficiency and pleasant service from the crew.
Duty free sales were conducted by one crew member (the selection is quite good!), while another cleared the trays, around 35 minutes to landing.

Speaking of the crew, I found them to be as friendly as I’d remembered all those years ago, and the new uniforms are really smart. They were all bilingual and easily switched between Mandarin and English, depending on the passenger to whom they were speaking.
The captain greeted passengers to inform us we had started our descent and warned us of turbulence,abd that we’d be arriving at 9.40pm.
Overall, if this flight had AVOD (which most CI hops to TPE do), it’d be a near perfect flight. You definitely can’t pick your fellow passengers, but this ticket was extraordinarily good value to Japan ($3500ish), given the extortionate fares to Japan at peak times such as Christmas. Last year’s Christmas trip to Japan was booked a bit late and we ended up paying about HK$8000 on CX/JL. Granted, the flights were direct, but CI really gives CX a run for their money. What a pity they’re in Skyteam, an alliance I don’t have anything to do with.

Unfortunately, the worst thing about this trip was immigration in Taipei. It took an hour to get through, and even though there were several flights landing at the same time, only about half a dozen immigration officers were on duty. Since I’d last visited Taiwan, passengers now have to submit fingerprints and have a photo taken,  which makes the process more time consuming. By the time we got to the transit hotel, we had barely five hours before we needed to wake up for our 7am flight. I really would think twice before having a longer transit in Taipei – losing precious sleep time being stuck in endless immigration queues isn’t fun.


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