Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to Bali

Filed Under: Awards, Cathay Pacific

Cathay Pacific 785
Hong Kong (HKG) – Denpasar Bali (DPS)
Sunday, June 9th
Depart: 10:20AM
Arrive: 3:00PM
Duration: 4hr40min
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Seat: 1K (Business Class)

We boarded through door 1L and were immediately welcomed by two members of the cabin crew that directed us to our seats in row one. I sure do love Cathay Pacific’s first class layout in the nose of the 747, with just a total of nine seats and a single seat in the center of the cabin. And if you’re traveling with someone it’s tough to beat the privacy of seats 1A & 1K. It was my mom’s first time in the nose of the 747, though sadly I think I was more excited for her than she was for herself. 😉

Row one

Looking back from row one

The seats are almost identical to those in first class on the 777, though it is worth noting that row one is just a bit tighter than the rest. Instead of the TV folding out of the side console it actually folds out from in front of you. So it is my preferred row by far if traveling with someone, though if traveling alone I’ll take row two any day.

My seat, 1K

Fold out monitor

Seat and entertainment controls

What’s interesting about flights like these is that even though we only technically got business class service (since they don’t sell first class seats on these flights), the service is still hands down better when seated in first class than business class.

There were two crew members dedicated to the first class cabin (of which eight of the nine seats were taken), Karla and Stella, and they took amazing care of us. As soon as we settled in we were offered pre-departure beverages of choice. In business class they usually just come around with a tray, though I’ve found when you’re seated up front they’ll offer you whatever you’d like. I didn’t have anything since I had a few too many drinks in the lounge.

As boarding finished up the Australian captain came on the PA to welcome us aboard, and apologize for the delay, which was due to the late inbound aircraft from Mumbai. He informed us our flight time would be 4hr15min, and that hopefully we’d be able to make up most of our delay once airborne.

We pushed back from gate three and started our taxi to runway 25L. For anyone not familiar with the Hong Kong Airport layout, that’s about a four foot taxi, so we were ready for takeoff about a minute after we got our engines started. The safety video was still playing, however, so we had to wait for that to finish before we could take off.

777 at gate next to us

Singapore 777 ahead of us for takeoff

Singapore 777 ahead of us for takeoff

As soon as the safety video finished we taxied into position on runway 25L, and moments later rocketed off.

Taxiing into position

Views on climb

Views on climb

We hit some light chop on the climb out, though above the clouds it was a beautiful day as always.

Views on climb

I browsed the StudioCX entertainment selection and decided to watch a movie, though after about five minutes I couldn’t tolerate it anymore.


About 15 minutes after takeoff the inflight service manager, Patrick, came around to introduce himself and distribute the menu and wine list. That’s another nice touch you don’t usually get in business class.

Menu and wine list

The lunch menu read as follows:


And the wine list read as follows:



Service began with drinks and almonds. I ordered a Diet Coke with lemon.

Diet Coke and almonds

Since this was business class the meals are served on trays, starting with the salad and starter. Both the mixed salad and smoked tuna were good, though I do wish the salad would’ve been a bit bigger.

Starter and salad

I was also offered a selection from the bread basket, and chose some garlic bread.

Garlic bread

For the main course I ordered the beef tenderloin, which was incredibly fatty, so I sent it back after a bite. I was already quite full because I just had breakfast a couple of hours prior.

Beef tenderloin

For dessert I was offered strawberry Haagen Dazs ice cream.

Ice cream

And to finish off the meal I had some Hong Kong style milk tea.

Hong Kong style milk tea

Service throughout the meal was excellent. Both Karla and Stella were top notch, and addressed me by name at every interaction.

After the meal service was done I decided to lay down for a bit, though I sure missed the comfortable duvet and pillows that Cathay Pacific usually offers in first class.

Airshow enroute

Airshow enroute

Since I couldn’t sleep I decided to watch an episode of 2 Broke Girls.


I also browsed the duty free catalog. I usually never even look at it, though decided I could finally use an international adapter, since previously I always just borrowed them from hotels. Furthermore I couldn’t resist the adorable pilot teddy bear.

Duty free purchase

As we initiated our descent the captain came on the PA to inform us we had made up some time and should be landing on schedule (of course pronounced the proper Australian way — “shed-jewel”).

View approaching Bali



View on descent

Unfortunately as we descended through about 10,000 feet he came back on the PA to inform us we were being placed into a holding pattern, though fortunately we were released after 10 minutes.

View on descent

View on descent

View on descent

We approached over the water, and since I was seated on the right of the aircraft I had nice views of Jimbaran Bay.

View on final approach

After a smooth touchdown we quickly taxied to our gate.

Turning off the runway

My gosh, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Denpasar Airport so busy — there were dozens and dozens of aircraft, many of which were low cost carriers.

Traffic taxiing in

Traffic taxiing in

Traffic taxiing in

We eventually parked right next to a Malaysia 777.

Malaysia 777

Our plane from Hong Kong

Upon deplaning, well, that’s where the Aman experience began…

The flight was incredibly pleasant. While the food wasn’t great, the service was top notch and you can’t beat a first class seat with business class service on a flight like this. I’m sad to see that the 747 is no longer daily on this route for Cathay Pacific, so I’d definitely go out of my way to choose this over one of their regional 777s (like the one I flew from Singapore to Colombo earlier in the year).

  1. I love how many of your TR include a bit about your being too full to finish your main course, and yet you seem to always find room for dessert. 🙂

    Love that about you.

    Your mother sounds just like mine, in a good way 🙂

    I do have to say that I don’t like waste–I think it’s a function of being a parent–either, whether in the air or on the ground. I’ve noticed that FA’s are always surprised to encounter that type of attitude.

  2. Nice report, CX is my favorite.

    What other regional routes do they fly the 747? It seems like you can’t count on the HKG-SIN to have F seats,either as 3 or 2 class.

  3. @ Beachfan — This is the only one I know of where they don’t sell first class. Other routes (like Bangkok, Singapore, Tokyo, Manila, etc.) have first class on some frequencies, but they actually sell those seats.

  4. @ Beachfan — For the flights where they do sell first class? I’ve never had that issue, and I assume if it happened you’d be entitled to some compensation, so I wouldn’t mind that too much for a short intra-Asia flight. 🙂

  5. Ben, CX denied access to the Wing First Class lounge when I was there with the same flight (LAX-HKG first, HKG-DPS Business). How did you get the First Class Lounge invitation vouchers?

  6. @ John777 — Only at the airport and only at the airport from which that flight is departing (meaning if you were doing Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Bali you could only get that seat in Hong Kong and not Los Angeles.

  7. @ KN — Did you show your first class boarding pass rather than the lounge invitation? In my experience if you’re connecting to business class the lounge invitation will be for business class, though you can ask them to reprint one for first class since you’re connecting from a first class flight.

  8. @ wwk5d — Not sure I buy that argument on airplanes. The food would be thrown out at the end of the flight anyway, so it would go to waste either way. But the issue wasn’t that I was full, it was that the meat was really bad quality. Even in a restaurant I don’t think it’s ‘wasteful’ if you’re sending back a bad steak that you paid for, no?

  9. Then why bother mentioning you were full anyway? 😉 Plus, you don’t go to a restaurant and order food if you’ve already eaten at another establishment 😉

  10. @ wwk5d — Why mention I was full? Because if I were still hungry I would’ve ordered one of the other entrees, but since I was full figured there was no need to order a replacement.

  11. Sorry, not trying to be snarky, just seems weird to order something even if you’ve already paid for the seat but don’t have room for it…

  12. Any methodology for determining which product you’ll get? I’m currently booked on a Tuesday HKG-DPS flight next May following the exact same outbound routing you are.

  13. @ BenIvey — Cathay Pacific has only one 747 configuration, so if your flight is scheduled to be operated by a 747 it’ll be this plane. If it’s a 777 you’ll want to look at the seatmap. If it’s 2-3-2 in business class then it’s the regional product.

  14. I’ve never seen so many pictures of diet coke in my life before coming to this website! I’ve made the switch from Coke to Diet Coke now, thanks Ben! 🙂

  15. @Gerald: Because even though the 744 they use has a first class cabin, Cathay doesn’t provide first class service on this route. This was stated in the previous entry.

  16. So how come they don’t sit you in the business class section of this plane.

    How does one choose who gets first class seats or business class seats?

  17. @ Gerald — Well they don’t automatically seat anyone there, but on request they’ll seat OneWorld Emerald members and connecting first class passengers in the first class cabin, in my experience.

  18. I am crossing my fingers for a swap to something with first class and get the upgrade… flying out in 11 hours!

  19. Hilary
    I am planning a birthday trip to celebrate my partners 50th in April 2013 or June 2013 for my family of 3 – 2 adults and 1 child. I have about 450k AA miles and 400k UA miles and 250k us miles. Departing from Dc metro to Bali and Hong Kong. Any suggestions for award flights is much appreciated?
    Many thanks

  20. Lucky,

    I am booked on a CX F award with AA miles next week – PVG-HKG-SFO. CX does not sell F on the PVG-HKG segment. They have switched equipment to a 3-class 777-300. Is there a way I can get a F seat before the day of departure, even though my seat right now is in J?

  21. @ Jose — If they’re not selling it then there’s no way you can get it before the day of departure. Best I can recommend is to ask when you check-in.

  22. Hi! How is it that CX marketed this as a business class service but used first class hard product? Was the actual business class hard product completely sold out or unavailable? If there was no difference in airfares/money then score!

  23. @ eminere — They operate a 747 on the route but choose not to sell first class, since I guess they don’t think there’s a market for it. As a result they’ll simply “upgrade” elite members to the first class seats day of departure, though still provide the same business class service.

  24. wish I’d have read this before. Just flew in yesterday to Denpasar from HKG (after flying in from SFO). I had no idea the first class cabin was not actually ‘first class’ – I would have asked. It appeared half empty, but business was full downstairs and they asked me if I would move upstairs for some reason or another, which I did. I don’t usually ‘tout’ my emerald status (QF platinum), but in this case, had I known, I would have asked to be moved to the first class cabin. Meanwhile after a few DPS/HKG/DPS flights, this is my first time with new regional business class product. I found the seat very comfortable and private although was wondering why some airlines don’t do this type of seating for premium economy longhaul. It appeared to be a good use of space, though I do prefer to have a window but with this configuration my back is to the window. If two people were traveling together, there is no opportunity for them to ‘be’ together in business class regional. I am definitely going to try to get the first class seats next time. 🙂

  25. What’s the best way to search for award availability for flights to Bali from LAX? I’m assuming CX is the best airline for that route?

  26. @ Luis — Cathay Pacific is definitely a great option. If you want to fly them you’re best off searching award space through the British Airways or Qantas websites.

  27. So we’re booked from lax-hkg-dps. The lax-hkg is in F while the hkg-dps is in “business”, but it looks like you have an F cabin. Online seat selection only shows 2-3-2. How do we know we’ll get it?

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