Category Archives: Cathay Pacific

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InFlight: Cathay Pacific Premium Economy MEL-HKG

Route: Melbourne – Hong Kong

Flight: CX178

Carrier: Cathay Pacific

Class: Premium Economy

Terminal: I rarely ever use online check in for international flights as I like the look of the airline issued boarding passes in my travel wallet rather than a printed piece of A4 paper, however my excitement for travels was overwhelming during my last day in the office so I decided to give it a go. Melbourne isn’t equipped apparently to issue electronic boarding passes, so with my two printed passes my friend kindly dropped me to the airport where I quickly joined the Premium Economy check in lane (it was shorter and moving faster than the business lane which I could have used with my frequent flyer card) and within a few minutes had my bag checked all the way to Paris, was given an express card for immigration/security and even had a set of real boarding passes reprinted by the agent.

The express path really does speed up the process at Melbourne with express paths for both security and immigration clearance making the experience much faster. Once airside I quickly stopped to buy a travel adaptor in duty free, during which I noticed the person in front of me was getting a discounted price. I figured there was no harm in asking if I could have a discount too, 20% off later and now I’m a temporary member of airline crew – score!

I had been given mixed reviews about the Cathay Lounge at Melbourne with many people suggesting that I skip it entirely and head to the Malaysian Lounge instead. I’ll add an InLounge review about it shortly, however in short, I decided to give it a go and although it is small and cosy it wasn’t that packed tonight and thus was comfortable enough for the wait for the flight. Sure it’s no Qantas first lounge but given that closes around 17:30 the Cathay Lounge did the job.

Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge Entry Melbourne
Departure: Most of my international flights out of Melbourne have been either early morning or day flights so the 23:45 departure time was something different for me. Board was called about 45mins before departure, and the business class line made boarding easy. Unfortunately this was only available to me due to my OneWorls status, with general Premium Economy passengers having to use the longer economy queue. With only about 30ish seats on board a premium economy boarding lane would be a great added benefit Cathay could consider.

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Amenity Kit
Noise cancelling headsets, an amenity kit and an upsized economy blanket and pillow were waiting on each premium economy seat on boarding, before the crew came around the cabin offering juice water or champagne before take off. The overhead bin space available was also a noticeable improvement to economy with plenty of bin storage space available. Sipping on the glass of champagne filled the few minutes while I waited for the remaining economy passenger to board before almost right in schedule we pushed back, taxied and climbed out of Melbourne for the overnight flight to Hong Kong.

Pre Take Off Champagne
Seat: Premium economy seats are configured in a 2-3-2 layout on the A330 that runs this sector with the first row of premium economy, row 30 having an amazing amount between it and the bulkhead behind business class. Each seat in this row has IFE and tray tables in the armrest, which potentially reduce the width of the seat a little compared to the rest but they have the benefit of a fold out leg rest which the other rows do not have. You can find the exact measurements somewhere online for yourself but the seat feels really quite comfortable, with soft padding a decent recline and an adjustable headrest making the seat feel much more comfortable than the standard economy seat. It’s a good fit between economy and business, I don’t think it would cannibalise Cathay’s amazing looking business product, but definitely an affordable upgrade from economy.

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Seats
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300. I’m not sure how new the fit out of the premium economy cabin is in this bird but she looks extremely fresh so it’s either relatively new or has been maintained pretty well. Walking through the business cabin while boarding is always a tease however the premium economy cabin looks quite private and cosy compared to the larger two economy sections behind. The premium economy cabin doesn’t have it’s own toilets, which is a bit of a downside, however the toilets in economy are kept really clean during the flight and the wait wasn’t bad long considering there are four toilets for 200people.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A330
IFE: In the first row of premium economy (and presumably economy as well) the IFE monitor stows in the armrest which has its own pros and cons. The pro’s being that you can sometimes get a better viewing angle while reclining however the con being its not available during take off and landing. Unfortunately the locking mechanism on mine was a tad faulty, meaning every now and then it would just fall to the ground (or just land on my legs).

Cathay Pacific inflight Entertainment
The range of content was pretty good, with the usual array of movies, TV shows, documentaries, games etc available and the interface is really easy to navigate either using the handheld controller or using the touch screen. I really like the ability to make a track list of your own, which it remembers and plays as background music while you navigate other menus. If the content isn’t what you are after you can dock your iDevice with the system using a special cable but I didn’t give this a try as, for the first time in a very long while I didn’t actually use the IFE that much at all, and instead either slept or ate during the overnight flight. This isn’t so much a criticism of the IFE but more so if the comfortable seat that allowed even this insomniac to sleep. The noise cancelling headset, while not the best on the market makes a notable difference in reducing the background hum of this relatively quiet A330.

Each seat is also equipped with a universal power point and USB charging slot which makes keeping all your devices fully charged for arrival really handy.

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Power Outlet
Meal: Premium Economy menu’s were distributed shortly before take off offering 3 main choices for tonights supper service as follows:

Black Bean Chicken with rice, pak choy, mushrooms and carrots
Seared Beef fillet with Cafe de Paris butter, roaster kipfler potatoes, baby carrot and asparagus
Palak paneer, dual masala, mushrooms and peas, turmeric basmatic rice

Despite being full from dinner, I opted for the beef which each main also being served with shaved ham and a chunky potato salad. I also had a glass of the Riesling and a Gin and Orange juice with the meal, which is probably the reason why I missed the desert which was listed to be a mango Weiss bar, as the next thing I knew it was about 5 hours later and I was waking up from a decent snooze. The crew had cleaned up my table without waking me – good effort as I’m a very light sleeper. The crew apologised during the breakfast service for not bringing me a peppermint tea after the dinner service as they didn’t want to wake me up – very sweet of them!

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Main Meal Dinner
Breakfast was served about 1:30 before landing which was not too early, and two main choices were again offered being the usual eggs, bacon and random sausage or a chicken and mushroom congee. I went the egg option and unfortunately this time the eggs were really ordinary. The accompanying fruit, yoghurt and croissant were however more than enough for a breakfast.

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Breakfast
I was trying to work out the difference in meals between economy and premium economy, however without seeing the other menu I can only assume they are similar. The supper service was in premium economy was served in nicer table wear than you usually get in economy, however the breakfast service was served in the standard foil tray.

Arrival: Despite turbulence being advertised by the crew during the preflight chat from the captain none eventuated and the landing into Hong Kong was smooth and perfectly on time. Having a 17 hour gap between flights I decided to head into Hong Kong for the day so headed for immigration clearance. Within minutes of jointing the very short immigration line I was literally on the other side of Customs and ready to catch a train into town! An amazingly fast airport experience!

Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Cabin A330
Crew: Faultless service by the crew as you would expect when flying with Cathay Pacific. I’ve flown Cathay in business before and the staff today in premium economy provided the same level of professionalism in this cabin. Cathay advertise one crew member dedicated to the cabin, however it seemed the meal services started on both aisles with staff from economy helping before the trolleys headed backwards to the main cabin.

Overall: I was really quite impressed with my first Premium economy experience. I think it provides a good value for money proposition and provides a noticeable increase in comfort, space and service from economy. I think you can judge the success of a flight by how you feel when you arrive at your destination. Despite being an overnight flight which I generally struggle to sleep on, I got a decent block of sleep and arrived fresh and ready for a day long stopover exploring Hong Kong. All in all a great first experience, and something I’d definitely recommend. Well done Cathay Pacific.

Hope you enjoyed this review, apologies if the images are a little lower quality than previously or if there are a few typos, this was my first blog attempt using only mobile devices (iPhone, iPad). It saved some time so will see how it turns out. Enjoy and keep up to date on my twitter @carlousmoochous

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Cathay A330 B-LAC

InFlight: CX110 – Sydney to Hong Kong

Route: Sydney to Hong Kong

Flight: CX110

Carrier: Cathay Pacific

Class: Business

Seat:16A. This aircraft is set up in the old long haul version (the new aircraft configuration has just been launched this year). At first glance when walking down the aisle the herringbone  business class seats appear to look like cattle runs and may look small and off putting. Once you get settled into the seat they are actually a lot more comfortable and spacious than they appear from the aisle, providing both comfort and privacy. This flight was an early morning departure, so the bed wasn’t really needed (I wasn’t tired so didn’t get back to sleep) but it was great to be able to stretch out and lounge while watching some movies and eating all the meals. The only real gripe is that the airbag in the seat belt makes it hard to have the seat belt firmly fastened while lying on your side. This wasn’t too much of an issue and I didn’t really feel like sleeping anyway, but might be annoying if you like to sleep on your side. If you were slightly wider at the waist, you might find it a tighter squeeze (and after all the food you are served it may be a squeeze getting out). The aisle access is great as there is no-one between you and the bathroom should you need it. As you face into the aisle its pretty uncomfortable to look out the window, especially during take off and landing where it all just feels a little strange.

Aircraft:Airbus A330-300 (B-LAC). This version of the A330 has the old long haul business class seats and the shell seats in the economy section and will over the next few years be overhauled with the new Business product. The teal green interiors look a little dated but other than that its a pretty clean looking aircraft. The 1-1-1 layout in Business is great as it means every seat has access to the aisle, and makes service much easier for the crew. On this flight the Business cabin was full yet the economy cabin was almost empty (I had to do the walk down the back to see what it was like for everyone else). I think Cathay have 3 flights a day Sydney to Hong Kong, and it looks as if many economy passengers didn’t want the early wake up call.

Terminal:Checking in was a simple affair at 6am with no queue in the business lane. We were provided with invitations to both the Qantas Business lounge in Sydney and the lounge at Hong Kong for our transfer. The express cards didn’t really speed up security as there were more people at the express lane than the regular lane (only 3 of 13 security check points open at this hour). The duty free store ‘maze’ as some call it wasn’t too hard to navigate, and is hardly the hindrance that I’ve read about and it wasn’t to long before we were eating breakfast in the Qantas International Business Lounge.

Departure:A few minutes before the scheduled boarding time the board read ‘go to gate’ so we left the lounge and wandered down to the end of one of Sydney airports concourses. On arrival at the gate the Cathay Pacific attendant advised that boarding would be delayed until about 730am (around departure time). He suggested we go back to the lounge, although as there was barely anyone in the gate area we waited at the gate for boarding to commence which gave me some time to take some photos of the waiting United and Japan Airlines aircraft. We boarded shortly afterwards and given the very light loads the doors were closed and we were taxiing towards botany bay in no time. Taking off to the west was really smooth despite some strong winds forecast. It remained smooth until the first meal service commenced and then for the remainder of the flight the seat belt sign was on more than off as we bounced over northern Australia, Indonesia and around the Philippines. The YouTube video below is taken of the take off roll and climb over Sydney, which provides a good view of the Sydney Kingsford Smith International Terminal.

IFE: Cathay’s IFE in business class consists of what looks like about a 15″ monitor that folds out from the seat wall and pretty much also acts as a privacy divider between you and the aisle. There is a great selection of new and older movies, TV shows, games and CD’s available that will pass the time easily. Complete in each seat is a pair of noise canceling headsets that block out the background engine hum. Although I found the looping flight moving map a little frustrating and out dated, the time to destination on the controller is a great feature as it means you can are how far there is to go without exiting from the show you are watching. If music is more your thing you can create a playlist from the selection of CD’s. Unlike other carriers like Qantas, this system seems to remember your selections throughout the flight so if you have a good playlist set up you don’t have to keep looking for it. It would be great if you could create a tv show playlist too as with the current setup you have to select every show once at a time which is frustrating if you are wanting to watch a whole series. Unfortunately the tv screen doesn’t tilt down so if you have the seat in fully flat bed mode it’s a little glary.

Meal: Being an early morning departure out of Sydney the first round of food service was naturally breakfast with starters of juice (apple or orange), strawberry and banana smoothie, plated fruit, yoghurt and a selection of cereals. Now for me that “starter” would have been enough food for breakfast and probably 3 times what I’d normally have anyway but as the name suggests that was just the starter for a long flight of eating. The main course had the following options: Leek and Camembert frittata with chicken sausage, roasted chat potatoes and cherry tomato ragout or, French toast with cinnamon butter, ricotta with orange and raisins, blueberry compote or, Congee with shredded port and preserved Szechuen vegetables. Given I didn’t really understand what the third one was, and am not a fan of French toast, I went for option 1, the Frittata. If you don’t understand what the menu items are (or are uncivilised like me) then never fear, when serving the crew present you with all the options so you can actually see them before you make your final selection – a great idea! Finally there was a bread basket with various rolls and croissants.

Breakfast Starter

Breakfast Main

The frittata was delicious and the chicken sausage when covered in the ragout was really nice (never really sure about chickens being sausaged – but was good). The main meal was interrupted by turbulence (thus the juice and tea spilt in the photo above) but none the less the crew only took their seats when they really needed to and thus the meal wasn’t that delayed. After a few hours to digest that mammoth breakfast, it was time for the lunch service which started with a glass of Champagne Deutz, Brut Classic (I don’t know if that’s a good one or not, but it was tasty for this connoisseur) and some warm mixed nuts. The starter for lunch was Iberico ham with smoked paprika marinated chick peas, roasted peppers and bocconcini and a mixed salad with sesame soy dressing – in other words – deliciously yummy!

Lunch Starter

The starter was naturally followed by choices for the main which today included: Seared beef fillet with cafe de Paris butter, roasted kipfler potatoes, baby carrot and asparagus or, X.O prawns and scallops with steamed jasmine rise, pak choy and black mushrooms or, Feta and rocket stuffed chicken breast on potato and herb galette, fennel, silver beet and pan fried squash or for the vegetarians, Wild mushroom and ricotta cannelloni with tomato basil sauce, caramelised pumpkin and spinach. I had a hard time choosing between the chicken and beef which is where the viewing of the actual dish before selection comes in handy, with the final result a mouthwatering beef. Breads accompanied the main including garlic bread which was my selection.

Lunch Main


If you thought that was enough food for a 9 hour flight, you are very mistaken, and although by this stage I was full and ready to pop, I leaped straight into the Cheese (Cobram Cheddar, South Cape Blue, Tasmanian Heritage Washed Rind) and Fruit selections and finally the Chocolate mousse tart. Once the box of pralines came around I had to call it quits as I could literally not eat another mouthful of food. I finished off the desert courses with the signature cocktail – cloud nine which is a mixture of vodka, cointreau and Sprite before reclining a little to let the awesome mean digest as we approached Hong Kong for landing.

Fruit and Cheese

Chocolate Mouse

Crew:The crew were amazingly attentive and really looked after me from boarding until we departed the plane in Hong Kong. During the first round the crew had a passenger manifest to address me by name, however after that round they seemed to just remember for each subsequent meal course. We were also each individually welcomed by the cabin manager after the menus were distributed. Hot towels were provided before and after each meal to freshen up and the response time to the call button was outstanding, each time arriving with a smile – Not that I pressed it much, although after turbulence spilt my tea and more importantly, champagne, a quick clean up was in order. Although the flight was constantly interrupted by turbulence that seemed to coincide with every meal service, the crew remained on the game and ensured everyone got their meals and freshened those spilt drinks. The cabin manager came and apologised for the inconvenience of the turbulence, describing it as an unexpected free roller coaster ride which was pretty funny. I always say that the crew can make or break a flight – today’s they helped to make.

Arrival: I was pretty excited about my first arrival into Hong Kong Airport as the inflight entertainment had some great video of Hong Kong from the sky which I was hoping to get a glimpse of. Unfortunately there was a little weather around so we ended up circling over the sea in the haze for a while before our decent. The haze never really cleared as we came into land so I didn’t bother getting the camera out for this landing however despite the weather, the landing was really smooth and after a short taxi we arrived at the Gate. Unfortunately the smog really diminished the photo opportunities as even the other side of the terminals were semi hidden. The inflight entertainment displays connecting flight details as you come into land which helps with the change over at the massive Hong Kong Airport – although our connecting DragonAir flight number was listed as going to Shanghai (not the destination for our flight). After clearing security we settled into the Gate 16 Dragon Air lounge while waiting the hour before boarding our next flight, about a terminal away.

Overall:The service and food provided were amazing and can’t be faulted. My only other experience with international business has been with Qantas on a 747 and the Cathay service really put Qantas to shame. I feel this review really became a food review as the amount of food provided was amazing for 9 hours (I would rarely eat that much food in a standard day at work). The seat and IFE were good, although the drawbacks being the airbag in the seat belt (although if we ran off the runway I’m sure I’d soon appreciate that) and the IFE being turned on just after take off and off when coming in on approach rather than being gate to gate. Overall an excellent flight – hopefully the first of many.