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Tesla
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Cathay Pacific Middle-Seat Business Class, 777-300

Sat Oct 10, 2015 7:34 pm

Cathay Pacific Middle-Seat Business Class, 777-300


Background: Cathay Pacific has only three Boeing 747-400 passenger jets remaining in their fleet, and their retirement is imminent. My trip to Asia this year was likely my last before their 747s are withdrawn, so it was a priority to get on one somehow during this trip. After a lot of research I found that their HKG-HND route was almost exclusively operated by the 747. In fact 87 of the last 90 flights on the route were 747s. I redeemed AAdvantage miles for my Cathay Pacific 747 flight, Business Class on the upper deck, HKG-HND. Spoiler alert...Cathay Pacific in their infinite wisdom decided not to operate the 747 for my flight, and substituted a regionally-configured 777-300 instead. Even though a 777-300 was a new aircraft for me, it was by far the most disappointing aircraft change I'd ever experienced. I almost decided to skip a trip report, but later changed my mind since it was at least my first-ever 777-300. In any case, this report details my flight to Japan, the main destination of my trip, aboard my first-ever 777-300 with Cathay Pacific in their regional Business Class. Please enjoy the report, and I look forward to your comments.


HKG-HND

Cathay Pacific CX542

Monday, August 31, 2015

Departure: 16:25 (actual 16:56)

Arrival: 21:35 (actual 22:01)

Actual Block Time: 4h5

Actual Flight Time: 3h30

Seat: 11E Business Class

Boeing 777-300


For my hotel in Hong Kong, I had chosen the W Hong Kong in Kowloon. I had always wanted to stay at the W, and I finally decided to do so in Hong Kong because the hotel has a fleet of Tesla Model S electric cars! Instead of riding the Hong Kong Airport Express train, I had reserved a Tesla for my trip to the airport. My Tesla departed the W at 14:00.


W Hong Kong Tesla transfer to the airport!

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https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5745/21797303326_b7099346f9_c.jpg

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5659/21635404550_8348fa89a7_c.jpg


I always love riding in the Tesla, especially my first ride in the cool right-hand drive version, but today's trip wasn't all that exciting, due in no small part to Hong Kong's strict laws against speeding and numerous speed cameras the entire way to the airport.


I arrived to HKG to find Cathay Pacific's check-in area. I found only economy check-in and bag drop areas. With no lines, I approached a counter to check-in with an agent. I attempted to verify my 747 upper deck seat assignment when the agent told me the one bit of news that I absolutely did not want to hear: "There is no upper deck today!" Cathay Pacific had changed the aircraft! 87 of the last 90 flights from HKG to HND had been operated by Cathay's 747, and that was the sole reason for my trip today. I simply could not believe that I had such bad luck to get an aircraft swap on a route that was so reliably operated by the 747. With all the flights I had arranged for my trip this year, I would have most certainly not chosen this particular flight if not for the 747. I would have picked one of a number of alternates I had had in mind instead. Extremely disappointed, I asked what the aircraft for today's flight was. The agent said a 777. She also said it was 100% full and I had been assigned a middle seat! So not only did I lose the 747 upper deck, I was now stuck on a regional 777 with 2-3-2 Business Class in one of the few middle seats. What luck.


I found a short, fast line for security and then exit immigration. I checked my gate to verify that the aircraft wasn't a 747, somehow hoping to see the Queen of the Skies parked at my gate after all. It wasn't meant to be, and I found B-HNK, a Boeing 777-300 parked at my gate. At least it is a new aircraft type for me. But that fact really didn't make up for losing the rare Cathay Pacific 747. B-HNK was built in 1999 and has been with CX her whole life.


At the gate in HKG:

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https://farm1.staticflickr.com/590/21673316831_4020d132a7_c.jpg


I spotted a Transaero 747-400, the first time I'd seen one of those - and very happy to see it since Transaero is about to declare bankruptcy. Fortunately I did not see any Cathay 747-400s. That would have only heightened my disappointment in missing out on my CX 747 flight.


Transaero 747-400, EI-XLI:

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/724/21476325530_70ac0a9aea_c.jpg


I spent the rest of my time in the lounge before returning for boarding. Boarding was set for 15:45 for our 16:25 departure. Everyone queued up, but instead of starting boarding at 15:45, agents instead moved throughout the line doing another passport check. Boarding didn't begin until 15:55. Dual jetways were in use so I boarded through L1. I had seat 11E, the middle seat in the first row on the plane. The first row has only the center section of 3 seats. Subsequent rows have 2-3-2 seating.


Seats 11DEG:

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5654/21638108076_46546ff79c_c.jpg

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5668/21664138015_5d3e1250a2_c.jpg


A pillow was waiting on each seat. I settled in to my first-ever seat on Cathay Pacific, my first-ever 777-300, and my first-ever Business Class middle seat. I have to start by saying that middle seats are unacceptable in Business Class. Business Class isn't cheap, and to be charged high prices for a middle seat just isn't okay. And with load at 100%, I would have people on both sides. I found decent bulkhead legroom, but pretty similar to domestic F - the bare minimum which would be acceptable for international J. The seat was comfortable but not too wide. It was really a similar seat to domestic F, but with the addition of a legrest. Individual IFE screens were mounted to the bulkhead. The screens had high resolution, but were not privacy screens, so I could see both of my seatmates' screens as well. There were no overhead air vents, and it was a bit warm in the cabin. But the worst part of the seat, aside from the fact it was a middle seat, was that there was absolutely no view outside. Instead of the full 2-3-2 seating, the first row has only the center section of 3 seats. To the left was the restroom (at least the restroom door faced the galley and not the seats), and to the right was a closet. And forward of us were the doors. So here was another first for me: no view outside!


IFE screens:

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5816/21664166185_8f2e5761e8_c.jpg


Nice view of Door L1:

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5646/21638127216_e39889f493_c.jpg


And my view from 11E:

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5653/21477365339_48b1bf018c_c.jpg


Hot towels and pre-departure beverages were offered: either orange juice, water, champagne, or Cathay Delight smoothies. Since I'd already had a Cathay Delight in the lounge, I went with a champagne.


Pre-departure champagne:




Safety Card:




Legroom Shot:

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5831/21476337478_e66006f0c0_c.jpg


The captain announced a flight time of 3h38, with turbulence expected during the flight. He sounded Australian, and made the announcement only in English. Other announcements ended up being English first, then Chinese and then Japanese. Interesting that English was first, and that the captain's announcements were only in English.


I noticed the inflight magazine and duty free catalog were individually wrapped in plastic at each seat. Are they re-wrapped for each flight? The door was closed at 16:22. Blankets were offered, but it was a bit warm already so I declined. The safety video was shown; it was dual-language, English first then Chinese. The captain announced a delay; we now expect pushback a half hour late, at 16:55. Menus and Japanese immigration/customs forms were given out, and then another round of beverages due to the delay. The IFE was enabled on the ground, so I took advantage of the ground delay to check out what was on offer. StudioCX has a lot of content and a good screen. I'd been wanting to watch A Most Wanted Man with Philip Seymour Hoffman again, but hadn't found it on any previous flights. I was happy to find it available in the StudioCX. I selected the movie but then had to endure a straight 5 minutes of advertisements before it would play.   


Second PDB due to ground delay:




We pushed back at 16:56 and began to taxi at 17:02. We had a very long taxi only to end up as #10 for departure. The taxi was very strange because I couldn't see outside. I could only feel slight motion and bumps, and could hardly tell we were moving. It was amazing how much sight (or lack thereof) affects the feeling of motion. The captain apologized for the delay. We finally tookoff at 17:26. It was a takeoff from a stop. The takeoff was pretty quiet; sitting front-and-center was the furthest possible seat from the engines. 777s have huge powerful engines, but the takeoff was pretty underwhelming. There was not much pushback in the seat, and I could only feel bumps on the runway. Again amazed how no view outside reduced the feeling of motion on the takeoff. We had a very long takeoff roll, and I could hardly even tell when we lifted off. That made 2-for-2 underwhelming 777 takeoffs. I'd really like to get one where I can experience the power of the huge engines.


Curtains were closed and finally it started to cool off in the cabin. The ground delay and taxi had been getting really warm. The warm temperature combined with feeling motion with no view outside, and now some turbulence, were all making me feel a bit sick. I never get motion sickness on a flight, so I was really glad that the air conditioning had started up! I decided to recline and try to get comfortable. I found out that as the seatback reclined, the seatbottom also slides forward. The legrest can also be brought up, but the more I reclined, the more my feet hit the bulkhead. This seat, while comfortable, was really not up to par for a Business Class seat.


Finally the turbulence subsided enough for the seatbelt sign to be turned off, and I immediately took a restroom break. Right after, the seatbelt sign was back on. But the rest of the passengers who wanted to use the restroom decided to ignore it, and flight attendants didn't seem to mind that.


Service was back-to-front, and it began with being greeted by name. Beverages and nuts were offered. I had to go with a water, hoping to feel better later to be able to order a Chinese beer.




Appetizers were served next: Poached Angel prawns, mixed seasonal salad with sesame soy dressing, and maten tea noodles. The appetizer was good, but I was surprised that the noodles were cold.

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5834/21041539744_eb339a006c_c.jpg


Entrees were brought out on a trolley, with all the options available to be seen. Nice presentation. I chose the Stir-fried chicken, cashew nut, jade melon, deep-fried garlic, medlar seeds and steamed jasmine rice. I'm happy to report that I now felt better, and I asked for a Chinese or Hong Kong beer. The option satisfying this request was a Tsingtao. There was a bit of turbulence during dinner. The chicken was cooked nicely and had pretty good flavor.




Cheese and fruit were offered, again from the trolley. Port wine was offered to those choosing the cheese. I picked the fruit.

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5742/21476299620_518b7f44fd_c.jpg


Finally ice cream was offered - vanilla, strawberry, or Belgian chocolate. I chose the chocolate, and decided I'd ask for another beer. This time I picked a Victoria Bitter. I hadn't had that beer before. It was brewed in Australia.

https://farm1.staticflickr.com/604/21043227003_18dd5d206c_c.jpg


I should mention that every time a flight attendant interacted with me, it was by name. Very nice. After dinner, hot towels were given out and then the lights were shut off. I relaxed and watched A Most Wanted Man.


The bulkhead row was really not very good. I really didn't like having zero view outside. There wasn't enough space to recline and stretch out. And there was a lot of traffic in the aisles, with passengers going to the restroom and cabin crew coming and going from the galley. Speaking of cabin crew, there were at least four dedicated to the J cabin, two on each aisle. Probably for that reason, service had really been very good.


The movie finished at 21:15 with about 45 minutes to go. It was time to listen to music. The captain announced an expected landing at 22:00, and sincerely apologized for the delay in Hong Kong. The temperature at HND was 23 degrees. Flight attendants went around with pre-arrival water, yes please. And we began descent.


At 21:41 the captain requested that the cabin be prepared for arrival. Lights were turned back on. Landing was at 21:56 - and it was a pretty unexpected landing since I couldn't see outside! I couldn't see it coming. We were at the gate at 22:01. I hung back to be the last J passenger onboard to get a cabin shot.


Cathay Pacific 777-300 J Cabin after arrival:

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5798/21673389531_d695c01487_c.jpg


I left the plane to find a bus. That was a surprise, we were at a remote stand. With the lack of windows, I couldn't even tell we weren't at a jetway gate! It was interesting to listen to the other passengers on the bus. They were very dissatisfied with the aircraft change. Some passengers had been booked in F, but downgraded to J. And J passengers who considered the 777-300 J product to be as bad as Economy. Just terrible. I had unintentionally been the last one on the bus, which made me the first one off when we got to the terminal. But many people were running inside for some reason. Turned out that the immigration line moved quite slowly; I guess the runners had wanted to be at the front of the line. The line took about 10 minutes for me, but by then it appeared to be closer to an hour long. After immigration, checked bags were already arriving.


After customs I got cash from an ATM and headed to the airport express bus counter. I was taking a bus to Shibuya. The bus ended up being operated by Keikyu Limousine Bus. It was a pretty quick ride, and not too crowded.


HND Bus Service:

https://farm6.staticflickr.com/5686/21477417079_0688ecc021_c.jpg




I have mixed feelings on this flight. Inflight service had been great. It was pretty nice to be greeted by name 100% of the time, and the food had been good. The hard product, on the other hand, didn't live up to the soft product. The IFE was good, but the seat wasn't. I highly recommend not sitting at the bulkhead because I really didn't like having no view outside. Overall though the biggest problem was the downgrade from international J seats on the 747 upper deck. It's hard to explain, because (middle seat notwithstanding) the regional J seat would typically be fine for a 3h flight like this. But to be planning on an international-style seat on the upper deck, only to lose it at the last minute, was a big letdown. I would have flown other routes to try different airlines/aircraft had I known the 747 wouldn't be operating my flight. The other J passengers seemed to agree, and it would have truly been a disappointment to be an F passenger downgraded to regional J. If a 747 was suddenly not available, another F/int'l J equipped bird should have been used. Anything else just results in disappointment among F/J passengers. In the end, I would certainly be willing to fly CX again in the future, but for this flight in particular, I would have preferred to get on some different carriers than CX's regional 773.
 
WearyDrover
Posts: 659
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RE: Cathay Pacific Middle-Seat Business Class, 777-300

Sun Oct 11, 2015 12:21 am

Hi Tesla,

What a pity, what should have been a Mission 747 turned to disappointment.

Bad enough the aircraft substitution but being reallocated the middle seat when a window was requested makes it worse.

When it comes to substitution I guess they have to look at what's available and what causes least disruption. Disappointing two or three F passengers on this flight may have been preferable to disappointing 6 or seven on another, assuming a suitable aircraft is available.

Good to see that the inflight service made up in part for the lack og the 747. I ended up with a middle seat once. It was quite funny: I ended up with two amenity kits and the wine was topped up from both sides.   
A man may learn wisdom even from a foe - Aristophanes
 
jacobchoi
Posts: 126
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RE: Cathay Pacific Middle-Seat Business Class, 777-300

Mon Oct 12, 2015 8:18 am

I am to sorry to hear of your disappointment, hope you have a better flight on cx next time. They only have 3 744s left, so chances of getting a substitution if anything goes tech is high. I would've thought they would've substituted a 4 class 77W if they had one considering that Haneda is always a premium route. To be fair, there are probably a lot more routes in the US with domestic F that have a longer flight time than HKG-HND. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading your report and by the way, those japanese noodles are supposed to be cold.

[Edited 2015-10-12 01:20:16]
 
gabrielchew
Posts: 3817
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RE: Cathay Pacific Middle-Seat Business Class, 777-300

Mon Oct 12, 2015 12:17 pm

Shame you got a [plane change. I did this route a few years ago on the upper deck - nice flight, although we were delayed 2 hours.

Quoting Tesla (Thread starter):
I found decent bulkhead legroom, but pretty similar to domestic F - the bare minimum which would be acceptable for international J. The seat was comfortable but not too wide. It was really a similar seat to domestic F

Remember, this is the regional business class seat, so should be akin to "domestic" F. I flew this seat last week PNH-HKG, and found in perfectly acceptable (although I was expecting it!)

Quoting Tesla (Thread starter):
I selected the movie but then had to endure a straight 5 minutes of advertisements before it would play.

Did you not try fast forwarding it?! Workd for me yesterday.

Quoting Tesla (Thread starter):
Some passengers had been booked in F, but downgraded to J. And J passengers who considered the 777-300 J product to be as bad as Economy. Just terrible

I was goig to mention that. Having to downgrade so many people would NOT have been top of CXs to do list, so I guess the choice was a swap or a cancellation. And for the record, regional J is NOT as bad as economy!
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Tesla
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RE: Cathay Pacific Middle-Seat Business Class, 777-300

Mon Oct 12, 2015 3:06 pm

Quoting WearyDrover (Reply 1):
What a pity, what should have been a Mission 747 turned to disappointment.

Bad enough the aircraft substitution but being reallocated the middle seat when a window was requested makes it worse.

I agree. The seat would have been good had I not been expecting the int'l J product.

Quoting jacobchoi (Reply 2):
To be fair, there are probably a lot more routes in the US with domestic F that have a longer flight time than HKG-HND. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reading your report and by the way, those japanese noodles are supposed to be cold.

Correct, you can fly twice as far in US domestic F as I did on this flight. The CX regional J seat was fine; it was just a letdown after expecting the int'l product. And of course the middle seat isn't very desirable.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 3):
Remember, this is the regional business class seat, so should be akin to "domestic" F. I flew this seat last week PNH-HKG, and found in perfectly acceptable (although I was expecting it!)

For me it was certainly a problem of expectations. I didn't like the middle seat, and most definitely didn't like not being able to see outside at all, but other than those gripes, the seat was good, if not for those pesky expectations   

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 3):
Did you not try fast forwarding it?! Workd for me yesterday.

Good tip!   

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 3):
I was goig to mention that. Having to downgrade so many people would NOT have been top of CXs to do list, so I guess the choice was a swap or a cancellation. And for the record, regional J is NOT as bad as economy!

Yeah that makes good sense I suppose. The passenger's comment that regional J is as bad as economy amused me enough to include it in the report. I did not agree with him. To me, J is always better than Y, regional or not. Unlike that passenger I always make sure to appreciate the good fortune of sitting up front.
 
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777GE90
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RE: Cathay Pacific Middle-Seat Business Class, 777-300

Tue Oct 13, 2015 8:57 pm

Great report, thank you for sharing  .
Image
 
KLMA330
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RE: Cathay Pacific Middle-Seat Business Class, 777-300

Thu Oct 15, 2015 1:32 pm

You want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans  

sorry about your luck buddy  
 
PresRDC
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RE: Cathay Pacific Middle-Seat Business Class, 777-300

Fri Oct 30, 2015 6:27 pm

That's terrible. I care less about the aircraft type than I do the seat, but, if I were you, I would have refused to travel and made them rebook me on a more suitable flight.
 
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777Jet
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RE: Cathay Pacific Middle-Seat Business Class, 777-300

Fri Oct 30, 2015 10:29 pm

Interesting TR!

Quoting Tesla (Thread starter):
Middle-Seat Business Class

That's a sin!

No real J class should ever have a middle seat...

Quoting Tesla (Thread starter):
I attempted to verify my 747 upper deck seat assignment when the agent told me the one bit of news that I absolutely did not want to hear: "There is no upper deck today!" Cathay Pacific had changed the aircraft!

Ouch!

You got TGed by CX lol...

Quoting Tesla (Thread starter):
So not only did I lose the 747 upper deck, I was now stuck on a regional 777 with 2-3-2 Business Class in one of the few middle seats. What luck.

That really sucks. I feel for you...

Quoting Tesla (Thread starter):
Cathay Pacific 777-300 J Cabin after arrival:

The two FAs at the back on the left are giving you the eye hahaha...

Better luck with your next equipment chase...
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EL-AL
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RE: Cathay Pacific Middle-Seat Business Class, 777-300

Sun Nov 01, 2015 9:15 am

Hey Tesla,

Thank you for the report.

I am sorry you missed the chance to fly the 747, it is very disappointing to have a last minute equipment change. When I had my last MD11 flight in 2014 I was praying that there will be no last minute change in AMS.

The JCL product is indeed not very impressive, for sure for an airline line Cathay Pacific. It looks like a good Y+ and no more.

Hope you had nice time in Japan after all.

Thx for shearing, Jonathan
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Tesla
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RE: Cathay Pacific Middle-Seat Business Class, 777-300

Fri Nov 06, 2015 2:02 pm

Quoting PresRDC (Reply 7):

That's terrible. I care less about the aircraft type than I do the seat, but, if I were you, I would have refused to travel and made them rebook me on a more suitable flight.

Interesting thought; I wonder how that would have worked since I was traveling on an AA miles redemption. Thanks for reading!

Quoting 777Jet (Reply 8):
No real J class should ever have a middle seat...

Agreed!

Quoting 777Jet (Reply 8):
Better luck with your next equipment chase...

Thanks! I have had good luck for the most part except for this one.

Quoting EL-AL (Reply 9):
The JCL product is indeed not very impressive, for sure for an airline line Cathay Pacific. It looks like a good Y+ and no more.

Hope you had nice time in Japan after all.

Yes I would expect better from Cathay Pacific due to their good reputation. I did enjoy Japan a lot; it is one of my top Asian countries now.
 
ba319-131
Posts: 8313
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RE: Cathay Pacific Middle-Seat Business Class, 777-300

Sat Nov 07, 2015 7:44 pm

Nice read and pictures, thanks for posting.

I feel your pain for the 747 being subbed for a 777-300, at least it was a rare -300 non ER version.

The 2-3-3 J is not a good premium layout, hate it.

Cheers

Mark
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Tesla
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RE: Cathay Pacific Middle-Seat Business Class, 777-300

Wed Nov 11, 2015 12:03 am

Hello Mark

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 11):
Nice read and pictures, thanks for posting.

I feel your pain for the 747 being subbed for a 777-300, at least it was a rare -300 non ER version.

The 2-3-3 J is not a good premium layout, hate it.

Thanks for reading. The fact that it was a 777-300 tried to make up for the loss of the 747 since it was my first 777-300. I had already logged a 777-300ER so at least I got that benefit. I typically avoid 2-3-2 J class and after this flight I will certainly continue to do so.

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