This was my first time in one of the most lauded first class products in the world. Cathay Pacific did not disappoint, however it did not blow me away. Service was the highlight of the flight, but the remaining aspects were less impressive.
The Good: First class seats are always great. Service was paramount to the philosophy of the crew.
The Bad: Food was good but not wow, I have gotten similar meals on Qatar Airways business class on similar flights.
The Noteworthy: There is no wifi on any of Cathay’s 777 yet, this is changing, but the pace is quite slow.
I booked this flight about a month out. Using 70K Alaska miles, I was able to snag a first class seat between BKK and HKG, a two day stopover in Hong Kong, and then go onwards to Boston on the same ticket. The tickets, bought together without the stopover would have been close to $8,000. Bought separately with the stopover, the prices were well over $16,000. That gives me a points-to-dollar ratio of almost 23¢ per mile. That’s crazy!!!! In contrast, American charges 110K miles, and does not allow stopovers.
Gate and Boarding
When I arrived at the gate from the lounge, I was expecting to see the aircraft already there. I had left the lounge late given the fast wifi and the fact that I would be disconnected from wifi until I got to my hotel much later. Upon asking the gate agent, she said the aircraft was about 45 minutes delayed and apologized. At this point, I was trying to decide whether to go back to the lounge or stay at the gate, which I opted for the later. While I waited, the gate got quite crowded and some people were visibly mad that the flight was delayed. One agent had to calm a guy down because he began to demand he be upgraded for the delay. If only it worked that way *sigh*.
About 45 minutes after the scheduled time of departure, they began boarding. I boarded through the 1L door, which was reserved for First Class passengers. Boarding was quick and efficient, at least for First class and Emerald elites. Upon boarding the aircraft, the purser welcomed me abroad and walked me to my seat.
Airline: Cathay Pacific
Cabin: First Class
Flight Number: CX 652
Route: Singapore SIN – Hong Kong HKG
On Time: No
Cabin and Seat
The first thing I noticed about the cabin was the calming, welcoming feel you get when you first enter. The cream colors of the seat with the faux wood panels on the side consoles give a homey feel to the seats. The seats themselves are HUGE. This was arguably the widest first class seat I have been on. With that, seat pitch felt like 7’ (it was 81”, according to seatguru.com which is the same as their business class pitch).
The seat was quite soft and comfortable in the upright position even. There was a pillow waiting on my seat as well as a pair of Bose headphones in one of the compartments. There was an older style IFE remote as well as seat controls next to it. There were multiple compartments, as well as power outlets and light fixtures.
The IFE screen was angled in front of you, and it was low resolution. I was disappointed that the screens had not been updated when they refreshed the cabins, since they were quite old. My favorite aspect of the seat was the live flower hanging on the window side of the seat.
Pre Departure Service and Departure
As soon as I was finishing taking pictures, the flight attendant that would be working my aisle introduced herself and asked if I wanted anything to drink. I ordered a glass of champagne, which was brought with a cold towel.
When boarding was completed, I noticed there were no other people in my asile in first class, there was only a couple on the other side of the plane. Given how the seats are designed, I had the whole aisle to myself (a feat that would repeat itself on my flight to Boston three days later).
As we taxied to the runway, I turned on the forward wheel camera on the IFE screen. I love when aircraft have exterior cameras, as they make me feel like I can experience takeoff like the pilot does.
Food on Board
After take off, the flight attendant came by to ask what I wanted for lunch. The menu was extensive, but since the cabin was not crowded, I was allowed to order whatever I wanted.
Here is a look at the menu:
The meal began with my choice of drink (I ordered the Cathay Delight, one of the most delicious drinks ever created) and it came with a ramekin of nuts.
Afterwards, the table was set with my own breadbasket and churned butter.
I ordered the carrot soup, as well as the scallop and prawn appetizers. They were both good, but nothing out of this world.
For my main, I ordered the cod fillet, which was perfectly cooked, but lacked a bit of flavor. I don’t think it was bad, but it was a missed opportunity.
For dessert I ordered the peach and almond crumble, with vanilla ice cream. It was very tasty, but still nothing out of this world.
After dinner, I ordered some Pu Erh Tea, which was good and lasted me for most of the rest of the flight.
Notes on Service and Other Things
Since it was a daytime flight, and I wasn’t too tired, I didn’t sleep on the flight. While I was awake, the flight attendant came by the aisle every 15-20 minutes to see if I needed anything. They were very casual about it, they didn’t ask me or seem insistive, but just wanted to make themselves available if I needed anything. Every interaction I had with them was polite and genuine, they seemed to love their jobs.
Like I said, there was no wifi. This made me feel bored early on in the flight, and since I couldn’t sleep, made the flight feel even longer. This prepared me for my upcoming flight to Boston, which would be some 16 hours without wifi.
We arrived on time, and we taxied to a gate very close to immigrations. I said goodbye to the crew and was on my way to Hong Kong with by bags within 45 minutes of landing. That might seem like a lot, but considering I am a foreigner arriving in HKG, I felt that was quick.
Cathay has a solid first class hard product. Although dated, and lacking good IFE screens, the seats themselves are incredibly comfortable. I would honestly not mind spending longer flights in the seat, but wifi would have been nice in order to keep me entertained. Crew was honestly stellar and professional. The food was good but now wow. Would I fly them again? Definitely. Would I pay the premium they usually charge for First class? Probably not. Would I spend the amount of miles American asks for this kind of ticket? Never. Alaska’s partnership with Cathay is very lucrative to US fliers. Honestly, one of the best redemptions you can do with Mileage Plan miles.
What do you think? What has been your experience on Cathay Pacific short haul First class? Did it meet your expectation? Let us know!