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Wednesday 3 April 2013

My First MD-90 Joyride - Uni Air

Welcome to my trip report on Uni Air's MD-90!

I like to pay a tribute to the MD-90 which served the airline very well. It would be sorely missed. Fortunately, I managed to catch it at least once and till today, my one and only MD-90 goes to this airline. 

*Aircraft photos are dedicated to the respective photographers from airliners.net

(June 2016 - this aircraft has been retired just a month ago)

Uni Air's old livery (Photo: C.H Kao)

The aircraft I flew on was in this livery. (Above)

Later on, the MD-90s were painted in this current livery. (Photo: Andrei Makul)

Sadly, this aircraft has been withdrawn the fleet prematurely. The original retirement date was supposed to be around March 2016.

My flight route: TSA-KNH

Uni Air became my 42nd airline and FAT became my 43rd carrier. I was delighted to be adding 2 new airlines and a new aircraft type to my flight logbook.

After booking my trip to Taipei with Vietnam Airlines, I had a look at the domestic carriers and see which I would like to fly. The main priority was to fly on the MD90 and MD83. Checking out all the possible domestic cities in Taipei, I decided on Kinmen, as it was the best bet to fly on B7's MD-90. I paid around TW$2100  for the one-way ticket with B7 (TSA-KNM) and the return with FE's MD-80 which I paid TW$1900 for it. That's quite a good deal if you ask me. Flying on MD-80s these days is getting rarer so if you have a chance to fly on one, you got to grab it!

                    Photos of Taipei Songshan Airport's departure hall

When I reached the airport, I saw lots of passengers near Uni Air's check-in counter. I went to have a look at the departure schedule screen below and I was stunned that my flight status was closed! This was not a good thing, not at all. So I went to the check-in counter, the staff told me that Kinmen airport at that time was closed due to foggy condition and the flight may be cancelled, however, she would proceed the check-in procedure and issue the boarding pass to me just in case. The worst scenario was to return to the counter and either get a refund or change to another flight. Anyway, I did an online check-in the previous night, there wasn't any choice of seat, the computer assigned the seat for me, 5K but that was too front for my liking. I wanted to seat just in front of the engine, but I remembered that Aaron Willis told me to choose 27A so I asked for that, but it was not available, instead the lady assigned 26A for me which I accepted it with appreciation.

Many passengers like myself, were waiting anxiously hoping that the flight would operate. The earlier flight to Kinmen didn't depart but it wasn't cancelled. Later on, I found out that the earlier flight departure half an hour after mine, thank goodness I didn't book myself on that flight. 

The aircraft that took me to Kinmen.

I walked around the check-in counters of all the domestic airlines to have a look and before I knew it, flights to Kinmen started commercing, first it was FE then followed by my flight number. A big smile appeared on my face and I made my way to the departure hall almost immediately. 

Passing through security was a breeze and before I knew it, I was in the waiting area. This picture below was where passengers were waiting to board their aircraft (not by the aerobridge).

My aircraft was parked at Gate 12 and it was indeed the lovely MD-90 which would take me to KNM! No last minute aircraft change which I dread most!

 That's how the boarding gate looks like, not big but enough to cater to the capacity of the MD-90. Anyway, our flight pushed back about half an hour late, but I am not complaining at all. I would still be able to make it for my return flight which was at 1530 hours, so I had plenty of time to spare at Kinmen airport. The only thing about this flight was that the duration was short, only an hour of flying which was not enough for my liking.

Carrier: Uni Air
Flight number: B7-885
Date: 23rd March 2013
Route: TSA-KNH
Aircraft type: MD-90
Registration: B-17922
Line number: 2243
Engines: 2 X IAE V2528-D6
Date delivered: 10th December 1998
1st time on MD-90 and on this aircraft
Departure gate: 12
Scheduled departure: 1010
Push back: 1040
Take off: 1050
Departure runway: 28
Arrival runway: 06
Photo: Kobayashi

Boarding started, I was one of the first to board the aircraft! As excited as a kid, I made my way to my seat. In normal circumstances, I would have been pleased that I had gotten the emergency row, but for this case, it was too front for my liking but at least my seat was beside the window which meant that I could take some photos.

You can see lots of legroom space in this couple of emergency rows, good for longer flights. The seats are similar to the ones on the widebodies of EVA Air, they are quite comfortable especially in the emergency row. Not the best, but at least it does its job. 

The emergency door at the back of the cabin, when open, you can disembark from here with stairs attached to the aircraft. I had this chance to do so, but I didn't as I wanted to stay on board for a while longer after arrival.

The flight 

After the plane had pushed back, surprisingly we were heading to runway 28 which was rarely used at that time. I guess its the wind direction that caused the change. During that morning, I went to the observation deck to check it out and runway 10 was in use. We were number 2 for departure and had to wait for Transasia's ATR72 to land before our turn to depart. The whining sound from the IAE engines was underwhelming especially compared to the BR715 and JT8D engines but take-off was powerful and we made our way towards Kinmen. Took off was smooth with a few occasional bumps but after reaching our assigned flight level the rest of the flight was very smooth.

Seatbelts sign was turned off probably after 10 minutes and the crew were in action. I got to say I like this particular set of crew; they were polite, friendly and more importantly professional. Since this was a short flight, only drinks were served and I got myself a hot tea. Well, for me I was busy taking photos, the crew were pretty ok about it and I supposed they could tell that I was an aircraft enthusiast.

Not long after, the Captain announced that we were starting our approach (Darn!) and soon we were on the approach to the airport and landed smoothly at the sole runway of Kinmen's Airport. It was pretty small.

                                        Some wing-shot photos

                              You can see how small the airport is!

       Taxing to the parking lot beside the ATR72-600 of the same company.


Definitely, a must-try experience for all aviation enthusiasts. Uni Air's product and in-flight service have satisfied me and there is nothing to complain about. For such short flights, there is not a need for in-flight entertainment. Flying with Uni Air which is under the Evergreen group which also manages EVA Air, you can be assured of its good safety record and in-flight service.

My rating:

Website:  5/10
On-ground service: 7/10
In-flight service: 7/10
Seat comfort: 8/10
Cabin ambience: 10/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
Overall rating: 47/60

Thanks for reading my trip report.


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