Review: EVA Air Royal Laurel Class Taipei to San Francisco

Introduction
Club International Seattle
Lufthansa Business Class Seattle to Frankfurt
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt
Lufthansa Business Class Frankfurt to Nice
Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee
Grand Hyatt Cannes Hotel Martinez
Park Hyatt Zurich
Swiss Senator Lounge Zurich
Austrian Business Class Zurich to Vienna
Austrian Business Class Vienna to Tokyo Narita
EVA Air Business Class Tokyo Narita to Taipei
Le Meridien Taipei
W Taipei
EVA Air Infinity Lounge Taipei
EVA Air Royal Laurel Class Taipei to San Francisco
Thoughts on Nice, Monte Carlo, Cannes, Zurich, and Taipei


EVA 28
Taipei (TPE) – San Francisco (SFO)
Monday, July 8
Depart: 11:30PM
Arrive: 8:10PM
Duration: 11hr40min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 11A (Royal Laurel Class)

We boarded through door 1L, where we were greeted by several friendly flight attendants, one of which escorted me to my seat.

This was one of EVA’s 777-300ERs equipped with their new business class product. It’s worth noting that a majority of their 777s have been reconfigured with this product, including those that fly to Amsterdam, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Toronto.

I was seated in the rear business class cabin, and much to my surprise the flight attendant insisted on escorting me to my seat, something that usually only happens in first class, in my experience.

As I was escorted back I took a couple of pictures of the cabin, and the flight attendant asked if it was my first time in business class. It’s a question I get often, and while the answer couldn’t be further from the truth, I usually just smile and say “yes, and I’m so excited.”

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Forward business class cabin

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Forward business class cabin

I quite liked the rear business class cabin since it was private with just a few rows of seats.

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Rear business class cabin

I was seated in 11A, the single seat by the window in the last row of the business class cabin. EVA has reverse herringbone seats in business class, which in my opinion are the single best business class seats out there. Reverse herringbone seats are more like first class suites from a few years ago than business class, really. And as I always say, business class is all about the seat.

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My seat, 11A

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My seat, 11A

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My seat, 11A

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My seat, 11A

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Foot rest

To the left of the seat was a console with most of the seat controls, including a remote control, power adapter, a reading light, headphone jacks, etc.

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Seating console

Below that were the seat controls, which were intuitive.

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Seat controls

The seat boasted tons of storage, including a compartment on the bottom right of the seat which was rather large.

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Storage

Waiting at my seat upon boarding were a pillow and blanket, both of which were exceptionally nice for business class.

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Pillow and blanket

There were also headphones.

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Headphones

As boarding continued we were offered cold towels.

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Cold towels

That was quickly followed by pre-departure beverages. While EVA is the only airline in the world to serve Dom Perignon in business class, unfortunately they only serve it in the air, so they serve a different one on the ground instead.

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Pre-departure champagne

After that amenity kits were distributed. EVA offers Rimowa kits for now, which are hands down the awesomest amenity kits ever.

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Rimowa amenity kit

The amenity kit featured eye shades, socks, toothpaste and a toothbrush, lip balm, and body “souffle.”

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Amenity kit contents

After that menus and wine lists were distributed.

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Menus

As the departure time approached, the captain came on the PA to inform us of our flight time of 11hr34min, which was a bit longer than normal. We began our pushback right on-time with a completely full business class cabin, at which point the safety video began to play.

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View on pushback

Their safety video was pretty awesome, if not a bit potentially offensive based on the stereotypes. Take a look:

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Safety video

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Safety video

Our taxi to the runway took around 15 minutes, and at that point we took off on runway 23L and began a smooth climb to our cruising altitude.

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Climbing out

During our climb out I browsed the entertainment selection, which was incredibly extensive and had decent quality TV shows and film as well. Best of all there were no ads with the programming.

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Entertainment selection

I eventually decided to watch “Admissions,” which was entertaining enough.

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My movie selection

As we leveled off the purser came around the cabin to personally great each passenger, which again I thought was a nice touch that typically only happens in first class.

At that point the tables were set for dinner.

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Table setup

The dinner menu read as follows:

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And the wine list read as follows:

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Much like on the Tokyo Narita to Taipei leg, I found the menu to be a bit odd. They have three different types of meals you can go with — Healthy Dining, Royal Laurel Dining, and Star Special — though within each selection there aren’t any choices, so you’re stuck with what they give you.

I ordered the Star Special option, which consisted of shrimp and pork wonton. I had a Diet Coke and glass of Dom to go with it. The food was actually quite good.

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Star Special main course

Then there was a selection of bread from the bread basket.

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Bread

Then dessert was served, which consisted of fruit and some sort of chocolate tart, along with some tea.

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Dessert

So here’s the thing — I actually like Chinese/Taiwanese food, so I was fine with the lack of western options. At the same time I feel like they should have more variety just for the sake of catering to more taste buds. But the part I really didn’t get is that they literally just served a two course meal. There were no drinks with nuts to start with, or any sort of an appetizer, salad, soup, etc.

But at the same time as I said above, business class is all about the seat, and not only was the seat great, but the service was spectacular as well. The flight attendants were incredibly charming and as attentive as what I’ve otherwise sometimes experienced in first class.

The good thing about the quick meal service is that it allowed me to maximize sleep. About 90 minutes into the flight the meal service was complete and my movie was finished, and I briefly visited the galley.

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Dimmed business class cabin

They had a small selection of packaged snacks there.

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Snacks

But what caught my eye more than anything else was the bubble tea on the counter. It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with bubble tea, so I asked the awesome flight attendant working my aisle, Tiffany, whether she brought enough bubble tea for everyone. She laughed, and we eventually had a nice conversation about EVA. Long story short she was really proud to work for EVA, really proud of their new business class product, really proud that they joined Star Alliance, and hilariously enough she was more excited about the Rimowa amenity kits than I was.

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Bubble tea!

So about two hours after takeoff I fell asleep, and I woke up about two hours out of San Francisco, which meant I got about 7.5 hours of sleep — awesome!

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Airshow upon waking up

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Airshow upon waking up

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Airshow upon waking up

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Airshow upon waking up

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View upon waking up

About 90 minutes out the pre-arrival meal service began. The menu read as follows:

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I had a cup of tea to start.

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Tea

This time around I ordered the Royal Laurel Special.

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Royal Laurel Special

My friend had the western option.

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Western option

About 30 minutes out we began our descent right as the sun was setting. I have to say that I don’t think there’s a more beautiful airport in the country to fly into than San Francisco in terms of the views on approach.

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Views on approach

The coolest thing about the approach had to be that we were literally right behind the China Airlines 747 that also left from Taipei around the same time as us.

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China Airlines 747 ahead of us

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View on final approach

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View on final approach

We landed on runway 28R, right next to the wreckage of Asiana 214. Sadly I couldn’t capture a good image, though it gave me chills and was somewhat surreal.

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Bad picture of Asiana 214

We taxied to the international terminal and parked right next to a United 747. Due to the lack of tailwinds and delayed departure we were about 30 minutes late on arrival.

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Taxiing to the terminal

Thanks to Global Entry I was through immigration in a matter of minutes, and feeling about as well rested as I’ve ever felt coming off a transpacific flights.

EVA Air is an amazing new addition to the Star Alliance. The seats, in-flight entertainment, service, and beverage selection were all about as good as I’ve ever experienced in business class. The food certainly leaves some opportunities for improvement, but this is still one of the all around most solid business class products I’ve flown, and I’d fly them again in a heartbeat.

Comments

  1. snic says

    Great report, as usual!

    There are some complaints about the seat on FT – apparently you disagree? It was wide enough, and not too hard?

    (Diet Coke and Dom? At the same time? I’m just going to shake my head at that one.)

  2. dginchelsea says

    Good review – now I know to ask for a seat in the rear cabin on my upcoming flight :)

  3. Acs says

    Hey Lucky,

    Nice trip report! How does EVA compare to Swiss business class? I think you have flown it right?
    I’m trying to decide whether I should fly AMS-ZRH-HKG on Swiss or AMS-BKK-HKG on EVA/Thai as part of my US airways “rtw”
    Thanks!

  4. Harold says

    Now I want to plan a trip to Taipei with EVA. The business class seems better than the ANA staggered.

  5. lucky says

    @ snic — I thought it was great in every way. It was well padded and plenty wide I thought. Just about all airlines with reverse herringbone seats have almost identical products, and I’m convinced it’s simply the best hard product out there.

  6. says

    Pre-order some lobster next time and you might not be disappointed with the food :). I’m excited to have Din Tai Feng on the plane! Waiting for my flight in 4 months..

  7. lucky says

    @ Acs — I actually haven’t flown Swiss longhaul business class, though I have flown Austrian and Brussels business class, which is a very similar hard product.

    I do think EVA has a better hard product and better entertainment, and probably better service. The only place that Swiss would win, in my opinion, is with food.

  8. lucky says

    @ romsdeals — Hah, I’m lucky to have a Din Tai Fung a block from my apartment, so I get a bit less excited about DTF than others. :)

  9. Eunice says

    Seems like you’re trying not to infuriate anger taiwanese, ha!
    I remenbered that they served soup and salad, maybe is because your flight is a late night flight !

  10. Simon says

    Just wanted to chime in regarding the Swiss vs EVA Air’s long haul business class. For me, the seat, entertainment, the DOM, amenity kit, and cabin appearance is better on EVA. Food and service was better on Swiss.

  11. John T says

    How did you like Taipei? You had a couple days in the city – did you explore, or go to the night markets at all? It is one of my favorite cities in terms of food – the varieties and options for the cost. Hope you had fun on this trip.

  12. Erik says

    Food service (minus the Dom) looks very similar to what I had in biz on a China Airlines flight last year (probably that same plane in your picture). EVA’s seats look more comfortable than CI.

  13. says

    Can’t imagine what I’d think seeing the wreckage of Asiana 214 – or any wreckage – shortly after it happened. It would probably be one heck of a reminder to me that there is always a possibility of something going wrong and it’s always good to stay alert and ready to move FAST if necessary.

  14. Brett says

    Great trip report. Do you plan on doing reports on your recent trips on the Thai a380 and ANA 777-300. I’m flying both in the future and was hoping to see what you thought.

  15. lucky says

    @ John T — Loved it! Next installment will be about my time on the ground in all these cities. :)

  16. lucky says

    @ Brett — Of course! Trip report is already more or less written, so will post it over the coming days.

  17. PNW says

    Any word on when the Pacific Northwest will get the new business class? I see EVA flies to SEA and YVR and would love to grab the new business class on those routes, when its available.

  18. lucky says

    @ PNW — Trust me, I wish Seattle would get the new product as well! Unfortunately until they retire the 747s or change the aircraft on the routes we won’t see the new business class here.

  19. Justin says

    “It’s a question I get often, and while the answer couldn’t be further from the truth, I usually just smile and say “yes, and I’m so excited.”

    My go to move also … I find that sometimes it seems they go out of their way to try and provide extra special service as a result.

  20. Nguyen says

    As usual, it is a great trip report! I have never flown in anything else except coach, but this really gives me the motivation. Thanks Lucky.

  21. Craig says

    Dom first, maybe with some sparkling water.

    Maybe a diet coke later, not at the same time!

    Don’t be that American haha

  22. Steve says

    Great TR. Which Seats Do You Recommend For A Couple?

    I’ve Read Middle Seats Are Actually Kinda Far Apart From Each Other So Maybe Window And Aisle Vs 2 Middle?

    Does Mini Cabin Share Lavs With Econ Or Premium Econ? Galley Noise A Problem?

    Thanks!

  23. lucky says

    @ Steve — Yeah, the center seats have quite some barriers between them, so I’d probably just do two window seats.

    The lavs for the mini cabin are in front of the mini cabin, so they’re shared with the rest of business class. Noise from the galley wasn’t an issue since they kept the curtains closed the whole flight.

  24. HR says

    Just got back last night from India. First leg on 9W from MAA-SIN. But the highlight was SIN-TPE-LAX on EVA. Great service in Coach as well, the most comfortable Coach seats, awesome pillows and blankets and very nice special meals. I am a believer in their product. Next time to Asia, I am flying EVA and it helps that they are now part of Star Alliance. However, only 75% mileage on the United account, oh well.

  25. D says

    If you ever visit Taiwan again… For luxury traveling, I think you should visit Taichung instead. The wealthy who work overseas or in Taipei have up and moved to Taichung… the new part of that city is full of luxury residences, stores, eateries, galleries. I actually found Taipei more tired looking comparatively.

  26. Peter says

    Healthy menu selection = burdock, button mushroom with monascus purpureus sauce. I don’t know what any of that is. ;-)

    Ummm…how do you stay in shape with all these elite buffets and premium class meals?

  27. wwk5d says

    “But the part I really didn’t get is that they literally just served a two course meal. There were no drinks with nuts to start with, or any sort of an appetizer, salad, soup, etc.”

    But Lucky, to be fair, you did pick the Star Special option, which does seem to be a quicker meal. The other 2 options seem to be a 3 course meal…

  28. says

    Lucky – How did you choose a seat with EVA? Is it possible to do it online? I couldn’t find the option on their site with my reservation # from US Airways

    Thanks!

  29. lucky says

    @ ChasingThePoints — You need to retrieve the EVA record locator (which you can get by calling US Airways or EVA) and then you can select a seat on EVA’s website using that.

  30. snic says

    ChasingThePoints – If you booked far in advance, you can’t get a seat assignment on BR until 90 or 100 days before the flight (I forget which).

  31. somebody says

    @lucky it doesnt look like they served any meat accordign to the menus, is EVA cutting costs

  32. Ashgabat Flyer says

    I enjoyed the trip report on EVA business class to San Francisco. The 777-300ER seems to have a very nice configuration. I fly from Seattle and I was wondering if you would recommend EVA business class on a route that doesn’t fly these planes.

  33. lucky says

    @ Ashgabat Flyer — The business class seats on the 747s are pretty ancient, so in your shoes I’d do whatever you can to avoid them. If it’s the only option on miles I”d still take it, but I do think it’s worth a more circuitous routing in order to experience the better seats.

  34. Lisa says

    So I had to look up monascus purpureus – too literal a translation of something known as red yeast rice. I think I’d have to try something with a name that weird.

    @somebody Er, roasted chicken, beef soup, prawns, shrimp and pork wontons, chicken patty wrapped in bacon? The picture with the huge chicken pieces on top of the noodle soup?

  35. Bob says

    Ben, how would you compare EVA business to other Asian carriers (Singapore, ANA, Malaysian, Thai, etc.)? Thank you.

  36. says

    @lucky @snic — thanks! When I first tried it, it didn’t work. I’m thinking the info from US Airways didn’t make it until a few more days after my initial try.

  37. lucky says

    @ ChasingThePoints — The reservation should display correctly on EVA’s website immediately. When entering the name just make sure you do so exactly as it appears on the ticket, so in the first name field you may have to put your first and middle name, if that’s what your ticket shows.

  38. says

    @lucky – I think I did Firstname+Middlename like they said on the site the first time.

    Then the other day when I picked my seat I did just first name.

    Thanks again for the help

  39. Amama says

    Lucky, Thanks for your sharing.

    I will try this EVA Royal laurel class from Taipei to JFK with my mom and my baby (1 year old) a few months later. Which seats would you recommend, 1 window + 1 middle seat or 2 window seats? The two middle seats seems inconvenient as there are some barriers in between.

  40. lucky says

    @ Amama — I would probably just do two window seats since the center seats are so private that there’s not really an advantage to them over the window seats for a couple traveling together.

  41. Radmoo says

    We are flying EVA ‘s Royal Laurel in Feb, do you know how far in advance we can select seats? We too, booked using US Air miles and although I was able to lg in to EVA, I was not offered seat selection option.

  42. Acs says

    Hey Lucky,

    Which seats are best for someone traveling solo? It seem like I have plenty of good window options, but are there any specific ones to avoid? I’m currently in 2A

  43. lucky says

    @ Acs — I’d say just about any window seat is equally good. I kind of liked the mini cabin in the back since it was a bit more private, though I’m not actually sure it was better than the main cabin. I guess I’d choose any seat not too close to the galley, just to be on the safe side.

  44. says

    I cant seem to make up my mind between the mini J cabin and the main one on the BKK-LHR flight. Have my choice of 5, 6, 9, 10 & 11 all window. i’m assuming row 9 is fare enough away from the galley and the premium economy bassinet area behind row 11?

  45. lucky says

    @CDKing – I nearly always prefer the mini-cabin, so would probably go with that, personally, and row 9 is a good choice.

  46. steve says

    Lucky, thanks for the report. Flying next year TPE-LHR via BKK, a marathon flight. Any info re: pre-ordering meals to avoid the regular EVA menu? I’m thinking western, something I can actually recognize and swallow/digest during the 17 hour haul. If not, I might end up eating my shoe leather with whiskey. The big complaint I see from reading internet-wide EVA reviews, the grub (er, food). That’s why I don’t think EVA deserves as high a rating as some give.

  47. Sharon says

    Hi Lucky, this is a good report. How did you like being in the last row of the business cabin? Was it noisy since it was just one curtain away from the Elite cabin?

    I am flying from SFO to TPE next month, and I picked row 10, but I wonder if last row has even better privacy :-).

  48. says

    @ Sharon — I quite liked being in the last row, I felt it was very private thanks to the thick curtain behind it. I’d choose it again. But row 10 is great as well.

  49. DJ says

    nice review, but “Their safety video was pretty awesome, if not a bit potentially offensive based on the stereotypes.” — what’s wrong with stereotyping? we do that every day, all the time. politically correct = realistically hypocrite.

  50. frank james says

    I will NEVER fly on their business class again. These are good seats if you are SMALL, perhaps ASIAN. They are absolutely the smallest area I have ever ever sat in on any long haul flight. DO NOT FLY ON THEIR BUSINESS CLASS IF YOU ARE OVER 6’2″ WOULD BE MY GUESS. FORGET ABOUT HOW OR IF YOU CAN LAY FLAT, YOU SIMPLY DON’T FIT IN THE CRAMPED QUARTERS. Great food and service, but who cares if you don’t fit. Also, there is an arm rest on the right that raises, if only you know it exists. So there I am, barely cramped in, of which was incredibly physically annoying, but no right arm rest, until the end of the flight, i realize there is one, but no adequate marking to show it.

  51. You're an Idiot says

    @frank james
    “I will NEVER fly on their business class again. These are good seats if you are SMALL, perhaps ASIAN.”

    The seats were built for normal-sized people. You must be one of those obese white Americans. So sorry the seats didn’t suit you. Please fly one of your country’s crappy carriers aka United, Delta, and AA/US Air. I’m sure the Asians won’t miss you…racist redneck turd.

  52. You're an Idiot says

    @frank james
    and your idiocy of not knowing there was an armrest only justifies your…idiocy…

  53. says

    @ frank james – The armrest is pop up, I find the seat to be reasonably wide and I fit in it well despite being 6’4″.

    @ You’re an Idiot – Don’t laugh at obese people. Have you heard of the word “fat”?

  54. says

    @ Lucky – Sadly during the last time I took EVA (Hello Kitty, TPE – HKG) I just started a movie on SkyTV when we were about to land, thus not being able to explore. Economy seats on BR are good too.

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