I confess: I am a frequent flyer. I travel a lot and often my trips are short. My trip to Japan, however, was to be 10 nights, not counting the first 2 nights lost in the time warp of flight. I meticulously planned the flights and the hotels for 4 nights in Kyoto and 6 nights in Tokyo, but other parts of the trip I left in the air. Sometimes that works out, sometimes it doesn’t.
I booked the flights on Eva Air – all in Royal Laurel class (Eva’s business class) using 90,000 US Airway miles. I’m not saying that I always have to travel in business/1st class, but it sure is nice once in a while. Actually booking the flight took a lot of time and patience. I’d heard great reviews about Eva Air, so I was happy to book my outgoing flights on Eva. I was flying from New York to Osaka, Japan via Taipei, Taiwan. Unfortunately, that is not one of Eva’s infamous Hello Kitty flights, since those only fly out of the West Coast. The flight was scheduled for 12:20 a.m. on Wednesday, February 12th, so I arrived early at the airport, by 9:30 pm, having worked the full day on Tuesday. I had hoped to go to the Lufthansa Lounge, but it was closed despite the sign saying it was open until 10 or 10:30 pm. I first visited the JAL club. It was very empty and not terribly inviting. I had a tuna tea sandwich and a glass of wine and moved on to the Korean Lounge. This was a little nicer – I had another tuna tea sandwich (I guess I was in the mood for tuna).
I boarded the plane and said hello to my “home” for the next 12 hours. It was really nice. I put on my slippers and ordered a glass of Dom. Oh how chic.
But where was the Rimowa amenity bag I’d heard so much about? Oh, they brought it around later.
After take-off there was dinner. I did make an error. In the days leading up to the trip, I forgot to pre-order my meal. Oh well, as they say, no use crying over spilt Lobster.
Shrimp noodle soup was available during the flight, which was delicious.
Then breakfast. I chose Chinese Porridge, i.e., congee, which I really like.
The flight was everything I’d heard and more. The accommodations were comfortable, the flight attendants were attentive.
We arrived at Taipei (TPE) at 5:30 a.m. – not Wednesday morning, but Thursday morning. Like the old days when I went out to clubs until the wee hours, I wondered where Wednesday had gone. The arrival in Taiwan was smooth (about 10 million times easier than Beijing). I had three hours at TPE.
The Eva Lounges were on a mezzanine level with other lounges.
Apparently, I was so tired that I forgot to take pictures of the lounge. Here’s the scoop. There are two business lounges, Star to the left and Infinity to the right of the entrance. One looks more techy, and the other more traditional, but they are basically both the same, with the same selection of food and beverages. There was an array of Western and Chinese breakfast and dim sum. I ate a little, and it was all good. Ben at One Mile at a Time did an in-depth review of both the Infinity and the Star Lounges.
I then walked around the airport. I did my obligatory stroll through Starbucks:
Each gate at the airport is designed with another theme. Some lounges are designed by local museums or foundations. One is a library. The Hello Kitty theme was prevalent throughout the airport – there was not only a lounge/gate area with a children’s play area but a store as well. I couldn’t get enough!
What time is it around the world ala Hello Kitty:
Hello Kitty store:
Hello Kitty payphone:
There was even a Hello Kitty breast feeding room:
There was also a public lounge area made to look like a rain forest. There were massage chairs there, and a note that free tokens for the chair were available at a nearby store. I went there, got my token, and relaxed for my 15 minute massage.
I forgot to mention that it was pouring when I got to Taipei.
Oh look, it’s the Hello Kitty plane:
Now it was time for the next flight. Taipei to Kansai Airport, Osaka (KIX) in Japan. I was seated in business class again. The flight was empty and turbulent at times, due to the weather, but overall, it was fine.
oh, look Hello Kitty….
Breakfast or was this lunch?
I didn’t eat too much, I was still full from the umpteen meals that preceded it. Of course, I couldn’t say no to a little champagne though.
I arrived at Kansai and went through passport control and customs. As I exited security I saw a Citibank machine and withdrew a few thousand Yen (which were gone in a nano second). I was very fortunate – my hotel, the Hyatt Regency Kyoto had arranged for a driver to pick me up at the airport, so I didn’t have to concern myself with transportation from the airport. The weather was cold and rainy, but I was happy. I was on my way to Kyoto.