EVA Airways, a Skytrax rated 5-star airline, offers not one, but THREE flights daily from San Francisco to Taipei.  While Taipei may not be the must go to travel destination in Asia, it’s a great route to transfer anywhere through Asia.  To commemorate the 1 year anniversary of flying the Hello Kitty edition of the Royal Laurel Class, Team GTE flew the standard Royal Laurel class sans the 100+ Hello Kitty elements.

Pre Flight 

Overall Grade: A

Check-in for for EVA is always top notch.  While business class passengers don’t get to check in in a private lounge like Air New Zealand, check-in at EVA is always quick and efficient.  At Taoyuan International, they have a whole aisle dedicated to business class instead of your standard 2-4 counters.  Anywhere around the world, there is always an actual EVA representative there (dressed in EVA green) to help, not some contracted non branded reps.  

Don’t miss the ultra wide screen departure schedule!
Checking in with the EVA flight attendants

Layout  

Overall Grade:  A-

Eva Airways Royal Laurel class sets the standard in terms of cabin layout.  Every seat is optimal, as compared to airlines like Hong Kong Airways, where it can differ by row.  

Eva Airways also likes claim that they are constantly rated the airline with the cleanest seats.  We couldn’t agree more, as we couldn’t find a spec of dirt in the Royal Laurel Business Class seats.  It’s kind of like the reflection of Taiwan as a country, which itself is extremely clean.  

Pro tip – We prefer the front section as the front galley is less crowded.  The middle galley is where the flight attendants do all the food prep.  

Second section of EVA Airways Royal Laurel business class
Aisle Seat. Not a speck of dirt visible.
Center seats (great for couples!)

Lighting 

Overall Grade: B+

The cabin lighting for the most part was good.  They have nice cool mood lighting (especially when the stars on the roof shine when you are sleeping). The seats and are well lighted, but it was missing the use of LED lights.  We wish the seat back lamp (which was an annoying halogen yellow) be better placed, as it is literally right next to your eye when the seat is fully up right.   

Daytime starlight ambiance
Night time stars
Annoying halogen reading light

Seating 

Overall Grade: B+

The Royal Laurel Business Class seats is nothing mind blowing, but gets the job done in all aspect in terms of seat width, leg room, storage, and ease of use.  After flying some airlines where figuring out how take the tray table out required a manual, easy of use is something that we appreciate.   On top of that, the seats were definitely clean.  One downside is that the seats are cloth lined.  Even Air New Zealand Business Class seats have leather seats (and of course, Singapore airlines). On a 13 hour flight+, these little touches really add up.

The seats have a 10-way adjustment system from everything from lumbar, seat position, and leg rest.  This allows you to fine tune your seating experience to exactly how you want it. The tray table was huge and allowed ample space for a laptop drinks, snacks, and more.    

Plenty of inflight storage
Reading materials
Footrest and lower level storage
Seat adjustability for days

Amenities  

Overall Grade: A

EVA Airways is one of few airlines that provide a Rimowa amenity kit.  Apparently, it’s getting harder to get, as they are only available on outbound flights from Taipei.  For inbound flights, they now provide an amenity kit by Georg Hansen, which to be honest, really sucks compared to getting a Rimowa kit (although the comb is nice!).   On our flight, they provided a sky blue colored kit to match their blue Apujan Pajamas. 

It’s also interesting that they put the Georg Hansen amenity kits right on your seat before you board, but they personally hand you the Rimowa kits to you after you board.  Must be because these kits go for $50-70 bucks on eBay!  One interesting item in the amenity kit is that they are one of the few airlines to provide a microfiber cloth.  This is useful for not only cleaning, but storage (like wrapping your watch or jewelry when traveling)

On top of the amenity kit, you get a pair of high quality pajamas, Fiji water, and Vuevue Cliquot champagnes.  All this equates to top notch amenities.

Rimowa Amenity kit, this time in baby blue
Georg Hansen amenity kit
Harnn bathroom amenities
Sippin’ champagne in comfort

Sleeping 

Overall Grade:  B+

The lay flat seat provided ample space to fully lay out and the blanket was very comfortable and warm.  The extreme adjustability of the seats allow you to sleep in any position that you find comfortable.  On the downside, the pillow was quite flat and “dead” and the “turndown” service is essentially the flight attendants putting a piece of cloth on top of your seat.  It’s not even some some sort of padding like on ANA or feature a built in bed liner on the Singapore Airlines Business class.

Basic turn down service

Entertainment System

Overall Grade: B

The entertainment system was just ok.  Nothing changed since the last time that we flew the Royal Laurel Business Class.  If you are looking for every single move in the Star Wars or James Bond saga, you aren’t going to find it here.  Movie selection was limited.  The music section was predominately Asian music.  Surprisingly the TV selection had a good variety of western shows.  The handset is interesting as you could actually watch the move on that small screen (although I don’t know who would do that).  WiFi is also offered inflight if the entertainment is not enough at a extremely fare price of $21.95 for 24 hours.   

Basic selection of movies, shows and music

 

You can actually watch tv on the remote

Food 

Overall Grade:  A-

The food on EVA is always top notch.  The western meals are tasty and the Taiwanese dishes are extremely authentic, from the wood/metal chopsticks, to all the side dishes.  EVA is one of the few airlines where the sea bass does not taste like cardboard.  The only thing that it is missing that would make it the best in terms food would be having a pre-ordering system where you could pre book your meal of choice.  Although, on outbound flights from Taipei, they usually have a “Royal Laurel Special”, which is Taiwanese inspired.    

See below for your viewing pleasure.

Pre flight

Sparking Wine and chocolate

Appetizer 

Smoked salmon and trout pinwheel

 

Lobster salad and goose liver patte

Shrimp and crab meet in egg crepe parcel

Main Course

Pork with five spice sauce, sautéed scallop with king oyster mushroom, mixed vegetables, fried rice with mushroom

Steamed Chilean sea bass fillet topped with fried bean crust mixed vegetables and Chishang steamed rice

Desert

Fruit vanilla mouse with tropical fruit jam 

Breakfast

Noodle soup with pork spare ribs, lotus seed, and wolfberry served with local delicatessens

Mid Flight Snacks

Royal Laurel special noodle

Light snacks

Cookies, Chips, Fruits, Crackers, 

Overall Service Level 

Overall Grade:  A

Service on EVA is always top notch.  The flight attendants always speak to you at eye level, are very attentive, and do the food service very quickly and efficiently.  There is no waiting for 10 minutes for someone to clear your table for the next dish like what happens sometimes on other airlines.  Their speed and efficiency is something that rivals that of Singapore Airlines.  One just needs to experience service at this level to have a reference point.  US airlines do not come close.  

Conclusion 

Overall Grade: A-

For those on the west coast, Hong Kong and Japan doesn’t need to be the only gateways to Asia and beyond.  One can get a less crowded, better value, and unique experience connecting through cities such as Taipei or Seoul.  Eva Airways can provide that alternative.  It provides top notch business class at a fair price and ample flight routes through Asia.  Give it a try and lets us know your thoughts!

Until Next Time,

Team GTE


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