And here we are at the end of this trip report. It’s been one hell of an Aeroplan Mini-Round-the-World trip, and it’s now time to complete our circumnavigation and head back home.
This particular flight would get me back into Toronto on a Sunday night with work the next morning, so I was looking forward to a comfortable and restful experience aboard EVA Air business class.
As I previously mentioned, I had jumped through many hoops to get myself on this flight. Why? Well, the Taiwanese airline purportedly offers one of the best business class experiences in the world, and I had read many rave reviews of their onboard product.
EVA Air markets themselves as “The Best Link to Cross the Pacific”. It was time to put that to the test.
EVA Air | BR36
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Cabin: Business class
Route: Taipei (TPE) to Toronto (YYZ)
Date: Sunday, June 4, 2017
Time: Departing 7:40pm and arriving 9:55pm
Duration: 14 hours 15 minutes
EVA Air business class is also marketed as Royal Laurel Class. It features “reverse herringbone” seats, in which each seat faces away from the aisle for maximum privacy. These seats are sometimes known as “pods” and can also be found on airlines like Air Canada and Cathay Pacific.
The 42 business class seats are spread out in a 1-2-1 configuration across 11 rows, which are divided across two business class mini-cabins, separated by the galley. I had assigned myself Seat 8K, which is the bulkhead window seat in the rear business class cabin.
It’s a testament to the efficiency of the boarding process that despite being one of the first to board, I was only able to snap a handful of pictures of the business class cabin before economy passengers started swarming in en masse.
Overall, the seat and cabin finishes were quite understated, perhaps even bordering on a bit dull. I’m not saying EVA should go all out with their bright green and orange logo livery (which I don’t think would look too great), but they could definitely add a pop of colour to make the cabin feel less as though it had come straight out of the Boeing factory.
There was a pillow waiting for me at my seat, and also the blankets for the flight stored on the ottoman under the bulkhead.
As I settled into my seat, the flight attendant came by to introduce herself and hand me the first in a long line of pre-departure amenities. First up was the welcome drink – I picked the tropical fruit punch over water or orange juice – accompanied with some chocolate and a hot towel.
The amount of surface space available at each and every seat is simply marvelous.
As usual, I took some time to explore the features of the business class seat. First off was the in-flight entertainment screen, which was to be stowed and latched during take-off and landing, but could be “popped” out so that the screen faces you.
There was a small storage rack underneath the seat next to the area for your feet. This was useful for storing your socks and shoes, for example.
Over by the window you had a bigger storage rack, which was great for keeping some loose items secured.
Adjacent to this you’ll find your seat’s “control panel”, consisting of a reading light, a headphone jack, the entertainment controls, and the USB and power ports.
Located underneath the control panel were the seat controls themselves, which were quite intuitive. EVA’s business class seat lets you customize the exact position of the cushion within the seat back, which is something many airlines overlook.
Over on the other side of the seat, near the aisle, there were a couple more thoughtful touches. The seat back pocket is located on the lower portion of the panel in front of you, while there was also a hanger embedded into the panel up top, which was perfect for hanging a jacket or even a backpack.
The “armrest” of the seat is lowered by default, but can be popped out of its holder to act as a sort of partition between your seat and the aisle. This can be very useful when it’s time to get some sleep.
Lastly, I have to say that the tray tables on EVA Air’s business class seats are some of the best-designed I’ve seen. They slide out easily and can be folded over, but are otherwise very unobtrusive and hardly even noticeable.
It was also around this time that the crew came by to offer passengers a second round of drinks, and this time champagne was presented as one of the options. I duly obliged.
Overall, I thought that the business class seat itself was very ergonomically designed and hit every spot just right. These types of seats are some of the best in the industry because of how much space and privacy they offer, and EVA Air’s brand of reverse herringbone seats certainly did not disappoint.
In the meantime, the crew were definitely keeping busy. They continued coming through the aisle to pass out amenities – next up was a set of headphones, which I never got around to using.
Then they came by to distribute the Rimowa amenity kits. Now for those of you who aren’t aware, Rimowa is one of the world’s top premium hard-shell luggage manufacturers, so the fact that EVA Air gives you Rimowa-branded amenity kits in business class is kind of insane!
These things are kind of like mini-suitcases, and they look stunning.
The amenity kit was just as impressive on the inside, consisting of socks, earplugs, a wet towel, a comb, a dental kit, and Melvita-branded lotions and creams.
Many airlines simply place the headphones and amenity kit at your seat prior to boarding. For the crew to be personally handing out them out in separate rounds is definitely going above and beyond.
The crew carried on efficiently, but always with a warm smile. Next up were the absolutely gorgeous business class menus – there was a food menu, a drinks menu, and a leaflet for the premium black tea that was currently available.
I’ve included the food menu below. Interestingly, the menu actually contained the dinner selection for both the Taipei–Toronto and Toronto–Taipei flights. Since I’ve actually got another flight booked on EVA Air in the near future, this time from Toronto to Taipei, I’ll save something for the next review 😉
The drinks menu read as follows:
And here’s the leaflet describing the special TWG black tea that was on offer:
A little while later, the crew completed their final round of distributing goodies. Every business class passenger was offered a set of Apujan pajamas for staying comfortable during the flight.
These pajamas were very high-quality, and they’re yours to keep upon disembarking. In fact, they’re so nice that I still wear them around the house quite often to this day.
As we prepared for take-off, I flicked through the in-flight entertainment system. EVA Air has quite an impressive onboard entertainment collection, which I’m sure many passengers would appreciate on a flight of over 14 hours in duration. Below is a sample of some of the movies and TV shows available to watch.
As always, I also turned on the airshow to see if it had any cool features. Sadly, while perfectly serviceable, EVA’s airshow didn’t have quite as many viewpoints to play with as Swiss business class.
Ultimately, I wasn’t very concerned at all about the in-flight entertainment system, since one of the many amazing perks that EVA Air offers is onboard wifi. For just US$21.95, you can purchase a 24-hour wifi pass (effectively lasting you the entire flight). Best of all, the connection speed is really fast, and there are no data caps.
Needless to say, I connected to the wifi as soon as the aircraft climbed above 10,000 feet (which is when the wifi connection becomes active), and got quite a bit of work done over the course of the flight. Long-time readers may remember one of my weekly newsletters having been penned at 34,000 feet in the air 😉
About 30 minutes after we reached cruising altitude is when the meal service began. First up was a small amuse bouche consisting of a slice of roast chicken and some garlic cream cheese. For my drink, I tried the TWG Tea’s specialty 1837 black tea, which was wonderful.
The crew then came around to set my table, laying down a gorgeous tablecloth and offering me a choice of warm bread rolls.
A few minutes later they came back with the hors d’oeuvre, a goose liver pâté dish with Cajun spiced prawn, caramelized onion, and red wine jelly. Service was extraordinarily personalized throughout – there were no pushcarts being rolled around; instead, each course of your meal was individually brought over to your seat from the galley and set on your table by hand.
I’m not really sure if goose liver pâté is the same thing as true foie gras – I feel like there’s some important distinction between the two that I’m not grasping. Nevertheless, I thought the dish was quite spectacular and had just the right touch of decadence to it.
The next course of the meal was the cream of cauliflower soup. Since I’m a big fan of soup in general, I consumed the portion eagerly.
Then came the garden salad, which was perhaps the most unmemorable course. While it’s hard to mess up a simple garden salad, there aren’t many ways to make a spectacular one either.
I will say that not many business class meals come with three appetizer courses (hors d’oeuvre, soup, and salad), so EVA Air definitely stands out in this regard as well.
For my main course I elected to have the golden fried prawn coated with almond flakes, which is presented beautifully.
In terms of the taste, however, I wasn’t blown away by it. While the fried rice was tasty, I guess something about the respective tastes of shrimp and almond was supposed to mingle well with each other, but it just didn’t click for me. I did end up wishing I had gotten the steak instead, since that probably would’ve been more appetizing. Ah well, there’s always next time!
The crew finished off the meal service with a cheese plate, some Häagen-Dazs ice cream (some nice continuity from the business class lounge there), and a bottle of Fiji water. They remained warm and attentive throughout the meal, always on hand to check in on passengers and offer drink refills.
Despite not finding the main course appetizing, I thought that EVA’s overall meal service was very good. The variety of dishes across the meal was highly impressive, and the presentation of each dish was delightful. Top marks all around.
I spent another hour or so working on my laptop before deciding to rest for a bit. I grabbed my Rimowa mini-suitcase and headed to the restrooms to freshen up and change into my pajamas.
Since EVA Air provides “turndown service” in business class – meaning that the crew will help you “make your bed” by adding a mattress sheet to your lie-flat bed – I had stopped by the galley to ask for it. I was delighted to return to my seat and find it nicely made up, ready for a few decent hours of sleep.
At this point we were deep into the North Pacific Ocean, and the light of day was just breaking over the horizon. Of course we would never catch up to it – after all, we had an arrival time of 9:55pm in Toronto – but it was still cool to see.
Another great thing about the reverse herringbone seats is how much legroom each passenger has. The bed was exceedingly comfortable overall and I was able to move around in my sleep quite freely.
I slept very soundly for about four hours, and woke up as we were just approaching the coast of Alaska. At this point I was feeling a little peckish, so I ordered one of the “Leisure Delights” on the menu: instant noodles, a classic Asian airline snack.
The noodles came in a lovely bowl, another indication of EVA Air’s impeccable approach to service. I also had some more of that delectable 1837 black tea.
For the rest of the flight, I put my seat into recline mode, and sneaked in a few more naps between TV episodes on my iPad. Before long the breakfast service began, roughly an hour and a half prior to landing.
Breakfast began with a crew member setting my table again, and asking for my drink choice. I went with some oolong tea this time.
For the main course I opted for the Royal Laurel Special, which was Taiwanese pork and taro vermicelli.
Like the prawn and almond dish I had for dinner, I wasn’t particularly impressed with the taste – in fact, I thought that the dish lacked flavour, and again found myself wishing I had made another choice.
Breakfast was rounded off with a fruit plate, which I consumed just as we began our descent into Toronto Pearson. I sipped on my tea as we made a smooth landing on the tarmac, bringing my incredible round-the-world adventure to an end.
EVA Air business class definitely ranks near the top of the list when it comes to being “The Best Link to Cross the Pacific”. Not only is the seat itself ergonomically designed and industry-leading, the airline and the crew members also pay attention to so many little details that make the overall experience quite amazing from start to finish. Designer-label pajamas, fast and reliable wifi, personalized and attentive service, and a huge variety of in-flight entertainment options are just a handful of what there is to love about EVA Air business class.
One thing I would call upon the airline to improve on is its food. Perhaps my sub-par food experiences on this flight could’ve been avoided if I had chose different items on the menu, but even so it’s not great to have such variability between the quality of menu items. I certainly hope to have the opportunity to try better-tasting items on my upcoming EVA Air flight, and if every other aspect of the business class experience is anything to go by, I know I won’t be disappointed.