The Trip of AA Lifetime (Asia, Australia, Middle East) – Introduction
Cathay Pacific 288
Frankfurt (FRA) – Hong Kong (HKG)
16 July 2016
Cathay Pacific First Class B777 is one of the world’s best First Class products, and I was just so excited to finally be able to try it on a long route. Cathay Pacific also features First Class on some of their other fleet (like the B747), though they operate their B77Ws on most long-haul flights. I knew I wanted to redeem American Airlines miles to fly from Europe to Hong Kong for just 70k miles in First Class, pre-devaluation. I didn’t know from where I would be flying Cathay Pacific (London, Paris, etc.), so I had to do some reissuing and changing of my ticket, a few times. Ultimately Frankfurt was the best choice based on my connecting flights from Kraków.
I had a roughly two hour connection in Frankfurt, and I spent some of the time in the Cathay Pacific First/Business Class Lounge, which is located just across from Cathay Pacific’s gate. Keep in mind that in Frankfurt Airport Terminal 2, security is done by each individual gate (or “group” of gates), so you’ll want to leave some time before boarding to clear security (though it usually isn’t an issue and takes 5-10 minutes).
The agent that was boarding First and Business Class passengers noticed my Miles & More Senator tag on my laptop bag and was borderline offended I wasn’t flying with Lufthansa to Hong Kong (especially since I was flying out of Frankfurt). Turns out she works for Lufthansa and I could hear her talking with other passengers, saying “Well, you know, Lufthansa’s flight to Hong Kong is better because…”, I found that hilarious, though maybe a bit unprofessional since she was in a CX “uniform”.
Cathay Pacific First Class on the Boeing 777 consists of just six suites in a 1-1-1 configuration, across two rows. Since I booked last minute, I was in a middle suite, so I didn’t have any windows. Thankfully, I was in 2D, which is the middle suite in the second row of the First Class cabin.
I was among the first to board, and was quickly welcomed to this Cathay Pacific/oneworld flight to Hong Kong. The entire flight crew was just phenomenal, very professional, and friendly – I didn’t have much time during the flight to talk a lot with them (I was super tired, so I slept), but from the few interactions I had, everyone was awesome.
Cathay Pacific’s First Class suite is beyond spacious and the seat is so wide that perhaps two people can sit next to each other and still have a ton of space. Additionally, another person can sit opposite of the seat, on the ottoman, and they can dine together. While there is no retractable privacy partition next to the seat, the seat is still very private. A pillow and blanket were waiting at my seat.
The seat features plenty of stowage, including stowage under the ottoman (mainly for laptop bags), and then a huge closet for hanging clothing and storing larger carry-on bags. There is also a smaller compartment next to the IFE control for storing smaller items throughout the flight (such as headphones).
Here is a video tour of the seat:
While each First Class suite is very spacious, the cabin overall doesn’t feel spacious in my opinion. There are no overhead bins, however there is a large “something” above the centre suites and whatever is up there, lowers the ceiling and doesn’t make the cabin spacious. Perhaps the cabin feels more spacious if you’re seated in one of the window suites, since you have nothing overhead, but it doesn’t feel as spacious when seated in the centre suites.
Fresh Cathay Pacific signature flowers fill the cabin with a pleasant scent.
The centre console is quite large and contains the large tray table, the IFE control, touch seat controls, and a power port. I don’t like that the power port is further away from the seat, behind the tray table. In my opinion, it should be closer to the seat controls, as I had a hard time using my iPhone while it was charging due to the short length of the cable and the position of the power port.
I do like that the centre console features a small drink “holder”, which is useful during turbulence.
The IFE remote control contains all of the necessary controls for the IFE. Next to it, are the touch seat controls which enable various functions related to the seat. A smaller stowage compartment is located next to the IFE control, I used it for storing my headphones and passport during the flight.
The seat features two, powerful reading lights on each side of the seat; the headphone port is located under the seat controls. Various catalogues and the safety card are located in the catalogue storage, on the seat partition, between the seat and aisle.
Noise-cancelling headphones were distributed along with the amenity kit and pyjama kit. Additional seat controls are located under the catalogue storage, which is located on the partition between the aisle and seat. The second reading light is located above the catalogues.
After exploring the seat, I was finally able to sit down and relax. I was once again welcomed to the flight, by various flight attendants and the purser, and was offered pre-departure Champagne and a light seafood snack. The champagne was excellent, while the snack wasn’t the best. A hot towel was included along with the snack.
Boarding was initially delayed by about an hour, however we ended up boarding a few minutes prior to scheduled departure time. We pushed back about twenty minutes past scheduled departure time, and made it to the runway ten minutes later. We finally departed about thirty minutes behind schedule, but still landed in Hong Kong right on time.
The amenity kit was large from the outside, but didn’t really contain that many items apart from a comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, earplugs, mouthwash, and some lotion. I did like the amenity kit overall, though.
Along with the amenity kit, was a pyjama kit which contained a pyjama, slippers, and an eye mask. The pyjama was comfortable and the slippers were the perfect size.
Once the seatbelt sign was turned off, the lead First Class flight attendant offered everyone a post-departure beverage along with warm, mixed nuts.
The IFE screen “flips” out and can be easily adjusted in different directions, which is useful. I had a look at Cathay Pacific’s IFE and there were a few great films and TV programmes, though I just decided to have the airshow on during the meal.
We were right over the centre of Poland as the main meal service began. Menus were distributed while we were still on the ground, though for some reason (excitement), I didn’t have a look until after departure. The menu was presented on a wooden “board” and while I kept the menu, I obviously returned the board. I also like how the menu contained both the food and drinks, I don’t like it when there are two separate menus – it just takes up more space and is a waste of paper.
The meal service began with Caviar and Champagne, a perfect match. The caviar was served with traditional garnishes of blinis, chive crème fraiche, and chopped egg.
A bread basket with various types of delicious, warm breads was nicely presented alongside of a glass of water. I continued with more champagne as my drink. Additional items for the meal included butter and olive oil.
The caviar was absolutely delicious and served directly from a can, which was classy. A beautiful Cathay Pacific branded spoon is included for the consumption of the caviar.
The first course of the meal was the caviar. Then for the following courses, there was a choice between International Favourites and Chinese Favourites. Both options featured a soup, followed by a salad, followed by a main course. The International Favourites featured more choices, though you can have a look at the menu above for more details.
The second course of the meal consisted of a sweet corn whiskey soup, which was delicious, but had a bit too much pepper. Overall a 9.5/10.
The third course consisted of a fish salad. It was a Smoked trout, mesclun salad with creamy lemon herb dressing. It was not quite as good as the soup, though still edible and fresh.
The fourth course was the main course, with three different options:
- Beef fillet and miso glazed shortribs, sweet corn mousseline and buttered vegetables
- Pistachio chicken supreme, taleggio polenta cake, roasted shallots and green zucchini
- Truffle tortellini, truffled butternut, grana padano
So, essentially: ribs, chicken, or pasta. I don’t like ribs and I didn’t feel like pasta.. so chicken it was. It’s so funny, in Economy airlines usually serve Chicken or Pasta, and then in First Class it is virtually the same – chicken or pasta (though obviously 100x better).
The final course of the meal consisted of Cheese and Dessert:
- Gorgonzola, Taleggio, Caciotta, Manchego
- Fresh seasonal berries, cream
- Apple and blackberry crumble, chocolate ice cream and vanilla sauce
- Red bean soup and lotus seeds
I was so full that I decided to skip the cheese and just enjoy the dessert. I also didn’t want to have too much for dessert since I was just so full at that point and all I wanted to do was sleep. I went with the fresh seasonal berries and cream, the duo was tasty, though not too sweet. To conclude the meal, I also asked for some tea.
Overall, the best part of the entire meal was the caviar (of course) and the soup. I didn’t find the other components of the meal to be too delicious or overly “wow”, they were still perfectly edible, however. The presentation of each item was stunning, and served on beautiful Chinese porcelain, I just loved it.
The meal service was concluded about 2.5 hours into the flight, at which point it was time to sleep. I didn’t sleep at all the night before (because of the crazy itinerary I had put together), so I was really looking forward to testing out Cathay Pacific’s famous bed.
I asked one of the flight attendants for the turndown service while I visited the lavatory. It was very stylish and contained basic amenities such as hand lotion. The lavatory definitely wasn’t the best First Class lavatory, though.
Doesn’t this bed look so comfortable? It was. And as you can see, the partition between the aisle and seat extends a bit for some privacy, which was enough. The bed was so comfortable and cosy that I slept for a majority of the flight and woke up about 2.5 hours prior to landing. A bottle of water was provided.
Breakfast service was scheduled to begin in about an hour or so, and therefore I decided to watch a movie and order a snack. The snack menu consisted of ice cream, soup, a burger, bread, quesadillas, etc. Ice cream seemed like the best option… The choices were cookies & cream, chocolate, or raspberry.
I think it’s awesome how the flight information and times are displayed on the IFE remote control, since that’s usually right next to you and you can have a quick glance and find out how many hours remain.
The ice cream was promptly served and thankfully, it wasn’t rock-hard! It definitely was delicious. In addition to the standard drinks such as tea, coffee, soda, alcohol, etc. Cathay Pacific also serves some other, unique drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), and one of them is hot chocolate. Let me just say that I love hot chocolate, so when I noticed it on the menu, I knew I had to have some.
It was perhaps the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had, it was that great. Along with the ice cream, it was the perfect combination. I decided to watch the new Star Wars since I couldn’t sleep any longer.
With about 1.5 hours to go, the breakfast service began. While a few people decided to sleep until landing, I decided to try some of the breakfast options. The entire breakfast service consisted of two courses – the starters and the main course.
The choices for the starters were:
- Orange or apple juice
- Mango buttermilk smoothie
- Fresh seasonal fruit
- Natural or fruit yoghurt
- Assorted cereals
I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry (especially after the main meal service just a few hour prior), so I had the fruit for the starter; all of the fruit was fresh.
Then it was time for the main course, which was a choice of:
- Free range eggs, freshly scrambled, fried or boiled pork sausage, streaky bacon, spinach, mushrooms and potatoes
- Slice beef congee, steamed shrimp rice roll
- Banana pancake, mascarpone and maple syrup
Honestly, the banana pancakes seemed like the lightest and “safest” option from the other choices, so I decided to try them. When coupled with the maple syrup, they were excellent. A glass of water and tea accompanied my breakfast.
A bread basket with assorted breakfast bread and fresh toast, preserves, honey and butter was also available.
The breakfast service was finished as we began our initial descend into Hong Kong. The captain announced we’d be landing shortly and thanked us for flying with Cathay Pacific, and once again apologised for the slight delay and hoped it didn’t cause too much inconvenience for anyone.
I turned on the forward camera and was amazed at how gorgeous Hong Kong and the surrounding areas looked, I was SO excited to finally be in Asia for the first time and couldn’t wait for the day ahead. Shortly before landing, the purser asked each First Class passenger how our flight was and thanked us for flying with Cathay Pacific. The other flight attendants also asked about our flight and I thanked them for the wonderful service.
We landed right on time and made it to the gate about seven minutes after landing. I once again thanked the entire crew for a wonderful flight and a great introduction to Asia.
Immigration was quick and I was headed into Hong Kong just thirty minutes after the door opened.
All in all, I had a wonderful flight experience with Cathay Pacific. I do have to note that the overall experience wasn’t as “amazing” as everyone claims Cathay Pacific to be. Don’t get me wrong, the crew was fantastic and most of the food was delicious, but I just didn’t feel that “personal touch” that I always feel with Lufthansa, for example.
I definitely will fly Cathay Pacific in the future, as I don’t recall the last time I was able to get so many hours of great sleep on an airplane. Everything about the flight was awesome, and I’m glad I was finally able to experience the famous Cathay Pacific First Class service.
That “something” atop the middle suites is the pilot rest area. If you ask, they’ll probably let you see it. YMMV whether they’ll let you photograph it though.
That’s awesome, I had no idea – thanks for sharing!
Oh, I would love to have such a seat in the planes that I use. It would be great!