Date: Thursday, December 04, 2003
Departure Airport: EWR - Newark, NJ
Gate: Terminal B, Gate 52
Airline: EVA Air
Aircraft Type: 747-45E
Class: Confirmed upgrade to Super Business Class
Seat No. 7K - window
Scheduled Departure Time: 11:25pm
Actual Departure Time: 11:25pm
Arrival Date: Saturday, December 6, 2003
Arriving Airport: TPE - CKS Taipei Terminal 2
Scheduled Arrival Time: 7:50am
Actual Arrival Time: 8:13am
On Monday, December 1st, I received a phone call from EVA Air confirming that they have approved my request for an upgrade to Super Business Class from Evergreen Deluxe Class. That made my day! The next few days passed by quickly and since my flight is scheduled at 11:25pm, I was able to work a full 8 hours without having to leave early or waste a day of my vacation time to catch the plane. I also opted for the free shuttle bus leaving from Flushing, Queens. The bus left Flushing, Queens at 7:30pm and we did have to make an additional stop in Chinatown to pick another passenger. That person did not show up so we left Chinatown on Schedule.
The shuttle bus arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport, terminal B just a little bit after 8:30pm and there were already people lined up for check-in. Since I have a confirmed seat in Super Business Class, I went straight to the Super Business Class counter after getting off the shuttle bus and thankfully there was no one waiting on line at the Super Business Class counter. The agent greeted me and I handed her my ticket, Evergreen Club membership card and passport. After the usual security questions, she handed me my boarding pass and also the invitations to the lounge for both Newark and Seattle. The whole process took less than 5 minutes.
Since I have another 2 hours before boarding, I walked around the airport but there were not much to see and I got bored fast. I went through the security checkpoint and got into the lounge. I handed in my invitation to the receptionist and I asked her if I needed to get my invite back if I want to walk around the gate area. She said no, she would remember me. EVA Air uses British Airways' lounge at EWR. There is a self-serviced counter consists of wine, beer, juices, soda and cookies. British Airways' First Class lounge was closed and we, the EVA Air passengers, are only allowed to use the Executive lounge. I ask if there are any computers available but was told no, but there are computer connections available. The lounge was 50% full at peak. Most people just sit there reading newspaper or watching the only TV available, which had CNN on. I had orange juice, grapefruit juice and a Sprite while I was at the lounge. Boarding was called at 10:50pm but I had already left the lounge and was waiting by the gate. The announcement was made to invite Super First Class, Super Business Class, Diamond Card, Gold Card, Silver Card members and passengers need additional assistance to board first.
There were Chinese newspapers and English newspapers available on a cart at the end of the air bridge. I was greeted by two smiling F/As and they directed me to walk upstairs to my seat. I do not remember if I was escorted to my seat by any F/A but I had no problem finding it. EVA Air usually uses 744 combi for their EWR-TPE route, but today, this aircraft was a newer and passenger only plane where the Super Business Class occupied all of the upper deck and the Super First Class was located on the nose section of the main deck where the Evergreen Deluxe Class used to be on other EVA planes. Now I know why I was able to get an upgrade to Super Business Class without any problem. This was because this 744 has 32 Super Business Class seats instead of usual 16.
Upon walking to my seat, I find there are slippers, a noise reduced headphone, a down-filled pillow and a down-filled blanket on my seat. I placed all of my belongings inside the storage bin below the window. I did not use the overhead compartment. My seatmate showed up and we greeted to each other. This was pretty much all I said to him for the next 20 hours of this flight. One F/A came and asked us for our pre take-off drink. She greeted us with our last name after looking on her sheet. I had Jasmine Tea and my seatmate had Champagne. Another F/A came around and gave out warm towels. These towels were the real terry-clothed kind, unlike the Evergreen Deluxe class, where the towels were paper-like.
At exactly 11:25pm, I felt the airplane moving. The plane taxied on to the runway and we took off at 11:38pm. After about 10 minutes, two F/A came and took another drink order, she also asked for our choice of supper. When the F/As came back with our drinks, they also prepared our table with linen tablecloth. At this time, the individual video programs also began so I pull out the in-arm TV to watch the news and the Airshow on channel 9. The overhead monitor was also showing the news. F/As came and brought us the salad, then main course, and at the end, desert and another round of drink. Our tables were cleared and most people opted to sleep because the lights were turned off. I choose to stay awake to pre-adjust the jetlag in TPE. F/A gave everybody a bottle of mineral water made by Evergreen Company, the parent company of EVA Air. I like this idea because you can drink at your own pace and the F/As do not need to come around with the drinks every hour anymore. I watched a Chinese movie called Turn Right, Turn Left, and The Medallion by Jackie Chan. When I finished my water bottle during one of the movies, I pressed the call button and asked for another bottle, it was delivered to me promptly.
Our flight landed at Seattle Tacoma International Airport at 1:41am on December 5, 2003 PST and we taxied to Gate S11 at 1:45am. Before we disembark, we were told to come back to Gate S11 by 2:30am PST for our next leg of flight. There were two stores open by Gate S11, one was the Duty Free store and the other was a regular store. I did not find anything interesting so I went to look for the lounge. I did not see the sign for the lounge next to the escalator at first, I walked a full circle inside the South Satellite and I was about to ask an EVA Air agent where the lounge is when I saw the Evergreen lounge sign pointing downward next to the escalator. I took the escalator down one floor and found the lounge. EVA Air uses the same lounge as Asiana of Korea. Greeted by the receptionist and handed her my invitation, I guess I was the last few to get to the lounge because there were only 3 seats available by that time. All the other seats were taken. I think there were at least 50 people inside the lounge. I took a bottled of Starbucks coffee and some cookie back to my seat and after I finished them, I went to the bathroom inside the lounge, believe it or not, there were only two individual bathrooms, one for women, and one for men. One woman really needed to go, I offered her to use the men's room first but she declined. Since this lounge was so small and crowed, I left soon after.
After walking around and around the South Satellite at least 3 times, it was time to board for our flight again. We picked up more passengers from Seattle and the boarding process was very chaotic compare to Newark. Lots of people were just standing around the gate waiting to board even though the gate agent kept announcing they would be boarding Super First Class, Super Business Class, Diamond Card, Silver Card members and passengers with special assistances first and all other passengers should wait until their row is called. That did not work, and for me, it did not really matter when I board so I stayed in the back by the wall. An EVA Air agent saw my Super Business Class boarding pass and ask me to follow her; she opened up a road and told me to follow her to the gate agent. In the meantime, she also picked up more Super Business Class passengers and also a family with small children. After showing my passport and my original boarding pass, I was on my way to the aircraft. Interestingly enough, there were 4 TSA agents stopping people along the way and I overheard one TSA agent asking a family of 4 where they are going, why they are going, how long they are going for and how much money they have with them. I did not know if they are asking everybody so I stopped as well until one TSA agent told me to keep going. I am just intrigued by the questions they asked. Newspapers were again on the cart at the end of the air bridge. I was greeted by two F/A at the door, one of them asked me if I remember where my seat was, I told her yes, they directed me to the stairs and I was greeted by another F/A asking me the same question on the upper deck. Got to my seat and I find an overnight pouch, another pair of slipper, another noise reduced headphone, pillow and blanket neatly folded in my seat. After I settled in, and my seatmate showed up, an F/A came by and addressed us by our last name and asked us for our pre-flight drink, again, I had tea and my seatmate ordered champagne. Hot towels were handed out again as well.
We were scheduled to depart at 2:55am PST but we did not pushback until 3:45am. This delay was due to a passenger being questioned by the TSA agent longer than expected as announced by the Capitan. In the meantime, F/A came around and ask us for another drink choice and our meal choice. After 10 minutes of taxiing to the runway, the plane took off at 3:55am.
After the plane leveled off and near the cruising altitude, F/As came and got us one more round of drinks and also Immigration Forms and SARS form for Taiwan. This F/A skipped me for the Immigration Form and I had to ask her for one, she was surprised that I hold an US passport and not a Taiwanese passport. I guess I had been speaking with them in Chinese and they just assume I am not an American! Or maybe my Chinese is that good, (just kidding) After the drinks were done, the F/A came by to set up the table. The individual video program also started. Same news program as before so I skipped and was watching the Airshow on Ch. 9. This meal lasted about an hour. My seatmate fell asleep while holding champagne glass in his hand. My table was cleared and Duty Free service was announced over the speaker. We were given another bottle of water and the lights were turned off. Most people fell asleep soon after. I set up a schedule for myself so that I can minimize the jetlag while in Asia. I stayed awake for another two hours by watching Sea Biscuit and sleep the next 4 hours. During my schedule 4 hour sleep, my seatmate got up for the bathroom, I took that chance to go as well, I also went back to the galley and asked the F/A about Duty Free shopping because I did not see it come by, she told me up here on the upper deck, we need to tell the F/As if we want Duty Free and they will bring the items to our seat. I told her what I wanted and she told me they would bring the items to my seat shortly. She also asked me what I want for my snack because they are about to serve them. There were four choices, Cantonese Dim Sum, Instant Cup Noodle, Hot Chocolate and cookie and Crepe with Chicken and Sweet Corn cake. I asked her if the Dim Sum has shrimp in it and she said yes, I don't eat shrimp so picked the beef instant noodle as my snack. When I got back to my seat, my seatmate was already back and fell asleep again. I tried my best not to wake him up to get back to my seat, but he was awake by my movement. I apologized to him but he fell asleep soon after.
My instant noodle came about 10 minutes after I got back to my seat. I chuckled a bit because it was the same instant noodle they serve for the other classes but instead serving it in a Styrofoam cup, it was served in a porcelain bowl. Many passengers were also awakened by now so the F/As came around and ask everybody what they want as their snack.
I watched another movie called Uptown Girls but fell asleep in the middle of it. The next few hours I was in and out of my sleeps. I tried to check where we are by looking at the Airshow every time my eyes were open.
About 3.5 hours out of Taiwan, just over Tokyo, Japan, the lights were turned on and the Capitan greeted us. He also informed us the current weather at TPE and the estimate time of arrival. Last thing he said was the breakfast would be serving soon. Again, juices and towels were given before our tables were set up, I opted for the Chinese Style breakfast and my seatmate picked the Western Style. Breakfast all came in one tray, but the F/A came by with more congees for the passengers with Chinese Style breakfast. Instead of more congee, I asked the F/A if I could have a yogurt like the Western Style Breakfast and it was delivered on a plate promptly.
The tables were cleared and information about Taiwan was shown on the overhead monitor and channel 1. We began to decent and we landed in Taipei at 8:13am on December 6, 2003. The plane taxied to our gate at C7 and I got off the plane at 8:20am.
Before we got to the Immigration counter, a medical station was set up to check for passenger with fever due to last year's SARS scare. A monitor was set up scanning each passenger; there were no actual contacts, just temperature scan. There were two doctors and two nurses stationed at the desk. A short walk to the Immigration and was stamped by the officer without any questions. The whole process was done in less than 10 minutes. Walked one floor down to pick up the luggage. We waited about 15 minutes before the first luggage came out. Mine came out pretty early because they were Priority Tagged, the Custom agent waved me through without checking. Saw my friend waiting and was out of the airport in less than 45 minutes after we landed.
Very enjoyable flights overall. I would rate it 9/10
F/As were very accommodating and they bowed at the end of each flight, I thought EVA does not do that anymore. We, the passengers, also clapped our hands as a sign of appreciation of their service as well. I have only seen this on EVA, and not on any other airlines.
The Airshow was different compare to other fights I have flown with EVA. SEA-TPE segment was shown with point of interest at different location and also a different view angle from the previous Airshow. You would see an airplane flying in a 2-dimensional landscape. I thought this is something new from EVA Air, but when I came back with Evergreen Deluxe Class, old type of Airshow was showing. I guess you get more when you fly Business.
Let me know what you think about this report.