REVIEW – DNATA Lounge, Singapore Changi T1
January 29, 2017
REVIEW – Intercontinental Hong Kong (Harbour View Room)
February 5, 2017

REVIEW – Cathay Pacific : Business Class – Singapore to Hong Kong (A330-Regional Config)

Cathay Pacific (CX)

  • Flight: CX
  • Class: Business Class (Regional)
  • From: Singapore (SIN)
  • To: Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Duration: 3hr55
  • Aircraft: Airbus A330
  • Seat: 14K
  • Status during flight: OneWorld Sapphire
  • Booking type: Cash fare
  • Date: January 2016

Our beautiful CX A330 blending in very well with the pale greys of this overcast morning in Hong Kong

Much like its Asian rival SQ , Cathay Pacific operates a fleet of exclusively wide bodied aircraft. In the past I had been lucky enough to get the very comfortable reverse-herringbone seats, used for long-haul flights, on shorter regional hops. This was to be my first taste of the famed “ass killer” seats.

Whilst the colour palette is very soothing and the cabin feels quite bright (due to not having private seats covering the windows), my initial impressions weren’t great.

There’s no way around the fact that this is a serious step below the long haul seats. Whilst this is markedly superior to the vast majority of European carriers’ business class cabins, this is a bit of a step back for Asia. This is a continent where even 1 hour hops tend to get you a wide and thickly padded reclining chair.

These slimline seats look more akin to what you see in long-haul premium economy cabins.

The staff were all smiles and came around offering pre-departure drinks whilst showing people to their seats, helping with bags and hanging jackets. Somehow they made it all look very easy. CX tends to be very impressive in this regard; boarding is always quick and controlled whilst remaining courteous and proactive. The cabin crew were able to easily pass tasks back and forth to one another, whilst never missing a beat.

The A330 features these seats in a 2-2-2 configuration which means that the majority of people have aisle access. On the 777 however, the exact same seats come in a 2-3-2 configuration, meaning that there are people crammed into a middle seat… in business class!


The winged headrests and curved sides add some comfort to the seat.


I quite like the green colour of Cathay’s seats, it’s almost like a Donegal tweed.


One of my favourite things about flying CX is that I know the power sockets will always fit my devices! Hong Kong is one of the few places on earth that uses the same power sockets as the UK.


Lots of nice details here. I really like how they placed a USB socket next to the mobile phone holder, unfortunately the holder is too small for the current generation of smartphones. Kamara’s retro iPhone 5C fit just fine though 🙂 It’s nice to have a coat hook as well, otherwise it can be annoying having to drape a jacket over yourself during landing. As far as the IFE is concerned, Studio CX has a deserved reputation as being one of the best in the business, although the content did seem a little pared down versus the spectacular volume of content I remember from flights in the long haul configuration.


The fixed shell seats mean that nobody will recline into your space and legroom is ample. I’m 5’11” and had no trouble at all stretching out. I also like how much space there is between the seats and the fuselage. Plenty of space for a backpack or soft duffel bag.


I love the contrasting CX orange and green colour scheme. I particularly like how they use this geometric Chinese motif inside pockets and cupboards. The seat controls are not exactly hi-tech but they do the job.


Plenty of room to stretch out and you are guaranteed to have no issues with reclining as each seat sits within a fixed shell. When I’m in a regular economy seat (on those very rare occasions 😀 ) I’m always super self-conscious about reclining into somebody else’s space. Actually this probably bothers me more than having somebody recline into mine! For sleeping though, this seat is not comfortable at all, the recline is nowhere near flat. In fact, the fixed shell mechanism means that the more you recline the seat, the more contorted and uncomfortable you become. My ass definitely started to go numb after an hour or so.


Menus were handed out pre-takeoff and given the short flight time, the cabin crew took the opportunity to take people’s drink orders before we were airborne. This meant that my drink and ramekin of warm cashews made it to me in record time

Seared tuna Niçoise, mixed garden salad with Oriental dressing and garlic bread

There was no choice of starter, everybody got the same salad and salad combo. The tuna was a little bland and the plating could use some work, the plastic pots are hardly ‘premium’ (I did like the little, porcelain butter container though).  The garlic bread was as good as always, I find that a wild Pavlovian response kicks in when I’m on one of the Asian carriers and the smell of garlic bread begins to permeate the cabin.

As our starter plates were cleared the cabin crew came through with a trolley of the available main courses. I quite like the fact that you can see your food before choosing what you want to eat. I opted for the beef cheek whilst K went with the fillet of sole.

Braised beef cheek, vegetables and Swiss style barley.

The beef was exquisitely tender and had a rich savoury taste. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: slow cooked braising cuts are easier to reheat, cheaper and taste better than most airlines’ attempts at steak. The vegetables retained a decent crunch and the barley made for a considered and delicious alternative to rice.

Fillet of sole, prawn and water chestnut, chilli crab sauce, long cabbage, pepper, black wood ear and egg fried rice (brevity is not a feature of CX’s menu descriptions)

After our trays were cleared, the most charming and nostalgic aspect of the CX meal service came into play: the dessert trolley. There’s something that I really love about the crew wheeling an elegant trolley though the cabin, draped with white linen, carrying a beautifully presented selection of cheeses, fresh fruit, desserts and port (as well as a fully stocked bar for anybody requiring a top up).

The Cathay Pacific dessert trolley


Full from my two breakfasts, I went with a small plate of fresh strawberries and papaya.


This was followed by a potent double espresso

After the meal I tried a variety of reclining positions in a bid to get comfortable but never quite managed it. Still, with only a couple of hours to kill I was able to enjoy a quick movie before switching to the wonderful views out of the window.

HK Weather Observatory on Tai Mo Shan

Conclusion

Cathay Pacific’s soft product is great, the food and beverage were simple and delicious and the dessert trolley was a wonderful touch.

The seats are not the best though and I feel that CX has learnt nothing from the debacle with its similar shell design in economy. For a market leading airline, I would expect a lie flat product or at least more padding and a real, deep recline for flights over 3 hours.

Still, coming from Europe, this beats the hell out of anything we get from the likes of BA, IB, LX, LH etc.

 

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