Dear Cathay First: We Need To Talk

Cathay Pacific has my hands-down favorite first class in the world. It’s not necessarily the best, but the various elements combine to create something special and — more importantly — reliable. You can always count on a great experience in Cathay Pacific class, including the best possible sleep in the sky.

At least that’s what I’ve always said before today.

There’s no perfect first class

Every single airline has pros and cons, and things that matter to one person won’t necessarily register to another. There can also be tremendous variations between configurations and crews, and an incredible first class flight on Tuesday might only be mediocre on Wednesday.

With Singapore Airlines, for example, no matter how pretty the cabin is, the soft product is everything. The flight could be a “supper” flight, which has a really lackluster meal service, or it could be a “lunch/dinner” flight, which has an amazing meal service. You could have an incredible, polished crew that treats the flight as a performance, or (if you’re me), consistently get wackadoodle flight attendants.

The Emirates shower is a non-gimmicky delight, but while the new plane is beautiful, most of the seats in the fleet aren’t that impressive, the cabins are cramped, and though the menu is extensive, the food isn’t always great.

Etihad’s A380 First Apartments are gorgeous, but again — the bed isn’t actually that comfortable, and the catering feels incongruously cheap. It’s one thing to cut the caviar service, but ditching the proper mezze dishes…

That’s why rankings of first class cabins are so subjective.

Consistency is Cathay First’s raison d’être

Cathay Pacific’s first class experience is almost unimaginably consistent — and that’s a good thing. While other airlines have introduced hit-or-miss new configurations or attempted to surprise and delight, Cathay Pacific delivers a steady and unchanging experience.

All flights that offer first class have the same configuration, so there’s no risk of equipment-change induced despair. The amenity kits have had identical contents since late 2013, and even the cases are identical to those introduced in 2015.

Crew uniforms have only been updated (and minimally) nine times in the 65+ year history of the airline. Flight procedures are specific, and crews are trained to execute them precisely.

The point being — Cathay Pacific is incredibly reliable. And that is a major benefit for the airline. Cathay Pacific has my favorite first class because it’s borderline boring, a great night’s sleep is guaranteed, and Cathay probably has the best all-around first class offering of any airline.

Which is all exactly what you’d want if returning home with a recovering travel companion.

The problem with consistency as-a-selling-point, however, is that any lack of precision can make the whole thing fall apart rather quickly.

Little details make a huge difference

These are, of course, minuscule things. But when you’re talking about premium experiences, it’s the tiniest points of difference that determines whether something is great or merely acceptable.

Despite their reticence towards updates, Cathay Pacific has changed a few elements of the service recently, and I’m not a fan.

The pre-departure amuse bouche (which varied on each flight), for instance, has been eliminated.

Cathay-Pacific-First-Class-777-07

Instead, mixed (un-warmed, non-premium) nuts are offered along with pre-departure beverages:

Which, nuts are lovely, but then they bring another batch along with your drink once the bell chimes:

So if they’re not going to have an amuse bouche (which seems ridiculous, when that’s something even Aeroflot offers in business class), then at least mixing things up a bit would be nice.

There are some other minor changes (like a new Champagne, and boxed generic chocolates rather than truffles), but those didn’t seem major.

The significant change though, is the bedding seems to have recently been refreshed. Or maybe it’s just that worn linens are constantly being replenished, and a supplier changed somewhere along the line.

Regardless of the reason, the bedding was a disappointment. The duvet felt much lighter, but was also much worse at regulating temperature than previously. The pillows also lacked loft, and seemed a touch smaller.

The mattress pad also wasn’t as plush as in the past, which is a bad combination with seats that haven’t been updated in a decade and are starting to sag. While I always sleep wonderfully in Cathay First, on this flight I woke up after about 90 minutes on my side with a sore hip and my arm asleep. That’s something I’d expect in a cheap business class seat, not on the traditionally best airline for sleeping.

Our crew was shockingly mediocre

I don’t know that this has anything to do with the previous employer of some of the flight attendants, but the crew was…not good. There were only three of us in First, and Ben slept almost the entire flight, so it’s not like we were a terribly high maintenance crowd.

Cathay Pacific takes a pretty standard approach to first class service during the meal — flight attendants are attentive and visible during the meal service, and constantly replenishing drinks. The differentiation comes after the meal, where the flight attendants turn into ninjas, and you won’t see a crew member in the cabin unless:

  • Someone rings the call button, after which a flight attendant will appear in seconds
  • A passenger gets up to use the lav or walk around, at which point a flight attendant will typically dash out to fluff up the bedding, refill bottles of water, and generally tidy the cabin

The latter is such a trademark of the service that it was noticeably lacking. I certainly don’t need someone to reset bed linens every hour, but it was surprising to have to constantly ask for water.

And that smallest of gestures — the welcome note from the crew (which I sorta think is ridiculous, but is still a key part of what makes Cathay First Cathay First), never materialized.

The crew was still friendly, and managed the structured service competently, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that they were just doing the bare minimum.

Bottom line

Is any of this world-ending? Of course not. And this is still a luxurious and wonderful experience that I’m always going to be happy to have:

Happy place. ✈️🍾

A post shared by Tiffany Funk (@tebfunk) on

But Cathay Pacific can’t truly compete head-to-head with other premium carriers if you measure any element of the hard product, soft product, or service individually.

Where Cathay shines is with having the best overall experience, and offering conformity in what they deliver.

This flight put enough of a wobble in my perception of Cathay Pacific’s consistency that I am going to struggle to praise it going forward. I truly hope this was just a one-off, and not indicative of a shift in culture at Cathay, but even having a single “meh” flight is such a departure from expectation that I’m fairly concerned.

Has anyone else noticed changes in Cathay First lately?

Comments

  1. I was extremely disappointed with my last JFK-YVR flight in First. I was treated horribly, I felt like I was dead weight ready to be dropped off in YVR so they could just move on to HKG. Really put me off the whole experience, I love Cathay and it was sad to see them fall like that.

  2. I personally have not flown them, but my friend who works in South East Asia flies them every chance he gets in first. He said something very similar about finding the seats more uncomfortable for sleeping. It sounds like like these seats are turning into your old mattress. It was amazing for a long time, but it’s showing it’s age.

  3. If this is something you have noticed over a period of time over multiple flights, then yeah, it’s a legitimate issue, with regards to the service.

    If this is just a one-off experience, then it really isn’t much to write about. Sometimes you get an off crew with off service.

    Though the possible change in bedding and not serving an amuse bouche are interesting.

  4. I also love CATHAY for it’s consistency and I think it makes it a great airline. Having said that, the elimination of the amuse bouche annoys the heck out of me, it must save USD 2 a seat and just makes the experience more ordinary. As for the welcome on board card – it always signals the difference between a great flight an ok one. I’ve been booking CX business on the a350 over the (highly likely) option of a points upgrade to First on a 777 of late. Stupid that Cathay is making First more ordinary.

  5. I did LHR – HKG recently on a flight operated with LHR based crew. Soft product was definitely consistent as previously experienced (it helps the ISM knew me from previous flights)… Hard product – don’t get me started. Wear and tear, especially around the chrome surfaces, are very noticeable. Fortunately, I didn’t have issues of my seat cushion sagging! That Aesop kit and PJs are dire to say to least!

    I agree, overall, CX needs to massively up their game in F to compete with the other 5* airlines!

  6. Maybe entitled bloggers don’t HAVE to fly home in First if they caught the flu.
    Just maybe business class would have sufficed. Or heaven forbid not fly while ill. But what do I know…

  7. I have celiac disease, so become really quite ill after eating gluten, which has a whole host of long term effects in addition to the short term ones. Two years ago I flew HKG to LHR in First on CX (£21 and 100k avios through BA – best value award ticket ever??) and despite them having loaded my gluten free meal, the flight attendant looking after me CONSISTENTLY gave me the wrong food. At first this started with the amuse bouche, which was, to my horror, replaced with the correct gluten free one AFTER I had eaten it! It continued on and on, being served the wrong starter, then the correct main with normal, glutenous bread on top… I pointed out that my special meal was because of a medical condition, not through choice, and was treated with a mixture of pity and shock for the rest of the flight. I was asked to read the ingredients labels of wine bottles, told I wasn’t allowed products which I knew are gluten free (strawberry ice cream). Appalling unprofessionalism which left me literally sick for days after the flight. I complained on board and received no response, then online after the flight, again with no response, and finally called to complain about the lack of reply, which was again ignored. Not even an apology. I would never fly CX again after that – such a disappointment.

  8. I think the obvious first thought (which is mentioned in the article) was the possible link with yesterday’s post on the US-based cabin crew. I wonder how much of a factor that was.

    That said, one of my colleagues is from HK and she mentioned prior to her trip there last week (on CX out of LHR) about how downhill CX seems to be going. and it’s not what it used to be. So possibly linked to that.

    Or it’s a combination of the two.

  9. Interesting reflections.

    Almost by definition, consistency is an essential part of any successful brand. And it’s the hardest thing to deliver when it’s in the hands of fallible humans. At one extreme you can ensure consistency by turning them into robots. At the other you can let their individual personalities flood out (not something I personally like, being hyper-reserved, but some customers love it).

    Ben mentioned in his recent review of Qatar how they always, always, always ensure the toilets are kept clean. It’s amazing how many airlines fail at this simple task. Getting it wrong can be very unpleasant for the passenger. But consistency in basics like that are much more important to me than whether or not there’s an amuse bouche or an onboard shower.

    I travel long haul a lot for work but almost always in J, not F, because the extra stuff offered in F doesn’t to me represent good value. (YMMV, of course.) But when I do buy luxury I want to know in advance what I’m buying and to get it.

  10. I just took F (upgrade) right before Chinese New Year from CDG to HKG. The FAs were nice, but I concur with the attentiveness point – I woke up several times and no offers of water or if I needed anything else. I was up alread 3 hours prior to landing but no offer of breakfast was given until I asked.

    Having said so, I’m not sure if this ia partly due to (a) travelling around peak season issue (I nearly got crushed by a hand carry on the subsequent flight to KIX when passengers rushed to disembark and no FA stopped ppl from pushing) (b) being a young female traveler (Asian baby face) because I definitely noticed the other male passengers around me had more attentive service. I was actually asked to pick another main course as they ran out of fish, but I was the second to place an order.

    I did have a rather pleasant experience late last year from LHR when I was very ill and lost my voice.

  11. As I’m looking for f award flights for cx.. lol.. question for you Cathay Pacific specifically 777-300er or a380 first class? Sfo to hkg? Or lax to hgk?

  12. I flew Cathay First in 2014 ORD-HKG and had a similar experience (although they served amouche bouche back then). I had no qualms about pressing the call button, but the crew just didn’t wow me.

  13. I had a much better experience flying Cathay first class Hong Kong – Boston in November, perhaps precisely because I slept so much of the flight.

    https://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2017/11/26/review-cathay-pacific-first-class-hong-kong-boston/

    I don’t mind their dropping the pre-departure amuse bouche, they only introduced it in February 2014 so in my mind it wasn’t really part of the base product.

    I do think the pillows are less good than before, but especially with just three in the cabin why not grab a second one?

    The thing worth mentioning about the seat is its sheer width. I prefer the Cathay seat over many first class products that are suites with doors because of the spaciousness. On the one hand I wish there were MORE seats so it was easier to book the product with miles, but on the other hand once i’m in the cabin I sure appreciate the privacy and exclusivity versus larger or denser cabins.

  14. Flew them for the first time in F last November HK to BKK and while I loved the lounge experience in HK, I was really underwhelmed by the flight… to the point that I felt I’ve had much better and attentive service on Thai. Maybe I was expecting too much given it was my first flight in F with Cathay or maybe as you say things are changing?

  15. It seems like you clearly had a bad crew.

    That said, were you on a revenue F ticket? I assume not, and that’s probably indicative of a broader trend.

    Not that only people who pay for F are entitled to have an opinion, but if fewer people are paying their way in F, you’re inevitably going to see a slow decay in the cost/quality of their service offering.

  16. How many times have you paid for CX long haul First?

    Call me pragmatic, but don’t you think there might be a correlation between FFP maximizers and degradation of International First service, which nobody pays for, and had no real value to revenue generation?

    How about write a blog describing how your site might be helping participate in the elimination of need of International First Class?

    Why would any airline keep it, if you can exploit giving it away for free?

  17. First, I can’t believe the number of comments that always meet any criticism of F/C service with “ungrateful bastards.” CX charges $20,000 for a seat in F. Service standards are expected to be met for all passengers ticketed in that cabin (award or cash). The whole point of this blog is how to enjoy premium cabin travel without spending $20k through careful use of miles/ points.

    Second, CX has gone downhill. Obviously, in-cabin amenities has been cheapened, but crew have also been cost-cut and this naturally impacts the enthusiasm of the service you receive. They have core business customers they are unlikely to lose, but I’ve heard complaints from CAN/ SZX -based business contacts who used to fly out of HKG for CX, but now don’t see the point.

    It’s a downward spiral when an airline loses its reputation for premium service and thus loses the ability to charge a premium for its seats, leading management to engage in further cost-cutting.

  18. As for the exec who OK’ed the cutback on CX F praline service: TRY HIM OR HER AT THE HAGUE FOR WAR CRIMES IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!

    #givemechocolateorangesticksorgivemedeath

  19. CX hasn’t been investing in F products for quite sometime, and doesn’t look like they will on their new A350 fleets. I believe they should keep F in most long haul flights even if it doesn’t make good economic sense in narrow perspective.
    Service difference mostly is caused by what crew you have, nationality and their base. Maybe biased, but Asia based ones are better than U.S ones.

  20. So hard to find a good first class these days. It’s getting as hard as finding good help.

    These aren’t even first world problems. They’re -100th world problems.

  21. @Tiffany – curious if you brought up any of the issues that could be fixed while in flight with either your FA or the Purser (not issues like the amuse bouche – that is what it is – but things like the lack of proactive water refills). I have no problem with bringing up fixable issues, and most of the time the approach works great. Whether paying in miles or cash, I think it’s worthwhile to politely and tactfully make reasonable requests.

  22. @ Josh

    Yes, I always make a point of politely complaining: I prefer my drinks served with added spittle, and after the complaint they usually are.

  23. On the welcome note, I have never come to expect it on every flight. I have received it on a somewhat random basis over the past few years, though my parents would always get it. Not sure why, but CX isn’t consistent with it.

    I also once saw a leftover peanut (from the previous passenger) near the window for a whole long-haul flight once, and nobody cleaned it up. Maybe the crew didn’t notice. But they were otherwise so warm that I didn’t bother to mention it.

  24. this has to be the most ridiculous, entitled post …..wow

    and Tiffany…can you please distinguish what makes nuts (non-premium?)

    just wow…

  25. Wow. I have to say I am a pretty amazed at the snark and negative reaction to this post. I think Tiffany is was thoughtful with her feed back and went out of her way to be constructive.

    Whether you paid with cash or miles/point should have no bearing on how you as a customer are treated and further, whether you are entitled to provide criticism.

  26. @ Tom — Uggh, that sounds miserable. I have some very minor food allergies, so eating the wrong things can make me awful, and I can’t even imagine how horrible that would be for someone with celiac. 🙁

  27. @ Gary Leff — Hah, you’d better believe I commandeered enough spare pillows and blankets to make a fortress! But on Cathay, should you have to?

  28. I fly CX F about 2X a year. The amuse bouche is not really an issue. Some planes have the updated TV swivel some dont. Krug is still served on non west coast routes. I had an amazing CX F ORD – HKG and return in NOV 2017 and I just did a JFK – HKG and flew CX 888 (stop in YVR) on the return in Jan/Feb 2018. JFK – HKG was as good as usual. Return began at BKK so on that leg I did try the Tattinger which was very good, comparable to the Krug. My crew from YVR to JFK was not very good and was the first time in a long time service was “mediocre” I did not notice anything unusual about the bedding. If anything my last few flights I noticed the cabins were a bit cooler than usual and I slept better

  29. @ Auspointer — Well, Thai service is more traditionally attentive, whereas Cathay has always taken the approach of being absent-but-available, so there’s definitely a difference. Some people will prefer one versus the other.

    But the comments from the readers who fly CX consistently are definitely interesting in that regard. Seems like others could be having similar experiences, so maybe things really are changing.

  30. @ Josh — That’s not something I’m opposed to, and in cases where there’s a potential to make a difference I’m happy to say something, but I don’t really know that it would have been helpful here. Despite what some of the comments would imply, I’m not pretentious enough to think any of this stuff is an Actual Issue — it’s more just a lack of what makes Cathay special. Trying to have the conversation of “has CX changed their brand standard, because I noticed that my water bottle isn’t being automatically refilled when I leave my seat” is just not going to end well, easier to just ask for water.

  31. @Greg – Whether paying with cash or paying with points, the first class experience needs to be the first class experience. And if it’s an operational upgrade, meaning there was no payment at all? The first class experience still needs to be the first class experience.

    @Jonathan K – CX doesn’t fly the A380.

  32. I don’t normally comment but I visit often to read this blog and I tend to get a lot out of the articles posted here. I’m a little baffled by the commends being made towards this article… I wouldn’t expect everyone to like every single post as I certainly pick and choose what to read so for people commenting single words like “seriously?”; why bother taking up comment space if you aren’t going to elaborate what about this article you find unappealing? For those commenting about the OneMileAtATime team being entitled because they used miles to fly; how is that different than each of us using miles to fly and expecting to get the most out of it? I’m also intrigued by those that keep commenting that somehow by using points or miles to fly the ticket is somehow free… If these airlines didn’t make any money out of point/mile redemptions wouldn’t they have just cut this off year ago? Also, last time I checked none of my flights taken with miles were ever free (discounted? sure)… I either took a hit signing up for credit cards and worked to meet minimum spend, spent time researching how to obtain these miles, or paid for the miles outright. Sure I didn’t pay 20-30K outright for an F ticket but for anyone to assume that these seats have to be sold for that amount in order for the airlines to make any money or come out ahead is living a fantasy. As for me; I have no shame in feeling “entitled” next time I accumulate enough miles to fly F.

  33. @ Drew — Since you said “please” I’ll ignore the tone of the rest and answer the nut question.

    Cathay is serving a mix of about 30% cashew pieces and 70% roasted whole almonds. Cashew pieces are less than half the cost of whole cashews, almonds are about $4/lb, and their mix would be about $9/lb if purchased retail (I’m sure they’re paying much less than that). I love almonds, so am not complaining, but that’s definitely a more common mix for business class than first.

    For airlines with premium offerings, you’ll see things like whole macadamia nuts (Thai and Lufthansa, at ~$18/lb retail), or a mix of whole nuts (Emirates has two choices), and they’re almost always warmed.

    So when I point these things out, it’s not because I find them world-ending or personally offensive. It’s a legitimate point of difference between international first class carriers, and making those comparisons is a speciality around here.

    Does that help at all?

  34. Hi Tiffany, I flew CX back in 2016 from HK – JFK. Flight attendants super friendly, although I did not get my note either! and nobody ever fluffed my pillows or fixed my bedding. And I didn’t get my evian water until I asked. Nobody came to welcome me onboard either I just walked to my seat and sat down. Maybe I got a US based crew? Nobody cleaned the toilets, this old man came out and I used it and it was absolutely discusting.

    When I flew first from HND – HKG on one of the last 747 planes, the purser welcomed me on board and was very professional. I usually fly business instead of first, and the intra-Asia flights are always much more professional than the US ones and I’m not sure why. One time I flew HK – Newark in business and I the flight attendant never showed up when I rang the button. Then I told her about it and she lied in my face that it only took her 3 seconds to get to me. Then another flight attendant who was very young held her nose when handing out cheeses and said it smells so bad. Not worth the $100,000 hkd cathay charges to fly out of HK. So horrible I now fly Cathay economy because at least I didn’t waste my money on bad service. Economy flight attendants are even more hardworking and friendly than their business counterparts. Perhaps cathay hires rich girls to be business class flight attendants but it’s obvious they’re not trained.

    I even fly united economy now because at least I can expect united to suck and it doesn’t bother me. And United sucks so much I get 3 seats to myself in economy from New York to HK. The flight is $700 usd roundtrip and I’m very happy ignoring the gross food and sad service. I save my $9000 usd and buy all the champagnes/pillows/truffles/gourmet meals/massages to get out my neck cramp I want once I land.

  35. I have very fond memories of CX First, but that’s largely because, on the first time I flew it, I ended up embarking on the first, baby steps of a relationship with the flight attendant that served me – in a way that was completely unexpected. It also made the subsequent trips in the cabin particularly special for obvious reasons: some of the best experiences, not just flights, of my life.

    My point here is that I think our views on such experiences is based so strongly in context and one’s expectations. Now that I travel so much internationally, I think my personal well-being is best served by approaching each flight on its own terms, rather than harking back to reference points from past experience. I find that I have a more pleasant experience that way in what remains, from your account, a special and luxurious environment.

    I accept that you might think differently if the purpose of taking the flight is to review it, where you might think capturing the trajectory of experience over time matters in making judgements about quality – but this just won’t apply to most people who take this flight as a one-off experience.

  36. agreed, CX First has gone downhill from 2013 on, strikes & layoffs, it was evident in various aspects, the printed material of F & J menus, the amenity bags & contents, the meals itself (no more lobster, abalone), in the bottled water (no more evian) they handed out after meal. just to name a few.

  37. I’ve flown CX First twice & I have never received a welcome note. I’m also not sure they fluffed or fixed the bedding once I stepped away.

  38. @ Garrett

    Tiffany didn’t create this site, she is living off Lucky but manages to come across like a pretentious douchenizzle. No wonder she’s getting called out for being upset with her nut ratios.

  39. @ Steve

    I think she’s only “coming across as a pretentious douchenizzle [sic]” in your head. I think she’s brilliant.

  40. Wow…y’all are something else. I consistently enjoy Tiffany’s articles. What do you expect from a site that does REVIEWS? Should they just review every single F cabin as TOTALLY AWESOME GLAD TO BE HERE because it’s F?

    I hoard my points and do major redemptions about once or twice a year. I appreciate the details in these reviews because it helps me decide how to spend my points, and which points to focus on accumulating. She’s not comparing F on Cathay to Y on any airline, she’s comparing F on Cathay to F on other airlines, and these are the points that prompt comparison.

    Do you watch car shows that compare 2 supercars and say, “harrumph! How entitled of them to say that the Lagonda has shitty cornering when most people are driving a 10 year old Civic!”?

  41. Tiffany, always appreciate your writing and POV

    I first noticed the decline of few years ago when they eliminated 1st boarding and combined 1st and biz boarding. I was in 1st, walked to the front of the line and told to go the end of a VERY long biz class line. Not a fantastic way to treat 1st class passenger.

  42. I like that Tiffany has the guts to respond to the mail. Don’t really feel like I am better as a person for learning the intricacies of nut mix ratios and price per pound, but it is nice to see an author stand behind an article and not just move on to the next.

  43. Ben has told Tiffany that part of the job is responding to comments. No “guts” are involved here.

    Hey Tiffany, ask Ben for a bag of cashews for your Xmas present.

  44. @Tiffany. I’m happy that a free loader got mediocre service best innCX F. When was the last time you paid fair market value for F? Don’t bitch and complain about a product or service that you’re not paying for. CX May be encountering hard times, but you should remember you are not the target audience for the F service. IMHO people on redemption flights for premium cabins should just be left alone with little attention, and safety being the only concern of cabin crew.

  45. to read your post and comment on the price of nuts, I suddenly realized why that lady of KAL nusgate would be so upset. Still, I am thinking you are too harsh and overeacting

  46. For some reason, this article made me think of Al Bundy. Could totally see him getting a free F seat on CX only to complain about the nut ratios. Congrats Tiffany!

  47. “I’m happy that a free loader got mediocre service best innCX F. When was the last time you paid fair market value for F? Don’t bitch and complain about a product or service that you’re not paying for. CX May be encountering hard times, but you should remember you are not the target audience for the F service. IMHO people on redemption flights for premium cabins should just be left alone with little attention, and safety being the only concern of cabin crew.””

    Its sounds like you were molested as a child.. also not potty trained, and you have serious mommy issues. GET SOMME HELPP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!!!! or mabey try street drugs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  48. @Tiffany

    I had a brain fart.. I was thinking korean air a380 lax-icn-pvg.. Im gonna do Cx sfo-hkg-pvg. Thank you..

    I think your doing a great job keep it up, the point of the blog is to give your view point of things if ppl wanna complain let them. Thanks for sharing your view points.

  49. @ Ryan — Hah, thanks, I don’t feel like knowing intricacies of nut mixes has necessarily made me a better person either, but that’s the gig. 😉

  50. I’ve flown CX First 6 times between HKG and ZRH or FRA, so as yet never to YVR or JFK. Every flight has been a delight, the service exemplary, the toilet always miraculously cleaned but never noticing FAs blocking them. I did notice the drop off in amuse Bouche and praline quantity and quality, and found it strangely penny-pinching. The seats and surrounds are a bit tired on some of the air frames but have always been comfortable except where the seat dips at its pivot point, but I now use a therm-a-rest air mattress on all flights so no longer a problem, although Emirates First seats have never needed this prop.
    I’m flying HKG-LHR in 3 weeks and expect the usual wonderful services, and then HKG-JFK in December, and hope I don’t experience the ex-AA crew as its a long flight and I’d hate to have a thoughtless crew shatter CX’s long-term shining brilliance in First. BTW when I have travelled Business on the 9 hr flight from Australia to HKG, the service is nothing like the same, but this is par for the course with Singapore also.

  51. @ Ba777w — I’m sure you know this, but that’s a ridiculous justification. The gentleman in 1K was on a full-fare ticket (albeit purchased by his employer, so possibly doesn’t meet your requirements for meriting brand-standard service?), and had the same experience.

    OMAAT has devoted a fair amount of time/effort to covering the F experience on Cathay Pacific. Since this flight did not live up to the standard that has earned plenty of praise here, it’s worth sharing with readers. That was the point of the post. Not to “bitch and complain”, which I think was fairly obvious in the reading.

  52. Here we go again – feeeloaders complaining and acting entitled. Hopefully the crew knew that the 3 of you paid $0 for your “game the system” schemes and hence ignored you. Makes perfect sense. Most of us earn miles the real way – fly premium for work and use some top up options ( even from this site) to fly first or occasionally redeem points in business for the family. You guys have made this a scam. That said the time of this post is no different than the one for the Angola Air seat assignment post. Entitled and juvenile. Perhaps a retooling of the messaging would help?

  53. “”feeeloaders complaining and acting entitled. Hopefully the crew knew that the 3 of you paid $0 for your “game the system” schemes and hence ignored you. ”

    DT are you retarded? Do you have DTs? Bbecausee you sound like a retard or someone with DTs!!!!!!!!!! There is NO GAMING going on and NO SCAMMING they posts about ways to earn miles and points and people like you leave stupid troll posts when you should GTF OFF TO GARY’S CRAPPY BLOG!!!!!!!

  54. @Tiffany – I didn’t mean to imply that you should frame a conversation with “your brand standard seems to slipping…”. Rather, consider saying something like “my friend is recovering from a cold and it would be really great if we could keep his water always filled”, or something along those lines.

    For what it’s worth, I didn’t find your article pretentious. I “get” that some readers may think “look, you’re in a free seat, just be happy with whatever you get”, but I think about this from a revenue ticket perspective. I don’t fly frequently enough (or have sufficient stamina to manufacture cc spend) to fly on frequent flier miles so I pay cash for my travels almost exclusively, and that includes int’l first tickets from time to time. If I’m going to choose Cathay over a market competitor, it would be because I’ve rationalized the incremental cost is worth the differentiated service. And if that service isn’t really differentiated any more, then what would be the point of paying the premium? Example – I don’t bother paying for first when flying to London because BA business class is really not much different than first. But when I fly to Paris, I absolutely choose Air France La Premiere over their business class because it’s a completely different level of service.

  55. CX F has gone downhill since several years ago. Both the hard products and the soft products, and in particular the F&Bs are getting worse progressively and they have never been very good to begin with!

    My biggest problem is that I often got serious reactions after eating the on board meals.

    Over the past 6 to 7 CX F flights between HKG and LAX in slightly over 2 years period, I got SICK after eating the foods 3 or 4 times. My husband did not have the issues but when I got sick I threw up violently. The last time this happened was in Sept 2017. The vomits were so violent that I had some torn tissues in my chest – akin like you have a serious prolong cough for several days, then your chest hurts at the slightest movement.
    When I saw my doctor once home, he said it was caused by the violent throw ups and only time could heal it.
    It seems there are some ingredients used in their catering are definitely not agree with my stomach.

    FAs though they were all very caring when they saw me suffer – they would check on me and ask if I need some hot tea or some snack to “put the upset stomach down”… So I dont have complains on them.

    Still, the airline can no longer be a top premium airline as far as I am concerned. Too many things are lacking, or more precisely, deteriorating from the past glorious days. It is very sad to see this because being from Hong Kong, IT is our airline of choice. Now I could easily pick QR over CX.

  56. Although my flight in October from Hong Kong to JFK was in business class I was shocked by how bad the experience was. The seat was cramped and I had to ask for additional duvets to make the bed comfortable enough to lie on. I felt like I was ina library shelf. The food was inedible. That is a long flight to endure with only a serving of ice cream. Even the vodka, Absolut, was disappointing. Once the meal service finished I never saw another flight attendant. The whole compartment was virtually empty. No wonder!

  57. Although my flight in October from Hong Kong to JFK was in business class I was shocked by how bad the experience was. The seat was cramped and I had to ask for additional duvets to make the bed comfortable enough to lie on. I felt like I was on a library shelf. The food was inedible. That is a long flight to endure with only a serving of ice cream. Once the meal service finished I never saw another flight attendant. The whole compartment was virtually empty. No wonder!

  58. This is so obvious I feel like I shouldn’t have to mention it, but points aren’t free. In order to book an award seat, you have to pay in points, and airlines distribute points and release award seats in such a way that it’s beneficial to the bottom line of the airlines. If you get those points via credit card spend, you’re a client of a company like Chase or AMEX, who purchased those points from the airline using money. If you get those points by flying, it’s a sort of rebate to encourage repeat business. You can have two passengers sitting next to each other who paid vastly different amounts in cash for a flight, an award passenger might very well have paid as much or more, albeit in an indirect manner. Maybe try not to be super naive in future when talking about OMG FREE SEATS.

  59. two things amused me after reading the comments:

    1. flights paid in miles are definitely not “free flights.” the airline received money for that

    2. this is a site that specializes in miles, if you don’t like the idea, how could you find this site to read in the first place?

    CX has gone downhill ever since Air China becomes the 2nd largest shareholder, end of

  60. @ schar — Shot with my Pixel 2, which is my new best friend. No filters, but spot-adjusted the shadows and highlights, since that was the only way to get the blue in the windows without having the table be too dark.

  61. Tiff – Another great post. The posts and reviews on this site are super useful to many travelers for booking flights and they need to be accurate. Sure you could say how wonderful it was because it was free; but these reviews are used by people who may also book with cash so want (and to some here are the only ones “entitled” to) the full F experience and service. Based on reviews like this I make decisions on who to travel with so I love the honesty and the critical nature of the posts (where deserved of course!).

    As an example, a OMAAT review of CX First is what helped me decide to take a cheap cash upgrade from J to F return HKG to LAX in 2016 (on an AA booked code share ticket). I had a fantastic flight. Welcome notes from the crews on both sectors, amuse bouche, Krug – the works. The crews were a delight (both HK and US based) and in a partially full cabin, it was truly personalised service.

    Its a shame some people are branding these reviews/posts as “complaints from a free-loader” etc etc. OMAAT is the most extensive, thorough, impartial and entertaining airline review database I know of and it is much more than a points hack service to me.

    The point that gets missed with some of these comments is the other passenger in the cabin (other than Lucky) being served by the same FA, may have paid $12,000 for the privilege of a fluffed pillow and a topped up water bottle – and these reviews help people make decisions on where their money goes.

    So thanks and keep it up!

  62. Picky ,picky , picky .No ,wait ,that’s their job . What if she wrote ” Cathay first : everything was great. ” and left it at that ? Hell to pay in the comments guaranteed . Or people would just quit reading .
    Although of little importance for me , the things Tiffany has mentioned are important for others .
    There may not be enough difference to distinguish one first class from another for common folk like me . For others it does make a difference .
    Remember , writers need to find something to write about . Be tolerant of the articles you don’t appreciate for the benefit of the articles you do enjoy .

  63. “this is a site that specializes in miles”

    Truth be told, there are time when I think this is a credit card/priority pass referral site disguised as a trip report/miles specialization site.

    Still entertaining at times, though.

  64. Is it surprising that CX is in the mood for a few cutbacks: lat year they made 60m profit on turnover of 6 billion ( from memory but somewhere in that range). They are being squeezed from every angle and one could reasonably speculate that more cuts are in the wings.
    While I haven’t been in F for years I still view CX J as one of the very best out there ( in the same league as QR/EK/SQ), significantly better than the tier two’s such as QF/LH/TG) and so infinitely superior to any US carrier that it hardly needs mentioning.

  65. Most of you would still be travelling greyhound if not for this blog. Whether it’s miles miles or commercial ticket you deserve the same service and in F class there is no excuse.

    CX management follow this blog so hopefully they will lift their game .

    Well done Tiffany and keep up the great work.

    As for the person who says miles seat pax Shouldn’t be given the same service/attention as fully paid pax, you sound like a burnt out old flight attendant .

  66. Great job Tiffany! Honest report on service and quality you have come to expect and in this case, failed to deliver.
    Simply ignore the trolls which have been, as of late, infected this site! If CX thinks the changes they have made won’t affect their repeat business, perhaps they need to learn from their mistakes. People will simply make other choices in the future!
    Keep up the great work!

  67. @Tiffany. Nope. You’re still bitching and entitled. As someone mentioned before, you should be happy with the almost free seats you got. I’ll say it again and it may hurt but you’re not the company’s target audience. You can very well spend miles on another brand.
    Say something when you have the capacity to afford First class international fairs. In the mean time get a real job and stop your bitching.

  68. It would interesting for bloggers to also correlate these issues with the financial situation of the airline in question. CX is pretty much up shit creek financially.
    They had the benefit of getting China bound traffic for years. Then the Chinese airports and airlines kicked in, and CX ran out of mojo.

  69. @Tiffany – Keep up the good work. You’re one of a handful of people on earth who can critique the little things knowledgably-enough to be relevant.

    @Ba777W – Your post is rude and uncalled for. For someone who hates ‘bitching’ and is calling out freeloaders, when’s the last time you spent a dime on this blog?

  70. Sorry, I’m a little confused by the post. Personally, the doing away with the amuse bouche wasn’t the biggest deal to me. I don’t know why people bring that up. It’s a tiny plate of nothing. Not even EK serves it, and frankly I always thought it was kind of stupid anyway given the amount of food you are going to eat on one of these long hauls.

    I’m confused, was this just a bad flight? Or in general you’ve seen, and heard a trend of negative stories of people flying F in CX?

  71. oh wow non-revenue passengers are crying about services in first class. end of the world. oh wow how we going to keep non-revenue passengers happy, oh wow such a tremendously important topic. oh wowwwwww

  72. Standard service is one thing, and I found CX is trying hard to distinguish a Diamond card member (DM) and a non DM. Now I have just become DM, I can really feel the services difference, with attentions to details; On the flip side of the coin, if it was given to everyone, it will become a standard, which I think it devaluate it. Exclusiveness is the rarity that make it special. Different airlines draw the line differently.

    Agreed that some of things on F has been cheapen, but their PJ and slippers are the best I have ever given or purchased. The F class seats are being updated, which takes time, please bear with it a little

    But I’m most impressed with comments from Greg (some other people made similar point later, but Greg was the first one I saw, so he gets a mention. ). Quote from Greg as following.

    “That said, were you on a revenue F ticket? I assume not, and that’s probably indicative of a broader trend.

    Not that only people who pay for F are entitled to have an opinion, but if fewer people are paying their way in F, you’re inevitably going to see a slow decay in the cost/quality of their service offering.”

    I used to work in CX as Revenue analyst, and I once happened to meet a family member in one of the richest family in HK. He was saying that it only takes the effort of a director put in a code in their booking to get them upgraded, why he try to avoid it?
    I replied to them that every month there is a report generated on how many of those “favours” has been offered by all directors/managers, so there is a tracking mechanism. (as all rich people thinks they are special, in some case, YES? But mostly being special by paying more).

    Then I added (in Chinese, while other person on the table is an English speaker), “If you are not paying for those, who else can afford it? If no one can afford it, they can’t keep it for too long.”

    My point is that I don’t look down on people using milage to be on F (like myself), but I salute money paying customers for their actual effort to keep the F service.

  73. So if I win a Ferrari in a raffle, I’m not allowed to complain if it came with a flat tire, because it was free? Especially if I work for a car reviews magazine?

    God, the Internet really brings out the stupid in people.

  74. Wow, some very interesting comments here.
    Also, with regards to the nuts, I can’t help but recall the KE “nut rage” incident.

  75. @Dafuq

    Is a flat tire really the same thing as a slightly improper nut ratio? Tiffany is crying because she was give too few cashews and some extra almonds that weren’t warmed to perfection.

  76. There are a lot of very mentally ill people commenting on this blog.

    @Ba777W: You really win the prize though for craziest douchebag of all. If by “family” you are referring to your children, I truly am so sorry for them. You are too hateful and deranged to be a parent. That idea is far more upsetting to me than any non-rev blogger writing a post about first class service details. Get some help, you miserable prick. You are the loser here, not Tiffany. Don’t read this blog, and just keep buying those tickets. Sucker.

  77. @Steve

    It’s one of those arguments where there is no black and white, but I would absolutely expect for a travel blog dedicated to reviewing premium products to go into detail and call out whenever any differentiating aspect of such premium products change, whether it’s the ratio of higher quality peanuts, the brand of their bottled water, or the stitching quality of their blankets. As Tiffany has said many times, she’s not “complaining.” These things aren’t important per se, but it’s her job to point out the differences between the premium products and their standard counterparts, and when those differences change. It’s her job to point them out.

    Whether she flew for free or not has absolutely nothing to do with anything, and people should be congratulating her for being thorough when doing her job and deciding for themselves whether these things are important to them or not.

    There’s nothing more stupid than people complaining about getting “too much information” from a travel blog to help them guide their own decisions.

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