San Francisco (SFO) to Hong Kong (HKG)
Sunday, February 2nd
When planning this trip, I specifically chose to take the day flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong to make sure that I flew Cathay’s 747 before they retire them all. In addition, since it was my first time in Cathay Pacific first class, it’s a bit easier to enjoy the experience more fully on the daytime flight than the nighttime flight since you’re more awake for the daytime flight.
When I walked into the cabin, my first impression was that these are really spacious seats. It’s not a suite, but the seats are ridiculously wide and each passenger has a ton of personal space. This product is relatively old for a first class product, but it’s easily one of the best hard products out there.
Sitting in seats 1A and 1K is definitely a treat for any aviation geek, and these seats are great for people traveling together. It’s quite novel to get an almost forward-looking view out of the plane because of the curve of the nose, and seats 1A and 1K are paired without feeling like you’re giving anything up (like a window seat).
We were welcomed on board and offered a pre-departure beverage of orange juice, water, or champagne. When I asked for sparkling water, I was told that they can’t open the bar before takeoff for duty reasons. Do you really need to pay duty on sparkling water?
We were then given an amuse bouche of tropical fruit and shrimp, which was fine. They handed out pajamas and amenity kits, and honestly, the new Cathay Pacific PYE pajamas are probably my favorite airline pajamas to date. They’re super soft, not too warm, and made of 100% organic cotton. The pajama pants have pockets, which are totally underrated, and I’ve even laundered them and they didn’t shrink too much. (TMI: I’m wearing these pajamas right now as I write this trip report). The slippers are also really soft and seem well-made.
I really enjoyed drinking Cathay Delight throughout the flight, which is a kiwi-based non-alcoholic drink that they have.
For the meal service, we decided to dine together, and they have a table extender that they add on to create more room. As a warning, it’s not particularly comfortable to sit on the foot rest, and you’re a little trapped once they add on the table extender. I’m a pretty small guy, and it wasn’t very easy for me to get in or out.
First up was caviar, which I love. I prefer blinis with my caviar (as well as a separate caviar spoon), but Cathay serves the caviar with potatoes and smoked salmon, which I won’t complain about.
The soup was a butternut squash soup, which was pretty tasty but quite sweet. They offered to add some freshly ground pepper, and when I told the flight attendant that I loved pepper and she could go to town on the grinding, the below picture shows what I got.
Now, when I was ordering, I asked if I could also get the Chinese cold plate of marinated gluten and cucumber, but it never appeared, and the flight attendant never mentioned it. I’m not sure what happened. But next up was the Chinese cod and bok choy for me. The cod was well cooked and tender, the rice was cooked properly, and the bok choy was fine.
My friend had the beef tenderloin, which was a little overdone, but the sides were very crispy, including the potatoes. I don’t think they cooked the sides correctly.
For dessert, I asked for one of everything, which I think confused the flight attendant, but I’m a fatty and like my dessert. Unfortunately, there appeared to be a catering issue as there was no black sesame soup or Hong Kong style milk tea loaded on to the flight. The horrors!
To make up for the lack black sesame soup, the flight attendant brought out a cheesecake from business class which was pretty good. In general, all of the desserts were pretty tasty.
Overall, I thought the meal was pretty good. Nothing extraordinary, but good, solid food.
I changed into the supremely comfortable pajamas and asked for turndown service. It’s hard to compete with Lufthansa’s separate bed on their 747, but Cathay Pacific comes close. The mattress pad is thick, the duvet is great, and they provide lots of thick, fluffy pillows to make any position you want to sleep in comfortable. The numerous pillows also make lounging in the seat comfortable, as I sometimes find it awkward to watch movies in bed mode.
After sleeping soundly for a couple of hours, I decided to get the wonton noodles as a snack. These noodles maybe weren’t quite as good as the Ippudo ramen that they serve on ANA, but they were superior to the noodles that I had in the Cathay Pacific lounge at SFO.
My friend had the hot pot rice as a snack, which he enjoyed.
The in-flight entertainment on Cathay is great. There are lots of choices, the system is responsive, the screen is high quality, and the headphones are good. The only thing I didn’t like were the ads they played before movies and during the moving map, but you can at least fast forward through them.
We were asked for pre-arrival meal choices about three hours prior to arrival, which is really quite early. I asked for the ravioli, which the flight attendant confirmed.
Unfortunately, after waiting quite a while, my ravioli was nowhere to be seen. Turns out, the flight attendant served it to the wrong passenger, and they didn’t have any more loaded. I mean, this wasn’t a huge deal, but it was another service miscue of the sort that I haven’t experienced in other premium cabins. I’m not sure if this was exacerbated by the apparent catering issue. As a solution, they ended up giving me the pasta from the main meal service, which was fine.
In general, this crew was possibly the worst crew that I’ve had in first class, which honestly isn’t saying much because this is a relative statement and first class crews are generally superlative. The flight was still wonderful, the hard product is fantastic, the food is good, the pajamas are my favorite airline pajamas, and the IFE is great. But I was a bit surprised that the service wasn’t superlative as well since Cathay is supposed to have one of the most consistent in-flight products, and one of the flight attendants looked like she wanted to constantly shank someone and made the errors of failing to fulfill a food request and then later delivering my entree to another passenger. Overall, I had a great time, and I’d love to fly Cathay more.