Reviews

Review: EVA Air Airbus A330 Premium Laurel business class (Taipei-Brisbane)

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, September 10 2018
EVA Air Airbus A330 Premium Laurel business class (Taipei-Brisbane)
Route

Taipei - Brisbane

Aircraft Type

Airbus A330-200

Airline

EVA Air

Flight

BR315

Cabin Class

Business

Seat

8G

Notes
The Good
  • Inflight dining, meal pre-ordering
  • Pyjamas on overnight flights
The Bad
  • Angled flat beds in a 2-2-2 configuration
  • Hot cabin temperature
X-Factor
  • Pouring Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2006
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

Celebrating 25 years of flights to Brisbane, Taiwan's EVA Air (Evergreen Airways) offers business travellers its Premium Laurel Class service on flights between the Queensland capital and Taipei's Taoyuan Airport.

Although a step below the carrier's 'Royal Laurel Class' experience as you'd get on journeys further afield, Premium Laurel Class still provides the expected business class inclusions, along with Champagne fitting of a first class cabin.

Here's what to expect in business class aboard EVA Air's Airbus A330-200s between Taipei and Brisbane.

Check-in

  • Frequent flyer program: EVA Air Infinity MileageLands (in Australia, a transfer partner of CBA Awards, Diners Club Rewards, and also Citibank Rewards for Prestige cardholders), but as a Star Alliance airline, miles can be earned and redeemed on EVA Air flights through other programs too, including the popular Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer scheme.
  • Carry-on baggage allowance: 2x115cm bags up to 7kg each, plus one personal item such as a thin laptop satchel, handbag or camera bag.
  • Checked baggage allowance: 40kg on most tickets issued by EVA Air, although different allowances can apply for passengers connecting to some destinations or travelling on multi-airline or round-the-world bookings.
  • Priority airport services: With in-town check-in available in Taipei, I took the opportunity to ditch my checked bag and obtain my boarding pass before heading to the airport to save a little time, although EVA Air also provides business class priority check-in at Taipei's Taoyuan Airport, as you'd expect. There's no priority security screening or passport control here for business class flyers, but priority boarding and baggage delivery is effective.

Read: Flying from Taipei? Ditch your suitcase at in-town check-in

Lounge

In Taipei, EVA Air business class passengers can access EVA's funky The Infinity lounge, offering a variety of hot and cold food, along with expected amenities like WiFi and private shower suites.

AusBT review: EVA Air's The Infinity business class lounge, Taipei

Exclusively for EVA Air's MileageLands Diamond cardholders, a separate lounge – The Garden – adds a tended cocktail bar and also a noodle bar into the mix.

On flights departing Brisbane, EVA Air business class passengers can access the Plaza Premium Lounge.

Flight

Running four days each week (5x weekly during December and January), EVA Air's Taipei-Brisbane flight pushes back at 11pm to reach Brisbane at 9:50am, with a journey time of 8hrs 50min.

Out of Brisbane, it's another overnight trek, with BR316 leaving at 10:15pm and touching down in Taipei at 5:15am the following morning after a similar flight time.

From December 1 2018 (December 2 out of Brisbane), EVA Air will also upgrade its Brisbane flights to the larger Airbus A330-300 jets, introducing an extra row of business class seats, larger inflight entertainment screens and some other visual improvements, albeit in the same 2-2-2 layout as on the A330-200s.

Brisbane remains the airline's only destination in Oceania, competing head-to-head with China Airlines on the same route.

Seat

Spread across just four rows, EVA Air's Airbus A330-200s come with 24 business class seats in a 2-2-2 layout.

With a 61-inch (155cm) seat pitch between rows, those transform into angled-flat beds for these overnight flights with a plush pillow and blanket...

... and with your feet dovetailing underneath the seat in front for extra space. At around 180cms tall, I didn't feel squashed in, but there's no escaping the angled nature of the seat which impacts on comfort.

As you may have spotted in the photo above, pyjamas and slippers are provided...

... as are Rimowa amenity kits on flights departing Taipei...

... and Georg Jensen pouches on flights bound for Taiwan:

Back to the seat itself, a small privacy divider can be withdrawn from the centre console – it doesn't do much when you're sitting upright, but can help block the light from your neighbour's TV when in bed mode to help you rest:

A cocktail table sits between each pair of seats, housing water bottle holders underneath: easy to forget about as you can't spot them when seated, although the crew coming through the cabin after take-off to distribute the bottles serves as an easy reminder.

There's an AC power socket right next to you, although Australian pins aren't accepted without an adaptor – you'll need a European plug or a US-style connector, the latter being standard on the ground in Taiwan – and while this proved sufficient for recharging my iPhone, larger laptop power plugs would struggle to fit, particularly with adaptors attached.

That's less of an issue on these overnight Brisbane flights than on other routes – albeit with no separate USB power outlet – although while talking about gadgets, there'd be room to store your laptop in front, if the recess weren't filled with literature:

Another pocket in front helps keep your smaller items handy, and was a good place to whack the slippers during take-off and landing...

... as the floor space ahead of you has to remain clear, because there's nothing to push your belongings 'under': although there's still plenty of space around your feet:

The position of your seat is controlled via the armrest, with pre-sets for sleeping, dining and take-off/landing, along with tweaks to customise the seat to your liking, or to activate the in-seat massager, which worked well.

Despite all the bells and whistles though, I didn't find the angled seat very comfortable for sleeping, and awoke several times during the overnight journey.

A very hot cabin temperature – combined with the lack of individual air vents – didn't help things either, and that was with me sleeping on top of the supplied blanket.

EVA Air's forthcoming Airbus A3330-300s may improve that situation for Brisbane travellers with a comfier bed (pictured below), albeit one that's still angled-flat, without direct aisle access for all:

One tip: if you find yourself aboard an EVA Air A330, whether the -200 or the -300, do as I did and aim for one of the 'D' or 'G' seats in the centre of the cabin when flying solo (the 2-2-2 cabin being AC-DG-HK). This at least provides you with direct and uninterrupted aisle access, as your neighbour exits to the opposite aisle.

Meal

The journey begins with an offer of water or sparkling wine before take-off – but if you wait until you're in the air, that generic sparking is replaced by the sumptuous Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2006 – by any measure, a Champagne that most airlines would only serve in first class, given it retails for A$250/bottle here in Australia – but on EVA Air, it's the standard business class drop.

Normally I'd head straight to bed on overnight flights like this, but chose to stay awake this time to sample the inflight dining: commencing with a goat's cheese tartlet and a prawn and crab egg crepe parcel, which were fresh and tasty...

... before the table was set for supper – with more Veuve, of course.

That paired well with the appetiser: foie gras mousse and smoked salmon with a Champagne jelly...

... while the menu gave the following choices for the main:

  • Steamed salmon rolled with herb and cheese in a creamy brown sauce, with mixed vegetables and turmeric-flavoured potatoes
  • Braised pork spare ribs with red yeast fermented rice sauce, mixed vegetables and fried rice with egg
  • Noodle soup with steamed chicken

Beyond that and similar to Singapore Airlines' Book the Cook service, EVA Air also allows guests to pre-order their main dish up to 24 hours before departure, including from a range of options not on the regular menu.

As I'd been on the road for a few weeks and was heading home, I knew I'd be in the mood for something simple, so pre-ordered a burger with vegetables and fries, which was actually quite tasty, even though those "vegetables" were pieces of lettuce, and the dipping sauces were served in plastic containers rather than ceramic pots for better presentation:

I skipped dessert – a choice between fruit, a mousse cake with rum and raisin white chocolate, or an oven-baked pastry with sesame paste filling – and finished up with a simple Matcha milk tea instead.

Skip forward to the morning, and the onboard espresso machine came in handy for a pick-me-up latte...

... while breakfast provides the following options:

  • Chinese style: Plain porridge, traditional delicatessen, coriander omelette, stir-fried squid with mustard pickle and fruit
  • Western style: Fruit, assorted bread with butter, muesli, yoghurt, cheddar cheese omelette with hollandaise sauce, bacon and potato rosti
  • Premium Laurel Special: Peking duck noodle soup, traditional delicatessen, fruit

For something different, I went with the Premium Laurel Special – a different take on the more common beef noodle soup – and enjoyed it, but skipped the fruit plate to follow, as there's only so much food a person can eat on an overnight flight!

Entertainment & Service

Aboard the A330-200s, a 10.4-inch 4:3 entertainment screen sits in front of you, loaded with a variety of content...

... but as the panel isn't HD – let alone widescreen – you'd find better video quality on most modern tablets:

That'll fortunately be replaced by a 15.4-inch HD widescreen monitor from December when the aircraft changes to the A330-300...

... but until then, you'll find your remote control within your armrest...

... with access to key controls such as volume even when the armrest is closed:

Service from the crew is prompt and friendly with glasses always topped up and plates disappearing quickly, although being asked several times whether I'd like to purchase any duty-free items – after I'd already said no – was unnecessary.

Overall, while EVA Air's biggest strength is its food and beverage service (not to mention that stellar Champagne), on overnight flights like these, sleep is the most important thing for most business travellers, and when the bed neither goes flat nor offers direct aisle access for all, it significantly detracts from the overall experience, and you step off the aircraft feeling tired rather than well-rested.

Hopefully the upcoming aircraft change for Brisbane makes these sleeper flights a little more comfortable, and we'll keep our fingers crossed that one of these days, EVA Air brings its Boeing 777s to Australia as are currently flying to London, bringing with them fully-flat beds in a standard 1-2-1 cabin.

Chris Chamberlin travelled to Taipei as a guest of Star Alliance and EVA Air.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Michael Kao

Michael Kao

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Nov 2014

Total posts 339

Does anyone know if EVA has any plan to upgrade their product to BNE? The angled 2-2-2 is the worst product in their long haul fleet. They even use the newer A330 even though still 2-2-2, is full flat, on the regional intra Asia route.

Such a shame as EVA has one of the best soft product let down by a really outdated hard product.

I was hoping with China Airlines already upgraded to A350 would push EVA to upgrade theirs, but doesn't seem like it at this stage.

(I've heard a rumor that it's due to their insufficient aircraft, but recently they are leasing 77W to NZ, so certainly that's not the case)

afloskar

afloskar

10 Aug 2015

Total posts 130

EVA 789/10 is on the cards for BNE when they are delivered

aviator

aviator

30 Oct 2012

Total posts 23

They have just announced that they're changing to their newer 333 with flat bed starting from 1 Dec

Traveller14

Traveller14

17 Sep 2015

Total posts 391

That both BR and CI fly to BNE is mostly due to it having by far the largest Taiwanese community in Australia.

I was on BR a year ago on shorter Asian flights (only in Y) and thought the service on board rather perfunctory, and not as efficient as on SQ or as friendly as on PR.

MissBasset

MissBasset

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Aug 2012

Total posts 194

Eva was high on my 'to do' list for when the opportunity arose, but the tres ordinaire seats see it slip down the list, as well as the sub par flight times. Might look at some ex-Taipai flights for better seats/times.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2949

Keep your eyes peeled for Royal Laurel Class which is EVA's brand for its top business class experience, as you'd get on flights to London (via Bangkok), for example.

Premium Laurel Class (such as on Brisbane flights) sits in the middle, and "business class" just means domestic-style recliners on other routes within Asia.

elchriss0

elchriss0

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 581

A good way to try this is taking Thai to BKK and then connect to one of EVA's europe bound flights. I'm currently thinking about this for taking their 777 to AMS

stmaus

stmaus

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

20 Nov 2017

Total posts 103

So, not a patch on the China Airlines equipment and service, it seems. CI flies its new A350's to BNE and SYD, with its excellent J product. Perhaps the competition should have been given a mention, even in a review paid for by Eva?

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2949

Suggest you read the review again: China Airlines was mentioned where appropriate, and we also linked to our review of China Airlines’ A350 business class experience on the same route . Reviews aren’t full-on comparisons, however (e.g. China Airlines vs EVA Air business class, which would be an article in itself), although star ratings take competition into account, particularly on the ‘seat’ front, where it’s fairly reflected that EVA’s current aircraft doesn’t match China Airlines.

daft009

daft009

09 Jul 2016

Total posts 28

Trying Eva next year from Singapore to Toronto via Taipei. Should be fun on the hello Kitty plane is the routes don't change

aggie57

aggie57

QF

04 Apr 2014

Total posts 152

I did LA to Singapore via Taipei on EVA last year, really enjoyed their product and service on the 777’s although one leg was on a regional A330 which was a recliner only. Pretty sure that was Singapore to Taipei.

Overall though I was impressed and I’d happily fly them again. A quiet achiever.

nix584

nix584

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 250

RE: lounge access. While BR have an agreement with the PPL, pax could still use the SQ and NZ lounges due to Star Alliance rules? Both would be open at the time BR departs.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2949

Technically yes, under Star Alliance rules, although the Singapore Airlines lounge closes around 6pm and re-opens around 9pm on most days, so with a scheduled EVA departure from Brisbane at 10:15pm, by the time SQ's lounge opens it'd almost be time for boarding. Might have better luck on Sundays when the SQ lounge opens earlier to cater for Virgin Australia's evening flight to LAX.

Re: NZ, the opening hours should prove less of an issue, given NZ stays open in the evenings to cater for Etihad flights (and on certain days of the week, Thai flights), after all the AirNZ flights have gone out for the day.

OOLflyer

OOLflyer

13 Feb 2017

Total posts 21

My favourite Brisbane-Europe Business Class service - yes, ahead of SQ.

This sector is the weak link seating-wise, but Taipei to Europe adds a fabulous seat to the superb catering and amenities.

Best of all, the additional stop at Bangkok ensures that you arrive at both ends with less jet lag, as you arrive after an overnight sector.

It may seem weird to prefer a 32 hour 2-stop service to a 24 hour 1-stop one, but just like flying NZ to LHR as a 2-stop 32 hour journey, it gives less jet lag than the more direct routing.

eamond

eamond

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 May 2014

Total posts 33

Indeed, I personally put NH and BR ahead of SQ for the same reason. And the lounge at TPE is by far the best, leaving everyone else miles behind.

jgb59

jgb59

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

16 Mar 2016

Total posts 35

Great review, I just booked flights on EVA for Brisbane to Paris stopping in Taipei on the way over and London to Brisbane stopping in Bangkok on the way back in business for $5048 departing next May and after reading the review am really looking forward to a new airline.

daft009

daft009

09 Jul 2016

Total posts 28

So is it possible to book this route with KrisFlyer points? SQ site brings up no direct option ex Brisbane

stewardnurse

stewardnurse

25 Jun 2013

Total posts 40

Does anyone know if you can preselect seats during the booking process

pere

pere

22 Nov 2018

Total posts 3

Yes you can pre select seats

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