Cathay Pacific’s A350 Business Class: Great Seat & Food, Fine Service

Cathay Pacific’s A350 Business Class: Great Seat & Food, Fine Service

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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.

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.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 business class cabin
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 business class seat

These reverse herringbone seats are way more spacious than your typical ones — just look at the footwell, which is huge.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 business class seat footwell

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.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 business class bed

There’s even a huge storage compartment at the bottom at the seat along the fuselage.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 business class seat storage

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.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 business class media library

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.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 tail camera

Though at times it was hard to decide whether to watch the tail camera or look out the window…

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 wing view

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 Airbus A350 Wi-Fi pricing

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.

Cathay Pacific business class menu

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).

Cathay Pacific business class dinner appetizer

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.

Cathay Pacific business class dinner main course

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 business class dinner dessert

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.

Bottom line

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?

Conversations (42)
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  1. Asantha Guest

    Worst ever business class . I will never take this flt . Sorry I am much better off in Singapore and Qatar airlines.
    Staff are rude
    They never give you the right information regarding the flt delays

  2. Joe Maune Guest

    C'mon ppl. be honest CX drop the ball regarding service here. CX used to be stellar with their FAs from all parts of SEA. Now it is just mediocre with younger inexperience ones. Honestly even the food is mediocre. It is so far away from SQ in the negativ scala. Lets face it TG CX MH GA PR are struggling. While SQ BR CI NH JL are awesome.

  3. Professor Une Guest

    I tend to fly Cathay business at all times now. From Hk to NZ.
    Can't fault their service. But I must say, pre-pandemic service was better.

  4. George houchens Guest

    I just flew business class from San Francisco to Hong Kong and to Phuket Thailand returned. Had a 2 hour layover going and a 7 hour layover on return trip. I thought the service was great. Loved the lounge in Hong Kong.

  5. Henry Young Guest

    I've read elsewhere that CX have shifted more of their flight crew recruitment to mainland China as a cost saving measure.

  6. MikeyInOregon Guest

    You didn’t get unlucky, it’s true that CX lost a lot of seasoned flight attendants and pilots during the pandemic and they couldn’t get them back and had to hire new staff, that is why they haven’t returned to the pre-pandemic flight schedule because of a shortage in staff. Just about to board their 777 LHR-HKG in J, we shall see how the staff perform.

  7. TProphet Guest

    Are their planes still super dirty? They seem to have stopped washing them. Probably the dirtiest livery ever to show up at YVR.

  8. asflyer Guest

    just flew them 2x in the past week. KIX-HKG was a nice flight, attentive service and everything.

    HKG - SFO Long haul was a different story. Super slow non existent service and mediocre catering.
    they didn't even give me a spoon for my congee lol

  9. B212 Guest

    My flight from HKG-JFK(350-900), Cx 844 June 23, 2023 was terrible- my first time with them on business class. In flight entertainment and wifi was not working at all the entire flight (16 hours). Cathay gave out 15k points to everyone regardless of which cabin you were seated.

    I totally understand that it's not the cabin crews fault (they too were getting frustrated of everyone complaining)but the airplane was sitting there for hours before...

    My flight from HKG-JFK(350-900), Cx 844 June 23, 2023 was terrible- my first time with them on business class. In flight entertainment and wifi was not working at all the entire flight (16 hours). Cathay gave out 15k points to everyone regardless of which cabin you were seated.

    I totally understand that it's not the cabin crews fault (they too were getting frustrated of everyone complaining)but the airplane was sitting there for hours before boarding and they knew about it and didn't swap out the plane prior to departure. Just 15k points for business class ... that just gave me a bad taste in my mouth.

  10. Gaurav Community Ambassador

    Was so excited to fly CX ORD-HKG on the A350 on Thanksgiving day. Unfortunately our plane broke down on the taxiway in ORD due to a damaged axle and a hot brake. After being evacuated off the plane by the Chicago FD and an unscheduled overnight later, we had to be rerouted on KE/OZ via ICN. Quite the adventure.

  11. fflyer Guest

    Why has all the NY-HKG frequent flyer business disappeared from aa.com?

  12. Chazz Guest

    I fly CX in Business from FRA to HKG a couple of times a year and never had any complaints but it depends on what you're looking for in a airline, I guess. I appreciate the daily flights between FRA and HKG and the good connections CX offers into China. Their seats are great, food is good, lounges in HKG are fantastic. Admittedly, crews used to be a bit better before the pandemic but I've...

    I fly CX in Business from FRA to HKG a couple of times a year and never had any complaints but it depends on what you're looking for in a airline, I guess. I appreciate the daily flights between FRA and HKG and the good connections CX offers into China. Their seats are great, food is good, lounges in HKG are fantastic. Admittedly, crews used to be a bit better before the pandemic but I've never had a major issue with any of them on my 10+ flights with CX this past year either (and acutally prefer their reactive service over a proactive one as it helps me maximize my sleep time). Just my 2 cents though, others might have had different experiences....

  13. Elliot Guest

    If you are white, cabin crew will treat you better. All other races, cabin crew will treat you like second class customer. It doesn't matter if you are Diamond. This has always been the signature service trait of Cathay.

    1. Tony Guest

      Stupid racial stereotyping.

    2. T- Guest

      This is absolutely not true. Most of the passengers are Asian. You can’t blame every slight of service on racism. Coexist.

  14. Anna Thompson Guest

    Cathay Pacific has downgraded itself to a much poorer carrier than it used to be. When you treat staff badly you get a bad product.

    1. Yen4Travel Guest

      I flew this route on October 2nd on the Airbus A350-1000. Hope to fly this plane again.

  15. upstater Guest

    Has anything been able to book CX from any US gateway using Asia Miles? We had round trips for 3 of us with 2 J and 1 F booked to Perth in 2020. I look most days and only see JAL availability. Nada on CX.

  16. Michael Guest

    A lot of staff abandoned Cathay for good given how they were treated during the pandemic. I flew it earlier this year and saw quite a few foreign FAs (from US & Philippines) who are just not as good. Asked if they speak Chinese, negative. Probably can‘t even use chopsticks.

    1. Kevin Mau Guest

      Why do you expect non-Chinese to speak Chinese? And the comment about chopstick is very presumptuous. I do agree that a lot of staff left Cathay cuz the new pay package

    2. WW Guest

      Cathay has always employed foreign FAs ("FAs from 10 Asian lands", as the old adverts ALWAYS states) Pilots are mostly from Aus, US, UK or NZ.

  17. Steven E Guest

    Great review and I found the service similar on my recent Sydney Hong Kong flight although they wanted feed back to be provided on their monitors - maybe leave that until the end , my only complaint is when you’re trying to sleep my neighbour across the aisle wanted to watch movies all night and the flashing from his monitor made it difficult to sleep unless you are an eye mask wearer

  18. DWT Guest

    I actually don’t think this is anything new as even before COVID, I found service on HKG-JFK J flights to be rather mediocre, with what often seemed like fairly junior crew. I actually always got the best service on CX on intra-Asia flights, with more senior crew who appeared to be from all over Asia vs just HK.

    1. Jan Canlapan Guest

      Do you mean their Taiwanese South Korean And Filipino crew like the 1985 TVB Pearl ads

  19. David Diamond

    Between losing experienced crew during COVID, drastic pay cuts, general low morale and the hiring of mainland crew, it’s not a surprise that service levels would suffer.

    1. USUKHKflyer New Member

      They just started hiring mainland crew; doubt they're trained and deployed yet and that they would be deployed first to a non-mainland route (they're really needed for cultural sensitivity vis-a-vis mainland passengers.)

    2. David Guest

      Yeah, that comment was probably just a casual jab at the mainland. Pretty par for the course, considering CX's recent scandal.

    3. David Diamond

      It’s always interesting to see how mainlanders find any criticism of them as a jab rather than fact. China and US share a lot more in common than they’d admit, and one of them is that their airline service cultures are below average. The Americans would readily admit this, the mainlanders would get offended by anyone saying this.

  20. Reader Guest

    Service sure sounds like a mainland carrier's.

    1. anonymous Guest

      You clearly have never been on a China Eastern flight.

  21. Yarki Guest

    I agree with all those observations but it is worth noting that CX SOP has only ever been to pour still water in J with the meal, rather than proactively offer a choice of still or sparkling.

    1. Seb Guest

      This is no longer the case. SOP was changed last month I think to offer a choice of either still or sparkling

  22. USUKHKflyer New Member

    Glad to hear the seat and food was good but sorry to hear about your experience with the service, Ben. As you're aware, Cathay is building back from shedding many staff during the difficult years of the pandemic so there are probably many green crew members still. Hoping that this situation improves as they gain more experience.

  23. Tony Guest

    I’m not sure Cathay has ever had particularly good service in J. Maybe the odd moment of exceeding expectations, but generally to a much lower standard than other Asian airlines. I’m sure CX crew intentionally like to look like startled deer in headlights so that passengers don’t disturb them. They’re no Singapore Airlines or Eva Air, and haven’t been for a long time. More and more crew from the mainland will do little to help...

    I’m not sure Cathay has ever had particularly good service in J. Maybe the odd moment of exceeding expectations, but generally to a much lower standard than other Asian airlines. I’m sure CX crew intentionally like to look like startled deer in headlights so that passengers don’t disturb them. They’re no Singapore Airlines or Eva Air, and haven’t been for a long time. More and more crew from the mainland will do little to help things…

    The juniority problems are acute, but who can blame CX with China’s baffling COVID handling? They were between a rock and a hard place. But the more worrying part isn’t so much in the cabin, but in the cockpit where they’ve lost a disproportionately large number of highly skilled pilots who gave up on HK.

    1. Christian See Guest

      To be honest, the service provided is far friendlier and proactive if you speak to them in Cantonese, as I have tested on a multitude of flights. Generally it was much better compared to a flight where I have spoken to them in English. Just an observation.

  24. Reyyan Diamond

    Similar but even worse experience on my flight with Cathay last year from Amsterdam to Hong Kong. Probably one of my worst long-haul flights ever.

    Flying as a QR Emerald

    1. My meal order was skipped during boarding, had to specifically ask my order to be taken
    2. no desert options available, all gone
    3. no refills offered
    4. drink order was forgotten and never brought
    5. no sugar or...

    Similar but even worse experience on my flight with Cathay last year from Amsterdam to Hong Kong. Probably one of my worst long-haul flights ever.

    Flying as a QR Emerald

    1. My meal order was skipped during boarding, had to specifically ask my order to be taken
    2. no desert options available, all gone
    3. no refills offered
    4. drink order was forgotten and never brought
    5. no sugar or anything offered with my coffee
    6. no pro-active service, (no personal checkin on passengers if they need anything else.)
    7. Meal service was drawn out, especially at my seat. Took very long for trays to be cleared but others seemed to be cleared already
    8. No greetings onboard/ while boarding/ leaving aircraft
    9. no wifi available during the whole flight, constantly gave an error.
    10. No smiles to be seen
    11. I wanted to provide feedback on the flight 1+ hour before landing. A flight attendant said that the Purser would be notified but never came. Managed to talk to purser upon landing, didn’t listen to all my feedback only said I had to complain to CX so they could do better.

    1. USUKHKflyer New Member

      2022 was really the deepest darkest time of the pandemic for HK and Cathay. Not surprised the crew was threadbare and not particularly happy at that moment, but seems to have gotten better.

    2. David Diamond

      What smiles were you expecting when everyone was wearing a mask in 2022?

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Abidjan Gold

Love CX.

1
T- Guest

This is absolutely not true. Most of the passengers are Asian. You can’t blame every slight of service on racism. Coexist.

1
Chazz Guest

I fly CX in Business from FRA to HKG a couple of times a year and never had any complaints but it depends on what you're looking for in a airline, I guess. I appreciate the daily flights between FRA and HKG and the good connections CX offers into China. Their seats are great, food is good, lounges in HKG are fantastic. Admittedly, crews used to be a bit better before the pandemic but I've never had a major issue with any of them on my 10+ flights with CX this past year either (and acutally prefer their reactive service over a proactive one as it helps me maximize my sleep time). Just my 2 cents though, others might have had different experiences....

1
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