Wednesday newsletters always feature a hotel or flight review.
I recently enjoyed a wonderful holiday in Thailand (home to my favorite hotel in the world: Soneva Kiri) and the Kingdom of Cambodia. You can read my trip reports here:
- Review: Etihad Airways Airbus A380 First Class Apartment from Paris to Abu Dhabi
- Review: Etihad Airways Dreamliner B787 Business Class from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok
- Review: Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, Thailand
- Review: Zannier Hotels Phum Baitang, Cambodia
- Review: A visit to Angkor Wat, Cambodia
- Review: Alila Villas Koh Russey, Cambodia
- Review: Shinta Mani Wild by Bensley Collection, Cambodia
- Review: Cathay Dragon Airbus A320 Business Class from Phnom Penh to Hong Kong
- Review: Cathay Pacific First Class Boeing 777 from Hong Kong to Frankfurt (today)
Today (24 June, 2020): Review of Cathay Pacific’s Boeing 777 First Class from Hong Kong to Frankfurt
Early March, I flew First Class with Cathay Pacific onboard one of the carrier’s Boeing 777-300ERs from Hong Kong to Frankfurt. Unfortunately, the airline is struggling in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and the Hong Kong protests, although the company will get a massive $5 billion USD state-backed bailout to survive the troubles. The flag carrier of Hong Kong still offers one of my favorite longhaul First Class products in the world. Not only is Cathay Pacific’s First Class product incredibly consistent, but it’s also one of the few airlines that scores nearly perfect in all premium inflight categories (think plush bedding and pillows, fine dining options, and sublime new amenity kits). It took me three First Class flights with Cathay Pacific to get this trip report & YouTube clip: my camera broke down during my first flight two years ago, and I was not allowed to film during my second flight with Cathay last year because of the presence of a high profile passenger in the cabin, but three times is the charm!
Have you ever flown with Cathay Pacific? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment below.
- Trip: Hong Kong (HKG) to Frankfurt (FRA)
- Airline: Cathay Pacific
- Aircraft type: Boeing 777-300ER
- Aircraft registration number: B-KQM (delivered in 2014)
- Flight number: CX289
- On time departure: Yes (12.30 am)
- On time arrival: Yes (6.30 am)
- Miles: 5690
- Flight time: 12 hours
- Seat: 1A
- Class: First Class
In this review (more information & photos below my YouTube clip):
- Cost of my ticket
- The WIng First Class lounge at Hong Kong Airport
- First Class cabin
- First Class seat (+ best & worst seats)
- Amenities & bedding
- Onboard internet
- Other inflight experiences
- My verdict (score)
1. COST OF MY TICKET
My one-way ticket from Phnom Penh to Frankfurt comprised a Business Class trip with Cathay Dragon from Phnom Penh to Hong Kong and a First Class trip with Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to Frankfurt. The total cost of my ticket was $50 USD + 140,000 miles. The ticket was booked via British Airways’ frequent flyer program Executive Club (British Airways is a partner airline of Cathay Pacific). Read my review of Executive Club (with pros, cons, & tips) here.
2. THE WING FIRST CLASS LOUNGE AT HONG KONG AIRPORT
Finding the most appropriate Cathay Pacific lounge at Hong Kong Airport can be a challenge as the carrier manages a number of lounges at its hub (7 in total), all with different names (e.g. The Wing, The Pier, The Bridge and The Deck). They are spread throughout the terminal, so that you can relax in the lounge nearest to your gate. The best lounge is The Pier, which is located in Terminal 1, near gate 63. However, due to the pandemic, The Pier is closed ‘until further notice’ and the only First Class lounge that remains open is The Wing, which is located right behind the security checkpoint in Terminal 1.
The Wing First Class lounge is set one floor above the main concourse with the gates and shopping area. It features a lovely open design with no side-walls or ceiling, allowing for some great views of the airport’s stunning roof architecture and of the tarmac traffic through the massive airport windows. Just behind the lounge’s entrance is a stylish Champagne Bar, which provides a touch of exuberance before you head to the main lounge. The latter comprises several seating areas with posh leather chairs, divided by partitions. The overall design is minimalistic, creating a premium but distinctive and comfortable environment. Reflective black glass walls and black marble floors are accentuated by a crisp white marble bar and warm colours of natural Eucalyptus wood walls.
Behind the main lounge is an enormous dining area, where dozens of bar stools are arranged around high tables and a marble bar counter, with several buffet stations on the side (which were empty during my visit because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic). A more intimate and dimly lit dining room, called ‘The Haven’ is also located within this area, featuring several individual tables and some booths on the side. This restaurant has a small buffet, with prepacked items such as traditional Hong Kong dim sum, fine cheeses, cold cuts, tasty desserts and premium chocolates. There’s also a weekly rotating à la carte menu, which includes a combination of Western and Asian dishes to suit every palate. I did not try out the food at the lounge since I did not want to kill my appetite.
The Wing lounge also features 12 shower suites and 5 temperature-controlled cabanas (to unwind before a longhaul journey). Each cabana comes equipped with a full-sized bath, a shower, a day bed, luxurious toiletries, bath robes, and fluffy towels.
3. FIRST CLASS CABIN
Cathay Pacific has installed First Class on a select number of its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft (31 in total). The First Class cabin is located in the aircraft’s nose section and has only 6 seats, spread across two rows in a spacious and ultra-private 1-1-1 layout The two middle seats (1D and 2D) have a wall to the left: they are open to the right side and share the aisle with the window seats 1K and 2K. The seats on the left aisle (1A & 2A) are the best seats as they have this aisle to themselves and because the wall along the middle seats creates an extra element of privacy.
Cathay Pacific opted for an open layout when it first introduced its new First Class cabin in 2007 and sticked to the open concept during a refurbishment in 2017. The suites do not have sliding doors (like on Emirates) and they don’t feature a separate bed & seat configuration (like on Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines). It makes for a clean, sophisticated and airy design of understated elegance and one which I prefer above First Class cabins featuring claustrophobic, enclosed pods.
The cabin’s look is masterminded by London-based architects Foster + Partners, the same designer of The Wing First Class lounge. A highly glossy dark grey textured material is featured on the outer surface of the suites, while warm-tone natural leather is used extensively on most interior surfaces for a luxurious feel and soft touch. Hand-crafted sculptural artworks – made of copper and steel and created by Maria Lobo and Linda Leviton – are installed on the cabin’s front wall. A fresh flower next to each seat adds a playful touch to the cabin’s harmonious color palette.
Click here for the seat map of Cathay Pacific’s Boeing 777-300ER.
4. FIRST CLASS SEAT (+ BEST & WORST SEATS)
Three features of Cathay Pacific’s First Class seat will strike you right away:
- Although they don’t have doors, the suites are very private because of a partition between the passenger’s head and the aisle, and because the seats face slightly away from the aisle.
- The seats are extremely wide, so wide that they can easily fit two passengers (not that this is allowed). With a width of 91 cm (36 inches), this is the largest First Class seat in the skies.
- The suite offers a huge amount of space. To give you an idea: the four suites on the First Class cabin’s side all benefit from having three windows.
The seat’s light grey fabric is custom-made with a specially selected combination of materials that is soft and smooth to touch. One side of the seat features a reading light and a fold-down armrest, allowing more comfort in the upright seat position. The seat’s other side features a large panel, which holds the massive fold-out tray table (large enough to dine with two), a wired controller for the inflight entertainment, a small touchscreen monitor for the seat’s controls (e.g. built-in massage function, seat position, etc …) and a small pop-open space perfect for storing a phone, glasses, passport and/or wallet.
In front of each seat is an ottoman, with some storage space underneath. The ottoman can double as a buddy seat, allowing an intimate dinner or business meeting at 35,000 feet (hence why it is equipped with a seatbelt). On the side of the ottoman is a large console, which holds a closet (with hanger) that is large enough to fit carry-on luggage. The latter compensates for the lack of overhead bins in the Boeing’s First Class cabin. The side console also has a 17 inch HD entertainment screen fixed on its wall. The monitor needs to stay in its fixed position during taxi, takeoff and landing, but once airborne, it can slide out to the side to be positioned in the passenger’s line of sight.
Upon request, the flight attendants turn the seat into a fully flat-bed with a generous length of 81 inches (205 cm). Cathay Pacific’s turndown service is phenomenal (as described below).
What are the best First Class seats on Cathay Pacific’s B777s? Click here for a seat map.
- As explained above, the two best seats in the cabin are 1A and 2A because they have the left hand aisle all to themselves (the other four seats in this cabin share the right hand aisle). Note that seat 2A is a designated bassinet seat, and therefore not available for advance selection unless you are travelling with an infant (you will have to call Cathay Pacific to be assigned this seat).
What are the worst First Class seats on Cathay Pacific’s B777s? Click here for a seat map.
- There are no bad seats in Cathay Pacific’s First Class cabin. Even the two center seats offer total privacy and a hard to beat First Class experience.
5. AMENITIES & BEDDING
First Class passengers on one of Cathay Pacific’s longhaul flights receive the following amenities:
- The carrier’s First Class amenity kit is designed by Bamford, one of the UK’s premium lifestyle brands renown for its sustainability policy. The kit is presented as a marbled leather case with an exterior pocket. Inside, it contains a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, earplugs, a hairbrush, a monitor-cleaning cloth, and contain glass-bottled Bamford products. Women’s kits feature a four-stage moisturizing and skincare range curated by Bamford to combat the effects of flying, while men receive products from the Bamford Grooming Department sub-brand, including a facial mist.
- Cathay Pacific’s First Class high-quality pajamas and slippers are designed by premium cotton and shirt specialist, PYE. The sleep top features a double-sided collar based on the Zhongshan Zhuang, the mandarin collar suit popularized by Sun Yat-Sen. The sleep top can be worn either up in the Chinese mandarin collar fashion, or down in a classic Western pajama style (an east-meets-west twist). Made in a 100% organic cotton, the sleep suit comes in a range of colors that change with the season, forming parts of a collectible set comprised of six variations a year. First Class passengers also get a gift: a voucher of $500 HK which is valid at any PYE store.
- Boose noise-cancelling headphones are available at each seat, and effectively suppressing cabin noise and engine drone. The headphones can only be powered within an aircraft (and are collected before landing).
- Cathay Pacific shines with its outstanding First Class bedding and turndown service, offering by far the most comfortable night’s sleep at 35,000 feet. The bed is covered with a 100 percent sustainably sourced cotton mattress, and dressed with soft 600 thread-count cotton sheets, soft full-size pillow cases and a duvet cover. Cathay Pacific’s turndown service comes with a menu that offers a choice of soft or firm pillows, plus a spray of Bamford’s bestselling pillow mist, which is infused with frankincense, lavender and marjoram to aid sleep. Bespoke JING teas complete the experience: the Soothe and Calm blends will aid digestion and encourage relaxation, respectively.
Cathay Pacific’s First Class menu is inspired by seasonal, sustainable produce, with dishes that celebrate the flavors of Hong Kong and its destinations. The carrier also regularly partners with Michelin-starred chefs from renowned restaurants around the world (such as Tosca, the Italian restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong) to develop First Class menus. Cathay Pacific has also filled its award-winning onboard cellar with a selection of top Champagne cuveés, prestigious vintages, spirits and Betsy beer.
During this flight, a multi-course supper was served after takeoff and a sumptuous breakfasts about two hours prior to landing (although First Class passengers can enjoy in-flight meals at whatever time suits them best – when you’re ready to dine, you simply place an order with the cabin crew). The stylish menu card featured a selection of international favorites, contemporary wellness options, and Hong Kong classics. I choose the following dishes from the dinner menu:
- Caviar service: caviar with blinis, chives, crème fraîche and chopped eggs
- Starter: roasted sweet corn soup
- Main course: pan-fried black cod with oven-roasted cherry tomatos and green pea sauce; served with baby spinach salad, grilled baby carrots, toasted sesame seeds
- Dessert: dark chocolate and pear gâteau with vanilla ice-cream
- Post-dessert treat: pralines
After a few hours of sleep, I ordered a delicious midflight snack, Mak’s signature wonton noodles in soup. Prior to landing in Frankfurt, I enjoyed the following breakfast selection:
- First course: seasonal fresh fruits, served with a bread basket, fresh orange juice, and cold press pineapple, lime & Asian pear juice
- Second course: nut and seed granola with natural honey flavored Greek yoghurt
- Third course: omelette with avocado, tomato & ricotta, served with slow-roasted cherry tomaties and grilled mushrooms
Cathay Pacific’s inflight entertainment is displayed on a 17 inch HD screen (which slides out to the side) and controlled by a wired handset (which is stored in easy reach). The IFE features dozens of movies, including new Hollywood releases and Asian cinema classics. Award-winning TV box sets are also available, as well as the latest music albums, podcasts, games, and 3D moving maps with multiple perspective views. There’s also the possibility to enjoy some frontal outside views as Cathay Pacific’s B777s are equipped with a (grainy) nose camera.
8. ONBOARD INTERNET
To stay productive and connected throughout the flight, First Class passengers can take advantage of complimentary WiFi in First Class, which is being progressively rolled out across the carrier’s Boeing 777 fleet. A voucher for the free WiFi is handed out upon boarding on eligible flights. Cathay Pacific’s WiFi is of excellent quality and reasonably fast, as the airline adopts Gogo’s 2Ku satellite-based broadband inflight connectivity technology. The high-speed service allows to check emails, browse the web, access social networks and shop online using WiFi-enabled devices, including laptops, tablets and smartphones.
9. OTHER INFLIGHT EXPERIENCES
# CREW: I’ve always been a fan of Cathay Pacific’s cabin crew, which I rate among the best and most efficient in the world. On this flight, service was exceptional again, with two courteous cabin crew members taking care of the three First Class passengers, always with a genuine smile.
# LAVATORY: There are two lavatories for the 6 First Class passengers (located behind the cockpit); they are stocked with Bamford toiletries.
10. MY VERDICT
- The Wing First Class lounge: 8/10
- Cabin design: 8/10
- Seat comfort (upright position): 10/10
- Seat comfort (bed position): 10/10
- Food (quality): 9/10
- Food (quantity): 9/10
- Inflight entertainment : 10/10
- WiFi: 10/10
- Service: 10/10
- Overall experience: exceptional: 9,2/10
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