Hong Kong - Taipei
- Friendly crew, plus onboard power for each passenger
- Meal (and seat) presentation could be improved
- Begin your journey with a choice between five solid airport lounges
Travelling in EVA Air business class across Asia? Chances are you'll find yourself onboard one of the airline's Airbus A321 jets, all of which offer business class.
- Frequent flyer program: EVA Air Infinity MileageLands. As a Star Alliance member, miles can also be earned and spent through other programs like Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Thai Airways ROP.
- Carry-on baggage allowance: 2x115cm bags each up to 7kg, plus one personal item such as a handbag, camera bag or thin laptop satchel.
- Checked baggage allowance: 40kg as standard. Add 10kg for EVA Air's Silver frequent flyers, or 20kg for EVA Air Gold and Diamond members, plus other Star Alliance Gold cardholders.
- Priority boarding: Enforced – but if you've checked-in online and aren't travelling with checked baggage, stop by the service desk at the departure gate to have your travel documents verified.
- Passport control fast-track: Travellers can zip through the airport even faster by registering for both the Hong Kong eChannel and for Taiwan's passport e-Gates, as there are no business class priority lanes at either airport.
Through its membership in Star Alliance and local partnership with Hong Kong Airlines, EVA Air's business class passengers have no fewer than five lounges to choose from in Hong Kong, boosted to six for travellers with an EVA Air Gold or Diamond card.
On the Star Alliance front, there's a choice between the lounges of Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and United. Singapore Airlines' space tends to have the edge on food and isn't far from passport control, making it a solid and convenient choice.
Thai's lounge is instead further away, but is better-geared towards relaxation with most of the brightly-coloured seats allowing you to kick back and soak up plenty of natural light.
Then there's the United Club, which, ahead of this flight, was the quietest – giving it an edge if you're buckling down with some serious work before take-off:
You can also choose to visit Hong Kong Airlines' flagship lounge Club Autus, offering made-to-order food and barista coffee:
Or, stick to Hong Kong Airlines' Club Bauhina which is closer to the departure gates often used for this flight, retaining those made-to-order dishes and airport views but with machine-made brews:
Finally, passengers flying EVA Air business class who also have an Infinity MileageLands Gold or Diamond card will instead receive an invitation to Plaza Premium First, offering à la carte dining, a complimentary massage and more.
If Plaza Premium First were available, that'd be our pick – otherwise, you could simply use the lounge nearest to your departure gate, or for regular travellers, try visiting a different lounge on each trip to keep things interesting.
EVA Air offers up to nine return flights per day between Hong Kong and Taipei, with onward connections to over 60 global destinations, including Brisbane aboard EVA's newest aircraft, the Boeing 787-10.
Those Dreamliners also currently appear on selected flights between Hong Kong and Taipei – the world's busiest route for international passengers – although most are served by these smaller Airbus A321s.
Business class aboard EVA Air's Airbus A321 jets comes in a standard 2-2 layout, giving eight seats across two rows.
While the airline could certainly refresh these with a more stylish fabric, they're still quite comfortable – and spaced at 45 inches of pitch, there's plenty of room to move even if the passenger in front reclines.
At a width of 21 inches, these seats both recline and offer a swing-out leg rest.
Both functions can be controlled via simple keys aside the arm rest:
In terms of storage, there's a pocket in front of you, and if you select a seat in the second row, you can also use the space underneath the seat in front for laptop bags and the like – which would otherwise have to go into the lockers for take-off and landing.
Each passenger also gets an international-style AC power outlet, although not a separate USB slot.
As these jets are most often used on short regional flights across Asia – such as this hop from Hong Kong to Taipei, at under two hours from gate to gate – the seat caters to the needs of most travellers, whether aiming to work or relax, or a little of both.
The service begins with a dragon fruit-based mocktail before take-off, which proved very refreshing on a hot Hong Kong day.
The full menu opens after take-off, where an Evergreen Special cocktail – mixing melon liqueur, vodka and lemonade – was equally refreshing.
With a 1:35pm departure out of Hong Kong, the meal service provides a late lunch with a choice between cajun-spiced chicken or wok-fried cod with ginger and scallion in oyster sauce.
Preferring something local, the cod had been pre-selected several days earlier via the airline's mobile app, and while the presentation of the main course was very 'airline meal', it was flavoursome and enjoyed with garlic bread and a glass of German Riesling.
Espresso coffee is available too, with a latte served after the main meal – just stir before drinking.
Prior to descent, wrapped snacks were offered from a basket, and when taking a mint only, the cabin crew highly recommended the other two as well, which was solid advice.
Being such a short flight, business travellers also have the option of dining in one of the many airport lounges available to them, to make the most of their time on board.
Entertainment & Service
Inflight entertainment comes by way of a 10.6-inch TV screen in front:
Those in row one will find their screen mounted to the bulkhead wall, to there's no need to keep the screen stowed for take-off and landing as on some other airlines.
A broad selection of movies and TV shows were available, including new release movies at the time such as The Lion King (2019). The screen responds to touch and can also be operated via this separate controller.
However, while enjoying the entertainment, the film was interrupted mid-flight with 'forced' TV ads which took over the screen and the PA system. We counted 12 consecutive ads before giving up and enjoying the view out the window instead.
Cabin crew service was attentive, addressing passengers by name and responding promptly to requests, while also knowing when to keep their distance when the laptop was out with work to finish.
Overall, EVA Air's Airbus A321 business class is comfortable for what is a relatively short flight, although the airline could stand to improve its meal presentation, and indeed, the appearance of the seats.
Chris Chamberlin travelled as a guest of EVA Air.