Smartest Way to Fly from the United States to Taiwan in the Pandemic?

I am planning to fly one-way from the United States to Taiwan around early September. I am applying for a Gold Card and expect to use the PDF Resident Authorization Certificate to enter Taiwan.

Which itinerary is the best value, considering the possibility of (A) flight cancellations and (B) difficulty boarding the plane if the airline is confused about my certificate/authorization to enter Taiwan during the pandemic?

  1. The absolute cheapest option for cash involves two airlines (Air Canada, Cathay Pacific) and two layovers (Toronto, Hong Kong). Cost: 414 USD. As of right now, Canada and Hong Kong are both allowing transit passengers.

  2. There is also a pretty cheap option using my United frequent-flier miles. Both flights are on Turkish Airlines (United partner), with a layover of about 10 hours in Istanbul. Cost: 38,500 miles + 11.50 USD.

  3. Some people on Forumosa have recommended flying on a Taiwanese airline (China Airlines or EVA Air) since they are more likely to understand and accept the Resident Authorization Certificate (or be able to call Taipei to verify my eligibility to board a plane to Taiwan). There are no nonstop flights from my home city in the States to Taiwan, so I would have to travel domestically for the first leg of the trip. Cost: The cheapest itineraries on China Airlines are about 700 or 800 USD.

Which would you recommend?

We took Eva out of nyc/jfk

I believe they may still fly out of San Francisco, too.

They probably have the best covid protocols in place.

Personally, given potential travel restrictions and changing flight schedules, I would fly direct to Taiwan from the U.S. I think peace of mind is worth the higher cost in this case.


I’m not sure I can answer your question because for me safety is priceless. So it depends on what are the values that make it “best” for you. Personally, I’m very afraid of covid, so I checked China Airline protocols a few weeks ago and they were amazing, way better than most airlines. I didn’t check EVA though. I wouldn’t do any connections either. Safety first for me, but it seems like money is an important factor for you. I think it depends on your risk tolerance and how much money is it worth for you.

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Some thoughts.
Option 1: Impossible today. No transfers through HK on different airlines. Must be a single airline transfer. I think the same holds true for Tokyo.
Option 2: We used UA award miles through Seoul about a week ago. Routing was IAD-SFO-ICN (united) and Asiana (star alliance) to TPE. Transfer in Seoul was easy, but we did have a long layover. Sleep at the transit hotel in the airport. The airport is 99% open and very safe. Nice Asiana lounge also. They did our covid test check at the Asiana transit desk. No drama at all. They even arranged to move our UA tagged bags that were only were routed to ICN to TPE.
Option 3: Eva, CA or Cathay are great options.



  • is Star Alliance (so can use your miles)
  • is direct flight from USA
  • is probably going to be more attentive to coronavirus precautions that other airlines and passengers
  • will probably have less passengers from multiple countries that may have had contact with the viruses
  • is one of the highest rated airlines in world (#5 right now) and one of the safest in world.

So Turkish airlines has flights from your home city but Eva Air doesn’t? Ok.

Use the cheapest flight for your first leg to reach an Eva Flight.

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Eva Air. Once you leave the U.S. you want to arrive in Taiwan withOUT any transit through another airport. Second choice (if better prices): China Air.

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I’d vote for the most direct route, either using EVA or China Airlines.

Whatever you do, don’t do Air Canada. They’ve received some bad press for selling tickets, then cancelling the flights, and giving Air Canada vouchers and not cash refunds for doing so. It’s not worth the headaches.



Does anyone have any tips for getting the negative PCR test within 72 hours of boarding the flight from the US? Media is reporting test results often take 7-14 days through testing centers, with no way to guarantee timely results.

Even the most expensive flight is normal for US to Asia. I’d recommend checking out their safety protocols regarding COVID—whichever is strongest in that area has the best value.

@tony8, other thread on this. check reply #2

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It varies based on the state you’re in and the place you’re testing. You’ll have to call around, but generally I had better luck with places that send the result to a lab in-state, rather than a national lab. When you call and ask how quickly they’re returning results, make sure it follows these guidelines from the CDC to ensure you don’t have any issues:

A negative test report should be a nucleic acid test, a molecular biology technique for testing, and should indicate following: the name, date of birth or passport number of the traveler, the virus name (COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2), testing method (PCR, Real-Time PCR, RT-PCR, NAA, NAT or Molecular Diagnostics), and the result (negative or undetectable).

Thanks–I missed that thread. I’ve tried the “google galore” method as I don’t have US insurance, without success. The thread suggest there are places that guarantee test result timing, contrary to recent news reports; I’ll call testers one by one.

Could you please share what protocols CI has that others do not have.

Avoid them like the plague, they cheated me twice on credit card transactions, taking money instead of giving refund!!!

Tony8, if you are near enough population centers that have gotten passed the worst of the first wave, like NYC or Boston, you might have a shot at a faster turnaround.

In the northeast we used an urgent care network called “Well Now”. We had the pcr test done at the clinic, July 5th in fact, and still had results back despite the holiday weekend.

Wherever you go, the airline reps will want to see the text read “PCR Test”, or their may be an issue with boarding.

Sure thing, here’s what they have on their website:

Sure here’s the website, I invite you to check the website of the airlines you are considering and see what they have as safety protocols and compare them. I have very low risk tolerance with the current pandemic situation, but China Airline has very detailed protocol: I see airlines not having the mask mandatory and keeping the middle seats, and disinfecting only once a day for example. These are not protocols I feel comfortable with.

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I have been researching this question for some time, and I would say the best bet is to fly from US to Taiwan direct, no transfers. So Eva or China Airlines. Airport and border rules can change at any time and you don’t want to be stuck in a foreign airport should flights or transfers cancel. It looks like Eva has removed their Star Alliance awards from partners for the foreseeable future, likely to make more money, so you will have to pay for a ticket. You can try to transfer Citi TY points to Eva program which seems to have awards available for their own members.

I haven’t looked at China Airlines awards but could be worth a look via Delta Skymiles. If you can get an economy ticket one way for around $1k that would be a decent outcome.