At the launch party for EVA Air’s Houston-Taipei service I had the opportunity to walk through their brand new 777-300ER Hello Kitty “Shining Star Jet” and have a look at all three classes of service.
Houston is EVA Air’s farthest destination from Taipei. But the Star Alliance airline has a strong partner in United.
Hello Kitty planes are a whole lot of fun. They offer a really nice enhanced soft product, bringing the Sanrio characters to life through video, meals, and a presence across the small items onboard like safety cards and even the toilet paper in the lavatories.
They put a tremendous amount of attention to detail into the planes, and flight attendants have very specific standards for how they deliver service — like carving pats of butter into stars using molds when presenting meals on the aircraft.
In the post about the inaugural festivities I highlighted several Hello Kitty elements of the service.
What I’m equally interested in is the onboard product — only part of which is Hello Kitty.
Royal Laurel Business Class
EVA Air offers a business class product that’s four abreast on the Boeing 777-300ER. That means all aisle access.
The seat is reverse herringbone and very similar to what Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, and others offer. It’s one of the best business class seats in the sky in my opinion.
The seat has a Hello Kitty pillow, and Hello Kitty is on the video screen and on the handheld remote that controls the entertainment system.
But the star here is the seat itself, which is fully lie flat with personal space. Some people, especially those that are taller, finds that it can be tight at the feet. I prefer this type of seat because the angling of the seat creates privacy. But it doesn’t feel tight overall, especially since the armrest pushes down so you have a sense of space at the shoulders when fully flat.
Flight attendants wear Hello Kitty aprons and present meals adorned with Hello Kitty.
The champagne though isn’t Hello Kitty — per One Mile at a Time EVA has recently changed champagnes from Vueve Clicquot La Grande Dame to Krug.
EVA Air’s 777 is eight seats abreast in Premium Economy. There are double armrests between seats and foot rests.
The meals of course have Hello Kitty elements. But to me what’s interesting is how high quality and thoughtful the meals themselves are. I’m especially impressed to find macarons in premium economy. Good macarons generally cost around $2.50 apiece on the ground.
I wish they did seven-across seating rather than eight, they could have put in seats closer to domestic first class with a bit of extra recline. (Seat pitch at 38 inches is what you’d expect in domestic first, but nonetheless felt tight.)
The hard product doesn’t seem to me a good replacement for the budget-minded who wish for business class. But the soft product details are really, really nice.
Economy is nine across in a 3-3-3 configuration. The first thing I noticed about EVA Air’s economy cabin was the legroom.
EVA Air offers 33 inch pitch in economy on this aircraft. That’s two inches more than is standard on US airlines.
EVA Air’s nine abreast seating is also generous compared to industry norms. American has moved to 10-across. Air France and Emirates are already there.
The extra width and extra legroom make EVA’s economy product, in my view, far superior to what many airlines are offering for long haul travel these days.
There are no footrests, though. I think the economy seat here is just a notch below Singapore’s refreshed 777 economy seat.
Meal service in economy is just as Hello Kitty, of course, as across the rest of the plane.
A Brief Word About the Lavatories
Is it just me or is Hello Kitty toilet paper the greatest thing ever? I was too bashful to ask the Sanrio executives how I might get some of this at home for the guest bath.
With service to Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York JFK, Toronto, Vancouver with their 777s and also to Seattle (onboard a 747, so a different product) and now to Houston EVA Air deserves to be better known than they are in the U.S.
They offer substantial service to China, Southeast Asia, and even to Brisbane so Taipei makes for an excellent connecting point.
The product is one of the best in business class, and there’s attention to detail throughout. For sure, if you’re redeeming an award ticket and have the option to try EVA Air business class, you probably want to.
In contrast to what many of us experience in the US, even economy isn’t viewed as ‘self-loading cargo’.