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Finally the B747: return to Hong Kong on the EVA combi!

 
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 27, 2014 10:55 am    Post subject: Finally the B747: return to Hong Kong on the EVA combi! Reply with quote

The story so far:
We had arrived into Hong Kong after a 4 year gap on SQ's A330 and A380, which led to some unfortunate and unnecessary drama, due to positive vibes in Hong Kong. Once the drama was overcome, it was time to head for Taiwan, on the ultra rare (outside the US, at least) MD-90 aircraft. Taipei was most certainly a fun experience, but it ended much too soon. It was time to get to the airport on the
Taiwan High Speed Rail
. The 747 experience, at long last, was up nextů..

FLIGHT #4: BR871 TAIPEI-HONG KONG 25TH AUGUST 2014
We got off the airport shuttle bus from the THSR Taoyuan Station, and arrived at the arrivals level of Terminal 2. Collected all the bags and stuff, we took the elevators to the departure level. It was around 1330.


CHECK IN
Curiously, there were plenty of China Airlines check in counters...and their flights are from Terminal 1. There also were a couple of check in counters for Japan Airlines, China Eastern/Southern Airlines, etc. Our check in was from Lane 12, but really, lane 10-13 belong to EVA Air anyways. There was quite a long line in front of the counter, but it was moving at a moderate speed.



Waited about 15 odd minutes in the line, after which our check in was done. This took around about 7 or 8 odd minutes. There were around 3 or 4 card like things kept in every check in counter, showing the items which cannot be carried in the hand luggage, while they also had this:

Yup, seat maps for every aircraft in their fleet Smile

After check in, we were asked to wait and see our bags go through (via a CCTV camera), while baggage security was being done just after the bags were let out of check in. I asked the guy manning our check in counters 'Is it a 747 today?' He had to check but replied in the affirmative - 'Yes, seventy forty seven..' I asked this despite the fact that the seats I blocked on the website were reflected on the boarding pass. So for the second time out of a possible thrice - no equipment swap!


Bags going though!

After check in, we headed for the food court upstairs. I went for some fast food this time around...
But before that! Some of the Hello Kitty stuff, EVA has surely taken this seriously!





Spicy Whopper with cheese meal and Minute Maid Apple..


Departures area


Check in lane 12, Gate C1, On time!

PRE-BOARDING STUFF
By around 1449, we were in the line for security. Same like HKG: BP scan, security, immigration straight after. There was a line for security, but it was fast moving, unsurprisingly. Security done, it was on to immigration.


Perhaps the best immigration experience was up next...
I went to the counter, greeted the guy manning the counter. Here is how it went..
*looks at my passport* 'So you're from India?' he asked.
'Yup', I said.
'As-salamu alaykum..' he said.
I smiled.
'So sorry...Namaskar!' he said apologetically..
'Haha! You know the basics!' I said.
'You're born in Mumbai? That's pretty cool! Here on a business trip?' he asked.
'No, just a tourist. I love your country, I will be back very soon!' I said.
'Have a safe flight!' he told me. Barely 20 seconds at the counter, and a warm conversation. Taiwan, you have some of the best people alive!

We now had about an hour to kill. So we strolled through the duty free shops. There is a decent collection of everything you can possibly see in any duty free shop. All the usual stuff. This was a very good terminal.


HX1871 to Hong Kong Smile


Pretty long walk to the gate!



TPE (T2 at least) does not have the open glasses like HKG, but close to every holding pen, there is a huge glass through which you can see plenty of planes. And no restrictions to photography. TPE is therefore good for spotters Smile


*A livery B77W


BR A332


The two Boeing 747-400M's! Obviously, the one further away would be our bird, since the number sequence went from C5 to C1..


Airside


Gate C3 shotgun by BR as the Hello Kitty gate


Well then! B-16409 is off to Shenzen as Uni Air (subsidiary of EVA) flight 187, departing 15 minutes before us.....


...which means B-16408 will be our bird to Hong Kong, and I spotted it before flying into TPE!
The fact that the cargo door is open, and there were quite a few pellets being loaded into the Queen, does justify the use of a Combi version of the 747, because the seating capacity is similar to that of an A332 (BR871 is alternated between a 332 and 74E), and with the extra cargo space for a few days of the week.


Aviation history thing, nice!


Looking back at the T2..


ATC


There she is! FINALLY! My first proper Boeing flight in 2014...and its not on a 737!


Eye-brow 737...these are RARE!



TransAsia Airways...and I know this airline for all wrong reasons...R.I.P Crying or Very sad


There's a sleek low bird!


That's us! Very Happy

Actually boarding the plane is from a floor just below airside. This is where passengers arriving also go for immigration and all...


I can hardly believe it...flight on the Boeing 747...flight on the Boeing 747!!!


My current desktop wallpaper is....



BOARDING
Boarding started pretty much on time. Obviously, the usual announcements for priority passengers were made, but nobody could give a damn...and everyone boarded. And even the agents couldn't care less. So win win? Razz But generally organized otherwise. No pushing and all.


Holding area..


Getting closer to something which I thought would never ever happen; a flight on the Queen of the Skies!


20-33? That's us!

I was welcomed by 2 smiling stewardesses. There is something very special about boarding a plane from the front door and turning left. Its a rare thing to happen. And its Premium Economy seats!

Row 25 is the last row of the nose section in this 747. So the crew members, two of them, would be sitting right behind me. If I didn't get screwed over in the MD90, now was the time.....
Signs of wear and tear were all around, despite being seated in the premium economy seats. The controls were stuck, or a bit unresponsive, the seat covers were coming off...but this journey would barely be an hour and a half, and with the Boeing 747 disappearing soon, I decided to neglect all of these factors, sit right back and enjoy the ride Smile

I instantly felt the legroom, the 36" was clearly evident!


Seatback and footrest controls, A for the seat Smile


Miniature PTV. Some orchestra were playing, sound was heard through the PA speakers, showing off the beauty of Taiwan.


That looks pretty old school to me...or has it been updated? Rolling Eyes


Nah, looks old for sure Smile Nice drawings up front!

A middle aged Taiwanese lady came and set in 25C. Crew were pretty attentive to all passenger calls, while distributing blankets and newspapers to all passengers. The door just behind me (1L) was being armed soon...




One can keep a phone there, easily!


Hmm, EVA livery on the door!


Proof of the bird? Right there! Smile


See the cargo part being ignored? YES!


Pretty cool looking headphones. Apparently, they were noise canceling. While the had decent sound quality, they weren't noise canceling...


Those covers..Mum took them since she felt I'll need it as I'll make my friends listen to my headphones Rolling Eyes

DEPARTURE
Pushback was 13-15 minutes late. While we pushed back, the safety video was played. Sister plane B-16409 had already departed for Shenzen, while a Hello Kitty branded A332 took its place.



Slowly but surely, all 4 of the GE CF6-80C2B1F engines were brought into life, as the ground staff waved goodbye to our plane: something which happens I think, only in Taiwan and Japan. But its always a nice touch! Meanwhile the FA came and told me to switch the camera off. Like I was going to listen to her Laughing

Pushback, start up and taxiing


Where do we NOT find Emirates?!

There were a few birds which took off or landed before us (Landings included a CI A333 and BR 77W, while take off included a CI B73H and CX A333 to HKG)
I also noticed that B-HNH, known by me as the aircraft on which I had my worst flight ever, was waiting to take off. Hmm, 2 CX planes departing in close succession? Well, B-HNH was about to depart for KIX, rather than HKG.
The take off was nice and loud, I mean, there wasn't much of the grunty sound, but a high pitched squeal which I absolutely enjoyed. Oh, and the spool up was fan-bloody-tastic! Surprised There were some nice vibrations underneath as the nose wheel was retracted. The GE CF6s had a great sound! Very Happy

IN FLIGHT
Just like on the inbound, welcome announcements were made after the seatbelt signs were switched off (at 12000 feet). The crew quickly sprung into action by giving the special meals first. Wearing the green and pink aprons. Oh, before this, they attached PTV screens for some of the passengers who did not have a seatback screen. But this was pointless really, since it had to be to moved away for service, and then landing since this was a short flight anyways. So in total, the screens were attached for barely 20-25 minutes. The first officer made an announcement, in English, what I caught was an on time arrival into Hong Kong, 1hr12min duration, and cruising at 34000 feet. Meal included some fried rice, pork, shrimp pieces, a terrible tasting passion fruit jelly and orange juice. Rice, shrimp and pork was pretty good. Once the meal service was done, I got up for a bit and walked around the cabin. Took a few pics and paid the washroom a visit. When I was just in front of the cargo section (behind the last row of Y), the FA asked, with a slight hint of rudeness 'Can I help you?' I told her, I just wanted to take a few pictures. Now chirpy, she said to me - go right ahead! Asked about the door behind me, she said - yes, that does lead to the cargo section Smile
I tested out the headphones...they were of good quality, very clear and loud, but not noise canceling. I didn't watch anything on the TV (I found out 7 minutes in to descent how to operate TV, changing channels, volume, contrast, etc Laughing ) I put on my headphones, blasted some heavy metal music right up until landing. So much for the flight, pretty uneventful, some pictures here:







Freshener was bad...no fragrance, not too wet.


Cabin view from Dad's seat


Seafood meal




Dad's window view!


Y+ cabin




Yeah, camera, I know Rolling Eyes


Old school flush operation, but still vacuum!



Y cabin - no PTV, monitors overhead off!


Cargo section!


Again, the awesome feeling of standing right next to the stairs! Very Happy


Galley, looking towards Y+


Pretty boring view throughout the flight - the wing is awesome!


Where have you been hiding? Razz


Recliner seat with a separate leg and foot rest Smile



Tray table!

ARRIVAL
First officer made his announcement (like I said before..) and also said that decent would start in around about 10 minutes, which is what happened. The crew secured the cabin as we prepared for arrival into Hong Kong. I was a bit concerned about the side from which we'd be landing, since it looked not a bit, but very unfamiliar to me.

I saw a part of the city, which was WAY out of what Hong Kong usually is located, after which we banked to the right rather than the left. I then saw a circular top of a seemingly tall building, with a huge spike on top. It suddenly struck me that the city I was seeing was actually Macau City! It brought about a smile on my face as I saw 3 TurboJet and 1 CotaiJet ferry going between Hong Kong and Macau! I then realized that we were landing in on Runway 07L. A first for me!
A slightly hard landing was made as the GE CF6s still produced some fantastic sounds, yes for this I stopped the music and listened to the beauties!
Taxiing was not too long as we reached gate 36 at 1832 hours, 7 minutes late.
Some birds were parked along the way, including 9W's A332 to DEL being pulled into gate.


Seriously...why eurowhite?!






Engines cut out, the aerobridge came and got attached to the aircraft...not sure how to say it Razz


'Knock knock' on the door, thumbs up from him; knock knock on the door from thumbs up from the FA, the door was opened from the outside as all Y folk seated in Y+ exited the plane. The three of us waited a bit...good for me! Razz


Thanked the crew for the flight, and then we headed for the usual formalities such as immigration (long line cut short due to the time required, quick processing!) and head for the baggage claim.

Door of the B74E


The angle! It made the GE CF6s look much larger than usual - amazing! This is when I said to myself - this is perhaps the last time I'll be seeing B-16408 through my eyes...rather than on a computer screen. Or was it...? Wink







What followed next was a bit unusual, at least for the usual HKG traveller. What they'd do is get on the airport express, or the bus, or cab, etc. For us though, it was to find our way to the Regal Airport Hotel. Yes, absolute delight for any aviation fanatic! Very Happy Asked the information center, where the lady told us to head for Starbucks right at the end of the terminal before finally turning to the right which leads to tunnel, for the car park and the airport hotel. Yippee!

Air conditioned tunnel!

Check in to the hotel was perhaps one of the most critical points of this trip. I had done my research beforehand, with all transport details, etc. Also, with the massive 500mm lens. If it isn't a room with a tarmac view, well God forbid it would be a tough morning of spotting the next day! Bookings for the hotel was done via Agoda, and I mentioned that if possible, please provide a room with a view of the tarmac. Half of the deal was done when I leant that the room would be on the sixth (of eight) floors. Once the check in process was completed, I asked the lady if the room had a decent view of the tarmac....and she replied in the affirm! For once, I was proud that my hard work in researching had gone in to thin air since I would now be spotting and taking photographs right from the comforts of my room!


Extra bed with a window? Perfect! Very Happy


Lo behold...the view from the hotel room! This A333 would later depart to MEL as QF30.




That's the North Satellite Concourse...Sumantra sir? Smile



I could only imagine how beautiful the GE CF6s sounded!

If I said that I looked at B-16408 for the last time through my eyes, I was wrong. This is because...angling my head in a strange way, I saw a fat tail with the EVA livery, parked very close to a 9W A332. Yes, my B74E was parked right there, and I saw her being pushed back as she departed back to Taipei... That was the last time I saw the only Boeing 747 I'd probably ever be on... And since her last flight in February 2015 is fast approaching, that was it.....
This magnificent bird is surely fast disappearing.
Along with her departure, there were plenty of other departures, including the two 9W flights (B77W to BOM), numerous CX flights, among others.

We headed off to get some dinner, and buy some breakfast for the morning.


That soup was horrendously spicy! How I managed to get through it is still beyond me!


Ah - cream soda and mango pudding was how I managed to get through the soup!

We headed back to the hotel room and fell asleep. Yes, I for once was very tired. And since there was an exciting day ahead, I had to rest a bit! I set an early alarm before falling asleep soon, as a GE90 mooed into life, just a few meters away!





So in the next part: in terms of this trip, the next part(s) would be - spotting from the hotel room, the SkyDeck and the terminal, while in the trip report section, the next part would be the return flight to SIN and CMB - on the A380 and A330-300.

Till then! Very Happy

Regards
Jish
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Last edited by jbalonso777 on Tue Oct 07, 2014 8:31 pm; edited 2 times in total
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sumantra
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 28, 2014 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another lovely TR, Jishnu!
Interesting that Eva have seat maps displayed at check-in! A nice touch.
It would be even better if the latest status were on-line, and displayed!
Also, a nice touch to see one's bags go through. A simple gesture, without revealing much of the security apparatus.
Great air-side pics from TPE!
Boarding from the front door and turning left, for Economy on a B744: I've done this on the un-refurbished `Agra' in 2005: and it was a pure Economy section, with some extra space in my row (in addition to the usual comfortable AI leg-room), perhaps due to the curvature of the fuselage?
Great shot of the Eva livery reflection on the aero-bridge door!
It is great that Eva still give out postcards...but for the B77W?
Tarmac views from the hotel window: amazing.
And yes, thanks for the picture of the Satellite terminal! The one I goofed up on, big time.
We eagerly await your picture-taking sessions, and descriptions of the next parts of this trip!
Cheers, Sumantra.
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for your lovely words, Sumantra sir! Smile

True about the latest status, in fact, I remember once seeing UA's upgraded passengers on the BOM-EWR flight, names and assigned seats! And also, where the aircraft came in from, full details, etc. Really cool!

Yes, the curvature is the reason for more legroom, which is (I think) why airlines place their J or F classes in the nose of the B747!

Sir, that wasn't reflection, that was actual EVA Air paint on the doors of the aerobridge! Smile

They aren't postcards, but I can see the picture was taken in such a way that it looks like a pack of postcards! But really, they're just playing cards, but I see your perspective! Very Happy

Regards
Jish
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Nimish
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lovely TR Jishnu - were you excited about your first 747 flight Twisted Evil ?

That hotel location looks divine!
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Nimish sir, thank you for your reply! Smile
Oh yes, I was pretty excited for flying on the B747, however, it wasn't the A380 type, I must admit. For the first 2 odd days after the flight on SKB, I still had to pinch myself into believing that I actually flew on the A380!

Dad though, was otherwise. Twice, on the 25th of August he told me how he followed the developments of the Boeing 747 since 1969 (?), and its only in 2014, after a flight on the A380, he finally flew on a B747. So yeah, there was an air of excitement no doubt!

I will put up the first part of the Hotel Room spotting up very soon!

Regards
Jish
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 7:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey all, the spotting pictures from the hotel room can be found here Smile :
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/viewtopic.php?p=140479#140479
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sri_bom
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 29, 2014 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jishnu very nice and detailed report enjoyed reading every bit of it and I have to say every report you write is now top notch.

I do not remember if I have ever flown on a 747 Combi, but you are lucky as these are rare to see now a days. The airplane that you flew looks tired and old so it might be retired soon. Also if I remember correctly there was some controversy about flying passengers and large number of cargo on account of some fire incidents. The premium economy looks great except for the dated looks, and the food looks appetizing as well.

The transit hotel room with a view was superb and I would love to check in and just ogle at all the planes in air conditioned comfort 

Sri_Bom
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 3:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank so much for your reply, Sri! It means a lot to me Smile

True about the 747 combi - it sure is a dying breed today..well if you think of it, the entire 747 family is dying a slow painful death. But I guess EVA operates the smallest fleet of Combis - with just 2 in the fleet. And I saw the both...the other one was operating a UNI Air flight to Shenzen, as I've mentioned before. I guess KLM have the largest fleet of Combis, along with Air China and Asiana are the others, too. BR says they'll operate the 74E one last time in February 2015, and like AI, I do hope the 'last' flight never happens!
Interesting fact about the fire incidents, I never knew there was such a controversy!
I cannot complain much about the interiors, but its pretty evident these birds will go in to retirement soon, plus my flight was barely an hour and a half long, so I'm pretty happy with what EVA had to offer on both flights. At least, the 74E's Y+ is much better than the MD90s J class!

Regards
Jish
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Spiderguy252
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Stunning set of pictures, as always.

Have you checked up with Sam Chui as to which one of you has done more miles over the past few years? Wink
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jbalonso777
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 30, 2014 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, thanks so much, Varun! Smile
Jt means a lot Very Happy

Well, I think I'm just behind the mighty Sam Chui in terms of miles flown in 2014 Razz

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Jish
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Theairplaneguy4ever
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ah, finally the TR I was most hyped about! Thanks so much for posting this amazing TR along with the pictures!

I've had three B747 flights to date, one each on the NW 744, AI 744 and KL 743!

TPE looks like a disorganized mess honestly, but glad to hear about the friendly immigration agent; you don't get people like that in India often.

I wonder why BR choose to sell the premium economy seats as normal economy. Sure, it's good for the general public, but maybe they could do better by reserving it for FFP and *A members.

The food looks great, shame to hear about the jelly though - I'm a big fan of those.

The sunset out of the wing shots look spectacular. The 6-7pm is undoubtedly the magic hour!

That Air NZ 772 just looks wow! Now, that's how you make an airline livery!

Thanks again for this TR, the next one is the last isn't it? Looking forward to it!

Aditya

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 03, 2014 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Aditya, thank you for your reply!
Lucky you with the number of the 747 flights! My chances look bleak for another 747 flight, but then again, if LH offers a good deal, I might get on a 744 and 748i...but I really want to tick the 767 box too...lets see how it all goes! Very Happy
TPE did look a bit cramped, yes, but I generally found it pretty decent for a mysterious land like Taiwan.
Hmm, true about the blocking of seats, but then again, the crowds didn't look the ones who'd have FFP or *A memberships, so it perhaps made more sense to let them be as it is...fun for me! Razz
I crave for jelly, too. Too bad this didn't work out Sad Food was generally a surprise on BR: CX and KA give only a box and cutlery, BR give out a whole tray. Yeah Razz
Always nice to see such airline liveries, especially after that drab Finnar Euro-White livery! Eugh!
Yes, next part in the TR section is the last set of flights, and I can assure it will be much shorter. However, if you aren't following already, I have spotting pictures to sure with you all Smile
http://airlinersindia.s4.bizhat.com/viewtopic.php?p=140543#140543

Regards
Jish
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