Date: Oct. 8,2002
Airline: EVA Air
Flight No.: BR201
Class: Super Business Class
Seats: 4 HK
Origin: TPE - CKS Taipei International Airport Terminal II
Destination: BKK – Bangkok Don Muang International Airport
Origin Gate: C2
Scheduled Departure: 13:50
Actual Departure 14:20
Schedule Arrival at BKK: 16:25
Actual Arrival at BKK: 16:44 local time
Gate: Terminal II Gate 56
Total Flight Time: Approximately 4 hours
After spending 3 fun days in Taipei, my mom and I were on our way to our second destination, Bangkok, Thailand on October 8, 2002. Our host family in Taipei has arranged a car service for us. The Volvo limo was scheduled at 10am but he called and said he was running late due to heavy traffic on the National Highway #1. He called at 10:30am and was waiting for us downstairs. We said goodbye to our host family and was on the way to the airport. Our driver told us the traffic to the airport was very heavy because he just got back from the airport. He asked us if it is ok for him to take another route. We said yes because we did not want to be late. He took the Ocean Parkway and the traffic was very light. I felt asleep and was awaken by my mom as we were turning into the airport. It only took him a little bit over 1 hour to get to the airport even thought it was a little bit longer in distance. It would take 2 hours to get to the airport by National Highway #1 today because the traffic was very heavy.
We got to the airport around 12:00pm. EVA Air had 3 rows of counters open for today’s afternoon flights. Each row has 4 check-in counters. Super First Class, Super Business Class and Evergreen Diamond, Gold, and Silver card members have special check-in counters as you walked in. Evergreen Deluxe Class also has its own check-in counters as well as the Economy Class. We used 3 certificates each to upgrade to Super Business Class on this flight so we were able to check-in at the designated check-in counter. Check-in was quick and smooth. We were invited to use the lounge. We passed the Passport Control station and we were trying to find where the lounge is. This was my first time using Evergreen Lounge in TPE and I could not find it. I walked all the way to the gate area without finding the lounge. I saw an EVA Air staff and I asked her where the lounge is, she directed me to go back where we came from and take the escalator to second floor. We got to the lounge and two EVA staffs greeted us and asked us to show our invitations. After we presented our invitations, we were directed to the Business Class lounge on the right. The First Class lounge is on the left. There were already lots of people in the lounge. There were other flights to Hong Kong, Macau and Tokyo. Many of them were there by ways of Credit Card statuses. I guess it is hard to get Gold or Platinum credit cards in Asia and using the airport lounges are other benefits of these credit cards. I have three Platinum cards from the US and I am nobody!!!. You can use your credit cards to get into the lounge in most Asian airports. Once we found two empty sofas, I walked around the lounge to see what is in here. There was a big self-service food counter. Water, juices, soda, tea and coffee are available for the lounge patrons. Chinese style buns, pastries are also available. I took some buns, tea, juices and soda. I gave them all to my mom. I found the business center as we entered the lounge and there were 8 computers available. I took the last empty seat and email some of my friends from Yahoo!. The Internet connection was not fast at all; it took awhile to login to my Yahoo account. I spend 20 minutes on the computer and walked back to where my mom was sitting. She was a little bit worried because I disappeared for that long. I drank some juice and soda and we left the lounge and walked to our gate.
Gate C2 was already open and we went through the security check without incident. We took the escalator down to the waiting area and most of the passengers were already there. When we were at the waiting area, the gate agent announced that due to a technical difficulty, no PTV program would be available for the Super Business Class and the Evergreen Deluxe Class for this fight. At 13:20pm, boarding was announced and since EVA Air’s MD-11s do not have Super First Class, Super Business Class passengers were allowed to get board first as well as the Diamond, Gold and Silver Evergreen Club members. Chinese and English newspapers were available on the table at the end of the air-bridge again. We were greeted by two F/As at the door and we were led to our seats by one of them. The F/A asked us if we would like to hang our jackets and she took it away promptly. On each of our seats, we find a bigger pillow than our previous flights, a blanket, headset and slippers. No overnight kit was available. Once we settled down, the Chief Purser came and introduced herself to us. She had a list of the Super Business Class passengers’ name and she greeted us with our last name. She called me Mr. **** but she called my mom, *** Mama, a term of endearment in Chinese. She later asked me in Chinese, “she IS your mother, Right?” I told her yes with a smile. The door was closed at exactly 13:50pm. Hot towels, it was really hot, was given out to the passengers. This time, the towels were terry towels, not the disposable kind on the Evergreen Deluxe Class. Pre-takeoff drinks orders were taken by 2 F/As. Our drinks were delivered in less than 2 minutes. The seating configuration for Super Business Class on a MD-11 is as follows: 2-2-2 and 44 inches in seat pitch. Our seats were the last row on the right hand side so the F/A took our order first. I glanced around and there are 24 Super Business seats and only 12 were occupied for this flight. At 14:00pm, the captain came on and announced that we would be delayed for 20 minutes due to catering and luggage delay. Meanwhile, he briefed us the flight time, speed, and altitude and current weather condition in Bangkok. He was a Taiwanese national and was speaking in Mandarin first, then Taiwanese, and lastly, in English all by himself. Soon after he finished his announcement in English, we began our pushback. The delay did not last 20 minutes, it only lasted 10 minutes. At 14:20 local time, the plane was at the end of the runway ready to take off. After 32 seconds of roll, we were in the air. Eight minutes later, the captain announced “service check” and again, our two F/As unbuckled their seatbelts and walked back to the galley. Another drink order was given and rice crackers on china were placed on our trays as we got our drinks. Menus were given out to passengers by one of the F/As. Immigration Forms and Custom Forms were given out at the same time. The F/A took our drinks away and seconds later another F/A came by us and greeted us by my name and my mom as “**** mama”. She was to take our lunch orders. We looked at the menu while having our post takeoff drink, so I said “we would like fish for both of us.” She looked at us with a confused expression and said “we don’t have fish today”. I said to her ”no fish already?” She looked at her list and said, “We don’t have fish for this flight.” I showed her the menu I got and we both realized at the same time the menu was a diner menu for Bangkok to Vienna. She quickly apologized and took our menus away; she went to another F/A in the galley and they found the correct menu in the little storage area behind us. The other F/A and her handed out the menu again and they were apologizing to each of the passengers as they took the wrong menu back. The same F/A came back 5 minutes later and asked what we would like for lunch. The selections were:
Canapes to Accompany Aperitif,
Appetizer Salad: Smoked Salmon Rose Goose Liver Mousse with Truffle Slice
Main Courses: Choices of 1) Sautéed Prawn with Mango Sauce-Carrot and Baby Cabbage Stir-fried Noodle. 2) Beef Roll with Black Pepper Sauce-Pak Choy and Pumpkin Steamed Rice. 3) Chicken Piccata with Tomato Concasse-Carrot and Broccoli Chateau Potato.
Cheese and Seasonal Fruit
Dessert: Haagen Dazs Ice Cream or Caramel Custard with Orange Compote
UCC Freshly Brewed Coffee, Selection of Teas
I had the beef and my mom had the chicken.
About 1 hour after we took off, at 14:45 TPE time, A F/A came and set up our table with a table cover. Soon after that our salad was placed on our table. The salad tasted fine but we weren’t too crazy about the Pate. Juices, water or wine were offered to the passengers, we don’t really drink so we asked for juice and water. Our salad plates were taken away and our main courses in steaming hot condition were placed on our table. Since we don’t have PTV to watch, a F/A came around and asked us if it is ok to show K-19: the Widowmaker on the overhead screens as requested by one of the Taiwanese passengers. The reason for him to choose this movie was that this movie has not been released in Taiwan yet. We didn’t really care and most people didn’t care either. When the F/A went back to him with the news, he was very happy and gave me a nod. I did not know why he only acknowledged me. I guess I was the youngest passenger in the Super Business Class. Well, I am 30 years old!!!
The empty dishes, utensils and table cover were clear away. At 15:50 TPE time, Cheese and Fruit cart came. Both my mom and I opted for the fruit. I had a banana and some grapes and my mom had an Asian pear and grapes. They took the plates away after we were done. The American couple sitting in front of us had an accident with one of the F/A. When the wife, sitting by the window, gave the F/A the empty dish, the dish fell and hit the husband’s lap. I guess there were some juice and residues on the plate so the husband quickly took his napkin and start wiping his pants. The F/A was in a state of a shock and she quickly went back to the galley and got more napkins for him. She apologized to him profusely but he didn’t seem care. The wife kept saying it was her fault but since it was an Asian airline, the Chief Purser came by a little bit later and apologized to them as well. After they cleared our tables, I used that time to fill out the immigration forms and the custom form and also the Duty Free cart came around the other side and the cart stopped at that Taiwanese passenger for almost 30 minutes. He was buying alcohol and cigarettes but was not satisfied with the free gifts. The two F/As were kind enough to let him open some of the free gifts for him to inspect. I guess he finally was satisfied and he probably got the maximum allowable quantities for his duty free. I got an airplane model, EVA Air’s new color scheme. I also got a little free gift with it.
When we were given the forms earlier, the F/A told us we only need one forms for the immigration for one family and individual forms for custom. I looked at the forms and disagreed. I asked the Chief Purser as she was walking by and she agreed with me, she apologized and gave me another immigration form to fill out. It was the other way around, individual immigration form and one custom form per family. At this time, I also asked her if I could visit the cockpit, she paused a little and before she said anything, I told her I understand if she said no because the post 9/11 security reasons. I was surprised to hear her said “you could pretend to go to the bathroom and I would open the cockpit door to deliver some thing to the captain and you could have a quick glance of the cockpit while the door is open.” I was a little bit disappointed and I guess it showed on my face, I was really surprised to hear “I will check with the Captain later”. I thanked her like 10 times.
Since there was no Airshow available so I did not know where we were. I fell asleep for a while and was awaken by our captain announcing the initial descend in 10 minutes. It was 16:10 BKK time. Few minutes later, we were given our last drink order and refreshments, mint strips, were given out in a woven basket by one of the F/As. At 16:30 BKK time, Captain signaled the F/A for cabin check, the Chief Purser came to me and said Captain Wong informed her that “if I wait in the cabin after we parked at the gate, and after the pilots are done with their landing procedures, Captain Wong would welcome me in the cockpit.” My mom said I had the biggest smile on my face. So, the wheels were down at 16:38 BKK time and we touched down at 16:44 BKK time. We slowly taxied over to our gate, Gate 56. As the last passenger from the Super Business Class was leaving the plane, the Chief Purser gave me a signal to come over, I walked over to the cockpit and shake hands with both captains. I took a picture of the cockpit with the two pilots and Captain Wong asked me in Chinese if I was visiting Bangkok and I said yes. I tried to post this picture on a.net but it was rejected due to people in the picture. It was a short visit but I was very happy. I thank the Chief Purser again at the door as the Evergreen Deluxe passengers were leaving the plane. One passenger was shock to see me came out of the cockpit and I just gave him smile. I hope he didn’t think I was the one flying!
Immigration area was a long walk from Gate 56. There were only 3 officers processing the passport control and as soon as the line became long, this was due to another incoming flight from Europe, 6 more officers opened their lane. After 20 minutes wait we took the escalator down to the luggage claim area. We waited for 5 minutes and our luggage were the first few on the belt. Thanks to the special tag for traveling in the Super Business Class. The custom agent asked us where we came from, we told him the USA. He let us go without checking our bags. Last time I was in Bangkok, we told the custom agent we were from Taiwan, he made us opened one of our bags. We had 4 checked luggages at that time but we had three people traveling together?!? Our friend was surprised to see us coming out this early, as we were the first one from that flight to come out.
My friend’s brother used to work for the travel industry in Thailand. We were told the reason why EVA Air parked at the farthest gate was because EVA Air had a big argument with the Bangkok Airport Tower. Ever since then, the tower has been giving EVA Air the farthest gates. China Airlines were given closer gates compared to EVA Air.
All in all, our flight was smooth and the services were good. This was the first time I flew business class and EVA Air’s Super Business Class so I don’t have anything to compare to. I tried to jut down as much details as possible from this flight so in the future when I fly business class again, I can compare this flight. I also have never flown an MD-11 before so my impression of the MD-11 was a positive one. The bathrooms seemed bigger or maybe it was because I was in the Business section? I just heard that EVA Air is going to convert all of their MD-11s’ to cargo next year. I am just glad I was able to fly one before they are all become cargo jets.
This was only a 4 hour flight, but it seemed I wrote as much as Part I of the 12 hour flight. I hope I did not bore anybody to death with the details, please comment on the reports and thank you again for reading.
Note: I just found out a picture of the aircraft of this exact flight was already on a.net. http://www.airliners.net/open.file/284527/M/
Mr. Sung Yang Tong took a picture of this exact flight as we were taxing on the runway. If you look closely, that was me next to the 8th window!!! What a coincident!!!