CX162 - SYD-HKG
5 January 2015
Airbus A330-300 - B-LAK
Seat: Premium Economy 30A
Departure: 11:25 (scheduled), 12:25 (actual)
Arrival: 17:50 (scheduled), 18:30 (actual)
Photo © K.H.Yim - AHKGAP
Photo © Hendra Barnes
In April 2014, I decided to go home to Sydney for a Christmas visit. As usual, I was going to fly with British Airways as I need to maintain my Silver status (oneworld Sapphire) with them and I get double Avios miles due to my status. I chose to fly Premium Economy as the extra space makes a huge difference on such a long journey from Dublin to Sydney.
As luck would have it, British Airways codeshare with Cathay Pacific between Sydney and Hong Kong and as I hadn't tried Cathay's Premium Economy, I decided to do a different routing to the usual. My flight over was Dublin-London Heathrow-Singapore-Sydney and the return was Sydney-Hong Kong-London Heathrow-Dublin. All of it on British Airways apart from the one sector I am writing about here.
The last time I flew Cathay Pacific was in 2009 in Business Class, which you can read about here if you like - https://www.airliners.net/aviation-forums/trip_reports/read.main/156881 - as excellent a flight as this one proved to be. After I had made my booking, I was unable to select seats using Mange My Booking on British Airways so I called Cathay Pacific in Hong Kong and had myself assigned to seat 30A. This is the bulkhead row in Premium Economy, affording no seat in front and lots of legroom.
I arrived at Sydney Airport and checked in at the Business Class counters. I was seen after a short wait, and noticed that my baggage was priority tagged as Business Class for the journey. I was also provided with a Fast-Track Immigration card which saved me time going through Passport control and was much appreciated. Once through security, I was straight into the Qantas Business Class lounge for some relaxation and champagne before the flight.
We were advised the flight was 40 minutes delayed due to weather on the outbound and this proved to be optimistic as the flight was delayed around an hour. I didn't mind too much as it would shorten my 5 hour transit in Hong Kong. The Qantas Business Class lounge is well stocked with both food and drinks.
What is also nice is that they have a Barista service so you can have fresh coffee made to order, plus a Gelato bar where you can get fresh ice cream. It's very nicely set out and all the little perks are much appreciated. It also has some rather nicely designed bathrooms.
Soon enough it was time to board and I was first on the aircraft which gave me the opportunity to take some photos before everyone else arrived. Below is seat 30A and 30B, and I was of course in the window seat. I had seen a picture similar to this on a web review of Cathay's Premium Economy which is what made me decide to choose this seat.
Cathay Pacific has recently reduced the Premium Economy seating from four rows to just three, as you can see here.
If I had two sectors, I would have liked to have tried another seat also, as underneath the Personal Television (PTV) screen, there is a space to put various belongings. The reason it has holes in it is so you can see what's there and not leave things behind. Quite a good idea in my opinion!
As no-one else had boarded, I had time to get some shots of the Economy Class cabin immediately behind Premium Economy. Below is a picture of the first row of Economy Class and you can compare the legroom to the comparable shot for Premium Economy above. The way to see the difference is that there are only two windows for Economy, whereas you have three in Premium Economy.
I also had time to take three more views of the Economy Class cabin.
By now I could hear voices approaching so it was time to pop back to my actual seat, but not before taking a close up shot. One of the differences in the product is that you get the Business Class pillow in Premium Economy as well as the Business Class noise cancelling headphones.
Outside was a nice view of the home town airline's flight being prepared for departure.
Leg room in the bulkhead seat was ample. That being said, I am not exactly tall so I find the leg room to be ample almost all the time that I fly.
Immediately in front is the bassinet position, and happily there were no babies in the Premium Economy Class cabin on this sector. There were quite a few in Economy Class though, but the noise cancelling headphones cancelled out their wails during the flight quite effectively. There's also one video screen in front as well.
As I was waiting around, I decided to get some detailed shots of my surroundings - the ones you usually don't see in Trip Reports. I rationalised that someday someone might want to know exactly what things looked like when flying Cathay Pacific in 2015 and might use my pictures to recreate it in some museum. Also, I thought it was just a cool thing to do! First off, we have a close up of the pattern on the bulkhead.
That was followed by a detailed shot of the carpet!
Finally, I thought the seat fabric was particularly interestingly designed so it got a picture also. I liked the various colours and the way they were woven together to create a very attractive seat cover.
Unlike British Airways Premium Economy where you are offered a welcome drink of water or juice, Cathay Pacific joins Qantas and offers the same as Business Class - which is water, juice or champagne. Anyone who has read my reports before should know which one I chose!
I like the nifty little slip out glass table that just fits a glass perfectly. It saves using the centre console or your tray. From what I understand, the Cathay Pacific Premium Economy seat is really the regional Business Class seat they use, with some modifications for international travel. The glasswear was Cathay Pacific branded also.
Before departure we were also offered hot towels. These were lovely fluffy ones that were soft to the touch, as opposed to the very stark, small and low quality ones that British Airways provide in the same class.
A couple more details of my surroundings - this is the centre console between the seats.
The seat controls in the first row are different to the other rows. The front row has a foot rest that raises from the base of the seat. In addition, the PTV comes out from between the seats as opposed to being on the back of the seat in front.
The Cabin Crew handed out the menu, which was very nicely presented as you can see below. By comparison the British Airways menu is a small card about the size of your hand, so the Cathay Pacific one beats it hands down.
By now we had completed boarding and we watched the Safety Demonstration and proceeded to our runway. Of course, I was presented with a lovely view of a Fiji Airways aircraft at the gate and as I rather like the colour scheme took a photo of that.
Soon enough we were in the air and on our way to Hong Kong! This is the view from seat 30A.
The PTV was out soon after takeoff and my first selection for the flight on the Studio CX system was A Samurai Chronicle.
The screen was generously sized and easy to watch, even if it wasn't immediately in front of your face as seat back screens are.
The drinks service began soon after and I decided to get myself a Bloody Mary. This came with nuts and a refresher towel as you can see below.
I asked for Tabasco sauce to go into the drink, but they didn't have any to hand. The Cabin Service Manager passed by a moment after this and unbeknownst to me, the crew member serving me asked him to get some for me from up front. This was delivered with a smile. It's the unexpected things like this that really set this airline apart! I also thought the tiny bottle was very cute indeed!
There was one more thing I really liked - the heart! It was an amazingly effective piece of subliminal branding that made me feel a bit of love for Cathay Pacific. I lost it down the side of the seat but was lucky enough to get one in a later drink to take home with me.
Now it was time to turn my attention to what, for me, is often the main event on a flight - the inflight meal! I love my food and always enjoy tasting everything that is on offer when I am flying. Today's menu selections looked like this.
It was also presented in Chinese on the facing page. I chose the Kung Po Chicken with Steamed Rice and Kailan as usually when I fly I try to choose the dish that is native to the culture of the airline I am flying - even if I don't know what it is. I chose white wine to accompany the dish. My tray arrived and looked like this.
Removing the lids resulted in this!
The starter was Shrimps on Pasta Salad, and the dessert was Sticky Date Pudding, which you can see in close up here.
The Kung Po Chicken close up is below.
The main dish is from the Business Class menu, which is common in Premium Economy. That said, I didn't go back to see what the Economy Class people were eating, so the airline could say anything they like and you probably wouldn't know. I do trust them though! I think the below picture speaks for itself on what I thought of the meal.
You also get a nifty toothpick and floss combination device to clean your teeth afterwards. No wayward Kung Po Chicken hiding in my teeth thank you!
Once the trays were cleared away, we were given a bottle of water to see us through the flight. It's always good to have this on long haul as the cabin air can dehydrate your skin. It also helps to combat the alcohol put away over lunch!
Later on in the flight I had to visit the toilet and of course I took some pictures for posterity. In Premium Economy there are signs on the bulkhead that state the toilets are aft, so you're expected to use the Economy Class facilities which is standard as technically you are still in Economy Class. What greets you first when you enter is the throne!
It also had possibly my favourite sign on it that I have ever seen! Remember, don't choke the toilet!!
... which is used when washing your hands in the basin!
Also, I decided that I'd get a shot that nobody ever gets - the toilet floor. This is not carpet obviously and has a unique pattern all its own.
Back at my seat I delved into the Studio CX system once more and found that they had all three episodes of the mini-series on Cilla Black (a famous British singer) called Cilla. Somewhere along the way I picked up an orange juice. You can also see the PTV of the person sitting next to me.
What I particularly like about Studio CX as opposed to some other inflight entertainment systems is that they have a really good selection of TV shows that you might actually want to watch. Cilla was on TV only recently in the UK and I didn't catch it, but had wanted to. It was a nice surprise to see it on board!
Around two hours before landing it was time for the second service, billed as "Refreshment" in the Menu. This time I chose the Stir Fried Egg Noodles with Chicken in Oyster Sauce and Pak Choy. The tray arrived looking like this.
The Seasonal Fresh Fruit starter is below. There was an unused bowl which possibly might have been to put the ice cream in if you so desired. What I like about the picture is you can see the detail of the pattern set in the sides of the bowls which is quite interesting.
Finally, a close up of the main meal.
It was all a bit delicious, I have to say and once again I ate it all. I had another Bloody Mary with the meal as I was hoping for another heart and I wasn't disappointed! Unfortunately no Tabasco was on offer this time, which serves me right for using it all the first time around.
I realised I hadn't yet taken a photo of the foot rest that pops out from underneath you, so I rectified that with this photo.
If you flip the metal part at the bottom towards you, your legs go comfortably over the edge. With it flipped into position, it's actually quite a comfortable way to sit as well. I think this is much better than the foot rest that comes out of the bottom of the seat in front that the rest of the cabin has.
There was some more random love from the Cathay Pacific crew as well. I hazard a guess they saw me taking pictures of literally everything and wanted to ensure I was having a good flight. The Cabin Service Manager came by and asked if I wanted another drink. When I hesitated, he said, "Champagne?" and I replied, "That would be great!". So my seat mate wasn't left out he was also offered another drink. Off the Cabin Service Manager went (forward!) and brought me back a lovely plastic glass of bubbles!
By now we were getting close to landing and I was able to open my window blind without flooding the cabin with bright sunlight. Here are a few shots of us approaching Hong Kong at sunset.
Further emphasising the fact I felt I was getting some special treatment, the Cabin Service Manager passed by again before landing and gave me a Cathay Pacific pen - which I was delighted with and will be using at work. The fasten seat belts sign came on and we descended and landed in Hong Kong without incident. I left the flight and proceeded to Cathay Pacific's The Wing Lounge for some rest and relaxation before my next sector. I quite like that they have a noodle bar, so I ordered some and washed it down with some Asahi.
I also had some Dim Sum and later I proceeded to the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge which I will detail in another report perhaps.
So, what did I think of the Cathay Pacific Premium Economy experience? I would rate it possibly on par with Qantas' excellent Premium Economy Class. It's definitely a much more premium experience than the British Airways Premium Economy class, World Traveller Plus. It was all the little details that made it so much better. For example, the larger and more well presented menu. The better quality hot towels. Champagne as an option for your welcome drink. The portion sizes of the meals were also larger than with BA, which was appreciated.
Overall the flight was excellent and I can't fault anything about it. The crew were lovely and helpful as Cathay crew always are, the meals were delicious, the inflight entertainment was head and shoulders above many other carriers I have flown, and finally the seat and cabin were wonderful. I will probably be flying on the BA codeshare via Hong Kong from now on when I go to Sydney so I can use Cathay Pacific for the SYD-HKG-SYD sectors from now on. Let's face it, Cathay are known to be one of the best carriers in the world, and they prove it even in an "Economy" class. Well done!
Thanks for reading the report - I hope you enjoyed it! If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them and I will make sure I reply.