Trip report introduction: To Taipei with Star Alliance and SkyTeam business class awards

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01. Introduction: To Taipei with Star Alliance and SkyTeam business class awards
02. United Airlines 737-900/ER first class San Diego to Los Angeles
03. Asiana A380-800 business class Los Angeles to Seoul
04. Incheon Transit Hotel
05. Eva Air A321 regional business class Seoul to Taipei
06. Grand Hyatt Taipei
07. The quiet serenity of Taipei during Chinese New Year
08. China Airlines Dynasty Lounge, TPE, Terminal 1
09. China Airlines 777-300/ER business class Taipei to Seoul
10. KAL Prestige Class Lounge, ICN
11. Korean Air A380-800 Prestige Class (business class) Seoul to Los Angeles
12. Delta Connection CRJ-700 first class Los Angeles to San Diego

Have you all been getting sick of my seemingly endless amount of Delta trip reports lately? Me too. I think I learned a pretty good lesson from all of that, and now more than ever I see the value in changing things up a bit to keep myself motivated to keep writing. My last post was the ninth in a row(!) where Delta Air Lines was the main topic of interest and I’ll admit that even I was struggling to find the energy to wrap that one up and get it published. Don’t get me wrong – Delta is a fine airline, but I knew that I had to move away from the same ‘ol same ‘ol and spice things up a bit for the next trip if these flight reports were going to continue.

So how does a trip to Tawain on six different airlines (all in business and first class) sound? Let’s go then!

To be honest, Taiwan has never been at the top of my “must travel to” list and I fully blame my childhood for that. You see, most of the toys I had at the time (the 1980’s) had “MADE IN TAIWAN” stamped on the bottom, making me think that the place was just one big factory covering the entire island. Of course as I grew older I knew that was a ridiculous and ignorant US-centric thing to think, but hey – that perception from an early age kept my interest at bay for many years.

It wasn’t until I found myself strolling around different airline websites in late December that I discovered that there was some really good award space on many airlines between the US and Taiwan for the last week of January. I was intrigued. I didn’t get much of a holiday break for Christmas and New Year due to my busy work schedule, and I really felt like I deserved a bit of time off to travel. So why not? A wave of excitement rushed over me as I tried to put together a series of flights using the points I’ve been saving up. I knew absolutely nothing about Taiwan or Taipei but I couldn’t resist the urge to go and see the place for myself.

The ultimate goal for this trip was to book a segment in Korean Air Prestige Class (business class). You savvy airline AvGeeks are already aware that the KE business class hard product is nothing to write home about – but it’s the soft product (the service) that I wanted to experience for myself. Korean and Japanese airlines are in a different league when it comes to onboard service, as I’ve personally experienced better service in ANA economy class than I have in United Global First. And I’ve heard nothing but good things about Korean Air, so yeah…it was the main objective for this trip (as silly as that may sound). Unfortunately, finding award space for KE business class is not easy on delta.com, but I was lucky enough to find one seat left for the date that I needed. I grabbed it without batting an eye and wasted no time starting to practice the correct pronunciation of “Bibimbap”.

The rest of this itinerary was fairly easy to obtain. I was able to get a Star Alliance business class award at the Saver level (80,000 points) on the way over, though I did have to pay a bit more for the SkyTeam award for the trip home (112,500 points).

Here’s the full itinerary for this trip to Taipei:

01/27/17 UA417 first class San Diego to Los Angeles (737-900/ER)
01/27/17 OZ201 business class Los Angeles to Seoul (A380-800)
01/29/17 BR149 regional business class Seoul to Taipei (A321)
01/31/17 CI160 business class Taipei to Seoul (777-300/ER)
01/31/17 KE17 Prestige Class (business class) Seoul to Los Angeles (A380-800)
01/31/17 DL4888 first class Los Angeles to San Diego (CRJ-700)

That kicks the snot out of more domestic Delta flights, right? I know, I know, I know…the final segment of this itinerary is a Delta Connection hop from LAX to SAN, but it came as part of the SkyTeam award and I didn’t really mind considering the quality of flights that would precede it. Hopefully I’ll still have strength left in me by the time I get to that segment in order to write more words about Delta. Though I will admit that before this trip began I couldn’t even imagine what left there is to say about that airline that I haven’t said already. The struggle is real when writing trip reports!

Other than that I was pretty excited about what I managed to scrounge together. I have flown Asiana from LAX to ICN on the A380 before, but that was in first class and I was curious to see how the business class product compared. Eva Air and China Airlines would be firsts for me, though I was slightly bummed that the Eva Air segment would be regional business class on the A321 (instead of international business class on a larger aircraft), but hey – new airlines are always fun to try no matter what the circumstance. To be honest though I would have been just as excited about being in economy on that flight, so it’s all good.

Are you ready for this? I sure am. Grab a seat and get comfortable, because I’m about to gloriously undo my recent Delta Air Lines overdose…