Flying daily from London's Heathrow Airport to Bangkok and onward to Taipei, EVA Air passengers are treated to the airline's top-tier "Royal Laurel Class" business class experience aboard these Boeing 777-300ER jets.
Positioned as a rung above "Premium Laurel" business class on EVA Air's Brisbane flights, the London-Bangkok-Taipei route offers the expected combination of fully-flat beds with direct (and uninterrupted) aisle access at the pointy end, as Australian Business Traveller reviews from a recent journey.
- Frequent flyer program: EVA Air Infinity MileageLands, Star Alliance. Eligible fares can also be credited to other major frequent flyer schemes such as Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer or United MileagePlus.
- Carry-on baggage allowance: 2x115cm bags each weighing up to 7kg, plus one personal item such as a handbag, camera bag or thin laptop satchel.
- Checked baggage allowance: 40kg on most tickets issued by EVA Air, although different allowances can apply for passengers travelling on multi-airline or round-the-world bookings, or connecting to some destinations such as the United States.
- Priority airport services: The usual mix of priority check-in, fast-track security screening, priority boarding and baggage delivery. Early baggage check-in is also available through the shared Star Alliance check-in desks on the far left of Terminal 2 – here, I was able to drop my bag off and receive my boarding pass at midday before this 9:20pm flight.
At London Heathrow, EVA Air directs passengers to the Air Canada lounge by default, offering bartender service, barista-made coffee and buffet dining before the evening EVA Air departure.
However, as EVA Air is a Star Alliance member, you're also free to visit the Lufthansa Business Lounge, United Club and the Singapore Airlines SilverKris business class lounge, all located in the same terminal, so take your pick.
As this flight transits through Bangkok, your business class boarding pass unlocks the dedicated EVA Air lounge at Bangkok Airport during the 90-minute pit stop, a modern space with private shower suites, a range of both Western and Asian food at the buffet, and for the sweet tooth, Magnum ice cream in the freezer:
Again, EVA Air's Star Alliance membership also provides the option of using the Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge and the various Thai Airways business class lounges here, but with a transit time of just 90 minutes between touchdown and take-off, I kept to the EVA Air lounge this time, which wasn't far from the departure gate.
Unlike the Airbus A330s EVA Air uses on its Brisbane-Taipei flights which sport business class seats in a 2-2-2 layout, those aboard the airline's Boeing 777 jets come in a much more pleasing 1-2-1 configuration:
As a reminder, the magic words to look for when booking your EVA Air flight are "Royal Laurel Class", which is the airline's branding for its best business class experience, as opposed to "Premium Laurel Class", which is code for the airline's 2-2-2 seat.
As you'd expect, the difference between the two is significant – here on the Boeing 777, there's more elbow room and storage space for your gear...
... with each seat transforming into a two-metre fully-flat bed, which I put to good use on the overnight journey from London:
Although the seat appears quite 'open' from the aisle, when you're seated, the wrapped design of the surrounding shell provides a reasonable sense of privacy...
... while the control panel allows you to jump to a few pre-set positions, while also tweaking any element of the seat to get the feeling just right. However, given the level of customisation that's possible here, missing is a memory function to save and return to your perfectly-crafted spot if you have to move the seat throughout the flight.
The panel nearby houses almost everything else, including your adjustable reading light, headphone plug, international AC power outlet, inflight entertainment remote control, USB charging port and inputs for displaying the output from your laptop on the inflight entertainment screen – albeit older-style RCA and S-Video connectors as opposed to the modern standard of HDMI/DVI.
There's a small storage nook up here as well, complemented by two further cupboards down by your knees...
... and a separate literature pocket on the aisle-side of your seat:
Directly in front of you sits a two-stage floor. The lower level proves a handy foot rest when you're sitting upright, while the higher level is better-used when reclining, and later serves as the end of your fully-flat bed.
There's also a shelf to your side which is a handy place to pop your laptop when dining or while it's charging, but when going to bed, you might prefer to secure it elsewhere in case of any turbulence:
Finally, the armrest on your seat's aisle-side is adjustable in height, whether you raise it completely...
... keep it flat to provide a little more elbow room when in bed mode, or anything in between.
If EVA Air's Royal Laurel business class seat looks familiar to you, that's because it's a customised version of the popular Zodiac Cirrus seat as also flown by Air France, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Vietnam Airlines and others, which many would regard at a high standard.
Following the usual pre-departure drinks, refreshments are offered after take-off from London to Bangkok.
Having spotted Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2006 on the menu – a Champagne that other airlines would only serve in first class, given its prestige and price tag ($250/bottle in Australia) – that was an easy choice, joined by a foie gras macaron and a cauliflower tart garnished with caviar:
Next up, assorted bread with butter and balsamic vinaigrette, alongside an appetiser of smoked duck breast with seared scallop and yoghurt mousse.
The cabin was dark as others were sleeping, so here's a closer look:
Following this is a main course from the options below:
- Seared beef fillet with crystal pink salt or truffle sauce with mixed vegetables and Gorgonzola tatin
- Roasted chicken breast with game jus, mixed vegetables and mushroom ketchup
- Wok-fried prawns and pumpkin in dry-cooked sauce with mixed vegetables and steamed rice with black sesame
I was in the mood for beef and opted for the truffle sauce, paired with a glass of full-bodied red (Château Haut Condissas 2011, Médoc, Bordeaux), which was nice and tender:
I skipped dessert, but if I'd wanted to indulge, the following options were available:
- Smoked Austrian cheese and Sage Derby cheese served with crackers and caramelised onion chutney
- Lemon mascarpone cheesecake
Instead, the crew offered a simple Godiva chocolate as a good-night bite, and I went straight to sleep:
Although the first leg of this flight from London to Bangkok runs overnight and only takes around 11 hours – which means there's time for one good meal, a solid eight-hour rest and not much else – the following dishes are also available to order throughout the night if you're still hungry:
- Mozzarella grilled sandwich
- Stewed pork and soy egg noodle soup
- Instant noodles
- Cookies with hot chocolate
Closer to landing in Thailand, a refresher service is offered, starting with a wake-up drink (mixed carrot and fruit juice, orange juice, apple juice, tomato juice, coffee, or tea), and a first course as below:
- Chinese-style: Chinese plain porridge with traditional delicatessens, fried egg with vegetables, aburaage tofu chicken roll and fruit, or
- Western-style: Goat cheese mesclun salad with creamy basil pesto dressing, assorted bread with butter, cereal and yoghurt
Then, the following dishes are available as mains:
- Ham, spinach and sun-blushed tomato frittata with chicken sausage and baked potatoes
- Pan-roasted blackened salmon served with peas and risotto
Knowing that I'd have time to eat in EVA Air's Bangkok lounge during the transit and also aboard the onward Bangkok-Taipei leg of the journey shortly thereafter, I kept my eyeshade on and slept until close to landing to maximise my rest.
As a rule, I never eat food just because "it's there", so while I'd have appreciated those options if I'd been awake and hungry, I was quite happy catching up on some much-needed sleep.
Skipping forward to the 3.5-hour Bangkok-Taipei journey, sparkling wine is served before take-off – for the Veuve 2006, you'll have to wait until you're in the sky:
That's followed by nibbles after take-off and another round of drinks, so I took the chance to explore EVA Air's cocktail menu (also available on the London-Bangkok leg), sampling the signature Evergreen Special which blends a refreshing mix of melon liqueur, vodka and sprite...
... and yes, that's an aircraft-themed stirrer at the top!
With a 5:10pm departure in Bangkok and a 9:45pm arrival in Taipei, the meal on this leg is dinner, starting with roasted duck with tomato pesto, and a smoked salmon roll with mango in mustard dill mayonnaise, which were both light and fresh:
For the main course, a choice between:
- Braised beef and paprika onion stew with mixed vegetables or fried potatoes
- Stir-fried prawns with duo garlic sauce with mixed vegetables or stir-fried glass noodles with vegetables
- Roasted chicken thigh in coconut Thai herb sauce with mixed vegetables and/or garlic fried rice
Although the chicken was tempting, I went for the prawns accompanied by the noodles and veges. The prawns and noodles were delicious, although the vegetables here were quite bland:
If you're still peckish, there's cheese, fruit and a moist brownie cake to follow, but as you've probably guessed, I skipped dessert – but did enjoy another glass of the Veuve.
Entertainment & Service
On the longer overnight leg from London, pyjamas and slippers are provided...
... along with a Georg Jensen amenity pouch. Although you have to clear security screening during the Bangkok transit, I simply placed the entire kit into an X-ray tray at the checkpoint, rather than fishing through and separating the liquids, and had no problems.
Various items are also provided in the business lavatories on both sectors:
An inflight entertainment screen sits in front of you, but must be locked and stowed at an angle for take-off and landing:
The system responds to touch, or you can use the remote control for navigation...
... with a variety of movies and TV shows available, and of course, the 'moving map', which I always find provides an interesting backdrop when working on a laptop:
Cabin crew were friendly and kept my glasses topped up, responding quickly to any call bell requests at other times, kept the cabin at a comfortable temperature (as there are no individual air vents), and made good use of the Boeing 777's Starry Night feature when passengers were sleeping:
However, if I'd been seated at 8D or 8G with the illuminated art work directly in front, I wouldn't have appreciated that spotlight remaining on, so light sleepers, consider sitting elsewhere.
All things considered, EVA Air offers a comfortable business class seat with good meals, service, amenities and excellent Champagne, although the drawback of this flight is having to transit Bangkok between Taipei and London, as is also the case on EVA Air routes from Taipei to Amsterdam and Vienna.
Given EVA Air's biggest competitor China Airlines now runs non-stop flights from Taipei to London, albeit into Gatwick instead of Heathrow and also not a daily service as EVA offers, it'll be interesting to see whether this competition prompts EVA to axe its Thai stopover in favour of non-stop flights of its own.
Chris Chamberlin travelled to London as a guest of Star Alliance and EVA Air.