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Our flight was departing from gate 36, which was only a very short walk from The Pier Lounge. It might sound like a distance based on the fact that The Pier is between gates 61 and 63, but due to the terminal layout it’s actually one of the closer gates to the lounge.
We got to gate 36 at around 3:30PM, and just five minutes after that boarding was called. In Hong Kong the gates are set up so that premium boarding is on one side and general boarding on the other, which makes the process a bit more orderly.
I had specifically booked a longhaul configured aircraft for this flight. Most of Cathay Pacific’s flights within Asia are operated by regionally configured aircraft, which feature their regional business class product. However, select flights are operated by longhaul configured aircraft, which feature their reverse herringbone product in business class. These are a huge improvement over the regional product, and worth going out of your way to book, in my opinion.
Cathay Pacific 729
Hong Kong (HKG) – Kuala Lumpur (KUL)
Friday, November 13
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Seat: 21K (Business Class)
We boarded through the forward door, where we were greeted by the inflight service manager, who pointed us towards the right aisle. Cathay Pacific’s A330 business class cabin consists of 39 seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration. Each seat is fully flat and features direct aisle access, given that it’s a reverse herringbone product. This is the same business class product they have on their longhaul 777s, though the seat is a bit narrower, given that the cabin isn’t as wide as the 777’s.
The forward business class cabin features seven rows, so it’s where most of the business class seats are located.
Then there’s also a rear business class cabin, which I personally prefer. It only has 2-3 rows, so feels considerably more private. Also, since the lavatories are in front of the rear business class cabin, there’s virtually no foot traffic in the rear cabin during the flight (the downside is that during boarding everyone boards past your seat, even those entering through the second door of the plane).
I quickly found my seat, 21K, which was the last business class seat in front of premium economy, on the right side of the aircraft.
I love the reverse herringbone business class product, as it’s spacious and private. There was an ottoman of sorts which becomes part of the bed if you recline the seat, and then the TV screen “swings” out of the seat in front of you.
To the right of the seat are the entertainment and seat controls, along with a reading light and power adapter. There’s also a storage compartment with the headphones there. It’s convenient to have everything in one place within easy reach of where you’re seated.
The tray table swings out of the right side console, and then below that is even more storage. It’s awesome that the seat isn’t just extremely private and spacious, but also has plenty of storage.
You’d be hard pressed to see the person seated across from you, given the privacy “shield” along the side of the seat.
Once settled in the business class flight attendant working my aisle, Melanie, came by to offer a pre-departure beverage. I had both a glass of champagne and water.
As boarding continued we were offered fast track cards for Malaysia immigration.
Shortly thereafter we were offered the menus for the flight.
Shortly before scheduled departure time the (Australian) captain came on the PA to welcome us aboard and inform us of our flight time of 3hr28min. He also rather sheepishly informed us that the plane had “technical faults that required signing off of paperwork,” and he didn’t know exactly how long that would take. It seemed like the problem may not have been quite as far along as he was revealing.
By 4:05PM boarding was complete, and every seat in business class was taken. The inflight service manager made her welcome aboard announcement and began screening the safety video, though we were still sitting at the gate. 15 minutes later the captain came back on the PA and said we should be underway shortly.
Finally at 4:40PM we began our pushback on a gloomy Hong Kong afternoon.
We taxied out to runway 7R, which took about 15 minutes.
Once there we were number two for takeoff behind another Cathay Pacific A330, which was on a parallel taxiway.
Soon enough it was our turn, and at 4:55PM we began our powerful takeoff roll.
We hit some light chop on the initial climb out, but the ride smoothed out pretty quickly once we passed through the first few layers of clouds.
As we climbed out I browsed the entertainment selection, and eventually decided to watch a few episodes of “2 Broke Girls.”
It was a gorgeous afternoon once we were at cruising altitude, at which point the seatbelt sign was turned off.
Shortly thereafter hot towels were distributed, and then the meal service began.
The menu read as follows:
And the drinks/wine list read as follows:
First a cart was rolled through the aisle with drinks and nuts. I had my daily quota of champagne in the lounge, so just had a sparkling water with mixed nuts.
About 15 minutes after that a cart was rolled through the aisle with the appetizer. I found the meal service on this flight to be a bit puzzling. You’d think it would be a dinner flight since it left at 4PM and arrived at 8PM, but instead the meal was advertised as a “refreshment.” Rather than the standard dinner appetizer, we were offered fresh fruit to start. Odd.
It was served with the usual selection of bread, including Cathay Pacific’s excellent garlic bread.
Next the main courses were rolled around on a cart. Cathay Pacific is unique in that they don’t take orders for the main course, but rather just roll a cart through the aisle which displays all the options. It’s nice to decide what you’d like to eat by looking at the meals, rather than having to rely on the menu descriptions.
Cathay Pacific’s steamed black cod is consistently excellent, so I ordered that. This one was no exception. It wasn’t quite as good as the black cod I’ve had on other Cathay Pacific flights, but was still excellent.
Ford had the soup for his main course.
Next the dessert trolley was rolled through the cabin. We had the choice of cheese or ice cream (vanilla or banana & cream). I select the banana & cream, and had a coffee to accompany it.
The meal service was done about 90 minutes into the flight. The service was good, though in an “assembly line” sort of way. The crew was extremely friendly, but Cathay doing business class service on carts always makes the service feel a bit unpersonalized, in my opinion.
As dinner finished up I glanced out the window at the stunning sunset. Sunsets at altitude never get old!
After the meal service I dozed off for a bit. The crew came through the cabin every so often to see if anyone wanted anything, though I was stuffed at that point, between eating and drinking in The Pier, and then the meal service on this flight.
At around 7:50PM Kuala Lumpur time the captain came on the PA to inform us we should be landing in Kuala Lumpur in about 30 minutes at 8:20PM local time.
At that point we began our descent and the cabin crew did their landing preparations, which included them dispersing pesticide spray throughout the cabin, which always feels a bit… dehumanizing.
Sure enough we had a very smooth touchdown at 8:20PM.
From there it was an almost 10 minute taxi to the gate. It was so hot on the ground that the windows immediately fogged up, so I didn’t have much of an opportunity to take pictures.
Cathay Pacific A330 business class bottom line
It’s a real treat to get a longhaul configured aircraft on an intra-Asia flight on Cathay Pacific. The seat is unbeatable, and the service and entertainment were great as well. I find Cathay Pacific’s business class food to be good, but not exceptional.
This remains one of my favorite business class products out there.