Over the past few years the Songshan Airport (TSA) has gone through a rapid evolution in role, from a simple municipal airport serving domestic flights only, to an airport used to receive flights from Shanghai when cross-straight tourism shuttle flights first started, to what it is now: a modern transit hub used to connect major Asian cities. While it can’t support 747-sized aircraft and thus you can’t fly directly overseas from Songshan, because it’s not the “major hub” that the the Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) is, you can get a much better prices leaving from Songshan if you’re willing to accept a layover in Tokyo.
For my Angelino amigos y amigas, if the Taoyuan airport is LAX, the Songshan Airport is Burbank. For everyone else…err….Los Angeles is a large city in Southern California which has a…nah…forget it.
Moving on, part of this transformation in role has been a rather large facelift. No longer is it the dull, dingy place it was when I first hopped on a prop puddle-jumper there over a decade ago. It has gone very much in the direction that other modern airports have gone: large windows with an open and roomy floor plan. I call it the “Hong Kong airport” model, but I’m not sure that the Hong Kong airport was the first to adopt that style.
Oh, and now the 3rd floor has a great open air observation deck.
The deck is directly above Mandarin Airlines and EVA Airlines gates and faces a runway used for takeoffs, so you can watch the maintainence crews do their thing in-between flights as well as aircraft roaring into the air.
Besides watching the aircraft taxi about there’s really not much else to do. Bring a sandwich and a drink (or buy one at one of the many fast food shops on the main floor), find a place to sit, and relax while your kids marvel at the sight of huge tubes of steel temporarily defying gravity. Even better, turn it into a learning experience and plant that ‘engineering seed’ in their heads.
For photographers, there are lots of opportunities to shoot both people and aircraft if you can stand all the other people shooting people and aircraft.
Finally, be aware of the weather. Besides a half-dozen tables with umbrellas, there isn’t much in the way of cover from the rain or sun. As we are heading in to Spring and Summer, being in direct sunlight on 30C+ days isn’t exactly good for anyone, much less small children.
In summary, if the weather is nice and your kids like airplanes it’s a great place for a picnic. You can reach Songshan Airport via the MRT Brown line, any number of busses, and by taxi. The observation deck is accessible via elevator and stairwell just past the arrivals gate on the far west side.