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:
This trip report/review is part of a series. See also:
- 1. Trip to Southeast Asia – Introduction
- 2. Hyatt at the Bellevue, Philadelphia (King Room)
- 3. Hyatt at the Bellevue, Philadelphia (Junior Suite)
- 4. EVA Air Royal Laurel (Business Class) “Hello Kitty” Jet Houston-Taipei
- 5. Grand Hyatt Taipei (Haunted?) Grand Suite
- 6. InterContinental Hong Kong Patio Room
- 7. Coral Executive Lounge Bangkok-Don Mueang
- 8. AirAsia “Premium Flex” Chiang Mai to Bangkok-Don Mueang
- 9. Conrad Bangkok (King Room)
- 10. Conrad Bangkok Executive Lounge
- 11. Conrad Bangkok Presidential Suite Bedroom
- 12. Grand Hyatt Bangkok Grand King Room
- 13. Thai Airways 777-300ER Royal Silk Business Class Bangkok to Stockholm
- 14. Park Hyatt Istanbul Park Deluxe Twin Room
- 15. Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul (“July 15 Heroes of Democracy Lounge”)
- 16. Turkish Airlines A330 Business Class Istanbul-Washington DC
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.
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.
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…
The Royal Laurel class cabin on EVA Air’s 777-300ER consist of 38 – 39 reverse herring bone seats.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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.
It’s worth pointing out that even the safety information card was Hello Kitty-themed.
Another flight attendant came by to distribute menus for the flight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Dinner service started with a canapé: marmalade and brie cheese on crostini, along with a 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.
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
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?
What about now?
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.
Finally, the meal concluded with dessert, consisting of 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.
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.
The flight attendant also distributed a bottle of FIJI water. I mentioned the brand because it’s actually a marketing point for EVA Air!
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.
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.
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.
To top off the breakfast was a nicely presented 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.
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!
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?”