The “Shining Star” livery is currently flying to Chicago (on certain days of the week) – Photo: Manu Venkat | AirlineReporter
At first glance, Taiwan-based EVA Air and Sanrio’s Hello Kitty are an unconventional pairing. The former is an airline with a reputation for refined and efficient service, while the latter is a lighthearted cartoon character.
But having recently flown one of EVA’s special Hello Kitty long-haul flights, we can confirm that the combo makes for a really fun inflight experience. In our first installment we wrote about the lounge experience in Paris, the Royal Laurel cabin, and the first meal service. And now we’re back with the rest!
Read on as we discuss the sleep experience in EVA’s Royal Laurel business class, discover some unique Hello Kitty amenities, enjoy a Chinese-style breakfast, and more from the second half of our flight. Plus, we’ll fill you in on how you can get yourself on a Hello Kitty flight on EVA Air.
Is air travel not whimsical enough for you? Does the inflight experience on most airlines not appeal enough to your inner preteen self? Well, we have good news for you! Taiwan-based EVA Air has what you need: a truly one-of-a-kind Hello Kitty themed service on select routes that will make any other flight seem boring by comparison.
Hello Kitty aside, I’ve wanted to travel EVA Air for a long time. Its Royal Laurel premium cabin is a favorite among the AvGeek elite for its excellent seat and service. Plus, EVA Air is part of the pantheon of elite Skytrax Five-Star airlines. So I included an EVA flight from Paris to Taipei in a recent Star Alliance multi-airline itinerary.
I wasn’t initially aware that my flight was a Hello Kitty service, but when I found out, I was thrilled! Not because I’m much of a Hello Kitty fan (though would I admit it if I was?). More because these Hello Kitty flights are an iconic AvGeek experience and a rare find.
Read on for photos and tales from my trip with Hello Kitty … *ahem* I mean Captain Hello Kitty.
The Hello Kitty Shining Star Jet, which is currently flying from ORD-TPE as BR55!
EVA Air Boeing 747-400
There is little question that the Boeing 747 is the most beautiful aircraft ever built. It’s in a class of its own. There’s a reason it’s called the Queen of the Skies.
While some modifications (just a few) have been made since the first one took to the skies in 1969, its design is timeless. From the pointed nose that rises gracefully up to the cockpit windows and that distinctive hump.
For decades, it was the undisputed leader in wide-body aircraft. With more than 1,500 ordered, airlines that flew the 747 gained instant credibility and cachet. Bigger isn’t always better, and while the Airbus A380 may be the biggest commercial airplane, it has nothing on the 747’s style and panache. The 747 is a glamorous runway model that turns heads wherever it goes – the way it struts confidently through airports around the globe. And nose onrotating off the runwayit’s a thing of beauty.
Flight attendants welcome me onboard
All good things must end, and so it is that the 747 is in its twilight yearseclipsed by the more efficient Boeing 777, bigger Airbus A380, and fuel-sipping Boeing 787/Airbus A350. With only 41 Boeing 747-8Is ordered, the writing’s on the wall. And in the coming decade, we will see fewer and fewer Boeing 747s. But there are still some airports where you can see the Queen, and take one last flight. Such is the case with my home airport in Vancouver (YVR), where EVA, China Airlines, Lufthansa, British Airways, and Qantas still have passenger operations with the type. Albeit, the latter three operate the aircraft only seasonally. This past year, BA began using the Airbus A380 in summer months, but reverts to the 747 in the winter months. Lufthansa is now the only carrier operating daily 747 passenger service to Vancouver.
AirlineReporter recently experienced EVA Air’s Boeing 747 service on the Vancouver-Taipei-Vancouver sector. The 747 once made up the bulk of EVA’s long-haul fleet. It was the aircraft the Taiwanese airline used on its first flight to North America, when it inaugurated service to Los Angeles in December, 1992. Like many airlines, EVA has been replacing its 747s with Boeing 777s, which now do most of the airline’s long-haul flying. In fact, the airline now only has three passenger 747s left in its fleet, and Vancouver is one of the few destinations to which EVA uses the aircraft. EVA executives recently told me that 747 will no longer fly the Vancouver route by July 2017, and will be completely retired from the airline’s fleet by September of next year.
The bold green tail in the sun at Paine Field
I was recently given the opportunity to check out EVA Air’s new livery on a brand new 777-300ER at Boeing’s Everett Delivery Center. I have always been a fan of EVA’s green and orange livery, and I am quite impressed with the new design.
Although images of the new EVA Air livery had leaked on Twitter a while back, there is a big difference between viewing small images online and seeing a new livery in person. With a “Dreamliner-esque” line going down the entire fuselage, the new design is more evolutionary than revolutionary, but I think it works.
Although, at first glance, the new livery might appear to closely resemble the old one, upon closer look, one might notice a darker green on the belly of the aircraft and the removal of the orange on the rudder.
EVA Air Boeing 777-300ER, photographed on October 31, 2015 from Clay Lacy Astrovision Learjet – Photo: EVA Air
The changes at the airline are not just on the outside. This new design is part of EVA Air working to become a five-star airline in the next five years. To learn more about the airline’s future, not only did I have a chance to tour the inside and outside of their newest 777-300ER, but I also had a chance to sit down with their president, Austin Cheng, to get a better understanding of the airline’s future.
My EVA Air 747-400 in Seattle, after I landed
Typically, flying on the upper deck of a Boeing 747 is an exclusive affair. When the jumbo jet was first introduced, the upper section was a lounge for premium passengers. More recently, most airlines put premium seats up top. This means that most don’t have the ability to experience the upper deck. Unless you have the means, a job willing to pay, the miles to upgrade, or some extra luck, you’re relegated to the main deck.
However, there have been a few airlines that have configured their 747s with economy on the upper deck. Today, Air France, Virgin Atlantic, and EVA Air are the only ones to offer the option. With many airlines constantly upgrading their fleet, and the 747-400 thus being phased out, the ability to fly economy up top on the “Queen of the Skies” will soon be a thing of the past.
The upper deck of my Boeing 747-400
I recently had a flight home from Taipei (TPE) to Seattle (SEA) on EVA Air, and the airline kindly put me in business class (pretty much standard procedure when flying on press-related trips). At first, it didn’t fully make sense to them when I asked if I could give up my business class seat in the nose of the 747 for an economy seat on the upper deck. But that is exactly what I worked hard for; I was never as excited to fly in economy.