Cathay Pacific – First Class

Cathay Pacific Boarding Pass

I needed to get from Vancouver to New York overnight, and I was keeping my eyes on the award availability for this evening flight (CX888) for a few weeks before departure. It seemed like a very good value for using AAdvantage miles – on a “real” business or first class product. 25,000 miles later, I was booked in the oft-debated CX business on this new configuration aircraft.

The day before departure, I held my breath as I refreshed the award availability on KVS for the flight, and lo and behold, a First award seat showed up! I called the AAdvantage center, and 7,500 miles later, seat 1K was confirmed for me. I was thrilled to be able to try Cathay First, even if it wasn’t a long-haul flight.

I had to return my car by 6:45pm, but I figured it would give me good time to explore Cathay’s lounge offering, which was supposed to be second only to the HK lounge here in YVR. I headed into the airport and at 7:00, the counter wasn’t staffed yet. Around 7:30, the agents showed up. Oddly, they decided not to staff the First counter, but that was OK, since I had made some friends and was chatting with them in the Economy line. A quick check-in later, I was off to the lounge. An older Caribbean woman who I had reassured earlier about the location of the desks had just checked in ahead of me, and I decided to invite her as my guest to the lounge. After being selected for the secondary screening, we headed up the elevator to find the lounge locked and closed. Embarassing. I checked online, and it showed the lounge was supposed to open at 7:30pm, but it was already 7:50! A few minutes later, someone showed up and opened the doors, and insisted the lounge opened at 8pm, not 7:30. I showed her the site and sent a tweet to @cathaypacificus to let them know – they’ve promised to update it, but why wouldn’t the lounge open at the same time as check-in?

Anyway, enough of that minor blip – sadly, the beautiful lounge had no shower – I love a pre-flight cleanse, but had great snacks and workstations in both the business and first areas, with some dumplings and rice wraps to munch on.

But the real experience was about to begin – boarding was called.

Stepping onto the plane, the jetway was positioned directly behind the first cabin, ensuring privacy for the small crowd of six who turned left at the door. After settling in the spacious seat, and storing my carry-ons in the closet built into the seat, I was offered a drink – so I asked for the Cathay Delight – yum! A mix of kiwi juice and coconut, a refreshing way to begin the trip.

I think I might have been the only one not continuing from Hong Kong – so I was provided with the Shanghai Tang and Coach amenity kits, amongst the most comfortable of all the airline PJs. Rather than hand out separate slippers and eyeshades, these were Shanghai Tang-branded and included in the pouch. The seat included a decent-sized buddy seat for couples to dine, reading lights on each side, and folded directly into a bed, which I prefer over SQ’s version which has to be folded down. It also beats ANA’s otherwise flawless seat by providing much more privacy, which I really liked, since I was travelling alone, making Cathay the winner of best seat!

A quick taxi and takeoff, and even with such strong winds, there was barely a bump as we ascended to cruising altitude. Menus were quickly distributed, and because we were anticipating a 1 hour early arrival, which I was quite disappointed about, I asked for dinner service to be as quick as possible. The professional team happily obliged, and before I knew it, the tasty onion soup was in front of me, with a freshly baked selection of bread accompanying it. I like this nice option – rather than choose one or two breads from a basket, they provide a personal selection of four options, three which I liked very much.

Next up was a mixed salad with smoked duck, which was tasty and light, making way for the main spectacle: rack of lamb! One of my favorites, and Cathay’s version was even better than SQ’s Book the Cook version, which I was very impressed by in the past. A nice slice of fruit flan, and I was ready to sleep. My bed was made in a jiffy, and I asked to be awoken by a glass of Cathay Delight as close as possible to landing.

Somehow, this request slipped the mind of the crew, and I awoke as we were instructed to put our seats up. I could have asked again, I suppose, but I didn’t really care much as I was a bit broken from the short 2.5 hour sleep. Landing in JFK was uneventful, and the stunning lack of facilities consistent with most U.S. airports was quickly apparent. No arrivals lounge to speak of, I joined the small crowd of business folks using the handicapped stall in the washroom behind security (there wasn’t even one in baggage claim) as a change room, styling their hair at the sinks. The only thing Cathay could to do make this experience better would be to make arrangements with one of the local hotels to provide a 1-hour room rental for arriving F passengers. I’d assume only 1 or 2 would take this up on the offer, costing maybe $100-200 a day. With a ticket for this portion of the route alone valued at over $3,000, I can’t see this even making a dent in their profits!

Special Experience: Try one of Cathay’s Signature Cocktails on board!

Seat Comfort: 20/20
Amenities (Onboard): 10/10
Amenities (Lounge): 8/10
Staff/Assistance (Onboard): 10/10
Staff/Assistance (Airport): 8/10
Catering (Onboard): 10/10
Catering (Lounge): 7/10
Overall: 73/80 (91%)

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One Response to “Cathay Pacific – First Class”

  1. travel gal
    15. Mar, 2015 at 4:24 am #

    the cathay pacific lounge in Vancouver is easily one of the worst lounges I have ever been to. I would never recommend it.

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