Review: EVA Air A330-300 Economy Class from Taipei Taoyuan to Tokyo Narita

When making our way back from a month-long trip to Europe, we flew on EVA Air’s 787-9 from Vienna to Taipei Taoyuan and then on its A330-300 to Tokyo Narita. Considering that our flight from Tokyo to Taipei was operated by a 787-10, I had a chance to compare flying on one of the airline’s newest and one of its oldest widebodies on the route.

Continue reading to see what the economy class flight onboard EVA Air’s A330-300 was like.

EVA Air A330-300
EVA Air A330-300.

Transfer & Boarding at Taipei Taoyuan Airport

While we only had an hour and a half to transfer at Taipei Taoyuan Airport, the whole process was a breeze.

After getting off the flight from Vienna, we made our way to the central part of Terminal 2 to briefly visit EVA Air’s The Star Lounge which we could use thanks to our Star Alliance Gold statuses.

When checking into the lounge, the agent mentioned that the boarding of our flight was delayed and that an announcement would be made once the new boarding time was known. That gave us plenty of time to relax a bit and grab some Movenpick ice cream from the lounge’s buffet.

This time, unlike on our way to Europe, I did not stop by the Plaza Premium Lounge and Oriental Club Lounge – the terminal’s Priority Pass lounges.

Taipei Taoyuan Airport Transfer
Transfer at Taoyuan Airport.
EVA Air The Star Lounge
EVA Air The Star Lounge.
EVA Air The Star Lounge
Enjoying some ice cream in the lounge.

While at the time a boarding announcement hadn’t been made yet, we left the lounge around 7:40AM.

When we got to our departure gate C5R, boarding was still showing as delayed due to our aircraft’s late arrival (although our aircraft arrived the night before…). Then, around 8AM, an announcement was made that boarding would start at 8:05AM. To an extent surprisingly, that was the exact time boarding started.

Boarding was done by buses which gave me a good chance to see some of EVA Air’s aircraft up close as we were making our way to our A330-300 registered B-16339.

Taipei Taoyuan Airport Gate C5R
Gate C5R.
Boarding EVA Air Flight 184
EVA Air 777-300ER
EVA Air 777-300ER.
EVA Air 787-9
EVA Air 787-9.
EVA Air Aircraft at Taipei Taoyuan
EVA Air as far as the eye could see.

By the time we were dropped off in front of the aircraft, it was 8:18AM.

With a typhoon lurking around Taiwan at the time, it was very windy outside. That still didn’t prevent me from spending some time on the apron before getting onboard. I was even able to see China Airlines’ A321neo in a Pokemon livery taxiing by during that time.

Boarding EVA Air A330-300
Boarding a widebody by bus never gets old.
EVA Air A330-300 Boarding
Waiting to get onboard the EVA Air A330-300.

EVA Air A330-300 Economy Class Cabin & Seat

All nine EVA Air A330-300s are equipped with a total of 309 seats including 30 in business class and 279 in economy class.

While all of them have business class in a 2-2-2 layout, some are equipped with older angle-flat seats while others have been refurbished and now feature newer lie-flat seats. In either case, given that EVA solely uses the A330 on regional routes around Asia, both of the business class hard products are more than adequate.

In economy class, the seats are in a 2-4-2 layout for the most part, with the last few rows being 2-3-2.

EVA Air A330-300 Economy Class
Economy class cabin.
EVA Air A330-300 Economy Class
The seats were equipped with personal screens.
EVA Air A330-300 Exit Row
Exit row seats.

The aircraft was equipped with older generation economy class seats than the 787s and so, unsurprisingly, the seats were thicker and better padded.

While technically the thicker seats result in smaller legroom if the seat pitch is the same, in our case that was not an issue since we were in a bulkhead row. Unlike some other airlines, there are no extra fees to select such seats when flying on EVA Air with a baby.

Each of the seats was equipped with a for today’s standards low-resolution personal screen. There was also a USB charging port and an IFE controller. The latter was a nice blast from the past thanks to the QWERTY keyboard and gamepad on its back side and a credit card swiper on its side. There were also universal power outlets and USB charging ports under the seats.

The tray tables could be folded in half.

EVA Air A330-300 Economy Class Seat
EVA Air A330-300 Economy Class Seat
IFE controller.
EVA Air A330-300 Economy Class Power Outlets
Power outlet.

EVA Air Flight 184 Departure

Around 8:30AM – half an hour after our scheduled departure time – the cockpit crew made an announcement mentioning that we were expecting a flight time of 2 hours 25 minutes and that we would be cruising at 35,000 feet.

Interestingly, when a Japanese flight attendant made a similar announcement a couple of minutes later, she said we would be flying for 2 hours 45 minutes at 39,000 feet. That information turned out to be closer to the reality.

The aircraft doors were closed at 8:41AM and five minutes later, the safety video was played. In the meantime, the aircraft was lightly shaking. While I thought we were being pushed back, it turned out to be the strong wind.

We ended up being pushed back at 8:49AM – almost an hour behind schedule. Ten minutes later, we took off from Taipei Taoyuan Airport’s runway 05R.

EVA Air A330-300 Safety Video
Safety video.
EVA Air Flight from Taipei to Tokyo
Our route.

EVA Air Short-Haul Economy Class Lunch

About fifteen minutes after take-off, one of the flight attendants brought us a baby meal and diapers for our daughter. Another flight attendant set up personal screens for the passengers sitting in bulkhead and emergency exit row seats.

Later on, my daughter also got a cute pop-up book about animals traveling to Madagascar on a plane.

EVA Air A330-300 Bassinet
EVA Air Kids' Book
A book my daughter got.

It took half an hour for the seatbelt signs to be switched off. As was the case on all four EVA Air flights we took, at some point, passengers started ignoring the seatbelt signs and going to the lavatory. The crew didn’t seem to have any issues with that.

The meal service started just over 15 minutes after the seatbelt signs were switched off.

First, drinks were offered. I went with a cup of Sprite.

On a related note, I found it interesting that EVA Air was serving Fontana orange juice, which appears to be made by a Cypriot brand (as also suggested by the script used on the juice box). Especially given that it was one of the airline’s intra-Asian flights and the airline doesn’t even serve Cyprus.

EVA Air Economy Class Drink
EVA Air Orange Juice
…Cypriot orange juice.

For some reason, my wife and I were not served our meals at the same time as other passengers. When we realized that, we let one of the flight attendants know we were not served our meals yet.

She immediately asked which of the two options we wanted and brought us our meals just a minute later. Another couple of minutes later, she brought us warm bread rolls and apologized for keeping us waiting.

The menu (which was available online starting a couple of weeks before the flight) read as follows:

  • Appetizer: Tea-flavored dried tofu and osmanthus-flavored pumpkin
  • Main: Stir-fried chicken thigh with oolong tea-flavored soy sauce served with steamed rice or roasted spiced pork shoulder with cherry brown sauce served with hojicha rice
  • Sweets: Seasonal fruits and Dayuling black tea panna cotta

I went with the chicken while my wife had the pork. The meal was filling and mostly tasty; I especially enjoyed the panna cotta. On the other hand, I skipped the appetizer which I didn’t find appetizing at all.

EVA Air Economy Class Short-Haul Lunch
EVA Air Economy Class Short-Haul Lunch
EVA Air Economy Class Short-Haul Lunch

Once the crew finished serving meals, they went through the cabin offering hot coffee and oolong tea.

By the time I finished my meal, we were approaching the coast of Kyushu.

EVA Air A330-300 In-Flight Entertainment System

As mentioned earlier, the economy class seats were equipped with touchscreens, albeit of a very low resolution for today’s standards.

There were also earphones waiting on each seat upon boarding.

EVA Air A330-300 Personal Screen
IFE screen.
EVA Air Economy Class Earphones

In terms of content, while the selection appeared to be smaller compared to what was available on the 787s, there were still plenty of movies and TV shows to choose from. Especially considering the type of flights the A330s operate.

I started watching a movie about BlackBerry but didn’t get too far.

There was also some music and a selection of games. Considering that the old-school controller had a proper gamepad, the games were arguably easier to play than on the 787.

EVA Air A330-300 Entertainment - Movies
EVA Air A330-300 Entertainment - Music
EVA Air A330-300 Entertainment - TV Shows
TV shows.
EVA Air A330-300 Entertainment - Games

The in-flight map was a traditional one with a fixed set of different views showing up one after another.

It was not possible to zoom into the map, switch between views, and so on.

EVA Air A330-300 Entertainment - Map
EVA Air A330-300 Entertainment - Flight Information
Flight information.

Lastly, there was air-to-ground call functionality.

With it being a while since I last saw that on an in-flight entertainment system and not being sure when/if I’ll see it again, I took quite a bit of photos of it. I also took a photo of it together with my daughter so that she will believe me when I talk to her in the future about what in-flight entertainment systems were like in the past.

EVA Air A330-300 Air-to-Ground Call
Air-to-ground call…
EVA Air A330-300 Air-to-Ground Call
…in case you forgot to call in sick before taking off on a vacation.

EVA Air A330-300 Onboard Wi-Fi

Contrasting with the retro air-to-ground call functionality was the fact that the EVA Air A330-300 was equipped with onboard wi-fi.

Like on the 787s, there were four different plans, mostly with significant data caps:

  • Lite Messaging Plan (4.95 USD): 30 MB data cap, texting only
  • Standard Plan (14.95 USD): 100 MB data cap
  • Business Plan (29.95 USD): 300 MB data cap
  • Ultimate Plan (39.95 USD): no data cap

All of the plans were only valid on the specific flight – i.e. it was necessary to pay again if you wanted to use in-flight wi-fi on a connecting flight.

The pricing was fairly steep. It felt even steeper given the fact that the prices were the same on the shorter flights between Taipei and Tokyo and on the long-hauls between Taipei and Vienna.

EVA Air A330 Onboard Wi-Fi

EVA Air A330-300 Economy Class Lavatory

I was surprised about how well the economy lavatories were stocked on the long-haul EVA Air flights I took. I was even more surprised to see that they were similarly well-stocked on this short-haul too.

While understandably there were no dental kits or sleeping eye masks, there were Payot Paris-branded amenities including hand soap, sanitizing gel, aroma mist, and lotion.

On the A330-300, unlike on the 787s, there were even fresh flowers.

EVA Air A330-300 Economy Class Lavatory
EVA Air A330-300 Economy Class Lavatory
Fresh flowers.

Arrival at Tokyo Narita Airport

Just an hour or so after finishing the meal, at 12:19PM Japan time (one hour ahead of Taiwan), the seatbelt signs were switched on in preparation for arrival.

EVA Air Flight 184
Cruising to Tokyo.

Less than half an hour later, at 12:46PM, we landed on Tokyo Narita Airport’s runway 34R.

We arrived at our Terminal 1 parking spot at 1PM – 35 minutes behind schedule. As we got off the aircraft, another EVA Air flight from Taipei was just taxiing into its parking gate.

EVA Air at Tokyo Narita Airport
An EVA Air 787 arrived just minutes after us.
EVA Air A330-300 at Tokyo Narita
EVA Air A330-300 being prepared for its flight back to Taipei.

EVA Air A330-300 Economy Class Summary

While we ended up arriving in Tokyo a bit more than half an hour later than originally scheduled, that was not a big deal for us. Other than that, the flight was almost as good as it gets on a sub-three-hour hop.

The meal (other than the appetizer) was tasty, the crew was friendly, and the seats were about as comfortable as it gets in economy class.

That said, some might not have been happy with the outdated in-flight entertainment system the EVA Air A330-300 was equipped with. In my case, I was happy to see a fairly retro one still in service. The high onboard wi-fi pricing is the only other negative aspect of the experience worth highlighting.

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