Trip report: Cathay Pacific Lounge Taipei

I absolutely loathe early-morning flights, and I absolutely loathe airports that are miles away from the city they predominantly serve. Welcome to Taiwan Taoyuan Airport (TPE), about 30km west of Taipei City Centre.

Of course I'm whinging and there's nothing too bad about that distance, and the metro line extension to the airport due to open in the next year or two will make the journey easy as pie, but leaving the house at 4:45am to catch an 8am flight does leave me questioning my sanity. However, a brisk 35 minute journey at 900TWD (about €22) later I managed to arrive at TPE Terminal 1 nice and early, and I could get everything done and relax a little in the lounge.

Check-in desk for Cathay Pacific

I arrived at the check-in desk and there was no queue. Normally I'd walk to the business class counter, as my OneWorld Sapphire status allows me, but in trying to blearily-eyed navigate the labyrinth of the retractable barriers I somehow ended up at the economy class desk for my business class flight.

Given my relatively complex routing of TPE-HKG-SIN-AUH-AMM-LHR and with a maximum of 4 airports permissible on a single baggage tag, the check-in lady could only offer to tag my suitcase up to Abu Dhabi (AUH) because the sectors thereafter were more than 24 hours away. Instead I followed the advice of my fellow Flyertalkers and asked for it to be tagged to Singapore so I could do another check-in there.

The agent also asked whether I wanted to be shifted onto the earlier 6:30am flight (remember it was about 5:20 at this point). My instinctive response was “yes”, because I could use The Wing lounge at HKG for longer, rather than have to skip it because of the short transit time. My boarding passes for TPE-HKG and HKG-SIN flights were printed and off I went to passport control.

passport control at TPE

It was pretty busy at passport control and I had to wait 10 minutes to be served. After clearance this didn't leave much time before boarding, so I made a run for Cathay Pacific's Business Class lounge to try to get some breakfast. Thankfully the signage is pretty clear, despite having to walk through a construction site to get there! The dark lighting perhaps wasn't what I expected given I'd been to Cathay's lounges in London Heathrow, Frankfurt, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Hong Kong before. Nonetheless it still had remnants of Lunar New Year decorations though.


The lounge was busy and for the 15 minutes I was there I could see it picking up in crowdedness. This wasn't particularly surprising given it was the first Monday after the Lunar New Year holidays.
With only a few minutes in the lounge, I had to make a beeline for my favourite part and get my order in quickly

Selection for the day

Whilst I was waiting for my order I took a quick stroll to the food counter beside to assess it. The variety was a bit limited, but the supply was more than enough to feed the hungry lounge visitors. The food was an almost entirely Eastern selection, with very few Western things like omelette or bacon etc. Drinks were the standard airport range: tomato, orange, apple juices and lots of soft drinks.

This really did tempt me. It wasn't the 6am time that put me off, rather the empty stomach!

I picked off a couple of steamed buns and a sandwich…
… but whilst taking the picture above my order was ready, and I couldn't wait to pick it up…beef noodles!
The portion was a little small and I was a little disappointed to be honest. The soup was a bit bland and couple have done with more soy sauce or saltiness. The beef slices weren't tender enough either, which for this classic dish is a big no-no.
That was the last picture I took because I had only 5 minutes to eat all my stuff before I had to run to the gates!
The lounge was small and crowded, not to mention it didn't have any windows to the outside world. I really didn't think this fitted in with any of their other lounges I'd visited in the past and didn't like this change either. The large number of passengers didn't really make me enjoy my visit much, but then the green side of me argues that it'd be a massive waste of space if those sofas didn't get used!
In all I think Cathay could have done better, especially with the variety of food. I realise that this was a breakfast serving and so the diversity might change over the day (there are LOADS of flights between HKG and TPE, and there are once-daily flights between Taipei and Seoul, Tokyo, Kyoto Osaka  and the thrice-daily Malaysia Airlines flights so there'll always be passengers needing the lounge). Still I think more could have been done.
See the follow up post:

About Tim

Tim is an engineer and a nerd who analyses every travel deal, travel hack. He has travelled to around 90 countries and also speaks Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin.

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  1. The CI lounge has the best beef noodles! You should try it next time you are in TPE! Awesome flavor portions are a little small but just get two 🙂

  2. Visited The Wing last week for 2+ hours while waiting for CX 840 HKG-JFK at 16:40 hrs. The afternoon selection at The Noodle Bar was quite good-better in fact than the evening meal on the flight. One of the snacks available between meal services on the nearly 16 hour flight replicated one from The Wing. It, too, was great.

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