Here is my trip report on CX
’s first Boeing 777-300ER revenue flight! For those who don’t want to read words, here is the link to both photo albums.
Cathay Pacific has moved around the inaugural dates a number of times and finally, it has settled on CX
418 from Hong Kong to Seoul Incheon. Fortunately, I was able to book an award business class ticket on CX
418/9 same day return through Alaska Airlines, and after I received the receipt from AS
, I called CX
to get seat assignment and everything seemed to be all set, and guess how wrong I was.
Here is the flight info:
October 3, 2007
Lv1420 Arr1850 Boeing 777-300ER B-KPA
Lv2000 Arr2240 Boeing 777-300ER B-KPA
Both estimated to be three hours, and the actual flight time for CX
418 was two hours and fifty-eight minutes, and the CX
419 was two hours and fifty-six minutes. Flight route on CX
418 took us towards Taichung and W of Taipei, and then into Cheju and Kunsan, and the return flight path is similar except after crossing Taipei, we headed directly towards Makung and then turned W towards Hong Kong. No flight attitude information because the new airshow does not display this information, which is disappointing.
The day started off with much rain in Hong Kong and I headed towards the Airport Express Station. With no hand luggage and a slow Wednesday, the Cathay Pacific first class line was rather deserted, and a kind agent checked me in within five minutes, and then something strange happened. He asked for my ticket receipt and told me that my reservation was cancelled because Alaska Airlines did not input the ticket number into the reservation by the ticketing deadline. I was of course furious and told the agent that I called CX
reservation a few days after I got the ticket receipt and got my seat assignment, and why didn’t the reservation agent mention something that Alaska has not input the ticket number into my reservation? Also the CX
agent got my HK
mobile number and why didn’t CX
call me? Of course the main blame is on Alaska Airlines. How can they forget to input my ticket number into the CX
reservation? That is one thing that I, as a passenger, should not have to worry about, and could not check and I did not want soon to be expected to chase AS
to input ticket number into the CX
reservation. That is their internal matter and I really hope that this is just a one-time thing. I have yet to email Alaska Airlines yet but intend to find out why AS
commits such a large mistake? And I have issued tickets through Alaska Airlines on CX
and never encountered such major problems. I will perhaps call AS
customer service and find out about why?
Here is where CX
shines or this particular agent is really helpful. He wasted no time and immediately checked on the U class availability. Only Y on CX
418 but there is U in return! He immediately held me a seat in Y and put me on a waitlist for J, and called the control office and found out how to remake my reservation. Of course, Alaska Airlines had to do the reservation, so he called Alaska Airlines Hong Kong agent and asked the agent to redo my booking and input the new ticket number again. He was patient, while reassuring that the problem would be resolved. Then he told me that he could put me on the upgrade waitlist, but could get me a confirmed Y seat. He even called the control office about my upgrade status and told the lounge agent that I was wait listing for J. I decided if I could fly J on the return, the Y in outbound was no problem and I could call AS
to return that differentiation back. After a good half an hour, he fixed everything and handed me the boarding pass, and I headed off to the Hong Kong Airport.
Really nothing I could do but waited at the Wing. I first headed off to gate 22 and saw the plane towing into the gate. At least I got something. Then I went back to the Wing and had a quick lunch (as I assumed I might be in Y). I left a bit earlier and in case there was something going on at the gate. Of course, there was nothing going on. That is my first major disappointment because there was no indication of this important flight, and the only sign was I saw the crew taking pictures in front of the plane. Finally at 1:52pm, boarding began and thankfully, my Y boarding pass got the magical beep, and I got a business class boarding pass at 12G. Thank goodness and save some yelling at Alaska Airlines. Thank goodness to my OW
The new Boeing 777-300ER cabin looks very nice in first class, and with only six seats, the cabin looked bright and airy. However, for business class, I actually think the first mini-cabin was just badly designed – very crowded and busy looking with lots of storage and galley equipments. Folks usually preferred the mini cabin up front, but with the herringbone design, this section was simply cramped. I also think the seat was a bit less tilted… more straight-out, because I notice the window seat at Row 12 only have one single window. Row 11 is better with two windows. I recommended against Row 11 & 12, unless no other choices. I don’t know how to describe it but the angle of the seats in both business class cabin is different, sort of like the upper deck of the 74A, which you cannot look out of the windows at all. The second J cabin (as indicated on CX
419 cabin) was much better with a less cramped environment.
No window row – Row 21 and Row 24. However since the window at Row 21 is directly behind the seat so it does not affect that seat at all, but for Row 22, you only have one window to look out, which is closer to you. But at Row 24, the window closest to the seat or your POV has no window, and you can look out at the window in front of you. So if you want a view or look out of window, please avoid Row 24, unless you have a long neck.
12D and 12G don’t have overhead storage bin.
After hearing such a mixed review, I don’t carry much expectation, so the seat turns out to be better, but I rate it below Virgin’s Upper Class though. Virgin’s Upper Class is much better, in terms of the materials used on the seat (leather on VS
), wider, and the overall seat comfort level. Flipping the bed may be troublesome but for Virgin, it at least addresses the problem with different requirements for sleeping and sitting. CX
’s new J seat is simply caught in between and can’t satisfy both sides. The most important point is that for this battle, SQ
’s new Business class seats beat CX
by much. I am going to make my final judgment after I fly SQ
’s new business class on a long haul flight from SIN
I highly recommend the bulkhead seats at both sections of the business class cabin.
Flight attendant service:
My first major problem is with the new CX
policy with newspapers. They now set up a newspaper cart at the jetway and expect F and J passengers to help themselves with papers too, which I find very un-premium class like. For a world-class airline, this detail differentiates them from other airlines, and CX
is just cutting back these little services, which are relatively cost-free. Now, you have to request the newspapers. On both flights, they don’t even bother with rolling out the newspaper and magazines trolley after everyone was boarded. For this inaugural flight, the F/As are very “careless” with such routines, and busy with familiarizing with the galley and various new items. That is why I think CX
does not spend enough time with the crew working on this new 77W.
The purser, Denise, definitely tried her best especially in soliciting opinions and working with many problems with the new plane. She said hello to each MPO and OW
Emerald members, but seemed rather tense throughout the flight, as well as the rest of the crew. The tone of the overall “inaugural” flights was tense because the staffs were not used to the new galley and various locations of equipments. Those are very understandable problems and I really won’t blame the staff, but CX
should have done a better training session. Perhaps a few training flights should be in place before welcoming real passengers on board! The tone of the flight should be celebratory instead of tense and highly alert. There were some CX
staffs around monitoring the new flights. Also there should be extra F/As assisting on this first month of operation. The lunch service from HKG
took the whole flight and the final hot towel service was handed out during descent. The return was better, but there should be extra F/As helping out. CX
management needs to take the blame in this case because they lack time for F/As to conduct training on the real a/c and this a/c is very different from the regional Boeing 777-300, which looks similar, but everything from galley to the seats is dramatically different. The front galley was half the size of the old galley as F only had six passengers. I also feel that Denise did not follow through some of her promises, which annoyed me… however everything was understandably stressed and CX
management should be better prepared.
The most interesting part was that I asked one of the J F/As during the fruit and cheese service, “How did you like the new plane?” She was frightened and gave me these following comments, “So what do you think?” and then she said, “no comment… it is an interesting experience.” I assume that there are some problems with galley and various equipments. I don’t know what she meant… but CX
has some work to do for sure. Everyone was simply like frightened birds caught in the worst moment, and was so worried about the feedback. No one was wiling to tell passengers that something was already not working with this new plane on its first day of operation.
However I am more concerned with this trend that CX
only wants to hear the nice things, not the bad things. Its customer service is known as poor and irresponsive and arrogant, but this trend is seeping everywhere. Without hearing the negatives, how can the airline improve itself? I honestly think that CX
management seems to head towards the wrong way. They only want to hear the positive comments, not the negative comments. The F/As and even the purser were so afraid to say the truth on how they felt about the new plane. If that is the new direction CX
is taking, I am very concerned about the future of CX
New Business Class seat:
1. Fully flat when reclined
2. A better Personal television – larger in size
3. Storage for shoes
1. The seat is designed for an average Asian passenger, not a passenger with a larger frame and most Western passengers, which seem to be a major proportion of CX
premium passenger crowd.
2. Definitely worst than the first generation of the herringbone design, Virgin Upper Class…
3. The cloth style upholstery is not good enough.
4. You did not expect to move from the seat during meal time or while tray table was out. The tray table can slide forward and backward but not enough space for you to move out of seat if there is a meal tray there. Also you should be able to adjust the height of the table as well. You have to stay upright if you want to use the table comfortably.
5. Tray table design is awful and it does not learn from the Virgin Upper Class problem.
6. The feeling of claustrophobia especially in the first mini cabin, which seems to be appropriate for another row of first class, rather than a small business class cabin.
7. The armrest is almost useless because if the armrest is down, a slightly bigger passenger can’t feel comfortable at all. The armrest has to be raised at all times.
8. The width is definitely less than the current sliding business class seat.
9. At the sitting position, one feel really constrained.
10. There is still lack of rooms to store little things like magazines, and small magazines and menus can easily slip under the seat and create problems.
11. My personal taste – I can’t comfortable look out the window even in a window seat for a long period of time.
Full meal was served on the ICN
sector, as both KE
offered a full meal.
Here is the business class menu:
Champagne Deutz, Brut Classic
Paul Sapin Macon Lugny Cuvee Prestige 2005
Watershed Margaret River Unoaked Chardonnay 2005
Kirrihill Companions Clare Valley Shiraz 2004
Vieux Chateau Landon, Cru Bourgeois Medoc 2003
Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2000
312, 313, 317, 318, 350, 351, 367, 368, 410, 411, 412, 413, 416, 417, 418, 419 1-10-2007
Smoked duck breast with asparagus and marinated roasted peppers
Seasonal Salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing
Korean mixed vegetables and beef with rice
Braised sea bass fillet with preserved gooseberry sauce
Steamed rice and Chinese mixed vegetables
Roast corn-fed chicken breast with gravy
Kipfler Potatoes, stewed bean ragout and asparagus
Cheese and Dessert
Fresh Seasonal Fruit
Haagen Dazs Ice Cream
Tea and Coffee
Szechuan hot smoked salmon and gravlax with honey mustard dressing
Caesar Salad with hot smoked salmon and lemon pepper dices with Japanese sesame dressing
Braised lamb with rosemary
Parsnip puree, sautéed French green beans and pumpkin
Corn-fed chicken with brown sauce
Steamed potato wedges, French beans with mixed vegetables in cream sauce, carrot, and zucchini
Sauteed sea bass with spring onions
Steamed rice and Chinese mixed vegetables
Cheese and Dessert
Fresh Seasonal Fruit
Haagen Dazs Ice Cream
Tea and Coffee
First, I am extremely disappointed at the lack of celebration in the first revenue flight, and for the F/A team, these flights are more for training, than celebratory. I felt that the F/As should be given more opportunities to train and work on the aircraft before sending them out for real revenue flight. Of course, even with training, the first flight would be rough but at least they did not need to look around for trash bags and finding various items. CX
does not provide enough real time training and I am not going to blame the F/As for the initial panic. However, I can’t imagine them finishing up service on shorter flights like HKG
catering is going downhill even though they have increased fares up front. It is not right and SQ
and even the Korean airlines are more creative with meals in premium cabin, and the return flight was just not up to the usual standard. I don’t care or mind return catering, but the food should be good. The return flight served much worst food.
’s new 77W seems to signal a new start and the new first class cabin is brilliant, but the business class cabin seems to lack some touchups, and if CX
thinks that this business class product will bring them towards the front of the premium cabin game, they are so wrong and there are much work to do. The new J seats lack creativity and a certain elegant to it.
Finally, I am sorry to say – this new CX
Business Class is a failure, considered it is a second-generation product and can learn so much from first generation operators like Virgin, Air New Zealand, and Air Canada. It is a harsh comment but considered they have at least two to three years to learn from these carriers especially Virgin. Is this the best that CX
team can come up with? It does not address the problems with the herringbone design and actually makes the seats worst. Compared to SQ
, this battle is a losing one, and now CX
wants to charge like SQ
77W, they are dreaming. Sorry to be so harsh but I am really disappointed with these new products. I am not going to say that CX
should cease the installation of new seats, but something has to be done.