There are less direct flights to Taipei today than 10 years ago. At that time you had more choices to fly directly to Taiwan without any stop in a major hub such as Hong Kong or Singapore.
Recently the situation is improving again, because of the several wisa weaver agreements that Taiwan signed with many countries. That increased the number of visitors from and to Taiwan, so the flights too.
At the same time budget carriers have appeared and are beginning to link Taipei with different Asian capitals.
You can find more about them in this page about cheap flights to Taipei.
You can fly directly to Taipei from a few European and American airports but only with the two major Taiwanese carriers, China Airlines and Eva Air, and with the Dutch carrier KLM.
Taiwanese expats are going back home to reunite with their families. At the same time other Taiwanese take advantage of vacations to go abroad.
Flights to Taipei are fully booked and expensive 7-10 days before and after the Chinese New Year. Chinese New Year date changes each year from around the middle of January to the middle of February.
Other days to be avoided are during important trade fairs in Taipei. These periods of course change every year, you can use online services as TripAdvisor to check prices and availability for a specific period of time.
Surprisingly Christmas is not a bad time for traveling because it is not a public holiday in Taiwan.
In summer a typhoon can disrupt your schedule, but normally just for a day or two.
China Airlines had a terrible safety record until the late 90's. It seems it improved a lot, both with safety and quality of the service, and now ranks 4 stars with the airlines rating system Skytrax.
I traveled several times with China Airlines between 2002 and 2005, at the beginning of my stay in Taiwan. In my experience it is a nice Asian carrier, I enjoyed traveling with them. China Airlines boasts direct connections between Taipei and:
Eva Air is an interesting choice for long flights from Europe or North America because of its "Premium Economy" seats.
"Premium Economy" tickets offer bigger seats with economy class meals and service. The ticket price is therefore between economy and business fares. Eva Air thinks (probably rightfully so) that passengers are more interested, and willing to pay for, having extra space than all the bells and whistles of a full business class. Eva Air provides flights to Taipei from the following Australian, European and American cities:
KLM does not need any introduction.
KLM is the only European airline to have maintained direct flights to Taipei.
For years KLM scheduled a daily flight between Amsterdam Schiphol and Taoyuan International Airport. This flight made a stop in Bangkok.
Recently (2012) they changed route. Now they have a flight (KL 807/KL 808) bound to Taipei and then Manila.
The section from Amsterdam to Taipei is no stop.
KLM is a well established airline with a good safety record and with experienced flight personnel. They provide a service without some "Asian" frills but friendly and substantial.
Recently I have been flying a lot on this flight to Amsterdam. It is a good solution for a direct flight to Europe (if you don't have a connecting flight in Hong Kong or Singapore you save a lot of time indeed). One pitfall is that this flight is always full (a lot of people travel to/from Manila) and the seats are quite small and not so comfortable. Their Premium Economy (to which you can upgrade also during the flight, if available) offers seats with just a few centimeters more for leg space but no increase in width.
There are other good reasons. If, for example,you are flying from Southern Europe (Milan or Barcelona) you will have to normally connect through one of the european major hubs: Frankfurt or London Heathrow or the awful Paris CDG.
So you will waste time (because you are flying backwards many extra miles) and your experience could be not so good in those overcrowded hubs. You have higher chances to lose your luggage too (it happened to me two times in Paris).
You can instead fly directly to Singapore from Milan or Barcelona and from there take your connection to Taipei. You are going to the right direction from the beginning. Normally they will not lose your luggage in Singapore Changi Airport.
I flew with all these 3 carriers and I especially like Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.. Their flight entertainment, so important in a long flight, is the best. The ground services are very good too.
If your stop in Singapore is long, there you can find a convenient Transit Hotel, a lot of restaurants and shops, places to relax ....
Hong Kong airport is really supergood too, with lot of space and easy to navigate trough.
During the years 2010 and 2011 I have been flying many times with Turkish Airlines
Their hub is in Instanbul, in a very convenient location between Europe and Asia. From Instanbul they have flights to a lot of destinations.
They don't provide direct flights to Taipei but to other Far East airport as Hong Kong, Seoul, Beijing, Shangai, Guanzhou and Singapore.
Turkish Airlines, that is an ambitious airline that is vigorously trying to expand their business, scores at least three very good points, in my experience.
In short, I really suggest you to have a look to them.
On January a return ticket to Taiwan from Europe or North America will cost you about 1,500 US dollars, in March the same ticket will cost 1,000 dollars.The best flight is not always the most expensive.
You don't need to buy tickets on the Internet, if you don't feel comfortable or you need the kind of service that only the travel agency can give you.
Anyway you can check the online services to have an estimate of prices and availability.
Once my travel agency was unable to book me a ticket to Taiwan. All the flights were fully booked since a big expo was held in Taipei. I went home, I switched on my computer and I found a deal with Expedia. I was lucky!
I don't mean that Expedia is better than the travel agency, just that airlines sell some tickets through agencies, some with the online services and some directly to their customers through their own websites and ticketing offices.
You have to check them all to find the best flight!
You can follow this plan:
Good luck with your flight to Taipei ... please come to visit again this website for updates.
Cheap Flights to Taipei - a whole page just about budget flights to Taiwan.