Best. Flight. Ever. First Class on the Cathay Pacific 777-300 (Guest Trip Report)

Geoff is back, following up his Emirates shower experience with another long trip report about the best flight he’s ever had. I thought it would be good to give you a little (or, actually, a lot) quality reading material for a Wednesday when the blog is usually dark. Enjoy.

As you may remember from my report here about taking a shower onboard the Emirates A380, I’m really into premium cabin flying. Mostly thanks to frequent flier miles I’ve managed to sample international First Class on a wide array of carriers and aircraft types. That’s a lot of caviar and champagne and flat bed suites — and a lot of great memories and stories. I often get asked which was my favorite airline or airplane, or my best flight, and in the past I have found it hard to pick one.

My favorite airport experience? Hands down it’s Lufthansa’s First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, an entirely separate building that is a giant luxury lounge, and from which you are driven onto the tarmac and directly to your plane like a rockstar.

My favorite whimsical cabin feature? The Emirates A380 shower, which turned out to be as cool to do as it is to say you’ve done.

But earlier this year I had a flight experience that was exceptional from beginning to end. Everything from the seat to the service to the food and drink to the entertainment system was fantastic. Despite all seats being occupied, I spent most of the flight entirely oblivious to anyone else being on board. And after spending over *15 hours* on this airplane, I was still in such a state of sybarite bliss when we got to the gate that I wished I didn’t have to get off — which had never happened even after the best of my best flights before.

So now I have a clear-cut answer to the question: First Class on Cathay Pacific’s 777.

The Backstory
I’d flown Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific on short flights within Asia in the past, and was very impressed. Singapore Airlines and Cathay are often considered top Asian carriers, and after having finally flown Singapore in First Class last year I decided I had to try Cathay’s longhaul First Class to compare.

Cathay is a partner of Alaska Airlines, and so for a lot of Alaska miles and $90 in taxes I was set, a fantastic value compared to the five-figure retail cost. My outbound flight was S.F. to Hong Kong on a 777-300ER, which has a small six-seat First Class cabin in a two row 1-1-1 configuration. The center seats open onto the right side aisle; since I was traveling alone I was pleased to be able to reserve Seat 1A, which maximized privacy and minimized noise from other passengers. Unlike Singapore’s “Book the Cook”, there is no fancy pre-ordering system for meals on Cathay, so once I was ticketed there was nothing more to do than look forward to the trip.

The Flight
Waking up on the morning of an international First Class flight I always feel giddy like a kid on Christmas.
There were great views of SFO as usual on the quick train ride over from the rental car facility, and as we arrived our aircraft was just pulling up to the gate.

I snapped a quick pic of it, and then decided to venture outside and get a shot of my favorite terminal building in the U.S., the decade-old SFO International, which still looks as great inside and out as when it first opened in December 2000.

Then it was inside and over to Cathay check-in. There was no wait at the First Class check-in counter, where a friendly agent checked my bag and handed me my boarding pass. After some shopping at the cool SF MoMA store I used the priority security lane for premium cabin passengers and was through in an uneventful ten minutes. From there it’s just a short walk to the British Airways lounge that Cathay uses.

The lounge has a main area for Business Class passengers with self-service bars and a buffet, and a separate small First Class room with its own food and drink. Both have great views out to widebody aircraft being fueled and loaded just a few feet away, and on this day both were teeming with passengers. I staked out the one unclaimed couch in the First Class room and helped myself to some sparkling water and dumplings. I picked up an SF Chronicle to read on the plane, and killed some time using one of the Internet terminals. A lounge attendant circulated picking up trash and keeping the food area stocked and tidy.

The lounge isn’t particularly fancy, but it was clean and decently comfortable. In addition to the views, the other great feature is that you board directly from the lounge without having to go back out to the gate. When boarding began about 40 minutes before departure there was a PA announcement, and a long line formed. No one came to whisk me to the front, so I waited in the line, and in five minutes was headed down the jetway…


Cathay #879 Lv San Francisco 1208p Arr Hong Kong 730p (next day)
SFO: Gate A6, Runway 28R, Depart 13m Late
HKG: Gate 66, Runway 25R, Arrive 25m Late
Boeing 777-300ER, B-KPG (delivered Feb 2008)
Seat 1A, 6/6 F Suites Occupied
Flight Time 14h44m

The Christmas morning feeling was back as I arrived at my seat and got my bearings. The cabin was gleaming on the three year-old aircraft. There are no overhead bins in First Class, which gives an airy feel. Instead, there’s room to stow bags under the ottoman end of the seat as well as a personal closet built into the side of the suite in which you can hang your jacket and clothes and store other items.

Photo courtesy SFO777
Photo taken by Flyertalk’s SFO777 and shows seat 1F. You can read his detailed trip report here.

As I was getting settled, a flight attendant came by and greeted me by name. She brought a pillow, removed its protective wrapping and handed it to me, and took my pre-departure drink order. She was soon back with a bottle of Krug Grande Cuvee and an elegant and large glass champagne flute, and executed a flawless restaurant-style pour holding the bottle from the bottom. Off to a good start, indeed.

While I was familiarizing myself with the seat controls her colleagues were by with the amenity kit, Shanghai Tang pajamas and slippers, newspapers and magazines, a water bottle, and an elegant washcloth-style hot towel. My glass was topped up and then I was presented with the menu and wine list, with the flight attendant going out of her way to let me know that I could dine “at my pleasure” and was not forced into any set meal order or timing.

As we pushed back and taxied out I took stock of the seat, which was very comfortable in seat mode (you’d be surprised – some flat bed seats are great as beds but lousy as seats). My legs fully extended were just resting on the ottoman, which is an impressive amount of room since I am 6’4″. The seat is 36″ wide, but unlike Singapore’s similarly ultra-wide seat, the space doesn’t feel wasted. This is partly because the Cathay seat has a great fold-down armrest console and also because the Cathay seat is 10″ longer than Singapore’s and its proportions just work better. There’s a storage compartment built into the window ledge as well as storage on the ledge itself, and another handy compartment for magazines and water bottles just below the massive 17″ entertainment screen.
Photo courtesy SFO777
SFO777′s wife in seat 2F. You can see just how wide the seat is, and the strap for lowering the armrest console is just visible below the pillow to the right of her shoulder.

With a long take off roll and a few shimmies we took off to the west, and as soon as the wheels were up the cabin was impressively quiet. The FAs were up quickly to set up the galley, and soon the Inflight Service Manager (Purser) came by to welcome me on board. I had mentioned to her colleague earlier that it was my first longhaul flight on Cathay, which the ISM acknowledged saying that her staff would make sure it was a memorable experience. It was the kind of pleasantry I’d heard dozens of times, but the rare case in which the promise was truly delivered.

My lunch order was soon taken and not long after another glass of champagne had been brought, the FA was back to set my table. On top of the massive and sturdy tray table went a linen tablecloth, and then she individually laid out each service item elegantly and with precise attention to detail and placement. Along with the basics (silverware, salt and pepper shakers, water glass, butter dish, etc.) was a “Bon Appetit” card with a handwritten and personalized note from the crew inside. I thought the set-up was impressive… and then the first course arrived.

Only a few airlines still serve caviar in First Class, and yet Cathay apparently decided that caviar alone isn’t enough, as along with the caviar and its garnishes were two large sashimi-style pieces of smoked salmon. Toast points were brought to supplement my personal bread basket, as was a lemon served on its own dish. It all tasted as great as it looked, and while the caviar part was similar to what is served on Singapore, the delicious smoked salmon really put Cathay’s presentation over the top.

After that was cleared came the salad course. The combination of king crab, teardrop tomatoes and dried cranberries may sound a bit odd, but it was excellent.

Everything was fresh and it was so much more interesting and tasty than the typical airplane salad with some shaved parmesan on top of a pile of wilted greens.

After each course the flight attendant checked on my drink and brought out the appropriate silverware for the following course. The pacing was just right; I never felt rushed nor sat long waiting. Every request I made was graciously and quickly fulfilled. Next came the fennel and apple soup, which like the previous courses was truly restaurant quality.

Further credit for smart seat design comes from how easy it is to get up even while the tray is out. The tray slides forward and back, and there is plenty of room on the aisle side of the seat. I made a quick visit to the lavatory which was spotless; what it didn’t have that Singapore does have are a hands-free sink and a floor pedal to open the trash bin. (A minor quibble – but hopefully we’ll see both standard on all airplanes soon.)

When I returned it was time for my entree, and the FA insisted on offering me a tasting pour of both white wines, the Estancia Reserve 2007 Chardonnay and the Meursault 2006. I chose the French to go with my lobster and crab ravioli. The wine was excellent; the entree was the only part of the meal that was “just okay” by restaurant standards, which meant that for airplane food it was well above average.

Before dessert I had my arm twisted into sampling some of the four cheeses on offer, with fancy crackers and grapes on the side. Then came bread pudding with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream, accompanied by a small glass of special vintage Sauternes. And after that bacchanal, there were pralines accompanying the fancy coffee service, in which the sugar cubes had their own plate. It took every ounce of restraint not to sample the Johnny Walker Blue Label or Glenfiddich Reserve Single Malt, but this was a marathon not a sprint, and I stuck with coffee and water.
Photo courtesy SFO777
At this point there was still 12 hours of flying time remaining – which I knew because the countdown and local time at destination are thoughtfully displayed on the entertainment system’s remote, a smart touch. Once my tray was cleared and I was duly refreshed by another hot towel, I reclined about two-thirds back and pulled the entertainment screen out on its telescoping arm to position it for prime viewing. Cathay claims there are 100+ movies and 500+ TV shows in its on-demand system, and I had little trouble finding things to watch, starting with “The Social Network”, then the old Leo DiCaprio movie “The Beach” and then episodes of recent TV shows. The navigation and controls were fairly intuitive and the noise cancelling headset was comfortable and effective.

As great as it was having a sated belly, a comfortable seat and good entertainment, what made this experience unique compared to my most memorable flights on other airlines (and even my later experiences on Cathay’s 747) was the remarkably private and quiet cabin environment. All six seats were occupied, but because the center seats open onto the right aisle and have a privacy wall on the left side, the only times I saw another passenger while seated were the few times that the one guy behind me got up to go to the bathroom. There was a bit of foot traffic from flight attendants going back and forth, but more than any other flight I’ve been on, I felt like I was on my own private plane.

After about 3 hours of lounging I decided I was ready for some sleep, and summoned a flight attendant to make up my bed. The sheet and duvet and pillow are all great, but what truly stands out is the length of the bed. I didn’t have to curl up or contort – I could lie truly flat and fully extended, and still had room to toss and turn. It was hands-down the most spacious and comfortable bed I’ve ever flown in.

Photo courtesy SFO777
(Photo courtesy SFO777)

 
I got 4 hours of solid sleep, and could have napped longer but decided to get up both to enjoy the flight and as an anti-jetlag measure. Somehow I was actually hungry, and I ordered wonton noodle soup off the mid-flight snack menu. It took about 15 minutes to heat up and prepare, but when it arrived it hit the spot – no comparison to the off-brand cup o’ noodles that United serves as a snack in First on the same route.
Photo courtesy SFO777

After some more time spent reading, doing the NYT crossword and watching episodes of “Treme”, I decided I had to sample the one part of the wine list I hadn’t yet tried, and so I had a glass of their nicest red, Lynch Bages 2004 Grand Cru. It retails for over $125 and rivaled the best wine I’ve had on an airplane. Soon after, with several hours still to go before “dinner” I ordered a second snack, this time opting for crab cakes. They were great – and impressed me that even when it came to snacks, Cathay delivered a true First Class experience.

After more reading and dozing eventually it was time for dinner, and out came the tray table for the fourth time. It’s a lighter and less elaborate affair than the lunch service, which is fitting given that it was 2am San Francisco time. The first course was a fruit plate, which was fresh and good despite how long it had undoubtedly been sitting. The main course was a choice of chicken, beef, or crab cannelloni. I had the stir-fried beef with vegetables and rice. It wasn’t fancy by any means, but comfort food was what my body wanted at that point, and it did the trick. And there was still some fancy yet to come as they brought out the cheese board – with four different cheeses than at lunch. Of course there was also one last dessert, raspberry mousse cake, and a final tea and coffee service with pralines.

Once cleared, reality began to set in that we would soon be landing in Hong Kong and there would be no more drink refills or snacks or meals (and that I desperately needed to get to a gym the next day). It was the first time I’d ever been so comfortable after such a long flight that I wished I could stay on the airplane. I made one last trip to the lav to change back into my clothes and brush my teeth. We landed on a foggy afternoon at HKG, and I very reluctantly gathered my things as the Flight Attendants bade us goodbye by name and ensured that First Class deplaned first. I made a point of thanking them for their great service and telling the ISM what a nice flight I’d had.

I realize how relentlessly I’ve used glowing adjectives throughout this report, and I promise that I am no shy critic. Nor am I a shill for Cathay – I bought the ticket using miles and they had no idea I was going to write about them (neither did I, or else I would have taken more and better pictures). But it was downright hard to find things to complain about. I suppose the amenity kit, which carried a Zegna label but looked like a binocular case could have been nicer… And there could have been a more exclusive First Class lounge and boarding process at SFO.

On the other hand, each key element of the experience rivaled or beat the best I’ve flown before. From service to seat, bed, food and drink, entertainment system, and overall cabin privacy, it was really a sublime and memorable combination. I’ve had fantastic international First Class flights but I’ve never flown in a seat and bed that comfortable, and never experienced such a private jet atmosphere.

I connected to other Cathay flights on this trip, and they varied from good to great. But none reached the perfect ten of CX869 SFO-HKG in Seat 1A on the 777, which I now tell people was hands-down the best in my 1.2 million miles of flying.

-
Geoff Fischer is an aviation and travel enthusiast currently living in Seattle

[IFE Remote and Wonton Soup photos also courtesy SFO777]

55 Responses to Best. Flight. Ever. First Class on the Cathay Pacific 777-300 (Guest Trip Report)

  1. I think you ate more in one meal then I eat all day…..lol

    The foot rest area looks narrow, isn’t that where someone would sit if they came over to ‘visit’ with you? Doesn’t look like they would be comfortable sitting there.

    • Geoff Fischer says:

      Yes, there is even a seatbelt on that ottoman so that your companion can ride out some turbulence while visiting. It was spacious as a foot rest in bed mode, but agreed that it might not be comfortable for very long, especially if you are not petite.

  2. Sanjeev M says:

    Nice report. Maybe United should take notice that on international routes, people care about more than price?

    Airlines seem to have gotten better at reducing food wastage, particularly in first. I think this is one of the reasons for Singapore’s “Book the Cook”. There is still areas for improvement though (in both waste reduction and quality of economy class food).

  3. FRANK says:

    I bought the ticket using miles and they had no idea I was going to write about them (neither did I, or else I would have taken more and better pictures). But it was downright hard to find things to complain about. I suppose the amenity kit, which carried a Zegna label but looked like a binocular case could have been nicer… And there could have been a more exclusive First Class lounge and boarding process at SFO.
    ==========================================================

    GREAT adventure. But, why is it that a trip report needs something to “complain about???” Unfortunately, the MEDIA has placed a mindset into the traveling public that feeds into that criticism.

    The experience sounded amazing. Few people get that opportunity to fly first class internationally. You did say, BEST FLIGHT EVER. So, thank you for pointing out a positive experience!

  4. Simon A says:

    Hi Geoff! Cool report; can I ask if you’ve ever flown BA in First, their new first seat looks pretty similar and I wonder if they’re in fact the same given the one world connection?

    • Geoff Fischer says:

      Thanks! BA is currently transitioning to a new First Class seat. I have flown the older configuration several times, but have only seen pictures of the new one. It does look nice, and the layout is similar to CX, but it’s definitely a different product. SeatGuru says the CX seat is 3 inches longer and a whopping 15 inches wider (see the pic of SFO777′s wife — that area to the right of the pic where the armrest folds down does not exist on BA). Also, on BA’s new F the window ledge does not extend the length of the suite the way it does on CX and BA old F. (Some may find that a plus for more seat space; I find it a minus as I like to store stuff up on the ledge)

    • Stephen says:

      Simon, the seats are not the same. Not even close from the pax perspective CX wins hands down. CX’s F is massively larger than both BA’s old and new F. There is absolutely no comparison with the width, the suite space, the layout, extra space to stow stuff, workspace, etc. To put in perspective, BA crams something like 14 seats in their new F on the 747….CX has 9.

  5. Albert says:

    I would only read this if/when I would know that you had PAID for this flight !!!

    You are a slave of Cathay Pacific, these kinds of travelblogs should be forbidden !

    • Geoff Fischer says:

      As I mentioned in the post, I paid for the flight using my own Frequent Flyer miles. At no point before, during, or after this trip did I have any contact with Cathay other than as a passenger.

    • Lukka says:

      Albert – he did pay for it, using miles – pump the breaks on the sassy aggression! Having experienced their product I agree hands down the best F product I’ve ever seen, miles or using money or complimentary upgrade aside.

      This Jan – I flew F sfo-lhr-hkg-jfk BA on the first leg (pleasant but a far cry from..) CX on the other two. I am in complete agreement with everything Geoff mentions in the report. The staff are unbelievable- sincere & genuine hospitality at the apex, layout of the seat phenomenal and the food and wine spectacular. Not to mention the three distinctly unique bad-ass first class lounges in HKG.

      A veritable mountain of caviar, lots of krug grande cuvée and meursault. midnight wonton soup was amazing as was the strawberries and vanilla ice cream somewhere over Kazakhstan. and upon waking up from the best airplane sleep of ALL time a fresh smoothie? Paid or unpaid I would be their slave. Wait, Actually, I AM their slave….all my saved miles are being used this year to get my butt back up front with CX. So don’t be a hater Albert and thank you geoff for bringing back only the best of memories.

  6. Stephen says:

    Fyi, the seat labels are incorrect – CX does not have an “F” seat letter in their first cabins. It is 1AK, 2AK, 3AK, 4ADK on the 747 and 1ADK, 2ADK on the 777-300ER.

  7. Geoff, I’m kinda curious, what does a passenger do when the bed is being made up? It seems like you’d just stand there and watch, which seems less than customer friendly..

    • Stephen says:

      Usually they just ask you when you walk through the galley to the bathroom. As Geoff said, definitely not a problem at all. They’re extremely polite about it (sometimes asking you what time you want to have it made up). Definitely not uncomfortable. It takes max 1 minute to do…they just pull out a mattress pad, duvet and pillow out of your closet and put them over the flat seat. Unlike say SQ’s J class, where the seat actually has to flip around, CX’s seat just reclines into the flat bed position. Over it goes the mattress pad and then they place the duvet over the top to make it look nicer. So you can indeed fall asleep in CX’s seat, with it being entirely flat, without having the bed “made up” (aka, no mattress pad).

  8. Neil S says:

    This is the same plane I’ll be flying from JFK to HKG next month, yes? VERY excited.

  9. Joni says:

    I’ve taken the same flight, same seat and couldn’t agree more. Best flight ever.

  10. I believe Cathay Pacific has a new lounge currently in construction at SFO.

    • Stephen says:

      Interested to hear more….they currently have 2x flights a day and use the BA lounge, but rumors have been around a while that they’d start a 3x daily flight once they swap SFO over full-time to the 777-300ER (SFO’s the last destination for CX in North America that reliably gets the 747). I suppose if they built their own that must mean they justified it with another daily flight

  11. Geoff Fischer says:

    Good catch, Stephen. Yes, the seats shown in SFO777s pics are indeed 1K and 2K

    Nicholas, I don’t remember if I went to the bathroom while they were making up the bed, or walked around to stretch a bit, or just stood there. That said, I also don’t remember feeling at all uncomfortable about it — it was a nice feeling of being doted on and, importantly, the FAs acted like they were happy to do it, so I didn’t feel guilty or like I was putting them out.

    Neil: Yep, Cathay flies 773ERs to JFK — I believe they’re up to 3 nonstops per day as well as a fourth trip that stops in Vancouver. (Note that Cathay has the same exact F seats on its 747s, so even if you were to fly them on a 747 route the experience would be very similar, though the cabin is larger and in a different layout.)

    JC: I hadn’t heard about a new CX lounge at SFO. How recently was that announced?

  12. See, it’s not the plane type that’s important, it’s the seat! I’d take this setup in the 777 over most of the A380 and 787 configs I’ve seen so far.

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  14. Flying business class is such a great luxury.

  15. So this is how the 1% travel. Instead of gloating, you and other first class passengers should feel ashamed of such obscene profligacy.

    • While I agree that it seems a little over the top, I think it’s an integral part of Capitalism. The people who pay for these flights (and please note this gentleman managed to save up Frequent Flyer miles to pay for it – how many I don’t know, maybe a million?) are the ones who create jobs for everyone from the airline staff to the electrician at Boeing. The 1% aren’t all bad, they just need to pay more taxes to help repay the country that gave them the opportunity to be in the 1%.

      • Lucy says:

        Perhaps you could elaborate on how the 1% creates jobs? I keep hearing this without any sort of data or evidence to back it up. Makes me think that people are just regurgitating phrases that they hear from the media.

        • Dominik von Muehlberg says:

          *LMFAO* what a Q! i guess you similarly can´t imagine that a patron frequenting a certain restaurant is creating or conserving jobs for the folks working there … :-DDDDD

    • Joey says:

      Brooks: Don’t be hatin’. I am not a member of the 1% and I would enjoy this travel too. Remember, the poster wrote that he saved up his airline miles and spent just $90 in taxes. This shows that just about anyone can aspire to (occasional) first class travel, you just have to be clever about it.

    • dsnash says:

      Brooks – I travel first class only if I am flying internationally, and only then if I can get the flight thru reward miles, which I get by using the dedicated credit card (AA) and flying AA and One World alliance partners when I do fly – which isn’t a whole lot. It just makes sense comfort-wise (I have flown 15 hours in the middle of the middle row in coach and it is NOT pleasant) and you don’t have to be the 1% to do it – just plan ahead.

  16. DrKoob says:

    Geoff,

    We were lucky enough to fly CX in Business to Singapore in 2010 on Alaska Air miles and we loved it. We wondered how much better First would be so we will be flying CX in First from SFO to Aukland in January 2012. Even though we are on a 747, this was a wonderful write-up and it made us all the more excited for our upcoming trip. Thank you.

    And to answer Steve from SEA’s question about how many miles this takes, the answer for us was 160,000 each. Quite a bargain. For an SEA/SFO/HKG/AKL outbound and a SYD/HKG/YVR/SEA return that retails at over $50K for two, we are pleased with those miles and consider it quite a bargain. Quite a bit less than a million. Alaska Air’s mileage plan is outstanding!

    • Geoff Fischer says:

      Enjoy your trip! One suggestion I’ll make is that if your schedule allows you might consider flying SEASFO the afternoon before you fly SFOHKGAKL… This will greatly lessen the risk of fog or other delays causing you to misconnect at SFO and will make a loooong travel day a little shorter. (Though I’m sure there are some who prefer goin straight through, as it saves a vacation day and makes it a bit easier to sleep on SFOHKG)

      Anyway it’s a nice little known perk of the AS program (and others) that as long as the layover is less than 24 hours, it doesn’t count as a stopover.

      • DrKoob says:

        Thanks for the suggestion Geoff but fog is not usually a problem in the winter, at least not as much as the summer. The day before is also New Year’s Day which is blacked out for FF mileage use. Our CX flight doesn’t leave until noon so we should be OK.

        • Geoff Fischer says:

          Got it. You probably know it, but if your Alaska SEA-SFO flight is ticketed in F you get access to the Board Room at SEA.

          And I’ve read that CX is opening their own lounge at SFO — hopefully it will be open by the time of your trip. Be sure to look for it!

  17. James Moninger says:

    I have flown CX first class in both the old and current configurations and agree with those who feel CX is by far and away the best international first class product in the Pacific. The carriers I am using in my comparison are Singapore, Thai, and United (I don’t consider United a true international first class product).

    One thing that endears me to Cathay has not yet been mentioned in this thread: Unlike United, CX does NOT board employees traveling on passes into the first class cabin. On several occasions, my wife and I have been the only passengers in the F cabin.

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  20. geno says:

    How does one ‘trust’ a faceless reporter?

    • Geoff Fischer says:

      I have a pic of me on the flight… but decided not to use it because I didn’t want to make the story about me.

      SFO777 kindly allowed me to use his photos taken on another CX 777 F flight and posted in a trip report on Flyertalk.com. When he posted that report he chose to blur out his wife’s face…

      Given the choice of supplementing the report with CX publicity images or real photos taken in flight, I thought the latter made most sense. I didn’t know I would be writing a trip report when I stepped on board the flight, or otherwise I would have taken better photos with a real camera (all of mine above were taken with my phone).

  21. Looks like you had a very good flight. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  22. Srini says:

    Geoff thanks so much for sharing the information with us. I always take pictures when I fly since I always plan to write a post about it and then forget or lose interest. So I am appreciative of anyone who takes the time to share their experiences with others.

    I started flying Alaska primarily due to the fact they picked up Aloha Airlines route from Sacramento to Maui which was great since there was no other non stop to Maui besides Aloha which unfortunately went out of business.

    I have amassed enough miles to fly Cathay Pacific in First Class from SFO-HKG-MAA since it appears their mileage difference between Business and First is not that much which surprised me.

    On the plus side on Alaska they recently decided to stop giving out those Biblical messages with food in First Class…I was always complaining to them about this.

  23. Glen says:

    I used miles to book AA MIA-JFK first class connecting to CX first class JFK-HKG next December. It will be my second time to HKG in first class on CX. Last time I went thru LAX going and stopped in SFO on the return (747 going and A340 coming). Can’t wait to try the new 777 product.

    If anyone has read down this far they are probably considering doing the same. All of us who have done it know that using miles to fly this route/airline in first class is an incredible bargain. I hope the word doesn’t get out.

  24. Mike says:

    Geoff.

    Your trip report was great, It finally put me over the “edge” go upgrade my next trip from buss to first on CX.

    MY daughter and I took CX first HKG to LAX 2 years ago, it was very nice.

    We had AA first LAX NRT last year, AA has a long way to go to match CX first class.

    This time I go alone ( my daughter is griping about going KAL on her own)

    I still worry what up with CX on my Schedule, they show time for return, but not outgoing.

    Do you have any insight into this?

    MIke

    27 Sep 2012, Thu CX883 LAX HKG 00:00 00:00 77W 0 First (Z) R Confirmed –
    29 Sep 2012, Sat CX713 HKG BKK 00:00 00:00 773 0 Business (U) R Confirmed –
    15 Oct 2012, Mon CX700 BKK HKG 08:20 12:05 773 0 Business (U) R Confirmed –
    15 Oct 2012, Mon CX882 HKG LAX 16:25 14:35 77W 0 First (Z) R Confirmed

    • Geoff says:

      Hi Mike-

      CX883 leaves LAX at 11:50pm on Sep 27 and arrives HKG at 5:40am two days later on the 29th… And then your connecting flight leaves at 8:55am, giving you a 3 hour and 15 minute layover — plenty of time to shower, clean up and have a little breakfast in one of the nice CX lounges before continuing on to BKK.

      Not sure where you pasted that in from… Have you tried logging in to the Cathay website with your Cathay record locator?

      I would tend to trust what I see on the Cathay site more than what comes through from a partner airline or third party booking source… If it is blank on the CX site then I would definitely give CX a call. (And if you don’t have the record locator for Cathay you can call them and give them the date of travel and they should be able to look it up for you)

      Have a great trip!

  25. Mike says:

    Geoff

    Thank you for the reply.

    The correct info shows up on my AA page, the info missing the outgoing info was pasted from my CX page.

    Probably CX is still having problems with their recent system update.

    ( now all I have to do is wait until next month ( 180 days ) to book the best seats.

    Mike

  26. Ben Senise says:

    this is hands down, the BEST trip report i have read about first on cathay. we’ve got our tickets to HKG booked for october and we are so excited. we’ve flow british and cathay business but this will be our first long-haul in first.
    I have to laugh about the haters who post here though. just jealousy and frustration with their pathetic lives i guess.

  27. ray says:

    My Partner and I are flying CX first class on 6/1 flt 889 departing JFK at 10:40pm. This is the flight that stops in Vancouver. Any Idea how they will handle the the first class service and meals? Flying back on 6/16 HKG-JFK Direct on flt 840 departing at 4:20pm.

  28. sally says:

    Thank you very much for a well written report of your flight. Loved reading it. Looking forward to my flight more then ever now in four weeks, and going with years of saving my air miles. Cheers.

  29. kevin says:

    Thanks for the review of Cathay’s flight to HKG. I’ve taken this flight 2 times in the last few years and you brought back fond memories of my flight to HKG. I have an upcoming flight in December on Cathay and am really looking forward to every aspect of the experience.

    I had to chuckle when you said you didn’t want to leave. I have to say I thought the same thing on my last two flights. Food, service, wines, and comfortable seat/bed are all stellar on this airline.

    I just checked about the lounges in HKG and have noted the First Class lounge (The Wings) is closed for renovation. The lounge there is definitely the weakest part of the experience and I am happy to see they are giving is a complete renovation. Any idea when the lounge is slated to be open.

    Again, thanks for the great review…!!!

  30. Vicki says:

    Great review. My husband and I will be flying CP first class from ORD to Hong Kong. Would you recommend we get seats next to each other or both by the window (I.e. 1A and 2A)? Thanks

  31. DrKoob says:

    Vickie,

    Our experience was that it made no difference. The FC suites are so big and so private that it made no difference. We couldn’t see or talk to each other from our seats. We got up and went to the other’s suites when we wanted to visit. You can have meals together if you wish. There is room in the suite for 2.

    Jim

  32. dsnash says:

    Geoff -
    I had a similar experience in first class on Air Canada last year flying from YUL-LHR. The plane was an Airbus A330-300, with a larger first class, but similar privacy. The seat was not as wide and they don’t make it up for your bed, but the very comfortable seat reclines all the way and made for very comfortable sleeping. The food was very good as was the service. I would fly it again (using reward miles) in a heartbeat.

    I am flying CP first class (rewards) LAX-HKG this year on the same type of plane and your article has made me excited about the journey. Does anyone have any trip reports about CP first class lounge at LAX? I have quite a long layover there.

  33. Robert Sladewski says:

    VERY nice report. I could feel your excitement. For an AA flyer, no better use of FF miles than CX first class!

  34. Great report, thank you very much! I just booked my flight on CX in first class on the 77W from LAX to Hong Kong.

    I am so excited to visit China, I can hardly wait…and look forward to a stellar flight. I too used miles (AAdvantage) as I could never afford the $15K full fare. This will be my “I FINALLY got over my divorce” treat to myself. Thanks for adding a sense of excitement for the flight. China, here I come!

  35. Mo T. says:

    I just booked my first class flight on Cathay Pacific from LAX to Bangkok roundtrip, with the first stop being Hong Kong….this will be my first time ever in first class, in fact I have only flown in economy…..I am using my AA miles and not paying the 15K this flight actually costs….Its a CX flight on the 77W plane….I am so excited !…a suite all for myself !…..oh my…..and all that good food and comfort….geez….I saved my miles for over 10 years to finally be able to pull this off…..this summer…..cant wait !

    • Kevin F. from SF says:

      Congratulations Mo T. on getting this flight…!!!! I hope you enjoy it. I have flown this 4 times in the last 6 years.

      To get the “full” experience of this flight, make sure you use The Wing First Class Lounge in HKG. Start by getting a glass of champagne at the Champagne Bar. Then, go to the Cabanas and put your name for this private suite cabin. There will be some wait (hopefully not too long). You can use it to freshen up, shower, relax, and/or get your clothes pressed. We used this lounge on our way back from India. We ended up using it for 4 hours. There are no pre-arrival reservations for these and there are only five of them.

      If you are returning back into the airport in HKG, there are two security/passport control points when you face the boarding gates. Use the security on the left since it will place you right at the First Class lounge entrance after clearing security. You can also enter the lounge through the entrance at Gate 3.

      Also, in the 777 configuration, the first class seats on the left side of the plane give you a bit more privacy since the middle seats open into the walkway to the right side of the plane. So if you are traveling with someone, it is easier to access your companion by taking a middle and right-sided seat. Having said that, they are all relatively private.

      Good luck and have fun on your trip….!!!!!!

  36. Kevin F. from SF says:

    Congrats Mo T…..!!!! I’ve done this flight 4 times. The CX lounge in HKG is pretty nice since the remodel. To maximize your experience, consider getting to The Wing Lounge by Gate 1. If you are entering the airport after sightseeing in HKG, go through the security checkpoint/passport control on the LEFT as you face the two security gates. The left gate will place you right near the First Class checkin desk.

    As soon as you get your glass of champagne at the Champagne Bar, try to get a Cabana. There are five private suites you can use to shower, refresh, and have your clothes pressed while you relax in your own personal space. They do not take reservations prior to getting to the lounge so it is first come, first serve. We put our name in and had one within 15 minutes. We ate, lounged, and refreshed for about 4 hours.

    Hope you enjoy the flight. If you are flying on the 777, the suites on the left side of the plane don’t have the middle seats opening toward you. So if you are flying alone, you get a bit more privacy. If you are flying with a companion, the seats on the right open into the same walkway the middle seats open into.

    Safe travels….oh, you will feel like a human being once you land and will be ready to sightsee.

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