FLIGHT # 1
CATHAY PACIFIC Flight Information:
KCX738 31MAR26OCT 1234567 311333DXBDXB2305 11101HKGHKG J
2.2 years old, delivered to Cathay Pacific in May 2011.
DUBAI TO HONG KONG
Welcome to Cathay Pacific's new Business Class
Turning right, I am faced with the new Business layout for the first time. An almost full house tonight, the ambience certainly feels less busy than the previous herringbone affair. With this, passengers are not fully exposed to others parading down the aisle with their luggage looking clueless and hopeful that the check-in agents mistakenly assigned them to a Business Class seat.
Smart-looking, and revolutionary; that is all I can say about the cabin. Narrower aisles make way for a more congested feel, but this is a total non-issue once seated and in total privacy. Also, Cathay is quite generous with its mood-lighting in Business Class, and the current setting was on a slightly hued ambience that was perfect to set the pre-tone for a comfortable overnight flight.
Unlike its predecessor, all the seats in this layout are facing away from where the main action takes place; the aisles. Moreover, every seat -whether singular windows, or coupled-centers- offer the same levels of comfort. You really do not have to be a couple to enjoy the center pair of seats, but those facing the windows offer a view that is an added bonus.
At my seat at 15A, a fresh pillow was placed over the seatbelt, a plastic-wrapped duvet was found on the footstool in front of me, the usual set of inflight literature placed accordingly in their location to my right, and an array of gadgets, storage compartments, and personal space all around me. Everything was within arms reach at the most, and the feel of privacy is so impressive. And as an added bonus, this mini-suite also featured a small step between the seat and the footstool that can go a very long way in terms of comfort. You'd really need to try it and see for yourself! All in all, Cathay is my favorite airline, and this Business Class has my favorite seat!
Pillow & blanket
Inflight literature rack
As soon as I was seated, Flight Attendant Kitty from Hong Kong quickly appeared at my seat with a tray of welcome drinks on offer.
“Welcome on board sir, would you care for something to drink? I have Orange juice, Apple juice, Champagne, and Water”
Champagne is the rule before takeoff!
After the welcome drink service, glasses were swiftly collected and hot towels dispatched. At 11pm, the seatbelt sign was switched on, and this was the cue for the introductory announcement by our Australian captain. He advised that -to my misfortune of course- due to favorable tailwinds, he was getting us into Hong Kong in a relatively quick 6 hours and 58 minutes.
More of the interior
Everything is within easy reach here!
The doors were closed at 11:05pm -at the scheduled departure time- and the safety video was blasted on the IFE screens.
Service and interaction since boarding had been relatively rushed until this point. Everything was carried out at the time it should have been, but no connection was yet established between the crew and the passengers. Right now, this was about to change.
It is when the Senior Purser -Teresa from Hong Kong is tonight's example- distributes the menus, that an extensive amount of effort is made to get to know everyone. Using Cathay's potent mix of personal/professional dialogue -something only
perfected by Cathay- this cabin crew role is what makes or breaks the soft product experience. And, the interaction that does take place seems to always go long enough a ways to make my trips with this airline quite memorable.
"Mr. Hawi, welcome on board, I hope you are not too tired to join us for supper tonight?"
"Never! It is my first time to experience the new Business Class product, and I am very excited"
"Really? This is great. I hope you will enjoy it"
"Mr. Hawi, this is your menu and wine list for the flight, and my name is Teresa. Please let me know if you need anything"
As she proceeded to the other passengers, I couldn't help but notice how professionally she interacted with them. Everything looked like it was flowing smoothly and not scripted from a manifest, and depending on the passenger she was addressing, she would begin by saying things like Mr. XYZ, "You must be tired after a long journey", "Looking well-rested tonight", or the infamous "Nice to see you again". Naturally, those worthy Marco Polo elites -in which there was quite the number on board tonight- got the extra treatment with a little more fluff on the dialogue. Feels like science, and Cathay has mastered it tonight!
Drinks on offer
Since I do not normally have wine, I take a quick glance through the alcoholic offering on the list -even though I do not know what's what really- before I stow it away.
A special insert in the wine list
The aircraft sprung into life as we pushed back at 11:10pm, and so did the mood-lighting as it alternated between varying hues of what felt like a discoteka afterhours theme.
At 11:30pm -already over the runway's piano keys- we thundered down and lifted off into the dark Dubai skies. During the climb to cruise, we banked towards the east, and from then it was more or less a straight line all the way to Hong Kong. Just before arriving at a comfy cruise, the Captain signaled with a few seatbelt sign dings to the cabin crew that it was safe to be released and commence the service.
Amenity kits were distributed
Followed by evian water bottles
As the crew began to dress everyone's tables for supper, I grabbed the menu to remind myself what I was in the mood to feast my brains out on. Needless to say, this is airline food, and I do not have to be hungry to eat as much of it as possible. But I was hungry anyways.
My table was dressed with white linen
Soon enough, Teresa and Co, were out and about the aisles with the drinks trolley, neatly set up with beverages and glasses for the drinks service.
“Any drinks for you Mr. Hawi?”
“May I have a Bloody Mary please?”
Bloody Mary is the rule after takeoff
A short while later, Teresa -along with Emily- reappeared with the main meal trolley -the more industrial looking kind that is obviously different to the fancy shamncy drinks one- for the supper service.
“Mr. Hawi, will you be having the full supper or the light option tonight?”
“I'll have the full supper please”
My tray was pulled out of the compartment, and after a few grabs and reshuffles over the trolley, it was neatly placed on my table. And immediately after, I was offered a selection from the bread basket.
In this industry today, we have become seasoned enough to question the 'attractiveness' of meal trays offered in Business Class. Many seem to dismiss any airline that still uses them today, whereas others probably do not care. I for one, am not decided yet, but I seem to not be overly finicky for now. Needless to say, all but one of my top five airlines still use them and I still keep flying them relentlessly. But I can't help to think, will we want to follow the trends set by Singapore Airlines, and Qatar Airways? Or would be want to keep the meal trays, but bling-bling them up a notch so they would look nicer as they do now on Etihad? I think either one of these two would be the commonality in the future.
But one thing I do admire on Cathay, is that they know exactly what to change and what not. The latest design of their trays and presentation is new enough to bring a fresh look on board, but important elements such as the infamous salt and pepper shakers remained from generations apast because they are one of the few things some of us seem to keep in memory from a previous meal on board.
On my supper tray, the usual items were neatly placed and those included the salad plate, dressing, butter, water glass, bread plate, silverware/napkin, and of course, the salt and pepper shakers. Last but not least, it is always nice to see what -at the current period- matters most to Cathay, with the little update on a small card clipped to the napkin. This time, it is the 5th daily London Flight.
Fresh, cold, and crispy, is how I like my salad, and tonight's offering was just that. Tender pieces of chicken, and a well-suited dressing were an added bonus so no complaints here. Similarly, the bread was heated appropriately, and was not overly microwaved at the time I began to bite into it. However, just as Emirates had set an extremely high benchmark on the IFE front, Etihad followed a similar path with its bread in Business Class. Unfortunately, nothing is ever going to compare to it (including many restaurants!).
Kitty conducts the main course service, and soon enough the trolley was rolled close to my seat. On Cathay, main course orders are not taken beforehand, but the different options are placed on a trolley so you could see what you're getting. Frankly, it is more appropriate than the disappointment of hearing “i'm so sorry but we are out of that option” as you may see something else that you'd like instead.
“Mr. Hawi, what would you like for your main course?”
“This is the chicken with black bean sauce, and I also have fish with potatoes and vegetables”
“I'll take the chicken please”
Meal tray with main course
Since I last flew Cathay in Business Class, there seem to have been a few changes in the presentation of the Chinese main course. More in a stylish and traditional setting now, the rice and the protein portions are on separate plates, and accompanied by wooden chopsticks. Definitely a welcome change!
Supper is served
I am a big fan of chicken with black bean sauce, and this dish tasted exactly as I had expected it to. Tender succulent pieces of chicken, crispy broccoli that was adequately cooked, and tons of deep flavor from the black bean sauce and beyond. A great meal overall that went down my digestive system without a hitch.
My plate was promptly cleared and just in time for the dessert trolley which was stacked with tonight's offer of cheese, fruit, and cappuccino brownie & passion fruit cup. Many airlines try to pass dessert off as a multi-offering to your liking on the menu, but only allow you to choose one item when reality hits. Well not on Cathay; tonight we are offered what we want and as many of it as we please, more or less. I chose both the cheese plate and the brownie, and the couple seated next to me went for one of each of the three.
Cheese & dessert
Cappuccino brownie and passion fruit cup
Since cheese is really cheese, you can't go wrong with its taste especially if you like the slightly rotten stuff. Similarly, the dessert wasn't a letdown as the brownie was nice and moist, and went well with the unique flavors of the cappuccino and the accompanying passion fruit cup. Or maybe it was because I was a tad on the excited side overall that I appreciated everything Cathay Pacific threw at me? A bit perhaps, but the food did taste good!
My table was cleared as soon as I was through, and I was set free into the cruise portion of the flight. The sit-back-relax-and-do-nothing part that lasts for as long as you make out of it!
As the cabin lights were dimmed, most of us fell asleep for the remainder of the flight. The couple seated next to me were far too excited to be in Business Class that they continued to slowly enjoy their three-course dessert, whilst taking pictures of almost everything around them. It is always refreshing to see how non-aviation people like them enjoy their flights.
After hot towels were distributed then collected to conclude the meal service, Teresa returned to my seat with a comment card and a Cathay-branded pen.
"Mr. Hawi, you seem very energetic, and excited tonight. Would you be so kind to fill out a comment card for us?"
Comment card & pen
Cabin after the meal service
Now it was time to relax in my seat, and explore what it offered to comfort me. Well to summarize, this seat featured everything I would normally look for. In its seated position, it was spacious on the width and certainly on the legroom part as well. The mini-step is perfect for resting your feet on, and the footstool works wonders for leaving junk you may want to use later on whilst in-flight. On my left, a mini tech-station is located within easy reach, and this includes the IFE controller, seat controls, additional lighting, a power socket, and a few media input ports. The headsets also have their own compartment, that also comes with an SQ
-type of vanity mirror.
all types of controls within easy reach
In terms of storage, an empty rack is located under the table to the left of the seat, and can accommodate lots of things for storage. In my case, this was lenses, batteries, notebook, and so on. Furthermore, to add to your comfort whilst in seated position, this seat also features a movable armrest that can be pushed downwards into the seat for added space. All in all, Cathay really nailed it with this Business Class seat.
My armrest was pushed down while my neighbor's was extended up
And in its lie-flat position, the seat extends its offering to greater lengths that went beyond my height as I was able to lay down without my cramming my feet all over a surface. Either i'm becoming shorter as I get older, or the design in this seat made for something revolutionary such as this.
Cathay, it's always nice to be in bed with you
I did not really need to 'explore' StudioCX, but I did browse through it to find something different to watch. Nowadays we all say that nothing can be compared to Emirates's ICE because it is the best and so on, but for now let's push ICE aside and discuss StudioCX for a minute. It is a very good system, both in its interface and also in its rich content. And if for any reason I am in a mood to watch a series of some sort, it will be available in back to back episodes in quite the quantity on StudioCX.
Missing my 2012 residency! The coolest country in the GCC!
But a quick check on the route info is always more interesting
My new thing to do on planes is watching foreign movies -most likely from the operating carrier's home country- with English subtitles. I almost never make it to the end as reading the subtitles always sets me into a deep sleep however, as I was on board a Hong Kong-based airline, it was only appropriate to watch Days of Being Wild.
Hong Kong airline, Hong Kong movie
I fell asleep for about two and a half hours only to wake up approximately two hours before arrival to an ambient setting of the cabin's mood lighting system. While my sleep was rather short, the fact that it was uninterrupted and quite satisfying only tells me that this bed is genius!
As it was close to meal time, a quick browse through the breakfast menu was in order.
Preparations were well underway for breakfast, and in no time the performances commenced in the aisles. Teresa and the gang reappeared and were towering over two trolleys, one of which was for coffee/tea, while the other was for the meal trays and their accompaniments.
“Good morning Mr. Hawi, hope you managed to get some sleep?”
“You seem so enthusiastic today, we hope you have enjoyed the flight with us”
“Definitely. Everything is great”
“Thank you Mr. Hawi. May I offer you some coffee or tea with your breakfast?”
“No thank you, I will just have some water please”
After my table was dressed, my meal tray was gently placed on my table and I was offered a selection of breakfast pastries from the bread basket. As always, on my tray was a neat setup that included a fruit cup, a tub of strawberry yoghurt -in which I was offered a choice between strawberry, plain, and blueberry- butter, preserve, a glass of water, breakfast preserves, silverware/napkin, and a wet towelette.
Butter & strawberry preserve
Moments later, Kitty was in the aisles with a separate tray that held the main course options, which today were seafood congee or cheese omelette. My choice was clear-cut, and it definitely wasn't the seafood option.
Tray with main course
A perfectly cooked omelette, ice-cold fresh fruit, and melting-warm breakfast pastries that did not shrivel up in the microwave; all in all a decent setting for a great breakfast on Cathay Pacific.
Once finished -and with me it is always quick- my meal tray was promptly collected by Teresa. I had kindly asked to take a picture of the crew as a memento from this trip, and without a hassle she said she will come back to me once they are through in the galley.
Cabin after breakfast
Photos are always welcome on Cathay!!!
At 10:00am local time in Hong Kong, our Australian captain made an announcement that we were soon to commence our descent towards Hong Kong. My favorite part of this announcement is when it is concluded by the customary “cabin crew, 30 minutes to arrival, 30 minutes to arrival”.
Cabin shots again
The seatbelt sign was switched on at some point during the descent, and by then the crew were mostly through with stowing the galley up. Cathay -much like all the other Asian carriers- take seatbelt signs quite seriously, and so the crew was in the aisles ensuring that we were all secure for landing.
Final cabin shots before landing
I know i'm ready to land, but not quite ready to leave the plane!
ARRIVAL HONG KONG
At 10:30pm we touchdown at HKG
, and in no time we dock at a gate. Hong Kong at this hour isn't at its busiest time so normally things are quick.
Gathering our belongings together
Thanking the crew for the great flight, I am now set free into the terminal and in search for for my connecting flight.
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