Tag Archives: eva

How to get from Singapore to Miami, or why March can’t come soon enough

I finally had time to sit down and plan my leave for 2017. Although the vast, unexplored spaces of South America and Africa beckoned, I consider myself to be pathologically boring and decided to visit the USA (again). But just so no one could call me predictable, I decided to explore the great state of Florida this time round.

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Florida, aka America’s wang

Miami would be my first port of call. My virgin US open experience had whet my appetite for more high quality tennis and the Miami Masters were scheduled to take place at the end of March/start of April.

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But Miami is also known for great beaches, beautiful art deco buildings, Cuban and Argentine influenced cuisine and much more.

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And since I’m in Florida, it only made sense to visit Orlando too. I do love theme parks and the idea of visiting the theme park capital of the world, excites me to no end. Orlando boasts Disney World, the Epcot Centre, Discovery Cove, Universal Studios, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Legoland. Seaworld…the list goes on and on.

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I’ll definitely do a separate writeup on Orlando and Miami with things to do ala my DC trip report, but let’s first look at the higlight of the trip- getting there!

Getting to the States

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It’s not that straightforward to get from Singapore to Miami on miles (if you’re wiling to pay revenue prices you could fly SIN-LHR-MIA, with the LHR-MIA leg operated by Virgin Atlantic). The closest major international airports to Miami were Houston and New York, both of which were about 2.5 hour connecting flights away from Miami. SQ25/26 is one of the hardest routes to clear award flights on, so I decided to look at Houston instead.

SQ recently announced that it would start routing its IAH flight through Manchester instead of Moscow, presumably due to the downturn in the global oil sector leading to less oil-related travel between Houston and Moscow. The flight is currently operated in a 3-class 77W (with the 2006 premium cabin products) but eagle eyed observers noted that from 1 Jan 2017 First Class space was no longer available for redemption or revenue bookings. The most logical conclusion was that SQ has identified this route for deploying the A350.

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I’m going to fly Thai’s A350 in December from Bangkok to Singapore, but this will be my first long haul A350 experience and I’m really excited.

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SQ’s A350 has its newest (2013) business class seat, and although there are some complaints out there about how narrow the cabin is, I think it’ll still be a great trip report to write. The cost of a one-way redemption was 72,250 miles + S$412 of taxes.

Once I land in Houston I have 90 minutes to make my connection to a domestic flight to Miami. It’s a short connection for international-domestic and some might say I’m playing with fire, but I’ve recently been approved for Global Entry which gives me a good feeling about this. What could possibly go wrong!

Here’s where I took advantage of one of the great sweet spots on the Krisflyer partner award chart– the ability to redeem domestic US tickets for only 12,500 in economy.

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I did so because the one-way ticket prices from Houston to Miami that matched my schedule were in excess of S$400. 12,500 miles and S$8 of taxes got me my United economy ticket. It’s a 2.5 hour flight and since Netflix now lets you download movies to watch offline, I figured I’d be just fine.

Getting back to Singapore

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The next problem I faced was how to get back from the States. I had two options.

I could fly back to IAH and take EVA back to Singapore. The problem was that flights between Orlando and Houston were expensive and didn’t suit my timings. The most workable option was to fly with United, but that would get me into Houston at 5.55pm for a flight that took off after midnight.

And that would be an awkward kind of layover, because it’s too long to stay in the airport and too short to go out and explore. Plus, I didn’t really fancy paying US$70 for an Uber roundtrip to downtown Houston for just a couple of hours, with my bags in tow.

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So I looked at option 2 instead, which was to fly to JFK and take EVA’s 1.25am flight home. And that solved it- Jetblue was offering S$219 tickets one way from Orlando to JFK (with a bag included- any FYI, Jetblue flights now earn Krisflyer miles) that got me into JFK at 11pm. That was plenty of time to make the connection.

Despite hearing so many great things about Jetblue, this is actually going to be my first time flying with them, It’s unfortunate I couldn’t take advantage of their great points matching promotion not too long ago, but I’m nonetheless excited to see why this LCC is so much more loved than the legacy carriers in the states.

The only downside of this arrangement is that EVA operates its Hello Kitty service to Houston but not New York.

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High on my to-do list is try one of the EVA Air Hello Kitty flights at some point in the future. But I guess that’ll have to wait until I travel one of the follow routes…

Sidenote: I cannot access the EVA Air Hello Kitty website from my office. why? Well…

The flight cost me 78,000 Lifemiles +$30 of taxes for a total outlay of about US$1,100 (I bought my Lifemiles at 1.375 cents during the last sale)

My only regret is that I really wanted to try a new cabin product this time round. I suppose SQ’s A350 sort of counts, but I was secretly hoping there’d be award space on Asiana’s Business/First class or something available with one of the European carriers.

Has anyone been to Miami/Orlando? Any highlights/must dos?

The Milelion’s RTW Trip: EVA Air TPE-LAX

The Milelion is embarking on a round the world trip over the next 4 weeks to more than 10 different countries. En route I will be doing reviews of different airlines and hotels. This will be one really, really long trip report. Thanks for keeping me company.


Introduction: Around the world in 28 days
EVA Air Business Class Singapore to Taipei
EVA Air Business Class Taipei to Los Angeles
Silvercar LAX
Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa
Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles
United First Class Los Angeles to Mexico City
Le Meridien Mexico City
United First Class  Mexico City to Houston
United Business Class Houston to Sao Paulo
Sheraton Sao Paulo WTC
South African Business Class Sao Paulo to Johannesburg
Hilton Sandton
Ten Bompas Johannesburg
Turkish Airlines Business Class Johannesburg to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Zagreb
Westin Zagreb
Croatia Airlines Business Class Zagreb to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Terminal
Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Riyadh
Four Points Riyadh
Air India Business Class Riyadh to Mumbai
St Regis Mumbai
ANA Business Class Mumbai to Tokyo
Asiana Business Class Tokyo to Seoul
Westin Seoul
W Seoul
Asiana Business Class Seoul to Tokyo
ANA Business Class Tokyo to Singapore


EVA BR 226
Taipei (TPE)- Los Angeles (LAX)
Saturday, May 21
Depart: 18:40PM
Arrive: 3:25PM 
Duration:  11H30M
Aircraft: B777-300ER
Seat: 5K (Business Class)

The doors to the plane opened at 5:52pm which meant I had just short of 18 minutes to get to the lounge and snap some photos before connecting to BR12 to LAX. I cleared security again and went up an escalator to the departure area.

I saw a sign labelled “VIP Lounges” and headed briskly in that direction. After jogging for 5 minutes I wondered why I wasn’t getting any closer to the lounge. Then I paused, took a look at the terminal map and realised I’d been going the wrong way. Probably the champagne.

So I turned around and jogged in the opposite direction, now with only 8 minutes to go to boarding.

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EVA operates 4 different lounges in Taipei airport- The Infinity,  The Star, The Garden and The Club. Because I was in such a rush I didn’t have time to accomplish my original plan of visiting all 4. Something for next time then!

The Infinity was really crowded when I entered, presumably full of passengers on evening departures to the USA and Europe. Because of time constraints I only managed to get snaps of the food. There was a large buffet spread with the following highlights

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The Chinese options

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And the Western ones. Even though I’m a pasta snob I am still a sucker for a bad bolognaise. Especially when the caterer goes through great lengths to convince me of its pedigree.

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Truth be told, it was closer to la mian with ketchup than pasta

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The Movenpick ice cream station has been a staple of the EVA lounge even back in 2012 when I first visited. Ah, I remember that trip. I was en route to New York as part of a business study module at SMU.

Although I wasn’t as astute at the miles and points game then as I am now, I still had the good sense to get myself a Diners Card (the Delifrance co-branded one because it had a $500 credit limit version that students could apply for ) which gave me 1 free entry per year to any of the Diners contract lounges (for more info on lounge access via credit cards, check this out)

I digress.

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There was a make-your-own-hotdog station

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And a salad bar with Tron-style lighting

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And the usual well-stocked drinks fridge.

After a hurried visit I dashed off to the boarding gate where boarding was just about to start

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As for the flight- I’ve covered most aspects of the hard product on the SIN-TPE route so I won’t repeat them here. The only difference on this flight was that they were using a newer version of the Panasonic IFE system- the type SQ has on its new cabin products with the touchscreen. There were also 2 USB ports for charging (versus only 1 USB port on the SIN-TPE leg)

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What struck me most was the difference in service between EVA’s short haul and long haul routes. My SIN-TPE flight was solid, not spectacular. There were bits and pieces missing from the service element (be it addressing passengers by name or doing frequent passes of the cabin) that detracted from the whole experience.

Not so TPE-LAX. The difference was visible the moment I entered the cabin. The crew greeted each passenger and showed them to their seat (versus absent crew and seat yourself model for the SIN-TPE leg), each seat had bedding, a Rimowa amenities kit and a bottle of Fiji water waiting (versus nothing for SIN-TPE). Later on, a stewardess came by with pyjamas. There are only a handful of airlines that provide pyjamas in business class and they tend to be those who don’t have a first class anyway (eg Delta).

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I finally had my long-awaited Rimowa kit.

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The standard stuff inside- toothbrush and toothpaste, earplugs, moisturizing cream, eyeshades and grippy socks. I’d be interested to know how much EVA pays per kit because the crew tightly control its distribution- any empty seat didn’t have one waiting there, only the seats they saw on the manifest would be occupied.

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A welcome drink was served together with a Godiva chocolate. Just as it was the case in Singapore, EVA sticks to serving only sparkling wine on the ground in Taipei

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I found the service a lot warmer than the SIN-TPE leg as well. The crew made an effort to address every passenger by name and frequently patrolled the cabin to see if anyone needed anything.

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Here’s the dinner menu for the TPE-LAX leg. I was disappointed that Din Tai Fung catering was not available on this flight. I’ve yet to understand how EVA decides which flights get DTF catering because the TPE-SIN leg had it on offer.

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I decided to pair dinner with what must be my favourite travel book- A Week At The Airport by Alain De Botton. Although I must have read it half a dozen times, I still find new joy every time in reading De Botton’s exquisitely crafted prose. For those of you unfamiliar with his work, De Botton is the kind of man who can take the mundanities of life and describe them back to you in a way that makes you see them in a whole new perspective.

Here’s the opening paragraph of the book, if only to whet your appetite

“While punctuality lies at the heart of what we typically understand by a good trip, I have often longed for my plane to be delayed so that I might be forced to spend a bit more time at the airport. I have rarely shared this aspiration with other people, but in private I have hoped for a hydraulic leak from the undercarriage or a tempest off the Bay of Biscay, a bank of fog in Malpensa or a wildcat strike in the control tower in Malaga (famed in the industry as much for its hot-headed labour relations as for its even-handed command of much of western Mediterranean airspace). On occasion, I have even wished for a delay so severe that I would be offered a meal voucher or, more dramatically, a night at an airline’s expense in a giant concrete Kleenex box with unopenable windows, corridors decorated with nostalgic images of propeller planes and foam pillows infused with the distant smells of kerosene.”

Beautiful.

Dinner started with a strange hodgepodge of appetizers. What strikes me as weird is that even if you pick the Chinese option, everything up to the main course is Western-style. This starter had peaches, avacado salad, half a cherry tomato and goose liver pate.

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This was then followed by a perfectly passable tomato soup.

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Curiously enough EVA’s standard cutlery loadout does not include a spoon. I noticed this on the SIN-TPE leg but assumed I just got lucky. They only bring spoons for dishes that require them, like soup

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Next was a lifeless salad. Wilted greens were never a more appropriate description.

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And then the main event

Three Cup Chicken and Coconut Cream Chicken with Taro in Egg Crepe Parcel, Mixed Vegetables, Monascus Rice

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I’m particular about my rice and was intrigued to learn that apparently this was Chishang Premium rice, something I’d never heard of but heck, if they commit an entire page in the menu to it it’s got to be good, right?

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After dinner it was time to wash up and test out the bed. Another difference I noted between the short haul and the long haul was that for the TPE-LAX leg they set up an amenities dispenser in the looo with earplugs, towels and toothbrushes (despite the amenities kit already having a toothbrush and earplugs)

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Here’s a picture of the fully-deployed seat

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The bed was excellent. The cabin was 1/4 empty so I helped myself to an extra pillow and blanket, which I laid on the seat as a replacement padding. It should also be noted that the kind of blanket EVA uses on the long haul flights is very different from the short haul one. The short haul blanket was thin and more of a day-blanket, if such a term even exists. The long haul one was much warmer and less scratchy.

I slept a good 5 hours and awoke for the pre-landing refreshment service

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My first choice (Royal Laurel) was unfortunately not available. I guess everyone likes a big bowl of soup noodles first thing in the morning. It didn’t bother me too much because I was making a beeline for In-N-Out burger the minute I landed. Anecdotally though, I’ve never been denied a first choice meal on SQ. I’m not sure if it’s just differences in catering strategy or whether my (admittedly insignificant) KF Elite Gold status meant I got higher dibs on meal choices in the event of a tiebreak situation

So I went with the Chinese option, described as

Superior Chicken Millet Puree with Sea Cucumber, Steamed Bun with Egg Yolk and Sweet Butter Filling, Pork Patties with Coriander, Stir Fried Spinach with Lily Bulb and Wolfberry

The steamed bun with egg yolk (aka liu sha bao) was really good, the rest was average.

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And a fruit platter

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There were some great views coming into Los Angeles

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We landed at LAX and parked near a familiar face that was just pushing back from the terminal…

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So what do I think of EVA? It’s a tremendous product on long haul routes and a passable one on short haul.

I think their hard product is even slightly better than SQ’s (but that’s mainly due to a personal preference for more lounging positions and I can completely understand why people would prefer the more private, wider SQ business seat), and they offer a lot of other touches that SQ does not (vintage champagne, Rimowa amenities kits, pyjamas). I also feel SQ’s catering is superior, but that might be because I didn’t get a chance to try the Din Tai Fung dishes on EVA.

All in all, I’d have no hesitation to fly EVA again.


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One day, Donald Trump’s face could be the first thing you see when entering the United States…

There was a huge line at immigration but thankfully I had my APEC Business Travel card. There was no “official” signage for APEC but someone directed me to the wheelchair/diplomat line where I queued uncomfortably behind 5 people in wheelchairs, always fearing someone would loudly question my right to be in that line. In all I waited about 20 minutes, which is still a lot better off than the flight crew line (which was stretching out the back of the immigration area).

Now it was off to Silvercar to try my first ever rental experience with them.

The Milelion’s RTW Trip: Eva Air SIN-TPE

The Milelion is embarking on a round the world trip over the next 4 weeks to more than 10 different countries. En route I will be doing reviews of different airlines and hotels. This will be one really, really long trip report. Thanks for keeping me company.


Introduction: Around the world in 28 days
EVA Air Business Class Singapore to Taipei
EVA Air Business Class Taipei to Los Angeles
Silvercar LAX
Avenue of the Arts Costa Mesa
Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles
United First Class Los Angeles to Mexico City
Le Meridien Mexico City
United First Class  Mexico City to Houston
United Business Class Houston to Sao Paulo
Sheraton Sao Paulo WTC
South African Business Class Sao Paulo to Johannesburg
Hilton Sandton
Ten Bompas Johannesburg
Turkish Airlines Business Class Johannesburg to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class Istanbul to Zagreb
Westin Zagreb
Croatia Airlines Business Class Zagreb to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Terminal
Lufthansa First Class Frankfurt to Riyadh
Four Points Riyadh
Air India Business Class Riyadh to Mumbai
St Regis Mumbai
ANA Business Class Mumbai to Tokyo
Asiana Business Class Tokyo to Seoul
Westin Seoul
W Seoul
Asiana Business Class Seoul to Tokyo
ANA Business Class Tokyo to Singapore


EVA BR 226
Singapore (SIN)- Taipei (TPE)
Saturday, May 21
Depart: 1:10PM
Arrive: 5:45PM
Duration:  4H35Mins
Aircraft: B777-300ER
Seat: 2A (Business Class)

I last flew with EVA back in early 2014 and had a really great experience, so I was looking forward to trying them again 2 years later to see whether they had maintained that standard.

EVA Air operates out of T3 in Singapore, and check in was at Row 8.

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The check-in agent took one look at my itineary and her jaw-dropped (I booked a single RTW ticket so anyone with the PNR can see all 14+ legs at once).

“Going places sir?”

“And how!”

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Boarding passes were printed as well as lounge invitations. Fortunately, because I was travelling in Business I was invited to SQ’s Silverkris lounge, sparing me a visit to the Krisflyer Gold lounge (which, if you’ll recall has no toilet, showers, champagne or happiness).

There are countless reviews of the business class section of the Silverkris lounge so I won’t repeat them, suffice to say it was a solid if unspectacular place to kill the 30 mins prior to boarding. Here are some photos I snapped in case anyone’s interested

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The regular buffet
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Charles Heidsieck on offer
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As well as other libations
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A very anemic interpretation of the prawn noodles we all know and love. For best results, try Pek Kio’s Wah Kee Big Prawn Noodles. Thank me later.
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And the rest of it
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Kids Menu!
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Curated reading material! Also terrible backlighting!

The most interesting thing I noted is that SQ has downsized its mineral water bottles from 500ml to 350ml. It doesn’t really bother me because Changi’s security setup doesn’t allow you to bring water from the lounge onto the plane anyway, but it was interesting that SQ’s bean counters had done the math and figured that it was better to serve more small bottles than fewer big bottles.

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BR226 departed from gate A13, where I was met with what was the longest security queue I’ve ever seen at Changi. A downside about Changi’s style of security is that they don’t have priority lanes for frequent flyers/premium cabin travellers. It took about 10 mins to clear.

I was surprised that there was no stewardess at the door to do the usual greet and seat escort. If anything, I thought that it was SOP to do one last (completely unnecessary)  check of the boarding passes to ensure you were getting on the right plane. In any case I guessed at which aisle to go down and guessed right, arriving at seat 2A.

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EVA has what I think is one of the best business class seats around- reverse herringbone. I would even go as far as to say I prefer it over SQ’s flip-style seat, simply because you can pick a whole range of angles to recline at (as opposed to SQ’s upright with minimal recline vs full flat mode)

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That said, the nature of the seat’s design means it is not as private as SQ’s. Also, there is no additional padding or linen given for the bed (but this could be because it is a day flight)

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The seat controls were conveniently located, and there were the usual assortment of power, USB and AV plugs as well.

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I liked the small storage area where I could put my passport and other barang barang. It said no stowage during taxi takeoff and landing but the stewardesses didn’t really care.

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I was also looking forward to collecting another Rimowa amenities kit to accompany my existing one from 2014, but unfortunately it seems that they don’t give them out on daytime flights. Only a pair of slippers was offered. I still held out hope I’d get a Rimowa kit on the TPE-LAX leg.

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The menu was distributed and I thought the design was absolutely stunning.

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This was the menu from SIN-TPE

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EVA’s catering is undoubtedly better out of TPE, where they have Din Tai Fung meals available. More on that in the report of the second leg.

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As for the drinks- EVA used to serve Dom Perignon a while back, but that’s been replaced by Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame, which is still an excellent vintage champagne. In contrast, SQ does not serve vintage champagne in business class.

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On the ground EVA only serves sparking wine. I believe some airlines do this because there are duty implications if they open the expensive stuff on ground. The sparking wine was overly sweet and I didn’t finish most of it. A hot towel accompanied the pre-departure beverage.

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You’ve got to love the style of EVA’s flight safety video.

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The flight ended up departing about 20 minutes late due to the big hold up at security, but after a long take-off roll we were on our way!

The strange thing is that the captain didn’t turn off the seatbelt sign until well after 1 our of takeoff, but everyone was moving around the cabin like normal.

Freed from my constraints, I visited the bathroom to snap a few photos.

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I promise this is the only time you will have to look at me. Well, apart from all the other bathroom shots

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Nothing to write home about here- no amenities drawer, just some nice toiletries and an orchid.

After that it was on to lunch. Note to self: should I really arrange the meal photos and the bathroom ones so close to each other? Ah, no one cares.

The starter was a single scallop and some smoked salmon. Garlic bread (not pictured) was served.

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For the main, I had the

Wok Fried Chicken with Dried Chili in BBQ Sauce, Mixed Vegetables, Steamed Rice with Black Sesame

The main was quite disappointing and closer to something you’d expect in economy.

Likewise, desert was very basic

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So minus points for the catering, but how about the entertainment?

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EVA’s inflight entertainment is called “Star Gallery”. Some of the newer movies onboard included

  • Deadpool
  • Kung Fu Panda 3
  • The 5th Wave
  • The Hateful Eight
  • Spotlight

It was at this point I realised that headphones had not been provided. Whether that was by design or accident I wasn’t sure, but a quick request got that sorted out

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EVA uses Thunder-brand headphones. Either that or they make their own and put “Thunder” on it. They certainly weren’t QC15s, but they fit well and had good audio quality.

There was WiFi on board, and I was pleased to know that EVA uses the T-Mobile time-based system as opposed to SQ’s horrible OnAir volume-based system (at least on their A380s- I know some of SQ’s planes have T-Mobile). A 24 hour unlimited use pass cost US$21.95.

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I worked through the flight and didn’t have time to test out the bed (got to save something for the second leg, right?). But overall I thought the flight was good, but certainly not spectacular. The hard product is no doubt solid but the crew aren’t anywhere as personable as SQ’s. It’s the little things, really, like addressing you by name or making frequent passes through the cabin after meal service to check on passengers where SQ excels. That was missing from this experience.

That said, I realised my only other point of comparison for EVA was a long haul flight from TPE-SFO, so decided to reserve final judgment until my long haul segment was completed.

It was going to be a tight connection to my LAX flight, but I wanted to rush to the delightfully named “The Infinity” lounge and snap photos. As soon as the doors opened I grabbed my roll-on and ran.