Flight Report : CX 565 Osaka - Taipei

There are many ways to get to Kansai Airport from the city. Buses tend to be more expensive, but have comfortable seats. Trains are operated by JR and Nankai, with Nankai offering cheaper fares into Namba, but JR can get you beyond the city, such as to Kyoto.

Outside of rush hour, I don't think there is a need to pay an extra 510 yen for a premium rapid train. Just take the regular express train, which took less than 45 minutes to reach the airport. It is regular bench seating, but the aisles are wide enough to store your large suitcases. There are no dedicated luggage racks though.

On arrival, head across the bridges to the domestic departure area. For international departures, it is a further 2 levels up.

1 floor up is a number of shops and restaurants. To beat the language barrier, models of the menu are placed in the glass cases. Some of the models are quite realistic. The selection of food options is quite extensive.

You won't go hungry at this airport.

Osaka is famous for its octopus balls, and you can bring some home to cook yourself.

While you can rely on the scale models to help you order, also beware what the English description beholds.

One of my favourite stops in this airport is the 100-yen store, which is not too big but it is enough to satisfy your shopping desires. There is also a drug store, but prices are strangely inflated from the city counterparts. Japanese airports don't typically practice differential pricing. What they charge in the city would be consistent everywhere.

Paying a visit to the bathroom, it includes the typical wash toilet functions. It even has a music button that plays flushing sounds to drown out your body sounds, which is why it deserves a photo stop.

There was even a set of machines where your coin will spit out an action figure. To cater for the airport crowd, an English explanation on what it is about was given but if you want certainty, head to the Pokemon store next door.

The domestic level also has a large bookstore. Seems bookstores have not gone all online in Japan yet.

Lockers for your luggage do not require an X-ray or security check beforehand. I wonder if it is a mix of both complacency and ignorance over the international terrorism situation?

The international check-in area is airy and spacious. Some machines have appeared to reduce the human interaction. There were no crowds at Cathay's check-in counters. After all, it was 3 hours from departure time. I first went to the kiosk to check if I could change to an exit row seat on the map, but ultimately settled with my original seat taken during online check-in.

I was processed at the counter right away with my checked bag. Strangely, the agent said I may be upgraded to Premium Economy today for the sector to Taipei (although I was continuing to Hong Kong), but he wasn't sure until later at the gate. He also asked my permission to upgrade, which I said yes, but when he asked whether I would sit in a middle seat, I told him I would prefer a window. A bit confused, I left the check-in area wondering whether he was just getting my hopes up?

International tourism to Japan has exploded in recent years, with visitors from China driving a major part of this growth. At the airport, it is showing, with these crowds at the Air China counters.

The domestic check-in area was darker with no natural skylights. ANA has an interesting board which screams the traditional way of flying - glamorous and fun. JAL even had clear plastic bags at the check-in area for your liquids.

The sleek Starflyer area caught my attention, although there doesn't seem to be any flights at the time I passed by.

Unlike Narita, Kansai also hosts a number of domestic flights.

There are several entry points for security into international departures. I noticed a sign noting the queue times, which is similar to what I have seen on Toronto airport's website. Both security and immigration were fairly quick and I emerged air-side into a huge zoo doing their last duty-free shopping before leaving Japan.

Fed up with the crowds, I gazed at the planes parked outside and browsed around along the length of the terminal. My gate would be a shuttle ride away.

Kansai's international operations are mostly to Asian regional destinations. They don't have many long-haul transcontinental flights, which is a bit surprising given the region's size and economic clout. Hong Kong gets many flights, with Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Express, Peach, Jetstar, ANA, Air India, and Cathay Pacific in the game. On my departure day, Cathay alone had 5 flights, all widebodies.

I had spotted 2 Cathay jets parked at the satellite terminal as the airport train pulled in, with the A350 in view. Disappointed with an equipment swap last year for Manila, I was excited about my first flight on this airline's A350.

The further gates here were much quieter with less stores and less shoppers. There was a convenience store which was handy for reasonably-priced drinks and snacks. An Air India jet bound for Hong Kong was delayed in a nearby gate. At this point, another Cathay jet just arrived.

Kansai was deliberately built offshore to keep noise pollution at a minimum to city residents. The land reclamation project in deep waters posed a significant engineering challenge, especially in this earthquake-prone region.

Conscious of the possible empty promise made during check-in about an upgrade, I paid attention to the announcements but did not hear my name come up. Boarding was fairly quick with seemingly no elites and there was even a separate line for Premium Economy / Marco Polo Green customers at this outport. Beep, and no red light. I would be back in Economy today.

I thought it was silly the check-in agent would suggest an upgrade was possible and keep the customer hanging, expecting the best but disappointed before the plane even leaves the gate.

The A350's seats are different and seemed a bit hard. The TV screen was quite nice and there was no longer a remote control. The interface is completely revamped so it took a bit of presses and swipes to navigate around the menu. There are 2 tables - 1 to pull down to access the USB charger and store area, and the other beneath for your meal tray.

Economy was pretty much full with lots of Taiwanese tourists heading home. I suppose the Hong Kong-bound customers booked the direct flights, but I didn't have much options to redeem and the A350 would be nice to enjoy on 2 flights!

Some other noticeable differences with the IFE were a good selection of magazines that could be read electronically right on the screen, news articles, and also streaming international news video. There were also 2 webcams although the flight map looked a bit more 3D and a bit too overdone.

Our full flight pushed back on time and it was a short taxi to take-off. Clouds had rolled in after a series of sunny days, and it was a fairly bumpy ascent. This would continue for the remainder of the 2.5 hour flight into Taipei.

Meanwhile, with little to see outside, I turned my attention to the in-flight map and the various views I could make out of it.

Despite the bumps, the seat belt sign was turned off for most of the flight and the crew sprang into action, distributing meals and drinks to everyone. Although I asked for chicken, the crew gave me a beef. Well, they ran out of chicken by the time they reached my row.

The beef meal was quite nice with the meat being very juicy. A cold soba noodle was included as an appetizer, which is typical for Japanese flights. A brand name premium ice-cream was also included. What was missing were vegetables.

We cruised at 40,000 feet and eventually climbed even higher to 41000 feet. Still, the turbulence continued, annoying but still OK to move around the cabin.

With clouds in the sky, there wasn't much opportunity to take aerial shots over Japan or Taiwan until final approach. Taoyuan was also having a cloudy day.

Taoyuan is quite far from the city so there isn't much of a chance to see the city as we approach to landing.

Unfortunately, even though I would continue to Hong Kong on the same flight number, local regulations required everyone to de-plane. All hand carries need to go as well, and I would need to walk a long way to transfer security, then walk all the way back on the departures level to the original gate. There were staff at the arrival bridge and also the transfer security door to direct us properly, but since I'm not connecting in Taiwan, this process seems a bit cumbersome. Luckily, very few of us were continuing so there were no long waits anywhere, just tired feet.

Premium Economy is only slightly more comfortable with 2 less seats per row.

Business Class features their standard product with all-aisle access.

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