EVA Business Class vs. Cathay Pacific Business Class: Which is Better? For travelers bound for Southeast Asia, EVA Air flies via Taipei and Cathay flies vs. Hong Kong, with nonstop onward flights to cities such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Denpasar in Bali, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, and more. Having recently flown both EVA Business Class (full review forthcoming) and Cathay Pacific Business Class, here's my comparison.
Business Class Cabin: EVA (Unless You Get the Cathay Mini Cabin)
When flying transpacific in EVA on a 777-300ER, you'll be in one of two business class cabins. The first one has rows 1-6, and the second has rows 8-11, so there won't be more than 22-24 seats in the cabin, depending on the configuration. On my recent EVA flight I was in row 10, and while business class was completely full, the cabin was very quiet, thanks in large part to the relatively small cabin.
In Cathay, unless you manage to get into the mini cabin of rows 11-12, with its 8 seats, you'll be in the large business class cabin of rows 15-26, with potentially >40 other passengers. That's a much larger cabin, which in my experience also tends to be noisier and less conducive to sleep. On the other hand, if you get Cathay's mini cabin, it feels more private than either business class cabin on EVA:
Business Class Seat: Tie
Both EVA and Cathay Pacific use a reverse herringbone business class cabin layout, and both use the Zodiac Cirrus seat, which is also used by AA, Air France and others. It's a great seat, giving all passengers direct aisle access and considerable privacy. Some of the other convenient features that both seats have are retractable arm rests (making it easier to slide out of the seat, even when the tray table is extended, and also providing more sleep space as a bed); power outlet and small item storage within easy reach; and quite comfortable padding in the seats, which are slightly angled backwards and more comfortable to sit in even during take-off, than, say, Air New Zealand Business Class.
Here's Cathay's Business Class seat:
And here's EVA's Business Class seat:
Business Class Bed and Pajamas: EVA
While the EVA and Cathay Pacific Business Class seats are virtually identical as beds, EVA does provide a sheet to cover the seat, the pillow is more substantial, and the duvet is thicker and more cushioned than the duvet Cathay provides, so the edge goes to EVA for its bedding. That said, comfort is vastly improved for both products if you bring along your own portable mattress pad; I use a Therm-a-Rest EvoLite that has held up well on over dozen flights to date.
EVA Business Class also offers pajamas, which Cathay Business Class doesn't–you'd need to be flying Cathay First Class to enjoy Pye pajamas.
Menu and Dining: EVA
EVA gives you the option to reserve your meal in advance (see EVA Air Meal Pre-Order Tips), similar to Singapore Airlines' Book the Cook, although with fewer choices. Note that you can only pre-order your meal 3 weeks before your flight departure. I do recommend reserving the Noodle Soup with Chilean Sea Bass and Fish Cake, even though it's available on the regular menu, as this was a meal highlight–I thought it was much better than the online only options such as lobster and pork tenderloin.
I also really liked the pork buns that were part of the EVA breakfast, although I thought it was a shame the yogurt in the Western breakfast option was of such poor quality (Dannon for plain yogurt, Yoplait for the strawberry yogurt) when there are so many better options, such as Wallaby organic yogurt or Noosa full fat yogurt.
Cathay Pacific doesn't offer any meal pre-order option, and I've never been very impressed with the food on board for Business Class. That said, Cathay does generally offer a cheese course, which EVA doesn't, so if a cheese course is important, you should fly Cathay.
I'm not a big champagne drinker, but for those who do enjoy their champagne, EVA is a better choice, since Krug is offered. In Cathay, you'd need to be flying First Class to be offered Krug.
I also really liked the beautiful tablecloths that EVA uses, with a dragonfly motif.
In-Flight Entertainment: Cathay Pacific
There's no question that Cathay's StudioCX beats EVA's in-flight entertainment selection hands down. My husband, who flew Cathay on our recent outbound to Asia, made me jealous raving about Gary Oldman's performance in Darkest Hour. This wasn't an option on EVA, and as I couldn't find anything that I wanted to watch that I hadn't seen already, I ended up watching Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, and regretting it.
Service on my Cathay Business Class flight was more professional, with better English language skills and more consistent (everyone seemed to get a bottle of water, whereas on my EVA flight I got a bottle of Fiji water but my son didn't; the used bottle wasn't picked up for hours). On the other hand, service on my EVA flights seemed friendlier than on Cathay, with greater desire to help with my requests (in spite of some of the English language issues). Perhaps this is also due to the smaller number of business class passengers carried, and the fact that EVA doesn't have first class, so business class passengers are more attended to than on Cathay, where pampering is for first class.
Ultimately, I enjoyed both my Cathay Pacific and EVA business class experiences. I'd give the edge to EVA, because of the friendlier (if slightly less professional) service, nicer bedding and linens, smaller and quiet business class cabin, pajamas and that great noodle soup. But I can also see how those who place more of a premium on the IFE and movie selections would favor Cathay, since the seats and flat bed are so similar.
If you've flown both Cathay Pacific Business Class and EVA Business Class, which did you prefer and why?
Review: Cathay Pacific 777-300 Business Class Bali to Hong Kong
Kid's Cathay Pacific First Class Review
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles Devaluation
3 Business Class Airline Products I'm Looking Forward to Flying
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For me…EVA – not a chance. I avoid it at every possible chance. Service sucks…forget the food…Cabin Crew service and friendliness? are you kiddin’ me? Filipino cockpit crew who acts like they’re GOD. ..and am a Filipino! Cabin was hot. Imagine waking up in a full sweat. And this is on Business Class. NEVER…EVER…NEVER…..
Sorry that your EVA experience was so awful. We had good experiences on both our recent EVA Business Class flights, but just about any airline can deliver a poor service experience if the crew on a given flight isn’t motivated and/or inexperienced.
This says how bad Filipinos are in general. EVA should have not hired Filipino employees in the first place, period. I have been dealing with many Filipinos at work for 15+ years (in both private and public sectors) and they are the worst among all the races. Hilary, I agree with you on every single element that you pointed out here. I tried to love Cathay, but I have to choose EVA over Cathay if I have the option. You are also totally correct about the crew – EVA’s are more friendly, which also means they are a little less… Read more »
While I agree with your premise that Eva is better than Cathay, I think that will change over time. The reason being, is that Eva is slowly phasing out first class on most flights. How, the 777-300ER is slowly being replaced by the A350 and in the future by the 777-900ER. Only the 777-900ER is slated to have business class so over time Cathay will become like American Airlines, a carrier whose highest class of service on most intercontinental flights will be business class. First class will be a boutique offering, likely limited to key markets like London, New York… Read more »
That could well be, although I guess it will also depend on the extent of the demand and competition on those routes. If Cathay manages to have high paid yield on most of its routes there may be less motivation to upgrade its business class offering. I’d peg EVA as more of an underdog in its quest to develop Taipei as the entry point to Southeast Asia, so it makes sense it needs to offer more to persuade leisure travelers to fly it over Cathay Pacific or Singapore.