- Introduction: The Long Way To Abu Dhabi
- The Unglamorous Reality Of My Review Trips
- Review: EVA Air Business Class Boeing 777 (IAH-TPE)
- Review: EVA Air Infinity Lounge Taipei Airport (TPE)
- Review: EVA Air Business Class Boeing 787 (TPE-HKG)
- Review: Regal Airport Hotel Hong Kong
- Review: Chase Sapphire Lounge Hong Kong Airport (HKG)
- Review: Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge Hong Kong Airport (HKG)
- Review: Cathay Pacific The Wing First Class Lounge Hong Kong Airport (HKG)
- Review: Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class Lounge Hong Kong Airport (HKG)
- Review: Qantas Lounge Hong Kong Airport (HKG)
- Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class Airbus A350 (HKG-SIN)
- Review: Singapore Airlines The Private Room Singapore Airport (SIN)
- Review: Singapore Airlines First Class Lounge Singapore Airport (SIN)
- Review: Singapore Airlines First Class Boeing 777 (SIN-CGK)
- Review: Garuda Indonesia Lounge Jakarta Airport (CGK)
- Review: Plaza Premium Lounge Jakarta Airport (CGK)
- Review: Garuda Indonesia Business Class Boeing 777 (CGK-JED)
- Review: Aerotel Jeddah Airport, Saudi Arabia
- Review: Etihad Business Class Airbus A321 (JED-AUH)
- Review: Etihad Business Class Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH)
- Review: Etihad First Class Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH)
- Review: Pearl Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH)
- Review: Etihad First Class Airbus A380 (AUH-LHR)
- Review: British Airways Concorde Room London Heathrow (LHR)
- Review: British Airways Galleries First Lounge London Heathrow (LHR)
- Review: British Airways First Class Airbus A380 (LHR-ORD)
As is just about always the case, flying business class within Asia is an absolute treat, and blows away what we’re used to in the United States. Cathay Pacific’s A350s have some of my favorite reverse herringbone seats, great entertainment and Wi-Fi, and an extensive food and drink selection. I’d say the only thing that didn’t impress me all that much was the service — it’s not that service was bad, but rather it was just very assembly line-esque, and wasn’t very polished.
Let’s get into the review…
In this post:
How I booked my Cathay Pacific business class ticket
Unfortunately since the start of the pandemic, Cathay Pacific premium cabin award space has become almost non-existent when booking through partner frequent flyer programs. However, I did find award availability directly through Cathay Pacific’s frequent flyer program, and managed to book the following in business class for 28,000 miles plus $75.39 in taxes and fees:
12/02 CX657 Hong Kong to Singapore departing 4:00PM arriving 8:10PM
Cathay Pacific business class lounge & boarding
Hong Kong is a fantastic airport in terms of oneworld lounge access. As a Cathay Pacific business class passenger, you can visit a variety of lounges, ranging from The Pier Business Class Lounge to the Qantas Lounge. However, since I have oneworld Emerald status, I was also able to visit The Pier First Class Lounge and The Wing First Class Lounge.
Lounge access in Hong Kong is probably the best part of flying with Cathay Pacific (which isn’t intended to be shade — these are just among the best first class and best business class lounges in the world)..
My flight was scheduled to depart at 4PM from gate 65, located just near The Pier Lounge, so that was convenient.
I saw the gorgeous 2018-delivered A350-1000 with the registration code B-LXF at the gate, which would be flying me to Singapore — what a beauty!
Boarding started at exactly 3:20PM, as scheduled. Even on flights without first class, Cathay Pacific invites oneworld Emerald members to board first, so that’s how boarding started, followed by business class and oneworld Sapphire members.
Cathay Pacific A350 business class cabin & seats
On its Airbus A350-1000s, Cathay Pacific has 46 business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, all located between the first and second set of doors. This is a massive cabin, as it’s not often you have this many business class seats in a single zone.
Cathay Pacific’s A350s have reverse herringbone seats, and specifically have a customized version of Safran’s Cirrus product. This is among the better reverse herringbone products out there, as it feels considerably more spacious than your typical reverse herringbone seat, and also has more storage.
It’s not quite as good as the Aerospace Elements product, which you’ll find on Starlux Airlines’ A350s, but it’s still very good. What’s most impressive is that this seat was introduced back in 2016, so it has been around for quite some time, and still impresses.
Those traveling with others may prefer sitting in one of the center seats, so that they can kind of talk with their seat mate. The reality is that you’ll still have quite a bit of privacy in these seats, and you’ll have to lean forward to communicate with the person next to you.
Meanwhile those traveling alone will want to try to snag a window seat. I selected seat 23A, the window seat on the left side in the last row.
In terms of the seat features, there’s a panel to the side of the seat, which contains the entertainment controller, reading light, and seat controls. There’s also an enclosed storage compartment with a vanity, a hook for headphones, and it’s also where the charging ports are located (which include AC and USB-A plugs).
The counter next to the seat is quite large, and you can easily place a laptop or a similarly sized item there during the flight.
The tray table also extends out from that console. It can be folded over in half, in case you don’t want to use the whole thing and just want a bit more space.
The back of the seat in front then has a huge, high definition monitor, which you can slide around to get the optimal viewing angle.
What sets this reverse herringbone product apart from others is just how spacious the ottoman area is in this seat. Many reverse herringbone seats have a tight footwell you have to place your feet into, but that’s not the case with this seat. Rather, there’s a huge, open ottoman, which makes the seat so much more comfortable, whether you’re just relaxing or trying to sleep.
Another cool feature of this seat is an enclosed storage compartment underneath the seat and to the side, which you don’t otherwise find in many reverse herringbone products. It’s useful to have a convenient place to store things.
The aisle-side of the seat has an armrest, which can be raised or lowered, depending on whether you want somewhere to rest your arm, or prefer a wider sleeping surface.
While the overhead console is modern, unfortunately it only has reading lights, and not any individual air nozzles.
While this isn’t a cutting edge reverse herringbone seat in terms of having a door or USB-C charging, this remains one of the most comfortable reverse herringbone seats out there. And perhaps what’s most exciting is that in 2024, Cathay Pacific is introducing an all-new business class product, which will be known as the Aria Suite.
Cathay Pacific business class amenities
Waiting at each seat upon boarding was a simple pillow and blanket — this isn’t quite as good as Cathay Pacific’s long haul bedding, but that’s to be expected, given that I was on a much shorter flight.
There were also a pair of headphones at each seat, which I thought were pretty low quality, both in terms of comfort and noise canceling functionality.
There was also the menu for the flight, plus a bottle of water.
I’d note that unlike my short haul EVA Air 787 business class flight, there were no slippers offered on this flight.
Boarding was quite busy, given the number of business class passengers, but toward the end of boarding, pre-departure drinks were served. The choice was between sparkling wine, orange juice, and Cathay Delight (the carrier’s signature non-alcoholic drink).
A short while later, warm towels were also distributed.
Cathay Pacific A350 business class entertainment & Wi-Fi
Cathay Pacific offers an extensive inflight entertainment selection, among the best out there. This consists of tons of movies, TV shows, live TV, audio, and games. You don’t have to worry about being bored on Cathay Pacific, as there are endless entertainment options, and I also appreciate how the monitor is high definition.
Cathay Pacific also has a great map feature on its Airbus A350s, which is highly customizable, in addition to a tail camera.
While the inflight entertainment is great, Cathay Pacific also offers Wi-Fi onboard. This flight had three pricing plans, all with no data caps:
- You could buy a messaging pass for $3.95
- You could buy a one hour pass for $9.95
- You could buy a full flight pass for $12.95
I thought that pricing was totally fair, especially since you can switch between devices. I found the Wi-Fi speeds to be excellent.
Speaking of Wi-Fi, one passenger on the other side of the cabin was obviously texting, and had their ringer on at the highest possible volume for the entire flight. Grrr….
Cathay Pacific A350 departure from Hong Kong
At 3:50PM, the captain made his welcome aboard announcement, and informed us of our 3hr14min flight time to Singapore. At 4PM the main cabin door closed, and there were eight empty seats in business class (so 38 seats were occupied). A moment later, the safety video was screened, and then five minutes later we began our pushback.
You know what’s super frustrating on Cathay Pacific’s A350s? When you have the choice of a gorgeous engine and wing view, or a high definition tail camera, how are you supposed to decide which to look at? It’s an impossible choice!
At around 4:10PM we began our taxi, and it was only a short journey to runway 7R.
We were cleared for takeoff shortly before 4:20PM.
Hong Kong has historically been my favorite city in the world, and there’s just something so special about the view of the airport on takeoff, plus the city views, if you’re blessed with a takeoff in the right direction.
Since we took off into the east and then made a sharp turn into the south, we had a gorgeous view of Victoria Harbour.
We had a pretty steep climb out, and the seatbelt sign was turned off about 10 minutes after takeoff.
Cathay Pacific business class meal service
Shortly after takeoff, the meal service began. Dinner was served on this flight (which the airline refers to as a “refreshment”), and you can find the menu and drink list below.
Meal orders had already been taken on the ground. While Cathay Pacific has excellent service in first class, the airline has what I call assembly-line service in business class. Most of the service is performed from carts, and isn’t terribly personalized. However, on this flight I found service to be a bit below the normal Cathay Pacific standard, which might partly reflect Cathay Pacific having a lot of junior employees nowadays.
For example, in business class Cathay Pacific offers mixed nuts with drinks on flights, and you’d think that you’d serve that before the meal. Instead, about 25 minutes after takeoff, the appetizer course was served with the mixed nuts on the tray, and then the drink came five minutes later (each tray also automatically had a glass of still water).
Is serving mixed nuts with the meal actually Cathay Pacific’s service procedure nowadays, or was the crew just being lazy or “efficient?” Anyway, the appetizer consisted of marinated prawns with Thai pomelo and green papaya salad, and it was pretty good. It was complemented by a boring “seasonal salad,” and there was also a selection from the bread basket (I chose garlic bread).
To drink, I ordered a dry martini. As mentioned above, it was served after the appetizer. Since the crew seemed to be in a rush, I first enjoyed the drink with nuts, and then later had the appetizer.
About an hour after takeoff, the crew was back through the cabin with main courses. 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. The main course was absolutely delicious.
Again, the service just felt a bit sloppy. For example, I had finished my salad course completely and had placed the paper napkin holder in it. But that was just left on the tray when my appetizer course was cleared and my main course was served, rather than the crew removing it.
It’s by no means a huge deal, but when it comes to service, what differentiates an exceptional airline from a good airline is attention to detail, and that shows a lack of attention to detail. And heck, I’m not the only one who thinks details matter — Cathay Pacific’s own dining page says “the difference is in the detail.” 😉
Just under 90 minutes after takeoff, the crew passed through the cabin with the dessert trolley, containing the choice of fresh fruit, cheese, and ice cream. I was offered all three, and as an aviation geek, couldn’t help but select the Biscoff flavored ice cream.
The meal was quite tasty (especially the main course), but the service flown just felt impersonal and kind of sloppy.
Cathay Pacific A350 business class lavatories
Cathay Pacific has two lavatories located at the very front of the business class cabin. They’re modern and even have windows, but aren’t particularly spacious for premium cabin lavatories.
They have amenities from Bamford, which is a nice brand to have onboard.
There are also two lavatories in the galley by the second set of doors. However, I believe at least one of those is reserved for premium economy.
Cathay Pacific A350 business class bed
I was super tired on this flight (these review trips aren’t relaxing!), so I managed to doze off for nearly an hour. Even without the full bedding available on long haul flights, I found the seat to be comfortable for resting.
I think the below picture demonstrates how much more spacious this seat is in bed mode than your typical reverse herringbone seat.
Cathay Pacific business class service
Cathay Pacific has never had the most attentive service in business class, as the airline isn’t on the level of EVA Air or Singapore Airlines in that regard. That’s not because the crews aren’t professional, but rather just because the service flow works differently, and is more focused on efficiency than personalization.
That being said, I certainly got the sense that this crew was very junior, and it’s my understanding that this is a common problem at Cathay Pacific, as the airline (understandably) lost a lot of staff during the pandemic, given how much flying was eliminated for an extended period of time.
The crew was perfectly polite, but they weren’t very polished. I don’t expect the most personalized service on Cathay Pacific, but it seems like the airline isn’t even executing assembly-line service with much consistency.
Cathay Pacific A350 arrival in Singapore
At 7:15PM, the seatbelt sign was turned on, and an announcement was made for the crew to prepare for landing. That’s what woke me up from my brief nap. For the descent, I kept an eye on the map feature, as well as the tail camera, since it was dark outside at this point.
We ended up touching down in Singapore at 7:35PM.
From there we had a roughly 10 minute taxi to our arrival gate, where we pulled in at 7:45PM, 25 minutes ahead of schedule.
From there I headed to Singapore Airlines’ The Private Room, where I’d be spending the night, prior to my flight to Jakarta the following morning.
Flying business class within Asia is always a treat. Cathay Pacific’s A350s offer excellent reverse herringbone seats, extensive entertainment (including a tail camera), fast Wi-Fi, and tasty food. The only thing that didn’t impress me about the experience was the service — the crew wasn’t unfriendly, but also wasn’t very polished, and paled in comparison to what I’ve experienced on carriers like EVA Air and Singapore Airlines.
I’m looking forward to flying Cathay Pacific’s long haul business class again once the airline introduces its new product.
What’s your take on Cathay Pacific’s A350 business class?