The airline with the best average rating is EVA Air with 8.1/10.
The average flight time is 4 hours and 40 minutes.More information
After my first experience of flying Business last November, I had got the taste for this whole Premium Cabin thing.
Strangely enough it was a chance comment from a friend that was the opening to the rabbit hole. He mentioned about how he was taking his dad from London to LAX in BA First using Avios.
Now honestly I'd never really had a clue about miles, points etc and how the whole thing worked. Boy did I ever waste a lot of years! I'd always wondered how so many people could afford to pay the insane prices airlines charged for F and J. Little did I realise that many of those people were there for pennies on the dollar.
After diving into the whole scene full blooded I'd unlocked the key to do this on a big scale. So less than a year after starting I was able to put together a trip around Asia all in Business.
The YYZ-ICN-BKK flights cost 75,000 Aeroplan miles. The TPE-YYZ flight also cost 75,000 Aeroplan miles and for reasons I'm not entirely sure I understand I wasn't able to make my multi-city itinerary accept my return flight KUL-TPE-YYZ so I had to book KUL-TPE as a separate leg. This was highly annoying however the blow was softened by a 30% transfer bonus on my SPG points, so that effectively made the flight free in the end.
I used 15,000 BA Avios for the BKK-SIN leg on Cathay which is a crazy good value.
However my terrible luck bit me again on this flight which frankly I booked because it was on the A350-900 and I was yet to fly on one and with the rave reviews it was getting was to be a highlight of the trip for me.
Of course about 2 months before we left ExpertFlyer delivered the brutal news that there had been an aircraft change to an A330-300.
I was gutted especially when I checked EF and found that of the 30 days in September the A330 was operating on only 2 of them. The day after I traveled it was an A350-1000 which would have been even better. I thought long and hard about changing plans to fly a day later but it was just too much hassle. While my wife is nice and understanding even she has limits on how much she will accommodate my avgeekness!
The rest of the flights were cash bookings.
The most expensive flights was the SIN-KUL return on SQ. I originally booked in Y as the cost difference between Y and J was too much. However not flying in J was eating away at me and I started to wonder about how often I would get the chance to fly SQ J again and I buckled and upgraded the flights. It was crazy for a 50 minute flight, but our travel decisions are not always made with the head are they?
It ended up about $775 return.
KLM was about $390 for SIN-DPS, Garuda was about $260, Malaysian CGK-KUL-BKI was $330 and BKI-KUL was $190
*All prices per person in CAD
We arrived nicely on time on our flight MH2613 from BKI and made quick progress through Malaysian Immigration and customs to get our bags. From the baggage hall it was back to the departures level to make our way to the EVA Air check in for our flight to Taipei.
Upon arriving at the EVA Air check in there was a dedicated land for Premium Laurel Class and we had no wait and were seen immediately.
Our bags were checked and tagged with the Star Alliance priority tags and we were given boarding passes and lounge invitations for the Plaza Premium First lounge.
Now this isn't a regular PP lounge its actually the very first of a new range of lounges that Plaza Premium has introduced - Their "First" concept. There are currently only 2 PP First lounges, this one in KL and one in Hong Kong.
I believe unlike regular PP lounges the PP First is in KL not available for buy in or Priority Pass, although the Hong Kong one seems to offer buy in at a rate of US$112 for 3 hours!
PP First describe themselves as "An Elevated Lounge Experience for Elite Travellers". The PP First lounge at KL is described as "Plaza Premium First Malaysia welcomes elite airline members and premium class passengers to an exclusive space featuring personalised service, à la carte dining, and luxurious shower facilities. This comfortable, spacious oasis will satisfy your needs prior to your departure from Kuala Lumpur."
Its a really nice touch that EVA Air uses this elevated lounge rather than a regular Plaza Premium.
These lounge shots are taken from the PP First website as I forgot to take shots. I hope its allowed with the proper credit which I acknowledge here:
The lounge was really high quality.
First as you can see there are a number of seating areas, all of which offer fabulous views out over the apron and taxiways of KUL.
The seats were extremely comfortable.
There was free and fast wifi.
Table service was provided with a la carte dining.
We took our seats at a table to start for some dining. Our server came over to us and presented us with a hot towel and a menu.
It was explained where the bar was and also there was small buffet section where we could help ourselves to salad, cold items and bread.
Unfortunately again I forgot to take any pictures in the lounge, but we both had a very nice meal with excellent and attentive service.
There was a fully staffed bar where I had a couple of beers and my wife had a couple of glasses of wine.
The lounge was incredibly nice and we stayed right until we had to leave to head to the gate. With KUL having security at the gate like Changi we left ourselves enough time before boarding to get through all the formalities.
Overall this was an excellent lounge and well done to both Plaza Premium for the concept and for EVA Air for nominating this as their Business Class lounge.
Airline: EVA Air
Flight Number: BR228
Departure: Kuala Lumpur KUL
Departure Time: 1551
Arrival: Taipei Taoyuan TPE
Arrival Time: 2022
Flight Time: 04:31
Travel Date: Monday September 24th
Class: Business Class
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
I saw earlier that our operating aircraft would be B-16333 which was one of EVA Air's Hello Kitty themed aircraft. This one was labelled Sanrio Characters.
Now on one hand it was quite exciting to be flying on a logojet like this but I also knew there was bad news to come on the seat and cabin.
EVA Air has 9 Airbus A330-300s and 6 of them feature a beautiful recently modified cabin with 2-2-2 configured fully lie flat seats. 3 of them however feature the exact same seats as Singapore Airlines has on its A330s, the old angle flat seats and is a much inferior product. The 3 aircraft in this configuration are all 3 Hello Kitty themed jets.
Here is a nice review of the beautiful refurbished cabin we missed out on:
EVA A330-300 New J Cabin
Instead we were once again faced with the same seat we had flown with SQ a couple of weeks earlier. I can't lie it was a bit of a disappointment.
We boarded about 20mins late for which there was an apology in true Asian style!
Boarding was then called for passengers needing assistance and then Business Class.
For anyone who has seen Singapore Airlines A330 cabin and seat this is pretty much exactly what was on offer here.
I don't find these seats that great to be honest. They are comfy enough for a 1 hour leg but as I later found trying to have a sleep on it was impossible for me. I didn't enjoy it and will be glad when these seats are gone.
As before with SQ there was a lack of functional storage. There was lots of space but it just wasn't useful for much. It was either too narrow or too short or just not very useful. The result was our things were all over the place and nothing was very handy.
There was an IFE remote stuck in the armrest and a pair of cupholders on the middle section where both our tray tables would come out from.
There was also an ineffective privacy divider that could come out a small way from the headrests
Much as I hate to sound like a whining old curmudgeon I don't rate these seats at all, they are just too old now and are uncompetitive and not very good for longer flights. I'd take this over a 737 any day but given other choices I would actively try to avoid these seats in future, especially for flights in the 5 hour ballpark. I tried really hard to have a nap but just couldn't do it.
After the horribly underwhelming experience on MH Business Class it was a delight to be on EVA Air and their reputation for service is well deserved.
Right from the get go we were escorted to our seat all with happy smiles.
A pillow and blanket were waiting for us as well as noise cancelling headphones and slippers! Of course again because there is no real storage on these seats, the bedding had to be dumped onto the floor and the headphones I managed to shove down the side of the seat.
Hot towels and pre departure drinks were brought around. I believe the choices were just water or juice.
We were then brought a drinks list and our lovely cabin crew member confirmed with us our pre order meal that we had selected on the EVA website.
Sorry again for the portrait sized images
This isn't Malaysian Dorothy!
We pushed back and were following closely behind a China Airlines 77W also heading to TPE. I must admit at that moment I did think about all the lucky sods on board that sitting in their 1-2-1 reverse herringbone pods and had a little swear to myself.
As we pushed back and taxied out we were just infront of a US Bangla Airlines 737-800 which then followed us. Frankly I would at that point given my left nut to have got a decent picture of that 737 but of course had my camera safely tucked away in my rollaboard safely out of reach in the overhead. Lesson learned - My camera and lens are now required to be with me at all times. I cried silently as it went out of sight and contemplated the fact that I would likely never have a picture of that little beauty in my photo collection rather wishing it had been parked on the other side of the terminal and I would have never known it was there!
Never let anyone tell you that being an avgeek isn't mostly about suffering!
We departed from 32R as usual at KUL and headed North East out towards the South China Sea and a direct-ish track to Taipei.
Soon after the wonderful ladies whirled into action.
With their adorable Hello Kitty aprons on the inflight service began.
First it was time for drinks……….
I can neither confirm nor deny that I had at least a couple of glasses of the champagne that was fairly tasty. Proactive refills were offered and gratefully accepted!
Soon it was time for meal service and the linens were handed out
EVA Air has to have some of the most beautiful linens in the sky. The detail in this was just stunning.
Our starters were soon handed out
The presentation was so nice. Some fresh bread would shortly fill the plate to the left and if you notice the horror of the fact my champagne glass is now empty and my wine glass has yet to be filled. How did I survive? No I'm not sure either!
This was my first time trying Scallops and can't say I'm a fan. I ate them because I was hungry but otherwise I'm throwing them into the category of "fancy" food that's not in my comfort zone!
I of course had the New Zealand Sauvignon, and as I mentioned in my MH reviews, there you only get 1 drink with your meal, here I had at one point champagne, wine and water on the go.
In a spectacular fail I managed to completely miss taking a photo of my main course and I can't even remember what I had! So errrrr, sorry about that!
Here's dessert though!
I do remember the main and the dessert being superbly delicious, that little orange cake was heavenly.
After dinner hot towels were again handed out and drinks fill ups offered.
Everything was so beautifully presented and the service flow was impeccable.
After the main meal service was complete the sun began to set and the cabin started to wind down.
I put on a movie and attempted to get some rest but as I mentioned there would be no sleep. I watched a movie and kept up to date with the flight map.
Crew were always passing down the aisles looking for anyone who needed anything.
Unfortunately it was dark for our approach into TPE and it was also raining so there was almost nothing to see until we landed. The cloud base was very low and visibility was not great which was disappointing being my first time to Taiwan.
Our approach though was well flown and a nice landing and rollout followed before we ended up parking at Gate C1 which is the gate at TPE that seems to be the furthest from everything.
Once we disembarked there were various EVA staff looking for people with connections and this continued on our walk through the terminal with staff proactively calling for people who must have been on short connections with flights to North America.
The whole thing was organised so much better than with MH in KUL.
After walking for what seemed like days we finally were able to get to the arrivals area and proceed through immigration and customs.
It's also entirely possible that one of those Hello Kitty safety cards in a terrible accident may have very accidentally found its way into my carryon and by a terrible stroke of luck I ended up bringing one home with me. I've no idea how it happened. It was of course a dreadful accident, poor me!
The Plaza Premium First lounge in KUL is a very good lounge and I would highly recommend a visit if you qualify. Don't be put off by the Plaza Premium name if you've had a poor experience there before (I quite like them to be honest, I've used their lounge in T3 at YYZ a few times and while its not World beating its a nice lounge and a great place to relax before a flight), its definitely worth a try. Nicely done Plaza Premium!
Overall this flight was just OK and that's solely because of the seat. Everything else was outstanding but I'll never be able to grow to like those seats.
I had really been hoping to sample the lovely looking refurbished lie flat seats EVA has on most of its A333's but unfortunately we were stuck on the old configuration with the seats straight out of the 1990s.
I find the seats poor, lacking in functionality and belonging to a previous generation. Thankfully SQ is phasing these poor seats out of their fleet and hopefully EVA will follow suit, their regional 787 Business Class seat looks superb.
The service was excellent as one would expect from EVA Air. The food and drinks were first rate and the service was what you would expect from a 5 star Asian airline. Always attentive, always proactive and always with a kind smile and nothing is too much trouble attitude.
This was a solid way to get from KUL to TPE, and if this flight was operated by the 77W with EVA would be a no-brainer. Otherwise its a bit of a lottery if you will get the better new seat or this one. SQ flies the A333 on this route too so maybe China Airlines is the better option with its 77W the hard product is far ahead of anything else on this route.