Information About Taiwanese Airlines
For being a small island, Taiwan has a decent collection of airlines, some old and some new, some far-reaching and some local. As far as I'm concerned, they don't vary much from one to the other, but I have very little experience with things like first class so I can't vouch for differences in luxury treatment. Here's a good chunk of general info about Taiwanese Airlines.
Airlines in Taiwan - China Airlines
Perhaps the best known and infamous is China Airlines, which was founded in 1959, largely funded by the ROC government. Why did I mention infamous? China Airlines also has a reputation for having the most serious accidents of any airline in Taiwan, including a historical flight in 1994 that crashed on its way from Taipei to Nagoya, Japan and killed 264 passengers, the second-most deadly airborne accident.
In 2002, a maintenance malfunction resulted in China Airlines Flight 611 falling apart in mid-air near the Penghu Islands on its way to Hong Kong. This disaster killed 225 people aboard.
These two accidents are the worst ones that have happened to Taiwanese airlines.
Scared? Well, I've personally been on China Airlines of Taiwan a few times with no problems, and they have been recovering their image by increasing scrutiny and avoiding any serious accidents in the past few years. This Taiwanese airline's flights are generally cheap, which some people take advantage of and others see as a reason to pick another option.
Airlines in Taiwan - Eva Air
Speaking of other options, a relatively new startup that has taken off (excuse the pun) is EVA Air. Originally, EVA did a lot of catering to Taiwan's older and more traditional population, and played up Taiwan's rich culture. It was formed in 1989 and presented a more "local" alternative to China Airlines by playing Taiwanese folk songs while boarding and more prevalently using Taiwan dialects. Since then, they have more or less blended into becoming just like any other airline.
EVA Air and China Airlines are the two most wide-reachingTaiwanese carriers, making trips to Europe and North America. Still, the flights for regional Asian destinations are much more frequent and affordable.
Regional Taiwanese Airlines
Next up are the carriers that focus more specifically on regional hops. These are Mandarin Airlines, Uni Air and TransAsia Airways.
These smaller Taiwanese airlines offer flights to a host of destinations in mainland China, Japan and Southeast Asia. Still, Uni Air is used mostly for domestic trips, as even regional flights are limited. TransAsia and Mandarin have more options, taking passengers to a wider range of places in Asia, such as Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea and the Philippines.
Domestic Taiwanese Airlines
Finally, there are a couple strictly domestic Taiwanese airlines that may even focus on a specific destination. These are particularly useful if you want to travel to one of the island groups surrounding Taiwan, such as Penghu (the Pescadores), Orchid Island or Kinmen.
Daily Air will take you from Taitung to Orchid Island, and the aforementioned Uni Air is what you'll most likely be taking for islands west of Taiwan, such as Penghu, Matsu or Kinmen.
Daily Air flights to Orchid Island are often canceled or delayed due to weather concerns, but that's in your best interest so don't blame them for it.
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