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Cathay Pacific Business Class Review
Flight CX253 (Aircraft: Boeing 777-300 ER, Four Class) HKG to LHR – Business Class
Scheduled Departure: 3.05pm – Scheduled Arrival: 20:15pm
Duration: 12 hours 15 minutes
Seat: 19A (Business Class)
I arrived in Hong Kong en route to London from Singapore and had the chance to quickly sample Cathay Pacific’s small (but rather excellent) Premium Economy cabin before the main event – Cathay Pacific long haul Business Class!
At Hong Kong airport the transfer was a breeze, quickly getting my boarding pass checked before passing through security and finding myself in the mammoth airport.
As a Business Class passenger, you get a 40kg luggage allowance and more if you have status with OneWorld.
Check in at Singapore (and indeed on a previous flight from Hong Kong) was as simple and painless as expected. Between the Business Class check in desks and fast track security, both Singapore Changi and Hong Kong airport have got moving people swiftly and efficiently through the terminal down to a fine art.
As Hong Kong’s flag carrier, there are four separate lounges you can pick from in Terminal 3. Depending on which gate you’re flying from, you might want to pick the one closest to it, rather than have a long walk to some of the further gates.
I spent my time in Cathay’s main lounge, the award winning ‘Wing’, near gates 1 – 4. It has First Class and Business Class sections and is also open to those with OneWorld status.
The downstairs section is home to a tucked away IT centre, 2 dozen ‘5-star-hotel-esq’ shower rooms and a relaxing lounge area. Upstairs is where the action is though! – Sprawling along the length of the terminal, the lounge is a large balcony with open ceilings and clear views across the terminal to the runway.
The asian influenced design is complete with growing bamboo, clear lines and a mix of black and white marble and granite makes for a relaxing and zen environment. Upon entering the upper level there is a small buffet, a well stocked fridge of soft drinks and beer, tea and coffee and wine. There is plenty of soft seating, including Cathay’s exclusively designed Solus chair which is private, functional and perfect for the solo traveller.
If you venture through this well laid out space, past the washrooms and the black granite walls, you’ll find a tasty noodle bar with cooked-to-order dim sum and noodles, as well an open bar / bakery with sweet treats, ice cream, a fantastic cocktail list and signature creme brûlée cappuccino!
I should also point out that I tried Cathay’s new London Heathrow lounge in T3 on my flight out and it is also rather stunning. A beautifully designed dark wood space with lots of natural light coming from the excellent runway views. The noodle bar does the business when it comes to pre-flight food and the whole lounge just oozes class.
No announcements are made in the lounge, so close to our boarding time I took the ten minute walk to gate 26.
Upon arriving at the gate I saw our plane pull into the stand, which was followed by an announcement informing us that boarding would be delayed due to the late arrival of the incoming aircraft. Our initial boarding time was 2.20pm for a 3.05pm flight and they eventually started priority boarding through a separate lane and air-bridge.
At 3.30pm our English Captain apologised for the delay, six minutes later the doors closed and we pushed back instantly with a take off just over an hour behind schedule at 4.12pm.
Upon boarding I found a decent sized supportive pillow and blanket on my seat, noise cancelling headphones and shortly after take off a bottle of Evian was distributed. Before that the crew introduced themselves to me by name and offered champagne (Billecart-Salmon Brut), water or a non-alcoholic Oriental Breeze cocktail. I selected the latter (a refreshing and delicious mix of cranberry, sour-plum tea, honey, fresh lemon and a subtle hint of rose water) which was beautifully presented with a small flower on top.
Cabin & Seat
This four class plane features two rows of First Class at the front, followed by a small front Business cabin of two rows. The galley and four toilets then separate the larger 12 row Business Class cabin in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone layout, where I was situated.
The larger than they look seats were pristine and not at all tired, with supportive padding and a classy green and ivory colour motif. My window seat gave me access to three windows along with a large TV screen and a huge amount of storage, including a small cupboard with vanity mirror and under-seat shoe store. There was also a large cubby hole to the left of the chair with an equally large window ledge / table above it, which also holds the dining table.
The large ottoman at the end of your pod allows you to stretch out when operating the seat through the intuitive buttons on the side panel, which also contains a light, the remote for the entertainment (if you don’t want to use the touch screen) a multi-national plug point and USB power.
Cathay has a #lifewelltravelled ethos which shines through with attention to detail in things like art work on the cabin bulkheads, fresh flowers in the bathrooms and in between the middle seats, and the toilet roll always being folded into a V every time I visited the bathroom. The beautifully designed private pods are a cocoon of privacy and little touches such as the side wing help make you feel like you’re the only person on board.
In sleep mode, the seat reclines to a full 180 degrees for a lie-flat snooze. The cushioning and padding is all in the right place and the seat is wider than it looks, leaving plenty of room for a variety of sleep positions. The pillows are well stuffed and the blanket gives the right amount of warmth. I got a good four hours of uninterrupted sleep before I had to wake up and do some work.
The flight offered lunch and dinner along with a snack service. The lunch began around 30 minutes after take off, with a drinks run including warm smokey-tasting nuts, all served from an open cart. Again, it’s touches like these which make this feel like a truly classy Business Class product. The lack of a clattering old trolley trundling down the aisle helps make you feel that you are truly being looked after and cared for. A wide-ranging bar was available, complete with signature cocktails designed by some of Hong Kong’s best mixologists and local classics such as milk tea.
I tried the new ‘Betsy Beer’ – a world-first exclusive limited time beer brewed in Hong Kong specifically for Cathay Pacific and designed to be enjoyed at 35,000 feet. Far from being a gimmick, this really hit the spot, delivering the sort of umami hit you would normally get from a Bloody Mary, and perking up my tastebuds in an environment when they’re normally dulled. Served in a cold and beautifully branded glass beer bottle, the artisan drink was fresh, crisp, aromatic and light with hints of honey. It’s nice to see Cathay experimenting with new ideas and pushing the boundaries of their service with something like this. Even as someone who doesn’t normally drink beer or lager, I found it rather moreish – I look forward to seeing what they come up with next!
The lunch service took around 2 hours, which felt about right for this long flight, with proactive drink refilling throughout. It’s clear that care has gone into the menu and plating of the dishes. The mains are each plated on the cart allowing you to see and indeed smell each option before picking yours. I went for the Thai Chu Chee Ling Fish Curry which wasn’t as delicate as you might hope, but still packed a flavour punch with the strong curry sauce.
The cheese and fruit trolly followed, then a chocolate salted caramel tart dessert for me, before enjoying a coffee and some truffles. After that, the lights dimmed allowing people to get some rest (and me to make a start on this review!).
Midway through the flight, I had the afternoon tea set of warm scones, clotted cream, jam and a few other little cakes which filled the spot perfectly. Two hours before landing a dinner service came through, but I was too stuffed to enjoy anything but some garlic bread.
It’s so important on long-haul flights to get the meal service right. It is the thing I most look forward to when flying and Cathay have really nailed this, with large selections, strong flavours and beautiful presentation.
Service & Entertainment
Cathay’s state of the art and highly responsive StudioCX touchscreen system features over 100 films and 500 TV shows, so you really are spoilt for choice. The latest Oscar winners such as La La Land and Manchester By The Sea featured alongside full TV series such as Westworld and all the Harry Potter films, including Fantastic Beasts, for those who might want to enjoy a J.K. Rowling marathon. The amenity kit is exclusively designed by Seventy Eight Percent with Jurlique lip balm and face serum.
The service from the crew stands head and shoulders above many airlines: constantly polite, personal and caring. I was always addressed by name and the crew took a keen interest in how I was enjoying the flight, the food and the Betsy Beer. It felt like they genuinely wanted to make my flight as enjoyable as possible and constantly glanced around the cabin to make sure everyone’s needs were taken care of. They were faultless and a real asset to Cathay Pacific.
This really is a world class Business product with a fantastic cabin, great food and some of the best staff in the sky. Classy and assured, with personal touches that make the service all the more special.
With many hard products in Business Class being much of a muchness (with the exception perhaps of Etihad and Qatar), sometimes it’s the smaller things and attention to detail which matter and can make flying a real pleasure.
As you can tell, I really enjoyed my time in Cathay Pacific Business Class and would heartily recommend it!