Review: Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class

Filed Under: Cathay Pacific
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After a whirlwind trip to Singapore, it was time to start my journey back home.

Redeeming Miles For Cathay Pacific Business Class

I booked a Cathay Pacific business class award ticket all the way from Singapore to Toronto. The reason I chose to fly to Toronto is because the Hong Kong to Toronto flight was the only North American Cathay Pacific flight that day to be operated by the A350-1000, and that’s the plane I most wanted to review.

So I booked the following for 70,000 American AAdvantage miles:

12/05 CX636 Singapore to Hong Kong departing 8:15PM arriving 12:05AM (+1 day)
12/06 CX828 Hong Kong to Toronto departing 10:35AM arriving 12:30PM

I booked the ticket using 70,000 American AAdvantage miles plus $66.10 in taxes and fees, which I’d say is a great deal.

See this post for the best credit cards for earning American AAdvantage miles.

Earn AA Miles

I’d note that in theory I could have also redeemed 50,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles for the ticket, which is an even better value. However, when I called Alaska they couldn’t see the award space, unfortunately.

See this post for the best credit cards for earning Alaska Mileage Plan miles, including the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Credit Card (review) and Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Card (review).

Cathay Pacific Business Class A330 Review

After a fun day of mall walking and lounge hopping, I headed back to Terminal 4 for my Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong. My flight was departing from gate G18, at the end of the terminal, and was scheduled to board at 7:35PM.

Cathay Pacific boarding gate Changi Airport

In reality boarding was delayed a bit, as the plane only arrived from Hong Kong at around 7:25PM.

Cathay Pacific A330 Changi Airport

Boarding ended up starting at 7:55PM, with oneworld Emerald members being invited to board first.

Cathay Pacific 636
Singapore (SIN) – Hong Kong (HKG)
Thursday, December 5
Depart: 8:15PM
Arrive: 12:05AM (+1 day)
Duration: 3hr50min
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Seat: 18A ( Business Class)

I boarded through the forward left door, where I was greeted by the inflight service manager and one of the business class flight attendants, and pointed towards my seat. This A330-300 configuration had a total of 39 business class seats.

There were 28 business class seats in the forward cabin, and then another 11 seats in a cabin behind the second set of doors.


Cathay Pacific A330 business class cabin


Cathay Pacific A330 business class cabin

Note that Cathay Pacific has two types of business class seats on their A330s — some have reverse herringbone seats (in a 1-2-1 configuration), while other have their regional seats (in a 2-2-2 configuration). There’s a huge difference in terms of the quality of these seats.

Given that they fly the long haul equipped planes on many regional flights, it’s absolutely worth seeking out one of these planes if possible.

Cathay Pacific has pretty standard Cirrus reverse herringbone seats on their long haul A330s. These reverse herringbone seats are a bit narrower than you’ll find on wider aircraft.

In the center section seats are angled towards one another…


Cathay Pacific business class seats A330


Cathay Pacific business class seats A330

Meanwhile along the windows the seats are angled towards the windows.

I had assigned myself seat 18A, the seat in the last row of the forward business class cabin on the left side.


Cathay Pacific business class seats

This is a pretty awesome seat for a regional flight, if you ask me.


Cathay Pacific business class seats

The entertainment screens on these seats pop out from the seat in front.


Cathay Pacific business class seats

To the side of the seats are the entertainment controls, seat controls, power outlets, and a small storage compartment where the headphones are kept.


Cathay Pacific business class seat controls

The tray table extended from the left side of the seat, and could be folded over in half.


Cathay Pacific business class tray table

There’s also a small exposed storage compartment to the bottom left of the seat — as you can see, the seat was starting to show some wear-and-tear.


Cathay Pacific business class entertainment controls

The ottoman was an okay size, though definitely a bit on the tight side.


Cathay Pacific business class footwell

While there was an overhead reading light, unfortunately there was no individual air nozzle.


Cathay Pacific business class A330 overhead console

Headphones were already waiting at my seat, though unfortunately Cathay Pacific’s headphones aren’t great.


Cathay Pacific business class headphones

There was a pillow waiting at my seat, and then I also requested a blanket, which was quickly brought to me. While not as good as Cathay Pacific’s long haul bedding, it’s more than sufficient for a regional flight.


Cathay Pacific business class pillow & blanket

About 10 minutes after boarding the crew came through the cabin with pre-departure drinks, with the choice between water, orange juice, and champagne. I had a glass of water.

Cathay Pacific business class pre-departure drink

A couple of minutes later warm towels were distributed.


Cathay Pacific business class warm towel

Around 8:15PM the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, informing us of our flight time of 3hr25min to Hong Kong. After that Wendy, the inflight service manager, made her welcome aboard announcement.

It was announced that this flight was in conjunction with Mongolian Airlines — it’s interesting that this is the only codeshare partner for the flight.

At around 8:20PM the main cabin door closed (business class was just about full), and a moment later we began our pushback and the safety video was screened. We had a fairly quick taxi, and were airborne by 8:35PM.

As we climbed out I browsed the map and entertainment selection for the flight. Cathay Pacific’s A330 inflight entertainment is low resolution and isn’t terribly responsive — their newer planes have higher quality and more responsive screens.

Map enroute to Hong Kong

The selection as such was solid, though nowadays Cathay Pacific has about four minutes of ads before any show, which is a lot — on the plus side, they’re easy to fast forward through.


Cathay Pacific entertainment system


Cathay Pacific entertainment system

Unfortunately this A330 didn’t have wifi. I was a bit confused because I thought I saw a wifi “dome” on the plane, and also saw the plane listed online as having wifi installed. So I’m not sure if it just hasn’t been turned on, or if I’m totally mistaken?

The seatbelt sign was turned off five minutes after takeoff, and then 15 minutes after takeoff the menus were distributed for the flight.


Cathay Pacific business class menu

A few minutes later the inflight service manager came through the cabin to welcome me onboard — Cathay Pacific does a great job taking care of oneworld Emerald members.

Shortly thereafter the dinner service started. The menu read as follows:

The drink list read as follows:

The first round of drinks was served off a cart about 30 minutes after takeoff. I ordered the Cathay Delight, consisting of coconut milk, fresh mint, and kiwi. It’s one of the best cold, non-alcoholic drinks on any airline, in my opinion. That was served with some mixed nuts.

Cathay Pacific business class dinner — drinks and nuts

The salad and starter were served about an hour after takeoff. While Cathay Pacific has adjusted their long haul dining concept, on regional flights they still very much take an “assembly line” approach to the service, as most things are served off a cart.

The starter consisted of cured salmon with fennel citrus salad and a creme fraiche cucumber roll, and then there was a mesclun salad with cucumber, radish, and tomato. I also selected some garlic bread from the breadbasket.


Cathay Pacific business class dinner — salad and starter

About 70 minutes after takeoff I was asked what I wanted for my main course. This wasn’t served off a cart, but rather was brought directly to my seat on a tray. I ordered the prawn and fish cake laksa, which was excellent.


Cathay Pacific business class dinner — main course

Then it was a while before they served dessert, because they first cleared everyone’s main trays, and then came through the cabin with a dessert trolley. So about two hours after takeoff I was asked if I wanted fruit and cheese, which was quite good.


Cathay Pacific business class dinner — cheese & fruit

Then about 2hr20min after takeoff they came through the cabin with Haagen-Dazs ice cream, coffee, and tea, though I passed.

The food quality was very good, in my opinion. The crew was also friendly and attentive, and addressed me by name at virtually every interaction.

However, I don’t love the assembly line service approach they take. The meal service is quite long, though I guess they figure that most people aren’t looking to sleep on this fairly short evening flight.


Map enroute to Hong Kong

After the meal I checked out the lavatory — there are two in front of the cabin, and then one between the two business class cabins, on the right.


Cathay Pacific business class lavatory

Shortly after the meal service was done we were starting our descent to Hong Kong. At 11:25PM the captain announced we were at 39,000 feet, and that we’d be descending shortly, for a 12AM landing.

Our descent was smooth, and about 15 minutes before landing the seatbelt sign was turned on. As we descended the inflight service manager came through the cabin once again to thank people for flying with Cathay Pacific.


Map enroute to Hong Kong

We landed at midnight, and from there had a five minute taxi to our arrival gate.

I cleared immigration quickly and headed to the attached Regal Airport Hotel Hong Kong for a very short night of sleep (I only got to bed at around 2AM because I had some work to do, and then got up at 4AM so I could review some lounges at the airport).

Cathay Pacific Business Class A330 Bottom Line

Getting a fully flat reverse herringbone seat on an intra-Asia flight is a real treat. The seats were comfy, the crew friendly, and the food good.

However, the A330 cabin is certainly starting to show its age, between the wear-and-tear of the seats, and the low resolution entertainment system.

Furthermore, Cathay Pacific’s meal service on intra-Asia flights is really drawn out. I’m not sure that’s necessarily objectively bad, since some people might like that on an evening flight, though personally I wouldn’t have minded if it were much faster.

If you’ve flown Cathay Pacific business class intra-Asia and/or on the A330, what was your experience like?

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Comments
  1. Whilst not stellar, per se, the seats on the CX A330s with the 2-2-2 configuration are actually pretty comfortable and the foot rests are big. For a short hop (I’ve done BKK-HKG-BKK quite a bit), they aren’t bad at all if you want to take a nap or just sit and relax. That being said, when given the choice between the two A330s or an A350, I have usually tried to get a seat on the latter…

  2. Maybe I’m missing something but why does the first sentence say you were flying an A350 and the rest of the review refers to A330? Typo or last minute swap?

  3. @ Evan — The flight from Hong Kong to Toronto was operated by an A350. Or did I say something else that I missed?

  4. The center seats on the 330 have a TIGHT footwell. I flew one on a daytime SYD-HKG but for an overnight over 6 hours you don’t want to be in a middle.

  5. I remember the first time I stumbled across your blog was when you flew the exact same seat on a Bangkok-Hong Kong flight in 2012 and called it the best thing in the world. Glad to see how much better your trip reports have come since then!

  6. I flew the A330-300 in this configuration from Perth to HKG a couple of years ago. What I remember most is that it was an 8 hour flight leaving at midnight and I slept almost the entire way.

    I had a full day in PER and I was tired. But these were also really comfortable seats. I usually struggle to sleep on flights, and I remember this plane as being very good for sleeping. Or maybe I was just really tired. I just found all the CX flights I have taken really comfortable for sleeping.

    Thanks for the review.

  7. @ben

    curious why you call out that the center seats are angled towards each other and the window seats angled towards the window when you already say they are reverse herringbone. A bit redundant in my opinion, that’s all.

  8. @ stevo — I’d venture a guess that most non-airline geeks don’t know what reverse herringbone actually means in the context of airline seats.

  9. @ Lucky….

    Just flew JFK to SIN in Nov in U. First business class flight and I’m hooked. It was on Boeing 777-300s. Hard and soft products looked same from dated trim and the so so headphones. I don’t recall our dining service being drawn our, but that’s subjective to an extent. The food was good. Obviously as it’s U class service more refined with exception of desserts. Not used to food like that, but had all meals to enjoy experience. Our pre-bought meals on Air Asia from PEN to SIN were very good. The black pepper beef is a VERY good meal. Much better than anything on CX to be honest.

    What did you notice as different in products if you’ve flown same route on 777-300?

    Thanks for you site as reading it made this trip possible. Flew to SIN, PEN, back to SIN, to BNE, to ZQN, to AKL, then 3 day stopover in Fiji via Fiji Airways then back to Georgia all on points and hotels on certificates or points. Unfortunately only flight to SIN was in business. Priority Pass access to lounges was a huge advantage. Lounge in AKL and NAN are top end.

  10. Good review and a solid product for a short haul.

    They addressed you by name? God forbid! The U.S. Flight attendants are probably cringing now as pronouncing “Schlappig” must be so hard. The horror! And imagine, Wendy, the inflight service manager, she actually gave her name?

    Sorry, trolling @anonymousFA who justified not using names on your AA F post as clumsy if it’s hard to pronounce and a security risk to give her own first name, lol.

  11. I’m confused. The article title refers to a 330, the 1st paragraph refers to a 350, the remainder of the article refers to a 330, and Lucky’s reply to a comment refers to a 350.

    “I booked a Cathay Pacific business class award ticket all the way from Singapore to Toronto. The reason I chose to fly to Toronto is because the Hong Kong to Toronto flight was the only North American Cathay Pacific flight that day to be operated by the A350-1000, and that’s the plane I most wanted to review.”

  12. @Mark. He is mentioning that he flew from Hong Kong to Toronto on the A350. He had to get from Singapore to Hong Kong on an A330, which is what this review is about.

  13. IME Cathay short haul is one of the worst places for encountering aircraft swaps. I always choose my aircraft carefully to maximise the long haul cabins particularly between HKG – SIN or BKK or on their fifth freedom between the two.

    I think I’m really unlucky with them because about 75% of the time I end up with regional business which isn’t bad, it’s just not what I’m expecting and sometimes you don’t know until you board because all the same seat numbers exist.

    I recall particularly an occasion when the A350 had only just started being delivered to Cathay and I found a SIN-HKG sector on it. It was swapped to the oldest 772 in the fleet that was being retired on arrival in HKG. I was not happy!

  14. @Lucky, I thought you said you were flying CX F back instead of Hainan and were going to show us the trick to booking partner awards on CX premium seats. Did that get scrapped?

  15. @ Ryan T — That was the next trip, which happened two days after this one. Still happening, so just stay tuned (including updated explanation on how to book CX F).

  16. Great review — taking the exact same flight on CX early next year! Noticed you said Alaska couldn’t see award availability. From my experience, not all Alaska agents follow the same procedure, and over half of them won’t try a long sell, even if it’s available. This is one of those pick up, call again scenarios unfortunately. I was trying to book a CX first class through Alaska, and had to call five (5!) times until I got an agent who went through a long sell, found the availability, and booked me the ticket. Weird stuff.

  17. Wait until the New Long Haul Dining Concept on HKG to YYZ. It could take more 3 hours and they constantly miss orders… Enjoy!

  18. Ha, B-LBB, I was on her from HKG-TPE earlier this year. It was a real treat getting the upgrade to J on such a short flight. Great review a always.

  19. Lucky, I agree with your review. I’ve flown the same type of plane from MNL to HKG about two months ago. MNL to HKG is shorter than SIN to HKG.

    Compared to regional business class in other parts of the world, in particular Europe, where you get Economy with middle seat blocked on flights as long or longer, this is an outstanding product.

  20. @ ASFlyer – When you have piles of miles like Ben does, I guess it’s easier to just spend the extra 20K with AA and be done with it!

  21. I’m flying this business route with a companion. If I want to talk with them during the flight, is it best to sit in the middle, or across the aisle from each other?

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