This for me was a tremendously exciting trip as it involved so
many firsts: my first trip to Japan & Hong Kong, my first
trans Pacific flight, my first flight on Cathay Pacific, and so on. So
needless to say, I was very very excited.
All in all, I had a fabulous trip... If you are interested in hearing why,
AA 168 JFK to Narita B 777-200 (7AN)
Got to the airport 2 hours early. Check in for Narita had its own counter
separate from all other flights. Don't know why. The flight was not that
full, so there were lots of extra seats. I got Row 39A, with 39B next to
me empty. Can't complain! Our Boeing 777 (registration 7AN) looked new both inside and out. We boarded through Door 1L so I could see F and C class seats en route to my own. This was a "Pacific" configured 777, which meant that the first class had the sleeper seats, not the swivel seats that they have on the London flights. I got to my seat and the very first thing I noticed was the extra leg room. I was really very impressed. For a one hour hop, who cares, but on
this 13+ hour flight, it really made all the difference.
Getting to the flight itself, both take off (runway 31L) and landing
(Runway 16L) were on time, and everything in between was good. Between
the extra legroom, softer seats, and the winged head rests sleeping was
easy. For those who need culinary details, three meals were served. The
first, the main meal included a sushi appetizer and salad, followed by a
main course of roast beef or japanese style chicken (i chose the latter
and liked it). a mid-flight sandwich box was served, and finally a
pre-landing lunch of either pizza or japanese noodles. Throughout the crew were very friendly and efficient, and came down the aisle number of times offering an assortment of drinks and what-nots. No complaints about the service. However, a big one about the entertainment system: simply put, it sucks. Only 10 channels, and no variety whatsoever. And this on a 777! I really found nothing worth watching the entire 13 hours.
Anyway, I had an absolutely great time in Japan [not relevant to this
forum but anyway: I found Japanese people to be the most helpful and
hospitable people on Earth. No question. On the flip side, I wsa surprised
by how in such a cosmopolitan city as Tokyo, not that many people
understood english. Nevertheless, I had some of the most fun times in my ife, ended up paying $100 to change my ticket and stayed some days
CX 501 Narita to Hong Kong Airbus 330-300 (Registration B-HLT)
Got to the airport a 1000. Our airbus was waiting at our gate, flanked by
a stunning looking Air Tahiti Nui A 340 (bound for Papete) and a British
Airways B 777 (G-YMMN) and B 747 (G BNLG) bound for London. The airport was not that busy at this hour. Our aircraft looked like it could do with a wash from outside, but was immaculate inside. This was a 2-class Airbus, (no First Class), and with the old business and Economy class seats.
Again, take off (Runway 16R) and landing (25L) were on time. The
inflight service was superb, with a very very attentative and friendly
crew, and, if I may add, an exceptionally good looking set as well. In my
flying experience, only singapore Airlines provides such a high level of
customer service. The meal was standard (chicken or fish), although I
liked the local flavour provided by the tray and cutlery. The inflight
entertainment was exemplary, with an endless assortment to choose from,
although the crew had loaded the wrong set of programs so they didn't match the guide! Still, there was everything from full length movies, to short programs to comedy and sports, to music, video games, the airshow, you name it. very impressive. My one complaint (which, ironically, was AA's strongest asset) here was that legroom was limited.
One curious aside: a number of rows at the rear of the aircraft were
"blocked" with special covering and tape. I initially thought they might
be crew rests but it didn't look like they were so I asked. Apparently,
the agreement between Hong Kong and Japan is that only a certain number of
seats can be sold by each airline, and if the aircraft in use has more
than that number of seats, they have to block them by law.
this was a first for me. Has anyone else had this experience on CX or any
CX 504 Hong Kong to Narita B 747-400 (registration B HUI)
AA 168 Narita to New York B 777-200 (registration 7 AR)
I was not looking forward to this seemingly endless journey but it went
off smoothly. Hong Kong Airport at 9am was quite active. Saw lots of Cathay Pacific 330s, 340s, and 747s including the one in the special color scheme
(B-HOX), a China Southern A300 and A320,china airlines A300, two Japan
Airlines 744s, a Dragon air 330, and two Qantas 767s. An Air France 777 had been delayed from the previous night and there was stil no sign of it departing.
Our aircraft was B-HUI, which I was told is one of the latest jumbos to
join Cathay Pacific's fleet, and it showed: First Class, which I peeked at on my way out was stunning, with very comfortable seats that convert into private sleeping cabins. To my bigger suprise, this aircraft had the new Business
Class seats. I had thought they were currently only available on selected long haul routes. In different shades of green, they looked elegant, and felt very comfortable. They also reclined into a fully flat bed with a privacy cabin- thereby ending Shitish, oops I meant British airway's monopoly of this genre. (and the seats were much more comfortable than BA, fyi). If anyone is interested, I took lots of pics.
It seems to me that all the major airlines are so heavily uprating their
Business Class product that the increment between Business and first Class
is rapidly disappearing. For example, now CX and BA (and soon
Singapore) have fuly flat beds with privacy dividers in both F and
J). I can't fathom why anyone would still want to pay the added amount for
First Class under these circumstances.
Anyway, it was Economy class in which I was sitting so let's get there!
I was in 67A, at the tail end that houses only 2 instead of 3 seats.
The Economy Class seats were new as well, wtih plusher seat bottoms and
winged headrests. The interior color scheme (blue, accented with purple
and green) was probably my favorite so far. THe load factors on this flight were a joke. I don't know about F class, but
Business and Economy Classes were both close to Empty. In Y class, there
could not have been more than 25 passengers. this on a a 747-400 with more
than 400 seats! (incidentally the flight from Tokyo to Hong Kong was also
quite empty, but not this bad!) That was bizarre! Still, that meant less
crowds and more personalized attention from what was again a fantastic
crew and service.
Unfortunately the weather was horrible the entire way and the plane was
shaking- quite violently at times- for much of the flight
The weather at Tokyo was no better and we landed (34L) in heavy fog such
that you could not see the ground until seconds before touch down.
On ths afternoon, tokyo could have been in Chicago for all we
knew. This was rush hour for flights arriving from teh US, and we were
surrounded by four Northwest 747s, three American 777s (a fourth joined
later), and- get this- twelve United Airlines 747s and 777s, bound for
everywhere from San Francisco chicago and New York in the US, to
Singapore, beijing and Taipei in the Far East. There were even two
Northwest A320 aircraft, whcih I assume are used for short hops between
apan and far East destinations. (are these flights for sale to teh
general public in Asia or are they only for passengers connecting from
other Northwest flights from the US)
I killed my 3 hours Transit time checking email, and walking around
(Narita is not the best airport to spot at), and finally went to my
counter to board my last flight. Security was very tight, with passports
being checked numerous times. This flight was only 11 hours, a good two hours shorter than the reverse direction. the weather had not cleared up so take off was still bumpy. We flew a different route than the outbound flight, this time passing over Vancouver rather than over Alaska. The aircraft was identical to the one I flew on to Tokyo, so no need for details here. The meal service was
adequate (chicken or beef dinner, followed by a sandwich box, and ended
with a cold breakfast of either cereal or danish). [note: the "breakfast" was
served at 4:30 pm New York time!] After September 11th, the
curtains between the cabins are kept open so I could see in to Business
Class and see my mouth drool. Luckily I had been very tired so I was ableto sleep effortlessly for much of the long flight.
So finally, to sum up, I had a fantastic trip, and four very good
flights. Nothing went wrong, all flights were absolutely on time (despite
some very bad weather) and the service was universally good.
Here is how I would rate American Airlines and Cathay Pacific
Aircraft v good v good
Seats excellent good
Food good good
Inflight TVs average excellent
Service/Crew good v good
Would I fly CX again? Definitely.
Would I fly AA again? Definitely.
So there you have it. Hope you enjoyed my trip report, and I look forward
to hearing your comments. good night!