Flight Report : CX 474 Hong Kong - Taipei

Sunday mid-morning at the Marco Polo counters was uneventful. There was no line for a check-in agent and with over 2 hours to go before my departure, I tried my luck to see if I could standby for an earlier flight.

The check-in agent got on the phone to first check my ticket to see if changes are allowed. I knew it was, and the class was good for free changes. After a short while, she got the OK and processed me for the earlier CX 474, which would leave about half an hour earlier. Taipei gets so many flights like an intercity bus service.

New automated kiosks have appeared to speed up the process of going airside. However, nobody was giving it a try and my attempt was unsuccessful, eventually ending up at the manual counter again. Security lines were longer than usual, although it didn't take that long to get through all the formalities. Air-side, plane spotting was great as usual. My first one captured the new EVA Dreamliner just taking off.

The waiting lounges were getting new carpets and also more water machines.

A few glass cases displayed some modern art as well.

As I neared the gate at the start of the boarding time per my boarding pass, I noticed no lines, no crowds, and more staff than passengers. They were announcing final call already.

However, we sat for a long time until just after the actual departure time. Luckily, the IFE was running so it wasn't a boring wait after all.

The Orient Thai 747 that previously sat in front of the aircraft maintenance area for over a year has moved further away. Seems its owners won't come back for it any time soon.

There wasn't much congestion to depart this morning so it was a smooth taxi to take-off. The bridge to Macau has opened but there wasn't much traffic on it.

There were a lot of thick low-hanging clouds as well so the city disappeared soon after take-off.

With little to see outside the plane, I turned my attention to the various amenities on this short flight - not even 90 minutes. A packaged headphone was already in the seat when I boarded, which is something that normally costs money for North American flights of this length, even transborder ones.

A free meal was also served, although it was not a hot rice dish as I had thought. There was a news item noting Cathay was moving away from sandwiches for their lunch and dinner departures, but I still got a warm sandwich. The cookie was the highlight though. To save time, a tetra pack was already in the bag, and there was no separate drinks cart service.

It didn't take long for Taiwan's central mountains to appear.

The forecast was not too good in Taipei either although it was sunny along the Taiwanese coast throughout the flight. While the temperatures were still nowhere near autumn weather, I recall the northern coast of Taiwan normally is cloudy and rainy while the south is sunny during the winter months.

Welcome back to Taipei.

With a renovated Terminal 1, I had expected a smooth journey through clean and spacious new areas. The reality was a huge crowd that could not fit into the designated queues at immigration. People spilled over and staff struggled to contain everyone into the organized chaos. I was only able to get pass after an hour, and that was already quick because the staff finally directed a few of us to the domestic line when it emptied out.

Cathay offers a decent product for the short flight to Taipei. With frequent departures, moving the flights around was fairly easy, although in-flight catering seems to still fall behind the Taiwanese competitors. China Airlines and EVA have started using newer aircraft on the route on selected departures with cabin interiors that offer as good a hard product. My biggest complaint would be on the ground at Taipei, with incredibly long immigration lines. They really need to allow foreigners to use the automated kisoks, and not just the Australians upon registration.

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