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REVIEW – Cathay Pacific : Business Class – Hong Kong to London (B77W)

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Cathay Pacific (CX)

  • Flight: CX251
  • Class: Business Class
  • From:Hong Kong (HKG)
  • To: London Heathrow (LHR)
  • Duration: 13hr05
  • Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
  • Seat: 18K
  • Status during flight: OneWorld Sapphire
  • Booking type: Cash fare
  • Date: January 2016


Transfer in HKG

We touched down on time at around 9pm local time, leaving us with a comfortable 3 hours before our scheduled departure on CX251 to LHR. At HKG you are required to clear transfer security in order to move from the lower arrivals floor, back upstairs to departures. There is no fast track but as we were amongst the first to disembark from the plane we were able to make it there before things got too backed up.

Given that we were flying business and only held OneWorld Sapphire status at the time, our lounge choice was easy, particularly since CX flights to LHR always seem to depart from the low numbered gates.

 

Qantas First and Business Class Lounge HKG

I’ve reviewed the Qantas HKG Lounge a couple of times before:

2014
2016

This was the first time that I’d passed through in the evening though, when the lounge tends to get busier. I’m happy to say that things ran just as smoothly as when the lounge is in the midst of one of its quieter periods.

Knowing that these were the final hours of my holiday and that I would be in the office the following morning, I did the obvious thing… headed straight to the bar and ordered a Gin Espresso Martini.

Qantas lounge HKG - Espresso Martini

Perfectly executed. The espresso was pulled first and allowed to cool whilst the other ingredients were being assembled (it’s an espresso martini not an Americano martini after all;) ). When the barman took a spoon and reached into the coffee bean container of the machine in order to find the garnish, I couldn’t help but think how the guys here put every other lounge in the World to shame – with the exception of the JL lounge in NRT.

A selection of self-serve wines is also available for anybody who prefers these to cocktails.


The dinner selection was extremely fresh, healthy and delicious. The way the bowls were piled high reminded me of Aussie and Kiwi coffee shops (where a small serving would probably set you back $15!)


Qantas lounge HKG buffet

The eggs with perfectly crunchy green beans and parmesan were really exceptional. The egg yolks were particularly impressive, the yolks were just runny enough that they turned into a savoury custard when broken into.


The real star of the dinner menu was the meatball dish though.


A glass of Aussie chardonnay, eggs, fresh vegetables and those amazing fresh ground meatballs. Not a bad final meal of the trip 😀


Qantas Lounge HKG sweets

I’m not much of a dessert guy but here are the options for those who are

After an hour and a half here we made our way over to the business class section of the Wing. We figured we could spend 2o minutes or so waiting there before heading immediately downstairs to our flight.

Unfortunately when we arrived we were told that our flight had been delayed by an hour. This then became two hours… another, later, Heathrow flight boarded and took off – we watched it push back from the balcony of the lounge.

Communication throughout was extremely poor. Announcements made the usual “aircraft rotation” excuse for our delay. Finally, at 2:10am we boarded our flight home. I had been expecting to touch down at 5:55am with plenty of time to get showered and make my way to the office the following morning. Instead, I was now facing a rush to make it to work in anything resembling reasonable time.

Still there were a good 12 hours of flying time ahead of me before I had to worry about that 😉

 

Flight : CX251

Given the delayed departure, most people were quite cranky and really just wanted to get to sleep. The crew were absolutely fantastic though and did everything thy could to apologise for the delay (although it clearly wasn’t their fault) and to make sure that each guest was made comfortable.

We were greeted with warm towels and offered a choice of PDB . I figured I might as well have one more glass of the delicious Billecart Salmon.

Pre-departure beverages

Cathay (CX) business class - B77W

Whilst I would normally opt for a window seat in the mini-cabin, we were only shifted onto this flight at the last minute and so made do with a pair of middle seats at the very front of the main cabin.

Our seats at the front of the main cabin: 16D and 16G

To the crew’s credit, the meal service was started as soon as humanly possible and they were as quiet as possible, so as not to disturb those who were already sleeping. I wasn’t really hungry but thought I’d order the duck salad; we still had a long flight ahead of us and no healthy options on the mid-flight snack menu.

The flight attendant seemed genuinely shocked when I said that I only wanted this!

“No bread, no starter? At least let me bring you some Grissini, just in case you change your mind and get hungrier.”

Cathay (CX) business class - B77W - food

The food was ok but definitely nowhere near as good as what BA was serving on the outbound flight – both in terms of presentation and in terms of taste.


Cathay (CX) business class - B77W - food

Kamara went with the sweet and sour prawns which were a little rubbery and came with white rice and overcooked, yellowing broccoli

After the meal service I went straight to sleep and didn’t wake up until we were 45 minutes away from LHR. This was absolutely a functional rather than aspirational business class trip for me (although the inherent luxury of being able to view business class travel as functional is by no means lost on me 🙂 ).

 

Conclusion

Given that I flew the LHR-HKG on both Cathay business and British Airways Club World, it makes sense to directly compare the two.

Seating

The CX reverse herringbone business class seat is often used as the benchmark for what is acceptable in a business class product nowadays. For a daytime flight I absolutely agree. It supplies storage, comfort and direct aisle access to every single passenger. There really are no bad seats on Cathay, it’s nicer to get a window seat of course but it isn’t a massive downgrade to end up in a middle seat.

For a night flight though I have to say I preferred a window seat on BA. I know that sometimes I can come across as harsh when evaluating British Airways but actually their A380s offer a great seat with tons of storage and counter space and almost complete privacy. The bed is more comfortable than CX or AA’s reverse herringbone designs and your feet are completely free to move.

If you end up in any other Club World seat though, you are totally screwed. BA seating is a lottery. The worst part is that they charge for seat selection because they know that people will pay in order not to end up in 71% of the upstairs seats or 75% of the lower deck seats.

Think about that for a second. You pay for business class and then are effectively held to ransom because nearly three quarters of the seats are terrible.

 

Service

This shitty attitude towards customers was also reflected in the service on my BA flight. Here the contrast was like night and day. The CX staff were very warm, caring and engaging. On BA the crew forgot to serve my main course and didn’t even apologise, “I was busy chatting” was the justification I was offered.

 

Food

The food was clearly better on BA and the new presentation really puts CX to shame.

 

Punctuality

BA were on time whilst in my experience CX are one of the most consistently delayed airlines.

 

 

Overall

So which would I recommend? If you can guarantee an upper deck window seat and you get a good crew BA wins. Otherwise I’d opt for CX every time.

 

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