Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.
Today (June 22, 2020): Top 10 reasons why I love flying Cathay Pacific’s First Class.
Turning left instead of right when boarding an aircraft is like stepping into another world: a First Class paradise of lie-flat seats, Krug champagne upon boarding and amenity kits filled with luxurious goodies. One of my favorite longhaul First Class products in the world is offered by Hong Kong’s flag carrier Cathay Pacific. Not only is the airline’s First Class product incredibly consistent, but it’s also one of the few airlines that scores nearly perfect in all premium inflight categories (think plush bedding and pillows, fine dining options and sublime new amenity kits). Here are 10 reasons why I love flying onboard Cathay Pacific’s exclusive First Class cabin.
I made a YouTube clip of my recent First Class flight with Cathay Pacific, which you can watch below (or you can read my detailed trip report here). Have you ever flown Cathay Pacific First Class? If so, what was your experience. Leave a comment.
10. EXCLUSIVE CABIN ONBOARD THE BOEING 777-300ER
As of today, Cathay Pacific’s aircraft fleet comprises 28 Airbus A330s, 36 Airbus A350s, and 68 Boeing 777s, making it the world’s 3rd largest operator of the Boeing 777 (behind Emirates and United Airlines). The carrier’s intimate First Class cabin, which features 6 seats in a private 1-1-1 layout, is only installed on a select number of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft (31 in total). The Boeing 777, one of my favorite aircraft types, is the largest twin-egine aircraft and has received more orders than any other wide-body airliner. In the 1990s, Cathay Pacific was one of a handful of airlines to provide input for the 777 at the design stage, which gave Hong Kong’s home airline a unique opportunity to refine the aircraft’s features to suit its needs. Among the requests were a cabin cross-section similar to the 747 Jumbo Jet, a modern ‘glass’ cockpit, fly-by-wire system, and, crucially, lower operating costs.
9. FREE FIRST CLASS TICKET WITH ONEWORLD MILES
Cathay Pacific is a founder member of Oneworld, the 3rd largest airline alliance in the world. Other member airlines include American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airlines, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines. That means it is quite easy to book a complimentary Cathay Pacific First Class award ticket using miles you collect with one of the Oneworld airline’s frequent flyer programs, although some methods represent a far better use of miles than others (best options are AAdvantage and Excutive Club, as well as Mileage Plan). While Cathay Pacific isn’t quite as generous about releasing First Class award space as in the past, the carrier’s award availability is still really good, especially for last minute tickets (typically about two weeks prior to departure, Cathay Pacific will open all but three First Class seats for awards).
8. COMPLIMENTARY HIGH-SPEED WIFI
Cathay Pacific’s First Class suite can be transformed into a large, private working area, complete with in-seat power outlets and a USB port to charge your devices. To stay productive and connected throughout the flight, passengers can take advantage of complimentary WiFi in First Class, which is being progressively rolled out across the carrier’s Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft (Cathay Pacific’s A350s are already equipped with WiFi). First class passengers are given a voucher for the free WiFi upon boarding on eligible flights. Cathay Pacific’s WiFi is of excellent quality and reasonably fast, as the airline adopts Gogo’s 2Ku satellite-based broadband inflight connectivity technology. The high-speed service allows to check emails, browse the web, access social networks and shop online using WiFi-enabled devices, including laptops, tablets and smartphones.
7. HONG KONG AIRPORT
Cathay Pacific uses Hong Kong Airport as its base, one of my favorite airports in the world. Built on an artificial island just off Lantau Island in the west of Hong Kong and designed by the acclaimed British architect Sir Norman Foster, the airport is located within five hours flying time from half the world’s population. With its soaring spaces, bathed in daylight, the terminal building forms a spectacular gateway to the city. Whether arriving or departing, routes are legible and orientation is simple: you are aware of the land on one side and the water on the other and you can see the aircraft. Similarly, the vaulted roof provides a constant reference point as you move to or from your aircraft. Besides advanced infrastructure, the airport also offers world-class entertainment, such as an IMAX theatre, a state-of-the-art virtual golf simulator, and an impressive selection of restaurants.
6. GREAT FIRST CLASS AMENITY KIT
Cathay Pacific’s First Class amenity kit is designed by Bamford, one of the United Kingdom’s premium lifestyle brands. Run by its founder Carole Bamford, Bamford has long been attuned to sustainability and nature, from the renowned Daylesford Organic Farm to luxurious clothing, skincare and homeware products. The Bamford designed First Class kit comes in a marbled leather case with an exterior pocket. Inside, passengers can expect the likes of hand cream, lip cream, face cream, a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, earplugs, a hairbrush, a monitor-cleaning cloth, and contain glass-bottled Bamford products. Women’s kits feature a four-stage moisturizing and skincare range curated by Bamford to combat the effects of flying, while male passengers receive products from the Bamford Grooming Department sub-brand, including a facial mist.
5. STOP-OVER IN HONG KONG
Hong Kong, the hub of Cathay Pacific, is a pleasant stopover spot on any trip with the airline. Comprising pristine countryside and mountains, and with a metropolitan epicenter featuring the world’s largest number of skyscrapers, Hong Kong’s fusion of urban and natural landscape has the kind of visual appeal that hooks you from the get-go. From shopping to bar-hopping, Hong Kong’s pleasures are world-class and plentiful – not least for the famous breadth of cuisine, ranging from local classics like dim sum, wonton noodles and pineapple buns, to Michelin-star offerings. But this is not all. Hong Kong also offers abundant opportunities for hiking, cycling, surfing, camping, and dragon boat racing, often not more than an hour away from busy downtown areas. Trips to beaches, mountains, and outlying islands are rendered seamless by efficient transport links, from an excellent metro system to buses, ferries, minibuses, and a 110-year-old tram service nicknamed ‘Ding Ding’.
4. EXCELLENT FIRST CLASS LOUNGES
Cathay Pacific manages several excellent First Class lounges at its hub, Hong Kong International Airport. The best lounge is The Pier, which is located in Terminal 1, near gate 63. Designed by Studioilse, the London-based design studio led by Ilse Crawford, The Pier, features warm, tactile and timeless materials, creating a residential ambience. Contemporary Asian touches are tangible in the lounge’s green onyx walls, as well as the walnut and bronze screens. Asian and international influences are showcased in the lounge’s 100-seat restaurant, The Dining Room, which has a seasonally changing à la carte menu that features classic dishes, signature noodles, and specialty desserts. At ‘The Retreat’, the lounge’s elegant in-house spa, passengers enjoy bespoke service and soothing massages, while at ‘The Bar’ they are treated to exquisite cocktails unique to The Pier.
3. DELICIOUS ONBOARD CATERING, INCLUDING CAVIAR SERVICE
Cathay Pacific’s First Class menu is inspired by seasonal, sustainable produce, with dishes that celebrate the flavors of Hong Kong and its destinations. There’s always a selection of international favorites, contemporary wellness options, and Hong Kong classics. Passengers can enjoy in-flight meals at whatever time suits them best – when they’re ready to dine, they simply place an order with the cabin crew. The carrier also regularly partners with Michelin-starred chefs from renowned restaurants around the world (such as Tosca, the Italian restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong) to develop First Class menus. Cathay Pacific has also filled its award-winning onboard cellar with a selection of top Champagne cuveés, prestigious vintages, spirits and Betsy beer. To round off any dining experience, gourmet desserts, fine cheeses, freshly brewed coffee, and handmade pralines are served.
2. THE WIDEST FIRST-CLASS SEAT IN THE INDUSTRY
Once onboard, passengers can experience the tasteful luxury of Cathay Pacific’s First Class suite, which is padded with soft leather and comfortable fabrics. At first sight, the spacious suite may seem a little underwhelming and visually less impressive when compared to some of Cathay Pacific’s competitors: the cabin has an open layout (there are no sliding doors, like on Emirates) and the suites don’t feature a separate bed & seat configuration (like on Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines). However, although it isn’t one of the industry’s newest or most flashy First Class seats, I count Cathay Pacific’s double-wide seat still as the best designed First Class seat in the sky: it is plush, luxurious and very comfortable upright, semi-reclined, or in lie-flat mode. The seat can be easily adjusted by a touchscreen controller, and passengers can even enjoy in-chair massages.
1. AMAZING BEDDING & TURNDOWN SERVICE
While some of Cathay Pacific’s competitors excel with extravagant First Class amenities such as showers and glamorous bars, Cathay Pacific shines with its outstanding First Class bedding and turndown service, offering by far the most comfortable night’s sleep at 35,000 feet. The carrier’s First Class passengers can enjoy some real ‘warp and weft’ magic, with spacious beds that are covered with 100 percent sustainably sourced cotton mattresses, and dressed with soft 600 thread-count cotton sheets, soft full-size pillow cases and duvet covers. Cathay Pacific’s turndown service offers a menu with a choice of soft or firm pillows, plus a spray of Bamford’s bestselling Pillow Mist, which is infused with frankincense, lavender and marjoram to aid sleep. Bespoke JING teas complete the experience: the Soothe and Calm blends will aid digestion and encourage relaxation, respectively.
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I love Cathay Pacific and have and have flown them numerous times to South East Asia from North America. I’ve flown all 4 classes. All are classes are excellent. However in my opinion their Premium Economy is not as good as their Asian Competitors, it’s more like economy plus to me. Their lounges are the best. Their First Class seats are much better than Singapore Airlines, but I think the First Class service is better on Singapore than on Cathay Pacific.
I have flown Cathay Pacific 2 times. The seat (bed) is the best offered in first class. But, the service is mediocre at best. The food is okay. My most recent experiences on ANA, are clearly much better than Cathay. Considering that one can get awards for less miles on ANA, I will chose ANA, over Cathay. I am also not crazy about giving my business to Hong Kong anymore.