Travelling has always been my passion and that spirit did not stop me from planning a trip to Europe this May. I started planning my itinerary way back in March, hoping to grab the best redemption deals while getting to experience different airlines’ business class services.
I was fortunate enough to redeem a Hotel + Air packages- a 5-nights stay certificate plus 132,000 miles with United Airlines MileagePlus plan (You will receive 10% more miles if you choose MileagePlus) from the Marriott Rewards Programme. In addition, I also managed to chalk up a sizable amount of 85,000 miles with Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Programme the never-ending effort to swipe my credit cards so as to earn more miles. With quite a substantial number of miles on hand, I was then able to have more choices in choosing other carriers apart from my home-based airline – Singapore Airlines (SQ). It also gave me an opportunity to compare this country home-based carrier vis-à-vis other Star Alliance carriers. To ensure a fair comparison with the world-renowned Singapore Airlines, my choices were further limited to the following 3 5-Stars Asian Carriers- ANA, EVA Air and Asiana Airlines. After much research and consideration, I decided to redeem my miles with EVA Air as one of the 2 legs in this Europe Trip.
In all honesty, I didn’t like the fact that I’m located in Singapore, compared to many other countries such as Taiwan and Japan, mainly because the miles required for flight redemption to Europe and North America are significantly higher. Second, majority of the credit cards in Singapore tend to only work with Singapore Airlines Krisflyer programme or Cathay Pacific Asia Miles programme. Lastly, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer plan recently underwent a mass devaluation starting from 23 March 17. That also meant I would need to redeem a flight before the effective date in order enjoy the 15% on saver awards flight. However, what really bothered me was most of the SQ saver awards redemptions to or from Europe are on Waiting list. Redeeming a business class seat on SQ is equivalent to striking lottery after multiple attempts.
EVA Air Flights to Europe
Singapore Airlines Flights to Europe
Using United Airline Mileage Plus plan to redeem a Business Class saver award seat was fairly easy. However, unless I’m willing to fork out 120,000 miles, redeeming a Singapore Airlines Business Class saver award seat is like finding a needle in a haystack. It was with great perseverance that I managed to find an available flight out of Munich back to Singapore, using just 68,000 Krisflyer miles and EUR255 and using 75,000 MileagePlus +US17 to redeem a TPE-VIE flight via BKK. As for the SIN-TPE route, I merely need to top up another US$270 for a business class seat on a budget carrier.
The ultimate flight route [SIN-TPE: TZ202, TPE-VIE via BKK: BR61, MUC-SIN: SQ327]
Airline Lounge Experience – Home Hub
Since there isn’t any SilverKris Lounge in Munich, I shall use my previous experience at the Singapore SilverKris lounge to make a comparison with EVA’s The Infinity lounge in the Taoyuan International Airport for comparison.
EVA’s The Infinity Lounge at Taoyuan International Airport
Entrance to the lounge
The Infinity lounge Buffet Selection Area
The overall experience at The Infinity lounge was at most passable. While there was a wide variety of food selection to choose from in the lounge, the food quality was nothing to shout about or worth remembering, except for the fact that EVA serves Movenpick ice cream. The wine selection was mediocre, and I rather save the alcohol consumption up on air instead. The lounge has a good selection of magazines to choose from, albeit most of them are in Mandarin. I was a little surprised with the crowd that night and found it hard to get seat within the lounge. Not only that, it was impossible for me to grab a shower in the lounge since the queue was so long. With a full day busking around the Taipei City during the humid summer, I couldn’t help but entering the departure hall hot and sticky. I could not imagine myself enduring the next 13-hour flight without a good shower. I ended up using my Krisflyer Ascend American Express card voucher to enter the Plaza Premium Lounge just to catch a shower before my flight. It amazed me that nothing much has improved since my last 2 trips at the Infinity lounge, and coupled with a missed chance of gettting a shower at EVA’s home hub lounge, I must say I was quite disappointed overall. Ironically, I felt that their Bangkok lounge was way better than the one in Taoyuan. If not for a red-eye flight, I would recommend all Star Alliance business class passengers and Gold member to use the Singapore Airlines SilverKris lounge located on the same level instead. The SilverKris Lounge opens from 5.30am to 5.45pm.
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge at Singapore Changi International Airport
It seems to me that Singapore Airlines clearly differentiates passengers who are on the premium cabin and passenger who are elite members of any of the Star Alliance Carrier partners. The SilverKris Lounge in Singapore Changi International Airport is only opened to either First or Business Class passengers traveling on Singapore Airlines or any of the Star Alliance Carriers. Star Alliance Gold Members are only allowed to enter KrisFlyer Gold Lounge, which unfortunately does not have any shower facilities.
Overall, the SilverKris lounge experience was pretty much an enjoyable and memorable one. The lounge space is big with ample chairs and sofa available for guests, the wide walkway coupled with the cosy corner definitely gave each guest an adequate level of privacy, ensuring that everyone will feel relax before getting onboard the plane. What impressed me in the lounge was that Singapore Airlines invested a lot in ensuring that the lounge is at its finest. Even their dining selection tables were made with solid marble coated with caramel colour. The sense of luxury in travelling was further enhanced with their vast spread of International buffet food selection. The food was not only tasty but also worth remembering right before my flight! In addition, SilverKris lounge also serves premium quality teas such as TWG (the must try 1837 Tea by TWG), Haagen-Dazs ice cream and also provides Charles Heidsieck Champagne for lounge guests to enjoy. The magazine selection was great as well with a wide choices of up-to-date international content, I did manage to grab some for my casual browsing onboard the aircraft.
Entrance to the SilverKris Lounge
SilverKris Lounge Buffet
Airline Lounge Experience – Home Hub Verdict: It’s no brainer that Singapore Airlines SilverKris lounge is a clear winner. I would want to come back to this lounge when I have the opportunity soon.
Hardware – Seat Configuration
It’s quite easy to compare both airlines business class seats because for both my departure and arrival flight happened to be on the right window seats. Furthermore, EVA and SQ used B777-300(ER) aircraft with a 1-2-1 configuration.
EVA Royal Laurel Class seat is 81 inches long and 26 inches wide. The seat is generally spacious and comfortable and most importantly, the seat can automatically be reclined to any angle you want all the way to a full flat mode, simply by using the seat remote control at the side. The full-flat deployed bed deserved further mentioning that it is pretty comfortable; I managed to grab at least 6-7 hours of rest before reaching Vienna. The only small downside to EVA’s Royal Laurel Class seat is that it does not have any small closet for you to put your valuable belongings. What’s more, the storage space wasn’t that big, which caused my stuff to look quite clutter given the space.
EVA Air Royal Laurel Class- Seat 5K
A very soothing music welcoming the passengers on board and getting me anticipating on the service up on air
Wide length with adequate foot rest area.
180 degrees fully reclined bed deployed, very comfortable bed for rest
Launched in 2013 and designed by the world-renowned James Park Associates, the Singapore Airlines New Business Class seat is known for its super slick and smooth curve finishing, giving a stylish look in each seat. Coupled with a smart usage of dynamic colour and customized textiles with quality leather coated on top of it, the seat brought out the Singapore Airlines strong flavours of warm, soothing yet comfortable experience to guests. The seat is 55 inches long and 78 inches when in full flat mode. It also boasted the widest business class seat ever known at 28 inches wide. Be it in upright or fully flat, one could feel the direct comfort from the delicate cushion yet sturdy leather. The storage compartment is also spacious enough for me to put all the necessary items in one place. The only major issue I had with Singapore Airlines Business Class seats is that the seat not only has very minimal flexibility in reclining, you need to get yourself up flip the seat down in order to get the full-flat bed mode. To be honest, I found it extremely cumbersome having to attempt flipping the seat up and down.
Singapore Airlines New Business Class Seat-11K
James Park Associates designed leather seat
I had to shift diagonally right in order to fully experience the full-flat bed mode
My bed after multiple attempts in figuring out how to flip it down
Hardware: Seat Configuration Verdict: Having sat on both seats, I believe that Singapore Airlines New Business Class seat would probably edge out compared to EVA Air Royal Laurel Seat, based on its wide width and quality finishing and comfort.
Hardware – Amenities Kits
You can feel the sincerity and appreciation EVA had for their Premium Cabin passengers simply from the amenities Kit they provide. A Rimowa overnight amenities case filled with many essential kits such as tooth brush, eye mask, ear plug etc. The amenities kit also includes a small bottle of lotion and lip balm from one of the famous Thai Spa product- Harnn. What’s more, EVA Air also provides an overnight pyjama for their business class passengers, which is something very rare since such service is usually found only in first class on other airlines. It is no wonder that EVA Air won the coveted 2017 Skytrax Best Business Class Comfort Amenities category.
EVA Air Royal Laurel Amenities Kit
RIMOWA Overnight Amenities Kit-inclusive of a lip balm and lotion from Harnn
Pyjamas for each guest
Toilet Amenities Kits from Harnn
Singapore Airlines literally has no personally amenities kit for their Business Class passengers, and this is pathetically inferior compared to the one I received while onboard on EVA. Frankly, I was bemused with Singapore Airlines hesitation in handing out amenities kits to business class passengers back in 2015, only to launch a limited-edition amenities kit as part of their 70th anniversaries celebration this July 2017 and then sending out an online survey recently to selected Krisflyer members to seek their opinion on the necessity of amenities kits. With the intensifying competition, it looks like Singapore Airlines is exploring the possibility of having such amenities kit permanent.
Singapore Airlines provides Miller Harris toilet amenities kit and most of the other overnight essentials can be found in the toilet as well. One thing worth mentioning is that their toothbrush is pretty good!
Singapore Airlines – Amenities Kit
Literally nothing but a pair of Slippers, socks and an eyemask
Essentials kits can be found in the toilet
Toilet Amenities Kit- Miller Harris
Hardware – Amenities Kits Verdict: It is a no brainer that EVA Air won this category hands down.
Hardware – Inflight Entertainment
EVA Star Gallery
There was a wide variety of movies and videos to choose from in the EVA Star Gallery in-flight entertainment system. Although most of the selection tend to be skewed towards Asian content, I simply have no complaints at all since I’m a big fan of Taiwanese Movie Production and variety shows. What’s more there were a great selection of Mandopop Song for me to choose from. Coupled with the comfortable with the Thunder Noise Cancelling earphones, I had music to my ears even when asleep. EVA Air inflight entertainment system was stable and did not lag at all, I was able to browse all the selection by simply pressing the options on the screen.
15.4 inches touch-screen LCD
Left: Thunder Noise-cancelling earphones for EVA Air
Right: Remote control and electrical plug
Singapore Airlines KrisWorld
18 Inches LCD
Noise Cancelling Headphones and a PSP-like touch screen remote control.
The Singapore Airlines KrisWorld had more international movies and programmes selection compared to EVA Air. In fact, KrisWorld has more than 1,000 entertainment options for each passenger to choose from. The personal screen is also bigger than that of EVA Air. However, I was pretty much disappointed with KrisWorld despite it being ranked one of the best in-flight entertainment system. Unlike EVA Air, the personal screen does not have any touch screen function. What’s more, the PSP remote control was not quite responsive and the system lagged all the time throughout the flight. The audio jack of the earphones wasn’t functioning properly as well; I ended up having the volume on the right side of the earphones louder than the left side, which is simply soft and muffled. It’s a pity that Singapore Airlines new Krisflyer Entertainment system wasn’t up to my expectation despite being launched not too long ago in 2013.
Hardware – Inflight Entertainment Verdict: Despite the KrisWorld being ranked as one of the top 3 Best Inflight Entertainment System in Skytrax, I would prefer EVA Air in-flight entertainment system based on the 2 flights. Being more Asian, I tend to prefer the Asian content offered by EVA Air.