Flight check: Cathay Pacific Business Class. Efficiency at the highest level from one of the world's leading airlines.
BKK-HKG CX702 Aircraft B747-400 – flight time 2h30m
This flight was part of a ticket that included LHR-HEL-BKK on Finnair and HKG-HEL-LHR legs.
Business class product
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CHECK-IN /AT THE AIRPORT
Although I selected my choice of seat at the time of booking, I confirmed the choice through the Cathay Pacific (CX) website when I did my online check in. The process was easy and straightforward.
At the airport, went straight to the Business class check-in desk where the agent printed my boarding pass, checked in my hold luggage, did the usual security questions, and despatched me in less than two minutes.
I then proceeded through passport control, which I cleared quite quickly using the Fast Track, which in all honesty was probably not necessary, as the queues were not very long and moved quite swiftly. After browsing the airside area – I always like to grasp a feel of the airport I am travelling through; I headed off to their own dedicated First and Business Class Lounge.
The Lounge in itself is nothing to write home about. It’s quite small in size despite CX offering around six daily services between Bangkok and Hong Kong. Nevertheless, it boasts a good number of private booths (around six or eight) with computers so one can surf and/or connect one’s own laptop. Goes without saying, it has free Wi-Fi. Catering is basic, offering assorted sandwiches, soft and a few alcoholic beverages as well as a selection of snacks.
9/10 for check-in service
7/10 for the Lounge (take into account though that CX is not an incumbent carrier at BKK)
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A five minute walk from the lounge and we were at the boarding area
An announcement was made on the Tannoy and pretty much everyone inside the lounge were also on this particular flight so we all proceeded to the boarding gate.
By the time we arrived to the boarding area, there were two different queues, one for the premium passengers and another longer of course for the rest. Have to stress though, that the whole documents check was done in a very organised manner and even the longer queue moved swiftly.
We boarded the Jumbo via the L1 door, where the smartly dresses cabin crew greeted the passengers and directed them accordingly always with a welcoming smile. Once one of them checked my boarding card, I then walked up the straight staircase that leads to the upper deck and a lovely flight attendant showed me to my seat and offered to take my jacket. I was then offered a welcome drink, the choices being champagne, orange/apple juice, and water. Once everyone was seated, I noticed that the cabin was probably just half-full. 10/10
Although this was a short regional flight, the aircraft used was the same long haul fleet with three classes; First, Business and Economy.
The Business Class cabin in the main deck has a 1x2x1 herringbone configuration, whilst the upper deck has a 1x1 configuration. The lighting mood can give the cabin various different moods depending on the time of day, but at least as far as the upper deck is concerned, the cabin at first impression gives a calm, cosy nightclub-ish ambience with its semi private seats. The grey and green trademark Cathay colours exude a corporate yet warm feel to the cabin. 9/10
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LET’S TAKE A SEAT
This was probably my biggest disappointment and probably a subject of many a debate among frequent travellers. After a few experiences, both visual as well as in practice, I haven’t endeared myself to the herringbone configuration of the likes of Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada or Air New Zealand.
It may possibly suit the solo traveller, but if, as many premium travellers, especially leisure ones are travelling in pairs, this configuration is not very social-friendly. One thing as a solo traveller is privacy; another very different is solitary confinement. And in my humble opinion, the latter applies to this type of seating. Add to that the narrow seating; once you fix the seat in its flatbed position, it feels more like a coffin than a bed. And this comes from someone who isn’t necessarily large. There are many factors to balance in order for the herringbone configuration to be a complete success.
And lastly, the outward angle makes it impossible to look out the window – that is, if you, like me are a window person and enjoy admiring the scenery while you fly. Luckily this was a night flight so didn’t miss much. 6/10
Pullback was on time and we left right on schedule at 18.45.
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FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD
This is one of CX’s strongest points. Once we were all seated, the flight attendants gave each of us a menu, which comprised two options for starter, two options of main and dessert. A decent wine and drink list completed the culinary experience.
Once airborne, and cruising altitude reached, they came around again taking our orders.
The tables were laid with fine, white linen, silverware and proper wine glasses.
My choice of baby asparagus over a bed of glazed rice noodles sprinkled with a sweet chilli sauce for starters, followed by Sichuan chicken with sticky rice and steamed vegetables were wolfed down animatedly, while enjoying my pre-set playlist on my personal entertainment system. All this washed down with an appropriate white wine, topped up at convenient intervals. A passion fruit cheesecake completed this incredible feast of Oriental cuisine. I declined the offer of coffee and opted for a Jasmine scented green tea as a digestive. 10/10
LET ME ENTERTAIN YOU
Their comprehensive AVOD system has far too many selections to help you make up your mind on such a short flight. I opted instead for their musical selection, listening to the Foo Fighters’ latest CD Wasted Years as well as other interesting rock and jazz pieces I added to my personal playlist.
Nevertheless, the list of films, TV sitcoms and series and children features were impressive. 10/10
ARE YOU WELL SERVED?
Again, one of Cathay Pacific’s main asset and the reason they are in the top five airlines of the world.
Not only were the flight attendants pleasant to the eye and well groomed, their attentiveness, friendliness, courtesy and efficiency were worthy of praise. Nothing was too much trouble and their anticipation without being intrusive was admirable. It is definitely cabin crew like this one that bring back that long lost glamour to flying, regardless of the class you are travelling in. 10/10
We arrived at 22.15, on schedule.
Deplaning was orderly and First and Business passengers were first to leave the aircraft. A five-minute walk from aircraft to Immigration and a short queue saw us quickly retrieving our bags from the carousels.
CONCLUSIONS – OVERALL IMPRESSIONS
Only in SE Asia does one see this level of service even on short flights regardless of the class of travel. Cathay Pacific is not in the top-five list for nothing and this flight was proof of that.
Regarding the seating, although the comfort on these type of seats is a subject of great debate with its defenders and detractors each supporting their arguments for and against, it has to be said that there has been some criticism since CX refitted their business class with this new seating. In fact, even their new economy seating has received a huge number of complaints.
The good news is Cathay Pacific has listened and they are in the process of upgrading their business and economy class seating in view of this feedback.
This slight issue apart, an outstanding airline. 8/10
After flying on an outstanding carrier, here is what happened in its outstanding hub, Hong Kong once I arrived. Just follow this link for an overview of Hong Kong: http://tonyabacab.hubpages.com/hub/Gatecrashing-in-Hong-Kong
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