Eva Air Business Class (Premium Laurel Class) Taipei-Hong Kong – A very positive experience
At the Airport
I arrived at Taipei Taoyuan airport about two hours before departure. Eva Air had a separate premium check-in area in terminal 2. There was a woman standing at the entrance and after I confirmed that I would be travelling with Eva Air in business class, she let me pass.
Two business class counters were open and were staffed by a young man and a young woman. As I approached their desks both immediately stood up, almost in sync, and followed me with their eyes as I approached. The man happened to be standing closest so it was he who took take care of my check-in. A small and insignificant detail perhaps, but it is these types of gestures that impress and distinguish one airline from the crowd.
The entire check-in process was pretty close to perfect. The young check-in agent was very friendly and polite, and carefully went through all stages of the process. He showed me where my bag was to be sent, double-checked that I was happy with my seat, and finally printed out a lounge invitation. A priority tag was put on my bag and I got a brief description of how to found the lounge.
The security check went very quickly, as well as passport control. Terminal 2 is both a stylish and efficient terminal to use, considerably nicer than the old and worn terminal 1. Eva Air has three different lounges in Tapei – Business Lounge, for Evergreen silver and gold members, Diamond Lounge, for Eva Air business class passengers, and Evergreen Garden, for Evergreen Diamond members. As a business class passenger I had access to the Diamond lounge, which was well above expectations. A very stylish and elegant lounge with Taiwanese inspired ornaments and decorations. The choice of food and drink was very good with many hot and cold options, a variety of baked goods as well as a freezer containing Mövenpick ice cream.
Boarding and First Impressions
I left the lounge 40 minutes before departure and headed towards gate C7, which was being used for the evening departure to Hong Kong. A few minutes later, boarding began with priority for business class passengers who were guided through the door to the left of the podium and then along the front passenger bridge to the aircraft. Right at the entrance was a rack of magazines.
I was the first passenger to board and was warmly welcomed at the front door. I was spoken to by name and escorted to my seat, 07A, where the very friendly flight attendant helped me with my hand luggage. I was offered something to drink before departure, water or orange juice, as well a cold towel.
A number of types of aircraft are used on the route, Taipei-Hong Kong, both the Boeing 747 and the Boeing 777, and this evening, the Airbus A330. The interior of the cabin was decorated in different shades of green, in conjunction with Eva Air’s traditional colours, and a beautiful picture hung at the front of the cabin.
The departure was so punctual it could have been exactly 6:10pm when we were given permission to start the engines and leave the gate. A safety video was shown on the screens in English and Chinese. The purser welcomed us aboard and announced an estimated flight time of 1 hour and 23 minutes to Hong Kong.
There were only four rows in business class, with a 2-2-2 configuration. The seats were comfortable and a good standard for a regional route like Taipei-Hong Kong. The seats were, ‘lie-flat’, and could thus be lowered into a bed, however, with a sight slope. Leg room was not at all bad, with 61″, which is above average, but possibly due the fact there was only four rows of business class.
Compared with other airlines flying the Hong Kong-Taipei route, I think Eva Air competes well when it comes to comfort. Many airlines send older aircraft with an older cabin product on these regional flights.
The in-flight entertainment system was called, Star Gallery, and was controlled by a remote control hidden in the arm rest and enjoyed on a 10.6″ screen found in the back of the seat in front. As this was a short flight, I did not use the entertainment system, but did note the system was an AVOD (Audio Video On Demand) system and had a good selection of movies, music and games.
The menus were distributed while we on the ground. Dinner was being offered on this evening flight to Hong Kong, with two choices of main course. The menu is changed every ten days and the menu showed the choices available for days 1-10, days 11-20, and days 21-31.
A separate drinks list was handed out with a thorough description of the drinks and the wines available. In business class, there was champagne, two red wines, two white wines, sherry, port, and several kinds of liqueurs and spirits. The flight attendants were also on hand to mix a wide range of cocktails. There was also a good selection of teas, juices and soft drinks. The champagne that was served on board was Drappier Brut.
A few minutes after the menus had been distributed, the stewardess came back to me, spoke to me again by name, and asked if I had decided what I wanted to eat. As orders were taken while we still grounded, it meant the relatively short flight time could be optimised and the flight attendants were able to spend their time with other things while in the air.
After the seatbelt light was turned off, serving began. White tablecloths were laid on tables and meal trays were served along with drinks. The two main courses consisted of an Asian dish, of chicken and fried rice, and a western dish, of steak and potatoes.
I chose the chicken and rice, which perfectly acceptable, but nothing that will go down in history. I also ordered white wine with my meal, a glass of Dr. Loosen, and a glass of water. On the tray was also a bowl of nicely cut up fresh fruit and a small dessert. Additionally, the flight attendants served bread from a basket to go along with the meal.
I was offered another drink and requested another glass of the German white wine. It was quite sweet but tasted very good. Finally, I was offered coffee and tea, served in large green mugs to keep with Eva Air’s theme. A few minutes later, refills were offered.
After my meal, I was satisfied, full and content to not order anything more to drink. This was until I noticed that the man on the opposite side of the cabin was drinking a neon green drink. I was anxious to know what it was but could not find anything on the drink list which seemed to match it. It turned out to be a melon drink and I proceeded to order it for myself. The melon drink was decanted into a glass and served along with can of Sprite. I asked if this was because the melon drink was strong, but it was rather because it was sweet and many therefore prefer to dilute it. It did not taste too bad.
The service on board was good, very good. It was friendly yet elegant and polished, and, in many aspects, had an extra finesse. For example, how the flight attendants always knelt when they talked to passengers to be at the same eye level.
I was one of only five passengers in business class, which was served by three hostesses. I kept an eye on the time and noticed how it was never more than three minutes between one of the attendants making a round of the cabin. They made an effort to converse with passengers and offered refills of glasses. The service was, quite simply, very good throughout.
At 7.20pm, we began our descent towards Hong Kong and the cabin prepared for landing. We were, however, allowed to continue to drink from our glasses up to a minute before landing.
We landed at runway 25 in Hong Kong. This must be one of the most enjoyable approaches you can do to any airport in the world. You fly in a circle around the center of Hong Kong, approach from the east of the city, flying just north of downtown, and then make a slight left turn for the final approach to the airport, to the west of Hong Kong. At 7.45pm, we landed, five minutes before the scheduled arrival time.
A very positive experience all the way from check-in to landing. Eva Air exuded quality and the service both on the ground and in the air was friendly, elegant and polished.
Checking-in in Taipei was a very positive experience, and the lounge was a pleasant surprise with a great selection of food and drink. The service concept on board did not differ significantly from what other airlines on the route have (I have previously flown Hong Kong-Taipei with both China Airlines and Cathay Pacific in business class), however, a high level of service was maintained. I was always addressed by name, my glass was never empty, and a flight attendant passed by at least every three minutes to check that everything was OK. The seat, the cabin and the interior were also of a good standard and stands up well against the competition.