First Time in First: Onboard Cathay Pacific B777-300ER

Once upon a time, when there were more than 3 major players in the U.S. airline industry and mileage could be easily collected based on flight distance instead of airfare, I managed to pile enough miles for a round-the-world ticket on premium cabin. I also lucked out and was able to score my 1st flight in first class across the Pacific and create a perfect itinerary for my new year holiday. This was one of the moments where I truly appreciate the value of ffp and make me love flying even more.

The Flight

  • CX 846 First Class
  • Hong Kong (HKG) – New York (JFK)
  • 18:45 – 22:40 (15h 55m)

I have been flying Cathay economy quite often within Asia and all of the flights have been satisfactory, but I have never sat at the forward cabin before. I have read so many great reviews about their premium service and was really excited when the day of my flight finally came.

Let’s start with the average stuff: pre-boarding experience. Aside from the dedicated check in line, there is really nothing to write home about; no free limo, no escort at the airport, no special treatment from the ground crews. However, you do get access to Cathay’s wonderful lounges in Hong Kong Airport. I personally find ‘The Pier’ to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing lounges, and I like the cabana set-up in ‘The Wing’. Everything to prepare you for a great time in the clouds. And it gets better once you step into the plane.

Cathay adopts an open suite style in a 1-2 configuration (3 in a row) for their first class. Your seat won’t have door but it still feels highly private – most of the time I didn’t even notice when another passenger was walking along the aisle. The seat itself lies full flat and its width, softness and bedding fit me so well it easily became my favourite airplane seat – this was my first time seating in first class but still, I like the seat a lot. There is no overhead bin but I had no issue with storage as there is ample space underneath the ottoman and the closet. The lack of overhead bin actually resulted in a more spacious feeling of the cabin. As for the amenity, I was given a noise-cancelling Bose headset, pajama with slippers, and an Aesop amenity kit. They also had a good selection of reading materials on board.

Moving on the meal, overall I found the on board meal experience to be just as expected. Full course was served with chinese and western options, and guests could choose to dine anytime they like. The seat was equipped with a large and sturdy dining table. This could easily support two-person dining but it also worked well for my ‘breakfast in bed-style’ dining. Taste wise, I saw some rooms for improvement and I wish their on board catering could be as good as their HKG ground offering. 20150124_234618000_ios

The highlight of this experience is undoubtedly the service: this is most likely what distinguishes Cathay as a five-star airline. It felt personal and natural, with cabin crews and purser introducing themselves right after boarding. The crews did not wander the cabin that often but they would soon show up once I pressed the call button, and all of my requests were promptly handled. The hand-written welcome note was the icing of the cake for me.

Final words

Overall, this was one of the flights that I really enjoyed and was probably the first trans-pacific flight where I chose to sleep rather than watching movies, not because the IFE selection was bad (it was decent), but because how comfortable the seat and bedding was. It was definitely worth the extra miles to splurge for a once-in-a-lifetime experience or a special occasion.

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