That’s a very first time I went on a long haul flight to Asia. Direct flight to Taiwan with China Airlines. I’m happily inviting you to join it with me!
When you read this post, I’m probably already in Taiwan on my holiday, fighting a terrible jet lag, but foremost, enjoying this beautiful country.
My flight was scheduled for around 9:30pm and I think the time works well if you’re based in London, because right after the take off and on-flight dinner, you can just get some proper sleep or enjoy movies.
I was flying from Gatwick Airport, South Terminal and honestly I’ve never flown from this airport before, so it’s a new experience for me as well. As for my journey to the airport itself, I went for an Uber, as it is always more convenient option, despite horrendous traffic that London has to offer.
First wristwatch check of the journey and I was ready to check-in and hand over my 20kg luggage to a friendly member of the China Airlines’ check-in point.
As I was flying premium economy, they gave me a priority sticker on my boarding pass, so I could go through the security checks quicker (in theory). In practice, none of the security points were busy at that time, however it was rather annoying experience, when all my hand luggage (2 bags) were opened and all items removed to be checked thoroughly. The thing you need to know about me, my luggage is always nicely organised with all items in its compartments. You can only imagine what words were coming to my brain, when the officer was taking all the items out and messing my neat and tidy arrangement of my luggage. I was pissed off, but I do accept that’s the part and parcel of security checks.
Right after the security check, I headed over to duty-free shops to make some purchases of gifts and things I needed for a nice flight. The airport itself (South Terminal) is spacious, there’s plenty of lounges, where you can chill, seating areas where you can take a breath and wait for your flight with other people.
The thing I’ve noticed is that long haul flights are a bit different than your normal 2-hour flights. People are more relaxed and don’t seem to be in a hurry. Probably because every one of us know that we are going to be stuck in one airplane for 8-14 hours.
Oh, I forgot to tell you. A direct flight from London to Taoyuan Airport (near Taipei) is 13 hours and 15 minutes. I think the duration of the flight was the most horrifying thing for me, as I didn’t used to do long haul flights very often. Perhaps, only when I was 7 or 8 years old. I’ll let you know how it went, a bit later in this post.
It’s really annoying, when you have to wait for the gate for your flight to be announced 25 minutes before the boarding. So I was waiting and waiting, when I realised that the same lady who checked-in my luggage, told me the exact gate, from which our flight was to departure. Besides, the gate number was on my boarding pass – I’m a twat, seriously!
Alright, so there you have it – excuse me the quality of the photo and the reflections of the vending machines. This time I had opportunity to fly on China Airlines’ Airbus A350-900 – beautiful aircraft indeed! I think the carrier has one of the best airplanes at the moment, they look new and smell new as well.
I like this feeling of excitement, 25 minutes before boarding, don’t know what to expect. The airplanes was being re-fuelled, re-stocked with food and passengers’ luggage. Calling out for boarding is nicely organised, no one’s queueing. The staff members call passengers out by the class of the flight or loyalty program they redeemed the flight from – very efficient.
Photos – they don’t give the justice to how plenty of legroom you have in premium economy! Right after I sat in my decent seat, I received a hot towel and the in-flight amenities were waiting for me – eye mask, cosy blanket, pillow and small amenity kit in a North Face pouch. There were also some slippers, but I took mine, the ones from Sofitel (One Night in Munich with a Rolex GMT-Master II ‘Batman’).
The interior of the aircraft was tastefully designed, it makes you feel more relaxed. Fortunately for me, no one was sitting next to me!!! I had a ‘suite’ for my own.
The watch for my first journey to Taiwan is a Rolex Datejust 116233 with a champagne dial.
We were waiting for all passengers to board the big bird and soon we were ready to depart. I’ve never felt so comfortable with the thought that I will have to seat in one place for 13 hours, huge thanks to China Airlines for making flying long haul, so easy and quite pleasant!
And it was about time to open up the amenity kit, containing the toothbrush, face cream (mask), sleeping mask and ear plugs. I will keep the pouch indeed! So stylish!
And the dinner’s served! I went for a vegetarian oriental option. I got a fresh roll, fresh salad with a sesame oil, rice with nicely packed mushrooms, tofu and sweet potato. As a dessert, I had a handful of fresh fruit and afterwards, we were given some ice cream – strawberry or chocolate. I’m not a huge fun of eating when flying, however this meal I quite enjoyed.
And now it’s time for a lavatory tour. It’s a bit cramped, same as every lavatory on a train or airplane. Pleasant music is being played, whilst you’re enjoying the toilet time and overall, it’s clean. You’ve got a sink, soap and hand cream, so you can keep your hands nice and moisturised.
In general, I’ve noticed that no one seems to bother each other during the flight, as everyone is focused on either sleeping or enjoying the on-board entertainment system, which is packed with the latest movies, songs etc.
I had a good, 6-hour sleep, snuggled in a blanket with my travel neck pillow, eye mask, ear plugs, noice cancelling headphones on. Besides, I watched 2 movies – Toy Story 2 & 3 – don’t judge me! I love the franchise. Frankly, 13 hours went by quite quickly and I was surprised, because I was expecting to be struggling to go through 6 hours.
And there we go! That was my first ever long haul flight to Asia! Going through the immigration at the Taoyuan Airport was easy, you just fill in the landing card and give to an immigration officer, along with your passport and you’ll receive a nice stamp with a date of your arrival. As I wasn’t staying in Taipei, neither Taoyuan, I had to take a metro and train to get to my destination.