Taipei Mileage Runs – Taipei to Austin

We woke up around 8am and got a bit of work done before heading down to the included Holiday Inn Express Taoyuan breakfast. The breakfast was very eastern, with noodles, vegetables, salad, and steamed egg. We were offered a cooked-to-order western egg omelet, but we declined due to time. Katie enjoyed the passion fruit drink.

At 10am, we took an Uber to the airport. We arrived relatively quickly and JT started the uphill battle to reroute our full fare Y tickets through JFK instead of LAX. We wanted to do this in order to attend the TPG party in New York, but it would also be beneficial to JAL since they could move us from a full trans-Pacific flight to an empty one and also route us on more JAL ticket numbers. Although rerouting should have been free and allowed, JAL claimed they could do nothing because our travel agent needed to do it, while the travel agent (Expedia) claimed JAL had to change it since it was too close to departure for them to reticket. In the end, we were forced to miss the TPG part in NYC and instead just fly home as planned. We knew it would be a long shot, but it was still disappointing!

Our JAL 787 from Taipei to Osaka

We quickly checked in 50 minutes before our scheduled flight to Osaka, and cleared security and immigration within 10 minutes.

Business class seats from Taipei to Osaka

We were in the business class seats with economy service again on the flight from Taipei to Osaka. The seats were comfortable, but we were disappointed to find that the outlets at our seats did not work and there was no wifi on the flight.

Economy meal from Taipei to Osaka

A meal was served though. The main dish was a shrimp paella, with cold vegetable frittata and soy milk custard as sides. The meal also featured a fresh salad and coffee flavored custard for dessert.  The vegetable frittata was by far our favorite!

We landed in Osaka around 4pm as scheduled. Although we would end up departing on the same plane from the same gate, we had to go on a train to the main terminal, clear transfer security, and take the train back to the outer terminal.

Our JAL 787 from Osaka to LAX

Once we were back in the outer terminal, we went to our gate to obtain boarding passes. We found out here that we had been upgraded for the Osaka to LAX flight since apparently the economy cabin had been overbooked.

JAL lounge in Osaka

We hurried to the JAL lounge, where JT quickly wrote up an article. We boarded during final call into 2H and K.

Upgrade to business class from Osaka to LAX!
We’re happy to be in JAL business class!
We came to love the JAL safety video

Our seats were stocked with amenity kits, slippers, nice headphones, and water bottles. Cardigans were distributed shortly after we boarded.

First course for both of us – sesame tofu with wasabi and smoked-style simmered egg and chashu pork
JT’s second course before opening it up
Katie’s second course – brandade mille-feuille
JT’s second course after opening it – fuyunagi (selection of seasonal colorful delicacies)
Katie’s main course – freshwater shrimp and seafood pasta
JT’s main course – kabayaki-grilled eel and Japanese-style beef tongue stew with miso soup
Katie’s dessert – hojicha tea pudding
JT’s dessert – castella sponge cake

The departure meal service was excellent. JT tried the Japanese meal while Katie tried one of two Western meals. Both meals started with a tofu dish and a pork with soft boiled egg dish. JT’s second course was a box with many different delights while Katie’s was two types of bread, salad, and a tart-like dish. JT’s main course was eel with beef tongue – both of which were much more appetizing and tender than expected. Katie’s main course was a much less exciting – and actually less tasty – pasta with a single shrimp and a small fish cutlet. The meal ended with interesting origin-inspired desserts – tea pudding for Katie and sponge cake for JT.

Self-serve snack area in JAL business class
Cute notes in the bathrooms included a thank you and weather information for LAX
Amenity kit in JAL business class

After dinner we decided to both go to sleep as we were tired, there was no wifi on the plane, and we had angle flat beds. We both slept nicely. Katie found she could comfortably sleep on either side of her body, as long as she used the footrest to keep from sliding down.

FUMIKO’s Western Set Plate Arrival meal – mushroom veloute royale, marinated whiskered velvet shrimp and scallop, and bread
FUMIKO’s Japanese Set Plate Arrival Meal – Dainomono (roast duck with green onion and lotus root miso, half boiled egg and simmered Japanese pepper, and simmered crown daisy and chrysanthemum blossoms), Kobachi (pickled daikon, Hiroshima-na pickles), and spring onion julienne and shredded pickled plum soup

We both woke up with two hours remaining in the flight. We ordered breakfast – a Japanese set meal for JT and a Western meal for Katie. Katie’s meal was a mushroom custard with two types of bread and cold shrimp and scallops. The shrimp and scallops were really good.

Before landing we were give a small gift bag with rice crackers, soybeans, and the powder JT had asked about during the departure meal service.

Express Connection envelopes and boarding passes for us

Upon landing at LAX, we were given boarding passes with ExpressConnect envelopes. We passed through transfer security and headed to the Qantas First Lounge in the international terminal. At first the agent at the desk argued incorrectly that we couldn’t enter unless we ticketed in first class on our trans-Pacific flight. A more senior agent came out – and instead of backing her up, he agreed with us: as a OneWorld Emerald on a same-day international itinerary, Katie was entitled to OneWorld first class lounges.

Oantas First lounge

The Qantas First Lounge was comfortable and had nice bathroom, bar, and food services. The ‘winter’ menu we saw was extensive, but we visited outside of the hours during which it was served. We couldn’t stay long anyway, as we needed to hurry towards our 12:50pm flight to Phoenix.

We walked to Terminal 6 through the new Tom Bradley connector and then two tunnels with facts on the walls before reaching gate 63.

Our American plane from LAX to Phoenix

Once at the gate, our boarding passes scanned but the gate agents claimed ‘something was wrong with our ticket’. First they claimed we had no ticket, then they claimed we hadn’t checked in, and then they claimed we must be on an award ticket. All of these were false. They claimed we could board in economy (despite having complementary upgrades that cleared and were reflected on our boarding passes), but then they claimed we couldn’t board at all. We fought hard against this and they finally claimed we could board. We boarded into the seats shown on our boarding passes, but the gate agents came down to the plane to force us to move to economy. They gave us no seat assignment, so we sat in the first empty row we saw. They never provided us boarding passes, and refused to return our original boarding passes. This was a terrible and stressful experience that left us reeling for a while.

The AA app shows our upgrades for the flights from LAX to Phoenix and Phoenix to El Paso as ‘confirmed’
Despite having confirmed upgrades and boarding passes, here we are in coach

The flight attendants on the flight between LAX and Phoenix were friendly at least. One suggested we stop by the American Service Desk on the way to our next flight, and then came over to see how things were going when she saw us there. It was really kind of her.

The lady at the service desk couldn’t determine what was wrong with our ticket, nor what the gate agents in LAX had maliciously done to our ticket. But at least she said she didn’t know instead of making up reasons. She was able to move us to exit row seats for the flight to El Paso though.

The flight from Phoenix to El Paso was a short 49 minutes. We split a hummus and chips obtained for free because of Katie’s American Executive Platinum status.

Once in El Paso we walked inside security between the American arrival area and the Southwest departure area.  Since we had no bags to pick-up or re-check, we went to our Southwest gate to check-in and obtain boarding passes.  When no reservation could be found for JT, we realized that we had never added him as a companion to Katie’s ticket.  Since JT is Katie’s companion on Southwest, he can fly free whenever she flies.  Luckily we were able to add this easily at the gate though!

Our Southwest flight from El Paso to Austin was almost two hours delayed

We had a four hour break between our American arrival and Southwest departure, so we walked around the small El Paso airport for a while before settling down to work.  We found out soon that our flight would be delayed by about three hours, which made our layover even longer and our arrival into Austin even later.  As we were sitting near the gate and working, there was an announcement calling all passengers on our flight to come to the desk.  We assumed this was very likely bad news, but JT returned with two Southwest vouchers and said the flight was not further delayed.

Our Southwest flight from El Paso to Austin was pretty empty

We were working when we heard ‘final call’ for our flight.  We hurried over and boarded the relatively empty plane.  We each claimed a row to ourselves near the back of the plane and pretty much slept the entire 90 minute flight.  Once in Austin, we called a Fasten to take us to our apartment ($33).

One thought on “Taipei Mileage Runs – Taipei to Austin

  1. What a trip guys. I'm glad that they let you into the Qantas First lounge after the international flight. The wording on Oneworld's website makes it sound like only departing international flights are entitled to access… I have a trip coming up so I will try out one of the business lounges after landing and see what happens (Sapphire status). Great blog! (WJM)

Leave a Reply