I love flying Cathay Pacific. Any opportunity to fly with the airline feels almost like Christmas morning. Cathay’s business class product isn’t the nicest way I’ve flown – that not would probably go to Fiji Airways, despite their seats not quite laying flat, or to Japan Airlines, for their stellar service and food. Even Thai Airways is worthy of a nod thanks to their service and seating. However, no airline I’ve flown quite puts together the same value in business class as Cathay Pacific, combining the best of service, food, and hard product in one.
I had the opportunity to fly Cathay Pacific this time in Business Class first from Cairns to Hong Kong, and then from Hong Kong to Los Angeles, all on the same award ticket via Alaska Airlines. Alaska’s award chart offers an exceptional option for a journey like this, charging just 60,000 miles for the full flight, and allowing for a stopover on one-way awards.
American’s AAdvantage program would have been my most likely backup plan for such an award, charging a whopping 40,000 from Australia to Hong Kong and 70,000 more from Hong Kong to the US! As you can see, using Alaska miles cost almost half of what booking with American would’ve required.
The Cathay Pacific flight from Cairns to Hong Kong was serviced by an A330.
Aside from being smaller than the 777s in Cathay’s fleet, the product in Business Class is essentially the same as what would be found elsewhere. Reverse herringbone seats allow aisle access to every passenger in Business Class, while affording a mixture of privacy and accessibility thanks to the seat’s clever design. There’s plenty of room to stretch out, of course, and the seats do lie entirely flat, an essential feature for longer journeys.
I was offered champagne while passengers continued to board. Due to the A330’s smaller size and Cairns’s relatively humble terminal, all passengers boarded from the front of the plane, rather than economy passengers through a different jetway, meaning there was plenty of time to get settled as passengers shuffled past on their way to Economy.
As is true for other Cathay long-haul Business Class seats, a reading light, power outlet, and presumably little-used set of analog display inputs all were set within a control panel that also included seat controls and a pop-out remote control. The display on these Cathay seats is angled away during boarding, takeoff, and landing, one of the few downsides to the reverse herringbone configuration. That said, it pops forward easily enough, allowing for for Cathay’s extensive library of recent-run and classic films and TV shows to help melt away the hours of a long flight.
Amenity kits were distributed during boarding to the Business Class cabin, including an array of toiletries, an eyemask for sleeping, and more.
Following takeoff, lunch service was excellent, beginning with barbecued duck breast and a mixed salad, followed by a shrimp dish and a cheese plate.
Of course, no flight on Cathay Pacific would be complete without several servings of Cloud Nine, one of the airline’s signature cocktails:
After a few uneventful hours of enjoying the flight, a snack service was offered, consisting of a chicken caesar wrap and ice cream. While Haagen-Dazs is what I’d come to expect on Cathay, the Maggie Beer ice cream from Australia used on this flight was delicious:
My flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles offered more of the excellent service I’d enjoyed on the way to Hong Kong from Cairns. As this flight was on a 777 as opposed to the smaller A330, a First Class cabin was available on this flight. The extra width of the seats, intimacy of the cabin and small touches like orchids by the seats put Business Class to shame, but I was more than happy to “slum” it in one of my favorite products.
Despite the greater width of the 777, seats in Business Class were still arranged in a 1-2-1 configuration, with a bit more room to spare all around.
The seat itself – and the pre-departure beverage – made me feel right at home.
As a longer flight, a more extensive meal service was offered on the way to Los Angeles, beginning with smoke salmon and a salad, which I followed up with a beef tenderloin. Other main entree options included steamed halibut, chicken makhanwala and a roasted red pepper with ricotta ravioli.
For dessert, I went with a simple cheese and fruit selection, once again.
I was able to get a few hours of sleep before deciding to take advantage of a midnight snack, or what would serve for one, as time zones quickly slid by. With time of day so questionable, I decided that an afternoon tea service made perfect sense. The scone and blueberry tart were far more delicious than they had any right to be while in flight:
I followed this up later with ice cream – now back to the standard Haagen-Dazs – and a Coke.
Once breakfast time rolled around, not long before the end of our long journey, I enjoyed a croissant, selection of fruit, cereal, and a platter with eggs, sausage, mushrooms, and a bit of potato, accompanied by some tomatoes.
Powdered eggs were nothing to write home about, but the sun rising as we approached the West Coast certainly was:
Flying the 777 came with the additional treat of being able to watch landing from a camera placed near the landing gear, which made for a delightful return home from a more than three week journey:
From here, I’d travel on to Las Vegas via a short hop on Southwest, for a week at a conference before heading home. Switching back to domestic travel is certainly an adjustment, but 10,710 miles enjoying one of the most reliably exceptional offerings in the sky stayed with me long after I settled back into a flight experience where glass became plastic and ice cream with a chilled spoon turned back into pretzels. I’m happy that I still fly internationally rarely enough to truly enjoy each flight like these.