Chasing the Sun: Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok to Hong Kong

Introduction
Lufthansa First Class Seattle to Frankfurt
Lufthansa First Class Lounge & Senator Lounge Frankfurt
Thai Airways First Class Frankfurt to Bangkok
InterContinental Bangkok
Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge Bangkok
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific “The Wing” Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific First Class Hong Kong to San Francisco


We made it to the gate at around 12:45PM, right as boarding was called. As I mentioned in the previous installment, it was a long walk from the lounge to our departure gate, C1.


Departure gate


Our aircraft to Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific 614
Bangkok (BKK) – Hong Kong (HKG)
Monday, November 12
Depart: 1:10PM
Arrive: 4:50PM
Duration: 2hr40min
Aircraft: Airbus 330
Seat: 21K (Business Class)

While this was just a short intra-Asia hop, I was extremely excited about trying Cathay Pacific’s new business class, which I’ve heard great things about.

Once aboard we were greeted by the in-flight supervisor and directed to the far aisle. Business class consists of two cabins — the cabin in the front, which we walked through, and then the mini cabin in the back, where we were seated.


Main business class cabin

Before settling in I snapped a picture of the premium economy cabin which was immediately behind business class, and looked quite a bit like domestic first class in the US.


Premium economy

I was assigned seat 21K, which is in the last row of business class. To say I was blown away by the product would be an understatement. My business class seat had more personal space than many first class suites I’ve flown in. And given that the cabin is in a 1-2-1 configuration that makes sense, as that’s the same configuration most airlines have in first class.


Business class seat

The seat has utmost privacy though maybe feels a little claustrophobic compared to some first class seats, though I didn’t find that to be an issue. The seats are angled slightly towards the wall of the aircraft, and feature a large ottoman.


Legroom

To the right of the seat was the console, which housed the entertainment and seat controls, power ports, and reading light.


Seat console

Next to that was a small cabinet for storage and also for the headphones.


Headphones

Below the seat to the right was a storage pouch great for magazines, headphones, shoes, etc.


Storage pouch

And while on the surface sitting in the back of the cabin sucks (since it means you’re served last), I loved the mini cabin for the privacy, and would choose it again in a heartbeat.


Business class mini cabin

As soon as I was settled in one of the friendly flight attendants offered me a choice of pre-departure beverages from a tray. I selected a glass of water. That was quickly followed by a hot towel service and distribution of the landing forms.


Pre-departure beverage

After that the flight attendant working my aisle, Simon, introduced himself and presented the menu and wine list for the flight.


Menu and wine list

I requested a blanket, which Simon quickly brought me. It was a great blanket for a shorthaul flight, though hopefully they have more substantial ones for longhaul flights.


Blanket

As departure time rolled around the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, sporting a thick British accent. He advised us of our flight time of 2hr10min, and anticipated an arrival in Hong Kong ahead of “shed-jewel.”

We pushed back right on time and began our long taxi to the departure runway, 1L.


View while pushing back

Fortunately there were plenty of aircraft to keep me entertained all the way to the runway, including an Emirates Airbus 380, Transaero 767 (Transaero is probably the airline I want to fly most, as they’re so mysterious to me), Korean Air 737, Bangkok Airways Airbus 320, and Saudi Arabian Cargo MD-11.


Emirates Airbus 380


Transaero 767


Korean Air 737


Bangkok Airways Airbus 320


Saudi Arabian Cargo MD-11

Soon enough it was our turn, and we had a quick takeoff roll and steep climb out.


View of the airport after takeoff

As we took off I browsed the entertainment selection, which was extensive, with hundreds of TV shows, movies, CDs, etc. In the end I settled on “Day in the Life,” a series by Morgan Spurlock that follows around famous people for a day. The episode I watched documented a day in the life of comedian Russell Peters.


Entertainment selection

The seatbelt sign was turned off about 15 minutes after takeoff, so I took the opportunity to snap a quick picture of the main business class cabin.


Business class cabin

One of the downsides of business class (compared to first class) on a shorthaul flight is that service is really slow. When you have a few flight attendants trying to serve 40 meals on a two hour flight, there’s not all that much personalization that can be done.

About 20 minutes after the service began I was offered a beverage by one of the friendly flight attendants.


Diet Coke with lime

Another 15 minutes later the cart came around with the lunch offerings. The menu read as follows:

And the wine list read as follows:

I selected the grilled beef tenderloin as my main course, and also selected a piece of pretzel bread and garlic bread from the bread basket. The starter was pretty bland and the beef tenderloin a bit tough, though at least the bread was warm and delicious. ;)


Lunch

About 20 minutes later the flight attendants came around to clear trays and offer dessert. They had a variety of ice cream flavors, and I selected cookies and chocolate (which I learned is different than cookies and cream… who knew?).


Dessert

With under an hour left to go to Hong Kong, I decided to test the most important feature of the seat — the fully flat position. All I can say is “wow.” It’s as comfortable as most first class suites. The bed is really long, and I suspect could easily accommodate someone 6″6′ tall. The only benefit of some of the leading first class suites compared to Cathay Pacific’s new business class is added width when in the bed position.


Business class seat in bed position


Business class seat in bed position


Business class seat in bed position

I spent much of the rest of the flight talking to one of the fantastic flight attendants, Simon. He was from Bangkok though based in Hong Kong (even though Cathay Pacific has Bangkok based flight attendants), and it was great to hear his thoughts on the industry. Even though he was based in Hong Kong he commuted to Bangkok all the time and chose to be based in Hong Kong so he could get a better variety of routes. Cathay Pacific’s Bangkok based flight attendants only fly to Hong Kong, Colombo, and a couple of places in India.

About 10 minutes before landing the seatbelt sign was turned on and we began our final descent into Hong Kong. We landed on runway 7L, which translated into a very short taxi to the terminal.


View on final approach

While the airline traffic in Frankfurt is probably my favorite in the world, Hong Kong is a very close second. I love the number of Cathay Pacific heavies in Hong Kong.


View upon landing


Cathay Pacific 747


Pulling into our gate

We arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule and headed straight for immigration, though as usual I had to stop and snap a few pictures of Cathay’s last few beautiful 747s on the way.


Cathay Pacific 747

The queue for immigration was only about five minutes, so by shortly after 5PM we were in a taxi on our way to the city (if I’m alone I’ll take the Airport Express, though with two people the cost difference is minimal).


Terminal

Cathay Pacific’s new business class product is a huge winner, and makes even me rethink the value of first class. US Airways has a similar product on their Airbus 330 aircraft, and American will soon be rolling out a similar product on their 777-300ER aircraft. This is no doubt the business class product of the future.

Comments

  1. Mitch says

    Delta also uses this seat on their 747s, which have just finished reconfiguration. This is also the seat design being used in their A330s…whenever they get around to starting that project. The dreadful 767-300ERs need to be done first, but they’re getting the seats Delta uses in their 767-400s.

  2. Charlie says

    I took a trip on CX a couple months ago from US West Coast to and from Bali via HKG. We had the new J on the long haul flights but the old J on the 747′s between HKG and DPS. As good as CX’s new J seats are, I have to say that the old style seats are absolutely horrible. I enjoy looking out the window but these seats are angled away from the window so it is virtually impossible to look out. They are also narrow and horribly uncomfortable to sit in while ok when being used as a bed. I fully understand and agree with the description of them as “coffin seats”. Never again, if I can avoid it.

  3. Jonathan says

    I am a huge fan of these seats. I flew them YVR-JFK this summer. I was really surprised at how good and deep they were. Lots of storage. Comfortable. Big screen. There is only one suggestion I have for Cathay: make the privacy divider that comes up a bit taller. My face felt a bit close the the aisle when trying to sleep. It could be a bit more private. Otherwise, it is a GREAT seat.

  4. says

    It looks like we’ve gone full circle. “Premium Economy” looks like original Business Class on most carriers and “Business” looks like First. Are we simply re-labeling cabins so that business travelers can fly First Class but show their accounting offices they were “only” in Business Class (or Premium Economy)?

  5. lucky says

    @ JetAway — LOL, I think you’re onto something.

    @ wwk5d — They only have first class on their 747s and select 777s. Most flights between Bangkok and Hong Kong (including this flight) don’t offer a first class cabin. They run maybe one frequency a day on average that does have first class.

  6. says

    No wet towel pic AGAIN! You now owes us wet towels of Thai Air AND Cathay Pacific. Instead here, to mess us us completely, you added a blanket pic. We don’t care about stinking blankets, we want wet towel pics. What is wrong with you since you moved to Seattle?

    Happy Thanksgiving all:-)

  7. gstork says

    Years ago, when Aeroflot and I believe Cubana were still flying primarily Soviet aircraft capable of shorter ranges, SNN used to be a regular technical stop for flights between Moscow and Havana. Interesting they are still using SNN for some flights from Russia to S. Florida and Caribbean.

  8. Egor says

    @gstork SNN was not used for quite a while now. It was used as most western airport in non-NATO country. On the other hand UN has maitenance base in SNN, so theoretically the can use narrow-body to SNN and then widebody to MIA – o&d traffic between Russia and Ireland is quite scarce

  9. Nat Arem says

    First thought when I saw it was how similar it is to the US A330 product — which I was a big fan of. Looks awesome.

  10. Stephan says

    Lucky, would you recommend the middle seat pair for a couple ie: to be able to converse better? Or no difference with window seats?

  11. lucky says

    @ Stephan — Yes, I’d say that’s the better option, though they’re not angled perfectly. Still better than sitting across the aisle from one another, in my opinion.

    @ Albert — LOL, saw that. Was hoping to fly them a bit further up front…

  12. Jessie says

    It’s weird for me to read this, because I recently flew BKK-HKG-TPE with the first leg in Business, and it was definitely regional Business both ways. There wasn’t even real inflight entertainment, just live Chinese TV on a few channels and movie previews on the other channels playing in a loop.

    Oddly enough, on the shorter flight between Hong Kong and Taipei, they were using a plane with first-class seats…I was on economy for that flight but passed through both Biz and First cabins on the way out. So on that type of plane, even economy has AVOD in-seat.

    I was on a miles ticket so maybe it wasn’t possible to book the better flight, but it’s interesting to know that Cathay’s short-hop business is not consistently at the same level.

  13. AidanAhearn says

    It’s interesting that for Cathay’s premium economy class, they go against real legrests in non-bulkhead seats.

    I took a trip two months ago on Cathay Flights 884 and 885 from LAX to HKG and had premium economy in the front row with a family member. That was a lot of fun. But my dad had to sit in the row behind us and complained due to the lack of legrests.

    I have to agree with you though, Cathay itself is amazing. The flight attendants are always so nice and they kept offering me my favorite drink, which I love. But the non-legrests for most seats is sad. I still love the food, the power supply and the AVOD, however in addition to the service.

    What’s your opinion lucky. If you were going to fly CX premium economy and couldn’t snag a front row seat, wouldn’t you be upset. What’s your opinion on CX going against legrests. Because I know that that’s something I am not a fan of.
    PS. great post

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