China Airlines Flight Attendant, Ju-Ping Hsiao or Kathy as she's known to her English-speaking guests, enjoys the moments during long haul flights when she has the opportunity to chat with her passengers.
"When we're on duty for a long-haul flight, during passengers' rest time, cabin crew will take turns to stand by in galley to answer passengers' requests. Sometimes when passengers ask for snacks or some water, they like to have a small talk with me. If time allows, I'm always very happy to listen to their stories," said Kathy.
"In my opinion, it's the exquisite service, delivered with the elegance that the Chinese culture is known for, provided by ground staff and the air crew that makes China Airlines special. For us, ‘customers always come first' and we are willing to listen and fulfil their needs. All of my colleagues are friendly. We always try our best to give our customers the best in-flight experience, and we help each other as a team."
Kathy has been serving passengers who choose to fly Taiwan's national carrier for the past nine years. She enjoys the training and benefits that a job with China Airlines provides, and appreciates the potential career path opportunities ahead of her. However, Kathy has enjoyed additional notoriety.
"I was very lucky to be chosen as official face of the airline. I am now seen as the corporate image, placed at every airport that China Airlines fly to. I also had the chance to take part in China Airlines' corporate introduction video, advertisements, and played in a Taiwanese film as a flight attendant. Sometimes passengers from Taiwan recognize me during their flight; they feel more familiar with me," she said.
China Airlines was founded in 1959 to focus on charter flights. Three years later, the first CAL scheduled departure flew from Taipei to Hualien, signalling the beginning of a sustained period of growth for the airline. International destinations followed in 1966 with Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong and Tokyo. From a central hub at Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport, the airline now serves 112 destinations in 28 countries and it's currently working on regional network expansion, especially to destinations throughout Japan and China.
Australian passengers wishing to experience the unique CAL hospitality can fly from Sydney to Taipei or Auckland, New Zealand four times a week. From the Taiwanese capital, guests can transfer to the domestic network.
In 2011, in an historic move, CAL joined SkyTeam, an airline alliance that was founded in 2000 by Aeroméxico, Air France, Delta Air Lines, and Korean Air and currently has 19 member airlines from around the globe.
At the time, Michael Wisbrun, SkyTeam's Managing Director said, "Thanks to excellent links to a number of existing SkyTeam hubs, China Airlines' membership adds value to the alliance for both passengers and cargo customers. Adding a quality brand from a strong economic region will support SkyTeam's focus on our top priority- enhancing our products and services for our customers worldwide."
Those sentiments were echoed by the China Airlines' Chairman, Huang-Hsiang Sun.
"Joining SkyTeam is an integral part of our strategy for increased international growth and profitability. Today's milestone is a momentous occasion in our history and we look forward to a future of cooperation and collaboration with our SkyTeam partners, bringing greater benefits to our distinguished passengers," said Mr Sun.
To continually provide additional service to customers, in October 2012 China Airlines completed an upgrade of nine Boeing 747-400 aircraft that included all-new cabins, signed a purchase agreement with Boeing Commercial Airplanes for 6 x 777-300ERs and a leasing agreement for 4 x 777-300ERs. Moreover, CAL signed a purchase contract in 2008 for14 A350-900 airplanes that are expected to be introduced at the end of 2016.
Kathy acknowledges that long-haul flying can be tiring, but she has this advice for her passengers.
"If you're flying for longer than six hours, I suggest you wear comfortable clothes during flight. You can also bring a small blanket or light jacket; just in case the temperature during the flight is colder than what you'd appreciate. When you feel tired, get up and stretch your legs by walking around cabin a few times. However, you need to be extra careful when taking a walk at meal times when the aisles are occupied by cabin crew. Last but not least, don't forget to drink plenty of water, and avoid alcohol and caffeine to keep you alert," she said.
"For parents travelling with their kids, I recommend that they pre-order a special kids meal for the children to cheer them up. It'll be a lot easier for parents to take care of children if they can bring some extra food, books, toys or even small pillow they are familiar with. China Airlines' planes also have in-flight entertainment that caters for all ages with a wide variety of more than 100 movies and shows to choose from."
When asked her favourite airport, Kathy responds with Hong Kong International Airport.
"I like the modern, spacious and bright atmosphere. The food court in the airport is delicious too. I can enjoy Hong Kong's delicacies without walking out of the airport. Tokyo is definitely my favourite destination in the world. It only takes about three hours to fly from Taipei. The streets are clean, and the mass transportation system is well-developed, which is convenient for travellers. Besides going shopping, I like to have Japanese food. Whenever I have free time, Tokyo is by best place to go," she said.
"Greece is currently at the top of my list for places I'd love to visit. I dream of sitting in a Mediterranean-style building looking out to the beautiful blue sky - just like the postcards."