What’s So Great About Cathay Pacific’s First Class Lounge?

Reader Abhi asked the following question on the “Ask Lucky” page of the blog:

Hi Lucky
I visited the wing FC lounge in hkg today.
And though its only my second FC lounge visit it really seemed just meh. Itā€™s more like a rich admirals club.
The only other FC lounge I have been to is Lufthansa FC lounge in Munich and compared to that this just seems very disappointing.
Have I just set my expectations wrong by visiting Lufthansa FC lounge in Munich first?
-Abhi

It’s an interesting question because I think it’s fun to look at the different thought processes people reach conclusions with.

Do I like Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class Lounge in Hong Kong? Yes. Do I think it’s one of the world’s best lounges? No.

I don’t think it’s ultimately in the same league as the Air France First Class Lounge Paris, Emirates A380 First Class Lounge in Dubai, Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney, or Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa in Bangkok.

But I do quite like it, and think it’s one of the better lounges in the world.

Why?

Oneworld Emerald members can access it

Perhaps this is one of the reasons the lounge felt less exclusive to Abhi. The lounge can be access by oneworld Emerald members, even if traveling in economy on a shorthaul flight. As a oneworld Emerald member, that’s something I quite appreciate. Obviously that’s not great news for first class passengers, but is great news for elite members.

The Wing has the best showers of any lounge

If you can snag a cabana, they’re the single best showers I’ve seen at any airport. Be sure you specifically ask for a cabana, because they also have shower rooms which are different (though still quite nice). There’s sometimes a wait for them, so add yourself to the list as soon as you get to the lounge.

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The Wing has a champagne bar

While it’s not the best stuff in the world, I do appreciate that The Wing has a judgment free self serve champagne bar. They have Moet (both Brut and Rose) as well as Veuve. Quite the thirst quencher before or after a longhaul. šŸ˜‰

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The Wing has a decent restaurant

It’s not the best food of any lounge, but The Wing has a solid restaurant, which is catered and staffed by Peninsula Hotels. They have both a buffet and a la carte menu.

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Cathay Pacific’s ground experience is otherwise unremarkable

Other than the above features, I find Cathay Pacific’s Hong Kong ground experience to be nothing special. There’s no escort from check-in to the lounge or from the lounge to the gate. There’s not even a priority security or immigration queue.

The Wing isn’t a great place to sit for hours (the seating is fine, but isn’t really different than a business class lounge). There’s no spa. And there aren’t really any “entertainment zones.”

But it works really well for me

Ultimately The Wing hits the spot for me. If I am originating my travel in Hong Kong I’ll usually get to the airport two hours before departure, which leaves about an hour in The Wing. That’s enough time for a nice meal and some champagne, assuming I’m not connecting to longhaul first class flight (in which case I usually save my appetite).

And if I’m connecting, I don’t actually mind a few hours there. Cathay Pacific doesn’t have wifi (frustratingly), so during a four hour connection I’ll have a meal, get a cabana, and spend a couple of hours catching up on work at the champagne bar.

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Bottom line

Is The Wing the world’s best first class lounge? Nope, but I actually think it’s really solid. I won’t arrive at the airport much earlier than I have to just to visit, but I will plan a longer layover there, largely because I like to have a chance to catch up on work between flights without wifi.

Funny enough, though, I’m not actually that impressed by Lufthansa’s First Class Lounge in Munich. You typically don’t get a car to your longhaul flight, the food isn’t as good as in the Frankfurt lounge, it’s small, and it tends to get crowded.

If you’ve visited The Wing First Class Lounge, what was your impression and how do you rate it?

Comments

  1. The cabanas alone made it my favorite lounge experience. My only regret was that I only had a 2 hour layover, and The Wing was at the opposite end from where both of my gates were. I only had time for a quick shower and a bowl of noodle soup (another nice unique feature of the lounge).

  2. I was there a few days after the renovation and have since been a few other times. I was expecting WOW because it was closed 6 months. In the end I think its pretty average for CX. The red couches really are not that comfortable. The food is good but not great. I do like the bubbly bar and cabanas. I do not understand why CX did not put in a dedicated immigration line directly into the lounge. My top 5:

    1. Thai Royal F/C BKK
    2. LH F Terminal FRA
    3. EK F A380 terminal DXB
    4. Qantas F SYD
    5. CX Wing HKG

  3. Ben, thanks for this. I’ve been wondering about this very thing. Do you find a lot of difference between the CX business and first class lounges?

  4. for my 6 hr layover on RTW13 the cabana was heaven. Nap, shower, Champagne. For RTW14 I enjoyed the Bridge only doing CK J HKG-SYD B4 EK 1st SYD-DXB-JFK. Saved the fancy shower for 35k in the air. Give ur Mom a hug for me

  5. I haven’t been there since May of last year, but they definitely had WiFi as of 5/2014.

    Same when I was there in late 2013 as well, don’t recall if it was CX vs. HKIA or whatever, though.

  6. I may be wrong, but I think Lucky was saying they don’t have wifi on the planes, so he uses it in the lounge.

  7. So can I bring a guest or guests into the first class lounge if I’m flying first with no oneworld status?

  8. @ Valerie – yes, one guest who is also travelling on a oneworld operated and marketed flight (doesn’t have to be same flight as you).

    CX really missed a trick with the CX F lounge other than the Cabanas/showers. The seating area wasn’t expanded (the Atrium area, although now permanently part of the F section, was originally designed to be part of the J section); the materials used in the restaurant had to be replaced to soften the sound echoes and the choice of furniture in the main area is just downright puzzling (like why are there so many three seater sofas? A stranger isn’t going to perch in between two people in the “middle seat”). It’s really strange because the refurbishment of the Wing J lounge really raised the bar, and The Cabin and The Bridge are both top notch. It’s almost like someone accidentally used a discarded concept for CX lounges generally and implemented it for The Wing F, and no one realised until it was all kitted out.

  9. I have been to both The Wing and LH F MUC, and I do think the latter is a little better overall: better food, service, and exclusivity. With the exception of the cabana, The Wing feels like a nice J lounge, while everything about MUC exudes F.

  10. I liked the Wing a lot but just did not think it was out of this world special (compared to trip reports I have read on AF and LH first lounges). The cabana is great though – on my last trip I had to take a badly needed nap and passed out in there for 4 hours (even though the time limit is 3 hours). Having said all that, the Wing is head and shoulders above the Concorde lounge in T5.

  11. I’m not a big fan of the location of the Wing. I thought it was hard to find but overall I loved the cabana. I had a 5 hour layover and had the opportunity to take a nap, take a shower, and do some work. Perfect! I’ll admit I’ve gotten used to the Delta Skyclubs, United Clubs, and AAdmirals Clubs in the USA that any of these amazing First class lounges of foreign carriers are simply out-of-this-world to me.

    As for LH First Class lounge in Munich, what determines car service to the plane? I flew MUC-ZRH-JFK back in September in F and for the MUC-ZRH segment, I was driven in a car from the LH FC MUC lounge to the plane.

    Why isn’t the Wing in the same league as Qantas First Class lounge? Both are accessible by oneworld emeralds, no?

  12. i made this comment recently over on gary’s blog as well but in my opinion the showers in the JL F lounge at NRT far exceed CX’s. probably just an aesthetic preference, though.

  13. It also REALLY helps if you are White. Watch the interactions next time you’re in there. (And notice how all the bloggers who LOVE Cathay are all White as well. ;))

  14. @ Joey — In Munich it all depends on whether you leave from a remote position or not. All the US-bound longhaul flights leave from gates, so you don’t get a bar.

    Yes, the Qantas Lounge is better, I agree. Funny that they beat Cathay Pacific at their home airport.

  15. @ Christian — Not a huge difference. The champagne is better, food is marginally better, they have cabanas, and in theory they have servers roaming the lounge to offer you drinks.

  16. I flew a couple days ago from hkg to lax in Cathay first and I love the wing lounge
    Great champagne
    Decent food
    Amazing showers
    Great facilities

  17. The Wing is a solid choice and Cathay are overall an amazing airline. The same cannot be a said for TG or LH. They have amazing on ground facilities but once on board it sucks. The soft product for both airlines is just horrible.

  18. Any idea if I can visit the Wing? I’m flying first on the way to HK, have a layover, then fly on to the Maldives in Business.

  19. You might not have visited in the past month, but they no longer serve Moet Imperial Brut. The selection starting this year are Moet Rose, VC and Peninsula Brut.

  20. @Shariq, they ask you to limit your time to 90 minutes, so that everyone has a chance to enjoy.

    If you talk to the attendants there about people that go over, they will say it’s really hard to police. They say for the most part the honor system works.

  21. was there twice last year and wasn’t impressed. The service could be better and it was quite crowded as well. The food at the restaurant was okay. It could help if they had a separate sections for first class passengers and oneworld emerald. The shower was the best for sure, though.

  22. My wife and I are flying BBK-HKG-JFK on Cathay Flights in business class in November (We are trying to get bumped up to FC). She is a member of AMEX Priority Pass. Can we use the Cathay Lounge in HKG? If we can use it, and bring a guest, is there a fee?

  23. @ CHawk — No need for Priority Pass, if you’re in business class you can use any of Cathay Pacific’s business class lounges.

  24. If I arrive in HKG on CX business class late afternoon but depart early the next day on Dragonair First class, can I access either the CX business or the first class lounges on arrival or do I just get access to the Arrivals lounge? (I’m thinking of overnighting at the airport as I have priority pass as well so worst case I have access to Plaza Premium but would be nice to access CX biz or first lounges during the long layover)

  25. I’m also a CX silver member (whether that makes a difference for the business lounge or not)

  26. @ Rick — Technically I don’t believe you’d get access if you aren’t connecting same day, but in practice they might let you in.

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