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Review: EVA Air 787 Business Class (TPE-HKG)

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Review Overview

EVA Air's 787 business class product is exciting, and I love their tastefully and thoughtfully designed cabin. Food and service were as good as they could be on this one-hour flight, so I'd love to try them longhaul.


I made it to the gate area at around 5:35 PM in anticipation of boarding at 5:40 PM. There was a partial view of our stunning 787 outside the window. Unfortunately, Terminal 1 at Taipei Airport seems to be built for the purposes of obstructing direct plane views, so I didn’t see the EVA Air 787 in its full glory.

a plane in a terminal
EVA Air Boeing 787 Taipei Airport

Literally right after I arrived, the gate crew announced a boarding delay of 15 minutes, due to late aircraft arrival. I hung around in the priority lane while this happened.

a sign with text and words
Taipei Airport Signage Delayed Departure

a digital sign with numbers and letters
Not such an on-time departure…

While the flight to Taipei was relatively empty, the flight back was packed, presumably with Hong Kongers flying home after Christmastime in Taipei.

a group of people sitting in a waiting room
Taipei Airport Departure Gate

Sure enough, a few minutes past 5:55 PM, boarding was called, and I was first onboard the EVA Air 787.

For those of you who don’t feel like scrolling, I uploaded a video of my flight shortly after I took it, which is as follows:

EVA Air 857
Thursday, January 3, 2019
Origin: Taipei (TPE) Gate: B7 Dep: 18:10 (18:25)
Destination: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 28 Arr: 20:05 (20:15)
Duration: 1 h 55 min (1 h 50 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 787-9 Reg: B-17882
Seat: 5A (Business Class)

I boarded through door L2 and made my way into the EVA Air 787 business cabin. The EVA Air 787 business cabin is sleek and minimalist, which I love; it consists of 32 seats, spread across 8 rows in a 1-2-1 configuration.

an airplane with a television and a man standing in the back
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Cabin

The cabin employs Vantage XL seats, which is a type of staggered configuration. While I’m not a massive fan of the configuration in general, I think EVA Air did a lot of great things to innovate and customise their product, which I’ll get into below.

a group of people in an airplane
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Cabin

The cabin predominantly featured EVA Air’s grey colour hues, but there were sharp and spicy hints of lime green throughout. While the cabin was still a touch on the bland side (at least for my tastes), design-wise this is light years ahead of any other EVA Air business class cabin. The grey, matte colour hues also served as a good colour palate for the airline’s mood lighting.

a row of seats with monitors on the side
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Cabin

As I normally do, I popped back to economy briefly to check out how the seats were like. EVA Air’s 787s feature standard economy seats in a 3-3-3 configuration; these are Recaro CL3710 seats, akin to what you’d find on Hong Kong Airlines’ A350. While the seats themselves are top-of-the-line in terms of ergonomics, I don’t love the lack of seatback storage, and 3-3-3 on a 787 is rather tight in general.

an airplane with many seats
EVA Air Boeing 787 Economy Class

I went back to exploring my seat 5A. As with all staggered configurations, some window seats (rows 1, 3, 6, 8) are closer to the aisle, whereas others (rows 2, 5, 7) are closer to the window. I managed to snag a seat near the window, which I prefer; they’re more private, and it’s also easier to look out of the window.

a seat in a plane
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Seat 5A

a seat in a plane
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Seat 5A

While the extra privacy by window seats extends to any staggered configuration, this was especially the case in EVA Air’s configuration, as all window seats feature a frosted privacy screen that slides out from the seat shell. Since the cabin wasn’t full and my flight was only an hour long I can’t say this radically transformed my flight experience, but this made the seat substantially more private, and it was a smart feature to have on a longhaul flight.

a screen on a table
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Privacy Divider

As aforementioned, some seats aren’t nearly as private. In most staggered configurations the aisle-side seats feel like you’re sitting in the aisle. However, there was still an attempt to maximise head privacy using a side partition, which I’d appreciate if I was seated in one of these seats.

a seat in a plane
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Seat 1A

Back at my own seat, between the seat and the aisle was a huge side table, which was more than enough for my 13″ laptop.

a close up of a device
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Side Table

By the table was also a console, where the seat controls, headphone jack, and power ports were located.

a close up of a device
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Side Console

The seat controls were intuitive, and I loved how they were “integrated” into the black panel (this is an incredibly minor thing, but some seats with button seat controls look clunky, especially since the buttons wear out over time).

a screen with icons on it
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Seat Controls

Beside that was a two-pronged headphone jack, as well as a 110V and USB power port. Two or more USB ports would be nice for a business class seat made in late 2018, but at least the power port worked gate-to-gate (as opposed to only being turned on in the air).

a close up of a device
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Power Port and Headphone Jack

As mentioned earlier, this was also where the privacy divider was housed. The privacy divider afforded the seat a substantiated amount of privacy, though personally I feel like an opaque partition would be more effective than a frosted partition.

It’s worth noting that middle seats 1G, 2D, 3G, 5D, 6G, 7D and 8G also have a privacy partition, since they’re also positioned further away from the aisle.

a close up of a seat
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Privacy Divider

Under the privacy partition was the remote for the PTV. Honestly it was rather redundant as the screen itself was touchscreen anyway, but I liked that I had the option of using that instead.

a close up of a device
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Remote Control

Next to the privacy partition was a strong reading light.

a close up of a light
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Reading Light

Right beside the seat was a storage compartment, which was outlined with a green, velvety surface. It housed the headphones, though I imagine the area below was a good place for a phone, a portable charger, etc..

a mirror on an airplane
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Storage Compartment

I was also impressed by the size of the footwell. No, you won’t be able to do the chicken dance in bed, but the footwell was larger than what you’d get in most staggered configurations.

a seat inside a room
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Footwell

The PTV screen itself was large, responsive, and high-quality (in stark contrast to my A330 outbound flight, where I could barely see anything on the screen).

a screen with a woman in the middle
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class TV Screen

The tray table folded out from the side table, and was large and sturdy, though I didn’t like how it wasn’t bi-fold. When there’s food on your table, there’s absolutely no way to get out of your seat (you can’t angle the table sideways), which is probably one of the seat’s biggest oversights. In many modern configurations there’s an option to swivel your table to the side so you can get in and out of your seat during meal services, which wasn’t an option here.

a table on a plane
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Table

Overall I thought the seat was well-designed, and it’s definitely my favourite (non-suite) staggered configuration out there. I love the subtle, though useful attempts at giving the seat the extra privacy it needs, especially with the aisle-side seats. However, this also brings up the reason I prefer reverse herringbone seats instead; there’s a dramatic difference between the aisle-side and window-side/center seats, so some people will have a better experience than others. Nevertheless, in my window-side seat, I wasn’t complaining.

a man sitting in a chair in an airplane
Yours Truly in EVA 787 Business Class

It’s worth noting that when selecting a seat on EVA Air’s website, there’s no way to tell if your seat is near the window, or the aisle. For that, you can either refer to this review, or to EVA Air’s 787 seatmap.

Waiting at the seat was a plush pillow (no blanket, though I believe I could’ve requested the same thick one I had on the outbound, if I wanted to).

a pillow on a seat
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Pillow

As with the outbound flight, there were also headphones on offer. As far as non-noise cancelling business class headphones go, EVA Air’s headphones are top notch (though obviously they still have nothing on true noise-cancelling headphones, so I used my Bose QC35s on the flight instead).

a black case on a person's lap
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Headphones

a pair of headphones in a case
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Headphones

EVA Air’s 787s don’t feature air nozzles. The cabin was kept at a decent temperature on this flight, though I could see that being a problem on longhaul flights, since EVA Air’s longhaul duvets are thick and the airline isn’t known for keeping their cabins cool.

a close up of a white object
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Overhead Panel

Within a few minutes of sitting down, a flight attendant greeted me by name and asked me for my preferred pre-departure drink. As a young traveler does, I got myself some sparkling wine (EVA Air doesn’t serve champagne on the ground). The sparkling wine wasn’t overly acidic, though wouldn’t be my beverage of choice.

a glass of wine on a table
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Pre-Departure Beverage

I was also passed a menu, which read as follows.

a menu on a green surface
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Menu

The drinks list was the same as that of my outbound flight, so you can check that out here. EVA Air features an impressive selection of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages in business class.

I’d actually pre-ordered my meal on EVA Air’s website. While there are web-exclusive meals on almost all EVA Air flights, their flights to Hong Kong, Macau and Guangzhou are excluded due to the extremely short flight time; on these routes, the only advantage of pre-ordering your meal in business class is that you’re guaranteed your first choice meal option. In terms of my experience, the crew came over and confirmed that I’d ordered the chicken with polenta cake, so it was executed perfectly for what it was. The crewmember also took my drink order, which I appreciated.

The cabin filled up within a few minutes, though it stayed half full, with both center seats across me empty. Soon the safety video played. EVA Air’s safety video is akin to a dance video – it’s quirky and caught my attention (which should be the goal of a good safety video), though I’m not sure how I felt about the artistic intention behind it.

a tv screen with a person dancing
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Safety Video

The safety video also played on the remote (yes, when I’m seated and paying attention to the safety video, my natural line of sight would totally be on a tiny privacy monitor by my elbow).

a video game on a device
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Safety Video on Monitor

EVA Air Boeing 787 Safety Video

After we pushed back at around 6:25 PM, the cabin lights were dimmed, and the crew turned on mood lighting throughout the cabin.

an inside of an airplane
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Cabin During Departure

There were also stars on the ceiling. Before this flight I found fake stars in airplane cabins to be unnecessary and incredibly gimmicky, though in real life it sure made the cabin seem more serene, and provided somewhat of an “expansive” feel, as if we were sitting outdoors.

a blue lights on the ceiling of an airplane
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Starry Lights

We lifted off at 6:40 PM. I didn’t manage to get great pictures of our takeoff out of Taipei, though we did have decent views over the city.

a city at night with lights a city lights at night
Takeoff from Taipei Airport

Once we were airborne the cabin lights went back on so the crew could perform the meal service.

an airplane with a few seats
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Cabin after Takeoff

I decided this was a good time to test the seat’s presets. The seat featured a “recline mode”, which was comfortable for watching TV or reading a book.

a seat in an airplane
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Seat Reclined

Then there was bed mode. EVA Air’s windowside seats provide an incredible balance of privacy and spaciousness in bed mode. I also found the seat to be amply long, and the seat surface to be comfortably padded as well.

a seat in an airplane
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Bed

At 6:55 PM, 15 minutes after we lifted off the ground in Taipei, the inflight manager Lily welcomed me onto the flight, and also laid my tablecloth down at my seat.

a cushion with a pattern on it
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Tablecloth

Shortly after I received a tray including my meal, a salad, some fruit for dessert, as well as my drink order.

a tray of food on a tray
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Meal

My main course, the chicken with polenta cake was awesome. The chicken could’ve used one minute less in the oven (or 10 seconds less in the microwave), since it was a touch on the dry side; it was still impressive enough for airplane chicken. The true star was the polenta cake, which was buttery, flavourful, and had an impeccable texture. The vegetables themselves were nothing special, though were flavourful enough when accompanied with the balsamic brown sauce.

a plate of food on a tray
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Meal – Pan Fried Chicken with Balsamic Brown Sauce, Assorted Vegetables, Polenta Cake

The side salad with squid was also great, with citrus-y notes and some omelette to add sweetness and make things interesting. I hate when airplane salads aren’t dressed, which shows a lack of effort, though this salad had was so well-dressed I wouldn’t be surprised to see it around at prom.

The same can’t be said about EVA Air’s signature drink – the Evergreen Special, with melon liqueur, vodka, and soda water. Oh my gosh – it was awful. The melon liqueur was overused (it was a melon liqueur with a hint of cocktail, as opposed to the other way round), there was no true fruit component (where’s the melon juice, or at least orange juice?), and it tasted like alcoholic cough syrup. Melon liqueur is one of the two hardest liqueur flavours to work with (the other being cherry), and this did not bode well with the vodka and soda water, especially as a signature cocktail. When passing my otherwise empty tray back, I was sure to tell the flight attendant that I didn’t particularly care for the cocktail (she didn’t respond to it, probably due to the language barrier – after hearing a recording of myself speaking Mandarin last year, I’ve refrained from using it in public ever since).

a glass with a drink and a straw
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Meal Evergreen Special

In terms of service, I was addressed by name as I was on the outbound, and I found the service procedure to be incredibly polished. That being said, I didn’t find service to be as warm as it was on the outbound, except from the inflight manager Lily.

After dinner I went back to my seat. I didn’t feel like hammering any papers out, especially with my phone completely broken at this point (I’d stored some notes on my phone, so I’d have had to get it fixed the next day), so I decided to have some fun. I scanned the drinks list and saw that EVA Air offered a jasmine tea ale exclusive to the 787, so I ordered it.

a can and a glass of beer on a table
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Jasmine Tea Ale

The jasmine tea ale was awesome – it had some nice foam, and the ale itself had some prominent jasmine tea flavours. It was cloudy, and the flavour was full-bodied. I didn’t think the combination of jasmine tea and ale would work, though it did. EVA Air should consider loading this ale onto ale all of their flights, and ditching their melon liqueur “signature cocktail” entirely.

a man drinking from a glass on an airplane

I also took the chance to check out the entertainment system. The interface was responsive and there was a wide range of movies and TV shows, though it won’t be winning any awards anytime soon.

a screen shot of a television a screen shot of a television a screen shot of a device
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Entertainment System

I was thrilled to see that the system featured the Voyager 3D airshow, which offers a variety of cool angles, including a “command center”/cockpit view. This told me how fast we were travelling, our altitude, as well as how far we were out of Hong Kong (granted, conventional airshows do this too, but this interface lets you see everything all at once, without any annoying ads in between).

a screen with a map on it
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Airshow

In theory EVA Air’s 787s also feature WiFi, which you can even pre-order if you book directly through EVA Air’s website (I couldn’t, as I redeemed KrisFlyer miles for this flight). Unfortunately I couldn’t even load the login page on this flight, so I’m not sure how much WiFi cost on this flight, or how it performed.

I also had a chance to use the lavatory, which was pretty standard for a 787.

a toilet in a bathroom
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Lavatory

a toilet in a bathroom
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Lavatory

a sink with a bottle and a bottle on it
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Lavatory

While the outbound lavatory featured Harnn amenities, this lavatory featured lotion and mists from Escents Aromatherapy, which is a Canadian wellness brand.

a group of bottles of facial mist sprays
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Lavatory Amenities

I also went back to the economy cabin to check it out midflight. The cabin was packed, so I’m happy I wasn’t seated there. That being said, the legroom looked alright, and the seats are comfortable and well-stocked as well as modern economy class seats go.

a group of people sitting in an airplane
EVA Air Boeing 787 Economy Class Cabin Inflight

Before landing we had some crazy nice sunset mood lighting in the business class cabin – wow!

an airplane with seats and seats on the side
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Cabin

a row of seats in an airplane
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Cabin

an airplane with rows of seats
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class

an airplane with seats and windows
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Cabin

a close up of a sign
EVA Air Boeing 787 Business Class Signage

My side table was also a mess with all my filming equipment, so a flight attendant politely reminded me to start cleaning up as our descent started. As much as that’s appreciated, she did give me the note 20 minutes before we actually started preparing the cabin before landing, so I didn’t think it was appropriate.

Nevertheless, the starry cabin lights came back on, though due to our seaside approach into Hong Kong, there wasn’t much in the way of views.

a light in the dark
Descent into Hong Kong Airport

We touched down into Hong Kong Airport at around 8:10 PM, and made a quick taxi into gate 28, parking next to a Cathay Pacific 777.

a plane at an airport
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport

It took a while for the ground staff to open the door, though once they did, we were on our way (you can’t beat airport efficiency in Asia, that’s for sure).

Unfortunately even the gate 28 arrivals hall wasn’t a great vantage point for our 787, though at least I had a last glimpse of it before I was back home.

a white airplane at night
EVA Air Boeing 787 Hong Kong Airport

Bottom Line: EVA Air 787 Business Class

I really enjoyed my flight on the EVA Air 787. Let’s start off with the hard product. EVA Air’s 787 business class seats are nice, comfortable and well-designed; however, since the seats are staggered, some seats are much better than others. While I really enjoyed my seat, 5A, I wouldn’t have enjoyed my seat as much if it were located by the aisle. I appreciated the attempt to maximise privacy, but don’t think it compensated for the lack of privacy at the aisle-side seats. For that reason, I prefer reverse herringbone seats, where all seats are equally private. I’d book a flight on the EVA Air 787 over their 777, which features reverse herringbone seats, if I was guaranteed a windowside seat (ExpertFlyer is a good way to check for that).

This flight was another reinforcement that EVA Air has everything together when it comes to their soft product. I was addressed by name on almost all counts, the meal services and orders were executed with perfection, and I love their extensive selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (even though they need a new signature cocktail – fast). The food on the flight was impeccable. The service on this flight wasn’t up to the level of the last, or what I’ve otherwise heard from my friends flying EVA Air, though I still thought it was above average in the grand scheme of things. I also hope the WiFi works on this aircraft on longer flights, though it wasn’t a huge problem on an hourlong flight.

All in all, I wouldn’t hesitate to fly EVA Air’s 787 again, at least in business class, and look forward to trying them longhaul in the future. I’d also like to try their 777, which I didn’t have the chance to do this time.

Read more from this trip:

Have you flown EVA Air’s 787 in business class? How was your flight?

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