Flying from Taipei? Ditch your suitcase at in-town check-in

By Chris C., May 14 2018
Flying from Taipei? Ditch your suitcase at in-town check-in

Booked on a flight from Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport with China Airlines or EVA Air? Then take advantage of the city’s in-town check-in facility on the day you depart, to drop your suitcase and grab your boarding pass before venturing to the airport.

It’s a nifty option to keep up your sleeve as it gets your checked bag out of the way – rather than storing it at your hotel and returning later to pick it up, or carting it around all day – even if you visit in-town check-in first thing in the morning, and you’re not flying until later that night.

Here’s how you can make the most of this time-saving facility on your next trip to Taiwan.

Taipei in-town check-in: the basics

Located at Taipei Main Station and open from 6am until 9:30pm daily, passengers can stop by to grab their boarding pass at least two hours before their flight’s departure time when travelling with carry-on baggage only, or three hours prior to departure with luggage to check-in.

The facility welcomes travellers booked to fly with China Airlines and its subsidiary Mandarin Airlines, along with EVA Air passengers and those of its regional offshoot UNI Air, departing to any destination from Taipei’s Taoyuan Airport (TPE), except to Canada.

That includes China Airlines’ flights from Taipei to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – and to Auckland via Brisbane – and EVA Air flights from Taipei to Brisbane, among other destinations further afield.

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Passengers flying from Taipei’s Songshan Airport (TSA) can’t use this service, nor can those flying from Taoyuan Airport with an airline other than those above, or with more than three transits (four flights) as part of their check-in on a single ticket, or with connecting flights across multiple (unlinked) reservations.

Booking a codeshare flight operated by an airline other than those above will also exclude you from this facility, as will flying to Canada with China Airlines or EVA Air, needing special assistance (such as wheelchairs), travelling on group fares (10+ passengers) or with pets, or when booked to fly on standby or ‘space available’ tickets.

Fun fact: Musicians who book passenger seats for baggage – such as a neighbouring seat for their cello – will also need to complete check-in at the airport the ‘normal’ way, instead of using the in-town facility.

Taipei in-town check-in: location and access

On arriving at Taipei Main Station – the city’s central railway hub – follow the signs to “in-town check-in” if you can spot them, either overhead…

… or fixed to walls…

… but if you can’t see those, especially if you’ve just arrived from another destination via the Taipei Metro or High Speed Rail and are in a different part of the station, follow the arrows to the “Taoyuan Airport MRT” instead:

You’ll know you’re in the right place when you encounter a hall with lots of greenery and a very high ceiling – at which point, you can ignore the “Taoyuan Airport MRT Line” signs, for now:

A key benefit of Taipei’s in-town check-in service is that unlike other, similar facilities in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, you don’t need to be taking the airport train just to check-in: this is a free service open to all eligible travellers from Taipei, regardless of how you ultimately get to the airport.

Taipei in-town check-in: dropping off your luggage

This facility normally offers a choice between airport-style manned check-in desks and self-serve kiosks, but on my Saturday afternoon visit, only the kiosks were available at the front, which were easy to use nonetheless.

Begin by clicking on the airline you’re travelling with and then follow the prompts, which may require you to insert your passport, confirm your seats, validate your frequent flyer number, and enter how many bags you’ll be checking-in.

You’ll then get your boarding pass – and if applicable, your lounge invitation too…

… and assuming you have a checked bag, take your boarding pass, along with your suitcase, to one of the machines situated behind these kiosks:

(If you've already completed online check-in with your airline and have a printed or mobile boarding pass already, you can head straight to these baggage drop machines.)

Scan your boarding pass and put your checked bag inside, laying down on its longest side. The machine will weigh your bag and then print a proper baggage tag, which you’ll need to thread through the top handle and affix it together, just like would normally happen at the airport:

Confirm on the screen that your bag doesn’t contain anything dangerous – the gate then closes, your bag disappears and you’ll receive a baggage receipt.

As is standard when checking in a bag at Taipei Airport, you’ll then need to keep an eye on the nearby security monitors to ensure your suitcase passes through without issue (and doesn’t require extra screening)…

… and just to be sure, wait about 10 seconds after your bag leaves the screen and scan your baggage receipt at the poles underneath, to confirm that your bag is indeed destined for the airport:

That’s all there is to it! You’re then free to explore the city, complete the day’s meetings or do as you please, with your suitcase already checked in and boarding passes in-hand for your departing flight.

When it’s time, you can head to the airport any way you please, although taking the Taoyuan Airport MRT from the same station is a relatively quick and convenient option, getting you there in around 45 minutes and making only two stops between the city and the airport, before servicing both terminals.

Just be sure to jump on an express train from the clearly-marked express train platform at Main Station…

… which will get you there for NTD$160 (A$7.20), as opposed to the nearby commuter train which still goes past the airport, but almost doubles the journey time with an additional eight stops.

One final tip: Upon arrival at Taoyuan Airport, look out for poles marked “baggage status querying system” as you leave the MRT station. Here, you can scan your luggage ticket again – just like you did at Main Station – to confirm your bag has indeed reached the airport terminal:

Ultimately, my bag made it home to Brisbane without incident, but because I checked in at a kiosk rather than at a service desk, I didn’t get the usual coloured priority baggage tag that would normally come from flying business class, so my bag wasn’t delivered with the very first batch of bags on the belt.

However, the kiosk printed a very large “C” on the end of the baggage tag – China Airlines’ internal code for business class – and my bag came out at the start of the next group, which is only a minor delay for a major convenience in Taiwan, and I’d certainly use this facility again.

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Taipei as a guest of China Airlines.

Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

05 Aug 2014

Total posts 8

Thanks Chris. A great tip for my forthcoming trip on China Airlines! Just want to confirm that the required procedures, as opposed to the Qantas process in Sydney T1, does not require a two-step "machine validation", for someone who has a digital boarding pass via online checkin beforehand? I got caught in Sydney in early April and was so embarrassed for holding up the passengers behind me for missing the first "machine validation"!

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2437

It would depend on your passport type and country, destination, and where else you've flown on your current booking as to whether document checks would be required for your onward flight. If in doubt, just swing past one of the airline's check-in counters or the lounge and ask if they need to do a visa/document check before you can board.

23 May 2017

Total posts 10

Used this service last year. Also missed out on a priority tag and ended up getting my bags last. Would use it again though as I valued a few extra hours without bags in Taipei rather than a few spare minutes early out of the airport in Aus.

13 Sep 2016

Total posts 175

I didn't know that Taipei had this. I've used 'city check-in' services at Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur and they're great, especially if you are checking out of your hotel in the morning but have a whole day before your flight leaves that night. Thanks for sharing the good news Chris!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Jul 2015

Total posts 219

Such a good idea. My regular haunts are LHR, DFW, JFK and all are evening departures on QF so bags are stored at one of the london railway terminals or hotel in the US.

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 388

The commuter train does not take 'almost double' the time of the expresses on the Taoyuan airport MRT. Expresses take 36 to 39 minutes depending on travel direction; commuter trains 50 to 52. Quicker times are from the airport to Taipei Main station. They depart from the airport alternatively.

As ChrisCh says, it's a very good service. The line is highly elevated. You can even see some forests close to the airport. Many travellers join and alight at most stops, but I didn't find it hard to get a seat.

Better and a heck of a lot cheaper than a taxi or rideshare.

My airline didn't offer the city check in so I stored luggage at my nearby hotel. It would be good if foreign airlines could band together to employ staff to provide it. Probably don't and won't as they perceive not many would use it, but depends on how they market it.

Taiwan is an underrated place to visit. Enjoyable as ChrisCh agrees. And it's a separate country to mainland China.

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 388

ChrisCh, CI only excludes Vancouver from the city check-in at Taipei Main station.

Yet Cathay Pacific, if I recall, had to recently ban it at Hong Kong and Kowloon stations for its airport express train if the passenger was travelling to USA. This was due to a request from the USA, not an internal airline decision.

I'd have thought that USA (or Canada) would have consistent security requirements. Why the difference?

06 Dec 2017

Total posts 1

Hi Chris,
do you know how early you can drop the bag? presumably up to 24hrs?

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2437

Hi faz777, as in the article, you can drop in your bag "on the day you depart", and the opening hours are as above.
(It's not like Hong Kong where you can go past on the evening prior.)

19 May 2018

Total posts 1

Great article! Where do you get the baggage PRIORITY tags? for the checked-in bags when using the kiosks.

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2437

This was covered in the story.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

11 Jun 2017

Total posts 4

Great article Chris, thanks heaps

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Oct 2014

Total posts 2

Used this recently flying on Cathay Pacific, and the baggage tags had the correct priority (First - for OWE) printed on them, and the bags did seem to come out in the first group at HKG.

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