Cathay Pacific offers an excellent ground experience in HKG. However, their Business class inflight experience was pretty underwhelming. The food was flavorful, but not of the highest quality, and their lack of mid-flight snacks blew me away. Even American offers snacks on Transatlantic flights.
The Good: Excellent Ground experience, solid business class seat.
The Bad: We had a two hour long delay, with little explanation as to why. No snacks on a 8+ hour flight.
The Noteworthy: Food was underwhelming, and has made me hesitant to fly Cathay Pacific business class again.
I booked this trip as part of my second visit to Australia. This time around, I would stay a very short time in Sydney. Since there was no award space between the US and Sydney, I fit the trip with another destination trip I had: Hong Kong. After buying the one-way to HKG, I booked this trip with AA miles. 40K miles from HKG-SYD in business class was a pretty good deal (in my opinion). I searched award space on ba.com, and called up American and was booked within 15 minutes of placing my phone call.
At the Gate
After spending a wonderful few hours at the Cathay Pacific The Pier Lounge, I said goodbye to the friendly agents and proceeded to the gate. It was about an 8 minute walk from the lounge, and this lounge was the closest to the gate. HKG is huge!
Once at the gate, I was surprised to see the amount of Americans on this flight. I believe them to have been a tour group, since they all knew each other. I was expecting my flight to be mostly Australian tourists, but low and behold Americans represented about 30% of the flight. The gate agent was very courteous and told us that we would be delayed an extra 45 minutes because the “inbound aircraft was coming in late”. After finding out on FlightRadar24 that my aircraft was coming from Shanghai, I understood the delay. Chinese airspace is very congested, and delays are common.
Airline: Cathay Pacific
Cabin Class: Business Class
Route: Hong Kong to Sydney
On Time: No
About 50 minutes after our scheduled departure, boarding commenced. They invited Business class and OneWorld elites to board first. There was a lot of confusion, as people who were flying on Premium Economy thought they could board at the same time. Most of the Americans on the tour group were also impatient and wanted to board with Business Class. The gate agent had to turn away at least 6 people before I boarded telling them to wait.
Cabin and Seat:
Cathay Pacific’s business class cabin is very calming. As soon as I boarded, a flight attendant pointed me to my seat. The cabin was mood-lit, and the flight attendants were very friendly. The seat is reverse herringbone, the same one found on their international 777s.
I was seated in 14K, and at my seat, there was a plush pillow. On the ottoman, there was a small, thin blanket. The blanket was disappointingly thin, but at least the cabin was kept warm, so I didn’t really need it.
IFE controls are on the opposite side of the aisle, along with seat controls, power outlets and a reading lamp. The IFE Screen was high resolution, and it popped from the back of the front seat.
Between every middle seat section, there was a flower. I found that detail to be adorable, and gave the flight a sense of class.
Inside the storage compartment in the seat you could find a pair of headphones. They weren’t very noise cancelling, but worked decently enough to listen to entertainment.
After I was settled in, and before most of the Premium Economy cabin boarded, I went to take a quick peek. The P/E cabin is small and intimate. The seats had the same pillow and blanket than business class. Legroom seemed ample and the seats comfortable. I would pick CX Premium economy over American’s new P/E.
Amenities and Departure:
As soon as I returned to my seat, the purser came to my seat to introduce herself. She offered me a choice between water, juice, champagne or a Cathay Delight. The Cathay delight is the signature drink on CX. It is a kiwi, mint, and other fruits smoothie, and is one of my favorite smoothies out there. I had three before we took off x_x .
When she came back with the drink, she brought as well an amenity kit. The kits werre designed by Seventy Eight Percent, with Jurlique creams. It had all the basics, but I really wished it had a Cathay Pacific branded pen. I’m a big fan of airline memorabilia.
About 30 minutes after boarding started, we were ready for departure. It took us 20 more minutes for the plane to leave the gate, because they couldn’t find a ground crew. At this point we were about 2 hours behind schedule. Finally, we pushed back and taxiied very slowly to the runway. It was so late it wasn’t worth taking airline pictures, but at least the cabin had cool mood lighting.
Inflight Meal and Service
Cathay Pacific offered a full dinner service on the flight, even though it was slated to depart (originally) at 9:30pm. The menu read as follows:
It is worth nothing the quality of the paper of the printed menu, and the sown binding. It was extremely nice.
The meal started with a scallop appetizer, which was decent. The scallops were chewy, but had a good flavor.
I ordered the Prawn stir fry as a main course. It was, once again, chewy but flavorful. Portions, however, were quite small. I would expect this amount of food on a domestic US flight.
For dessert I ordered the ice cream mainly because I wanted to sleep. After I was done, the FA brought each passenger a bottle of Evian water.
Bedding and Sleep Quality:
The CX business class seat transforms to a reasonably long bed. My two complaints are: the footrest is not flush with the Ottoman, I tired to fix it and still; secondly, they had no mattress pad or good blanket for such a long flight. I know these are minor details, but it makes the experience seem less “premium”.
I slept for about 3 hours, and woke up because of a patch of moderate turbulence. After I woke up, I couldn’t sleep anymore, so I asked for a snack. I was bewildered when the Flight attendant responded they didn’t offer snacks on the flight. I was so confused, and hungry, that I couldn’t believe it. YIKES. So for the next 2 hours I watched TV, tried to sleep again and listened to music. To say I was bored is an understatement.
Sunrise and Breakfast:
The only positive part of not sleeping was being able to see the sunrise. I was able to take a few good photos of the IFE screen with the sunrise.
About 1h30m before landing, breakfast started. They brought out some OJ, water or other drinks. I chose the OJ, and ordered the Chinese breakfast. It was dim sum, and what I believe was a Chinese version of a tamale. It was surprisingly delicious. The meal also came with pastries, fruit and yoghurt.
Landing and Arrival:
When we prepared for landing, the flight attendants thanked every passenger for flying Cathay Pacific.
I got to take some pretty cool photos before landing. The day was beautiful and landing was smooth.
At Sydney Airport, we parked at a remote stand, which gave me a chance to take even more photos, this time of our plane. I have to admit, our Rolls-Royce powered A330 was a beauty.
Since I had visited Australia less than 12 months prior, my visa was still valid, and I was able to get to the city without much hassle at Passport control.
Cathay Pacific offers a solid hard product on their A330-300s. Their soft product left much to be desired. I believe that the Qatar Airways investment will lead to the airline being more strategic about routes, and improving their business class product (probably at the expense of First class). Either way, CX has a good way to go to reach Qatar Airways’ standard, but I do believe the airline is one of the best options from South East Asia to Australia.
What do you think? What has you experience on Cathay Pacific been in business class? Let us know!
Here is a list of all my flight reviews: The Millennial Traveler Flight Reviews
Here is a list of all my lounge reviews: The Millennial Traveler Lounge Reviews