Cathay Pacific First Class 777-300ER New York JFK To Hong Kong
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Cathay Pacific departs from Terminal 7 at JFK, which is primarily used by British Airways and United. My flight was at 10AM, so I decided to get to the airport quite early in order to avoid rush hour. That way I could get some work done from the lounge, given that Cathay Pacific doesn’t have wifi aboard.
I arrived at the airport at 7AM, and proceeded to Cathay Pacific check-in.
Cathay Pacific’s premium check-in is located at the far left of the terminal, right next to British Airways’ first class check-in.
There’s a premium security line there, which was completely empty at the time, so I was through in minutes.
Cathay Pacific uses the British Airways Galleries First Lounge at New York JFK, which is rather underwhelming, as it’s basically a dark dungeon. Since I’ve reviewed it before I won’t write about it again.
The Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong boarded from gate 4 at 9:15AM, which was 45 minutes before departure.
Cathay Pacific 841
New York (JFK) – Hong Kong (HKG)
Friday, April 3
Arrive: 2:00PM (+1 day)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 2K (First Class)
At door 2L I was greeted by one of the business class crew, who escorted me left towards my first class seat, 2K. As I’ve mentioned many times before, I love first class on Cathay Pacific, and I especially love the 777-300ER cabin. There are just six seats spread across two rows in a 1-1-1 configuration.
Once settled in one of the first class crew came by to offer me a pre-departure beverage. I ordered a glass of Krug, which was accompanied by an amuse bouche.
The amuse bouche Cathay Pacific offers on the ground is a nice touch. This one consisted of mango and prawn, and was tasty.
Shortly thereafter I was offered pajamas, slippers, and an amenity kit. I love Cathay Pacific’s pajamas and slippers.
And while their amenity kit is nice in the sense that it’s provided by Aesop, the quantity and variety of products as such is a bit disappointing.
Cathay Pacific first class Aesop amenity kit
Cathay Pacific first class Aesop amenity kit contents
As boarding continued three of the other five first class seats eventually filled up. There were people seated in 1A and 2A, and then oddly there was a guy in 1D. Despite 1K staying open, he kept his middle seat.
The guy in 1D was puzzling, because he was dressed in a several thousand dollar suit which he didn’t once take off during the flight. He even left on his tie. During boarding he asked the flight attendant what time we were landing in Hong Kong.
“We are scheduled to land at 2PM, sir.”
“But it’s 10AM now. Are we flying for 28 hours?!”
“No, there is a 12 hour time change between New York and Hong Kong.”
“What? They have a different time there?”
The crew didn’t seem especially busy, but despite that they didn’t bother to offer me any sort of a drink refill while on the ground, which is quite disappointing when you board 45 minutes before departure.
At 9:45AM Captain Steve came on the PA to welcome everyone aboard and inform us of our flight time of 15hr8min, which he anticipated would put us into Hong Kong well ahead of “shed-jewel.”
I love how many nationalities of pilots Cathay Pacific has — in this case the captain was Australian, while there were two female Chinese first officers (I’ve never seen that before, and thought it was pretty cool) and an American second officer.
Since we started boarding so early we also pushed back a bit ahead of schedule at 9:55AM. I couldn’t help but giggle when I saw that there was an Aerolineas Argentinas A330 parked right next to us.
As we pushed back the safety video began to plan. The inflight service manager, Didi, made her welcome aboard announcements. She had among the most insincere announcements I’ve ever heard, which I guess shouldn’t really be surprising when she started her announcements by saying “flight attendants are here primarily for your safety.” Everything she said sounded insincere and uninterested.
We began our taxi to runway 22R, whereby we saw a fair amount of interesting traffic, including a Hawaiian A330 and a Jet Airways 777 (being operated from Abu Dhabi on behalf of Etihad).
By JFK standards we made great time, and by 10:15AM we were cleared for takeoff on runway 22R.
It was a fairly stormy morning, so we hit quite a bit of chop on our climb out.
Once we made it above the clouds I decided to browse the StudioCX entertainment system and decide on something to watch.
I ended up watching St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray. I have mixed feelings about the movie, but overall I liked it… I think.
Menus were distributed about 20 minutes after takeoff. Interestingly that was done by the first class flight attendant and not the inflight service manager. Usually the ISM at least comes around and greets each first class passenger, but this one was nowhere to be seen.
I placed my lunch order, hoping to eat fairly soon so that I could catch some shuteye, as I barely got any sleep the night before.
The lunch menu read as follows:
And the wine/drink list read as follows:
Service began with drinks. I ordered a glass of Krug, which was served with cashews.
As the flight attendant was about to set the table we hit some moderate turbulence (not moderate chop, but actual moderate turbulence), so service had to be suspended. I had to hold onto my glass so it didn’t fall, as anything that wasn’t secured was just about flying through the cabin.
We had consistent turbulence for the next hour, so the service had to be suspended all along. Apparently there were some people throwing up in economy, though everyone in first class managed to hold it in.
About 90 minutes after takeoff the meal service finally began. It was still a bumpy ride, but not nearly as bad as before.
Service began with my table being set, which included a bread basket.
For the starter I had the caviar, which was as good as always.
Then I had the salad, which came with salmon. It was one of the best salads I’ve had on a plane. It’s sort of funny that Cathay Pacific used to offer salmon with the caviar, but it seemed on this flight they were offering it with the salad instead.
For the main course I ordered the halibut with mint risotto. The fish wasn’t terrible, but it was rather dense and chewy. The sauvignon blanc I had with it, however, was excellent.
Then for dessert I had the carrot banana souffle with dolce de leche ice cream and a cappuccino. The ice cream was rock hard, and I found it a bit odd that they gave me a plastic container with toasted almonds, rather than putting it directly on the dessert.
To finish off the meal I was offered a hot towel and a variety of chocolates.
As far as the service goes, it wasn’t actively bad. But at the same time the crew had no charisma, no charm, and clearly just seemed to be going through the motions. They were quite attentive during the meal service in the sense that plates were proactively cleared, drinks were proactively refilled, etc. But there was no smiling and no asking how anything was.
After lunch I wanted to get some shut eye. At this point we had about 12 hours to go to Hong Kong, and my goal was to sleep for as much of it as possible.
While Cathay Pacific doesn’t have fully enclosed suites, they do offer one of the most comfortable beds in the sky, in my opinion. The bed is so wide and spacious, and the bedding is top notch. So in general it’s easy to get a lot of sleep.
I slept extremely well for about four hours, and then woke up somewhere over the top of the world due to turbulence. I was hoping to be able to fall back asleep, but for whatever reason I couldn’t. Grrrr, especially since I knew it would be a really long day upon arriving in Hong Kong.
Since I couldn’t sleep I decided to browse StudioCX again. They had quite a good music selection.
Since I was awake I figured I might as well order some milk tea. I also had a look at the snack menu, and decided to order some Haagen-Dazs ice cream.
The snack menu read as follows:
After that I did something I try to force myself not to do. Because it’s a bit of an addiction, and once I start I can’t stop.
I watched The Mentalist. Even though I had seen all the episodes before, that didn’t stop me from literally binge watching nearly an entire season again. Oops.
Occasionally I had a look out of the window, and there was almost this brilliantly dim glimmer across the sky which my camera couldn’t do justice to.
A few more episodes into The Mentalist I ordered the shrimp quesadillas from the snack menu. Much to my surprise the quesadilla was well executed, which you wouldn’t expect on a plane.
I also had some berries with creme fraiche for dessert. Judge me all you want, but I binge eat when watching The Mentalist.
A handful of episodes of The Mentalist later, we were 90 minutes out of Hong Kong, and it was time for the pre-arrival dinner.
The dinner menu read as follows:
The starter consisted of a fruit plate, which was good.
I was also offered a bread basket, though it was different than the one I had with the main meal.
For the main course I had the sea bass. On my last flight in Cathay Pacific first class from Chicago to Hong Kong I had the sea bass pre-landing, and it was incredible. Possibly the best fish dish I’ve ever had, be it in the air or on the ground.
This one was equally good. Absolutely freaking delicious. Heck, in the future I’m just going to see if I can have the pre-landing fish dish with the main meal service instead.
I had the same excellent sauvignon blanc I had with lunch to accompany it.
Lastly for dessert I had the red berry mascarpone cake, which was pleasantly light.
At 1PM Hong Kong time Captain Steve came on the PA once again to give us updated arrival information. He informed us we would be landing at 1:30PM, and should be at the gate about 20 minutes early. As is the protocol at Cathay Pacific, he finished the announcement with “cabin crew, 30 minutes to landing. That’s 30 minutes till landing.”
As we began our descent I changed out of my pajamas and stowed everything I had taken out during the flight.
We hit quite some chop on the descent, thanks to the thick cloud coverage over Hong Kong.
We had beautiful views on our final approach.
And then a super-hard touchdown in Hong Kong at 1:30PM sharp, and a 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate.
The traffic in Hong Kong always keeps my eyes glued to the window, and this time was no exception.
Eventually we pulled into gate 4, which is at the very end of the terminal.
The first interaction I had with the inflight service manager was at the door, when she said “bye.”
Cathay Pacific first class bottom line
In the past I’ve called Cathay Pacific first class one of the most consistent first class products in the world. And for the most part it is.
Cathay Pacific’s first class hard product is excellent, even though it has been around for well over a decade. Cathay Pacific’s entertainment and food are very good as well, all things considered. And they also offer one of the most comfortable beds in the sky, in my opinion.
But this crew disappointed me. While the flight attendants were efficient, they couldn’t have appeared any more uninterested in what they were doing. And while I don’t want to put all the blame on the inflight service manager, her attitude over the PA and the fact that she didn’t once come through the cabin to see how everything was is pretty telling.
I still love Cathay Pacific first class, and will be very sad if/when they restrict first class award redemptions.