EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – so close to being the world’s best business class

I just flew EVA Air Royal Laurel Class from Taipei to San Francisco, which I was quite looking forward to given that they’re Star Alliance’s newest member and release an unreal amount of premium cabin award space.

Anyway, while I’ll have a full trip report in the coming weeks, I figured I’d post my initial thoughts.

Seats

The business class seats are in a reverse herringbone configuration, which is in my opinion the best business class product currently on the market. These are the same seats featured on American’s 777-300ERs, Delta’s 747s, US Airways’ A330s, Qatar’s 787s, and throughout Cathay Pacific’s longhaul fleet.

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The cabin is in a 1-2-1 configuration with a total of 38 seats. Hard products don’t get better than this.

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Service

This was probably the most pleasant surprise – I’d say they had the best service I’ve ever received in business class. The crew was exceptionally friendly, attentive, and charming. For example, upon boarding instead of just pointing you to your seat they escorted you there, something that otherwise usually only happens in first class. Similarly, the purser came around to each passenger to welcome them aboard, something that also usually only happens in first class.

The crew gets a perfect score, in my opinion. And that’s despite every seat in business class being occupied.

Entertainment

The entertainment selection was top notch as well, just about on par with what’s offered by Cathay Pacific, Emirates, and Singapore. Again, perfect marks.

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Drinks

EVA Air serves 2003 Dom Perignon in business class – they’re the only airline in the world to serve Dom in business class. Need I say more?

Amenity kits

They have a super-sexy Rimowa amenity kit, similar to the ones offered by other airlines in first class on a promotional basis.

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Food

Up until now their product is an absolute slam dunk. I was about ready to write off first class. And then comes their food.

For both meals they have three menu “tracks” – there’s the Healthy Dining option, Royal Laurel dining option, and Star Special dining option. The bizarre thing is that with each track there are no options. You’re “all in” for whichever track you choose, with no choice of main courses.

I ordered the Star Special dining option, which seems to be their signature selection, as it’s promoted in conjunction with Din Tai Fung (which I love, and is just a block from my apartment in Bellevue).

Anyway, here’s the meal:

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That’s it. There were no drinks and nuts to start, no appetizer. Just the dumplings, fruit, and cake. On the plus side, the meal service was finished less than an hour after takeoff.

The pre-arrival meal was similarly limited:

EVA_Air_Business_Class8

My issue isn’t their complete lack of western options, but the lack of variety. For the pre-arrival meal the main dining choices were Taiwanese plain porridge, pan fried chicken patty wrapped with bacon, or relish chicken with noodle soup (which I ordered).

Lastly, they didn’t have a mid-flight snack menu, but rather only some chips and cookies set up in the galley (though they seem to offer a mid-flight snack menu on the San Francisco to Taipei flight and other longer routes).

Conclusion

While the food was disappointing, every other aspect of the experience blew me away. I firmly believe that business class is all about the seat and being able to sleep, and EVA wins hands down there. I got a solid eight hours of sleep, about as good as I’ve done on any airline.

I’d definitely recommend them, though if you’re a picky eater you may want to eat before the flight and possibly bring some snacks.

Overall, the addition of EVA Air to Star Alliance is a huge win.

Comments

  1. hi Lucky,

    did you pre-order the main meal a few days before your flight? ‘cuz you can do that for EVA as you do with Singapore Airline’s “Book the Cook” program. There were at least 10 options for the main meal, when I did just that this past weekend.

    glad to see that you really enjoyed the flight for the most part!

  2. BTW, you got the nicer amenity kit. 🙂 We only got the fabric Bvlgari when we flew back SFO-TPE in early June.

  3. @ ChucklesTW — Didn’t pre-order the meal, though sounds like I should have. I believe the Rimowa amenity kit is new since they joined the Star Alliance.

  4. I flew with them a couple of years ago and wholly agree – great staff, terrible food. I had pre-ordered some options, which turned out to be slightly better than the standard menu, but I landed at Heathrow starving.

    I’m also confused by the Dom Perignon in business rumour – back then they were serving some random sparking wine which the staff mummified in napkins to disguise.

  5. Given that EVA Air doesn’t offer first class, I wouldn’t be surprised that they would service their business class passenger the way other airlines treat their first class, which results a better J class experience than other airlines. This is just my thought..

  6. I was on that flight too. Worst airplane food I’ve ever had. Ever. They might as well have not served anything.

  7. @ Nguyen — Yep, and that’s what one of the flight attendants explained to me. I believe they introduced Dom in business class when they got rid of their first class cabin a while back, so that kind of makes sense.

  8. Definitely, definitely book pre-book your meals, or failing that go with the Western option. The Chinese meals ex-TPE are usually a bit on the small side… maybe because of the departure time?

  9. Was on the same flight earlier. The only highlight for me was the seat, dom, and the rimowa kit.

    For the food I preordered, but the quality of the food was really lacking. I got the pork in wine sauce and it was pretty nasty. Congee for the 2nd meal was unappetizing as well.

    I got hungry in the middle of the flight and asked the FA for some noodle soup, they pointed me to the basket at the bar with cookies and chips. Not sure if it’s the language barrier, but I find the service of this crew very impersonal.

    Heck, the service we got from the crew of the prior BR Hello Kitty flight from ICN-TPE was way better. And that was only a 2 hour flight!

  10. Thank you for sharing the trip report. I will fly with royal laurel and hello kitty jet soon. I am wondering if I will get amenity kit on TPE-BKK on Royal Laurel and HND-TSA on kitty jet. 🙂 thank you again for the fantastic trip report

  11. What could a vegetarian eat on their flight? Doesn’t seem like there were many options.

  12. You could have done Book The Cook with BR…a bunch more choices. When I flew, there was no seat escorting service. This is either new, or haphazardly applied. While many aspects of BR were nice (and I wouldn’t hesitate to fly them), the ground experience at TPE (and lax) was relatively weak.

  13. Amenity kit is definitely very cool — seat looks great. Sorry to hear that the food is not up to the same standards — what was your feeling on the “book the cook” like option? Was it something you looked at, but chose to wait and see or just no time?

  14. @ Steven L — Hah, maybe that explains why all their flights leave in the middle of the night. They save money on catering that way. 😀

  15. @ KOSMO — To the best of my knowledge they don’t have amenity kits on shorter flights, though I could be wrong. I at least didn’t get one on NRT-TPE. They did have slippers, though.

  16. @ Trevor — To be honest, none of the choices looked especially appealing to me even on the pre-order menu, at least not good enough to the point that I wanted to lock my option in.

  17. I just wondering how many food service, EVA will provide from flight from JFK-TPE (over 16 hours). If only 2 meals and only snack in the middle, it would be interesting. Anyone has travel from JFK-TPE? Thanks for the review.

  18. @ JH — My guess is two meals and a midflight snack, which is the norm for flights of that length.

  19. Sounds like a very nice flight if you were able to sleep 8 hours! How was the food in the lounge prior to boarding? Probably a lot better than the flight (I hope!)

  20. Qatar Business Class on the 787 is the same? It looks different (classier, more space), might be similar, but definitely not the same!

  21. @ KG — Well none of the four products are identical. They all have different finishes, minor functional differences, etc. But they are very, very similar as far as I can tell.

  22. An AF flight attendant (not the purser) came once and welcomed me aboard when I was flying in business class ORD-CDG. On the way back I experienced less caring AF staff.

  23. Will be flying sf taipei round trip in November with return in January. Booked this with the help of Alex at Lucky’s point company. I booked this before Eva Air joined Star Alliance and it was bootable on Uniteds website.

    Looking forward to the flight very much and I will precook my meals for sure!

  24. I don’t understand how this can be one of the worlds best business class when you serve food that is so unattractive to the eye. I guess the Dom and that gorgeous Rimowa kit makes up for the lack of western food options.

  25. @ Jorge — And that’s why it’s *so close* to being the best and not the best. 😉

    Literally every other aspect of their product is industry leading, in my opinion.

  26. Should I take the BR7 from SFO to TPE VS
    the NH7 of Ana or OZ213 Asiana?
    I am for the seats. I can handle the nasty food… I am for the comfort and entertainement and overall service.

    Do they also have wifi already?

    Thanks guys!

  27. @ Anna — EVA hands down has the best hard product of those carriers. None of them have wifi yet.

  28. Lucky,

    Thanks for your reply. But why? I thought NH has the Best among all three? And spacious.. It seems that the seats are narrower than the ones on the NH which are a lot more spacious.. Am i wrong? I just want the best of the best, but I am not convinced that EVA is the best from SFO. Am I missing anything? Would appreciate all the help

  29. @ Anna — If all you care about is the seat, I still think the reverse herringbone configuration is the best business class product in the world. While ANA’s business class seat is also very spacious, I do find that reverse herringbone seats (like what EVA has) feature the most personal space.

  30. Lucky,

    How is it private unlike Oz and Nh whre you can choose the seats that aisle part is covered….
    But on Eva, it seems like the aise is visible and it is not covered… Am I missing anything?

  31. I’m flying BR from JFK to TPE in dec, just booked an J class award through aeroplane. NO YQ on the BR segments! Hopefully they have the rimowa kits then!

  32. Awesome review!!! Flying Eva business SFO – Taipei in 12 days:). I have read your blog on n off and just realized when I was reading the food review that you are from Bellevue. Too bad I moved from Seattle to SF last year or it would be great to connect over coffee at my fav in Seattle – Vivace. cheers

  33. Just booked using US air miles, Star Alliance. We will be flying SFO/ TPE/BKK on EVA . Sounds like we wil get our points worth, for sure

  34. Just got our return from the Maldives switched over to this same flight TPE-SFO. WIN! Thanks for the review!

  35. what about their 747-400 from seattle to TPE? Do they have similar product with their business class on 777? no pj’s like thai huh?

  36. @ frank — The 747s have recliner seats, so it’s not nearly as nice of a product. There are no PJs, though keep in mind Thai doesn’t have them in business either (only in first class).

  37. I recently flew on Royal Laurel Class to SFO and find it very uncomfortable to sleep as the width is way too narrow which my elbow was being restricted somehow and difficult to turn my body. I realized it was the side table that bothers me.

    Anyone has faced the same problem as me?

    Having to know that the Cirrus seat is being talked as one of the best seat in business class, I went to try again on Cathay Pacific’s, the width is much wider and I have no problem turning my body.

  38. Just checked my preorder choices for an upcoming flight… the 2. Abalone and Mushroom in Oyster Sauce, 5. Herb Crusted Lamb Rack,8. Stir Fried Lobster with Ginger and Green Onion caught my eyes. Anyone know which one is better?

  39. @ Tony — Royal Laurel Class is simply the name of their new longhaul business class product. So if you booked a business class award on one of their new planes you would get Royal Laurel Class.

  40. I’ve taken Eva Air many times, I can tell your flight must be around midnight where they would only serve light meals. Moreover their “Star Special Dining Option” is for people who want more time to enjoy the “Star Gallery” entertainment system so in this option they won’t serve you the entire meal.

    Here’s how it looks on a standard meal http://jimmyou23.blogspot.com/2012/10/eva-air.html

    I don’t think Eva’s catering is good either but at least they do have an average business class standard

  41. @ Z — I’d say Cathay Pacific probably has slightly better food, but other than that they’re comparable.

  42. Guys, I was told by the agent that if you are in Royal Laurel you can have 2 70lbs and 1 courtest 50lbs free? how true is this? i confirmed with 4 BR agents when i called the 1800 and the office in SFO… I just want to be sure and dont want to get charged when I am already chekcing all three in.

    Also, the carry on policy. How strict are they if I have two with me ? i know one only is permitted but I have flown OZ , NH, and UA at SFO with 2-3 carry on and never been stopped/weiged (prob because I had a biz ticket?). Not so sure.. i just dont want to run into trouble. I might need to bring 2 carry ons the most. One backpack and one pully for my small equipment/electronics I do not want to check in.

    Thanks!

  43. @lucky

    Thanks Lucky. ALthough i confiremd with 4 agents already who all said 50lbs extra is a courtesy one…. aside from the two. and that it isnt said on their site.

    If for some reason they do allow me 3 bags from SFO, for my return, will the aurport allow me to have 3 ,since isnt it a plicy that whatever/how much bags u were allowed foro utbound should apply also for the return if it is in one ticket?

  44. I’m having an issue with EVA. They don’t seem to know how to request the new 72 hour transit visa waiver for China. I have a multi-line trip (UA LAX-SFO, CA SFO-PEK, TG PEK-BKK, TG BKK-TPE, BR TPE-PDG, AC PDG-YVR-LAX) I have 71 hours in PEK, and Air China was able and competent to request my 72 hour visa waiver. I called EVA Air to request that they process my request for PDG, and they had no idea what I was talking about.

    I spoke with BR agents and supervisors in both Los Angeles and Taipei. No one knew what I was talking about. I called the Chinese Consulate in LA, and they informed me that it is the airline who must make the request of the Shanghai border authorities, and that they won’t accept requests directly from passengers. I was told that my only option is to get a Chinese visa at the consulate here (which is $140, or $160 with expedited processing).

    Any thoughts on this? I’d rather not waste $160 on a visa that I don’t need. But I’m told (and the FAQ on the consulate’s website confirm) that I need for the arriving carrier to make the request.

  45. @ Neal Z. — Admittedly I’m no expect on this, but this is the first I’ve heard of needing to request a “waiver.” As far as I know, you should be able to just show up and show your itinerary as proof of onward travel, and be let in based on that.

  46. Thanks. I was finally able to reach someone at the EVA Air office at PVG, once their desk opened up for Saturday morning business. She confirmed that the immigration officials will just check my ticket to make certain that I am departing Shanghai within 72 hours. I’m guessing that Air China, as the flag carrier, just sends a pre-clearance list to immigration officials, and that is why they were able to do it in advance. (Perhaps this is a courtesy that CA extends to pax flying in F?)

  47. @ Neal Z. — Happy you got it figured out. To be honest not sure what Air China is trying to accomplish with what they’re doing. You’ll have to show itinerary regardless, so shouldn’t make a difference either way.

  48. i’m on eva as i’m typing this – tpe to jfk in rl. just thought it fair to let you know that they’ve changed their meal service quite significantly compared with your experience. dinner tonight was a foie gras appetizer followed by soup then salad, then mains, then cheese, fruit, sweets and coffee/tea/liqueur service. i didn’t pre order but the choices were decent (still a 3 track set up though). there is a choice of 3 in flight snacks, plus hot chocolate and cookies which i didn’t realize i would ever have a craving for inflight but hey – what do you know… 🙂 the meal service prior to arrival looks equally extensive.

    oh and then something i love – they offer wifi service throughout the 15 hour flight! not once has it been interrupted. very impressive and a steal at $22 with unlimited use.

  49. Lucky, between this flight’s business class (EVA 777 Royal Laurel) and ANA 787 business class, which one would you recommend? also do you happen to know if they still give Rimowa kit on this flight?

  50. @ JW — I believe EVA still gives out Rimowa kits. I’d probably go with EVA. They offer pajamas, Rimowa kits, better champagne, and a better hard product.

  51. Thanks Lucky! Just switched my ANA flight to EVA, now I have almost 6 hours layover at TPE. Do you happen to know if my onward flight is with Air China, which lounge can I use at TPE? The EVA lounges you reviewed look decent.

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