Update 2019-02-26: Please note that the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) American Express Card Canada is no longer available. It has been replaced by the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card. Get the details here!
I checked out of the Marriott SkyCity Hong Kong Hotel at 4:00pm and managed to catch the airport shuttle leaving on the hour (shuttle service runs every 30 minutes). As a Marriott Gold Elite, I was entitled to the same private car transfer as when I arrived in Hong Kong, but the shuttle was no less convenient. I personally prefer hotel arranged car transfers on arrival, as I’m generally much more tired on arrival and appreciate the expedited service.
Within about 5 minutes I was at the airport, and inside the terminal. Hong Kong airport is very easy to navigate, with a well-laid out design and ample staff on hand to answer any questions. I proceeded to the check-in desk to get my boarding pass and lounge invitation. There was no line-up for business class, and the agent was quick and efficient in issuing my boarding pass. She also went over the lounge options, of which there’s many, and recommended I try a couple since I was so early.s
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Security took less than 5 minutes, with only a couple people in front of me. Immigration was the same, but took a little longer as the person in front of me was requiring some extra attention. At this point it was about 4:30pm, and I thought I would try to FaceTime Brad back home before checking out the lounge. I reached for my phone and noticed something seemed off. I felt lighter than normal, and quickly realized I had left my Rimowa cabin luggage at either immigration or security! My heart sank, as I anxiously tried to retrace my steps. At this point I had cleared immigration, so it wasn’t as simple as going back and asking someone. I went to The Cathay Pacific Lounge and the very friendly agent advised me to go back through immigration and speak to someone. I walked through the large area marked ‘NO ENTRY’ and was quickly greeted by a couple of officers. I explained to them what happened, at which point they called over to security and located my bag. About 5 minutes later they brought the bag to me, had a search through my belongings (including my other bag I didn’t leave behind) and had me sign some paperwork. With that, I was off to find some champagne!
I decided to visit The Wing business class lounge as it was nearest to immigration and I was desperate to sit down and relax after my luggage ordeal. The lounge was nice, although, in my opinion, not as nice as The Cathay Pacific Lounge at Vancouver Airport.
I quickly found a seat and settled in with a glass of champagne. The lounge was busy, but never really felt crowded. I had planned to review this lounge, however, shortly after settling in another passenger walked by my seat, tripped, and dumped an entire glass of tomato juice on me and my baggage!! By the time the mess was cleaned up I was beyond done, and decided to just relax before my flight! Check out Benjamin J Travel if you want to learn more about The Wing Business Class Lounge in Hong Kong, in addition to their other lounge offerings.
I was booked on flight 697, which was scheduled to depart at 8:00pm. Naturally, given my luck that day, the flight was delayed an hour, with boarding beginning at 8:30pm. We were leaving from gate 1, which was only a couple minutes from the lounge.
Cathay Pacific 697
Hong Kong (HKG) – New Delhi (DEL)
Monday, January, 30
Arrive: 12:39am (+1 day)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Seat: 12A (Business Class)
Cathay Pacific operates the Airbus A330 with several different configurations, though thankfully this was their two class version with reverse herringbone seating in a 1-2-1 configuration. The cabin is split into two sections, with 7 rows in the forward cabin and 3 rows in the rear, separated by exits doors and a washroom.
I had been watching the seat map and noticed the rear cabin was completely empty, so I chose seat 20A. I generally prefer the smaller cabins if split, as they tend to be much more private and quiet. However, upon boarding, I was greeted by the in-flight service manager and asked if I would like to select a window seat in the forward cabin, as he cautioned me there were several infants seated in first row of economy just behind the business cabin. I happily obliged, and thanked him for the tip. As it turns out, the forward cabin was also quite empty and managed to feel quite private.
Even with a full load, Cathay Pacific business class has one of the best hard products out there. The reverse herringbone window seats offer a lot of privacy as they angle away from the aisle, and offer a decent amount of width and foot space compared to some other international products.
The cabin felt very roomy, probably since it was less than half full. I must say Cathay Pacific does a good job at maintaining their fleet, as everything felt new, despite the plane actually being quite old.
The main galley is located just in front of the forward business class cabin, but at no point was I disrupted by light or noise, which can often be the case sitting near the front.
The woman seated directly behind me was being very obnoxious during the boarding process. Apparently her colleagues were delayed coming in from Los Angeles and were going to misconnect on their flight to Delhi. She was talking to them on her phone as we were boarding, as they had just landed and were rushing to make the flight. From what I understood from the conversation between her and the crew, Cathay had already re-scheduled them on the next flight, but the woman wasn’t having any of that. She kept demanding the crew wait for her friends (even though they were off the manifest) and wanted to speak to the captain. I felt really bad for the crew as they were working very hard to make up for lost time during the boarding process and couldn’t explain it well enough for the woman to understand. Below you can see how I was feeling throughout the situation…
The crew came around and distributed pre-departure beverages, amenity kits, bottles water and menus prior to pushback. I prefer Cathay Pacific’s physical business class kit over their first class kit (the Aesop products are much nicer in first).
The amenity kit contains an eyeshade, socks, earplugs, mouthwash, toothbrush and toothpaste along with some toiletries by Jurlique, which are quite nice.
Boarding was relatively quick despite the economy cabin being close to full. We pushed back from the gate at 9:00pm and were in the air at 9:15. The climb was bumpy, due to some inclement weather in Hong Kong, and the seatbelt sign was turned off after about 15 minutes.
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Dinner service began relatively quickly after takeoff, which was appreciated as I wanted to rest a bit on such a late flight. As is the norm with Cathay Pacific, the crew brought around a cart with all of the dinner options, which makes it a lot easier to pick. Sometimes something sounds really good on a menu but looks horrible in person. I wasn’t actually very hungry after having some noodles in the lounge, so I decided to skip the main and just had the starter, which was delicious!
Cathay Pacific hasn’t been getting many positive reviews on catering in business class lately, though the few flights I’ve been in the past year have been really good! I would like to see Cathay introduce a snack menu for anytime eats. It wasn’t an issue on this flight but on long-hauls I like to be able to order a bowl of noodles or a burger whenever I feel hungry.
I love Cathay Pacific’s business class seat, and consider it one of the best in the sky. Each seat comes with direct aisle access, with window seats angled away from the neighbouring seat for additional privacy. Couples travelling together will likely want to travel in the centre section, though still may find it difficult to communicate compared to standard forward facing seats.
Seat controls are easy to use and well located for easy access. The seat transforms into a fully flat bed and provides ample room to stretch out. The foot space is not as limited as some business class cabins and it wasn’t difficult to find a comfortable position. There is an armrest that can be adjusted and stowed into the seat, allowing for additional width. The blanket and pillow provided were high quality, and I didn’t have a problem with overheating (no individual air vents on most Asian carriers with warmer than normal cabins).
Each seat had an individual reading light as well as power connections. There was also a pair of noise reducing headphones ideally located in a small closet beside the seat controls. The headphones were good enough for a 6-hour flight but didn’t have the greatest sound quality.
Storage at the seat was adequate, with the small closet doubling as storage space for small items and a decent size bin under where the tray table is stored. There is also literature storage and a large flat space between the seat and the windows above the tray table. It should be noted there is no floor storage during takeoff, taxi, and landing, so all bags must be stowed in the overhead bins (they can be stored under the footrest at cruising altitude if needed).
The in-flight entertainment selection was good, with a lot of repeat options from my Cathay Pacific first class flight from Los Angeles the day before. I was happy to have the moving map on while I on and off slept. The IFE monitor needs to be stowed for taxi, takeoff, and landing, and bevels out during the flight to be aligned with the seat. The control is located just next to the seat controls and is very easy to use.
I managed to sleep for about 4 hours after the meal service, which took approximately 1 hour once the seatbelt sign was turned off (by the time I woke up we were less than an hour outside of Delhi). Cathay Pacific has a great style of service in premium cabins: essentially once the meal service is done, they retreat to the galley and don’t come around much unless called. That being said, they usually respond to the call button within 30 seconds with a smile on their face, which is very different than North American carriers. Because of this, I find foot traffic to be much less than say, Japan Airlines, where someone from the crew seems to be going through the cabin every 10 minutes anticipating needs.
Cathay Pacific business class continues to be a great overall product with one of the most private and spacious business class seats in the sky. I find service to be consistently good on Cathay Pacific, and really appreciate their less intrusive style. Catering in business class has been a hot topic amongst bloggers in recent months, though I’ve yet to experience a meal that was bad, and find I sleep really well given the generous seat width when flat and high quality bedding.
Using Alaska Miles for travel on Cathay Pacific represents great value at 50,000 miles one way from North America to Asia in business class. Applying for the American Express Business Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card and The American Express Personal Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card
could earn a combined 100,000 American Express Membership Rewards, which could then be transferred for a business class redemption! Update 2019-02-26: Please note that the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) American Express Card Canada is no longer available. It has been replaced by the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card. Get the details here!