Nowadays it’s tough to snag Cathay Pacific first class awards in advance, though closer to departure the seats are generally pretty readily available with enough flexibility.
Meanwhile Cathay Pacific business class awards are quite readily available, even in advance. Cathay Pacific often releases five business class award seats per flight.
Which brings me to a question I’m often asked about travel on Cathay Pacific. How much better is Cathay Pacific first class than business class? In other words, to what degree is it worth going out of your way to fly Cathay Pacific first class?
Cathay Pacific first class is exceptional
Cathay Pacific first class is an experience, much like many of the world’s top first class products:
- There are only six seats in the cabin, so it’s one of the most private first class cabins out there
- While there aren’t fully enclosed suites, the bedding is fantastic as well, with an excellent comforter, duvet, and set of pillows; I get some of my best sleep in Cathay Pacific first class
- The food is good, but not my favorite; I find the main courses usually aren’t that great, but I love the caviar, salad, soup, and Asian pre-landing meals; the coffee selection is great as well (you can order lattes, cappuccinos, etc., while you can only have coffee or tea in business class)
- They serve Krug!
- There are excellent amenities, including awesome pajamas and an Aesop amenity kit
- The Cathay Pacific First Class Wing Lounge in Hong Kong is good, though is hardly a reason to fly Cathay Pacific first class; the Cathay Pacific Bridge Lounge and Qantas Lounge Hong Kong (which are for both first & business class passengers) are excellent as well
So to sum it up, Cathay Pacific first class is an all around solid first class product, and definitely ranks in my top five first class products, all things considered. It’s an experience.
Cathay Pacific business class is consistent
While Cathay Pacific first class is exceptional, their business class is extremely comfortable and consistent as well, though isn’t quite as much of an “experience.” I recently flew Cathay Pacific’s longhaul business class for the first time, and had a nice flight.
To sum up Cathay Pacific’s business class:
- There are reverse herringbone seats, which are probably my favorite business class hard product
- The bedding is fairly good for business class, though not nearly as good as in first class
- The food is edible, though not an experience; the meal services do feel very much like an “assembly line”
- The StudioCX entertainment selection is identical to what’s available in first class, so it’s quite good
If the goal is to arrive well rested…
If the goal is simply to get from point A to point B and arrive as well rested as possible, I think Cathay Pacific business class is great. There aren’t many business class products out there which are more well rounded, comfortable, and consistent. I guess this sort of ties into my post the other day, entitled “Is The Worst First Class The Best First Class?”
That being said, I also don’t think Cathay Pacific business class is an “experience,” per se. In other words, if you’re an experienced premium cabin traveler you won’t land saying “that was the best flight ever.” But I also don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Is it worth going out of your way to fly Cathay Pacific first class over business class? In other words, if you lock in Cathay Pacific business class award space in advance, could it make sense to add a connection or switch dates if first class opens up closer to departure?
It all depends on the type of traveler you are. If you’re the type of person who says “as long as I have a good flat bed and edible food, I couldn’t ask for anything else” then I think business class is the way to go.
If “getting there is half/a quarter/some percentage of the fun,” then I do think it’s worth going out of your way to try Cathay Pacific first class. Of course everyone has to crunch the numbers for themselves in terms of the opportunity cost of switching flights to fly Cathay Pacific first class. If you only have a week of vacation and you have to delay that trip by two days for first class, that’s probably not worth it. If there’s space the day you want and it ultimately just increases your travel time by a few hours, I’d say it’s probably worth it.
Redeeming American miles, for example, it’s only an extra 12,500 miles to fly first class over business class between the US and Asia. I value American miles at ~1.8 cents each, so that’s like paying $225 for an upgrade on a ~16 hour flight. I’d say that’s a fantastic value, all else being equal.
How about you? How much would you go out of your way to fly Cathay Pacific first class over business class?