Cathay Pacific – A name familiar to many from airliners.net and around the world. This airline, with a green-white livery, is the airline representing Hong Kong, China’s Special Administrative Region. Unlike its counterparts up north, the airline is frequently touted as the best in the world, winning several Airline of the Year awards and almost always come up in the top 10 airlines of the world. Besides that, it also shares the prestigious 5-star airline standing with 6 others airlines in the world, coincidentally all from Asia.
The airline was founded in September 1946 by an American and an Australian. Each man paid HK$1 to register the airline. Cathay was the ancient name given to China, while Pacific was added as they aimed to fly across the Pacific Ocean one day. Their modern history has shown that they have made it possible, with a high standard of luxury.
The late 1990s saw a great transition and expansion of the airline as acquired Dragonair and a major stake in Air Hong Kong. Furthermore, a new livery was introduced. Registrations on their aircraft also had to be changed as Hong Kong was returned to China from the UK in 1997. The largest transition would be in 1998 whereby the old Kai Tak Airport was closed down and all flight operations were moved to the new Chap Lap Kok Airport. This meant that they had to move their entire base, something most airlines do not have the chance to do. Cathay Pacific was also one of the founders of the oneworld alliance in 1999.
There’s a saying that goes, “humans are the greatest assets”. At Cathay Pacific, they strongly believe that the people will make an airline. It can be easily proven by the high standards of service provided by the Cathay Pacific cabin crew, even during a regional flight. Service standards on Cathay Pacific were like no other. Even in Economy Class, the crew were very attentive to each and every detail. Requests were also met in a short period of time, usually less than a minute. Sure enough, they had fulfilled their objective. People: They make an airline.
Having finished my Basic Military Training on 7th January 2012 (and losing 30kg in the process), I was rewarded with a 1 week block leave and we were free to go overseas. Being an aviation freak, it’d be a sin to stay in Singapore. Having a 90-year old granduncle whom I am very close to in Hong Kong, it is a good excuse to escape this city state into yet another city state, but with completely different cultures. The process of choosing CX was simple; I went onto www.airfares.sg to look for cheap fares to Hong Kong and Cathay turned out the cheapest. I thought, hey, why not? I get to fly the Boeing 777-300 outbound and the Airbus A340-300 inbound, both of which I have not flown on before. Several other fares offered by other airlines like PR and SQ were too high for my liking. A few clicks later, my booking was confirmed but I was unable to select seats as I was on a discounted fare class (O). No big deal, I called CX and reserved an exit row seat on the flight back for USD $25.
As usual, I arrived at Changi Airport 2 hours before my flight at 6am. Having little sleep the night before, I was still wide awake, probably due to the excitement that I am stepping onto a plane. New airline, new aircraft type for me to log. It’s hard for anyone to not feel excited! My entrance to the airport departures area was nicely done by a London Cab, with an even interesting colour, pink! It could very well be the only pink colour cab in Singapore, accompanied with a kind driver whom wears a matching pink cap. There was also a sign on the right window which says “Princess on Board”, although not appropriate in this case.
My driver for the trip
Can’t help posing with this cab too!
The first thing I did was to check the FIDS for the check-in row. As fate would have it, CX has their check-in rows located at row 1, at the far end of the terminal. On my previous trip to Penang, MH also had their check-in desks located at the far end of Terminal 2 in row 12.
The FIDS. Notice “flight 1234” from “JORDON”. I wonder what flight was that
Not checking in from this row today
As there were no queues, I was quickly directed to an empty desk by a kind CX ground crew. Good to know that CX has their own ground crews here as SIN is quite a prime destination for them. At the desk, there was yet another kind CX ground crew which sounds cheerful even in the wee hours in the morning.
”Good morning Sir”
“May I know where are you heading to today?”
“May I have your passport please?”
“There you go”
Throughout the conversation, she did not forget to put the smile on her face and let the customer feel privileged. Although I was travelling on the cheapest Economy fare class, she did not show any dislike but instead provided the highest standard of service. Seeing that there was no one in the queue, I decided to ask for the load of today’s flight.
”The load today is light sir”
“Really? Is my row empty?”
“Yes sir, it is empty for now.”
I was pretty delighted as it meant more space to move around and less people to stare at this freak clicking the shutter of his camera non-stop. The boarding pass was handed to me pretty quickly and my light check-in bag tagged. Honestly, I would not have checked in my bag if it was not bulky as it weighed only 3kg. However, since it’s free, who cares?
JAL and Thai check-in desks
After getting my boarding pass, I headed to the T1 viewing gallery to catch some action on the tarmac. Being the wee hours of the morning, the apron was pretty quiet and it was hard taking photos out of the window as it was still dark. Therefore, I decided to head airside for some light breakfast to fill my stomach up before the meal service on the plane.
Passengers for the early morning Valuair flight to Jakarta
View of the check-in area
T1 viewing gallery
Gateway to Heaven
5 minutes later, I was already airside and started walking to the direction of my gate in search of any eateries along the way. A Starbucks outlet caught my eye and immediately I went inside. (Actually, it was the only eatery along the way!) Being health conscious now, I ordered a chicken wrap with egg which they claimed to be healthy. It even comes with a “healthy pyramid” logo which is our country’s way of labeling healthy food. As I sat down, I took out my laptop and started using the internet.
Feeling slightly full and seeing that it was just 45 minutes to departure, I decided to head over to the gate which was just a stone’s throw away. Being very early, I was the first passenger who entered the gate and my boarding pass was not torn off at all. Good news though, I get to keep the whole thing! The plane has not arrived yet so I assume it will be landing soon since the ETA was just minutes away. Sure enough, the plane turned into the gate 5 minutes later, as CX710 from Colombo with continuing service to Hong Kong. While waiting, the gate offers a nice view of runway 2C with planes taking off and landing. I could also see the road where I was just a few days ago, doing a 24km route march with my battle gear for my graduation from the Basic Military Training course. Of course, I prefer where I am now, waiting for a flight in the comfortable gate.
Walking to the gate
All mine for a few minutes!
The beauty has arrived!
Being serviced on the ground
A UL A332 taking off
I have been on this plane, 9V-VLF on 11 July 2011 for my birthday trip
Close up of this beauty, minus the cosmetics
Cathay Pacific Flight CX 710 – 10JAN12
Origin: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN/WSSS)
Destination: Hong Kong International Airport (HKG/VHHH)
Registration: B-HNM (DEL 31OCT03)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300
Scheduled Time of Departure: 08.10am
Actual Time of Departure: 08.43am
Scheduled Time of Arrival: 11.55am
Actual Time of Arrival: 11.51am
Airborne Time: 3h 08m
Class of Travel: Economy
Remarks: This flight came in from Colombo (CMB)
The aircraft operating my flight today is B-HNM, a Boeing 777-300 delivered to CX on 31 October 2003 and has been flying with the airline ever since. This also marks my first flight in 2012, first Boeing 777-300 flight and my first CX flight. The Boeing 777-300 fleet of CX is not equipped with the newest product nor AVOD, so I was not setting my expectations high for the hard product.
To the right of my plane, there was an SQ plane parked at gate D44. This confused me as D44 belongs to terminal 1, which SQ does not operate from. However, the plane was towed away several minutes later which I thought they might have used it as a parking spot. To the other side, there was another CX plane parked at gate D41. I did not care much about it, until I found out what it was later. Read on to find out!
The SQ plane in question, 9V-SRH
Soon after the announcement was made, a long row formed in front of the podium as usual. I decided to stay around and wait till my row was called and by then the queue would be shorter since I am at the wing section of the aircraft. Finally, the rest of the passengers were called to board the plane and I excitedly made my way to the podium and enter the aircraft.
As I stepped onboard the aircraft, I was warmly greeted warmly by one of the cabin crew whom also checked my boarding pass.
Good morning, your A side seat is this way, sir.
It was a short walk from the door 2L to row 39, where seat 39A will be my home for the next 3-4 hours. There was already a middle aged man sitting in the aisle seat so he had to stand up to let me in. As I settled into my seat, I looked out the window and noticed that I am witnessing aviation history right in front of my eyes. The CX plane parked beside was actually B-HNL, the first Boeing 777 ever produced! It has a serial number 1 and was used as a prototype before being refurbished and delivered to CX. Since my flight back now is changed to a Boeing 777-200 (goodbye, A343! ), some a.netters let me know that there is a chance I could get her on my way back. After checking, I found out that CX only has 5 of the aircraft variant so my chances of getting B-HNL would be as high as 20%.
The foggy windows did not give me an opportunity to photograph B-HNL
Cabin settled in
Legroom – Not bad for a person my height!
Old style PTVs
The captain came on the microphone shortly before pushback –
Thereafter, the inflight manager Christine came on the microphone and gave us a welcome address in English followed by Cantonese. Comparing how she spoke both the languages, I can tell that she is having trouble pronouncing the words in English but her speech was absolutely fluent in Cantonese. Unsurprisingly, this happens to most people in Hong Kong.
At 8.21am, 11 minutes after our ETD, we pushed back for takeoff. While pushing back, the child in front of my row started crying, probably due to the loud noise from the engine. This was when cabin crew Genie, who happens to be serving my side, caught my attention. She did her best in soothing the child, whom I surmise is from China from the accent of her mum and her mum’s friend. She took a toy and passed it to the child while we were taxiing and said, “I’ll give you this but you must stop crying ok? If you stop crying I’ll give you another.” Her voice was so sweet and it must have helped with soothing the child as he stopped crying for the entire flight after that. However, the extra toy promised was not delivered throughout the flight. Probably she has forgotten about it?
An SQ plane takes a rest before a long journey
The fog has cleared on the windows, but there were still water droplets
Nice amount of space between the seats and windows
Boeing 767 of JAL, heading to Tokyo
Airbus A321 from AI
What a cute plane – Airbus A320 from MI
Contest of who’s smaller? ATR 72 from FY
After a somewhat long taxi and at 8.43am, we turned onto runway 2C and applied full thrust for takeoff. The takeoff was pretty powerful, as with all 777s. Seconds later, we lifted off Singapore soil bound for Hong Kong, Asia’s world city.
Commence of takeoff roll with another MI plane queuing
Various planes having their well deserved rest
They look pretty tiny from here!
Liftoff with the cargo terminal visible
To the bottom right hand corner is the SAF ferry terminal, where I take the ferry to Pulau Tekong (my Basic Military Training camp) every week
After takeoff, it was time to explore the cabin features. Each seat comes with an old style PTV (square shaped) dating back to the late 1990s and early 2000s. The system is operated on a loop based system but CX managed to make the most out of it by offering numerous movies and tv shows to choose from. However, the image quality was pretty fuzzy but still acceptable.
Seat pocket contents
As soon as the seatbelt signs were switched off, the cabin crew came down the aisle and gave out headphones and wet tissues. Genie was in charge of my row and I was happy to be served with her charming smile on her face. Work never ends for cabin crew. Minutes later, Genie came down the aisle again with a tray of drinks for the post takeoff drink service. However, choices were only limited to apple and orange juice. Other drinks had to be requested and brought from the galley.
Post takeoff drink
While enjoying the drink, I explored the IFE selections. The shows have already started playing and I randomly chose a channel and plugged in my headphones. However, one side of it was not working so I had to get Genie to help me change. Requests made to Genie were always replied with, “Alright, just give me a minute ok?” with her signature smile.
The faulty headphones
Wet tissues were given out
As I waited for my new set of headphones, I tested out the seat recline. Interestingly, the seat cushion slides out a little and the seatback goes back creating a more comfortable recline position. This is certainly one of the most comfortable seats I have ever had in Economy Class so far. The seat pitch of 32” was pretty reasonable too and being at 1.86m I did not feel squashed.
My new set of headphones was swiftly brought to me and I started using the IFE once again while waiting for breakfast to be served. It seemed a long wait before the meal cart was rolled down the aisle and when I checked my time, it was already an hour after takeoff. I guess preparing food for a plane more than 300 passengers is a challenging task considering the confined space you have. I visited the lavatory too while waiting for lunch and amenities were pretty much standard inside.
Trying out the “mirror shot”
Front Economy cabin
Cabin to the back
The smell of food filled up the cabin and it signals the start of the meal service, one of the most exciting parts of flying. Menus were not given so I assume they will only be given for flights over a certain distance. Choices were verbally read out by the cabin crew when they approach you and from what Genie said, the choices today were fish congee and chicken sausage with omelette. Being the natural me, I went for the omelette which was placed on a pre arranged tray and handed over to me with Genie’s signature smile as usual.
The meal was wonderful and it left an even better impression of Cathay in me. After the meal, I suddenly had this urge to have a cup of Perrier sparkling water so when Genie stopped by my row I decided to request and was once again replied with, “Alright, just give me a minute ok?” (and of course, with her smile!). Seconds later, Genie came back from the gallery with a cup of Perrier.
“You are most welcomed, sir”
Perrier carbonated water
I finished the whole thing!
As my tray was collected, I thought of the possibility airplane models sold onboard so I flipped through the inflight duty free magazine. It took some effort and I finally found a CX Boeing 777-300ER in oneworld livery on sale for USD $35. I stopped a passing by cabin crew and requested the model together with a set of poker cards which CX gives out for free. At the same time, I decided to purchase an environmentally friendly CX shopping bag. 5 minutes later, she appeared with a machine for payment and my products. The total cost was HKD $260 and I intended to pay with a HKD $1000 note. However, silly little me had already folded the note and put it away in my wallet since it was too big and the top was getting all crumpled if I put it in the wallet like some other note. I simply took the last piece of note (which is normally where I put the largest denomination) and passed it to her without looking at it. She took the note and gave me a shocked face and said, “This thing is HKD $260”. It took me 3 seconds to realize I have given her the wrong note and immediately took out my HKD$1000 note instead.
Most traditional form of IFE
Or this is the most traditional form of IFE?
She went back to the galley but came back with the news that they did not have any change so I had to pay by my debit card in the end.
Shortly after I made my purchase, the cabin crew dimmed the cabin lights for passengers to sleep for the remaining 1 hour to Hong Kong. The captain then came onto the microphone again –
Cabin after everything has finished
Connecting flight information
The nose of the aircraft dipped slightly at 11.26am and it signifies that the aircraft is commencing its descent into Hong Kong. We touched down on runway 7L at 11.51am, 4 minutes before ETA and was at the gate within 5 minutes.
Our gate for today
As the doors were opened for passengers to disembark, I decided to have a try and waited for most passengers to disembark and approached Genie for permission to visit the cockpit. She told me to wait in the Business Class cabin for a while and sent another FA to check with the captain. She came out shortly after with 2 thumbs up and a huge smile on her face which meant I’ve gotten the green light. I was so excited at this point in time!
I entered the cockpit with a huge smile and greeted the captain and first officer. I also introduced myself as an aviation enthusiast and my intention to become a pilot in the future. We had a nice chat about the 777 fleet that CX has and how wonderful it is to fly the 777. He also mentioned that the Boeing 777-300ER is the most advanced aircraft that CX currently has with all the new products like flat bed Business Class instead of the recliners which I am looking at. The first officer was actually a Canadian after I took a peep at his pass and the captain has been flying for more than 20 years.
They also let me know that CX has a pilot cadet program to train aspiring individuals to be pilots and urged me to have a try at it. Of course, I said I am open to choices and will definitely put CX as one of my choices. As I stepped out of the cockpit, the inflight manager Christine asked me, “So, when are you joining us? ” and I replied, “Well, probably in 10 years!”. All the other cabin crew, including us, burst into laughter. “Alright, I guess you have to go now, the ground staff is already looking for you!” This sentence marked the end of a wonderful flight with CX with their wonderful crew. As I stepped off the plane, I was personally escorted by a CX ground staff (VIP treatment, huh? :P) whom also opened the glass door leading to the arrivals area for me. I asked her how long it takes to walk to immigration and was told that it takes 20 minutes, a nice exercise after a flight I suppose.
Cockpit of the mighty 777 (sorry for blurriness)
You better wish these don’t fail!
This could very well be my seat in the future!
Along the way, I was still excited as the large glass windows provided an easy photography opportunity so my shutter was still clicking after I was off the plane. Passed through immigration, grabbed my bag and off onto the Airport Shuttle I go!
Nice clear view of the apron
Various CX planes
Two beauties too shy to reveal their true beauty?
Long walk to immigration
Platform of the shuttle train which makes walking shorter
Inside the airport express
Hong Kong is a place full of delicacies. “Cha can tengs” can be found all around and delicious foods are aplenty.
Curry Beef Steak Rice
Prawns with Celery and Cashew Nuts
Beef fried with Kai Lan
Braised Pig Large Intestines
Yam Cake & Pumpkin Cake
I love this cute little cup they put their Horlicks in
Curry Beef Brisket with Rice
As a new system, I will start rating my flights with regards to several pointers. Each has different weightage but all adds up to 100.
Aircraft Condition ( /30): Whether the aircraft is breaking apart of still sparkling new after numerous flights and whether the cabin is clean or dirty. Also includes aircraft exterior.
In-flight Entertainment ( /10): Choices available and quality of videos.
Food ( /10): Taste and quality of food served, number of choices available.
Service ( /20): Service standards of the cabin crew like attentiveness and effectiveness.
Seat Comfort ( /10): If the seat width, seat pitch and cushions are comfortable enough for the flight duration. May also depends if my buttocks hurt after the flight. :p
Ambience ( /10): How the ambience was like throughout the flight and if the right ambience was set at the right time.
Ground Handling ( /10): How the ground staff handles the check-in and how fast the baggage arrives at the carousel.
0 – 50: Poor (1*)
50-65: Below Average (2*)
65-70: Average (3*)
70-80: Above Average (4*)
80-100: Excellent (5*)
CX managed to deliver a high standard of service even in Economy Class on a regional flight. Despite not having the best hard product for the regional hop, service was at the highest standard. Indeed, they had proven their slogan right.
To view my previous trip reports, please visit my blog at http://danieltripreports.blogspot.com or click here. Comments are appreciated on how the blog can be improved!
[Edited 2012-01-28 08:38:14]