This is the second part of my trip to Hong Kong in January 2012. For the first part, please refer to the following link.
People: They Make An Airline. Cathay SIN-HKG (by Initious Jan 28 2012 in Trip Reports)
After a wonderful 3 days in Hong Kong, it was finally time to head back to Singapore. Having a flight at 11.35am, I had to wake up early at 7am, have breakfast and head to the airport via the MTR and the Airport Express.
Upon arrival at the airport, I made a beeline to the Cathay check-in counters. It was a pretty long queue but thankfully it did not take more than 15 minutes to reach my turn. I was attended to by 2 very kind CX ground staff who were patient and provided me with all the information I needed.
Sidetracking a little here. When I booked the flight, the aircraft was listed as an Airbus A340-300 which was a new type for me and a chance for me to experience their new (and probably infamous) long haul Economy Class product. Few days before my flight, the aircraft was switched to a Boeing 777-200 which was bad news for me as 1) I have already flown on it and 2) It still has the old regional product. However, a.netters on our Facebook page has mentioned that I might get a chance to be on B-HNL, the first ever B777 built with ln 1. This has got my hopes up and I was hoping to get B-HNL as a bonus for the aircraft change.
Still remembering the aircraft type change, I decided to enquire about the aircraft used for the flight. I usually do not do this but some instinct told me so.
“May I know which aircraft is being used on the flight today?”
“It’s an Airbus A330 sir”
I was flabbergasted. I was not hoping to get an A330 as I badly wanted B-HNL. Furthermore, the aircraft was still listed as a B777 the night before. Guess it was a last minute type change.
As the aircraft type has changed, the exit row seat I booked earlier on for USD 25 was no longer valid. The CX ground staff then informed me that I was eligible for a refund and handed me a form to fill in. Being told that it takes 2 weeks for them to refund me the money, I am still confused as to how they achieve that for others as it has been 10 weeks after the flight and the money has not come in yet.
Holding my boarding pass, I headed off to immigration, sad to bid farewell to this awesome city.
CX739 operates from gate 4 today which is at the extreme end of the terminal. I love using this gate (E4 in FSX) in flight simulator as it is near the runway and it is a short taxi to takeoff. This would be the first time seeing it in real life for me. As the boarding gate was not open yet, I sat down nearby and watched the boarding process of the neighbouring flight to Chicago. Being a US-bound flight, there were additional security measures at the gate.
Just after immigration
The isolated gates 1-4
Places where they try to squeeze out every cent of HKD you have left…
Few minutes later, a Boeing 777 pulled into gate 2 and it’s headed for Osaka next. To my surprise, the plane was B-HNM, the Boeing 777-300 that brought me in from Singapore 2 days ago!
View across the 4 gates
Friend from home
China Airlines lounge
These are definitely helpful if you have heavy baggage
Well lit departure lounge
“The Wing” under some renovation
View to the other side of the airport
B-HNM pulls into the gate
Around an hour before the flight, gate 4 was finally open and I was one of the first to get into the gate. There was a ground agent going around and checking people’s boarding passes explaining to them that there was an aircraft change and their seats might be changed too. This further confirmed my suspicion that it was a last minute change. I looked out to our gate and saw our aircraft. Indeed, Cathay has given me a bonus today. I will be on B-HLU, the oneworld logojet.
Cathay Pacific Flight CX739 - 12JAN12
Origin: Hong Kong International Airport (HKG/VHHH)
Destination: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN/WSSS)
Registration: B-HLU (DEL 09SEP03)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Scheduled Time of Departure: 11.35am
Actual Time of Departure: 11.42am
Scheduled Time of Arrival: 3.25pm
Actual Time of Arrival: 3.16pm
Airborne Time: 3h 34m
Class of Travel: Economy
Boarding was soon announced and I made my way into the plane as my row was called for boarding. Upon reaching, I noticed that my seatmate is already there so my hope for an empty seat beside me was gone. As I sat down, I couldn’t help but to notice that the seat here was smaller than that on the B777 despite both being the regional product. However, there was a small difference on the seats. There is a coat hook and plastic surrounding the B777 seats but none of those were on the A333. I guess those on the B777 were the slightly newer regional products. There was also a huge IFE box underneath my seat which made the legroom smaller. Also, the controls for the IFE in the A333 are embedded in the armrest instead of having a remote control like on the B777.
B-HLU, the oneworld logojet
Long queue to boarding
View out of my window. B-KPC heading to Chicago
Ready for pushback
Pushback. Notice the ultra long jetways to gate E4
As soon as boarding was completed, we pushed back and readied ourselves for takeoff, homebound. During the taxi, I was on the lookout for the Boeing 747-8F which I have never seen with my own eyes before. Sure enough, I spotted the Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747-8F on the other side of runway 7R at the cargo apron.
What a beautiful plane!
Ready for takeoff
It was a powerful takeoff from runway 7R as the segment was far from the full capability of the Airbus A330-300. Upon takeoff, there was some slight turbulence which was pretty fun. The IFE was also activated shortly after takeoff. Peanuts and drinks were also served although I have forgotten if the drinks were served on a cart or by trays. If I am not wrong, the drinks for the afternoon service were served with a full bar service instead of pre poured on trays. Having some craving for Perrier again, I decided to ask for another can, as what I did on my outbound flight. It came pretty quickly with the FA’s signature smile, similar to what Genie had for my outbound. The Cathay crew training department must be doing a wonderful job!
Eva Air Boeing 747-400
Steep climb after takeoff
Just some random wing shots
I decided to settle down for a movie before the meal service as it would normally take at least an hour before meal service starts. The screens on the A333 were a little fuzzy but still acceptable. I flipped through the catalogue and decided to settle down for “The Inbetweeners Movie” which talks about 4 friends going on a holiday and doing crazy stuffs. Not the type of holiday I’d want though. However, I might do something crazy like doing a daytrip just to get on an aircraft or airline I been wanting to fly on. This is normal for us a.netters though, isn’t it.?
Never seen Perrier with this design before
View across the cabin
As I only ate very little for breakfast earlier in the day, I was absolutely famished while waiting for the meal. The meal service finally started 100 minutes into the flight. This took longer than normal and I wondered why it took so long. It did not take long for the meal cart to reach my row and the choices were Fish Linguine and Spicy Chicken with Rice. For some reason I did not have the mood for any western choices so I went with the oriental one instead and chose the chicken. It turned out to be one of the best meals I’ve ever had in Economy. Cathay really scores in food out of Hong Kong!
Spicy Chicken with Rice
What else can you ask for?
After an absolutely satisfying meal, we were already somewhere over Ho Chi Minh City where we encountered some turbulence again. Chinese Tea was served after all the meal trays were collected and being a great Chinese Tea lover, I naturally wanted a cup. For some reason, the tea that I have outside always seem more diluted than what I have at home. (In fact I am drinking Chinese Tea while writing this report!) Those I have outside whether on a plane or in a restaurant always taste like plain water.
The craving in me for Perrier has not died off yet and I decided to ask for another can when the cup was collected. It came within a minute to which I was pretty impressed. Service on this flight was great but the hardware is definitely dated. Therefore, I was pretty glad when the captain announced that we will be descending into Singapore shortly and it is rainy and 26 deg C in Singapore.
Perrier, now with the default design
A video was shown on the PTVs about the Change for Good campaign which Cathay participates in to help the needy children around the world and we were encouraged to put in our loose change in the envelopes that the cabin crew will be distributing. Having around 110 HKD left, I decided to donate all to the campaign since I have not much use for the money back in Singapore.
Change for Good
After the envelopes were collected, the cabin was prepared for landing. This was when my seatmate decided to ask me the reason for taking notes of the flight and taking photos of everything. I told him about my love for aviation and how I write trip reports to share my experiences with fellow aviation enthusiasts to which he seem pretty impressed. He is from the Washington state in the USA and flies around pretty frequently for business, which made me pretty jealous. :P
Weather not looking very good
On final approach
The Star Alliance livery Boeing 777-300, 9V-SYE
Dramatic clouds in the background
Tiger Airways taking a rest
For the rich ones
Ultra long haul and long haul birds
Thai Airways International Boeing 777-200 HS-TJE which flew me DXB-BKK last year
Time to leave the plane
Waiting for people to leave
Goodbye, B-HLU! Kingfisher in the background which is in danger of collapsing currently
We touched down in Singapore at 3.16pm, 9 minutes before STA and made a quick taxi to the gate which brought my Cathay experience to an end.
As a new system, I will start rating my flights with regards to several pointers. Each has different weightage but all add 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*)
I did not travel extensively this time, but I do have some photos to share!
Typical Hong Kong scene at Mong Kok
The MTR is crowded even at 4pm
Breakfast for my last day – Gong Chai Noodles which actually is instant noodles
Waiting for the Airport Express at Tsing Yi
Charging sockets at the waiting lounge
Heater – It’s cold in January!
A typical Hong Konger’s flat
Octopus card – The pass to go around Hong Kong
Smoked Duck and Chinese Waxed Sausages
Homemade soup, heartwarming
*The above dishes were all made by my 90 year old granduncle
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!