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Cathay Pacific Business Class 777-300ER Hong Kong To Newark
The gate area was swamped, as the gate for the New York JFK flight (which was substantially delayed due to a mechanical — they were handing out meal vouchers) was right next to the gate for the Newark flight.
At 5:20PM boarding was called for the flight to Newark, starting with business class and elite members.
I proceeded down the super long jet bridge, as this most be one of the longest gates at the airport from the actual entrance to the gate to the door of the plane.
As usual, there was a really superficial security check on the jet bridge. I really don’t get why they bother. First they ask you if you have any liquids, and then they do the most useless search imaginable, where they literally just peek inside of your bag.
Works for me, as I was on my way quickly!
Cathay Pacific 890
Hong Kong (HKG) – Newark (EWR)
Sunday, April 12
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 22K (Business Class)
I was excited to finally fly Cathay Pacific’s longhaul business class. I’ve exclusively flown Cathay Pacific in first class on longhaul flights, as the marginal difference in miles is totally worth it to me (when redeeming through American between the US and Asia, it’s 55,000 miles for business class or 67,500 miles for first class). Since I was on a paid business class fare, this seemed like a great opportunity to try out their business class product.
This flight was operated by one of Cathay Pacific’s 777-300ERs in a three cabin configuration, featuring just business class, premium economy, and economy class (there was no first class). If I’m going to be in business class, I prefer it to at least be the top cabin. 😉
The business class cabin features reverse herringbone seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. There are a total of 40 seats, spread across two cabins — there are 26 business class seats in the forward cabin, and then 14 seats in the rear cabin.
I decided to assign a seat in the rear cabin. There are pros and cons to both cabins. I tend to prefer the rear cabin on these kinds of configurations, since it’s smaller and quieter during the flight. The downside is that you have a lot more foot traffic during boarding (since all economy passengers board past you), and you’re served last. But that’s a small price to pay for a quieter cabin on such a long flight, in my opinion.
My seat, 22K, was in the second to last row of the cabin. Since I was among the first passengers aboard, I had a quick look at the premium economy cabin, which was right behind behind me. The seats were in a 2-4-2 configuration, and featured a fair amount of legroom. I’d say they’re not as comfortable as domestic first class within the US, though still a big step up from economy.
Back to my seat — the reverse herringbone seat offered in business class on Cathay Pacific is virtually identical to the one on the American 777-300ER (that’s because American copied it directly from Cathay Pacific).
My previous flight from Male to Hong Kong on the A330-300 featured the same seat in theory, though it was a bit more cramped. The A330 fuselage isn’t as wide as the 777 fuselage, though the cabin still has four seats per row. Therefore the seat does feel a bit more spacious on the 777 than on the A330.
The seat featured a fold out entertainment screen, which is a good size.
To the right of the seat are the entertainment controls, seat controls, reading light, and power outlet.
Then next to that is a small storage compartment for headphones, as well as a mirror.
Then below that is an exposed storage compartment.
The ottoman on the 777 feels substantially more spacious than on the A330, whether you’re in the fully reclined position or upright position.
Also waiting at my seat was a pillow and blanket.
All-in-all it’s a sleek cabin, especially given how private it feels in the mini-cabin.
Boarding in the rear cabin does tend to be a bit chaotic, given that all the economy and premium economy passengers board through the cabin. Add in the fact that Cathay Pacific generally boards at most 30 minutes before departure, and it is a bit of a rushed ground experience.
However, I was offered a pre-departure beverage, and selected a glass of champagne.
I was further offered a menu and wine list for the flight by Pin, who was the Thai flight attendant responsible for my aisle.
At around 6PM the captain came on the PA to add his welcome aboard. He had the thickest imaginable New Yorker accent. I love how Cathay’s pilots come from all over the world, and it does always give me a kick when I have an American pilot. He informed us of our flight time of 14hr41min, which he expected would put us into Newark quite a bit ahead of schedule. Furthermore, he explained that there was a strong jet stream, and therefore expected it to be a pretty bumpy flight over the Pacific.
Before takeoff I quickly changed into something more comfortable. The business class cabin has a total of three lavatories, including two at the very front of the aircraft, and then one huge lavatory between the two business class sections, on the left side. When it comes to lavatories, size matters!
At 6:05PM we began our pushback with a completely full business class cabin, at which point the safety video began to play. We began our long taxi to runway 7R, which took about 15 minutes.
Fortunately there’s no shortage of interesting traffic when taxiing at Hong Kong Airport!
Once at runway 7R we were immediately cleared for takeoff, and began our long but powerful takeoff roll.
The initial climb out was quite smooth, and once we got above the clouds it was looking like a beautiful evening.
Since we had an American captain, it was no surprise that the seatbelt sign stayed on a bit longer than usual. About 25 minutes after takeoff it was turned off, at which point the crew sprung into action to start their service.
They started by distributing amenity kits.
And then bottles of Evian water.
My eyes were initially glued to the window, as the sunset outside was beautiful.
Then I checked out the StudioCX entertainment system, and decided to binge watch The Mentalist… again. It’s a bad habit, I tell you!
The inflight service manager walked through the cabin and seemed to greet a couple of passengers. In my experience they usually greet all oneworld Emerald members, though this one only greeted two passengers, and I wasn’t among them. So maybe they were Diamond members in Cathay Pacific’s program? The guy seated diagonally across from me was one of those passengers, and got preferential treatment on everything. He was always addressed by name, his meal orders were always taken first, and he was even always served first.
About 40 minutes after takeoff the dinner service began. The menu read as follows:
And the wine list read as follows:
Service began with the appetizer and salad being served from the cart, as well as a selection from the bread basket being offered. The starter consisted of a pretty boring salad, as well as some edible though unmemorable salmon and shrimp.
I also selected some garlic bread.
I was a bit puzzled by the fact that the service didn’t begin with drinks and nuts, but instead went straight to the meal. I totally get why that was the case on a short redeye from Male to Hong Kong, though odder on a 14+ hour flight.
About 15 minutes after the starter was served the crew came around with drinks and nuts. I ordered a glass of champagne — Cathay Pacific serves Deutz champagne in business class.
Rather than taking meal orders, the main courses were all displayed on a cart, which the crew rolled through the cabin with. I selected the steamed cod, which was absolutely fantastic. It tasted almost identical to the amazing pre-arrival meals I’ve had in Cathay Pacific first class on my last two flights from Chicago to Hong Kong and New York to Hong Kong. The dish was flavorful, and the fish was extremely flaky.
Once the main course was cleared, the crew came through with the cheese and fruit cart, whereby they did the plating at each individual seat, which is always a nice touch.
I requested a cheese plate, and went along with Pin’s suggestion for a glass of white wine.
After that, the crew came through with the dessert and coffee cart. As was the case on the last flight, the tart was plated at each seat, and the whipped cream was dolloped onto the plate there as well. I was also offered a praline from a box.
It took about 2.5 hours for the meal service to be complete. Service was definitely a bit on the slow side, though the crew was friendly, well intentioned, and quite attentive. I still don’t really get why they don’t do a drink service before the meal, though.
After dinner I decided to watch a few episodes of Family Guy.
Around this time we were approaching Japan and hit some pretty serious chop, as seems to be the norm, in my experience. This time the other captain, who was Australian, came on the PA, to explain that the turbulence would stick around for a couple of hours, and there wasn’t really anything that could be done to avoid it. So the cabin crew had to be seated for well over an hour as we roughed it out.
Eventually I decided to recline my seat to try and get some shut eye. I successfully managed to sleep for a few hours, until we were well past the international dateline. Fairly impressive, given that I slept for much of the day in Hong Kong.
When I woke up we were almost exactly at the halfway point of our flight.
While I wasn’t really hungry, I did have a look at the snack menu, which read as follows:
That’s certainly not as good of a snack menu as Cathay Pacific has in first class, though I guess that’s not really surprising. There was also a snack basket in the galley with chips, peanuts, chocolate, and fresh fruit.
I ordered some vanilla Haagen-Dazs ice cream, which was served within minutes (though as you’d expect it was rock hard).
About an hour later I ordered some Hong Kong style milk tea.
Before I knew it we were approaching the coast of the US, flying almost exactly over Seattle.
I managed to nap for a couple more hours, and woke up with just over two hours to go to Newark. I browsed the entertainment selection again, and stumbled upon Big School, which is a British comedy. Usually I don’t much fancy British comedies, but this was hilarious. I ended up watching a few episodes.
A bit over 90 minutes before arrival, breakfast service began (which makes sense if you’re thinking of the flight in terms of Hong Kong time, but in terms of Newark time, not so much). The breakfast menu read as follows:
I started with some coffee and a berry smoothie.
That was followed up with a fruit plate and a selection from the bread basket — I chose a croissant.
Next the crew brought around all kinds of cereal and yogurt on a cart. I selected some peach cereal and muesli.
For the main course I ordered the sundried tomato and feta cheese frittata, which was every bit as disgusting as it looked.
About 30 minutes before landing the (American) captain came back on the PA to give us updated arrival information, anticipating we’d be arriving about half an hour early.
At this point I changed back into my jeans and t-shirt, and stowed all my belongings.
The sun set on us pretty quickly, so by the time we landed it was dark. We had a gorgeously smooth touchdown on runway 22L at 9:05PM, and then made it to our gate at 9:10PM.
As I walked towards immigration I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the La Compagnie 757 parked next to us.
Cathay Pacific business class bottom line
Ultimately Cathay Pacific business class was exactly what I expected. Cathay Pacific has a fantastic hard product and great entertainment selection. The food was edible though nothing special — certainly not to the level of Austrian, Etihad, Qatar, Turkish, etc., in business class.
And the service was generally friendly, though I did sort of feel like I was part of an assembly line.
Given the option, I’d absolutely redeem an extra 12,500 American miles for Cathay Pacific first class over business class. That being said, Cathay Pacific first class isn’t as readily available as it used to be, and Cathay Pacific is still excellent about releasing business class award space. So I’d look forward to flying with Cathay Pacific again in business class.
If you’ve flown Cathay Pacific business class, what was your experience like?