Fishball McMug and Donut McDull a little too excited to sleep
Route : HKG-YVR
Operating Aircraft : B-KPT
Miles : 6,381
Seat : 11A
External Link to Photos
The photos of the lounge, cabin and meals can be found at http://www.fjiii.com/.
I won't dwell on the more common items as I don't really write very well and most of you would already be familiar with Cathay Pacific's pretty great soft product in this class of service. If not, « Sam Chui's report » also featuring the new cabin will get you up to speed very quickly !
This evening's 00:30 am flight to YVR and then onward to JFK had a full house in all three classes.
The boarding process was interesting : I was first in line (split between First / Business vs. Economy as per standard at HKG) - having gotten there long before anyone else started to line up in an effort to ensure an empty cabin for photos - but about 5 minutes before boarding commenced, a lady travelling in first class was moved ahead of me. I didn't really mind since she wasn't in the same cabin as me so wouldn't get in the way of my picture-taking; though I did think it was strange as Cathay does not usually further prioritize its F pax ahead of J ones at boarding.
A little while later, another gate agent moved the Diamond members (OW Emerald) in the queue behind me to form a separate one to my left. This is rare but I presume was precipated by the full load. The Diamond line was substantial - about 25 people long - and at this point I was beginning to worry about them ruining my photos.
(If only I could talk the gate staff into letting me do a pre-general boarding cabin photo shoot ... sadly I lack Sam's charms and good looks !!)
Boarding started thirty minutes before our scheduled departure time and in a welcomed twist, the gate agent manning the boarding pass scanner did not know what the line to our left was for. Noticing the lady in front of me had an F boarding pass, she waved our line forward to board, very much to the (clearly noticeable) chagrin of the Diamond members, heh.
Zipping down the gangway - saying good evening to the lady before promptly zooming past her - I heard someone correct the gate agent to let the Diamonds through.
The New Cabin
The first impression of the new J cabin was overwhelminingly positive - relaxing, clean and sleek.
It gives off a completely different vibe than the old herringbone design (of which I am a big fan by the way - as a solo traveller I love the privacy it gives and ascribe its downfall more to the terrible first impression its depressing color scheme and high walls give; functionality-wise I feel it is indeed a very practical seat, and beat most competitive offerings).
My seat was 11A - first row of Cathay's 777-300 ER business class mini-cabin « seat map ».
The mini-cabin is far and away my preferred one - it is more intimate, bassinet-free and most seats (all except 11 D/G) have a large credenza on which to place personal items during the flight.
Sam has already heaped praise at the seat in his report and I am a hundred percent in agreement. It really is a just a superbly-designed seat; I would venture to say it's much more a mini-F than a regular business class seat.
|-||The seat is noticeably wider and longer than before. And unlike the previous iteration, the width of the seat is maintained from head to toe; this is really quite remarkable. The space underneath the cocktail table also let me bend my knees quite comfortably when sleeping on my side.|
|-||Surprisingly the privacy level I perceived was almost on par with the herringbone's. This is probably due to a smart shape of the seat shell and wing tips / flaps around the head.|
|-||You can exit the seat with tray table extended. This is a significant improvement from the old version where you were basically locked in until someone collected your meal tray.|
|-||The size of the cocktail table is very generous. Having said that, anything would be generous compared to that sliver of wood for the same in the old design.|
Over the course of the flight, there were a few issues that crossed my mind. Nothing major but perhaps worth mentioning :
|-||The bright white lights illuminating the forward painting didn't go off until all cabin lights were switched off. The couple in 11 D/G appeared somewhat bothered by this during the meal service when other cabin lighting was dimmed. The paintings are quite good-looking but the crew needs to turn off the spotlight on them sooner rather than later.|
|-||Storage space during taxi, take-off and landing is limited to only the shoe locker and headset side cabinet. The space underneath the cocktail table and footrest must be cleared. Of course there are (small) signs indicating this but I imagine most passengers would miss that little gotcha, leading to delays during the cabin check.|
|-||With the seat in flat bed mode, your head is directly underneath the overhead bins, specifically the opening edge of the bin when it is lowered. If someone where to drop something as they moved items from the bin, it would be quite dangerous. This is like with the aisle seats in economy, but you have less time to react to falling items when lying down / asleep. Maybe a fold-down safety net of some sort ??|
|-||There is a depression on the side of the armrest facing the passenger, such that when it is lowered the armrest is flush with the seat. I had placed my phone in that space and so when the flight attendant came by to lower the armrest for takeoff, it wouldn't lock. However, unable to see the phone from her side, she just kept pressing down on the armrest as she attemped to force it to do so. I can imagine with something more fragile, she would have damaged the item. Cathay needs to train its flight attendants to check around the armrest for obstructions before trying to lower it.|
Incidentally, looking at Sam's photos I notice the Airbus 330-300 version of the new seats appears a good deal narrower. The headset cabinet doesn't look like it has space for anything but the headset and it seems to lack the storage space underneath the cocktail table. (That space is quite significant, I placed my notebook and DSLR there.)
The Rest + Conclusion
Service-wise, my flight was on par with the expected standard from Cathay and nothing unusual to report.
While this means great attentiveness and service all-around from the flight attendants, it sadly also means the meal quality was a let-down. Despite being one of the signature dishes prepared by the Cathay's restaurant partner du jour, the beef was very tough and borderline inedible. The sauce tasted good though. The dim sum for breakfast was better but still nothing special.
Overall, I think the new seats are a real winner. If offered a choice, the new business class seat is a no-brainer (I would avoid seats 11 D/G though on the 777-300 ER). I just hope the higher demand wouldn't drive up the fares by too much.
Thank you again for reading. I would be more than happy for comments or questions. If none, please feel free to check out my other trip reports at my blog (predominantly photos) : http://www.fjiii.com/all.html.
|*||Turns out the lady moved to the front of the queue was not just any first class passenger. She was Ms. Leung Wong Pui Fong, JP, GBS, SBS « Wikipedia entry in Chinese ».|
[Edited 2011-07-20 00:10:22]