Hello, and welcome to (at long last) the conclusion of a fun week in Asia courtesy of EVA and Emirates.
As a reminder, here’s the rundown:
BR35 YYZ-TPE 11/20/2016 - Right here BR871 TPE-HKG 11/21/2016 - Go for it EK385 HKG-BKK 11/22/2016 - Find it here EK384 BKK-HKG 11/23/2016 - All yours BR858 HKG-TPE 11/23/2016 - Go nuts BR36 TPE-YYZ 11/24/2016 - And finally, you’re here
When last we saw each other, your humble flight-reporter was being picked up by the shuttle bus for the short ride to the Novotel Taoyuan, just up the road from the airport. So it’s only fitting that as we pick up this adventure, it’s after a good night’s sleep, a hearty breakfast, and an afternoon of bumming around the hotel, and then heading over to the airport on that very same shuttle bus.
I already had my TPE-YYZ boarding pass from the transit counter in Hong Kong, so once inside, it was just upstairs, through security and passport control, and I was loose on the concourse. It was all very quick and satisfactory.
Having spent a good amount of time (and kinda reviewed) the twin (in services, but not in decor) EVA lounges, The Infinite and The Star on the way in, I decided to try out the other Star Alliance Gold lounge at TPE, operated by SQ (and unfortunately not currently included in the flight-report system…)
And it’s a good thing I went there first, because as my boarding pass was scanned in, the very friendly gate agent explained they’d be closing in about a half-hour — I guess there aren’t any late SQ departures to stay open for.
So inside I went. I took some photos of the lounge itself, but we’ll get to those later. Having not eaten since breakfast, I was fairly hungry, so I decided to immediately check out the buffet area, nestled into the back end of the lounge.
For a small space, the food offerings were decent, with a fair number of hot dishes.
Cold drinks in the refrigerators in the back.
On the second island, more hot dishes.
Apples, a few bread options, and a multi-temperature water dispenser.
Coffee and teas.
And a small bar and dim sum.
I had a small snack of a bit of curry, some noodles, and a bit of a Taiwanese pastry. All was pretty decent, although I suppose I should have taken some rice with the curry. But what’s up with the hospital-looking drinking water cup? Notice also the “usual” SQ cutlery and dishware.
Still a bit hungry, I tried out a bit of the pork rib soup an some dim sum. The dim sum was just so-so, but the soup was fantastic.
WiFi was freely available and very fast. Especially because at this point, the lounge — which wasn’t very busy when I came in — was emptying quite quickly. Time for a corporate shot? You bet.
As I surfed, they made a couple of calls for the last flight of the day on SQ, and within about ten minutes, the lounge had cleared out. I kept going about my business until two of the lounge attendants came out and started tearing down the buffet (and grabbing themselves some eats in the process.) I sometimes know when I’ve overstayed my welcome, and fortunately, this was one of those times.
As a bonus, at this point, I was the last patron in the lounge, so it was easy to get some lounge shots without disturbing anyone… although I did get some odd looks from the snacking lounge attendants.
There are two banks of reading material, with quite a bit of options. One of the banks is built into the side of the first buffet table.
A long row of seating along the windows, with decent views on the (unfortunately dark) apron.
And more of the main row of seating.
Some elevated workstations with the usual-for-SQ marble desk.
All this seating for that little TV? It seems like it’s a bit too much.
I spent the remaining half-hour or so before boarding time for my flight in The Star, which you can read a bit about here. Not much had changed in the two days since I’d been here last.
Then, a few minutes before boarding time, I made my way down to the gate, where my ride over to Toronto was waiting for me downstairs, wearing the “middle” EVA livery — not the new livery, but new enough that they didn’t bother with the main Chinese titles on the fuselage.
The gate was kind of open, but there was no line or really anyone attempting to board. I kinda made my way up to the front, showed my boarding card, and was invited to board. Quite the relaxing counterpoint to the chaos that was boarding my flight to Taipei a few days ago.
Flight: BR36 From: Taipei (TPE To: Toronto Pearson (YYZ) Date: 11/24/2016 Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER Registration: B-16721 Seat: 11A ATD (STD): 20:05 (19:40) ATA (STA): 20:02 (20:30)
For this flight, I was in the last row of the business mini-cabin behind door 2. Behind me, I could peak back into a pretty nice Premium Economy product right behind me.
Other than the different paint job on the outside, and the different location in the mini-cabin, the seat was exactly the same as my seat on the way in. The only other “difference” was that it was a lot harder to get a break in traffic to photograph the seat, as the mini cabin is (obviously) on the path to PE and Y for every other passenger on the plane. But here’s an over-the-shoulder look at my seat.
On the aisle-side wall, a rather extensive collection of safety info and other literature, as well as very good slippers.
A look at the leg room for this pod, and the storage cubbies along the side wall of the pod.
Proper legroom shot. Needless to say, no problems here.
The screen is big and bright and friendly, and unfortunately is hijacked for “welcome aboard” and marketing messages throughout boarding.
Allt he sports — USB, power, headphones — are located in the wall of the pod, along with another storage cubby, a reading light, and a very nice wired IFE remote — which was also taken over by the pre-departure messages.
Out my window, our twin sibling in her shiny new paint job.
And a look across the cabin. The last row had two seats that remained unused in the middle, so it was just the two of us in the window seats for this flight — although the middle seat next to me would be sometimes occupied by a mother traveling with her young daughter when the little one was sleeping in the seat in front of her. For those aghast at the thought of a toddler in J, this little one cried for a few minutes shortly after takeoff, then fell asleep and spent the rest of the flight either asleep, or watching movies on her IFE. She was a little cranky at being woken up for descent into Toronto later (spoiler: we got there), but after the first few minutes of the flight, I didn't hear her again with my headphones on.
Finally, things quiet down enough to get the pre-requisite seat view shot.
Service kicks off on the ground with the purser (denoted by the orange trim on her green blazer) for this flight, Ariel, introducing herself, and taking pre-departure beverage requests. Ariel would lead service for me and everyone on the port side of the mini-cabin, and as one would expect from EVA, was excellent.
She brought around chocolates and hot towels, along with some passengers PDB choices, in her first pass, and then let me know she’d be back in a moment with my requested champagne. She was true to her word.
Next up, an EVA Rimowa amenity kit in yet another shade of green. I know have four of these, all rocking slightly different varieties on the green theme. Contents were the same as discussed on the outbound flight.
And then the menus are distributed. Starting with the wines and drinks list.
And moving into the menu itself. Ariel checks with me to remind me that I’d pre-ordered a lamb dish online for my main course, and checking if that’s still alright. I confirm. She also confirms that I selected the pork rib noodle soup for the pre-arrival meal, and in a bit of service I find a bit quirky, takes drink orders for both meals right off the top.
After the safety video rolls, I finally get control of my IFE screen, and choose my first movie of the flight, The Man Who Knew Infinity. A bit dry, but a pretty good watch.
We push back pretty much on schedule.
Although the cabin lights are off for takeoff, the painting at the front of each cabin is never shown the darkness.
Liftoff, and we’re into the darkened skies over Taipei.
The moving map shows we’ve got a long way to go.
And we’re just getting started. We’ve also got the wrong paint job. But I digress.
Once we’re released from our seats, pajamas are handed out to business class passengers. and I quickly make my way to the lav between the business class cabins to change. This is an ice, slightly larger space, with the usual amenities and some nice touches — including a seating bench for changing, which is quite welcome.
As usual with EVA, the pajamas are a choice of “medium” or “large” — and even the “large” isn’t that large, at least by North American standards. I still find them light and comfy and quite acceptable, if a little tight. Still, I wish more airlines would learn that J is for jammies.
Back at my seat, Fiji water is distributed.
And then meal service begins with some canapes and champagne. The shrimp and crab egg crepe wasn’t great, but I really enjoyed the goat cheese tart. And the champagne was, of course, delicious.
This meal was a more “full” meal service than the super late night meal out of Toronto, but it was still delivered vey quickly, which was great. It started off with the usual ornate EVA table cloth, another hot towel, and a bit more champagne.
The rest of the table was then set, and the the starter presented.
The pate was enjoyable, the salmon was really quite good, and to my surprise, I quite enjoyed the champagne jelly. A unique idea.
Bread was offered, and of course, I took the garlic route. Again, it was very good — although not as good as the amazing garlic bread they offered on YYZ-TPE.
Beets aren’t really my thing, but I thought the soup offered was okay… not the usual rave review I give in-flight soups.
The salad was quite simple, but fresh and tasty, and presented with a different vinaigrette, which was quite nice.
And then came my main, which was a crusted lamb dish I had pre-ordered online. This was very good — everything was fresh and tasty, and not overcooked. I’d probably rave about it much more if it weren’t for the utterly amazing lamb dish I’d just enjoyed on Emirates a couple of days earlier. But this was still a very good main. If you’re into lamb.
Coffee and tea were presented next, and I went with a simple black coffee.
The cheese course was offered next — a nice variety was on offer. The blue and the garlic were clearly my favorites.
Dessert was simply some cookies and cream ice cream — although at least it was presented with a spoon and I didn’t have to use the baby spoon under the lid.
Meal service wrapped up with yet another hot towel. You can never have enough of those, can you?
As meal service ended and service items were cleaned up, Ariel asked if I’d like anything else, and I request a sample of the Kavalan, a single-malt Taiwanese whiskey. It’s quite nice. And remember… for relaxing times, make it…. ah, never mind. It doesn’t translate well away from Japanese airlines.
After dinner, Ariel asks if I’d like my bed bade up — which basically means dropping the seat, and adding a thin “mattress cover” layer draped over the top. The bed is very comfortable, and I snuggle in to enjoy the end of my movie.
Odd moodlighting at this moment in the flight.
But soon, the lights are out, and it’s time to get some sleep.
And yes, I slept quite well, thank you very much, waking up an number of hours later, as we were crossing over southwest Alaska. Given the quick meal service, I figure I got about five hours of sleep, which is pretty good for me – especially since I wasn't dog tired heading into the flight.
Having woken up pretty well refreshed, just over half-way through the flight, it’s back to movies — and I decide to finally bite the bullet and watch the new Ghostbusters. Perhaps because of the overwhelmingly negative feedback I’d heard, I didn’t expect much, but I found it better than expected.
Partway through the movie, I request the seafood noodles, and some green tea. They are promptly brought to me, and are pretty decent.
By the time the movie’s over, we’re into Canadian airspace.
Up next, Bad Moms. Again, nothing special, but entertaining enough.
About three and a half hours out, I’m starting to get hungry again, and with about two hours left to the pre-arrival meal, perhaps it’s time for another snack. Ahhh, heck… I’m having the light soup dish before arrival, so why not one more EVA burger? This one is just as good as the one on the outbound. It amazes me that they somehow get the bun right, which is usually the problem with this type of sandwich on a plane.
To round out my movie watching for this flight, the sequel to Now You See Me. Again, I’m not overwhelmed, but I’m entertained.
At this point, we’ve dipped back into northern U.S. airspace, over Montana.
As the movie continues, the house lights come out, in the universal signal that it’s about pre-arrival meal time. Service begins with a hot towel (of course!) and a table cloth.
Coffee is presented next, and is most welcome.
The soup is then presented — it’s a bit of an odd combination for me, but I enjoyed the combination of a tasty broth, tender meat, and vegetables. All in all, it was about the right dish for pre-arrival. I left feeling full, but not bloated, and didn’t need a dinner or even a snack after getting back into Toronto.
Dessert for this meal is fruit — and it’s a bit of a disappointment after the great fruit I’ve had on other EVA flights. I think it just wasn’t the right mix for me. The kiwi was excellent, though.
After it was done, I requested a cappuccino, and I was presented with this lovely creation. I had forgotten that EVA offers this wonderful stick of crystalized cinnamon sugar with its cappuccinos. Even as a diehard black coffee drinker, this is just too delicious to refuse. Mmmmmm.
After the meal, of course, it’s one last hot towel before wrapping up service.
Oh, and maybe one more cappuccino, and one more cinnamon sugar stick, as well.
About this time I noticed that several passengers around me have filled out arrival cards, and surmised they must have been distributed right after takeoff, whilst I was changing. I flagged down Ariel and requested one, and it was promptly delivered to me, with apologies for being missed the first time around.
With my movie over and a while before landing, I decided to check out the in-flight WiFi with a short-time pass. It was a T-mobile service, and easy to connect to. I found it fast enough, and certainly good enough to get a second corporate shot in.
About this time, we started our descent, and the WiFi turned off. So I packed my bags up, got my forms ready, and enjoyed the last moments of this trip. Soon enough, we were heading south over the western suburbs, in anticipation of hanging a left and lining up for arrival into Pearson. You can see the edge of the green glowing airport (on the screen, not in real-life) at the far left of the screen.
It’s a cold somewhat rainy night in Toronto as we touch down back at Pearson.
And finally, this journey comes to an end back at the far end of Terminal 1.
Ariel and the rest of the cabin crew wish us their goodbyes, and pretty soon, we’re out, starting the long walk back to the customs and arrivals.
Fortunately, with my Nexus Card, arrivals are a breeze, and as I head for the escalators down to the baggage hall, I’m happy to see it looks like traffic is pretty light at this hour.
And indeed, when I head outsides, Terminal 1 is about as quiet as it ever gets as I await my ride.
And thus ends my final aviation adventure of 2016. Thanks for joining me for this ride, and I look forward to more adventures in 2017!
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge
Taipei - TPE
Toronto - YYZ
Another fine flight with EVA. The hard product, as always, was very good, the service very attentive and warm if somewhat unpersonalized, and the food better than expected.
I fee like EVA is an under-appreciated gem within Star Alliance, with a very good J product that reaches (and in some cases exceeds) F service on some airlines.
Plus, they're a no-YQ airline on Aeroplan. And in a rare and bizarre turn of events, their award availability to partners seems to be improving. Wow... and airline enhancement that I don't have to put in sarcastic quotation marks? Brilliant!
Definitely one of my favourite business class products, and a pleasure to fly them again. EVA is highly recommended.
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