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Topic: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: Kappel
Posted 2007-03-30 11:43:54 and read 12973 times.

After planning a HK city trip for almost 6 months, it was finally time to go. It would not only be my first trip on an a343 (or any Airbus widebody), also my first time with CX. Also my first time to Asia by the way.

I have noticed many comments, on a.net and Skytrax, about deteriorating service onboard CX, so I was very curious about what to expect. I am used to KLM service (long-haul) and was generally satisfied with that. My last trip was on a KLM 772, so this was a nice opportunity to compare these competing aircraft from a pax point of view. On this trip I was accompanied by my lovely wife.

AMS-HKG
Flight: CX270
Aircraft: A343
Reg: B-HXE
Gate: E19
Planned departure time: 13:15
Actual push back time: 13:15 (yep right on time, excellent)
Seat: 45K (the missus was in 45H)


B-HXE in full splendor at gate E19

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At check in I asked a lady from CX ground staff if the flight was full. According to her it was, and she also told me that almost all CX flights to/from AMS are packed. They went from 5 weekly to daily, but still it's always packed. I wonder if CX will be considering putting the 77W on this flight. She did not know that of course. At check in I inquired about a window seat. Alas, none were available. However, when she saw our Marco Polo cards she unblocked seats 45 H and K for us, which are reserved for overbooked Business seats. So we got our window seats anyway. Overall, check-in was a breeze, ground crew very friendly and helpful.

Anyway, at the gate it was obvious that the flight was indeed full. Again I was happy to have registered for the Marco Polo club, as it seemed that no-one else was. We were first in line for the Marco Polo/Business class boarding line and as such, the first pax to enter the aircraft (another first time!). First impression: aircraft not as cramped as some lead you to believe compared to the 772. Seats clean, pitch OK (I'm not very tall and the pitch is 1 or 2 inches more than KLM. Seat 45 H and K are in front of the restrooms, which means no-one sitting behind us. This was a big plus. Seatguru lists these as poor seats, but the pitch and recline were fine, so no complaints. Only drawback is the odour coming from the restroom after some-one made "number two".

As mentioned, push-back was right on time. Alas, we were to taxi to the "polder-baan". Anyone familiar with AMS knows this means a long taxi. (about 25 minutes). Meanwhile our Australian sounding captain informed us that the flight would take a little over 11 hours, which is shorter than planned, so we would arrive a bit earlier. Good news of course!! Finally, after arriving at 36L we took off. take-off felt powerful, and not at all like a popular a.net myth that the a343 can only take-off by the curvature of the earth.

Rotation at 36L:
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After a bit of a bumpy climb-out we finally leveled out at FL330. Later we would climb to FL370, only to descend to FL330 later on (due to turbulence).

Question: Why are FL's over China different? I always saw FL335, FL345, iso FL330, etc over China. Different rules?

Anyway, we had a very pleasant flight. As mentioned the seats were fine, everybody got an amenity kit (socks, tooth brush and mint, also sleeping mask on request) and the f/a's were very nice and attentive. Anytime someone pushed the call button, a f/a would be there within the minute (I also tried it out myself of course). So the service was clearly a step above KLM (to be clear, I have no problem with KLM service, it's just that CX is a cut above them). The only draw back is that IFE is not AVOD, like on KLM's 777's (and a332's and soon the MD11's). I did watch a few movies and Friends, but the uncertainty about when a movie would start was a bit annoying. Thankfully I have my Nintendo DS and iPod for such moments (and a good book of course). The flight went by pretty quickly, even though, unlike my wife, I did not sleep at all. I was thrilled when I felt the first sign of final descent.

Descent into HKG, slowing down:
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Descent was rapid (which gave my wife problems with her ears, poor thing Sad ) and slightly bumpy. It was unfortunately cloudy, but soon we could see the first fishing boats and container ships, and soon the hills of Hong Kong and were about to land.

Touchdown:
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After a very nice week in Hong Kong (awesome city!!! Clean, friendly, all the good things!!!) it was much too soon to say goodbye. Definitely a place worth visiting more than once, and a very nice introduction for me to Asia. At 20:30 it was time to head back to HKG airport. Now we finally got to appreciate how nice the airport is!! We are spoilt here with AMS, but HKG is a fantastic airport, so open and airy, it's amazing. Lots of shops, although we bought nothing, just coming from Kowloon, but still very nice!!! Check-in was again a breeze, this time we got seats 64H and K. My wife and I had agreed that I got the window seat to HKG and she to AMS. So I took 64H. This time not over the wing, but behind it, which resulted in some nice views during the flight. But more on that later.

HKG-AMS
Flight: CX271
Aircraft: A343
Reg: B-HXA
Gate: 2
Planned departure time: 00:05
Actual push back time: 00:10
Seat: 64H (the missus was in 64K)

Our flight was at gate 2. We arrived 1 1/2 hours before take-off, but B-HXA was already at the gate. At gates 3 and 4 there were 2 744's readying for departure to LHR, with half an hour between them. There was a Muslim man praying on the ground at gate 3, which undoubtedly made some people nervous!!  Wink My wife is also Muslim, but she usually prays more to herself. (I'm Catholic to be clear).

Boarding started about 40 minutes before departure, with the back rows called first. At first it seemed that the flight would be half empty, but alas, a lot of people were a bit later at the gate. The flight was absolutely packed again.

Again, the cabin looked clean and comfortable. The reason why on the flight to HKG I liked the fact that there was a wall behind us soon became a reality. A huge Dutch guy sat behind me, with his knees in the seat. This meant for me that I could hardly recline at all!! I prefer 45H/K anytime, I at least had decent recline in that seat, without complaints from somebody behind me!!

The captain (this time with a distinctly US accent) told us that due to strong headwinds the flight would be a bit longer than usual, at 13 hours. As a result we arrived at AMS 40 minutes later than planned (even though we left pretty much on time). I was not so happy with the flight time, but as I was really tired, I slept for most of the flight. Take-off was a bit more sluggish than at AMS, but I assume this is due to higher temperatures at HKG than AMS and the need for more fuel due to the headwinds. We climbed to FL275 and stayed there all the way to Russia. The first 2-3 hours were very bumpy (maybe due to the low FL?).

Cabin service was again excellent, our pre-ordered mails came quickly and was again very tasteful. The only draw-back to CX service is that they are slow to collect the meals afterwards, which is even worse for the people who receive theirs first (like us). Over Chine we had some very clear weather and excellent views of mountains and villages. Too bad it was night. We also had a nice conversation with the purser about aviation. CX has a very pleasant cabin crew!! Through the PA, they even encouraged chit-chat with them!!! After enjoying the meal and the views of Chine we went to sleep. Later on we had some other nice views.

St. Petersburg (somewhat blurred by the contrails of our aircraft):
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Siberia:
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Once over Russia, we climbed to FL340, and later on over European Russia to FL380, and stayed there until the top of descent point. Overall the flight went by quickly. I must have slept at least 8 hours, which is very unusual for me. I find it very hard to sleep on an aircraft, even long flights like this one (on my AMS-LAX-AMS trip I hardly slept for example, same goes for my frequent AMS-PBM-AMS trips).

As usual, descent into AMS was very gradual, and luckily my wife had no trouble with her ears hurting this time  Smile

Approach to AMS:
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The weather was very Dutch, lots of clouds. Welcome home indeed!!! To compound our already long flight, our captain (IIRC Lance Woodworth) announced we would be landing on... the Polderbaan. This made some connecting passengers a bit nervous, as we were already 40 minutes late. To me it made no difference of course.

Touchdown AMS (excuse the quality, you can imagine touching down is a bit bumpy):
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So, back again in dreary Holland, we disembarked, took one last picture of B-HXA that brought us back safely:
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Thankfully, Dutch customs did not stop us, and went home.

All in all a very nice experience. If this is a deteriorated service, they must have been awesome in the past. CX is clearly above KLM (although I do disprove of KLM's 3 star ranking at skytrax). IMHO CX is 5 star worthy, though I have yet to fly MH, SQ or QR. Nice ground crew in AMS and HKG, very friendly cabin crew, prompt service, and special meals are well taken care of. Thank you CX for a great experience, thank you Hong Kong for being such an awesome city and thank YOU for reading this long TR. I hope you enjoyed it a bit and of course any comments are welcome!!!

Kind regards,

Kappel.

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: StevAAn
Posted 2007-03-30 12:35:28 and read 12883 times.

Great TP! In the past I flew CX to MAN, from AMS, I thought their service was outstanding, even on such a short flight. I guess I'm lucky, my girlfriend always let me have the window seat  bigthumbsup 

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: MSYtristar
Posted 2007-03-30 17:04:07 and read 12548 times.

Nice report...I'll be taking CX this August for my first trip to Asia (JFK-YVR-HKG-SIN-HKG-LAX) and so far, I've read nothing but excellent comments in regards to its service!

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: Kappel
Posted 2007-03-30 19:00:42 and read 12322 times.

Quoting StevAAn (Reply 1):
Great TP!

Why are you comparing my TR with TP? Is it that bad?  Wink Thanks for honouring me with your first post BTW!

Quoting MSYtristar (Reply 2):
I'll be taking CX this August for my first trip to Asia (JFK-YVR-HKG-SIN-HKG-LAX) and so far, I've read nothing but excellent comments in regards to its service!

People that have been flying CX for years are complaining that the service level has declined over the years. But since I'm new to CX I have to say the service was great. Especially compared to European and North American airlines the service is outstanding, so I think you'll enjoy the flight. I hope you like Hong Kong as much as I did! My next Asian trip will be Singapore and Malaysia. I have yet to decide when though.

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: EGBJ
Posted 2007-03-30 19:24:49 and read 12272 times.

Thanks YOU for such a great TR Big grin

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: Kappel
Posted 2007-03-30 19:50:09 and read 12228 times.

Quoting EGBJ (Reply 4):
Thanks YOU for such a great TR

Thanks man. I still have my AMS-JFK-AMS (KLM 772) trip to write (from last october). Maybe I'll get to it one of these days.

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: MSYtristar
Posted 2007-03-30 21:38:43 and read 12050 times.

Quoting Kappel (Reply 3):
I hope you like Hong Kong as much as I did!

Unfortunately, HKG will just be a transfer point for me for this trip. I will overnight in Singapore only. That being said, I can't wait to see the HKG airport. It looks fantastic!

Quoting Kappel (Reply 3):
Especially compared to European and North American airlines the service is outstanding, so I think you'll enjoy the flight.

I'll be curious to compare CX to the likes of AF and LH, whom I thought offered outstanding service.

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: Ryanair!!!
Posted 2007-03-31 02:41:36 and read 11676 times.

Quoting Kappel (Thread starter):
So the service was clearly a step above KLM (to be clear, I have no problem with KLM service, it's just that CX is a cut above them).

CX has always been compared to SQ (sometimes the other way round) and these two airlines operate under the same model ie. 100% international routes. Therefore, the former's service has always been above average so if they so happen to deteriorate sometimes (as they do), service levels are still WAY above your US and European based carriers.

I had ONE very bad flight on KLM's renowned World Business Class and I felt very sidelined to be treated the way I was. Click on the link below. The return flight was better, but still lacking in the crisp and proper service that we are used to when dealing with Asian based carriers.

Singapore to Jakarta on KLM World Business Class

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: BA319-131
Posted 2007-03-31 03:07:10 and read 11648 times.

Nice report, many thanks.

Quoting Kappel (Thread starter):
when she saw our Marco Polo cards she unblocked seats 45 H and K for us, which are reserved for overbooked Business seats

- That was good of her.

Quoting MSYtristar (Reply 6):
I can't wait to see the HKG airport. It looks fantastic!

- It's, only been there once, but look forward toi going back one day.

Rgds

Mark

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: CXtra
Posted 2007-03-31 03:17:27 and read 11634 times.

Hello and thanks for the report.. very interesting given that I'll be doing BNE-HKG-AMS and AMS-HKG-SYD on CX next Thursday, using AMS as a transit point. Luckily for me, I'll be in J. Hopefully I'll find time to post a report, which should provide quite a nice comparison with your experience!

Quoting Kappel (Thread starter):
very nice week in Hong Kong (awesome city!!! Clean, friendly, all the good things!!!)

Totally agree with you. Fortunately, I'm able to stop over in HKG fairly frequently which provides a good idea of how the place progresses. Unfortunately the government is getting rid of some historical icons such as the Star Ferry Pier in Central which many people are unhappy with. Still, though, it retains more energy than anywhere else I've been.

Quoting Kappel (Thread starter):

I have noticed many comments, on a.net and Skytrax, about deteriorating service onboard CX, so I was very curious about what to expect

Yes, the Skytrax passenger comments page seems to be rather overwhelmingly negative but really only in relation to Y. People are complaining mainly about the deteriorating nature of their old 744s and some other a/c that have been around for a bit. From what people say, CX have neglected their Y-class a bit, though when the innovative new seats are released this should be completely reversed. I'd be interested to hear whether you noted any wear and tear on those 2-class 343s (34D), particularly HXA which is the oldest of the type in the fleet.

Quoting Kappel (Thread starter):
According to her it was, and she also told me that almost all CX flights to/from AMS are packed. They went from 5 weekly to daily, but still it's always packed.

Is this mainly with Holland-originating pax or connections to places like the UK where AMS can be used as a springboard for KLM's extensive European nework and the plethora of low-cost flights?

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: B-HXB
Posted 2007-03-31 07:41:31 and read 11397 times.

China directs traffic in metric rather than feet, so what you see on the airshow is essentially a conversion from a 'round' metric figure, e.g. 8000m.

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: Kappel
Posted 2007-03-31 08:13:36 and read 11376 times.

Thank you all for the positive comments. It seems that I have deleted a few pictures by accident, sorry about that. I don't think I can get them back though...

Quoting CXtra (Reply 9):
I'd be interested to hear whether you noted any wear and tear on those 2-class 343s (34D), particularly HXA which is the oldest of the type in the fleet.

The 34D's i flew on were in excellent condition, looked like new. I saw no wear and tear on the seats or the rest of the cabin for that matter. I saw planes in worse condition on other airlines that were younger.

Quoting CXtra (Reply 9):
Is this mainly with Holland-originating pax or connections to places like the UK where AMS can be used as a springboard for KLM's extensive European nework and the plethora of low-cost flights?

I noticed quite a few Spanish people on the flight. These flights also have an IB flight number (code-share). I think the Dutch people account for less than half of the pax, and most don't even stop in HKG, but are on their way to Indonesia. I was told a lot of people also transit to Taiwan.

Quoting B-HXB (Reply 10):
China directs traffic in metric rather than feet, so what you see on the airshow is essentially a conversion from a 'round' metric figure, e.g. 8000m.

I had a feeling that was the case, thanks for confirming. I did found it curious that we were "only" at FL275 over China though. As far as I can remember, I have never flown so low the first few hours of any flight.

Quoting CXtra (Reply 9):
Yes, the Skytrax passenger comments page seems to be rather overwhelmingly negative but really only in relation to Y.

Skytrax comments in general seem to be overwhelmingly negative. I have learned to take it not too seriously, as it seems only negative comments are posted.

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: 9VSRH
Posted 2007-04-01 03:09:57 and read 10951 times.

Quoting Kappel (Reply 11):
Quoting B-HXB (Reply 10):
China directs traffic in metric rather than feet, so what you see on the airshow is essentially a conversion from a 'round' metric figure, e.g. 8000m.

I had a feeling that was the case, thanks for confirming. I did found it curious that we were "only" at FL275 over China though. As far as I can remember, I have never flown so low the first few hours of any flight.

Great report really interesting stuff.

Your initial cruising level was Flight Level 8400m (FL276). China's FLs are different to the rest of the modern world, there are massive steps up of about 1200m and so it takes longer to be able to burn off the fuel to climb higher, a probability is that there was also traffic outbound from Hong Kong above you that had filed at FL9600m (FL315), thus keeping you down. (CX flights to Europe usually take the same routing through China).

Hope this makes a little sense

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: Kappel
Posted 2007-04-01 09:34:06 and read 10782 times.

Quoting 9VSRH (Reply 12):
Your initial cruising level was Flight Level 8400m (FL276). China's FLs are different to the rest of the modern world, there are massive steps up of about 1200m and so it takes longer to be able to burn off the fuel to climb higher, a probability is that there was also traffic outbound from Hong Kong above you that had filed at FL9600m (FL315), thus keeping you down. (CX flights to Europe usually take the same routing through China).

Hope this makes a little sense

It sure does, thanks.  bigthumbsup 

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: Ronerone
Posted 2007-04-02 14:18:09 and read 10218 times.

Very nice report indeed! It is always great to read a report on Cathay!

Quoting Kappel (Thread starter):
Anytime someone pushed the call button, a f/a would be there within the minute

This is one main thing that had me astonished all throughout my one-time CX journey  Smile

I highly doubt that i will ever find excellence in cabin crew and service as i did with CX  Smile

Thanx for taking time to post this TR  Smile

Roni.

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: MH017
Posted 2007-04-02 14:24:45 and read 10215 times.

Quoting Kappel (Thread starter):
Question: Why are FL's over China different? I always saw FL335, FL345, iso FL330, etc over China. Different rules?

Kappel,

Great TR and photos ! Too bad a few of those weren't 'turned' into the proper way: your descent into HKG seems a bit steep this way  Smile

China, like Russia, is still using metres and not feet, maybe that's the reason ?

Topic: RE: AMS-HKG-AMS With CX In Economy (pics)
Username: Kappel
Posted 2007-04-02 15:30:48 and read 10160 times.

Quoting MH017 (Reply 15):
Great TR and photos ! Too bad a few of those weren't 'turned' into the proper way: your descent into HKG seems a bit steep this way

Yep straight down, no wonder my wife had ear problems!!  Big grin


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