For our final 2014 trip we booked a near-round-the-world ticket to Taipei, Taiwan, with stops in Europe in both directions. As with most of our longer trips we used miles, in this case US Air miles, and by booking in early 2014 they still had access to their former Star Alliance partners. This meant we would fly a range of new-to-us airlines for 90k miles per person. Thankfully, everything was in business class!
Stats for this trip:
- 11 days
- Four countries
- Eight flights on five airlines (Brussels, Austrian, EVA, Thai, Lufthansa)
- a total of ~22,000 airline miles
- lots of trains, buses, taxis and Uber!
Our favorite carrier was Brussels Airlines, with a nice combination of comfortable lay-flat seats, good food and drink, and pleasant cabin crew. After our overnight flight to Europe we each received a box of tasty waffle cookies as a parting gift. Transferring in Brussels involved more walking than we expected; the airport is quite large and under construction. Thankfully, the Brussels lounge was well positioned for our next flight, with a nice array of breakfast items, and the shower rooms helped us reset after the overnight flight.
We also flew Brussels Air on Dec 23rd to return to the US, and this time we each received an entire box of Neuhaus chocolates… merci! The one downside of Brussels Airlines was the relatively small selection of movies, but we always travel with our own so it didn’t bother us.
Lufthansa and Austrian were both intra-Europe business class, so the seat size is no different than coach (just with the middle seat blocked off). Both were short flights, and we did get breakfast which was reasonably good. The Austrian lounge in Vienna was surprisingly small prior to our EVA flight and not particularly memorable; the Lufthansa lounge in Frankfurt was large, with quite a few breakfast options (including sour cherry jam) for our early morning regional flight.
cold meats and cheese plate for our second breakfast + flat Santa
EVA Air was a mixed bag – they had an interesting choice of movies, and the food we pre-ordered was pretty good. (Leandra’s Note: On two of the three legs, my special order was ‘missing’ but thankfully the normal meals were fine.) They also had a nice amenity kit, perhaps the nicest of all our flights, and we’ve become fans of the Bvlgari lotion. However, the Premium Laurel seats on Vienna-BKK-Taipei route are lumpy and uncomfortable, something we discovered after the tickets were booked, and confirmed on the flight. Better than coach, but we would likely choose a different route or carrier for such a long future flight. We did get a chance to try the new seats (Royal Laurel) for four hours on our return and they were much nicer. Strangely, we never received a landing card for Taipei while in flight, so we had to hastily fill one out while in line for immigration.
Thai Airlines was our least favorite of the flights, with older seats and food that was just not good, especially surprising given we flew from their hub in Thailand. We had a really tight connection, so were were escorted through the airport at a hurried speed by an EVA airline employee. This also meant we didn’t have time to check out their lounge which is widely known to be better than the actual in-flight experience.