Taiwan’s airport identity crisis is older than previously realized

Turns out that last week’s passport snafu by the Taiwanese Bureau of Consular Affairs is not the first time someone got confused by stock photo images (not) of the local airport. The local periodical This Month in Taiwan made the same mistake. Many, many times going back at least a year.

Here’s a look inside the October 2016 issue:

Look down in the corner and you'll see an image of TPE airport that is most definitely Dulles
Look down in the corner and you’ll see an image of TPE airport that is most definitely Dulles

Down in the bottom corner is a photo captioned “Chiang Kai-shek Int’l Airport.” The photo is absolutely an image of Washington-Dulles.

Yeah...that's Dulles, not Chiang Kai-shek International Airport (TPE)
Yeah…that’s Dulles (IAD), not Chiang Kai-shek International Airport (TPE)

That same photo is also almost certainly the source used to create the drawing used in the now-recalled 200,000 passports the Taiwanese government is destroying. Fortunately for the magazine it also has a second stock photo image it uses in some issues, including most of the more recent printings. That image is of the correct airport.

The real TPE/Tayoun Chiang Kai-shek Airport image
The real TPE/Tayoun Chiang Kai-shek Airport image

I did a bit of digging on stock photo sites trying to find the original source that became the faux Chiang Kai-shek International Airport image but cannot find any pushing it as TPE rather than IAD. Still, the mistake has been around for a while now so maybe there’s a bit of blame to share beyond just the government or the designer of the new passport pages.

Thanks to eagle-eyed reader CW for taking time out of a Taiwan vacation to share some more details on this.

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