In February, 2014, my schedule included a reposition flight on Taipei-based carrier EVA Air. EVA has a strong presence in Asia. Their passenger and cargo jets can be spotted at major cities worldwide. My first officer and I were really curious about EVA. We were familiar with their attractive green and white airplanes, but neither of us had flown on them.
Here’s the scoop on our short flight from EVA’s hub in Taipei, Taiwan to Hong Kong on a brand new Airbus A321.
If you aren’t familiar with EVA Air (pronounced “E-V-A Air”), they are the second largest Taiwanese airline and serve over 40 countries with passenger and cargo aircraft. EVA is a member of the Star Alliance. EVA Air Website
Since 2005, EVA has partnered with Sanrio, the Japanese company known for their Hello Kitty characters. EVA has five “Hello Kitty Jets” adorned with the colorful Kitty & her friends. To make the Hello Kitty jet experience complete for young passengers, EVA has a Hello Kitty check-in area with kid-friendly kiosks in their Taipei hub. If you happen to walk through Taoyuan terminal, you won’t miss it! I was holding my breath, hoping to fly on a Kitty jet, but these special aircraft are used primarily for Japan routes. No Hello Kitty for me!
Check-In Service And EVA Air Lounge
Our early evening check in at the EVA Air counter at Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport was fast and painless. My colleague and I checked two bags each, received our boarding passes and were off to customs and security within 10 minutes of arriving.
Once through security, we headed straight for the EVA Air Lounge to extract the maximum benefit from our Business Class tickets.
Upon entering the lounge, we were immediately impressed. Modern, spacious, and quiet, the lounge definitely has a “wow” factor when you walk in. After some exploration of the seating areas, we headed to the food service section.
Pilots have a habit of eating whenever food is available. Crazy schedules often leave us wondering when we’ll see our next full meal. After sleeping all day, we were hungry and ready to eat. Besides, our flight to Hong Kong was only an hour and 40 minutes, we might not see much food on the airplane. Time to dig in…
The kitchen offers a wide variety of goodies to satisfy both Western and Asian palates. Breakfast and dinner items were available; a nice touch for international travelers with mixed up body clocks. I tried a little of everything that didn’t stray too far from my comfort zone. The food was fresh and quite good.
My First Officer was happy to discover the surprisingly popular hot dog bar. Eating hotel food and box lunches for two weeks can induce a genuine hot dog craving!
The beverage selection is typical of most airline lounges. EVA provides a wide variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, juices, and sodas. The espresso machine cranks out an outstanding cup of coffee. I was wired and ready for our flight after a few cups. For dessert, the Mövenpick gourmet ice cream bar was unavoidable… I made two visits. Calories on the road don’t count.
Time To Board
Our aircraft for flight 827 to Hong Kong was a four month old Airbus A321, registration B-16207. The cabin still had the new airplane smell. The Business Class seats are typical of narrow body, short-haul jets; very comfortable for a two hour journey. After we were seated, the cabin crew offered us juice and champagne.
Shortly after takeoff, my greatest fear was realized. We were presented with a complete inflight dinner. In the interest of writing this review, I felt it was my duty to keep eating. I chose the roasted grouper. Fish is tricky to cook properly; getting it to your plate still edible at 30,000 feet is a serious challenge. Although a little chewy, the grouper was very tasty and definitely worth the effort. Hot toasted garlic bread and fresh fruit were a welcome addition.
As we began our descent towards the Pearl River Delta, the cabin crew served assorted cheese plates and coffee. I was far too full to try the cheese (it looked good), but I did indulge in a cup of coffee; I’m glad I did. EVA Air has mastered the little things. Fresh coffee, real cream and a raw sugar swizzle stick made for a perfect ending to the meal. Best airline coffee ever.
Inflight Entertainment System
Time for some fun. The last few passenger flights I’ve been on (not EVA) were aboard older aircraft. The inflight entertainment systems were either just OK or non-existent.
Technology in the IFE industry has been advancing rapidly and I was interested to see what a factory-fresh Airbus had to offer. For the occasional passenger or tech-savvy frequent flyer, the IFE is a breath of fresh air. The menus are easy to navigate and respond quickly to commands. The system has a diverse selection of multi-language entertainment, including newer movies, television programming, games, and audio CD’s (even some quirky, alternative stuff I like). If you use your own headset, be sure to bring an adapter for the three-prong outlet.
Always the aviation geek, I like to watch the map and flight info channel. EVA Air’s “Sky Compass” is the best I’ve seen. I was really impressed by the 3D “heads up display” view. To see a bit of the safety announcement, menu system and Sky Compass, here’s a demo I shot:
My first experience with EVA Air was excellent. I won’t hesitate to book them when my schedule requires a reposition in or out of Taipei. Hope to fly EVA Air again soon!