Dom Pérignon Service on Eva Airways Business Class (777-300ER)

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  1. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Check out several other recent flight/hotel reports, too!



    My fifth and final business trip of the year to Asia concluded in Taiwan. Taiwan’s two locally-based long-haul carriers are Skyteam-member China Airlines (IATA: CI) and Star Alliance member-elect Eva Air (IATA: BR). Eva Air is often referred to in Asia as the “Hello Kitty” airline, as several airplanes in their fleet are decorated with characters from that cartoon.

    Neither of these carriers is considered particularly strong in our frequent flyer circles. I have flown China Airlines (distinct from Air China) a number of times in regional business class (reviewed here and here), but I’d never flown Eva before, so I decided to give them a try on their evening departure to Los Angeles.

    [​IMG]

    I knew Eva was operating this route with one of their new 777-300ERs. These airplanes are equipped with Sicma Aero Cirrus seats in Business Class. The Cirrus seats, configured in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone layout (meaning they face away from the aisle), are substantially the same as what Cathay Pacific (IATA: CX) is rolling out in their fleet. US now uses these on their long-haul flights, and AA is rolling them out as well. I’d not yet flown in these seats and I was intrigued to check them out, too.

    The full text of my report is below. Let’s begin…

    Our driver let us off at Eva’s international check-in area. Not unlike my prior visit in July 2012 or an earlier transit here in 2000 (more on this below), the evening of our departure, the island was under the edge of a typhoon. Winds were easily at a constant 30mph+; flags outside at the airport were straight out from the wind.

    There were several check-in counters for business class, and my party of three (I was traveling with two colleagues) was all helped very quickly. I was connecting to Delta in Los Angeles, but the agent apologetically said she was unable to check me in for my connecting flight. As I had a five hour layover, that was more than fine.

    Though I didn’t take a photo, the fellow at the counter next to me had three items to check: a suitcase, a guitar case and a surfboard case. Clearly, his final destination was southern California!
    After clearing passport control, we found our way to Eva’s Evergreen Lounge. Located upstairs just beyond passport control, the lounge was quite large (this is their hub airport) and had seating for hundreds of people.

    There was a room off to the side of the main sitting areas – perhaps 800 square feet – which offered a full buffet, a full bar and other goodies. I did not have any of the food, but there looked to be a wide variety of options.

    There were plenty of staff on hand in the lounge on continuous patrol picking up dirty dishes and glasses.

    While not the best Asian lounge, it was certainly good by Asian standards, and likely would be considered “the best” if this were a United Club in the US.

    [​IMG]

    Being the Hello Kitty airline, they had some Hello Kitty-branded merchandise for sale in the lounge. I inquired about buying a small item for my daughter (who is six). Unbelievably, they would only sell it to me if I was on a flight operated by equipment with the Hello Kitty decorations! I was not, and I was told I could not buy anything. When was the last time an airline turned down ancillary revenue? I scratched my head, and let it go and instead bought the kids some t-shirts in the duty free mall.

    We turned up at the gate just before boarding was called. Boarding procedures were strictly enforced, with Business Class passengers welcomed first.

    As soon as I boarded and got to my seat (a window seat on the starboard side), I began to take off my suit coat. A flight attendant came up to me very quickly and helped me remove my coat (not just taking it from me to hang, but actually helping me with the removal!).

    Very shortly thereafter, I heard the pop of a champagne cork from the galley. That is always a welcome sign. Within a minute or two, a different FA came buy offering me water, juice or bubbly. For some reason, I went with the juice...which was fine. A subsequent visit to the galley helped me learn that the champagne served was Dom Perignon. Though I did not note the vintage, this is a generous offering for Business Class.

    The seats are configured in a 1-2-1 setting, which allows for private seating facing the windows sort of like now old-style (pre-suite) first class seating on many long-haul planes. Of the range of four lie-flat seats commonly available in business class today, this is probably my third favorite. I'll prepare a post comparing all four soon. Despite that third-place ranking, the seats were nice and afforded a high level of privacy - certainly for those in the window seats. The seat did offer plenty of storage areas, including a spot to place my shoes.

    [​IMG]

    The plane was rocking from the wind even at the gate. Takeoff was choppy, but within a few minutes, we were above the worst of the bumps.

    I fell asleep shortly after takeoff. I woke naturally about an hour and a half after takeoff, as dinner service was about to begin. If I had not been sleeping, I probably would have been frustrated with the wait for meal service.

    The meal was served in 6 courses. A foie gras starter was very tasty, though no Sauternes was offered as a pairing (which Korean did offer). The soup was also very good; it was mushroom-based.

    [​IMG]

    After the salad, a main dish was delivered to me. The main was probably the least good part of the meal, but was still tasty enough. I only had half, but which was more than enough.

    [​IMG]

    At first, I found it interesting that I was not offered a choice of main. Thinking about it for a bit, I remembered that I had booked-the-cook in advance on this flight! Similar to Singapore’s pre-booking service, Eva offers a fairly wide menu that can be pre-arranged. I selected my main about two weeks prior on Eva's website. There were about a dozen options to select from online.

    Cheese and dessert were offered, but I declined.

    I set my seat into a bed and slept for about eight hours. The seat, when set into a bed, was comfortably long. I am 6' 4", just a tad bit too tall to rest in most airline beds. This one fit for me. I was worried about the footwell, as some of the business class footwells can be too small for me (particularly in the staggered-business format). This one was more than fine, and I was able to flip to either side comfortably. The seat itself, however, was a bit narrow.

    As soon as I woke up, I was offered breakfast by an FA. I accepted, but didn't discuss what breakfast would actually be. Breakfast was congee, which was quite good. The congee was followed by a small fruit plate.

    After breakfast, I used the AVOD system for a bit, watching a couple of mindless television shows. The system was very good and responsive. The content was decent, but perhaps not great.

    There was a small bar area near door 2L. I only saw it about an hour before landing, and the area was being used as a work area for several FAs. I suspect drinks were available there during the flight.

    Landing into LAX was largely uneventful. A fire was visible to the north of the plane when we were on final approach.

    *****​
    While I wouldn’t rush out to fly Eva Air simply for the sake of flying them, at least in Business Class (my only experience with them) they should be considered as a more-than-acceptable option to cross the Pacific. Frankly, certain aspects of the service were closer to what I’d expect in First Class than Business Class: helping me remove my coat, the ratio of FAs to pax in the Business cabin (which was very strong), monitoring the cabin for wakers-up and immediate offering of breakfast to them (versus running a trolley down the aisle at a set time), pouring Dom Perignon, among others. The on-the-ground experience though was solidly at the Business Class level, as was the delay until the departure meal was served.

    As Eva is not part of any alliance, the options for crediting the miles from my flight were limited. Thankfully, United is a partner, and I was able to credit my miles to them. (Notably, as of this writing nearly a month later, the points haven’t posted. I’ve written to United seeking the credit.) Eva also operates this route (TPE-LAX) as a codeshare with American. I suspect that arrangement will be phased out over time.

    Eva’s membership in Star Alliance is anticipated to be final in mid-2013. Until then, I don’t believe miles from Eva flights will count as status qualifying miles on United.

    *****​

    Flying on this route that brought to mind a notable and scary memory for me. You may recall the only Singapore Airlines flight that crashed was SQ6, which operated from TPE to LAX. That flight, back in October 2000, crashed on takeoff when taking off during a typhoon. My wife and I were scheduled to be on that flight, returning from our honeymoon in the Maldives. Thankfully, we changed our travel by a day, and routed via NRT to get home instead.

    I am not afraid to fly, but taking off under fairly similar circumstances on that route brought to the forefront of my mind that close call some dozen years ago. Thankfully, this journey proved to be completely uneventful.
    *****​

    Arrival into LAX was helped by having Global Entry. After clearing immigration and customs, I headed over to Delta's terminal 5 for my connecting flight back to New York for what would prove to be a very virtuous layover.... stay tuned...
     
  2. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    Thanks for sharing, a great report as always.:) I'm part of the minority on MP who has never had Dom Perignon so far.:(
     
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  3. ConsultingChris

    ConsultingChris Silver Member

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    Great trip report. Glad to hear that you found the seats long enough to be comfortable. Legroom sitting or laying is the most important thing for me on long flights.
     
  4. tommy777
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    tommy777 Co-founder

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    Finally a good report from EVA, thank you. I was not aware that they had Dom in C. That's awesome!
     
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  5. aptraveler

    aptraveler Gold Member

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    A great and concise report NYBanker, wouldn't expect anything less from you! ;)
     
  6. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    Glad you rescheduled 6 years ago - it must have been a bit scary on take off with your memories. (I also had someone looking out for me - took a flight bkk-koh samai during bad weather and on the next trip - a few hours later- the weather worsened and the plane crashed with all aboard killed).
    First time I've heard of Dom in business - nice! (was it a 2 class plane?)
     
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  7. Rejuvenated
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    Rejuvenated Gold Member

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    Thanks for the report! It has been about seven years ago since I last flew with BR. Last time I did so was on F when they still had it back then (flew it on the same route as you did) which was known as Super First. Despite being a F product, the seat was not fully flat. Glad that they've resorted to a fully flat Premium Laurel hard product like many airlines that have discontinued F. Food was very good in F when they catered it to me back then and glad it is still up to par.
     
  8. Gaucho
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    Gaucho Gold Member

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    Dom Perignon in Business Class.... wow, that must be some sort of record. Dont know if even the high end middle eastern airlines can top that.... Dom beats the pants off most stuff served in Raffles Class...
     
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  9. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Yes. It was a 2 class plane. F is gone on Eva. :( ETA: There was a 2-4-2 Y+ cabin, too.

    Onboard, they really did it nicely.

    Much of the experience was J+.
     
  10. Rejuvenated
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    Rejuvenated Gold Member

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    Aren't their 77W configured as 3-class: Y, Y+, J?
     
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  11. SpecialK
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    SpecialK Gold Member

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    Good to know the old Premium Lauel seats have gone away. Those were not comfortable.
     
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  12. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    Amen to that!
     
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  13. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    some of us (me) don't consider that 3 class;)
     
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  14. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    It certainly looks that way, from the seat, champagne, and what looks like a generous serving of foie:)
     
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  15. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Indeed, there was a 2-4-2 y+ cabin. I amended my earlier post.
     
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  16. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    I don't know if that is fleet-wide. Somehow I learned that the TPE-lax route would definitely have these new seats.

    Judging by the md90 of theirs that I had flown earlier in the week, there surely could he other old configurations floating around in the system.
     
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  17. Rejuvenated
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    Rejuvenated Gold Member

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    TPE-JFK-TPE has gone nonstop on both directions for a couple of months now, unlike the dreaded ANC stop westbound. Though not sure if JFK has the newest Premium Laurel product.
     
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  18. asiadxer

    asiadxer Silver Member

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    Currently, there are 4 out of 15 EVA B777-300ER that have been converted with the new Royal Laurel Biz flat bed seats. All TPE-JFK-TPE flights have the new Royal Laurel, while only certain flights TPE-LAX-TPE are using the new Royal Laurel configured planes. TPE-LAX BR 12 normally have Royal Laurel, but LAX-TPE sometime is a gamble between BR 1 or 11.
    Food service last month on RL was slightly better than PL, soup was a welcome addition. Dom champagne was a plus. The real flat bed was comfortable, although I missed the memory foam pillow which was normally given for PL angled flat bed.
     
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  19. jamesonx

    jamesonx New Member

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    Who is the awkward bald guy with lots of carry ons in your pictures? Australian? He is the epitome of the worst tourist ever.....
     
  20. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    IMHV, DP is greatly overrated. But I'm also aware that view is not shared by all on Milepoint. And there are some that are of the opinion that DP is dishwater when compared to Crystal, etc. FWIW, I'm perfectly happy with a bottle of bubbly that costs @70-80% less than DP. Will gladly provide a few recommendations, if interested.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2014
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  21. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    A very nice review, thanks for posting!
     
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  22. NYBanker
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    NYBanker Gold Member

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    Thanks NS!
     
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  23. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    Wow, classy...

    I'm interested.

    I rather liked the Ruinart I got in the UA FCL in SFO.
     
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  24. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    I'm interested.

    I rather liked the Ruinart I got in the UA FCL in SFO.[/QUOTE]

    I just sent you a TM, rather than stir up the DP Milepoint fans!
     
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  25. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    I don't really care about stirring up the DP fans ;) but I accept your argument.
     
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