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Monday 28 September 2015

Flying on V-Air Airbus A321 (Part 2: CNX-TPE)


*Aircraft photos are credited to the respective photographers on airliners.net.

Welcome to my 2nd flight with V Air, heading back to Taipei this time. Is the flight as good as the previous? Read on to find out! 

For my return flight, the departure timing for the flight from Taipei was earlier than my previous flight, why? I have no idea. I was glad to be on my way back at around 6.15 pm instead of 8 pm. 

Arriving at Taipei around midnight, I thought of staying overnight at Taoyuan Airport but decided not to as I preferred to pamper myself with proper sleep. Looking at the options given, a few hotels in Taoyuan City caught my attention. In the end, I decided to stay at the Hotel which is located a few minutes away from Taoyuan railway station. 

For part 1, click here.

Photo: S Araki

My Stay in Chiang Mai! 

After arriving from the flight the previous night, I took the taxi to the hotel, Amora Hotel Tapae Hotel Chiang Mai near the shopping district at Chiang Mai Walking Street. The ride took about 15 minutes and I recommend you to get a taxi at the taxi counter. I paid around 150 baht for it.

This is the view from the hotel

Some photos were taken along the way on foot. 

This was photographed just outside of the hotel. Located at the main street so walking to the nearby markets is convenient.

The entrance of the hotel 

This market is only active in the evening.

The streets of Chiang Mai! 

I took this taxi and it cost me only 20 Thai Baht for the 10 minutes ride. 

This is the market place for locals, can't remember the name of it. 

Those cable wires tangling along the street makes you feel like in the olden days. 

Some local stalls selling cheap stuff.

It was a quiet afternoon for business along this road.

Not so for the market, as lots of housewives were doing their shopping.

This is the hawker center, but I wasn't hungry so I gave it a skip. 

Retail shops on the other side. 

Took this "Tuk Tuk" vehicle, it was fun but my ride was spoilt by the greed of this driver. I paid 5 times more for this ride than the lorry style taxi I took earlier on.

It was a pleasant stroll along the streets, was heading for lunch at this moment. 

I came across this junction and what caught my eye is the restaurant. 

Nok Air has many different liveries on its Boeing 737! 

This is the restaurant that caught my attention, needless to say, I settled for lunch here. The place was filled with tourists! 

Ordered a Honey mixed with Aloe Vera drink and my favourite, pineapple rice. It felt quite odd to be the only one in the restaurant eating alone. 

Beautiful, right? 

After that, I walked a bit before heading back. 

Time flew past fast and before I knew it, I was back at the airport to check-in for my evening flight to Taipei. One day in Chiang Mai is definitely not enough for first-timers. 

Here are some photos of Chiang Mai International Airport and for Free Wifi? Go to Burger King at the 2nd level near the domestic terminal. 

I did a quick check on the inbound flight, I was delighted to know that I would be flying on a different aircraft, B-22608 the first A321 in this airline's fleet. I checked the history of this flight, B-22610 was doing this route for the past one week so I was quite fortunate.

My ride was reaching soon.

At Chiang Mai Airport, it is quite small so not many shops or restaurants to explore.

I did my check-in and got my boarding pass within minutes. This check-in staff was curious about why I didn't fly to Taipei from Singapore. 

Exploring the departure hall.

It was quite crowded at this period. I dropped by the Thai Smile's shop and wanted to get a T-shirt for myself, unfortunately, the shop didn't have my size. 

Once I was done, I made my way to the international departure hall (airside). I managed to register myself onto one of the networks and enjoyed the WiFi until close to boarding time. 

The queue at the immigration security check was reasonably long.

I wonder who qualifies for the VIP room. 

Took these photos earlier as I was making a little tour around the airport. 

This is the domestic flight section. 

The fast-food restaurants are just beside each other. 

My boarding pass for the return flight. Just like my previous flight, the staff kept the larger portion of it. 

This is the international departure hall (Airside)

 There were quite a number of flights departing around the same time as my flight.

Odd design 

There are a few duty-free shops and a cafe for you to relax. It is better to be on the land side or grab a meal before coming to the airport. 

The airport lounges of Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways. 

My aircraft was assigned to gate 9, but there was no flight information about it. I had to hang around to watch out for signs. Not long later, I saw a staff holding a signboard with V Air's logo on it and I approached her. She told me boarding had begun and we were to make our way to gate 9. This is bizarre, why couldn't they make an announcement and why wasn't the gate 9 signboard showing my flight's details. Later I found out, its a shared gate with other flights as this gate is for aircraft parked at remote parking lots. Apparently, the other flight listed on the signboard was also departing at the same time.  

Boarding was disorganized. There were 2 lanes to different aircraft but some passengers managed to find themselves on the wrong one, luckily someone came in and guided them to the right one otherwise they might find themselves in the wrong city! 

Flight route: CNX-TPE 

Miles: 1492 

My ride: B-22608 

Photo: S.Araki 

Photo: Jason Chen

Date of departure: 30th August 2015 
Airline: V Air 
Aircraft: Airbus A321-200 fitted with 'sharklets'
Registration: B-22608
Date of delivery: 31st March 2014 to TransAsia then 13th Oct 2014 to V Air
Engines: 2 X IAE V2533-A5
Configuration: Y194
MSN: 6009 
Route: CNX-TPE
Seat: 30F
Gate: 9 
Departure: 1815
Boarding: 1735
Push back: 1820
Take off: 1826
Scheduled arrival: 2315
Actual arrival: 2315
Duration: 3 hours 45 mins
Speed: 800km/h 
FL: 330
Load: 90%
Departure runway: 36
Arrival runway: 23L

We were squeezed into very small buses and I am sure they need a few trips to get around 200 over passengers onto this aircraft. 

Here is my ride, B-22608. Photos were allowed as none of the airport staff stopped us. 

I love boarding the aircraft this way, as I get to see the aircraft face to face. 

Nice to see you, B-22608!

Almost there!

Once there, we board the aircraft and were greeted by the tired-looking set of crew. This time I saw a few of them in black T-shirts, I forgot to ask them about the colours. There was a young-looking male crew on board this flight, should be in his early twenties. 

I notice something different between this aircraft and B-22610. This aircraft has advertisement posters pasted just above the windows. 

Watching the others settling down while I had already done so. It is nice to be early. 

Taiwan Hakka Tung Blossom Festival poster only on B-22608.

This time the flight was quite full and 2 lady passengers took the seats beside mine. They were petite size so it was not too bad. For a 4 hour flight, I actually didn't find it too bad. On this rare occasion, I didn't need to use the restroom, so I was seated for the 4-hour hop to Taipei, not too bad actually. 

Here are more photos of the cabin

The row just in front of the emergency row. 

The two-seater - this is worth paying for if you don't require the window. 

The person seating at the window gets plenty of legroom space.

Fancy V or Fit V seats for you?

Even the seat tray has the advertisement. 

Seat pitch and the contents in the seat pocket are the same. 

Beware of falling bags!

Most of the seats were taken and the Taiwanese made up the majority of the passengers on board. However, this flight had announcements in 3 languages: English, Mandarin, and Thai. Apparently, the male cabin crew could speak Thai, but he is Taiwanese after finding out from a crew. 

My first impression of the crew was slightly disappointing as they looked tired and less enthusiastic than the crew from my previous flight. The ladies were more reserved but at least they were helpful. They were busy from the start of the flight when one of them, in particular, was dealing with many requests of food order. I overheard the conversation that most hot meals had already sold out, only left with the pork sandwich and some light snacks. Feeling disappointed, I decided not to order. Reminder: Remember to pre-order your food in order to avoid disappointment. 

Once the aircraft pushed back, safety demonstration was shown but this set of crew was not so outgoing, as the demonstration was done as per normal. After taking off and the seat belt sign turned off, the crew made their introduction but didn't see much "catwalk" by this crew, the male crew was "hiding" away in his working station.

After that meal service was served, those that pre-ordered on the website and before the take-off were to get their food and drinks served first before the others get their turn. I watched some movies on my Ipad to get the time past. No seatmate to talk to this time! 

During the flight, I took some photos like the one below.

The rest of the flight was uneventful except for the landing. We had some turbulence during our approach to Taipei, in fact, it was the roughest approach I had so far on any aircraft. The violent shaking of the aircraft had caused some concern to the passengers around me but eventually, we touched down and taxied to our gate. The Captain made an announcement earlier during the flight that we would be expecting some turbulence near the end of the flight.

A few more shots before I exited the aircraft. 

What do you think of Mr V Bear? 

Thanks for the ride, Mr V Bear and Miss V-Air crew! 

This crew carried Mr V-Bear asking anyone whether they want to take photos with it. There was one point, turbulence got quite bad that the crew had difficulty holding on to the seat while taking a photo of a couple.

Window shot photos

As there was some light during the time of departure, I took some of these photos, please enjoy! 

Parked beside the Legacy, Air Asia, and China Eastern. 

Air Asia had already left while China Eastern aircraft was pushing back. 

Once the engines were started, clearance to the runway was given and we taxied to the runway for an immediate departure. There was no traffic at that time. 

Taxiing to the runway as the sky got darker. 

The ride to the runway took around 10 minutes.

Take off was slightly turbulence but we found some smooth air after passing through some clouds.

A nice view of Changi Mai. 

Our aircraft once airborne, we flew towards the direction of the South-China Sea.

Getting dark and there was some turbulence at this point. 

Before I knew it, the aircraft started it's descent towards Taipei. The white light you see is the strobe light for other aircraft to spot while flying in the dark. 

The red light is the navigation light and at this point, it was quite bumpy. 

Lots of shakes and bumps until the aircraft touched down safely on the runway. What a ride it was! 

My rating: 

Airline's website: 8/10
Chiang Mai Airport Experience: 6/10
Check-in counter staff: 6/10
In-flight service: 6/10 
Seat comfort: 8/10
Cabin interior: 9/10
Cleanliness: 10/10
Punctuality: 10/10 
Aircraft condition: 10/10
Overall rating: 73/90


I enjoyed both flights with V Air on this one-day joyride trip to Chiang Mai and back. The flight duration of both legs was enough to experience the in-flight cabin and service which impressed me on the whole. The service on the first flight was better without a doubt but the return flight crew were not too bad. Not as outgoing as the first crew, at least they were professional throughout. This airline certainly attracted me to the 'Mr. V Bear' marketing and some ideas to make flying more interesting and enjoyable. Currently flying to a few destinations with just two aircraft, the airline is bringing in more aircraft for new routes and increasing frequency on current routes. The future of this airline looks bright. Among the Low-Cost Carriers flown so far, this has to be one of the more interesting ones. With a better seat pitch than most Low-Cost Carriers, this airline gets my vote ahead of others. This airline gets my recommendation. 

Thanks for reading! 

For my part 1: Please click here.


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