The familiar green-and-orange EVA logo is showing up on new
tails this summer. The Taiwanese carrier introduced its first
Boeing 777-200ER to the Los Angeles-Taipei route in late July, an
initial step in replacing a dozen B747-400s serving six U.S. and
Canadian gateways. The B777’s roomier interior, more comfortable
seats and upgraded audio-video on-demand entertainment system gets
rave reviews from frequent trans-Pacific fliers.
The best news, at least for this reporter, is the new three-cabin,
316-seat configuration. First class is history, which helps EVA
maintain capacity despite moving to a smaller aircraft a B777-200ER
carries about a quarter fewer passengers than a 747-400. Passengers
on B777 flights out of LAX get 42 seats in Premium Laurel class
(business), 63 in Elite (super economy) and 211 in Economy. That
compares to 12 first-class seats on B747-400s between the U.S. and
Taipei, 32 in business class, 142 in Evergreen Deluxe (super
economy) and 222 in Economy.
A second B777 is slated for LAX in November. San Francisco,
Seattle, Vancouver, Honolulu and New York will get B777s by 2009.
The B747s serving those gateways are being converted to freighters.
B777s replaced B747s flying between Taipei, Bangkok and London
earlier this year.
EVA staked its claim to fame in 1992 as the first airline in the
world to offer a super-economy section, Evergreen Deluxe. It
combined Y-class pricing and service with C-class seats. The
combination, called Elite class on B777s, remains one of EVA’s
strongest sellers. It is especially popular among business
travelers, who get more space (and computer power ports) on
long-haul flights and a ticket labeled “economy” for easier
reimbursement, and leisure travelers willing to spend a few dollars
for a major upgrade in comfort.
Restricted Elite fares are comparable to unrestricted Economy
fares. Elite prices are about 30 percent above EVA’s lowest Web
fares and 65 percent below Business Web fares. That translates into
$600 for Economy, $800 for Elite and $2,300 for Premium Laurel for
Los Angeles-Taipei and return routes this fall. Onward flights
within Asia follow a similar pricing pattern.
The Elite premium buys standard business-class seats with 38-inch
pitch in a 2-4-2 configuration. That’s a bit more the 33-inch pitch
in Economy and worth every extra dollar. EVA’s aggressive pricing
means travel agents can often book clients into Elite class for
less than the cost of Economy on more familiar carriers.