Since 2017, EVA Air operates Hello Kitty flights to/from Chicago on certain days. As an avid Hello Kitty fan, this has been on my bucket list for a while. Wanting to try this product, I stayed in Vietnam for a few more days after Tran left. I booked its 777 Royal Laurel business class on both flights from Saigon (SGN) to Taipei (TPE) then eventually to Chicago (ORD) using Citi Thank You Points (TYP).
This experience is part of our Spring Break 2018 reviews. The trip was incredibly fun and relaxing. The best part was we paid for it mostly with miles and points. If you’d like to get started in the miles and points game, check out our list of suggested cards.
Introduction: Planning Spring Break with Miles and Points
Part 1: Asiana Airlines Business Class ORD to ICN
Part 2: Thai Airways Business Class ICN to BKK
Part 3: Conrad Koh Samui Review Part 1
Part 4: Conrad Koh Samui Review Part 2
Part 5: Bangkok Airways USM to BKK
Part 6: Sheraton Nha Trang Review
Part 7: Vietnam Airlines Domestic Travel
Part 8: Renaissance Riverside Saigon
Part 9: Intercontinental Danang
Part 10: Jetstar Airlines DAD to SGN
Part 11: Park Hyatt Saigon
Part 12: Cathay Business Class SGN to HKG
Part 13: Cathay First Class HKG to ORD
Part 14: Intercontinental Saigon
Part 15: EVA Business Class SGN to ORD
How Much Does This Cost?
I redeemed 80,000 TYP and paid $140 in taxes and fees.
The retail value of these flights was ~$2,700.
How Did I Pay For It?
I transferred 80,000 TYP to EVA Air. The transfer took several days to go through.
I accumulate TYP with Citi Premier ($95 AF) and Citi Prestige ($450 AF). Citi Premier offers 3x for travel so all of my Lyft and gas expenses from work go on this card. Most of my hotel expenses go on the Citi Prestige. Basically, all of my work expenses paid for this incredible experience.
This same trip could also be purchased on United’s website for 90,000 MileagePlus miles. You can transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to United easily. However, we didn’t have enough after redeeming 320,000 UR points for 2 tickets on Asiana Business Class to Koh Samui. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have another source of points to draw from.
EVA Air typically doesn’t release its reward space until a couple weeks before departure. Fortunately, I had a flexible departure date. I booked this flight in November and the seat didn’t open up until three days prior to departure in mid-March. This is a problem if you have to be back at work on a certain day and need to set plans well in advance. If that’s the case then I recommend saving up United miles/UR points to book.
The check-in process in Saigon was horrible. Luckily, I arrived at the airport earlier than usual or could have missed my flight.
I walked up to the dedicated line for Royal Laurel guests. After presenting my passport and ticket, the agent wanted to see the credit card that was used to pay for the ticket. Since Tran paid for the ticket after he returned to Chicago, I couldn’t produce the said card. I was instructed to go around the corner to talk to a supervisor.
The supervisor once again requested the credit card used for payment. I told her that this was an award ticket and my husband paid with his credit card since I didn’t have a SIM card to call EVA’s Chicago office to pay the taxes and fees. She told me to call my husband to send her the credit statement. Luckily, it was night time so he was home to pick up the phone. She then wanted a copy of his credit card number to verify. She was confused as to how the business ticket was only $140. Again, I explained that I redeemed 80,000 miles and only needed to pay taxes and fees. Eventually, she accepted it and instructed me to go back to the first person to check my bag.
Of course, as luck would have it, that belt wasn’t working so I had to wait for another agent checking in the Silver members before helping me. I waited for an additional 15 minutes. The entire check-in process took more than an hour. Immigration line was also long so by the time I went to the lounge, there were only 30 minutes left to enjoy. I’ve flown to Vietnam several times now and found the airport employees to be very inefficient and slow.
Rose CIP Lounge
EVA Air’s Royal Laurel passengers have access to this lounge, which is the same one used by Tran couple of days earlier when he flew with Cathay. I actually enjoyed it. Read his post for more details and photos.
SGN to TPE
The first EVA Air flight was only a few hours but still had a nice lie-flat product.
There are two business class cabins. The front cabin is busier as it has 6 rows of 1-2-1 seating whereas the back cabin only has 4 rows of 1-2-1 configuration.
For the shorter flight, I chose seat 9K in the smaller cabin.
I am not going to review this flight since the hard product was almost identical to the flight from TPE to ORD.
In Taipei, I had to go through another quick security check before heading to the EVA Air’s dedicated business class lounge.
EVA Business Class Lounge: The Infinity
EVA Air has four lounges at Taoyuan Airport. As a business class passenger, I had access to the Infinity Lounge. These lounges are located above the main concourse in Terminal 2. The escalators are located past security and immigration.
The Infinity is located to the right of reception while the Star (for Star Alliance Gold passengers) is located on the left.
There is a long entryway with rows of seating to the left. A business center, restrooms, and showers are on the right.
Towards the end is the seating area with bright neon lights. They remind me of spaceships.
Across this seating area is the buffet spread with mostly Asian food.
The bar has decent alcoholic selections. However, I don’t drink so didn’t spend much time there.
Like my previous experience of flying out of Vietnam last year via Korean Air, I didn’t feel well so barely ate anything.
About 15 minutes prior to boarding, I walked to the gate. Along the way, I saw differently themed gates. My favorite was obviously Hello Kitty!
Look at these cute clocks! I couldn’t stop smiling.
Flight BR56: EVA Air Hello Kitty Royal Laurel Class on Boeing 777 from TPE to ORD
I was such a fangirl when I saw the plane at the gate.
The flight was delayed for about 30 minutes. It was enough time for me to ask for new Hello Kitty tickets.
When it was time to board, Royal Laurel passengers got to board first. There are two separate air bridges, one for Royal Laurel class and one for economy.
I was greeted warmly and directed to my seat. This time, I selected seat 2K in the front cabin. Though many bloggers prefer the smaller cabin in the back, I found my experiences in two cabins similarly enjoyable.
The front cabin wall has a cute photo frame of the Sanrio characters.
EVA Air has reverse herringbone seats in business class. The window seats are angled towards the windows while the middle 2 seats are angled to each other.
There is a magazine rack with slippers on the left side.
On the right is the audio handset, seat controls, a reading light and multiple jacks for electric, and portable devices with storage space for water and other items.
A blanket and Hello Kitty pillow were provided. The blanket is thick and puffy, which was so much better than the flimsy products on Asiana. I still don’t know how that airline is rated 5* on Skytrax.
EVA is one of the few airlines that provide pajamas for business class passengers. They don’t have small ones so I saved mine for my husband, which fits him perfectly and comfortably.
The Rimowa amenity kit is in a nice container, which reminded me of the carry-on luggage. It contains Harn moisturizers and lip balm along with ear plugs, toothpaste, comb, etc. I didn’t use any as there are similar products available in the bathroom.
The Hello Kitty slippers were adorable and comfortable.
There were 3 lavatories available for business class, one in front by the cockpit entry and one at the rear of the business cabin on either aisle.
EVA Air allows you to order your meal online days before departure, which I took advantage of. The menu has Western and Chinese cuisines with multiple selections for each.
Shortly after I sat down, one of the flight attendants came by to welcome and offer me a pre-departure drink. Though they serve Krug, the same champagne offers in Cathay First Class, I opted for the cold-pressed pineapple juice, which was quite good.
Right after my delicious drink, she brought both a food and wine menu and my amenity kit.
The menu is just ridiculously cute.
The flight was turbulent so meal service was delayed for about 30 minutes.
Once turbulence subsided, the FA helped set my table. Seriously, how adorable is that tablecloth?
Here are the hors d’oeuvres with assorted bread. I enjoyed the bread but didn’t like anything else.
I didn’t have any alcohol and chose to drink iced cappuccino with my meals. How cute is this Hello Kitty drink mixer? I wish I could keep everything.
After the first course was the creamy cauliflower soup, which was so-so.
This delectable garden salad followed the soup.
The main course was fried prawn with mixed vegetables over fried rice. It wasn’t very good. Besides the vegetables, I couldn’t finish the shrimp nor fried rice.
Dinner service ended with a plate of fresh fruits.
After dinner service, the cabin lights were dimmed. I liked the starry cabin.
While I used the bathroom, one of the flight attendants performed turndown service.
The flight was mostly turbulent so I barely got any sleep. I watched movies and quietly prayed for a safe journey across the Pacific Ocean.
Mid-flight I requested for the stir-fried rice noodles, which I liked more than the main course.
About 90 minutes prior to landing, breakfast was served.
I selected the Chinese option. Once again, the congee was so bland. Next time I would go with the Royal Laurel Special.
Breakfast ended with another delicious plate of fruits.
After I landed, I found this guy waiting for me at baggage claim.
He was worried I’d be cold without an outer layer so he showed up unannounced with a coat. I honestly couldn’t ask for a better life companion.
I love the fact that they truly stuck to the Hello Kitty theme, from menus, pillows, silverware to plane decorations. My inner child was giddy and couldn’t stop taking photos. Because of the Hello Kitty theme and amazing amenities, I like it slightly more than Singapore.
Overall, EVA offers a very nice business class product and would not hesitate to fly them again on my next trip to Asia. For 80,000 miles each way, this ends up being a pretty outstanding deal!
Have you ever flown on the Hello Kitty flight?