REVIEW – LHR Terminal 2 Lounges (Plaza Premium, United, Air Canada)August 24, 2016
REVIEW – Peninsula BangkokAugust 24, 2016
EVA Air (BR)
- Flight: BR068
- Class: Business
- From: London (LHR)
- To: Bangkok (BKK)
- Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
- Seat: 9A
- Date: October 2014
The gate areas in the satellite terminal of LHR T2 are pretty decent. There are multiple lanes built in so that boarding can easily be divided into groups. There are also numerous power outlets dotted around the seating area, these come in both standard plug and USB versions. Seating is plentiful and the whole process of boarding seems quite relaxed.
This is a good thing given that our flight was delayed by around 45 minutes. The gate area was comfortable enough and the delay easily recoverable on a long-haul flight, so most people just went with the flow and relaxed.
When boarding did finally begin, we were boarded in groups but all through door 1L.
This of course makes for a somewhat awkward experience, where you’re comfortably reclined in your elegant techno cocoon, PDB in hand, exploring the IFE as the Y and PE pax traipse by. Children run off in erratic directions, people struggle with two wheeled bags through the narrow alleys, logjams form as confusion arises over seat locations or overhead space… and pretty much everyone scrutinises you and the cabin you’re in.
I know what everyone is thinking because I used to think it too.
‘How the hell do people afford this’?
‘I vow to be a good person from this day on, if by some miracle I get upgraded’
Still it’s one thing knowing what people are thinking and another to hear it.
As one family walked past me, the small boy pointed to my seat and said “wow, cool! Is our seat going to be like that?”. His mum looked over at me, turned back to her son and answered simply “no”. “Why not mum”? “Because we’re not millionaires”.
I struggled to suppress a smile.
I’ve always been a fan of mini-cabins, quiet little havens in J class that give you a feeling a little more akin to flying First (if you’re used to flying on BA First, other carriers’ Business Class mini-cabins are often considerably more private…with better catering).
The mini cabin on Eva Air is very similar in layout to Cathay Pacific. The overall feel is darker and less elegant than CX though. There is also a minor cosmetic difference in the seat itself. Much like the acquisition of Rimowa amenity kits, tracking down the Sicma Aero Cirrus in all its guises awakens a childlike urge to collect within me. Compared to Cathay, the seat is slightly less private as it doesn’t feature a “wing” around the head area. I haven’t flown it but understand that the original US Airways seat is similar in this respect.
The power socket is the now standard international version. There is also S-Video port (I remember using that for my SEGA Dreamcast, in the days before HDMI. Perhaps I’ll bring it along and fire up a game of Shenmue on my next Eva Air flight) and USB connectivity. Although as with every other airline ever, I wasn’t able to view the contents of my Android phone.
There is a large amount of open storage near the window where the headphones and a bottle of Fiji water were waiting for us. There is additional storage space near your feet with two shelves. There were slippers waiting for us there.
I quite enjoyed having various “gifts” left to discover as we explored our seats.
As we were settling down in our seats an FA approached with a trolley of PJs and amenity kits as well as scented towels. Having a Rimowa kit is a real differentiator for EVA Air. Especially given that amenity kits (of any kind) are still not the norm in J for many airlines. The PJs are also ridiculously comfortable, we still use them for lounging around our apartment.
In terms of hard product the only airline with a notably better J seat is SQ. In terms of amenities, EVA is the best I’ve ever flown. One slight downside was the headphones. These aren’t as good as the ones you get on AA in J but unusually AA seem to be something of a market leader in this respect.
PDBs were handed out from a tray and the only options were juice or water. I was looking forward to a glass of Dom Perignon (another major check mark for EVA) but would have to wait until we were in the air.
Menus were also distributed at this time.
This is hardly news now (in fact the big news is that EVA now serves Krug!) but at the time I think this was one of the first flights to load Veuve Clicquot la Grande Dame instead of Dom Perignon. A huge plus in my book, also a surprising one given the importance of brand recognition in North Asia.
I was also really impressed by the fact that the menu featured Chivas Royal Salute, a firmly First Class drink which in my opinion outshines its peer in the premium blend market: Johnnie Walker Blue Label.
The FAs sprung into action as soon as we reached our cruising altitude. I went with a glass of the Grande Dame, which was as fantastically complex and satisfying a drink as always.
Around ten minutes later an FA came around to distribute meals. Whilst some people admonish airlines for serving food on trays in J, this is something I have no problem with. Cafeterias may use them but so do 3 michelin starred kaiseki restaurants in Tokyo. If my meal is served more quickly then I’m all for it.
The overall meal presentation on EVA is fantastic. I’m a big fan of the pebble like salt and pepper shakers. Whilst the leaf shaped plates aren’t exactly elegant, they aren’t spartan either. EVA has picked a theme: Green – be it evergreen, royal laurel or the colour green on the inside and outside of their planes as well as the uniforms. They’ve got a concept and apply it consistently.
I never eat garlic bread on the ground but there is something about that smell. It fills the cabin long before the FAs make it to your row and you know you just have to have it.
The starter had some highly conceptual elements: fig, peppers and orange with curried prawns. To top it all off, a good old fashioned aspic jelly. I’m not sure that the combination worked 100% but full marks for effort.
The beef noodles on the other hand were just great. Any time anything is braised or slow cooked, that’s what I’ll order on a plane. Short rib is one of my favourite cuts of meat anyway, give me some marinated Kalbi and some fire and I’m a happy man. In they air though the choice is even easier. It just destroys steak. There’s no contest.
The cheese offerings were pretty pedestrian but I can understand that not everybody likes an Epoisses or Vacherin especially not within the confines of an aircraft cabin!
K took one for the team and ordered the dessert. Apparently it was really good.
After the meal I briefly looked through the IFE. One interesting point of note: there were no TV programs at all, just movies. I busied myself on the iPad for half an hour and decided to get some sleep.
At this stage the starry night sky effect had been turned on. I’m not going to lie. I got a kick out of it. As a child I had glow in the dark stars and planets all over my bedroom ceiling and this brought me right back.
There was no mattress pad but the blanket and pillow were both thick and comfortable.
I managed to sleep for a solid six hours, awaking to the aroma of coffee permeating the cabin and the sound of spoons clinking delicately against cups. I love night flights heading East. I always mange a decent sleep and really enjoy the busy rush of breakfast in the sky. A few coffees are all I need to propel me into the swirling rush of the Asian afternoon.
We were first offered towelettes, Fiji water and coffee (which was really good, espresso based coffee as opposed to the soiled water served on some airlines).
This was followed by fresh fruit.
The main course of eggs benedict and sausage was really tasty. The muffin was crunchy and the egg perfectly cooked. Pastries and bread were also on offer but I decided to save myself for Bangkok.
At this point you must all be thinking. The food is good, they have fancy branded soft drinks, spirits and champagne, PJs, slippers and Rimowa amenity kits. Why don’t people flip out over EVA Air and mention them in the same hushed tones reserved for the likes of SQ ?
Not that it wasn’t efficient, it was just very mechanical and procedural whilst the likes of JL, CX, SQ and VS can be exceptional.
On this flight the small things added up: No proactive offering of food and drink. Bottles and towelettes left uncleared. No smiles, no conversation at all.
Still, this trip involved two medium haul and two long haul flights with EVA. Is the service inconsistent or just bad? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out…
- Part 1:
- LHR Terminal 2 Lounges
- Part 2:
- EVA Air: Royal Laurel – London to Bangkok
- Part 3:
- Peninsula Bangkok
- Part 4:
- Thai Airways and Singapore Airlines: Business Class Lounges – Bangkok Airport
- Part 5:
- Thai Air: Business Class – Bangkok to Denpasar
- Part 6:
- Bali – An Overview
- Part 7:
- Villa Shamballa Ubud
- Part 8:
- Monkey Forest Ubud
- Part 9:
- Alila Villas Uluwatu I (Arrival to Nightfall)
- Part 10:
- Alila Villas Uluwatu II (Sunrise to Departure)
- Part 11:
- Denpasar Premier Lounge – Denpasar Airport
- Part 12:
- EVA Air: Premium Laurel – Denpasar to Taipei
- Part 13:
- Taipei Sights and a Weird French Style Asian Art Deco Hotel
- Part 14:
- EVA Air: Business Class Lounges – Taipei Airport Lounges
- Part 15:
- EVA Air: Royal Laurel – Taipei to Bangkok
- Part 16:
- EVA Air and Thai Airways: Business Class Lounges – Bangkok Airport
- Part 17:
- EVA Air: Royal Laurel – Bangkok to London