At a journey that could clock at more than 42 hours from NYC, flying to Sydney can be a real ballbreaker for even the most dedicated of jet-setters. And I wanted to make the most of it — so last week I transferred 90,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (acquired partly through the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card signup bonus) to become 90,000 United MileagePlus miles, after which I booked on United.com to score one of the best deals I ever found on the Star Alliance network:
- Lufthansa Senator Lounge Access at JFK
- A 19 hour flight from NYC to Taipei on EVA’s Royal Laurel Class (aka their equivalent of First Class)
- An included 10 hour layover in Taipei so I can visit some family
- Premium Plaza Lounge Access at TPE
- A 4 hour flight from Taipei to Bangkok on Thai Airways Royal Silk Class (aka their equivalent of First Class)
- A 9 hour flight from Bangkok to Sydney on Thai Airways Royal Silk Class
That’s 3 transpacific business/first class flights…for 90k miles!
We begin with EVA Air’s direct NYC to TPE flight where I sat first row in 1K.
Their toiletries kit that’s included as part of your Royal Laurel Class is sponsored by Rimowa, which cute little luggage piece contains the standard set of eye mask, ear plugs, socks, toothbrush, toothpaste, small lotions, lip balm and a comb.
Dining began with a course of Feta Cheese and Chickpea Mousse, with Parma Ham and Honey Melon:
…followed by butter & bread, and a serving of Seared Ahi Tuna with Crab Meat Salad:
If you reserve ahead online, you can get off-menu items such as this divine lobster tail as your main course:
Dessert was a selection of fruit, chocolate, and an almond truffle cake:
I then zonked out for 9 hours straight, which was pretty sweet as that rarely happens for me.
When I woke up with 2 hours before landing, they served breakfast consisting of Shao Bing with Beef and Egg, and Sweet Congee with Longan and Lotus Seeds Fruit.
Landing at around 5am in Taipei, I stamped out for my 10 hour layover, stored my luggage in one of their airport lockers (at up to $80 NTD or ~$2.50 USD every 3 hours), and took the public MRT train (for $160 NTD) into the city. The MRT takes about 40 minutes and boasts decent free wifi onboard.
After arriving at Taipei Main Station, I walked 20-25 minutes south to check out the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Complex, which surprisingly I haven’t seen yet.
I feel like every time I come to Taiwan, I check off a single site with each visit (which is totally not the monsoon way), but hell, I’ll always come back for family.
After an hour at the memorial complex lingering and taking in the morning air, I took a cab over to have lunch with my cousin Edward, who’s been working and living here since forever.
After catching up, I cabbed it back (for $1000 NTD) to the airport. Of note, Taipei’s international airport doesn’t fast-track business or first class passengers, so it took about 40 minutes to get through security and passport check, after which I only had 20 minutes to enjoy their Premium Plaza Lounge. First world problems.
My connecting flight was slightly delayed by 20 minutes, which was mildly worrisome as they would leave me only 30 minutes in Bangkok Airport to connect to my final leg to Sydney.
But getting to experience Thai Airways’ Royal Silk Class for the first time alleviated those concerns away — I’d be all right.
The flight lasted 3 hours, so no toiletries kit was offerred. Nevertheless, they were generous with the food, starting with a Samrab Thai course consisting of Minced Chicken Salad, Fish Curry “Pa-naeng” style, asparagus, and steamed jasmine rice:
They then followed with a Sweet Almond Curd with Fresh Fruit for dessert:
Since we left 20 minutes late, I landed in Bangkok literally 3 minutes before my connecting flight to Sydney was to depart. Guess I missed it?
However, Thai Airways has been known for always personally escorting their Royal Silk passengers directly to their connecting gates in Bangkok, so there would be no exception here:
They literally drove me across the entire airfield directly to my airplane as it waited for me.
The door closed behind me immediately after I boarded, and I was still in the process of settling into my seat as the plane taxi’ed onto the runway, lifting off only 6 minutes past the intended departure time.
Unlike the clamshell design of my previous Thai Airways Royal Silk class seat (which I assume was the case because that craft was a Dreamliner), this flight instead utilized the standard, old school business class seat that flattens out at a slight 165º angle instead of a complete 180º. Not that I’m complaining (hey, does it sound like I’m complaining?)
Their toiletries bag comprised of similar items to that of EVA’s while also including mouthwash:
Once again, I opted for the Samrab Thai course:
After 9 hours in the air and 42 hours of traveling, I finally arrive in Sydney 2 days later at 7am, where I’ve reunited with loyal monsooner Taylan Stulting on their 5th monsoon, who happened to be on a flight from Bangkok as well, although it landed 10 minutes after I did.
Let’s begin the next monsoon!
– At time of posting in Taipei, it was 62.6 °F – Humidity: 69% | Wind Speed: 16km/hr | Cloud Cover: foggy