Normally I don’t write these for every business trip I take, I mean how exciting or interesting can a trip from LGA to DFW be? This past week however I was fortunate it enough to enjoy the way Asian culture views air travel. I had some business in Vancouver and decided to take the advice of my friend Mr. Ron Peel to look into flying Cathay Pacific Airways, I’m glad I did. I’ll say before going into details that this is a world-class top-notch airline that still knows what the word service means.
Rolls Royce Powered 747-400
Coach Class seat 66K
Well to begin my Valentines evening was spent with a coworker in T7 at JFK, certainly not the most romantic Valentine’s I’ve had but work is work. It’s been sometime since I’ve done the international thing at JFK during the big evening push so being in T7 with the crowds really took me back.
Check-in was very quick as there was really no line to speak of and the check-in agents were very professional and efficient. I was impressed they used my name as many times as they did and they even said, “enjoy your flight.” Can’t tell you the last time I heard that AA, WN, B6, and US…. Security was a breeze at T7 even with the crowds we were through in less then five minutes, the new fast pass check points were there as well. I didn’t witness anyone using them.
We decided to grab some dinner at one of the restaurants in the gate area. The quality of the food was very good, infact I’d rate the service and taste of the food similar to Ciao Baby on Long Island. Upon completion of our dinner we headed over to the gate to discover what would become a long night, our flight was delayed.
Not that I was surprised by the delay at all since the weather was crappy but I was a bit surprised that JFK can’t find alternate means of deplaning people. Our plane was within full view of T7 but had no place to park because of some doggy British 747 using our gate. Our plane sat for three hours until the BA bird pushed back. We finally boarded at 11:20 almost 2 hours behind our original departure time. The boarding process was very fast for such a large plane and the FA’s promptly greeted us at the door and directed us to our seat. As I was walking down the left aisle one FA took my coat escorted me to my seat and said she would hang my coat up for me.
I had an entire row to myself, which made the flight even more comfortable. The plane itself was less then half full so everyone was able to spread out. The seats on Cathay are very comfortable with a fantastic recline, with plenty of blankets and pillows already on your seat to use.
This cabin was the older coach cabin but still was very nice and more then adequate for the journey. Each seat has PTVs with an ample choice of movies and music; I rather enjoyed the Asian TV shows.
To make a long departure story short we sat on the plane for four hours as cargo was slowly loaded one container at a time. Oh if anyone works for Evergreen ground handling at JFK, you guys are a joke, have a snow ball fight on your time not mine. I was looking out my window saying to myself, they still can’t have to load all that, oh yes they did. The empty seat next to me kept showing the estimated arrival time and before you knew it we were estimated to arrive into YVR at 4:45am.
It’s been awhile, more then 10 years since I’ve been on a 747 and my god is she a plane. Everything about her is simply fantastic. I for some reason remembered the take off and landing to be more noticeable but she ascended off of 31L like the gentile lady she is. Even when we landed she came in so soft a newborn would have never woken from the arms of their mother from the impact of the landing. I really can’t get into the onboard service going out to YVR because the min we left the ground I went to sleep and work up as we were coming into YVR. I can tell you though from what my collegue reported they had the full meal service, snack, and everything else as the return flight that you’ll read below.
Flight details (Return)
Pratt and Whitney Powered 747-400
Coach Class seat 64K
I’ll not spend time boring you with details about the airport and what not with the return and begin directly with the onboard service Cathay provided which I was wide awake to enjoy.
Like on the trip coming out the airport and boarding experience was fantastic. Again an FA took my jacket showed me to my seat and then returned with a glass of water for me. This flight was totally empty, over 200 free seats, the entire back of the plane was mine, and it was fantastic! I’ll say Cathay has some of the best-looking FA’s I’ve seen, they are breathtaking. I’m glad Hong Kong can be selective in who they hire.
Just after take off our service begun with drink and snack service. I had a glass of white wine, which was free J. The snack consisted of fruit and peanuts and was served on a small bamboo try, yes this is coach. After the snack service the FA’s handed out warm towels for our pleasure, again yes this is coach. After collecting the towels we were handed menus with a choice of three entrees for lunch. Lunch was more like dinner with the choices we had. I had the braised beef with vegetables, mashed potatoes, potato salad with sushi, lemon cheesecake, bread and butter, gin sing hot tea, and finally a smart offering of cookies. The presentation of the food was very nice and served on a bamboo tray.
During the meal service the FA’s which I noticed don’t walk but rather move in a hurried pace up the aisles to ensure everyone is taken care of made sure our glasses were never empty and as soon as we were done eating they removed our tray. About an hour after we ate they came around again offering us tea and coffee with an English biscuit cookie as well as other spirits and aperitifs. I endluged in a rather nice Cognac.
I once again had an entire row to myself and lounged out with my head on the aisle seat so I was positioned to see the PTV as well as enjoy the view out my window. The view infact was the winglet dead center in my horizon, doesn’t get better then that. About three hours into flight they came around with the in-flight sales cart with a number of duty free offerings for purchase but I passed.
Upon landing in JFK our trip came to an end but the experience Cathay Pacific provided both on the outbound and return trip was something not to be forgotten. Their coach product is better then the domestic first class products of most US airlines. Service still means something on Cathay Pacific and I’m looking forward to flying with them again in a few weeks time.