Is EVA Air business class worth it on the Boeing 787-10?
EVA Air's business class on the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner has a sleek cabin paired with top-notch customer service, enjoyable food and comfortable bedding, but lacks a few key aspects that would make it a truly luxurious experience.
- Comfortable seats with a smart design and plush bedding.
- Excellent customer service and delicious food.
- High-end amenities like designer pajamas and Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kits.
- Disappointing lounges, with crowded spaces and limited food selection.
- Subpar inflight entertainment options.
- Expensive and slow Wi-Fi.
How much does it cost to book business class on EVA Air?
I redeemed 75,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles for a one-way redemption from Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Here is a snapshot of what paid fares on this same route are like over the next year as well as some award redemption options using points and miles from two of EVA's Star Alliance partners' frequent-flyer programs, Air Canada Aeroplan and United MileagePlus.
|Aeroplan points||50,000 points + $82 taxes.||Not available at time of publication.||75,000 points + $82 taxes.|
|United MileagePlus miles||38,500 miles + $39 taxes.||Not available at time of publication.||88,000 miles + $39 taxes.|
The most up-to-date EVA Air business class (or "Royal Laurel Class," as the airline calls it) seats are found on the airline's Boeing 787-9 and 787-10 aircraft. At the time of writing, Seattle is the only North American destination where these planes operate. You can also find these jets on flights to Brisbane, Australia (BNE), and on select European and Asian routes.
EVA serves other U.S. cities, including Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco with Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with the airline's older business-class seats aboard (pictured below). These still offer direct-aisle access in a 1-2-1 setup but have reverse herringbone seats that have obviously been in service for longer.
Flying out of Seattle, you'll get a modern onboard product but, unfortunately, a lackluster lounge. Flying out of the other cities (except New York-JFK) will get you an older seat but also access to United Airlines' excellent Polaris lounges.
EVA Air is part of Star Alliance, meaning you can use points and miles with partner airlines to book an award redemption. One of the best redemptions is using 95,000 ANA Mileage Club miles for a round-trip business-class flight between North America and Taipei. You can transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to ANA, but note a 48-hour transfer time.
You can also use 75,000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles for a one-way redemption, which is what I did. You can transfer points to Aeroplan from American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Capital One Miles. Add a stopover in Taipei before a connecting flight elsewhere for only 5,000 additional points.
Avianca LifeMiles charges 83,000 miles and United MileagePlus requires 88,000 miles for one-way redemptions between the U.S. and Taiwan.
Along with your seat, here's what other amenities and services an EVA Air business-class ticket includes.
|Business class||Seat selection/cost||Cabin baggage allowance/cost||Checked baggage allowance/cost|
|Cash fares||$0.||2 pieces (15 lbs/7 kg each) + one personal item.||2 pieces (70 lbs/32 kg each.)|
|Redemptions||$0.||2 pieces (15 lbs/7 kg each) + one personal item.||2 pieces. (70 lbs/32 kg each.)|
Checking into and boarding business class on EVA Air
EVA Air's ground experience can vary depending on your departure point, but business-class passengers can count on the following services.
|Boarding group.||Number 1.|
|Lounge available.||Yes (The Infinity and The Star.)|
|Does the airline participate in TSA PreCheck?||Yes.|
I started my journey in Da Nang, Vietnam, flying on China Airlines to Taipei, where I had a three-hour layover before my onward flight to Seattle on EVA. It was an easy 12-minute transfer by foot from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2, including passing through security.
I was able to check into my EVA flight online 24 hours before the flight, and the China Airlines check-in agent in Da Nang interlined my checked bag onto my EVA flight without my needing to pick it up in Taipei.
Usually, a three-hour layover isn't something to look forward to, but I had high hopes for EVA's business-class lounge, given that Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport is its main hub. Unfortunately, I was very disappointed (and upon research into online reviews, I'm not the only one).
There are four EVA-branded lounges at TPE. The most premium one is called The Garden and is only accessible by top-tier EVA Infinity MileageLands Diamond elites.
Next is The Infinity, which Star Alliance first- and business-class passengers can access along with Infinity MileageLands Gold and Star Alliance Gold elites. I have to say that this is one of the most disappointing Star Alliance business-class lounges that I’ve come across in a hub.
The late evening is one of the busiest banks of departures for EVA, with four flights to the West Coast of North America (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver) all departing within half an hour of each other. This means that during my visit at 10 p.m., the lounge was crowded, with just one large sitting space and a wait for showers. The food selection was very limited, apart from the self-service ice cream station by Movenpick.
So what are the solutions? First, you could cross the hallway into The Star. The lounge is accessible to Star Alliance Gold elites, even if they're not flying in a premium class of service. While technically, it's an inferior lounge, it is less crowded and offers similar food options to The Infinity. There's also The Club, an EVA lounge for its MileageLands Silver elites, though I did not visit it on my layover.
Another solution — if you have a card that grants you access, like The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card— is to walk two minutes to the Plaza Premium Lounge. You'll find a more tranquil space with a superior food selection, including a made-to-order noodle bar. If you're looking to freshen up, there are private nap rooms and hot showers, and there was no wait to use them. Keep in mind that this lounge closes at 11 p.m.
I found most passengers already at the gate one hour before departure due to the added measures passengers must pass through there. There is an individual passport check at each gate. Gate areas are crowded and bathed with bright fluorescent lighting (not ideal for late-evening departures), with only limited seating and power outlets, so charge your devices beforehand. There are separate lines for business- and economy-class passengers.
How comfortable was business class on EVA Air?
|Number of seats.||34.|
|Seat pitch||76 inches.|
|Seat recline/Fully flat||Fully flat.|
|Seat width.||23 inches.|
|Screen size.||18 inches.|
Upon boarding, I found a sleek, attractive business-class cabin with design elements that made me feel like I was in a luxury car ... that would fly through the atmosphere. The cabin felt fresh and well-maintained, showing minimal signs of wear and tear. The seat numbers displayed in a space-themed font added a touch of charm.
Business class on this plane is in a single cabin and features seats from BMW Designworks. They are staggered in a 1-2-1 configuration, with direct aisle access for all passengers. The seats feel similar to the Vantage XL seats you'll find in Qantas business class and SAS business class.
Thanks to muted color scheme with accents of green, the seats feel sophisticated and have comfortable padding, but the headrests cannot be adjusted. I found it easy to get in and out of my seat to use the restroom thanks to direct aisle access, and I especially enjoyed the massage function. The small privacy screen that slides out between center seats must be stowed for takeoff and landing but I'd recommend using it to create that "cocoon" feeling when you're in the air.
|Best seats for solo travelers.||A and K seats in Rows 2, 5, 7 and 9.|
|Best seats for couples.||Any pair of D and G seats in Rows 3-9.|
|Seats to avoid.||Rows 1-2 and 10.|
The best seats for solo travelers are those with wider armrests along the aisle and the seat closer to the wall of the cabin.
If you're traveling accompanied, your best choices are center seats. A retractable privacy divider can be deployed if you need a little alone time. Like the seats along the sides of the aircraft, some are closer to the aisle than others, thanks to one armrest being wider than the other.
The first and last rows should be avoided due to the light and noise coming from the galleys. I would especially avoid the bulkhead seats in Row 2 as a bright EVA Air motif is not turned off when passengers are sleeping.
When it's time for bed, the cabin crew will provide turndown service, and this is a great time to go to the lavatory to change into your pajamas. You'll return to a fully-made bed, including a pillow, duvet and mattress pad, although the latter is disappointingly thin and fails to provide sufficient cushioning. The duvet is one of the plushest I have come across in the sky, however, making it feel like a cloud is floating on top of you. You can ask the cabin crew for a second pillow for additional head support.
While legroom was not an issue for a person of 5 feet, 11 inches, the top half of my body felt slightly cramped in the narrow bed setup. Additionally, it would have been convenient to have the option to tilt the screen downwards for easier viewing while falling asleep.
When it's time for sleep, you can enjoy glowing stars on the ceiling. But as you can see from the light emanating from the front galley, it's best to choose a seat in the center or back of the cabin.
The inflight entertainment touchscreen is large, crisp, and close enough to control from your seat, though there's also a remote. Unfortunately, the Western movie and television series selection is limited. Still, I did like the novel prompt of selecting what to watch according to my mood (in my case, "good" + a little tipsy = rom-com).
Looking around the seat, you'll find just one universal power outlet and one USB port on the edge of your side table. The seat controls are easy to use and very responsive, with preset positions for takeoff and landing, a lounging recline and lie-flat mode as well as a do-not-disturb button.
The handheld remote for the entertainment system has a crispy display, but you probably won't need to use it unless you're in lie-flat mode and watching something on the screen. The small compartment at the back of the larger armrest is sizable enough for a couple of small water bottles, an amenity kit, or a tablet device, but laptops are best stowed in your carry-on baggage in the overhead bins, available both above the aisle and the center of the cabin. There are no individual air nozzles, but I found the cabin temperature cooler and comfortable.
The tray table pulls out from the large armrest is solid and steady. I especially appreciate how far forward and back it could be moved, giving you flexibility if you want to eat in an upright or reclined position.
There are three bathrooms in the business-class cabin (one at the front and two in the rear) for the 34 passengers. The rear bathrooms were exclusively for those in the business-class cabin; I saw no premium economy passengers walking up to these.
There was rarely a line for the lavatories, and they were always spotless. Flight attendants put out things like extra toothbrushes and mouthwash to supplement your personal amenity kit after takeoff, and you'll find handwash and lotion from Belgian brand 4711. It warmed my heart to see the cabin crew patiently helping a substantial number of elderly passengers with support moving to and from the bathroom.
Amenities in EVA Air business class
The hard-shell Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit EVA Air business-class passengers receive is one of the nicest I've come across and has an especially comfortable eye mask and nifty comb with a built-in mirror. The fashion house's Bianco di Carrara lip balm, body lotion and face mist were wonderful, too.
The noise-canceling headphones business-class passengers receive for use during the flight are very comfortable. However, I would have liked them to go louder and to be able to change the volume with one touch.
EVA is one of only a handful of airlines still giving out pajamas to their business-class passengers. The Jason Wu-branded pajama set I received was the most attractive I've seen from an airline, thanks to the contrasting pop of color in the pant pockets and the unique hoodie feature on the top. You'll also get some comfy slippers to wear.
Unfortunately, onboard Wi-Fi is expensive and slow on EVA. An unlimited data plan for the entire flight (called the "Ultimate Plan") costs $39.95, with 30-300MB plans costing $4.95-$29.95. I topped out at 2.3/0.4 Mbps download/upload speeds, which is woeful. You'll want to create an account (not check out as a guest) when making your purchase so that you can switch between devices using the same plan.
How was the food in EVA Air business class?
One would think that a highly-rated airline would serve their business-class passengers sparkling wine that costs more than $12 a bottle, but that seemed to be the default on my flight with Perelada Brut Reserva Cava.
However, you can also opt for one of the fancier beverages on the wine list that you can access through the touchscreen. On my flight, Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne, which retails for over $200 a bottle, was also available.
Between 30 days and 72 hours before departure, passengers can preorder meals from an expansive menu, including dishes that aren't normally loaded for the flight, such as poached lobster and butternut squash with pumpkin ravioli. I booked my ticket through an alliance partner and didn't pay enough attention to this option when managing my booking on the EVA Air website, so I had to make do with day-of options.
Still, the cabin crew was happy to give me a printed menu, and my first options for both dinner and breakfast were available.
For dinner, passengers could enjoy:
- Hors d'oeuvre: Goose liver mousse, smoked salmon and Champagne jelly.
- Appetizer: Shrimp and crab meat in an egg crepe parcel and goat cheese in a mini tartlet.
- Main course: Broiled pork spare ribs with green peppercorn sauce and vegetables; stir-fried shrimp with vegetables, rice and quinoa; or house-steamed chicken noodle soup.
- Dessert: Toffee cake with sesame crisp, fruit, or a Suzhou-style mooncake with sesame paste filling.
For the pre-landing meal, the options were:
- Chinese meal: Congee with braised tofu and shiitake mushroom, scrambled egg with shrimp and asparagus, and traditional side dishes.
- Western meal: Iberian pork and smoked chicken with vegetables, mussels and squid with a kalamata olive and tomato concasse and rosemary potatoes.
- "Royal Laurel Special:" Noodle soup with pork spare ribs, lotus seed and wolfberry.
My dinner, including the stir-fried shrimp, burst with flavor in every course, with the highlights being a shrimp and crab crepe parcel and a chamomile-infused praline toffee cake. I woke up to braised tofu and mushrooms with congee and a sweet, creamy matcha green tea for breakfast. The meals were quite filling and delicious.
Dinner didn't start until an hour after takeoff (due to turbulence) and finished an hour after that. Dinner courses were delivered on individual plates with breakfast on a single tray to maximize sleep time, and the cabin crew seemed to keep good tabs on where passengers were at with their meals, proactively offering drink and bread refills as well as moving through courses in an efficient but unrushed manner. There were also various snacks put out between meal services for passengers to nibble on during the long middle portion of the flight.
I only wished the flight attendants were more proactive about clearing empty glasses and, if I'm nitpicking, pouring beer at an angle so as to reduce the head.
Would you recommend EVA Air business class?
I would definitely recommend flying EVA Air business class between the U.S. and Asia. You'll get excellent customer service, delicious food and comfortable bedding and pajamas. However, go in with low expectations of the airline's lounges in Taipei and try to visit the Plaza Premium Lounge if you have access.
It would be best to aim to fly the airline's Boeing 787-9 or 787-10 aircraft as these jets feature much more updated seats than the ones found on most North American routes flown by the Boeing 777-300ER.
All in all, however, I'm excited to fly EVA again on future trips to Asia. I would look forward to the delicious Taiwanese dining options and top-notch service. I spent a month traveling through Taiwan a few years ago and think flying EVA there is a great way to get into the local experience — even before you step off the plane.