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La Grande Dame de Taïwan

La Grande Dame de Taïwan

I missed an opportunity to try EVA Air business class about three years ago, on a trip to Malaysia. Back then, award availability on the airline was plentiful. So plentiful, in fact, that I assumed I’d be able to easily book it on a subsequent trip to Asia; I chose ANA (which I’d already flown and loved) instead.

In the years since, it has proven essentially impossible to find business class availability (at least for flights that suit my needs) on EVA Air. Chicago is the most convenient major airport for trips to and from the US to visit family, so when a seat opened up to O’Hare on a departure just before Christmas, I snapped it up immediately.

I’m excited to share my thoughts about the experience with you, and curious about how they match up with your expectations. Bloggers writ-large tend to overhype EVA Air in my opinion; I hope my perspective is a bit more nuanced than theirs.

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A Quasi-Taiwanese Perspective on EVA Air

Bloggers love EVA Air, but I can’t say the same for the Taiwanese traveling public. Shortly after I moved to Taipei in mid-2019, a prolonged EVA Air strike (plus, fallout from the awful #asswipegate earlier that year) resulted in a groundswell of disdain for the company, to the extent that even non-travelers I know got in on the badmouthing. (This did result in a series of very generous intra-Asia fare sales, however, so I can’t complain too much.)

Indeed, my flights on EVA Air within Asia (which, to be fair, have primarily been in economy) have been less than impeccable, both in general and as compared to flights on China Airlines, its main competitor. In particular, I remember a long delay on a flight back from Osaka in September, and the complete breakdown in customer service on EVA Air’s part leading up to boarding and in the air as well.

Breaking Down EVA Air Business Class

Seat and Entertainment

As I entered the plane and made my way to seat 2K, an EVA Air cabin crew member named Nina came to greet me. Although the reverse herringbone seat seemed slightly weathered, it was roomier than ones I’d sat in on American and Cathay Pacific; I appreciate the EVA-green accents in an otherwise dull cabin. Nina presented me with a pair of noise-canceling headphones, and I browsed through the limited entertainment selection, quickly settling on the Catherine the Great miniseries (starring the fabulous Helen Mirren) before realizing I wouldn’t be able to watch it until after departure.

Food, Drink and Amenities

She also presented me with a glass of champagne, at least once it was chilled—apparently no one had thought to do so until well after boarding had begun. It wasn’t actually champagne, either, which was disappointing given EVA Air’s claim-to-fame in that department: It’s the only airline in the world that serves Veuve Cliquot La Grande Dame in business class. The good news is that once we took off and reached 10,000 feet, the real champagne came out, and served as the perfect accompaniment to my herb-crusted rack of lamb, which might’ve been the most beautiful meal I’ve seen on a plane. Notably, the amenity kit I received was not a Rimowa one (EVA Air is also famous for this). The congee breakfast served just before landing was fabulous.

EVA Air Business Class Service

Although Nina didn’t speak great English (even compared to many crew I’d encountered in economy in intra-Asia routes), she was always available and happy to serve me, whether to clear my plates (I eat freakishly fast) well before the dessert cart made its way through the cabin, to bring me more Bailey’s-on-the-rocks than I should’ve drunk, to completing the turn-down service while I went to the lavatory to change into my stylish Jason Wu pajamas. This part of my EVA Air business class review doesn’t differ much from what some of my colleagues have written; the service on EVA Air is wonderful but didn’t rock my world.

Cabin Comfort

As is the case with most Asian airlines, EVA Air does not offer individual air nozzles, so I was burning up most of the flight. This was especially unfortunate because my bed, on account of the large size of EVA’s reverse-herringbone seats, was comfortable and beckoned me to bundle up in it. I did like the “stars” on the ceiling of the 777-300ER, though in reality I feel like they added quite a bit of ambient light to the otherwise dark cabin. I’m not sure how old the plane I flew on was, but the aesthetic of the cabin felt slightly dated; the framed photo of Sun Moon Lake at the front of it was quaint, but also slightly tacky.

Airport Experience and Lounge

I have a love-hate relationship with Taoyuan Airport. On one hand it’s efficient and easily accessible from Taipei; on the other hand, it’s dark and claustrophobic throughout, and from the outside might just be the ugliest airport in Asia. EVA Air’s business class lounge certainly leaves something to be desired, though some of its least appealing characteristics (it has a hot dog station, not unlike the ones you’d see in a 7-11 or Family Mart) are also quirky. Taoyuan Airport does not have a Star Alliance Gold Track lane, though to be fair immigration and security here are very efficient for all passengers.

EVA Air Business Class Photos


How I Redeemed Miles for EVA Air Business Class

As I alluded to in the intro to this article, I had to be very patient in order to make this particular EVA Air booking. Availability on the Chicago route is always poor; EVA Air flights are among the hardest to book with Avianca LifeMiles which, ironically, on account of frequent sales, tends to present the best value of using them. I ended up booking the Taipei-Chicago flight for 75,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles, which I transferred in from both American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Given the fact that world-leading Star is the EVA Air alliance, there are plenty of other ways to book travel on the airline, with a personal favorite being United (an Ultimate Rewards partner); ANA is a good option if you’re flying round-trip and have plenty of Amex points. Chicago flight or not, I’ve generally found EVA availability to be poor (at least in business class) for the past several years, though the opposite seemed to be true prior to 2016 and 2017, when flying and reviewing the airline was less of a priority for me.

Does EVA Air Business Class Live Up to the Hype?

Flying business class on EVA Air was pleasant and comfortable, but it didn’t rock my world. Chalk it up to hype and the difficult of any experience to live up to it, or minute details like the warm not-really-champagne to start the flight, or how cold the aforementioned rack of lamb was, in spite of its beauty. EVA Air’s long-haul business class is excellent—but I’m not as eager to experience it a second time as I was the first.

At least not on the 777. As you may or may not know, the airline has introduced new business class seats (and updated cabins) on its 787-9 and 787-10 aircraft. If I have the opportunity to fly these aircraft, either by lucking out to find award availability or paying EVA’s reliably high cash prices, I will certainly not refuse it. For now, however, flying business class on EVA Air is a bucket list item I have happily checked off at long last.

Other FAQ About EVA Air Business Class

What is EVA Air Royal Laurel Class?

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class is the carrier’s business class product. However, due to the quality of food and drink, plus the exquisite level of service, certain bloggers have commented that EVA Air Royal Laurel Class is actually closed to first class than it is to business class.

Does EVA Air have flat beds?

EVA Air does have flat beds on all of its longhaul aircraft, which as of January 2022 are the Boeing 777-300ER (77W) and the Boeing 787-9/10 series. Keep in mind that while a long-haul business class ticket on EVA Air always gets you a lie-flat bed, the products are slightly different, depending on which aircraft you get. Also note that on the Airbus A330 aircraft used within Asia, there are no lie-flat seats.

Is EVA Air a five-star airline?

EVA Ais is officially a five-star airline, as ranked by international ranking body Skytrax. Keep in mind, however, that although EVA Air is a pretty objectively fantastic airline, the criteria Skytrax uses are more closely aligned with industry standards than the ones passengers necessarily apply.

The Bottom Line

I’m glad I finally got to fly EVA Air business class, which was a perfectly nice way to fly home from Taiwan to the United States for the holidays. On the other hand, I’ll be flying China Airlines business class (which I’ve previously only flown short haul) when I head to Sydney in a couple of weeks, and I imagine that the latter will be slightly more impressive than the former, in spite of EVA Air’s famously high-end champagne. Although I wouldn’t say no to another opportunity to fly EVA Air business class, I’m not going to stress if I don’t get one. Want to find the perfect business class flight? Consider hiring me as your Travel Coach!


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