y’all know i’m pretty much an economy flyer. the only times i’ve flown international business are when i got op-up’d on a Lufthansa A380 earlier this year and the barcalounger business-with-economy-service on a cheapy Air Canada flight from Athens to Toronto last year (which barely counts, if at all).
but on the heels of a work project that has left me with a carousel of bags under my eyes and hearing that EVA’s Royal Laurel Class was one of the better business classes out there i decided to splurge a little and thus changed my plans last week to go Business (hooray for free award changes). i was originally scheduled to go SFO-TPE-BKK-KUL on EVA through to Bangkok and then Thai to Kuala Lumpur, but changed to SFO-SEA-TPE-KUL on United to Seattle and EVA on the rest. the Taipei-Kuala Lumpur flight has their older fancy business class product, Premium Laurel Class.
sidebar note that as of this writing, you’re not guaranteed a plane with Royal Laurel on Seattle flights (see list of Royal Laurel cities at the bottom here), but as it happens there was one when i needed it. i had to piece this award routing together and call it in to United, but it worked.
if you manage your reservation on the EVA website, you can pre-select a meal from an expanded assortment (indicated by the asterisks):
I’m at SFO now (and you can tell I’m doing this on my phone thanks to autocorrecting of capitalization) and I was turned away from the EVA lounge in the international terminal due to the anticipation of crowding. I’d read about that happening on FlyerTalk but it wasn’t until I saw the lounge firsthand that I understood why. I’ve been in living rooms bigger than that place. So I guess the moral of the story is, don’t expect to get in with your fancy Star Alliance Gold card (despite the sign) or business class seats on an EVA flight from another airport. For now, I’m sitting in the United lounge.
At SEA now. Lordy we had to park at the furthest A gate — the walk to the train to the S gates where EVA is, might as well have walked to Taipei. They called my name over the PA system; they needed to recheck me in and collect passport information. So, despite having boarding passes printed during my check-in at SFO with United, I have fancy green ones now, along with lounge invitations for tonight (the British Airways lounge at SEA) and tomorrow (in Taipei).
my international premium class travel experience is quite limited, but i’ve never seen so many people manning the front cabin before. i think the passenger-flight attendant ratio was 4:1, or at least it seemed that way. greeted at the entrance to the plane, greeted at the entrance to the business class cabin, greeted after i sat down (all by three different people, the latter the purser).
ok, to be honest, the seat looked bigger in the pictures/movies, but you know, it was loads better than an economy seat and i definitely had more than enough room if i wanted to sit with my legs tucked under or pulled up. the only thing that was missing was storage space. you get quite a bit, but well, i guess i had more stuff out than they anticipated when designing it 😀
i was looking around for the amenity kit thinking someone stole mine, but as it turned out a flight attendant came around with a cart handing them out, in addition to earplugs.
there was also a fancy sealed pouch with slippers — so i decided to change out of my Hello Kitty shoes.
soon after takeoff (the climb was hella bumpy, which presaged pretty much the rest of the flight), they started with the meal service. i got what i had ordered, the duck. oh, not shown: you get a choice of three types of bread: garlic bread, a dense dinner roll, or an airier warmed-up bun. i got the bun.
and now it was time for bed. the cabin was quite warm (and coupled with the down duvet, on the verge of HOT), so i changed to shorts (so much better) and pushed the “moon” button on the control panel to convert the seat to a bed. the lie-flat seemed to be ever-so-slightly angled downwards towards my feet, though. not the end of the world, but as i recall the United lie-flat is umm, flatter. also, the pillow you get is very un-fluffy. at first i thought that was a bad thing, but realized that since i actually don’t like fat pillows, it was great! perfect for stomach-sleepers like me.
i managed to get a good five or six hours of sleep, which was great — i needed that! one of the best hidden features of the entertainment system is that it shows the remaining flight time on the handset so you don’t have to pull up Airshow. an easy quick glance from the sleeping position.
about two and a half hours before landing they started breakfast service. for some reason, my preselection was recorded incorrectly as some sort of pancake (not sure if that was a website error or catering fault), but as it turned out that was what was called the “Royal Laurel Special” on the menu (i think!): “Chopped Gammon and Chinese Sausage Pancake, Dried Bean Curd with Chinese Chive and Pork Julienne, Green Bean and Barley Congee, Fruit.”
oh, since i’m being so thorough, here’s what they had in the bathrooms:
so, for being my first lie-flat international business class experience, i certainly cannot complain. i don’t think i was spoiled enough to have economy ruined forever (ask me after my return flight), but it was definitely a nice splurge and i wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.
i’ll end on a random, unrelated note: i’m no spring chicken anymore, but damn Paul Walker is lookin’ old nowadays.
oh, just kidding, one more thing:
they played a longer version of this video (that i can’t find online) but it really encapsulates the beauty of travel and why i love to explore. <3