A couple of weeks back, a friend invited me for a visit to Taipei. It has been a couple of years since I actually visited and could not pass up the opportunity this time. As my home Airport is SFO, there are only two carriers providing nonstop service to Taiwan. China Airlines and EVA Air have been on this route for quite a few years. Both offer their own style of service using different gauge of aircraft. I am partial to EVA because I have flown them before to Singapore and Bangkok via Taipei from SFO. Plus, I wanted to try out their new Royal Laurel Class.
I scanned their easy to use website for the dates I had in mind. Unfortunately, both flights from SFO in Royal Laurel Class were sold out. I turned my eyes South to LAX to see if there were any seats available and was lucky to find one seat. I was able to find a seat back to SFO on my return flight. The whole booking process took about 15 minutes.
Now, I had to find a OW flight to LAX. I like Virgin America and always fly them domestically if the itinerary fits. I found a $105 USD fare with a four hour layover in LA. Since it is a short flight, I was only looking for economy. But, I also know, as the flight time gets closer, I could probably upgrade to Main Cabin Select for a nominal fee.
The night before departure, I checked in on the VX website. Sure enough, for $39 USD, I could upgrade to Main Cabin Select. In actuality, it was only $19 USD because I would have had to pay $25 USD in economy to have one bag checked and Main Cabin Select is for free.. I selected a seat in the bulk head and looked forward to the trip.
DAY OF FLIGHT
I am focusing on the EVA flight from LAX to TPE so I won't go into too much about the VX flight. It was a good flight. It left SFO on time and arrived into LAX about ten minutes early. It was a short walk over to TBIT where I waited for the EVA counters to open up.
FLIGHT: BR 11
Aircraft: 777-300 ER
Class: Royal Laurel
The Counters at LAX open about three hours before departure. I arrived at the counter and there was already a line forming for economy and one gentleman ahead of me in Royal Laurel.
On que, the side door opened and the check in crew made their way to their respective counters. there were two agents handling RL and I was prompted by one to come forward. She was pleasant but kind of impersonal. As I approached, she had her head down at her screen. I had my passport in hand and arm stretched out toward her. I heard her say, " Can I have your passport", and then looking up to see it in front of her. She verified my destination and confirmed my return to SFO. She asked how long I would be staying in Taiwan. I assume to determine whether I needed a visa or not. The computer sputtered out two passes. One for Boarding and the other for the Lounge. She informed me the flight would be delayed one hour due to an inbound delay of the aircraft. She gave me verbal directions to the Lounge and bid me a good day.
TSA was extremely light and it only took me ten minutes to get through. After dressing again after TSA, I found my way to the Lounge elevators.
I was not expecting much from the Lounge as I have read reports of it being less than spectacular. It is, however, a good place to chill instead of the sterile hallways of TBIT.
The lounge was impersonal. No windows and just rows of seats and a long food area for your needs. They did have a nice water wall to please the fund shui. The internet was running strong and I caught up on my email. About an hour brfor boarding, I decided to take a walk.
Today's flight will be departing from Gate 123. The sterile hallways of TIBT.
Along the way, I came across a few aircraft departing to all points across the globe.
British Air departing for LHR
EK loading up for their long flight to Dubai
Asiana Airlines to Seoul
Can you spot the wing walker on this Cathay 777?
I could see the new International Terminal rising outside the window. It will be a great improvement from the current Terminal and will be a showcase LAX should be proud of. The natural light flowing through the terminal will be amazing. Unfortunately, SFO still will have the best IT
I made my way down to Gate 123 and waited to the side until the boarding was called. At about 5 PM, our flight was called .
A picture of our 777-300ER that will bring us across the Pacific.
The jetway to the aircraft.
I found my seat, 9A and took a quick shot as passengers were passing behind me.
Cubby hole for your feet when you go flat with your seat.
Control panel for the seat.
Welcome to Seat 9A
The new configuration for Royal Laurel Class has a 1-2-1 layout.
Because of the delayed flight departure, the flight crew was running around preparing for departure. They started the safety video while at the Gate.
We taxied out and lined up on 24L
Short story about this pic. The flight deck did the customary two "dings" to alert the flight crew to be seated. I saw this crew in the galley talking to her colleague. With my limited Mandarin, they were talking about their shopping trip to Costco. We lined up on the runway and they were still talking. The engines powered up and then panic sent in and they ran to their seats.
Climbing out over Redondo (?) Beach
Meal service started about 30 minutes after departure.
Way off in the distance, another aircraft heading toward a far off destination.
Starter of Salmon
Corn soup and garlic bread
Main course, Beef with potato chips
On our way over the Pacific
Amenity Kit. Nothing special but moisturizer and toothbrush and paste. I wish they included eye shades and ear plugs. They would have come in handy for sleeping.
About two hours out of Taipei, a light meal service was served.
Philly Cheese Steak sandwich.
After 14+ hours, finally my journey is coming to an end.
Night lights coming into TPE.
After existing the aircraft, saw the lines of people going toward Immigration. Actually, it was pretty fast, only 10 minutes.
EVA AIR is a quality airline and provides a good value for crossing the Pacific. The flight crew was attentive and was always available to my needs. As for the new Royal Laurel Class. I like the 1-2-1 seating. The seats are a little hard. I really did not sleep because it was a day flight but I would ask for another blanket to sleep over to soften the seat. I really do not fly for the food. It was fine but not great. We were late departing but made up most of the time in the air. I would fly them again and look forward to the day I do. Sorry for the picture quality, they were all from an iPhone.
[Edited 2013-04-13 23:37:41]