Date: December 10, 2003
Departing Airport: Taipei CKS International Airport (TPE)
Flight number: BR 201
Seat: 21C moved to 33K
Scheduled departure time: 13:55
Actual departure time: 13:55
Arriving Airport: Bangkok International Airport (BKK)
Schedule arrival time: 16:45
Actual arrival time: 16:53
This is more like an Airport Report rather than a Flight report.
I left Taipei city around 10:00am to catch my flight at 13:55pm. My friend took the National Highway 1 and it was congested as usual, but we made it to the airport without incidents and we got there a little bit before 11:30am. The reason why my friend came along was because I had two large luggage weighing 70-lb each and my friend said if they give me a hard time for this intra-Asia flight, she would take some of my stuff home and mail them to me.
We parked the car in the underground parking lot in Terminal 2. We were able to get a trolley near by and I push it with my luggage on it to the escalator. On the escalator, the trolley kept moving backwards because of the weight of my luggage and also the incline of the escalator. I had to put my weight behind it in order to keep the trolley from moving. I have been to the supermarkets in Taiwan where the escalator or the shopping cart have this locking mechanism so that the shopping cart would not move while the cart is on the escalator going up or down. I wonder why the escalators or the trolleys at TPE International Airport did not have that feature. I remember I had the same problem on the day I arrived. I had to hold on to the trolley while taking the escalator down two floors to the underground parking lot.
Another funny thing was when I got to Departure Hall floor; there were nobody at the EVA Air counters; only the Information counter was open. There were people inside the Departure Hall but there were no Airline personnel at all. We looked at the monitor and realized that the next departure flight would be a flight to Hong Kong, which is 2.5 hours away and 5 minutes earlier than mine. We took the elevator up to the 4th floor where there is a coffee stand, a fast food place selling noodles, and a bookstand on the other side. We stayed at the coffee shop for a good 40 minutes before we get back down to the check-in area. We did check every once in awhile to see if any of the EVA Air counters would open, but surprisingly, they were not open until 2 hours before the next schedule flight.
The EVA Air counters were opened at exactly at 12:00pm, when we got there; finally, EVA Air had 10 counters open for both Evergreen Deluxe and Economy class. This was due to three flights departing around the same time, one to Hong Kong, one to Bangkok and one to Macau, each one departing within 10 minutes of each other. I did not have to wait long at all before I got to the counter. I gave the agent my ticket, passport and my Evergreen Club membership card; she looked at the weight of my luggage, and said, Do you know that your luggage are over-weight? I told her, not really, my tickets were issued in the USA, checked bags are limited by pieces and not by weight and each piece can not be heavier than 70-lb or 32-kg. She looked at me with a confused look and I told her to ask her supervisor. She said it was not necessary because she knew about it; she tagged both of them with the Heavy tag and indicating each weighing 31kg. I was told not to leave the check-in area until my luggage had been x-rayed by the machine, I walked over to the end of the check-in counter where there were two Airport Security personnel looking at the monitors. I have seen them asking people to open up their luggage if they see something unidentifiable, mine had no problems so I left the area. The whole check-in process took less than 10 minutes.
I say goodbye to my friend and even took her down to the parking lot. I stayed there until she left the airport. I still had about 1.5 hours before my flight so I went up to the bookstore on the 4th floor to see what is there but did not see anything interesting. I went to the bathroom near the bookstore, gladly, I was done with whatever I needed to do before my next adventure!
I was washing my hands when I felt everything around me was shaking and moving. I had notâ€™t experience an earthquake at least 10 years since 1993, so I thought it was me getting sick and that I was about to faint. The quake only lasted about 5 seconds but to me, it felt like 5 minutes. After I realized it was an earthquake and not me getting sick, I quickly gathered all of my stuff and left the bathroom. When I got out of the bathroom and walk back to the lobby, I saw everybody was back doing whatever they were doing before the quake. It seemed like nothing had happened. I felt like I was the only one who felt the quake. I later found out this quake was stronger than the 921 quake few years ago and fortunately, only minimal damages were done this time.
I decided to go to the Duty Free shops, which are located after Immigration. Even though there were no SARS cases reporting at that time, there was a Thermal Monitor taking everybodyâ€™s temperature at the entrance to the Immigration Counters. There were two doctors and two nurses monitoring everybody going through the entrance.
I showed my passport and boarding pass to the Immigration officer at the entrance after walking in front of this Thermal Monitor. There were people waiting in line for the X-Ray and Metal Detector. Just before I pass through the X-Ray and the Metal Detector, a group of EVA Air F/As went through the same process. There were 5 or 6 people in front of me at the Foreigner Passport Immigration counter, there were even more people on line for the Taiwanese passport holder counters. I got stamped for departure and the whole process was less than 5 minutes.
Duty Free shops are located after the Immigration area, I was looking for a certain brand of cigarettes for my co-workers back in the US, I think all of the Duty Free shops are own by the same company and they sell pretty much the same thing. The Duty Free shop I visited did not have the cigarettes I wanted so I left. The saleslady told me they only sell the â€œblueâ€ package and not the â€œgreenâ€ package here in TPE. I decided to walk around the airport because it was still early and Gate C7, the gate which my flight will be departing from, is the first gate you see after all of the Duty Free shops.
I walked pass Gate C7 and through the window, I saw an engine resting on the ground next the plane I will by flying soon. I knew the plane would be a 744-combi so it had its cargo door open ready for loading. What made me stop was this engine was being lifted to the cargo door. The view from Gate C7 was blocked by the air-bridge so I ran to Gate C8 and was able to find a better viewing spot there. I saw the engine being lifted on a crate and 6 ground crews were pushing the engines into the cargo area. I must say this would be the only time in my lifetime that I was flying on a plane with 5 engines.
I came back to Gate C7 and saw people going downstairs to the lower level waiting area. There used to be X-Ray machines and Metal Detectors at each of the upper level waiting area, but they were moved to the Immigration area so people could go in and out of the boarding area at ease. Before they moved the machines, once you are in the boarding area, you can not get out!
About 30 minutes before the scheduled departure, boarding announcement was made to invite Super First Class, Super Business Class, Diamond, Gold and Silver Evergreen Club cardholders to board. Few minutes later, rows 20 to 53 were called. No separate Evergreen Deluxe class boarding was announced so the rest of the passenger just lined up to board.
An interesting note: There are two entrances to the plane, one was designated for Super First Class and Super Business Class which uses the L1 door, and the other entrance was designed for Evergreen Deluxe Class and Economy Class, which uses L2 door. I knew my seat 21C is closer to L1 door than L2 so I just use the Super First Class air-bridge. I think it makes more sense if they group the Super First Class, Super Business Class and the Economy Class together to use the L2 door because the stairs to the upper deck is right next to L2 door. I guess EVA did not want to mix the First and Business class passengers with the Economy Class passengers. Anyway, just a thought, these classes board the plane at different time anywayâ€¦
Newspapers, both Chinese and English, were on a tray by the door. I was greeted by two F/As at the door, one of them asked to see my boarding pass and she directed me to my seat after looking at it. I thought I was the last few to board and I saw many seats were still empty; I asked the F/A who directed me to my seat to see if I could switch my seat. She looked around and said, well, not all passengers have board the plane yet, if possible, I should wait until all passengers are boarded before I made any changes. It made sense to me and was understandable so I went to my assigned seat.
Warm towels, the disposable ones, were given to each of the passengers by one of the F/As. Another F/A came around and asked us if we would like to have a blanket.
I could feel the door being closed behind me and few minutes later; I could feel the plane being push back. Safety demonstrations were shown on the overhead monitor and F/As were walking around the cabin to see if all passengers were buckled up and seats were in upright position. The F/A, whom I inquired about switching the seat earlier, came back to me and told me there are many empty seats in the last two rows, if I like, I could switch when the plane is at cruising altitude. I thank her and noticed on her badge that she was the Chief Purser of this flight. I have already forgotten about the seat switching, it was a very nice of her to remember and accommodate my request.
The plane taxied to the other side of the airport for take off, after about 10 minutes in the air, the captain greeted us and informed us the current weather at BKK. F/As started drink service and I switched my seat to the last row of Evergreen Deluxe Class, 33K, and a window seat. Thailand Immigration Forms were given and I requested a blanket because I left mine at my original seat.
Individual video program started and the overhead monitor was showing CNN International. There was a Breaking News about some bombing in Iraq. Immediately after the drink service, lunch was served. It was strange that there were no menus given, just choice of beef or chicken. I had the chicken and asked for a whole can of Coke, but apparently EVA Air now uses Pepsi, it did not matter to me but I was given a whole can without any problem. Duty Free cart was wheeled around the cabin after all the trays were cleared. I wanted to buy this EVA Air Teddy Bear but it was not available on this flight. I got an EVA Air logo watch instead. I also watched a Japanese movie during this flight but I could not keep my eyes open, do not get me wrong, it was a good movie, I was just tired.
A smooth flight all the way to our initial decent to BKK, the captain again greeted us and informed us the latest weather information at BKK. We landed at BKK only few minutes late and while taxiing to our gate, I saw people golfing in the area between the two runways. BKK did a nice job on that golf course, I bet it would be the dream place for people who like planes and also who likes to golf.
At the end of the landing announcement, three F/As stood at different locations and bowed to us. As usual, we clapped our hand to show our appreciations of their excellent services.
The plane parked at Gate 53, the furthest gate to Immigration. If you remember, I posted a trip report last year about how EVA Air and Thai Airport Management had some disagreements and Thai Airport Management had been making EVAâ€™s planes parked far away from Immigration. When we disembark and while walking to Immigration, two more flight came in, one was a British Airways 744 flight from LHR and the other was China Airlines flight from TPE. All three flightsâ€™ passenger crowed the Immigration area all of the sudden, the Thai Immigration had to open at least 5 more counters to accommodate all these sudden surge of passengers. One funny observation: as soon as one counter opened up, people moved to that counter and it was very chaotic. It was funny to see people fighting the line. I just stood at the original line where I first stood and I was stamped for Entry at the same time as other people who had moved to other lines.
After Immigration, I went down one floor to pick up my luggage. We waited for 10 minutes before anything start to come out. I checked-in very early at TPE, so my bags came out very late here at BKK; my luggage came out after most of the passengers from my flight had already left.
I was afraid the Thai Custom official would ask me to open up my luggage because I had them full to the max. I was relieved when he just waved me through. There were a lot of people waiting at the meet and greet area. I did not see my friend at first, but he showed up few minutes later. We took the elevator up 2 floors to the parking lot and when we reached his car, a parking lot attendant helped us load my luggage to his trunk. Free of charge! We were out of the airport parking lot on our way to his home in the outskirts of Bangkok 45 minutes after I landed.
Another pleasant flight provided by EVA Air. I would rate it 9 out of 10. Point off for not having a menu and no separate boarding announcement for the Evergreen Deluxe Class.
I have flown this route many times in both Evergreen Deluxe Class and Super Business Class. Services were a little bit better compared to last year. I do feel EVA Air is trying to bring up the level of their services back. The F/As were friendlier and were willing to help. I did not get a â€œdirtyâ€ look when I request things and they said â€œyou are welcomeâ€ when you thank them.
Hope they will keep up the services from now on.
I still have another trip report coming, BKK-TPE-SEA-EWR.