Airline: Cathay Pacific
Flight Number: CX713
Aircraft: Boeing 747-467
Seat: 02K (First Class)
Distance: 1049 miles
Duration: 2hrs 5mins
Photo © Sneeze Lam
Photo © Sam Chui
The day began pretty early, by choice more than anything. As our flight was at 8.55am we opted to stay near the airport in Tung Chung rather than in the city so it was only a short ride on the shuttle from our hotel to the drop off point at Terminal 1. Due to some construction it was a bit of a walk to Cathay's First Class check-in area and when we arrived we were rather outnumbered by staff! The area was quite modern and a bit different from normal, with agents all standing at podiums. A member of staff wheeled off our luggage attaching priority tags to them as he did and our flight information appeared on the screen beside us.
First Class check-in for Cathay Pacific passengers
With boarding passes for 2A and 2K we headed for passport control and security. All over quickly with friendly (did you hear that TSA? ) agents. From security it was only about 100ft to the entrance of the First Class section of 'The Wing', one of two Cathay lounge complexes at Chek Lap Kok. We initially went to the dining room for some breakfast.
Dim sum in 'The Wing'
I helped myself to some dim sum from the buffet before taking a seat overlooking the boarding gates below. Unusually the First and Business sections weren't too segregated and you could quite easily walk between the two, although when I returned from the Business side to get a magazine I was asked by a staff member if I was returning. The one slight giveaway was the bizarre sight of an Indian woman and child sleeping on the floor which thanks to cabanas in the First side wouldn't have been necessary!
Around the First Class section of 'The Wing'
Our flight was departing from gate 65, just one gate from Cathay's other lounge complex, 'The Pier' so at 7.40am we walked down there. It was quite a distance with quite possibly several dozen moving walkways to assist.
The First Class section of The Pier was quite busy but we managed to grab a couch and I plugged my almost flat camera battery in for a charge. Despite the busy lounge a staff member came over and asked if we wanted anything to drink.
'The Pier' First Class section
Our boarding pass noted to be at the gate no later than 8.30am so ten minutes before we took the short walk to the gate. Boarding was yet to begin but lines had formed both for First/Business and Economy. Just a couple of minutes later the flight began to board and we took the shortcut jetbridge down to door 1L. Once again we were escorted to our seats and offered drinks and magazines. Although I was reading a copy of BusinessWeek I'd lifted from the lounge I saw a copy of Top Gear nestling behind some of the others on the silver tray so snaffled it.
The aircraft was feeling rather warm and I joked with Kirstin that maybe it was the same 747 that had brought us from Heathrow to Hong Kong a few days before. Indeed the Australian captain came on the PA system to say the APU was unserviceable and apologies were passed on to those right at the back of the aircraft. I looked at my seat and saw a familiar scratch on the panelling ahead (I was also in 2K on the LHR-HKG flight) and thought maybe this is the same aircraft! I flicked through some of my pictures from the previous flight and they did indeed match! Consecutive flights, same aircraft, same seats. That doesn't happen too often for me!
Hot towels were handed out along with menus and we had some time to look over them while the cabin filled up. Only three other passengers joined us; a couple in 1A and 1K that were getting rather snaphappy and a guy in 3A who seemed keen to get some rest, leaving his sunglasses on for the whole flight.
At 9.20am the aircraft was powered down in order to rectify the APU situation and the crew bring round glasses of ice water to help refresh us. Nice touch
Pushing back from gate 65
At 9.45am we pushed back and made the taxi to runway 25L, with wheels up at 10am on the dot. Once again I had a decent view of the now sleeping Oasis fleet parked nose to nose away from the terminal.
Departing from runway 25L
We climbed rather rapidly to our cruise altitude of 38,000ft and the meal service got under way rather quickly.
Meal service on this short flight
The muffins on this flight were a great start to the meal service, nice and warm with melt in your mouth chocolate chips The dim sum was a nice follow up to what I'd had in the lounge...
The view from 2K
I read some more Top Gear magazine to pass the time and also enjoyed the view out of the window as we passed over Hainan Island, the South China Sea and the Vietnamese coast as we closed in on Bangkok. I filled out the Thailand immigration forms which were passed out by someone in a red uniform. With only a few flights on Cathay Pacific under my belt I'm still trying to figure out which colours are more important. I think red was as she introduced herself and thanked us for flying Cathay Pacific today, nice to have some Emerald members onboard etc etc. She also spent quite a bit of time with the couple in 1A and 1K who were looking for some confirmation of an issue, I guessed it was either bags or a potential missed connection at BKK.
Descending into BKK
As we descended and turned in a southerly direction we got to see Bangkok off in the distance, yep this new Suva-whotsit airport was quite a way out of the city! From where I was in 2K I could make out parts of the new airport through the windows of 1A and 2A as we touched down on 19R.
BKK's new sprawling facility
This was another new airport for me, I'd flown into Don Muang a few times but not for a few years and this was a different kettle of fish. Cathay seemed to park quite a distance from immigration although us First and Business Class passengers were given a head start to immigration. 1A and 1K made a quick exit and were last seen boarding a Thai branded golf cart to heading to some other part of the airport.
A good five minutes or so on moving walkways and we were at the immigration point which had a scattering of passengers spread across the officers on duty so we beat the bags to immigration. Although in good CX fashion ours were amongst the first gaggle to come through.
It wasn't long before my first Bangkok ripoff on this trip. 1100 Baht for the AOT airport 'limo' into the city which bearing in mind the distance entailed didn't seem too bad. Especially when the stand displayed a nice BMW 7 Series...although my confirmation after payment noted it was a Toyota Camry! I knew from previous trips that bartering was key to attaining any good or service in Thailand but was too naive to believe this extended to 'regulated' authorities too.
Verdict: Another good flight from Cathay Pacific, certainly beats a 2hr flight in Europe or North America, not only in terms of seating but also the product served and the manner in which it was done.
The disappointment for me was the lounges. I'd heard magnificent things about 'The Wing' and 'The Pier' but was left thinking it was a whole load of nothing. The Wing in particular, ok so it had a nice little seating area and some dining but which international First Class lounge worth its salt doesn't? I mean I walked into the Business Class section of The Wing and didn't even notice the difference!! The Pier was a little more in keeping with the decor of a First lounge but there was no 'X factor' (God, I hate that saying now!) that Cathay have in the air to distinguish themselves from the competition...