Ultra Long-Haul Review: Flying with EVA Air

I fly a lot, I enjoy it for the most part and instead of dreading long-haul flights I actually look forward to them. I tend to prefer longer flights because I can get more done. I can get a good night’s rest (hopefully), I can watch a movie, read a book, get some writing finished and so on. This isn’t possible on a shorter 6-hour flight. But not all long-haul carriers are made the same sadly, especially when it comes to economy class seating. I recently had the chance to fly what was a new airline for me, Taiwan based EVA Air and wanted to share my thoughts on this sometimes forgotten airline.

Comfort/Service – As a Star Alliance Gold member, I was able to check out their lounge before boarding the aircraft at JFK in New York. Since they don’t have a large presence in New York, they share a lounge with Japan Airlines (JAL), something they should perhaps reconsider. For an airline that only flies long haul out of JFK, the lounge was very small and deficient on a lot of amenities I’ve come to expect. The food offerings were practically nonexistent, just a few snacks really with no option of bringing in something else to eat. The lounge also lacked a shower facility or any way to refresh before a very long flight. Overall, I wasn’t impressed by the lounge and EVA should really think about partnering with another Star Alliance member at JFK.

The plane I flew on both times was a 777-300ER, coincidentally my favorite aircraft. Walking through the business class section is always hard when I’m not booked in that section, but from what I could tell it’s a very strong product. Lie-flat seats and plenty of room to relax compliment what is sure to be amazing service. Even the Premium Economy looked decent, lots of legroom and extra amenities for the passengers. The coach class cabin was exactly as I expected though, no surprises to be had there. Well, that’s not true, the service surprised me and not in a good way.

Other long-haul carriers give their economy passengers a small amenity kit. Nothing big, usually just containing earplugs and an eye shade, but it’s a nice perk and an acknowledgement that you’re about to go on a very long flight. My flight to Taipei was nearly 16 hours long, that’s a long time to spend up in the air and yet there was nothing sitting in my seat to help make that trip more comfortable. I was disappointed.

That disappointment progressed throughout the flight; the service in economy just wasn’t good. Flight attendants did not offer water to us often enough, which is a health issue in my opinion, and instead could be seen fawning over higher classes of service. That’s fine, they paid more, but you can’t just ignore the well being of your customers in coach either. No one was rude to me and whenever I asked for something it was given, but the fact is most of the time I shouldn’t have had to ask.

Hello Kitty EVA Air Taipei

Food/entertainment – I’m a picky eater and didn’t have high hopes for the food in coach since EVA is of course an Asian airline and my tolerance of mass produced Asian food is low. Luckily, chicken was an option for dinner and breakfast featured an omelet in addition to congee. But on a 16-hour flight we just had the two meals. No, that’s not quite right; going to Taipei we were offered a fish sandwich as a snack with no alternatives. Since I don’t eat seafood I was left out. That’s a long flight to only be offered a couple of meals. Most other long-haul carriers I’ve been on feature snack bars in the galleys so that guests can grab something whenever they get hungry, as they will on an extremely long flight. I should’ve been thankful though because the food was terrible, even for airplane food. On the way back it was so bad I couldn’t even finish the meals provided, and I noticed many of my seatmates felt the same way.

The entertainment options were ok, but not great. The selection could have been better and probably should have been. I think there were two movies of interest to me; that’s disappointing when spending a combined 30 hours in the air. One thing EVA does well is cater to kids. They have a partnership with Hello Kitty and before the flight they hand out Hello Kitty play packs to all kids. In Taipei you can also forgo the boring check in counter for a Hello Kitty version, making the flying experience for kids a lot more fun. I just wish they’d put as much thought into making the trip as enjoyable for the adults as well.

Overall – My experience when examined in its totality wasn’t awful, not at all. It was a very standard trip with very standard features. I think that’s what disappointed me the most though. I wasn’t flying from DC to Denver, I was flying halfway across the world and EVA didn’t seem to make any effort to see to my comfort in what truly is an extreme flight situation. But I did manage to sleep, I did manage to eat and I did manage to get some work done. It was barebones, but it was fine.

If given the choice though between carriers, I would skip EVA in favor of another airline flying in the same direction, even if it meant making more connections. That may sound extreme, but when taking a very long flight, getting there is an important part of the experience and if I can’t be comfortable with an airline, then I won’t go out of my way to fly them again.

Have you flown EVA Air? What did you think?

By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

15 thoughts on “Ultra Long-Haul Review: Flying with EVA Air”

  1. Good to see that you’re Star Gold, Matt (I’m assuming on United). Did you have to fly Eva, or did you want to try them? While UA doesn’t fly to TPE, an alternative could have been United to Tokyo, then ANA from there. That would get you Economy Plus seating for the long-haul, at least, if not an upgrade to business class.

    It’s good to know that their shared lounge with JAL is sub-par. Hopefully they will change things up now that they’re in Star Alliance, and share with ANA or United instead (I dare not hope for Singapore Airlines).

    Welcome back!

    1. Thanks Ryan, I’m Star Gold with US Air actually although I may be switching to UA soon. I had to fly EVA, but a great plus they have going for them is that it’s a nonstop flight from JFK. And yes, avoid the lounge if you can. :)

  2. Argh, I had high hopes for my first long trip flight! Even a short flight across the US on Virgin sounds much better. Sure, I bought the flight because it was the lowest priced, but I think they should take a bit more “surprise and delight” or customer satisfaction steps besides just the Hello Kitty. Which I’m sure is sponsored for them anyway. I saw the lie-flats, and I was trying to get a hold of them for a potential upgrade and a review, but their PR/Media is similar to their service – hard to find.

    Oh well…thanks for the heads up!

    1. Oh you’re flying with them to Thailand? Why did I think you were on a Russian carrier?

      To repeat, they’re fine. Nothing wrong with them, just nothing all that special either. And yeah, I don’t see an upgrade in your future. :)

  3. You failed to mention that they generally set up a self-serve bar in the back of the plane with water, juice and snack mixes up for grabs. I’ve flown EVA several times in Y and C, and just like all carriers, service can be inconsistent. On most of my flights, flight attendents offered water and juice almost every two hours. Airplane food is airplane food. Have you had any of that processed cheese sandwiches that UA serves recently? I would rather be treated with some civility on BR than sitting in E+ on UA only to be barked at by disgruntled union workers any day.

  4. I’m flying the same route (JFK-TPE) in a few weeks and I’m not looking forward to it. Sounds like I should pack some snacks as the food on board doesn’t seem too promising. I generally fly Cathay (JFK to TPE via HKG) but this time I have to fly back to Seattle, and Cathay doesn’t fly to Seattle….

  5. EVA business is great. I have had the Hello Kitty plane for that before. Bizarro land.

    Now to Seattle they have full lie-flat a few days a week. The other Asian carriers do the 170 degree thing. I’m trying to give up on UA miles, but better seat trumps mileage earning.

  6. Traveling from US to Vietnam in May, Economy. Ewa maybe he airline. On entertainment, are the individual TV’s (entertainment center) for each person. (games, movies, etc) Or is there just a central TV for movies.

  7. Just landed in Tapei from LAX. As Matt wrote about there were absolutely NO long haul amenities provided in coach. The food was beyond inedible (Only had worse once on Delta). For a 14 hour flight it is pathetic to only have 2 drink services. We are on our honeymoon and EVA will not accommodate us for seat changes so we can sit together, even when they were available. An upgrade on our flight from LAX to premium economy was quoted at $700/pp. Our leg to Denpasar upgrade was $920 US/PP. To me this is unbelievable, even UA in the states would provide far better customer service. Anytime we politely asked for an accommodation there was a lot of BS typing on the computer and then always the same old “so sorry, but we cannot help you.” I have flown many long haul flights in my day, and this by far takes the cake for being the worst. Inconsistent, inconsiderate, and ultimately an airline I will NEVER use again. I would gladly pay an extra 30%+ premium on my fare to avoid EVA, no question….

  8. Thanks for the review on EVA. I’m going to Seoul in September. I’m looking to buy my ticket next week. I would like airline recommendations for premium economy or business class.

  9. I’m a little late to this party (OK…extremely late), but your review was helpful nonetheless. As a former OneWorld Sapphire (AA) who recently status matched over to Star Alliance Gold (UA), I’ve been weighing my options for trans-Pacific flights. To date, I’ve only flown United E+ between ORD and HKG and it was noticeably inferior to American’s product – slimmer seat, less legroom, archaic IFE (though I suppose the new 777-300 might fix the last issue) – so I’m trying to figure out which partner(s) might offer a better experience without breaking the bank. EVA nearly always has good fares, but being mediocre knocks it off the list. Have you by chance flown Asiana? They too offer good fares, but I simply don’t know very much about them. Thank you.

  10. Rafael A Suarez

    I have flown EVA Air 5 times in the last 18 months to Jakarta from Houston. The Houston/Taipei is their longest flight at 15:30 hours. I have flown on economy and premium economy and my experiences could not have been more different than yours. I do not eat Asian food of any kind and the western selections were great to me. Ample food, I was not hungry. I missed the sandwich snack but then I was prepared for a 15 plus hour trip and brought my own snacks in the event I was hungry. The service is excellent and I honestly do not see the problem with having to ask for water/drinks when you want them. The times I flew on Premium Economy at the times they came through with the water and juice, I did not want it, so I had to ask for it later and was given to me just fine. The entertainment is extensive with many western/asian/bollywood movies as is the music selection. I have flown that 15 plus trip and sometimes do not watch a single movie, not because the selection, I just was not in the mood. I have been able to sleep just fine for well over 8 hours on both cabins and honestly do not find any difference in the comfort. I think you are just too spoiled with business/first class and lost your objectivity. On another note, I have yet to make use of the free amenity kits I have been given the 4 times I have flown on Premium Economy, there is really nothing there that I already do not have and by the look of how many are for sale on Ebay, many people do not use them either. When in Economy I really do not miss them either. EVA Air offers a top product in economy as far as I am concerned.

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