In this blog post, I am going to give you guys a comprehensive review of business class flight experience with Cathay Pacific. I and Peter definitely prepared ourselves better compared to our previous and first business class flight with Singapore Airlines. We are now equipped with better camera and plan on what to review for a business class flight. We have researched all the features and facilities on the ground as well as in the aircraft we were going to board.
Our expectation could be a little higher than we ever before. It’s because with our first business class, we were sort of ‘see what it can offer to us’, whereas this time we were more towards ‘I know I will have this and that, can the airline do/show us more of it’.
Why flew from Brisbane?
Just to give a bit of background on why we chose to fly from Brisbane. (We mentioned before that we live in Melbourne.) We always want to fly with business class again after the last trip to Bangkok. As miles/points enthusiasts, of course, we never want to pay a full fare business / first class airline tickets, because there is always a ton of ways to enjoy luxury flights without breaking your bank account.
While we don’t have enough points to redeem (we collected points mainly to our Velocity Frequent Flyers accounts), we looked for an award seat by purchasing airlines miles which can turn out to be a pretty cheap and good deal. In this case since we were planning to go to Hong Kong and we heard that Cathay Pacific has a terrific business class product on their A350, and they also fly with A350 from Australia, so we decided to look for a partnered airline that allows us to buy their miles and redeem it with Cathay Pacific flights.
After a bit of research, we decided to buy AAdvantage (from American Airlines) which offered a lowest miles deal so far in this year (2018) at the time we looked for it in March. The previous two months were basically priced higher. Basically, in March 2018 it costs USD $1.81 per mile.
Have a look this article post from Point Hacks that we used as our guideline when we bought miles from AA:
For us, we need 40,000 miles per person to fly business class to Hong Kong one way from any Australian cities. So there we go, we purchased 80,000 miles from AAdvantage for 1,622.50 USD + 30USD tax (approx. 2,380 AUD). That’s approximately 1,190 AUD one way business class ticket per person. As a comparison, a full fare one-way business class ticket on the same route costs around 3,000-3,500 AUD. So as you can see it’s almost one-third fraction of the full fare tickets. WINNER WINNER :)
Note: if you want to know more how to purchase and redeem the AA miles, check out Point Hacks link before, these guys are super detail in explaining it!
However, we made a little mistake here. As we couldn’t find an award seat available on MEL - HKG route, and we can only find from BNE-HKG route, which we just directly redeemed it. After a while, and watching a famous aviation geek YouTube video talking about routing, we realised we actually can do the same thing. Basically, if we can’t find a direct flight from our origin city, we can actually ask for a stopover flight, in this case, we actually can see we might do MEL-SYD-HKG with MEL-HKG possibly with Qantas business class, as Qantas, Cathay, and AA are in one same alliance which is OneWorld alliance. Damn. I guess we just missed the opportunity. We could possibly change the route on our confirmed flight, but it could cost us money. Therefore we decided to fly economy MEL-BNE by purchasing a separate domestic flight ticket with Virgin Australia, that way it’s actually cheaper than changing the route of our flight.
Brisbane International Airport
Ok, enough talking about miles, let’s talk about the flight experience.
The experience started on the ground, at the check-in area and our visit to the Qantas Club international lounge in Brisbane International Airport. The check-in surprisingly were all done using a machine with minimal human interactions, apart from the ground staff needed to put a priority label on our luggage to indicate that we are business class passengers. The immigration is also using machines/computers, so no human interaction as well. We passed the security check with our express line ticket. The normal line was not too long either since it was kind of late night already.
Cathay Pacific doesn’t have its own lounge in Brisbane airport so Cathay passengers are invited to use Qantas lounge as they both are under the same alliance which is One World. I think it sounds better to use Qantas lounge because I heard Cathay own lounge at Melbourne airport is rather outdated and needs some improvements. We will write a separate blog post talking about the Qantas Club lounge itself. Stay tuned!
We got out of the lounge 10 minutes before the boarding time. It passed midnight and we were tired and sleepy. We arrived at the gate and waited for a few minutes until the business class passengers were called out to board first. We then walked past the bridge and entered the aircraft. We were greeted by a few flight attendants. Until now I can still feel full of excitements whenever I walked from the boarding pass scan to the bridge and finally embarking the aircraft.
In a short moment, once we sat down, the crew offered me a welcome drink. The options were orange juice, apple juice or champagne. Peter opted for orange juice, and I tried my luck to ask for a Cathay Delight. Cathay Delight is a signature drink of Cathay Pacific. It’s basically kiwi juice, coconut milk, and mint leaves. The flight attendant said it’s available after take-off. Glad she remembered and did bring it to me after take-off. It was so nice and refreshing! Later on for before arrival, Peter also ordered one for him. It was the first time for us to try Cathay Delight. We highly recommend trying it if you have a chance to fly business/first class with Cathay Pacific.
Hard Product Review
Cabin and Seat
The business class cabin has 38 reverse-herringbone seats and the configuration is 1-2-1, so everyone has a direct aisle access. We were particularly seated at seat number 17D and 17G.
First impression, the cabin was clean and well-maintained. The seat itself still looked pretty new without noticeable wear and tear.
The seat itself is quite wide, although not as wide as Singapore Airlines business seat on B777-200ER. The legroom is generous, I can stretch my leg as far as I can without touching the corner part of the leg area. This is the first time I was seated in a reverse herringbone configuration. Basically, we sit in a 45 degrees angle towards the middle of the aircraft, resembling a reverse herringbone shape as the name suggests.
I also love the colour scheme of the cabin with white ivory, grey, and green combination, which is the colour scheme of Cathay Pacific. I think it is a perfect combination. The Cathay Pacific logo is also located at the back of the wall partition between the front business cabin and the smaller one behind. It is simple yet elegant.
The seat is convertible to a lie-flat seat which is pretty much needed in a red-eye flight like we boarded this time. The mattress of the seat/bed is too firm to my liking, I think that’s why I didn’t get a comfortable sleep. I had interrupted sleep, on top of that there was a crazy neighbour who listens to some hard rock music very loudly on his/her headphone. I can literally listen to it the whole time I tried to shut my eyes to catch my sleep.
They also didn’t provide any additional mattress pad which is a shame because it could totally elevate the sleeping experience. They only gave a duvet as blanket which was quite thick and a decent size of pillow. Just FYI, the cabin temperature was quite warm so you probably won’t need to use the blanket all the time.
Compartments and Storage
As usual, there are overhead bins to store your cabin luggage. At least two compartments are shared for 3 passengers, so it’s not bad at all because you don’t need to fight to look for free compartment exactly right above your seat which sometimes happens in economy class.
There is a big storage on the side, depending on where you sit, it could be on your right / left-hand side. It can store up to 3 kgs of your stuff. So you can store stuff like laptop, iPad, or maybe even shoes in a bag? Sadly no sleepers were given to business class passengers, so better to keep the shoes on the floor.
There is also a small storage on the side next to your head, which has power outlets inside so you can charge your device or store your mobile phone there. It is also used to store the headphones.
In front of you, there is also a small ottoman which you can actually use to rest your leg in the sitting position. However, since I am short, I can’t even reach my leg to it, unless I switch my seat into a recline / full flat position. You can also store your backpack / smaller bag (not cabin baggage) underneath the ottoman.
The monitor is an 18.5-inch HD entertainment screen and I love how responsive the touchscreen is. It’s also easy to use. When the screen is stowed away, it actually faces the opposite angle of where you sit but it can be released in a press of a button so you can pull towards the angle of your sitting. The entertainment is also provided with the Bose noise-canceling headphones in Cathay branded logo instead of Bose logo itself, which worked very well for me.
There is also a wired touchscreen remote control which I also love. You can also watch the entertainment on this small screen if you prefer to do so. Another thing I love is you can watch the nose and tail camera view from the screen. That’s what I did when I got bored watching movie and during take-off and landing too.
Dining experience was very good for me, although not as excellent as Singapore Airlines. I really liked the food and how they taste. Also, I quite like the varieties of the food. The only criticism was the way they still serve the food in a tray-like plate, although proper plates and cutleries are used, as well as a white tablecloth. They brought the food in a cart, so we can choose our food based on how it looks. That can be a downside or upside depends on your preference.
We had the supper and breakfast service on this specific red-eye flight. I will post in another blog post about the food review itself. Stay tuned!
The amenity kit was given by a flight attendant to us individually. It contains various Jurlique creams (lip cream, hand cream, and day cream), dental kit, eye mask, earplugs, and socks. I love the design of pouch with grey colour. It looks very sturdy and business-sy instead of being luxurious.
Soft Product Review
The service is unfortunately the main area that is lacking. I guess it’s already known by every frequent flyers. It doesn’t feel like a personalised service for me. It is no difference with economy class service to be honest. The flight attendants did greet me with my name but it was only once during the supper service, but the rest they just didn’t address me by name. So yes, it felt very much like in economy class.
There were also no small talk or chit-chat by the flight attendants to the passengers. Since I flew with Singapore Airlines before, this is actually a contrast. With Cathay, it felt like very minimal human interaction. However, some people might prefer this way as they probably need more rest than doing a small talk with the crew. For me personally, I actually like the more human interaction in business class flight, especially with the crew. Sometimes they can do some surprising things to the passengers and it can make the flight felt extra special (which we had experienced with our returning flight to Melbourne with Virgin Australia, more details coming soon. Keep an eye of a new blog post about Virgin Australia.)
Arrival Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport
One of the benefits flying business class to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific is we have an arrival lounge access. It’s perfect if you arrive early in the morning and you can’t check-in yet at your hotel. The lounge itself is actually underwhelming. We’re going to write the review in a separate blog post. Stay tuned.
Beautiful aircraft, really quiet cabin.
IFE screen is big and responsive.
The seat feels spacious and high-tech to me. All the features worked very well.
Food was tasty and I love the signature drink, Cathay Delight so much.
Access to arrival lounge in Hong Kong International Airport. It helped a lot since we arrived quite early in the morning so we can have breakfast and shower while waiting for the hotel check-in time.
I feel like it’s lacking of personalised serviced by the cabin crew, even though they still were very accommodating to passengers.
No sleepers and pyjama are given in business class.
No additional mattress given for sleeping and the seat itself is too firm for sleeping purpose in my opinion.
I gave this flight experience with Cathay Pacific an 8 out 10. Despite lacking of the personalised service and a few minor things I don’t like here and there, I still gave a good number. Overall I really enjoyed this flight and would like to try again in the future especially I just heard that they have received the new A350-1000 aircrafts and it looks like they will start giving pyjamas to business class passengers as part of their improvement programs. Fingers crossed it will come true.
So guys, I hope you enjoy this review. Leave a comment below if you have experience flying with Cathay Pacific before and want to share it with us.
Also, don't forget to check out our flight review Youtube video below :)