Aircraft Type: 777-300ER
Class: Business Class
Date: 1st December 2013
Best for: Passengers wanting no-fuss elegant luxury, space and dining flying to and from Hong Kong.
Most likely to sit next to: A mix of couples, suited business men and mainly passengers that keep themselves to themselves.
Business or pleasure: Whilst there is no Wi-Fi on board, the lounges make up for this, and with power ports, more storage cubby holes than a locker-room and a large table and other surfaces, it’s easy to set up office. Although dining and entertainment are hard to ignore.
Routes: Cathay fly to all the major cities in the northern hemisphere, and a strong selection in the southern hemisphere. The new business class is being rolled out and can be found on a good selection of routes now.
Frequent Flyer Programme: Marco Polo Club, a great earner, that allows you access to a fleet of OneWorld lounges and perks. Premium Economy offers an extra 25% mileage accrual on flights compared to the Economy Class.
Best bits: Huge amounts of space, excellent dining and privacy.
Worst bits: The only negative we can find is that the collapsable armrest is a little too far away from the seat, making it less of an armrest, and more of a mini-privacy screen. That’s really the only negative!
Cathay Pacific Business Class Report
We had to make this trip back shortly after flying out in Premium Economy to Hong Kong, which meant we were a little more tired than usual when checking in (so much so, we almost checked in at Dragonair’s check in desks). Don’t get us wrong, the premium economy experience was still wonderful, and not a tiring experience, but with jet lag and only 5 hours until take off again, we were looking forward to a bit of luxury and a flat bed to get a full night’s sleep.
Checking in, when we walked along to check-in zone B, was a breeze, with many counters and very little passengers. Cathay benefits from having four full check-in rows at HKG to cope with the large amount of passengers. This large amount of check-in desks gives the illusion of space and tranquility, and makes the whole experience pleasurable. Within two minutes we were with boarding passes in hand and making our way through to immigration. Immigration was short lived, as was passport control. From here we headed off to the lounges. It is safe to say the lounges are phenomenal, and recently were awarded our TheDesignAir Top Airline Lounge of 2013. But the lounges (all 6 of them) deserve their own post, so please stay tuned for that!
The aircraft, like most of the London flights are situated next to The Wing, the largest of the lounges, and just before boarding we headed out to the gate. The gate agents managed to calmly organise the passengers already at the gates, forming them into lines of First Class, Business Class and Economy passengers. (Even though there was no First Class on this flight, top level Marco Polo club members and OneWorld members could still use the lane) We were the first to board and enjoyed the fact Hong Kong utilises two air-bridges at Hong Kong, boarding premium passengers through the first door of the aircraft.
Turning right we were presented by a very neat and ‘architectural’ cabin. Clean lines, an organised repetitive seating configuration and calm white lighting created a sense of calm and elegance during the boarding process. We had seat 19A, the last of the seats in the front of the two business class cabins. According to most reviews, it’s one of the worst seats in the cabin due to its proximity to the galley and the fact the seat is missing a window. That said, there is still a window to look out of (although shared with the seat in front) and in our opinion, the galley wasn’t a nuisance at all. In fact, on the other side of the galley was a large toilet so was conveniently placed if you needed to use the facilities, so if this is the worst seat, we couldn’t care less! It’s brilliant.
What is nice to see is the neutral colour palette used, meaning the cabin colour mimics the mood lighting that floods the cabin that changes in coloursthroughout the flight. Also found on the bulkheads in the cabin are works of Asian-inspired art. These little flashes of colour help lift and create focus, further enhancing the experience, and helping tie it in with the design and ethos of the lounges.
Here’s a tip, although perhaps an unusual one. The toilets throughout the cabin vary. Perhaps due to the fact the 777-300ER has a few differing configurations. The toilet at the front of the aircraft (next to the flight deck door) is by far the best one. Large, (but not the largest) the facilities feature a wonderful sink, lots of lighting and mirrors, fresh cut flowers, Jurlique products and an electronic mixer tap. These are small details perhaps, but it shows the level of detail found in the cabin.
The seat by far is one of the best we’ve flown on. Large, spacious and angled towards the window (or towards your fellow passenger in the centre of the cabin). Once sat you immediately get a sense of privacy and space. Unlike the previous incarnation of the Cathay business class seat, or competitors seats such as Virgin, Air New Zealand or British Airways, these new seats don’t feel like coffins, or like passengers are crammed in like sardines, in fact because you are facing away from other passengers you don’t even realise there are other people in the cabin until they stand up.
The seat has an amazing array of cubby holes. It took us 15 minutes to locate them all. Which is good, but also gives the possibility of leaving personal items onboard when you leave! One of the cubby holes even has a mirror, perfect for ladies who want to check their make-up when they wake up. There are also an array of lights, a personal light, the aircraft’s reading light and an ambient light that illuminates one of the storage compartments next to the seat, meaning you can create a brilliant selection of mood lighting depending on your requirements.
The seat itself was wide, and the cushioning firm, but soft enough to relax back into. As the seat motors it way into a fully flat bed, a side flap raises up, giving the middle section of the seat a further 4-5″ of seat width. With the armrest down, the seat is super wide, but with the armrest up, you gain a little more privacy and security. The bed is mammoth in length. Even for someone 5’11”, there is another half foot of space at least and that makes for a comfortable sleep. According to Cathay Pacific, the seat extends to a 6’10” bed.
There is also a super huge fold out table, that means dining is a treat, and whilst the table won’t move from its position, the seat moves to the table, which takes some getting used to, but still allows for full comfort whilst dining. The TV screen is also a treat, when stowed it allows the passenger to enjoy all the space of the mini-suite. When popped out though, it sits comfortably a few feet away from the viewer, allowing 15.4″ of touch-screen viewing pleasure.
Although our experience didn’t vary much from our Premium Economy experience in this regard, StudioCX is brilliant, and even on two 12 hour (plus) flights we hadn’t even dipped into the library of films and TV programmes on offer. Supported by a selection of reading material and a great noise-cancelling headset, there was enough to keep anyone of any age amused even through the longest of their flights. The best elements though especially during climb-out or landing, was the behind the nose-wheel camera, and whilst the picture quality was a little grainy, it provided an interesting insight into what the aircraft was actually capable of. The whole system was responsive and intuitive, and had a full selection of their onboard shopping too, with some great imagery to support the items, making shopping a whole lot easier.
Now this was impressive even for seasoned travellers like us. The food preparation perhaps isn’t as refined as it can be on other carriers, but the taste, quantity and service behind it made up for this ten-fold. A mix of Asian and Western meals were available and whilst the beef course for our main looked amazing, it was perhaps a little on the heavy side. We opted for the steamed fish with jasmine rice that was so fresh and flaky it was as if it had been cooked in a fine-dining restaurant. When we saw the lighter ‘Tapas style’ dish go past, the cabin crew picked up on our curiosity and quickly offered a portion to us to taste. As it was so rude to say no, no sooner had we finished the fish course, our plates were removed and replaced with a new tray of European tapas, including fresh octopus, skewered prawns and a variety of pickled roasted vegetables.
December is Cathay’s Wine month, and onboard we were presented with an alternative list of 4 French wines which our cabin crew were eager for us to try. In total we experienced 6 tasting glasses (small) of wine and enjoyed every single one of them. Their wine selections are superb and work well at altitude, when normally your taste buds are letting you down.
After dinner, chocolates were served along with desert and then even Haagen Daas ice cream was only a call-bell away. After this major feast, a hot chocolate and jasmine tea later it was time to drift off into a peaceful slumber.
A solid, and we mean solid, 6 hours later, we were gradually woken up by the shifting light in the cabin, and peacefully inclined ourselves to a decent seating position. From here, attentive cabin crew quickly prepared us for breakfast, which again, was a feast in itself. Not brave enough for the Asian congee (Which we were promised was amazing), we were presented with a wonderful fruit platter, followed by pastries, including a divine green tea muffin. Obviously this was then followed by a wonderful English breakfast of potatoes, eggs and bacon and the usual sides, all hot and bringing back memories of the kind of breakfasts your mother used to make.
In all, the food is exceptional in Cathay Pacific and truly is a delight to enjoy.
Cathay have got the business class experience completely right. Not too overpowering, the service and product offering fits around the passenger, rather than the passenger having to fit itself around the product. Magazines are there if you want them, you jacket is taken from you as soon as you get to your seat and is carefully returned to your seat on a hook before you land, even before you ask for it. The headphones are hidden away, and work beautifully, the seat cradles you in almost any position you can dream of. The Jurlique products in the bathroom are a delight, and the Agnes B amenity kit (for men and one for women) are full of everything you need, including a shoehorn for your swollen feet on arrival. The service is constantly there, but doesn’t intrude. It’s a Ying and Yang affair with Cathay, when you need something it’s there and when you need privacy you have it. The products you need you have, and none of the bits that clutter your space. It’s that perfect balance that makes the business class product work.
The other lovely element is the fast track immigration invitation, which works wonderfully if you aren’t a UK citizen coming into Heathrow’s Terminal 3, although don’t make the mistake we did. If you have a UK passport, it can be quicker just to go into the regular immigration lanes. Oh, and as for leaving your items in the various storage compartments? Fear not, as cabin crew quickly sweep the cabin afterwards to check for any missing items.
Our experience, which in no way did the cabin crew alter because we were doing a review, was nothing short of perfection. The service, hard product, lounges and food and beverage offerings were excellent and reinforces our position that Cathay Pacific rank number 1 in our Top 10 Business Classes 2013. Many airlines are improving their product and service offering right now, and many need to come into line with Cathay, whose quiet confidence is well deserved. We can’t wait to travel with Cathay Pacific again, and we strongly suggest you experience them yourself soon (especially during wine month!).
The full picture