Eva Airlines Review 777-300ER TPE-IAH : Flying During the Strike
Updated: Nov 11, 2019
We flew to Taiwan to see the country's green mountains, but also to position ourselves for a very exciting award flight: Eva Airlines Business Class. It was especially exciting because I'd been tracking this award availability for months and odds were looking good we'd be able to snag two award tickets on one of the longest flight paths in the world: non stop from Taipei to Toronto.
In a twist of fate, we arrived in Taipei the same day the Eva Airlines flights attendants went on strike, resulting in about 2,250 flights cancelled. We spent many hours on the computer, and many mornings waking up hopeful that this strike had come to an amicable end so we could book our flight. But after a week of waiting and watching, it was time to pull the trigger and book ourselves on whatever the next best option was. (We would eventually find that the strike lasted a total of 17 days)
Eva Airlines still kept some air traffic moving, and there was still some award availability on select flights. We ended up booking two business class tickets from Taipei to Houston, with an onward ticket in economy class to Toronto. We considered it a very good alternative and were still thrilled we were able to try this world renowned business class flight. We were flying on a 777-300ER and, thank to our Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card and its ability to transfer to United Mileage Plus, we booked this ticket with 80,000 points and $38.43. Read more about how to book business class with points here.
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We arrived at the airport and found it almost deserted. I guess that's no surprise considering the strike. It made for a very easy check in process for us. We had our bags checked in and our tickets in hand within seconds of arriving.
Along with our tickets we were given a map of the lounges and were directed towards the Infinity Lounge. We also took note that there were several Priority Pass lounges available it we had not been flying business class.
We arrived at the Infinity Lounge and were greeted by an Eva Airlines employee. Again, the lounge was virtually empty. There may have only been one or two other people in the entire lounge. It wasn't an overly large lounge so I might guess that on other, heavier travel days it may get a little crowded but it certainly wasn't an issue for us. There were also showers available and nice window overlooking the check in area below.
The food offerings were varied. There were plenty of Taiwanese dishes like beef noodle soup (which was served in two parts - the noodles and beef were in a bowl in a chafing dish and the broth was in a separate warmer so you could pour yourself a "fresh" bowl of soup"
There was also a selection of different steamed buns, some stir fry options, a few chafing dishes full of vegetarian options, and breads. One of the most interesting additions was a wooden vessel full of baked sweet potatoes. There were also a few items that seemed to be geared more toward a western palate - mainly hot dogs and ice cream.
If you don't like Taiwanese food, perhaps you wouldn't have enjoyed the food offerings (since you would most likely be eating a hot dog) but we found the food to be very good and liked the variety. It was not the most luxurious business class lounge - for that we preferred the Swiss Airlines lounge in Zurich or the impressive Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge in Istanbul - but it was comfortable enough to spend an hour or so before our flight.
Getting Settled In
We set off towards our gate but got sidetracked with some last minute gift purchasing and ended up sprinting to the gate. We were among the last to join the boarding line since the "Final Boarding" announcement had already been made. We did, however, get to experience the thrill of diverging from the long line of passengers to take the separate jet bridge entrance for Royal Laurel Class.
There were two business class cabins and we were sitting in the second cabin so we did have to rejoin a small line of people to get to our seat once we left the front business class cabin. Aside from the initial commotion of the economy class customers getting to their seats through this cabin, it was very quiet and half of our cabin ended up with empty seats. For those in-the-know, Eva Airlines uses reverse herringbone seating which provides a very private experience. We were obviously traveling together so when we wanted to chat we had to lean forward and peak our head around the divider. If you were traveling solo, this seat configuration ensures you won't be brushing elbows with a stranger.
The seats showed no signs of wear and tear and the seat buttons were straightforward. No fancy massage feature but the seat was very comfortable and well maintained. Of course the color scheme featured green, which coincides with Eva Air's logo, but I'm not sure it added to the overall appeal of the cabin. These shades of green and gray looked a little dated despite everything being quite new. This didn't detract from our enjoyment of the flight of course, simply a side note and my own personal preference. I also enjoyed the armrest that could be raised or lowered with the push of a button. I used it quite a bit, not really for any comfort-related reason. I just thought it was cool.
There were a few amenities waiting for us when we arrived. The duvet was folded by our feet and before I even sat down I could tell I'd enjoy snuggling up with it. It was so nice, thick, and cozy. The pillow was equally fluffy and it really felt like a proper bedding set.
The headset was also nice and sturdy and did a great job of canceling out cabin noise. It may not be Bose, but unless you're an extreme audiophile I doubt you'd notice too much of a difference.
The amenity kit was great. It came in a maroon hard shell kit and included everything you could possibly want on a long haul flight. In fact, we used the amenity kit for months afterward and I don't foresee us getting rid of the box it came in. It's the perfect size for toiletries and keeps everything well protected. The amenity kit included:
Socks with grip
Last but certainly not least - a pair of slippers AND a pajama set. We put those slippers on IMMEDIATELY and did not take them off for the entirety of the flight. We weren't offered a size choice for the pajamas. I'm not sure if this was related to the strike and perhaps lessened availability of resources, or if everyone just gets a size Large regardless but that's what we ended up with. Although neither one of us wears a size Large, we didn't bother requesting a size Medium as we were pretty thrilled to be getting pajamas at all and found them very comfortable. Both the slippers and the pajamas were designed by Jason Wu. The material was also thin but soft - perfect for sleeping in.
There was also lots of storage but you couldn't use any of it during takeoff. Which I found a little frustrating since there are a few things you want to keep handy at all time, and don't necessarily want to stow above you. Again, I'm really splitting hairs here but I'm just sayin'. The flight attendants were great and they did come around and offer to place any of these loose items in a complimentary tote bag which could be stuffed into the netting near your feet which usually held the safety manual and any magazines. It was a tight squeeze but I certainly appreciated the effort.
In Flight Entertainment
If there was one area that could be improved upon, I would say it's the in-flight entertainment. The movie options were pretty limited but I was able to find one or two to watch and enjoy. There were a few new releases and a good selection of Chinese movies, but when you compare the selection to some of their competitors (Turkish Airlines, Swiss Airlines, United Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, etc..) it really doesn't compare. This won't be a flight that you're struggling to watch all the amazing movies that are available, rather you'll get one or two in that you enjoy, and then you'll be ready to snuggle into that cozy bedding in your lovely pajamas. Hardly the worst thing in the world.
The TV screen was a good size and provided a clear picture without glare. The remote control was nice and new and the touch screen was very responsive.
Food & Wine
The wine menus came around soon after boarding and we were given a chance to review our choices. I went with the Champagne (La Grande Dame) and Ofer had a martini. Along with the menu came a hot towel and small chocolate.
As I mentioned, we flew amidst the Eva Airlines flight attendant strike and operations were somewhat impacted. I had been looking forward to pre-ordering a meal as is usually available on Eva Airlines but sadly this service was suspended during the strike.
The "prelude" came shortly after take off and included two items: a seafood wonton in a crispy shell and a mini tart with goat cheese and sliver of olive. Research after-the-fact led me to a menu that describes them as "shrimp and crab meat in egg crepe parcel" and "goat cheese in mini tartlet".
I had also read through many reviews prior to the flight and admired the beautiful artwork on the menus but on this flight we were only given the wine menu, there wasn't a food menu provided at all. Instead, the flight attendant came around soon after take off and offered a verbal choice between sea bass or pork. Given the limited description I went with the sea bass.
The starter came around soon after. Since there wasn't a menu we were left to guess what the specifics of the dish were. The smoked salmon and pate was fairly straightforward but we couldn't quite put our finger on what the jelly was. We later learned it was a champagne jelly.
The sea bass ended up being served with steamed vegetables and rice. The sauce seemed to be some kind of garlic ginger sauce. Overall the food was excellent. They also served some bread with butter and olive oil/balsamic vinegar.
I'm still not sure what the dessert was but it was very good. I really enjoyed the fruit and the cake had a few kernels of red peppercorn on top which made for a very interesting combination.
Since I'm a compulsive researcher, I was expecting the tablecloths to have design on them as I had seen in other reviews but, alas, it was just your standard white tablecloth.
Breakfast orders were also taken prior to dinner and, since there wasn't a menu, we were given a verbal choice of a frittata or a "seafood dish". I'm the type of person who reads menus as a hobby, so I was slightly frustrated that I couldn't gain all of the descriptive adjectives I wanted for a meal but my frustration was more than mitigated by another glass of champagne.
The breakfast was tasty and featured more fruit (yay!) and the coffee was very nice.
I've mentioned it previously, but the bedding was just so nice on this flight. Add in the pajamas, eye cover, and ear plugs and you have a recipe for a very good nights sleep. Crawling into bed was truly a cozy experience and Eva Airlines puts a little extra magic into this aspect - they have stars splattered along the ceiling. It was so easy to fall asleep and both of us slept for a solid 8 hours.
I would definitely fly Eva Airlines again given the chance. Despite flying during the strike, the flight attendants were very attentive, pleasant, and professional. If I hadn't researched so much about the standard offerings of Eva Airlines Business Class and the strike itself, I doubt I would have even known there was a strike going on.
If you want to see the video of this flight, you can check it out here:
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