There are several East Asian countries that each have two competing full-service airlines. Taiwan is one such country, as it is home to both EVA Air and China Airlines. This isn’t a review of any cabin class specifically, but instead, we’ll examine various factors that might lead you to choose one airline over another in a more general sense.
According to FlightConnections.com, EVA Air serves four domestic destinations and 60 international destinations in 21 countries. China Airlines, on the other hand, serves the same four domestic destinations but covers 70 international destinations in 25 countries. Right off the bat, it seems like China Airlines is taking the lead.
A glance at their respective route maps shows that China Airlines has service to India and Hawaii, whereas its competitor does not. China Airlines also appears to serve more destinations in East Asia and Oceania. However, it does appear that EVA flies to more destinations in the United States. EVA also operates a few fifth-freedom routes through Bangkok.
It should also be noted that the two airlines are in different alliances. EVA Air is a member of the Star Alliance and thus connects to a network of 1,300 destinations in 195 countries worldwide. China Airlines is a member of SkyTeam, whose network is only 1,150 destinations in 175 countries. EVA Air wins here.
Both airlines have Taipei Taoyuan International Airport as their home airport. EVA Air mainly uses Terminal 2 for most of its operations but will also operate some of its flights out of Terminal 1. China Airlines also uses both terminals at Taoyuan with a little more clarity as all China Airlines flights to the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, and China use Terminal 2. All other flights use Terminal 1.
As far as their long-haul aircraft are concerned, both airlines include the Boeing 777-300 and Airbus A330 in their fleets. However, that’s pretty much where the similarities end.
China Airlines still has the aging 747-400 in its ranks. This, however, is balanced out with its much newer Airbus A350-900 jets. EVA Air is much more reliant on its 777 fleet but also has several 787 Dreamliners in both the -9 and -10 variants.
Inflight service and ratings
It has been quite some time since we’ve flown with these airlines. However, if we examine ratings from both SkyTrax and Trip Advisor, we can see that one airline seems to come out ahead in terms of passenger experience.
For both websites, EVA Air wins out. SkyTrax gives the airline a 5-star rating while China Airlines only gets 4 stars. Trip Advisor members rated EVA Air 4.5 out of 5, while China Airlines only got as high as 4. The “onboard experience” was the main shortcoming for China Airlines.
Ultimately, if you are a frequent flyer and are loyal to a particular airline and alliance, then your decision might already be made. However, for those who are open to both airlines, it seems like EVA Air is the winner with better ratings and more destinations accessible via the Star Alliance network. That being said, China Airlines offers a solid experience, holding up against legacy carriers in Europe and North America.
Have you flown both airlines before? Which one do you think is better? Let us know in the comments.