Trip Report & Review – EVA Air Royal Laurel (Business Class) “Hello Kitty” Jet Houston-Taipei

Man, oh man. This was quite an exciting interesting flight. I’m reviewing a long-haul EVA Air Royal Laurel (Business Class) Hello Kitty flight. As some of you might know, EVA Air has a sub-fleet that is decked out for their “Hello Kitty Experience.” In short, these planes are painted in a Hello Kitty livery. The onboard service is specially designed to be as Hello Kitty as possible, not unlike Mickey Mouse in Disneyland.

Two years ago, I booked my friend Emilee on a Hello Kitty flight from Taipei to Hong Kong. She graciously wrote a trip report about it, in the most Buzzfeed way possible. I don’t think she truly forgave me for booking her on that flight.

Fast forward two years, I booked this flight without first checking. To my surprise, it’s a Hello Kitty flight. This was Emilee’s reaction:

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 6.40.15 PM

This trip report/review is part of a series. See also:

EVA Air (BR) Flight 51
Houston (IAH) – Taipei (TPE) |  Boeing 777-300ER
0115/0545  (15 hour 30 minutes)
Royal Laurel Class

Booking + Checking-In

EVA Air calls their international Business Class product “Royal Laurel.” I booked this ticket fairly last minute, and used 75,000 LifeMiles + paid $30.60 in taxes/fees.

Booking EVA Royal Laurel Class with LifeMiles

Booking EVA Royal Laurel Class with LifeMiles

I was visiting a few friends in Washington DC, so I actually flew out of Baltimore on United. I checked in at Baltimore airport and received my boarding passes for both flights. The United First class was uneventful, so I won’t review it.

Once I got to Houston airport, I visited the Executive Club, which is the contract lounge for EVA Air. Upon checking into the lounge, I was told that I was being paged. I headed to the gate area, and found that I apparently needed a new boarding pass. This is said boarding pass, in all its glory.

EVA Royal Laurel Class "Hello Kitty Experience" Boarding Pass

EVA Royal Laurel Class “Hello Kitty Experience” Boarding Pass

Pre-Departure

We boarded about 30 minutes late due to a late arriving aircraft. I was welcomed onboard by two flight attendants, along with…Hello Kitty and her friends. On the screen, in the framed pictures…

DSC_0005

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class cabin

The Royal Laurel class cabin on EVA Air’s 777-300ER consist of 38 – 39 reverse herring bone seats.

DSC_0007

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class seat

DSC_0008

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class seat/pillow

Flight attendants immediately came by with a choice of beverage. I selected orange juice, which was accompanied by a piece of Godiva chocolate and a warm towel. This was a nice touch, considering many airlines serve only beverages before departure even in their First Class cabins. I don’t think I need to point out the Hello Kitty napkin…

DSC_0009

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class pre-departure beverage

DSC_0010

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class pre-departure beverage

Meanwhile, a flight attendant came by to introduce herself. She also took the time to point out the items already waiting at the seat: a Rimowa amenity kit, noise-cancelling headphones, a pair of (Hello Kitty) slippers, and blankets.

I think we will all get tired if I keep pointing out where (obviously) the Hello Kitty is, so I’m going to try and let the pictures speak for Hello Kitty themselves from this point on. No guarantee…

DSC_0024

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class headphones and amenity kit

DSC_0021

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class “Hello Kitty” slippers

DSC_0025

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class blanket

The in-flight entertainments screen springs out from the seat in front. The system was not activated prior to take off; it was simply playing a Hello Kitty video.

DSC_0011

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class in-flight entertainment

Next to the seat was the control panel, which had a handy light, two USB ports, and a power outlet. The remote control had its own Hello Kitty video to match.

DSC_0017

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class control panel

Between the rack by the control panel and the compartments next to the seat, the seat had a decent amount of storage space. However, I wasn’t allowed to store anything there during take-off and landing. In fact, the flight attendants seemed pretty prepared about that. As they did their pre-takeoff check, they all came around with shopping bags to carry passengers’ belongings, and then placed them in the overhead bins.

DSC_0039

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class literature pocket

DSC_0040

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class storage

It’s worth pointing out that even the safety information card was Hello Kitty-themed.

DSC_0034

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class “Hello Kitty” safety information card

Another flight attendant came by to distribute menus for the flight.

DSC_0036

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class “Hello Kitty” menu

Flight attendants also distributed pajamas for the flight. EVA Air is one of the few airlines that provide pajamas for Business Class passengers. I was relieved to find that it wasn’t also Hello Kitty themed.

The pajamas looked and felt like they were from the same vendor as Emirates First Class. However, while I got my usual size of medium, I found the V neck to be extremely low. Maybe my neck is weird, or maybe I’m not used to low V necks. But on me, the V neck was so inappropriately low that I resorted to wearing my T-shirt.

DSC_0030

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class pajamas

DSC_0026

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class pajamas

Bathroom

Speaking of the bathroom, it was very nicely appointed. EVA Air provided HARNN products, including perfume, lotion, hand soap, and a hydrating mist. Ahem. Look at the bottles.

DSC_0027

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class bathroom amenities

I also found the usual amenities in the bathroom, albeit in a rather unusual way. Depending on what you’re doing in the bathroom, it could potentially (mentally) be a bit awkward.

DSC_0031

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class bathroom “Hello Kitty” cups

DSC_0029

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class “Hello Kitty” toilet paper

Very soon, we began our smooth taxi to the runway. Since it was pretty late and dark, I didn’t really do much plane spotting.

In-Flight Entertainment

Soon after takeoff, the in-flight entertainment system was switched on. The selection wasn’t super extensive, but did the trick for the 15-hour flight. I watched a few episode of Bones.

The noise-cancelling headphones wasn’t the best, either, but good enough that you could notice a difference. I used my own Bose headphones with an airline adaptor.

DSC_0045

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class headphones

DSC_0047

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class in-flight entertainment

DSC_0044

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class in-flight entertainment

Before even serving dinner, flight attendants came by to take orders for dinner. They also offered to do turn-down service at the same time. I thought this was a little unusual, but I actually appreciated it, since I wouldn’t have to bother them when they are busy cleaning up after dinner.

DSC_0033

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class turndown service

Dinner Service

Dinner service started with a canapé: marmalade and brie cheese on crostini, along with a roasted duck roll with wine poached apricot.

DSC_0050

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class Canape – Marmalade and Brie Cheese on Crostini and Roasted Duck Roll with Wine Poached Apricot

DSC_0051

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class Canape – Marmalade and Brie Cheese on Crostini and Roasted Duck Roll with Wine Poached Apricot

I also ordered a glass of Krug Rose, not really to satisfy any cravings for a fruity bubbly wine. Rather, it’s because the Krug Rose perhaps the most impressive champagne I’ve seen offered in Business Class, and I was determined to try it.

For reference, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines serve the $150/bottle Grande Cuvée in First Class (Singapore also serves Dom Pérignon). EVA Air has served Krug in Business Class for a while, but only recently did they further up their champagne game to the $280/bottle Krug Rose.

Of course, the price doesn’t really dictate how good a wine tastes (or…does it?), but I was still impressed by the investment EVA Air made in their Royal Laurel Class product.

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class - Krug Rose Champagne

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – Krug Rose Champagne

DSC_0049

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – Krug Rose Champagne

Following the “prelude,” flight attendants came by to set my table. The tablecloth was really pretty, and I wish there was a place for me to buy one

DSC_0064

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – Dinner Service

Hello, kitty.

DSC_0063

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – “Hello Kitty” Dinnerware

DSC_0070

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – “Hello Kitty” Dental Floss and Tooth Pick

Dinner began with what EVA Air calls “hors d’oeuvre,” which was an herb seared tuna with nicoise salad with lemon vinaigrette sauce. Look closely…seems like something is in the salad; do you notice anything?

DSC_0067

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class Hors d’oeuvre – Herb Seared Tuna with Nicoise Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette Sauce

What about now?

DSC_0069

And now?!

DSC_0072

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class Hors d’oeuvre – “Hello Kitty” Carrot

For the main course, I selected the pork belly with pineapple hoisin sauce. Also available was a grilled fillet mignon. Lucky for me, I did not find any Hello Kitty hiding in this dish. The pork belly was tender and super delicious.

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class - Pork Belly with Pineapple Hoisin Sauce

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – Pork Belly with Pineapple Hoisin Sauce

Finally, the meal concluded with dessert, consisting of fruit and caramel cheese cake.

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class - Fruit and Caramel Cheese Cake

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – Fruit and Caramel Cheese Cake

It’s worth mentioning that EVA Air offers a “Star Special,” an express meal with just the canapé, a main course, and a dessert. It’s designed to maximize sleeping time. On this 15-hour flight, however, I went for the full dinner service.

Bedtime

Flight attendants worked quickly throughout the meal service, and with my bed already turned down, I was able to immediately go to rest. Because the cabin was only about half full, I grabbed a pillow from an adjacent seat. The blanket was soft, and the pillow was just the right amount of firmness.

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class Bed

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class Bed

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class Bed

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class Bed

The flight attendant also distributed a bottle of FIJI water. I mentioned the brand because it’s actually a marketing point for EVA Air!

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class - Water

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – Water

Mid-Flight Snack

I am usually an early bird, so with a ~1:30 am departure I only slept for about 4 hours. I ordered the noodle soup with mushroom and chicken from the snack menu. A beef burger and instant noodles were also on the menu.

I got a glass of guava juice to go with the noodles.

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class - Noodle Soup with Mushroom and Chicken

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – Noodle Soup with Mushroom and Chicken

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class - Noodle Soup with Mushroom and Chicken

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – Noodle Soup with Mushroom and Chicken

Breakfast Service

The flight attendants asked every passenger when they wanted to be woken up for breakfast, and I asked for breakfast to be served 2 hours prior to landing. For breakfast, I started with a glass of carrot juice.

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class - Carrot Juice

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – Carrot Juice

I once again selected the “Chinese Style” menu, consisting of Chinese plain porridge, traditional delicatessens, egg pancake with mushroom, and stirred Chinese chive and tofu. The “Western Style” menu offers a salmon quiche with potatoes, along with bread, cereal, and yoghurt.

Before anyone gets mad at me, EVA Air writes “Chinese Style” in their menu. I’m not taking a political stance here, one way or the other.

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class - "Chinese Style" Breakfast

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – “Chinese Style” Breakfast

To top off the breakfast was a nicely presented fruit plate.

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class - Fruit Plate

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – Fruit Plate

After breakfast service, flight attendants once again came by to offer beverages. I ordered both a coffee and a matcha milk tea. The coffee was served with a fancy sugar stirrer stick. The milk tea itself was absolutely divine.

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class - Noodle Soup with Mushroom and Chicken

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – Coffee

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class - Matcha Milk Tea

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – Matcha Milk Tea

Finally, as we prepared for landing, flight attendants came by to thank each passenger and to offer some parting gifts. I received two packs of Hello Kitty playing cards!

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class - Hello Kitty Playing Cards

EVA Air Royal Laurel Class – Hello Kitty Playing Cards

Overall Impression

I am extremely impressed at EVA Air Royal Laurel Class—this was one of the best Business Class flights I’ve had.

EVA Air does not offer First Class, but in my opinion, they don’t really need to. They offer, in Royal Laurel class, many amenities that you usually find in First Class. From the Rimowa amenity kit to pajamas, from Krug Rose to dine-on-demand breakfast, I really thought they have a very strong Business Class product. Granted, the cabin was only about half full, but the service was attentive, thoughtful, and friendly.

With all seats having directly aisle access, First Class benefits are likely incremental and not worth the real estate. A solid Business Class is especially great for points/miles redemption, since you don’t have to pay the extra miles for First Class to experience top-notch offerings!

Finally, I have to say something about the Hello Kitty. I know I kind of made fun of it throughout this post, but at the end of the day, it was a fun gimmick that lightened up the flight. I saw business men in suits giggling, and I was thoroughly entertained. They had enough “Hello Kitty touches” to make it noticeable and fun, maybe even a little over-the-top with the toilet paper. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t annoying or intrusive, nor did it truly interfere with the hard or soft product themselves.

Have you flown Royal Laurel Class or experience their “Hello Kitty Service?”

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. Awesome review! Thank you. I’m taking the BR51 IAH-TPE this weekend, unfortunately EVA Air no longer offer Hello Kitty flight this route. Booo ! I would head over hill for the cutieness.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *