Our layover in Taipei seemed to trudge by at a snail’s pace. At about 9:30am, it finally came time to board our flight to Bali, and we made the long walk across Taipei Airport to our departure gate.
We’d been on the road for well over twenty hours by this point, and I wasn’t particularly looking forward to another five-hour flight in angled-flat seats on an A330. But my mood perked up as we approached the gate and witnessed this beauty waiting for us on the tarmac.
That’s right, it was going to be an EVA Air Hello Kitty flight! I had heard about these flights in passing, but never really looked into it in detail. It turns out that Hello Kitty planes are deployed on a whole bunch of routes, and there’s even a standalone website dedicated to it, showing you which of the many distinct Hello Kitty liveries you’ll find on which routes. Wacky!
EVA Air | BR255
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Cabin: Business class
Route: Taipei (TPE) to Denpasar (DPS)
Date: Sunday, December 24, 2017
Time: Departing 10am and arriving 3:20pm
Duration: 5 hours 20 minutes
EVA Air’s regional A330 business class has a total of 18 seats, arranged across six rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. Unfortunately, the cabin was already quite full by the time we boarded, so I didn’t want to get up in people’s faces for the cabin photos.
The Hello Kitty decorations had captured all our attention anyway. It was everywhere you looked, from the seat pillows to the welcome video that was playing on the entertainment screen. Even the boarding music was a cheerful children’s tune.
It didn’t stop there! When the flight attendants brought over our welcome drinks and hot towels, the napkins (and indeed every napkin on this flight) had a Hello Kitty on it.
The safety information card had a big Hello Kitty bowtie on it.
And on and on it went. Left slipper. Right slipper. And the bag that contained the slippers.
They even went all-in on the sanitation bag. Looking back, I suppose it would’ve been more surprising if this flight actually used a plain white sanitation bag, since it would’ve looked totally out of place.
Okay enough Hello Kitty for now, let’s discuss the business class seat. Below the decently sized in-flight entertainment monitors at each seat, you’ll find two storage compartments that can be locked shut, which I thought was a nice feature.
On the same panel between the two seats is where you’ll find the literature pockets and holders for bottled water.
The entertainment controls and the seat controls are nestled into two different faces of the armrest on the aisle or window side. Meanwhile, the armrest between the two seats is where you’ll find a small storage nook and the power ports, the tray table, and a cup holder.
The divider between the two seats houses a reading light and a headphone jack, while there’s also an extra partition housed within, which you can pull outwards for added privacy.
I was surprised by the generous amount of legroom too. I guess I didn’t have high expectations coming into this flight (partly because the words “regional business class” tends to trigger memories of flying around Europe in an economy seat), and expected some kind of cramped, subpar business class experience. Needless to say, EVA Air proved me wrong with its perfectly comfortable and functional seat.
When the flight attendant brought over the menus (which had Hello Kitties all over them, naturally), she proactively noted the meals that we had already reserved beforehand, thanks to EVA’s online meal order service. Throughout the flight, the crew’s service was attentive and warm, although one flight attendant insisted on speaking English to me when it was clear that speaking Mandarin would’ve been more comfortable for her, which bemused me for a little bit. I’d venture to guess, though, that she was intent on practicing her English, in which case she did a great job.
Here’s the menu for the flight, which included both food and drinks:
And here’s the meal options that were available online. I had pre-ordered the braised beef noodles, while Jessica had chosen the wok fried cod with mixed vegetables and rice (a choice which was available onboard as well).
As we began our taxi and takeoff, I browsed the entertainment selection. While not extensive, it had a wide enough selection of contemporary movies and TV for a regional flight. I also looked at the airshow, since it’s always fun to see the different perspectives that airlines include.
A little while after we reached cruising altitude, the crew came around with some mixed snacks and drinks. We ordered some rosé champagne to go along with our meal, which began with the hors d’oeuvre of smoked salmon and herb scallop terrine.
If you were keeping track, you can add the champagne glass coaster, the napkin ring, a block of cheese, and two tablecloths to the list of Hello Kitty-themed objects on this flight.
Up next, the main courses divided opinion. While Jessica’s cod was perfectly fine, my braised beef noodles were gooey and uninspiring. I had to properly douse the dish in chilli sauce and spring onion to give it a bit of flavour.
To be fair, serving soup noodles as a pre-loaded meal onboard a flight (as opposed to preparing a cup of instant noodles) is a tricky affair, so my meal choice was always a tad risky to begin with.
The meal concluded with the final Hello Kitty flourish: tiramisu topped with a face-shaped cookie, plus some fresh fruit.
Jessica and I both ordered some coffee as well, which we instantly regretted, since the last thing our circadian rhythms needed at this point was to be meddled with any further.
Indeed, after finishing up our dessert, we apologetically returned our coffees to the flight attendant and put our seats into bed mode, looking for some sweet, sweet rest for the three and a half hours that remained of the flight.
I quickly went to the restroom before napping. What did I find there? You guessed it, Hello Kitty themed toiletries…
Overall the angled-flat seats made for acceptable nap pods – while they were kind of hard and uncomfortable (and oriented at a weird angle, of course), you did have plenty of room to move around in, since the seats are so spacious to begin with.
And after what seemed like mere seconds, the PA alerted us that we were beginning our descent into a rainy Denpasar, the capital of Bali. Funny how sleep works, isn’t it?
This flight came at the tail end of an extremely long journey to Bali, which clocked in at 25 hours and 30 minutes by my count. It surpassed my admittedly low expectations, mainly since the regional business class seat was pleasantly spacious. The food was hit or miss, but that was perhaps a function of my own error in judgment in meal choice.
And lastly, while the overindulgence in Hello Kitty trappings certainly felt a bit gimmicky, it’s also undeniable that it greatly added to our enjoyment of the flight. Now I’m definitely curious how EVA Air does the Hello Kitty thing on their long-haul services!