Hello from Singapore! I’m on my wild review trip at the moment, and just flew Cathay Pacific’s Airbus A350-1000 business class from Hong Kong to Singapore, on the short 3hr15min hop.
I actually reviewed Cathay Pacific’s A350 business class between Hong Kong and Toronto shortly before the pandemic. The reason I flew it again this time was because it was the most convenient option between Hong Kong and Singapore, and my primary goal was to review some lounges at both airports.
So, how is Cathay Pacific business class holding up? The product continues to be well-rounded, with great reverse herringbone seats, phenomenal entertainment and Wi-Fi, and tasty food. However, maybe I just had a bad experience, but service seems to not be quite as good as it used to be, at least based on this flight.
In this post I wanted to share my initial thoughts, and then soon I’ll publish a full review of the flight.
In this post:
Cathay Pacific’s A350 business class seats are fantastic
Cathay Pacific has reverse herringbone seats on its Airbus A350s, based on Safran’s Cirrus product line. While there’s usually quite a bit of consistency between airlines when it comes to reverse herringbone seats, Cathay Pacific deserves credit for how it differentiates itself.
These reverse herringbone seats are way more spacious than your typical ones — just look at the footwell, which is huge.
When you turn the seat into a bed, there’s even a panel at the side that folds up to make the sleeping surface larger.
There’s even a huge storage compartment at the bottom at the seat along the fuselage.
Okay, the product isn’t as cutting edge as Starlux’s new A350 business class, which consists of the Collins Aerospace Horizon seat. However, this must otherwise be the best reverse herringbone seat out there.
Does anyone know why no other airlines (at least to my knowledge) have installed Safran’s Cirrus seats with these awesome modifications?
Cathay Pacific’s entertainment & Wi-Fi are superior
One area where many Asian carriers lag is with inflight entertainment. For example, just take my recent flights on Starlux, Japan Airlines, and EVA Air, where you’re definitely best off bringing your own entertainment.
Fortunately this is an area where Cathay Pacific excels, as the carrier has a massive library of movies and TV shows.
On top of that, I love the map feature, and I also adore the A350’s tail camera, which I could watch for the entire flight without getting bored.
Though at times it was hard to decide whether to watch the tail camera or look out the window…
Cathay Pacific also has Wi-Fi on its A350s. While not free (like on Singapore Airlines), I found it to be quite a good deal at $12.95 for the flight, with no data caps.
Cathay Pacific’s business class food is quite good
As I always say, it’s amazing to contrast the inflight offerings you receive on Asian carriers vs. American carriers. Dinner was served on this short flight, with menus being distributed.
The starter consisted of marinated prawns with Thai pomelo and green papaya salad, as well as a salad (I love how airlines always describe salads as being “seasonal,” and then just give you a few types of lettuce with nothing else).
For the main course, I selected the steamed halibut with cordyceps flowers, aged mandarin peel, and preserved black olives, which was the signature dish in collaboration with Duddell’s. While the starter was nothing special, the main course was absolutely delicious.
Then there was a dessert trolley, with fresh fruit, cheese, and ice cream. I was offered all three, and couldn’t help but select the Biscoff flavored ice cream. Lol.
Cathay Pacific’s service is… not as good as it used to be?
It’s my understanding that Cathay Pacific has quite the “juniority” problem at the moment, as the airline has lost a ton of pilots and cabin crew during the pandemic, so is largely staffed with very junior employees.
While I didn’t ask the flight attendants for their date of hire, I certainly got the sense that they weren’t that experienced. I’m not meaning to rag on the crew at all, as they were perfectly fine. However, in previous installments I talked about how amazing the crews on both of my previous EVA Air flights were, as they had an amazing eye for detail and went above and beyond, while this crew was more just… meh?
Individually any shortcomings were minor, and I’m not sure if it reflects the carrier’s service flow, the crew’s lack of experience, or what. But just to give a few examples:
- Plastic wrappers weren’t proactively removed from seats, even when crews saw them
- Oddly the mixed nuts were just served with the meal, rather than before it, and people were just automatically served still water, rather than the choice of still or sparkling
- The crew just seemed a bit sloppy — I heard the crew dropping forks and knives multiple times on the floor, and when the flight attendant was at my seat with the appetizer cart, she must have been looking in the cart for at least a few minutes for the right appetizer, as she didn’t seem to know where it was
Like I said, these are all minor things. The crew wasn’t bad, they just weren’t great. There was a noticeable difference in the service level between EVA Air and Cathay Pacific, where the former almost treat the service flow as a performance. Maybe I just got unlucky.
Cathay Pacific is a great airline, and currently the carrier’s A350s offer the best business class experience in the fleet (though 777s are soon getting new business class seats). Cathay Pacific’s A350 reverse herringbone seats are noticeably more comfortable than your typical reverse herringbone seats, which is great.
On top of that, Cathay Pacific offers extensive entertainment, reasonably priced Wi-Fi, and tasty food. However, the service on my flight was just fine, so I’m not sure if I just got unlucky, or if Cathay Pacific’s turnover in recent years is impacting service levels.
What do you make of Cathay Pacific’s A350 business class?