Review: EVA Air Premium Economy – more comfort for the long-haul flight

EVA Air is the second largest airline based in Taipei, Taiwan, and a five-star carrier. On a recent trip to Taipei, I was able to try out their Premium Economy Cabin on their flagship airplane, the Boeing B777. EVA Air was the first airline to launch a Premium Economy product in 1992 and it has been very successful. In addition to the always stellar service, you get a very nice seat, great entertainment and very good food. That makes it a very worthwhile upgrade from Economy class!

Pre-Departure: I booked my flight on EVA online and it was easy enough. I was able to check-in online. Unfortunately, while this should be sufficient to go straight to the gate, the poorly trained (or just grumpy?) security staff at Manila’s NAIA Terminal 1 sent me back to the counter. As a StarAlliance Gold member, I went to the Business Class counter and had a new boarding pass issued. EVA needs to lean on the airport to make this work more smoothly!
On all flights (accept the Americas), EVA allows 35kg of checked luggage in  Premium Economy, as well as an additional 20kg for StarAlliance Gold members. To the US, Canada and some Latin American destinations, a piece-system of two pieces of luggage up to 28kg each is applied. Elite members get an additional piece up to 23kg.
Carry-on luggage is limited to a standard-size item up to 7kg and a personal item without weight limit. That’s rather restrictive for carry-on, as many empty rollaboards will weigh 3-5kg empty, but my carry-on wasn’t weighed at check-in and gate staff didn’t appear to weigh it either.
As a StarAlliance Gold member I received a lounge invitation with my boarding pass printout – I like when airlines make it that easy. EVA uses a contract lounge in Manila, which was alright. You can read my review here – all lounges at Manila’s NAIA Terminal 1 are poor, you can’t really blame EVA Air for that! I’m praying for renovations soon!
Premium Economy passengers are allowed to board after Business Class and elite members, but prior to Economy Class. The boarding process was well organized and orderly, with premium cabin and elite customers boarding first and everybody else following quickly after.  

Flagship EVA Air B777 at our gate

Onboard Service & Food: The service is one of the hallmarks and part of earning EVA’s five-star rating. Staff welcomed all passengers at the door and assisted them to find their seats or store their luggage. I always appreciate this pro-active assistance, rather than the “don’t bother me” attitude of many US flight attendants – I haven’t seen a US flight attendant help store luggage in decades…

EVA AIr Boeing B777 Premium Economy Cabin

That friendliness continued throughout the flight. EVA doesn’t market Premium Economy on short-haul flights, so the amenity kits offered on long haul flights was not available and the meal service was the same as in the Economy cabin. They served a full meal on a tray, with a salad, a chocolate cake and a hot entree – I picked the beef with rice and vegetables, which was pretty good, as well as a up of water. Flight attendants also serve a limited selection of drinks with the meal, including soft drinks, wine & beer.

EVA Air B777 Premium Economy Cabin

Seat Boeing B777 (3 class): The B777 is EVA Air’s flagship plane with Business Class in a 1-2-1 layout in the front, followed by Premium Economy in a 2-4-2 layout. The seats are 19.5in wide and have a pitch of 38in, offering plenty of legroom.

They are well padded and very comfortable. The headrests are adjustable and have wings.

The seat recline is generous and there is a footrest, which works better for shorter passengers, but there is no leg-rest like other airlines offer for Premium Economy.

Each seat is equipped with its own power outlet and USB port to charge your devices.

EVA Air was a pioneer for Premium Economy, but other airlines have caught up. Today, it’s a competitive hard product and significant upgrade from a regular Economy seat, but no longer an industry leader.

Entertainment: The personal video screen is 11in, bright and offers crisp colors and good sound. You have access to the full entertainment library, the same as in Business Class with lots of movies and TV shows with lots of episodes. There are also games,  music and a map to keep you entertained.

The library was well structured, with latest releases, award winning movies, family friendly choices as well as regional favorites.

This is a modern system, with easy navigation and you can use touch-screen controls or the wired controller in your armrest.

It was plenty for my short flight and should keep you busy on long-haul flights as well! You can find the current programming here!

Bottomline: EVA Air offers fantastic service on par with other 5-star airlines like Singapore Airlines and ANA and very good food. The experience is a significant difference to US airlines, or regional, second-tier airlines.  The Premium Economy seats are comfortable and offer significantly more room than you’ll find in Economy class. You’ll even get an amenity kit on long-haul flghts and upgraded food.
If a Business Class ticket is out of your price range, Premium Economy on EVA will get you first-class service, a comfortable seat, good food, entertainment and amenities for a much more pleasant flight experience – it’s worth considering!

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