April 25, 2024
Economy

The Mail tests out Eva Air’s award-winning Boeing 777 seat, which scooped gold at the ‘Oscars of Aviation’. Here’s our verdict…




What makes the best premium economy cabin in the world so special? I’m boarding an Eva Air flight to find out.

The Taiwanese airline accepted the ‘best premium economy’ trophy at the most recent ‘Oscars of Aviation’ – the annual Skytrax World Airline Awards. Not only that but it was named the world’s ninth-best airline.

Its ties to premium economy run deep. Eva Air is credited as the first airline to launch premium economy class, introducing the game-changing cabin to the skies in the early 1990s.

In testing out this prize-winning service, I’m travelling with my partner from the airline’s hub, northern Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport, on a 3hr 25min flight to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Once we arrive at the airport, dread sets in at the sight of the enormous queue for check-in. Thankfully, it’s short-lived.

Eva Air scooped the ‘best premium economy’ trophy at the 2023 Skytrax World Airline Awards. Above is the cabin that won gold
Ailbhe MacMahon, above, flies in Eva Air’s premium economy cabin to see if it lives up to the hype
Tan and tangerine seats with adjustable headrests are laid out in eight rows in a 2-4-2 layout, reveals Ailbhe
Ailbhe describes her berth as ‘exceptionally comfortable’

An Eva Air crew member helpfully points me in the direction of the designated section for premium economy check-in, where the queue barriers are completely queue-free. An attendant swiftly checks us in and we’re on our way in under 10 minutes.

There’s a considerable price difference between economy and premium economy – an economy ticket starts at TWD 4,925 (£122/$156) for the route we’re flying, while premium economy is more than double that at TWD 13,052 (£324/$413). Despite the bump in price, premium economy passengers don’t enjoy either lounge access or priority boarding, resulting in a lull in the proceedings once we’re through security.

However, when we board the plane – a Boeing 777 – the premium economy ticket proves its worth.

Cream curtains separate the 64-seat premium economy cabin from the back of the plane. With a design finish devised by Teague, it’s a tasteful cocoon offset by soft lighting and a coffee-toned colour palette.

Eva Air was named the world’s ninth-best airline at the 2023 Skytrax Awards
Eva Air’s Hello Kitty-themed check-in area at Taiwan ’s Taoyuan International Airport
The premium economy seats are 38in (97cm) long and 19.5in (50cm) wide

Tan and tangerine seats with adjustable headrests are laid out in eight rows in a 2-4-2 layout. My window seat, 22K, is exceptionally comfortable, with a generous seating space measuring 38in (97cm) long and 19.5in (50cm) wide. My 6ft 1in partner says that he feels he has ‘double the space’ he normally enjoys in economy class. Even though the man in front of me reclines his seat for the whole flight, I never feel cramped.

An adjustable footrest drops down from the seat in front. A little table for drinks sits between seats, while larger tables are hidden away in armrests. There are USB sockets and Wi-Fi, which is slow, but free for 30 minutes.

Flight attendants hand out thick fleece blankets as they attentively patrol the cabin. We don’t get an amenity kit, as they’re reserved for overnight flights. Refreshing towels, however, are presented to each passenger, and I find lotions from French beauty brand Payot in the bathrooms.

Flight attendants hand out thick fleece blankets as they attentively patrol the cabin, reveals Ailbhe
‘Lunch [above] is a serious spread,’ declares Ailbhe. She opts for chicken in ginger-infused soy sauce with steamed rice, which comes with a fish plate on the side, ‘laden with smoked salmon, marinated squid and prawns’. ‘Creamy vanilla panna cotta makes for a moreish dessert,’ Ailbhe adds. Eva Air took home a separate prize for ‘best premium economy catering’ at the Skytrax awards
To drink, Ailbhe is served a ‘rich’ glass of 2021 Cuvée Dissenay Chardonnay, which retails at around £11 ($14)

THE WORLD’S BEST PREMIUM ECONOMY CLASS AIRLINES

1. EVA Air

2. Singapore Airlines

3. Emirates

4. Virgin Atlantic

5. Delta Air Lines

6. Qantas Airways

7. ANA All Nippon Airways

8. Air France

9. Cathay Pacific Airways

10. Japan Airlines

11. Lufthansa

12. United Airlines

13. British Airways

14. Air New Zealand

15. Vietnam Airlines

16. Iberia

17. Swiss International Air Lines

18. ITA Airways

19. Austrian Airlines

20. China Southern Airlines

Source: Skytrax 

 

 

The bathrooms themselves are standout – they’re spotless and decked out with a full-length mirror, beauty lights and flowers (albeit fake ones).

A decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones is tucked in the seat pocket, ready for hooking up to inflight entertainment.

The 11in (28cm) touch screen is nothing exceptional in terms of size, but the ‘Star Gallery’ film selection is excellent, with lots of new releases and some great Taiwanese cinema options.

A clever addition is the ‘mood’ tool, which suggests films based on how passengers are feeling. When I say I’m feeling ‘curious’, it puts forward the latest Marvel movie; for those in a ‘sleepy’ mood, Nick Cage’s new flick Dream Scenario is among the suggestions.

A ‘decent’ pair of noise-cancelling headphones is tucked in the seat pocket, ready for hooking up to inflight entertainment
The plane lands at Vietnam’s Tan Son Nhat Airport right on time, notes Ailbhe, and disembarking is seamless. Above – the premium economy handset

No movie snacks are handed out, but lunch is a serious spread. A two-option menu is presented – I opt for chicken in ginger-infused soy sauce with steamed rice. I’m impressed by the fish plate on the side, laden with smoked salmon, marinated squid and prawns. Creamy vanilla panna cotta makes for a moreish dessert. To drink, I’m served a rich glass of 2021 Cuvée Dissenay Chardonnay, which retails at around £11 ($14).

Proper silverware, glassware and eco-friendly bamboo napkins elevate the experience. Lending a touch of retro glamour, flight attendants wear Wes Anderson-esque pastel pinnies over their uniforms during food service.

It all lives up to the airline’s sterling culinary reputation – Eva Air took home a separate prize for ‘best premium economy catering’ at the Skytrax awards.

The plane lands at Vietnam’s Tan Son Nhat Airport right on time, and disembarking is seamless, with a row of flight attendants lined up at the doors to bid passengers farewell.

During the flight, we had watched the new Wonka film, in which Timothée Chalamet’s Willy Wonka is handed a premium economy ticket for a North Pole-bound boat.

In the scene, comedian Matt Lucas’s character critiques premium economy, saying: ‘It’s basically economy. Yeah, you get a little more leg room, a complimentary packet of peanuts, but is it worth the extra? I don’t know…’

That’s certainly not true of Eva Air’s premium economy offering. Sophisticated, stress-free and ultra-comfortable, it’s worlds away from an economy-class experience – making it worth every penny to upgrade.

TRAVEL FACTS 

Ailbhe MacMahon was hosted by EVA Air. Premium economy tickets for the route she flew start from TWD 13,052 (£324/$413). Premium economy is currently only offered on Eva Air’s B777-300ER planes, though the airline is introducing premium economy to its new Boeing 787-9 aircraft, which will be delivered in the second half of this year. 

Visit www.evaair.com.

PROS: The dedicated check-in is excellent. The cabin design is elegant and considered. The seats are comfortable and spacious. Food is well presented, creative and of a high standard. Service is attentive and polished.

CONS: It’s disappointing that you don’t get priority boarding, as it’s a feature other airlines offer with premium economy class. Extra snacks would be appreciated during the flight.

RATING OUT OF FIVE: 4.5.



Source link

Leave a Reply

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

SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER

Get our latest downloads and information first.
Complete the form below to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.


100% secure your website.