I've just completed a trip from Perth-Hong Kong and return on Cathay Pacific Business Class; Hong-Kong-Shanghai return on Dragonair Business Class; and Shanghai-Beijing return on Shanghai Airlines economy. I'll split the report into threee bite-sized pieces, rather than test your staying power with one long report. So firstly, to Hong Kong with Cathay.
I'd been looking forward to this leg, as Hong Kong is one of my favourite places (even without the added bonus of a Kai Tak arrival), and my previous experiences with CX have been very good. This was to be no exception.
Perth wasn't too busy in the middle of the day, so check-in, customs, security were all cleared quickly, allowing time to look at the shops and relax in the Qantas Club lounge.
CX170 170 had a scheduled departure of 1220 and left a few minutes ahead of schedule, with a flight time estimated at 7 hours 13 minutes, which proved to be spot on.
CX uses an A330 for this service, with "regional" J Class seating of 2-2-2 at 45" pitch - a bit less generous than their international pitch (and much less than the new business class bed seating), but fine for regional routes. I supose it could be argued that a 7-plus hours international flight is marginally more 'international" than 'regional", but the seating was fine.
The A330 is quiet, and ideal for this run.
Meal service was lunch after take-off and a light meal before arrival. The main meal appetiser was minced pork with water chestnut and mint, served on a lettuce leaf. Very nice, but (for me, anyway), a bit messy to eat. The usual salad and smoked salmon rosette followed, then a choice of beef in red wine; Garoupa with ginger and corianeder; Indian butter chicken; or a Vegetarian pasta with pumpkin, spinach and cheese sauce. Then big choices of cheese, fruit, dessert, etc. Excellent meal, and I chose the chicken largely because of the Palliser estate Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc on offer. (Sorry if this sounds like a food and wine review, but it was a really nice meal!)
The amenities kit is also good - a see-through grey (for men, electric blue for women) wet-pack with a nice range of toiletries including (for men) mouthwash, the usual socks, toothbrush, eyeshades, etc., plus Biotherm detoxifying moisturiser, ant-fatigue energy booster and a lip balm.
There was a large range of movie entertainment, although I found the CXStudio entertainment guide, covering 35 pages, to be initially a bit hard to follow. In the end, I just surfed the channels and chose my movies that way. One of the enjoyable things about movies on planes is that you generally forget most of them anyway, so it's a good chance to watch something you may otherwise not bother with. On this occasion it was "Monsoon Wedding", an absolutely hilarious Indian film (in Indian and English, with some additional English subtitles), which has only had a limited theatre release. Very, very funny (and with some subtitles that clearly hadn't been modified!). Also watched The Shipping News (which was better than I had expected) and Rush Hour 2, as there's no better person to prepare you for Hong Kong than good old Jackie Chan!
There was a bit of cross-wind turbulence in the north of Australia, and the usual equatorial cloud build-up which caused some bumps, but otherwise a smooth trip.
Before landing there was a noodles and savouries buffet selection, plus sandwiches, satay, ice cream and pastries.
The crew was continually attentive and friendly. The Business cabin is large - seven rows, six abreast, and service starts from the back row port side, works forward, and then re-starts at the back row starboard side - so it can be a bit of an initial wait if you are forward on the HJ side. I was in 12 H, third row from the front. However, once started, it flows very smoothly.
We arrived on time, and I was farewelled at the door by name by the chief Purser (even though she had only personally attended to me twice in the seven hours - early in the flight.) I was very impressed at this attention to detail.
Before travelling on (later reports) we overnighted at the Regal Airport, with a good view on some night landings (but sadly nothing to see the next morning). Room 7082 if you're interested. Great ease of connection to and from the airport.
HONG KONG - PERTH
Two weeks later we returned to Perth. Arrived early to sample the delights of the amazing Chep Lap Kok terminal (and allow for the l-o-n-g t-r-e-k to gate 67). Fortunately the Pier/Wing lounge was adjacent, with nice snacks and drinks.
Again an A330 for the overnight flight to Australia. Departure on time at 2355, with a flight time of 7 hours 20 minutes. (Make that 7 hours 20 minutes of non-stop heavy turbulence!). The combination of a developing system in the South China sea, the equatorial build-up, and extremely strong winds all the way along the Australian coast made for very rough night. Even the little aircraft on the airshow display kept swinging from one side to another. Cute, but uncomfortable!
Supper and breakfast were on offer, with heated macadamia nuts served with pre-dinner drinks. Very Nice! Supper was salad, beef and chili sauce or grilled salmon fillet; plus a lighter choice of noodles or pizza, then the usual cheese, dessert, fruits. Breakfast was a choice of a substantial continental breakfast selection, or a big selection of scrambled eggs, sausages, steak, tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes, etc. Also muffins, breads and the usual accompaniments. The tea and coffee service was largely dictated by turbulence. I love the Cathay plates, with their swirls of color, and the big mugs for tea and coffee.
Different amenities pack on the way back - similar items, with minor variations, but a larger and much more impressive wet-pack in pale grey (for men) and white (for women).
Big movie selection again - I watched Gosford Park, and parts of Collateral Damage, in between trying to sleep, unsuccessfully.
Again the crew were outstanding, and service was first class. Passengers who fly into Australia will be familiar with the dreaded aerosol spray before arrival, and the "welcome" video. And just to prove they are human, the crew started to screen the "Welcome to Hong Kong" video by mistake. Frightened a few half-awake, turbulence-zonked passengers, who momentarily may have wondered where they were. Another on-time arrival into a cold but clear Perth morning, to face custome, x-rays, sniffer dogs - all the usual.
The trip reports to Shanghai and on to Beijing follow.
"...every aircraft is subtly different.."