EVA Air Royal Laurel Class Review

If you've been following us on Twitter (or have seen our blog lately), you know Mike and I just spent some time in Taiwan and Singapore. While I've got much to say on this trip, I'm writing a special update today on an experience that was entirely unexpected, and completely mind-blowing: I got a free upgrade to EVA Air Business Class from Taiwan to Singapore.

Mike and I first booked this trip in March of 2015 after seeing a fantastic fare deal from Philadelphia to Taiwan on Delta. With e-Certificates we had, the final price came to only $490 each, too good to pass up. Some months after booking, we decided to add a second destination to our trip, and settled on Singapore (which turned out to be a fortuitous choice, as my business was going to require a trip to Singapore as well...tax write-off!). Over the summer, we booked our flights on EVA (a bit more expensive than Tiger or Jet, but this included a meal, as well as an in-flight experience we were eager to test out).

A popular type of post around this space is on international travel mistakes, and initially it looked like this post might be one of those. EVA requires you to travel with the credit card you used at the time of booking, and as soon as we arrived at the airport in Philly, I realized I had left my Barclays Arrival Card (I booked the EVA flight using points) in my dresser at home. D'Oh! With minimal time to figure out how to manage not having the card, and arriving to Taipei over the weekend and departing Monday, I decided to cut my losses, apply for a refund, and re-book. In the end, it cost me $100 extra from the base far, but I was getting Premium Economy one way now (even if it was a middle seat). Update: I since got a $200 refund (about 2/3 of the ticket cost) from EVA. Not bad.

Arriving at the airport on the day of departure, and neglecting to check-in online (another fortuitous mistake), I was told by the ticket counter agent that there were window seats available in a 2x3x2 configuration (we were flying a 777), and asked if I would prefer that option.

"Absolutely."

After a brief stop at The More Premium Lounge, via Priority Pass, I sped over to the gate to experience the EVA Air boarding process, which was incredibly efficient (those needing additional time, families with children, then Zones 1-5). 

Our stallion for the day

Our stallion for the day

When Zone 2 was called, I was third in line, and excited and eager to get to my seat! When reaching the gate agent though, my ticket triggered a beeping noise in the scanner and turned it red. What was wrong?!

"Seat Assignment Conflict."

Uh-oh, there was no window seat for me!!

"Please see the agent at the desk."

Nope, it wasn't about the window seat at all. 

"Sorry sir, we have moved you to business class."

Waka, waka, WHAT! I glanced down at my ticket, SEAT 1G! 

I nearly lost it, I furiously tried to email Mike as we were boarding, but my WiFi cut out halfway down (as I typed this post in my seat, I enjoyed doing so knowing he has no idea this was happening). The best part? I would be experiencing not just business class, but business in Royal Laurel, EVA's new business class cabin, exclusive to the 777s in their fleet. The main perks include a lie-flat seat and amenity kit.

Afraid someone was going to figure out I was posing, or come take my ticket away, I timidly stepped on to the flight and avoided eye contact with the flight crew at first. When they saw my ticket, it turned out to be true...I was really in 1G, and was escorted to my seat. Guys, just look at this beauty...

Pardon my mess...

Pardon my mess...

Can't decide what looks better...my legs or the leg room...

Can't decide what looks better...my legs or the leg room...

After landing my butt in my seat, I was brought my choice of beverage (water or pineapple juice), along with a hot towel. I was also brought a pair of slippers and a newspaper of my choosing (WSJ of course). One last, and crucial, conversation before take-off: breakfast? There were three options (guess which I chose):

  1. Traditional: Congee
  2. Western: Eggs
  3. Royal Special: Beef Noodle Soup

If you guessed 1 or 2, that's very depressing, and you probably shouldn't go to Vegas or Macau. Beef Noodle Soup FTW.

After a smooth takeoff, meal service began with a round of tea and coffee. The coffee was much needed, but personally I was more enthused by the fairly nice placemat and impending glad of champagne to come with my meal.

Isn't this delightful!

Isn't this delightful!

Then came my meal. The soup was the highlight, plated along with several small sides, the best of which was the sweet cabbage in the upper right. 

Sorry guys, I was too excited to frame this well.

Sorry guys, I was too excited to frame this well.

Following the meal, we were served a dessert of pastries and fruit, though I opted only to enjoy a #basic roll.

A health-conscious dessert.

A health-conscious dessert.

Without any food to get in the way (and continued pours of champagne), it was time to take my seat for a test drive. The controls offered the typical flight settings of takeoff/landing, lounging, and sleeping, along with myriad other directional controls. While the seat is immensely comfortable, the controls and movements were, in my opinion, not very fluid. The seat seemed to jerk at times, but I can't really complain, as my feet and legs were in heaven after a hectic day of Taipei touring. Also, this leg room! 

And the movie: Two Days, One Night starring my Hollywood crush Marion Cotillard

And the movie: Two Days, One Night starring my Hollywood crush Marion Cotillard

Really, an incredible experience. Have any of you ever flown EVA's Royal Laurel Class? Let me know what you think in the comments below. Thanks again EVA, and cheers!

Yea, I stole the glass.

Yea, I stole the glass.