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Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to Paris


As I made my way back to North America at the tail end of my visit to South East Asia, I had the opportunity to fly Cathay Pacific business class from Hong Kong to Paris.

The airline has one of the best reputations around, and I’ve enjoyed Cathay Pacific First Class on several occasions before; however, surprisingly, this was my first-ever encounter with their business class product.

Cathay Pacific business class is a popular option for travellers from the United States and Canada en route to Asia and beyond, and thus it was high time for me to check it out.

Cathay Pacific Business Class – Booking

I secured a seat on Cathay Pacific business class flight from Hong Kong to Paris for 65,000 Asia Miles plus around $200 (CAD) in taxes and fees.

Aside from Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, this business class product can be booked through other Oneworld loyalty programs, including Alaska Mileage Plan, American Airlines AAdvantage, and British Airways Avios.

You’ll want to compare the pricing and availability in the different programs to take advantage of various sweet spots. For example, booking Cathay Pacific First Class or business class between North America and Asia is one of the best sweet spots within the program; however, award availability can be tricky to come by.

On the other hand, if you can stitch together a multi-carrier award using British Airways Avios, you can stretch the value of your Avios quite far. 

Generally speaking, you’ll find the best award availability through Asia Miles, which isn’t surprising, given that it’s Cathay Pacific’s very own loyalty program.

Cathay Pacific Business Class – Ground Experience

During my visit, The Pier Business Class Lounge at Hong Kong International Airport was the sole lounge available. Normally, you’d have the privilege to select from The Wing and The Bridge lounges as well.

Given the vastness of Hong Kong International Airport, it’s advisable to choose the lounge closest to one’s departure gate for convenience. However, if you have a preference for a specific ambiance, then it could be worthwhile to explore the unique atmospheres that each lounge offers.

The Pier Business Class Lounge proved to be an intriguing concept, with five distinct areas: The Food Hall, The Noodle Bar, The Bar, The Tea House, and a Relaxation Room, all contained within a single sprawling lounge.

The Pier Business Class Lounge by Cathay Pacific – Seating
The Pier Business Class Lounge by Cathay Pacific – Food Hall

In light of this, the dining options are comprehensive, and there’s ample seating with excellent views of the tarmac.

Naturally, I spent the majority of my time hanging out at the Noodle Bar, enjoying the delicious dishes prepared with expertise.

The Pier Business Class Lounge by Cathay Pacific – Wonton noodles and Dan dan main

However, the true standout of this lounge are the comfortable daybeds and 13 well-appointed shower suites.

The Pier Business Class Lounge by Cathay Pacific – Relaxation room
The Pier Business Class Lounge by Cathay Pacific – Shower suites hallway

Although my time at the lounge was brief, I was thoroughly impressed and eagerly anticipate visiting it again in the future.

Cathay Pacific Business Class – Cabin

Cathay Pacific’s business class cabin on the Hong Kong to Paris route is operated by the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The cabin features 53 reverse herringbone seats in a 1-2-1 configuration and is divided into two sections, located at the front of the plane.

The first section is a mini-cabin comprised of two rows, followed by the main cabin with eleven rows. The window seats are angled towards the windows, while the middle seats are angled towards each other.

Cathay Pacific business class – Cabin
Cathay Pacific business class – Cabin

For solo travellers, the mini-cabin of two rows, located at the front of the main cabin, provides the most privacy. There’s a partition which can be implemented if you find yourself in the centre pair of seats as a solo traveller.

Likewise, the centre pair of seats in the mini-cabin is an excellent option if you’re travelling as a pair and are keen on maximizing privacy.

However, the centre pair of seats in both the main and mini-cabin both provide the opportunity to converse with your seatmate.

Cathay Pacific business class – Middle seats

Notably, if you choose the mini-cabin, you’ll enjoy a quieter boarding experience, as you won’t be disturbed by the movement of other passengers. On the other hand, the main cabin may become chaotic during the boarding process, as all the economy class passengers shuffle by your seat.

In my case, the window seats were occupied when I went to select my seat, so I settled for Seat 21G.

Cathay Pacific business class – Seat 21G

Cathay Pacific Business Class – Seat

Cathay Pacific was among the first to use the Zodiac Aerospace-manufactured Cirrus seats. These seats were first rolled out in 2011 and are outfitted with green woven fabric and matching green leather armrests.

Cathay Pacific business class – Seat
Cathay Pacific business class – Seat

By current standards, the seat is somewhat outdated in terms of hardware. Even so, I’d say the seat is decently well-maintained, and there aren’t many signs of wear and tear.

A closer examination of the seat reveals a 15-inch entertainment screen positioned on the seatback, which can be easily adjusted for a better viewing angle.

Cathay Pacific business class – Entertainment screen
Cathay Pacific business class – Entertainment screen

The footwell is somewhat compact, yet still provides sufficient space to stretch out and relax, with ample legroom. When placed in lie-flat mode, the ottoman becomes part of your bed.

Cathay Pacific business class – Footwell
Cathay Pacific business class – Footwell

In terms of storage, the seat provides a storage nook down by the footwell, as well as a small storage compartment in the console with a vanity mirror, where the headphones, water bottle, and amenity kit are stored.

Cathay Pacific business class – Storage space
Cathay Pacific business class – Storage space
Cathay Pacific business class – Vanity mirror

The literature pocket is located on the right-hand side of the seat near your feet.

Cathay Pacific business class – Literature pocket

With a touch of a button, the table tray can be easily deployed into a fixed position. It’s the standard size you can expect, providing enough room for work or dining.

Cathay Pacific business class – Tray table
Cathay Pacific business class – Tray table

Furthermore, the right-hand vertical surface of the seat plays host to several features, including the entertainment controller, which can be withdrawn easily for use and allows passengers to navigate the entertainment system smoothly.

Cathay Pacific business class – Entertainment controller, seat controls, & power outlet

The area also includes a power outlet and intuitively designed seat controls.

You can easily adjust the recline, lumbar support, and leg rest with the single push of a button, providing a seamless transition between a fully flat seat and an upright position. Additionally, there’s a personal reading light and air nozzle in this area.

Finally, the armrests are adjustable, with the option to raise or lower them according to passenger preference.

Cathay Pacific business class – Lowered armrest
Cathay Pacific business class – Raised armrest

Cathay Pacific Business Class – Amenities

After taking my seat, I was promptly offered a hot towel and a choice of welcome drink.

In October 2019, Cathay Pacific partnered with Bamford, a British lifestyle brand known for their eco-conscious values, to introduce new amenity kits for First Class and business class passengers.

These Bamford amenity kits are unisex and come in a leather pouch, available in four different colours. They contain a range of Bamford skincare products, including face mist, moisturizer, lip balm stick, and mouthwash, replacing the previous brand, Aesop.

Cathay Pacific business class – Amenity kit
Cathay Pacific business class – Amenity kit contents

Additionally, a breakfast menu card had been placed at each seat prior to boarding, as well as slippers, and a packaged duvet.

Cathay Pacific Business Class – Breakfast

The intended process was that the breakfast menu provided prior to take-off should be filled out by the passengers and then displayed at their respective seats.

Despite initially being drawn to the creative menu concept, the implementation of this process was ultimately unsuccessful. Rather, the flight crew opted to take the entire meal orders from the passengers at the beginning.

The menu was very comprehensive, which I appreciated, and read as follows:

I began my meal with a delightful glass of Billecart Salmon Champagne, and kicked things off with the Chinese-style pork.

Cathay Pacific business class – Chinese-style pork & Billecart Salmon Champagne

Admittedly, the pork dish was only satisfactory, offering a salty and umami flavour profile. The accompanying vegetables left much to be desired, and the rice was regrettably dry.

Given that this was an express dinner service on a late-night flight, the dining experience proceeded directly from the main course to the cheese plate and dessert offerings.

Cathay Pacific business class – Dessert

Feeling the effects of the long day, I managed to taste a few morsels but ultimately succumbed to drowsiness, unable to finish the entire plate.

I also wanted to add a few comments about the in-flight service. To put it briefly, the service style fell far short of expectations and was noteworthy in how poor it was.

The brusque voice and tone employed by the staff seemed unbefitting of a business class experience. On one occasion, a flight attendant overheard my conversation with my travel companion about his ice cream and abruptly interjected to ask if I wanted some as well.

Cathay Pacific business class – Ice cream

What’s more, the crew appeared to lack experience. When I inquired about the availability of a turndown service, I was met with a confused face and the bizarre question: “What is turndown service?”

I took a moment to clarify the concept, only for the crew member to inform me that such a service wasn’t currently being offered due to the pandemic. 

Cathay Pacific Business Class – Bed

In the absence of a turndown service, I took it upon myself to make my bed. Before dozing off, I visited the restroom to freshen up.

Cathay Pacific business class – Restroom

Here, you’ll find the standard restroom for a Boeing 777-300ER, including a table that can be extended over the toilet and Bamford amenities. Although they may be considered on the smaller side, they were clean and well-maintained.

Cathay Pacific business class – Restroom table
Cathay Pacific business class – Restroom amenities

Upon returning to my bed, I found there to be ample room for stretching out. Moreover, the setup was comfortable and well-suited for the demands of a long-haul flight.

Cathay Pacific business class – Bed
Cathay Pacific business class – Bed

Cathay Pacific Business Class – Snack Service

I managed to get around six hours of sleep before waking up, with the hope of trying the wonton noodles as a saving grace for the flight.

At first, the crew member informed me that they might’ve run out of the dish, which indeed would have been another major letdown.

Fortunately, there were still some bowls of wonton noodles available. I found it rather peculiar that the wonton noodles were listed on both the snack and main dinner menus, which is something I hadn’t encountered before, and so I’d recommend ordering the wonton noodles as your dinner item if you’d like to ensure you get to try them before they run out. 

Cathay Pacific business class – Wonton noodles

The wonton noodles ended up being the highlight of the flight, and I enjoyed them with some orange juice and a fairly decent cappuccino.

A few hours later, Cathay Pacific’s mood lighting ​​was in full swing, and the crew began the breakfast service.

Cathay Pacific business class – Mood lighting
Cathay Pacific business class – Mini-cabin mood lighting

I had ordered the Wellness Breakfast, which consisted of a cinnamon bircher muesli with goji berries and coconut shavings.

Regrettably, this dish was again lacklustre, with a mushy, tasteless consistency that was emblematic of the mediocrity of the entire flight.

Cathay Pacific business class – Wellness Breakfast
Cathay Pacific business class – Cinnamon bircher muesli with goji berries & coconut shavings

As a conclusion to the underwhelming meal service, I ordered a cup of tea to wrap things up.

Cathay Pacific business class – Tea

Cathay Pacific Business Class – Entertainment

On a positive note, I appreciated the responsiveness of the entertainment screen, as well as its proximity when folded out, which allowed for easy touch access. That’s a feature that I personally enjoy, though others may prefer a greater distance to the screen.

The onboard entertainment system, StudioCX, has a comprehensive selection of over 150 movies, spanning across both western and eastern genres, as well as classics and blockbuster films.

Cathay Pacific business class – Movie selection

Additionally, there’s an array of other entertainment options, including TV shows, music, podcasts, reading materials, and games to keep you engaged throughout the flight.

Cathay Pacific business class – TV selection
Cathay Pacific business class – Airshow en route to Paris

In terms of in-flight connectivity, Cathay Pacific business class offers Wi-Fi in different pricing tiers, each with unlimited data.

Prices vary based on the length of the flight: flights over six hours will cost you $19.95 (USD), flights under six hours will cost you $12.95 (USD), and if you just need internet connectivity for only an hour, you can pay $9.95 (USD).

Conclusion

Cathay Pacific has long had a great reputation as a premium carrier, but I’ve observed that the airline’s once-lofty standing has been dwindling in recent years, especially in business class.

(The quality of Cathay Pacific First Class, on the other hand, remains somewhat maintained and still appears to be holding its own.)

The business class seat was fine, but it lacked any cutting-edge features and could be easily considered in need of an update compared to the competition. 

What’s more, the quality of the food and service was significantly below the high standards one would expect from a leading East Asian airline, and on this showing, I’d be very hesitant to consider booking Cathay Pacific business class again unless it was the only feasible option for my schedule. 




This story originally appeared on princeoftravel

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