To get me from Guam back to Italy, I booked an award ticket in business class for 75,000 United MileagePlus miles and $21.80 in taxes. The miles were earned via credit card spend and I charged the taxes to my Chase Sapphire Reserve to get the travel insurance.
Since I was departing Guam on a Thursday as the Island Hopper only runs three days a week, I had a lot of time to kill before going back to work on Monday, so I decided to pick the longest itinerary the system would allow and spend a night in Manila and an afternoon in Taipei. On international itineraries, each layover is generally allowed to be up to 24 hours, so I took full advantage of that routing rule. Overall, my trip would take 43 hours and 40 minutes from Guam to Naples.
Guam to Manila
United flight 183
GUM [Guam] to MNL [Manila]
January 3, 2019
Depart: 8:00 PM
Arrive: 9:50 PM
I had a relatively quick stop in Guam after my previous flight, but still had some time to grab a quick snack at the United Club before boarding.
As I had booked a business class award ticket, but only economy seats were for sale, I was able to waitlist for business class, but sadly I didn’t clear into the front cabin before boarding. Fortunately I had booked an exit row seat in row 21 and nobody sat in the middle seat next to me. Score!
This flight was so heavily loaded with luggage and cargo, that all the standbys on the list couldn’t even be accommodated and the plane had to depart with empty seats. Needless to say, the the takeoff was the longest I’ve ever had on a 737!
After we got to cruising altitude, it was time for dinner. I will definitely give the beef and noodles high marks, as I asked for seconds once the crew was finished serving everyone.
I had a great seat mate, who had traveled all over the world, so I never even pulled out my iPad and the nearly four hour flight went by very quickly.
Once on the ground, it was time to head down the street to my hotel where I would be spending the long layover.
Since I wanted to be near the airport and stay at a Marriott, I picked the Manila Marriott Hotel, which was really close to terminal 3, where I arrived on United, but on the opposite side of the runway from terminals 1 and 2, where I departed on EVA. This slight oversight would prove to be important the next morning.
I booked the cheapest room, but got upgraded to a massive Deluxe Suite thanks to my Titanium Elite status. Sadly, I only managed to get one half-decent picture, but the room was 1054 square feet and was priced about three times as much as the room I had paid for.
Up on the roof was a gym and a beautiful pool overlooking the city.
Since I was in the Philippines, I wanted to try balut. I had seen it on Fear Factor and heard it was a popular dish here, so my friend picked up some at a local food stand.
All I can say is that it was the worst thing I have ever eaten!
The next morning, I had breakfast at the beautiful executive lounge. In addition to a sizable buffet, you could order fresh dishes like eggs benedict and chicken & waffles to be brought to your table.
Fortunately, they didn’t have balut on the menu.
I had originally thought my flight was departing at the terminal I had arrived in, so I made no rush in catching the airport shuttle at 11 AM, but as it turned out, it was quite the ride to the airport, so keep that in mind when staying here on a layover.
Manila to Taipei
EVA flight 272
MNL [Manila] to TPE [Taipei]
January 4, 2019
Depart: 12:50 PM
Arrive: 3:00 PM
So I arrived at the check in desk in terminal 1 at just over one hour prior to departure. Far tighter than I usually cut it, but the desks stay open until 40 minutes before departure, so I still had plenty of time. Nonetheless, the check-in area was completely empty when I arrived at the airport!
As it turns out, the premium economy cabin was completely full and my seat had been given away already, so I was upgraded to business class for this lengthy two-hour flight.
After breezing through security and passport control, I made my way to the PAGSS Lounge, which along with being a Priority Pass lounge, is the contract lounge for EVA and Ethiopian Airlines.
The lounge had some decent food and drink available along with some amazing tarmac views.
Boarding commenced in a rather disorganized fashion and I headed onboard about ten minutes after boarding was scheduled to start.
I was seated in 8K, on the right side of the aircraft in the second, smaller business class cabin.
The interior was plain, but very well laid out with the seats in a reverse herringbone arrangement. At my seat, were a pillow and a pair of noise cancelling headphones.
Shortly after I got situated, one of the lovely crew members came by to offer me a pre-departure beverage and take my lunch order.
I must say, this was some of the best pineapple juice I have ever had!
We pushed back a few minutes late and took off for a beautiful climb out over Manila.
Once at cruising altitude, it was time for lunch. I’m always impressed how Asian carriers have a proper menu and meal service, even on short flights.
I decided on the wok fried seafood with XO sauce along with a glass of Kavalan single malt whisky.
The food and drink were delicious and before I knew it, it was time to land in Taipei.
I had another long layover here, so instead of spending seven hours at the airport, I bought a SIM card and ventured out to make my way to Taipei 101.
It took forever to find an ATM that I could use, but once I got some money, I hopped aboard a bus for downtown.
The fancy bus dropped me off a couple blocks from Taipei 101 and snapped some pictures as I walked.
There was a bit of a queue to get to the observation deck, so as my luck would have it, the clouds had mostly closed in by the time I made it upstairs.
But what really sets this building apart anyways was the tuned mass damper on the top floor, which keeps the building from swaying in the wind. It weighs a total of 660 metric tons (728 short tons).
Once I had finished on the observation deck, it was about three hours before departure and with the journey back to the airport at a little over an hour, it was time to head back.
This time, I took the train, which ended up being a bit more comfortable and easier to figure out than the bus.
Next up, was my flight on Turkish from Taipei to Istanbul and on to Naples, which deserves its own post!