You have read about all the wonderful things to do and eat in Taiwan and have decided to visit. There are many international air carriers that fly into Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei. If you are in North America, there are two Taiwan airlines that have many flights to Taiwan, China Airlines (not to be confused with mainland China’s Air China) and Eva Air. In 2017, Eva Air was rated the world's 6th best airline.
|China Airlines with pink plum blossom on tail
Most of the flights leave from the west coast of the U.S. and Canada or from JFK in New York City. Eva Air has additional departure cities of Houston, Chicago, and Toronto.
|Eva Air's North American routes
Asian air carriers constantly get high reviews of their exceptional service and I can attest to that from my experience on Eva Air. The Taiwan air carriers also fly to many other Asian countries, such as Thailand, Japan, and Vietnam, and China. If you are taking one of them to another Asian destination, why not increase your layover in Taipei and see some of amazing Taiwan? The Taiwan Tourism Bureau even has a free tour of Taipei if you have a layover of 7-24 hours. Check out this website: http://eng.taiwan.net.tw/tour/index.htm.
There are three classes on both airlines, economy, premium economy, and business. The premium economy class would be similar to the first class on a domestic route in North America. The business classes offer lie-flat seats and are called Royal Laurel with Eva Air and Premium Business with China Airlines.
Both airlines booking sites leave something to be desired, but I find Eva Air’s booking website a little easier to use than China Airlines. Once you put in your requested dates and cites, you are presented with a range of prices with names such as Economy Super Saver, Economy Semi-Flex, or Premium Super Saver, etc. I counted six different economy prices on China Airlines. The main difference between them is how many miles you will accumulate in the airlines’ rewards program and how much you will pay for a ticket refund. The Economy Super Saver, while the lowest price will not accumulate any miles and will have a high refund penalty.
|All the different economy options on China Airlines
I have been using Eva Air on my trips to Taiwan and have never been disappointed. Eva is one of the few airlines flying the B777-300ER with 3-3-3 configuration in economy which gives you about a 1.5 inch wider seat than rivals flying a 3-4-3 configuration in economy on a B777. Eva Air’s seat pitch in economy is a very generous 33 inches.
For the Premium Economy class on Eva, it gets even better. Seats are configured 2-4-2 with 38 inches a pitch. In Royal Laurel or business class configuration is 1-2-1 and the seats are the lie-flat type.
Eva Air also has themed planes like Hello Kitty. Here was the Points Guy’s experience in economy: https://thepointsguy.com/2017/07/eva-air-hello-kitty-flight-review/
Below are some pictures of the food I have experienced on Eva Air.
|Premium Economy breakfast menu
|Premium Economy dinner menu
|Amenity kit in Premium Economy
|Starter in Royal Laurel
|Main course duck in Royal Laurel
|Dessert in Royal Laurel
|Snack between dinner and breakfast
|First course in Royal Laurel breakfast
If you have a U.S. Global Entry number you can use the Taiwan E-gate quick immigration system, however, you first need to complete an on-line application, pay NT$3,000, and schedule an in-person interview at the Taoyuan airport. If you are not a frequent traveler to Taiwan, it probably does not make sense. I have never waited very long in the non-Taiwan citizen line at the airport immigration.
So now you are in Taipei’s Taoyuan International airport after a long overseas flight. You feel like you need a shower and you don’t belong to one of the lounges that have a shower. Not to worry, the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport has you covered if you are making connections or you are staying in Taiwan. In terminal 2 in the upper floor where all the airlines have their lounges, you will find free, clean showers as you walk to Mos Burger. Use this if you have a layover. Towels are not provided so bring your own or rent one at the spa next door. There are also showers in the Business Center on the same floor.
|In T2 upper floor walk toward Mos Burger and
the shower will be on your right.
|Room for luggage. No towel though.
|Water lasts for only 15 minutes.
If you are not connecting, there are free showers in the baggage claim areas. If you want to use them, don’t exit the baggage claim into the Arrival Hall. You cannot get back in. For location on a map, visit the Taoyuan International Airport website: https://www.taoyuan-airport.com/english/store3_detail/Shower.
Eva Air has four lounges at the Taoyuan International Airport for their different levels of Mileagelands reward card members or those holding Royal Laurel business class tickets. The different lounges and who can use them are:
The Club – Silver member and booked Premium Economy
The Star – Gold members and Star Alliance Gold members
The Infinity – If you book the Royal Laurel business class
The Garden – Diamond members
|Lounge map in T2 upper floor
|Eva Club Lounge
|Inside Club Lounge
|Eva Garden Lounge
|Eva Star Lounge
China Airlines also operates its own lounges at Taoyuan International Airport and if you are a Priority Pass member you also have access to the Plaza Premium and More lounges.
|For Priority Pass members
It seems like most of the flights to Taiwan leave around midnight on the west coast which means you arrive around 6:00 am Taiwan time. My suggestion would be to ask your hotel for an early check-in. In my case, the hotel charged me half of the room rate and I also got their buffet breakfast. Being able to shower, change, and eat made me ready for exploring Taipei!
All Aboard Taiwan!