Review: Cathay Pacific 777 Regional Business Class (HKG-TPE)

Introduction: Mission Cathay Pacific A350
Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Lounge Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific 777 Regional Business Class Hong Kong to Taipei
Mandarin Oriental Taipei
Cathay Pacific Lounge Taipei
Cathay Pacific A350 Business Class Taipei to Hong Kong

After I backtracked to gate 2, I got a picture of the aircraft before hopping into the priority boarding lane, being first in line. It was nice to know that the aircraft we were flying was the first 777 ever made, B-HNL (while it didn’t measure up to the A350, it was nice to cross that off the list).

IMG_0182Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport

Boarding began at around 4:15 PM, starting with business class and oneworld Emerald members.

Cathay Pacific Flight 400
Friday, June 24, 2016
Origin: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 2 Dep: 16:15 (16:40)
Destination: Taipei (TPE) Gate: B6 Arr: 18:15 (18:25)
Duration: 2 h (1 h 45 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200 Reg: B-HNL
Seat: 17G/15H (Business Class)

I just reviewed Cathay Pacific’s business class on the 777-300 a few days ago. The business class cabin on the 777-200 is no different, with eight rows of 42 seats arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration (again, row 11 only features seats D, E and G, while row 18 only features seats A, C, H and K). I knew I’d have to do a bit of seat swapping with people onboard, given that I was unaware of the equipment swap until check-in. I was originally assigned seat 17G, so I made my way there.

IMG_0183Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Cabin

IMG_0184Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Cabin

IMG_0187Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class View from Seat 17G

I also took the time to photograph the economy cabin, in a 3-3-3 configuration and with Cathay Pacific’s comfortable economy seats, as is the norm on their 777-200s (their 777-300s feature the dreadful shell seats, so I’m happy for the economy class passengers).

IMG_0185Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Economy Class

IMG_0186Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Economy Class

My sister’s friends were sat in 16D and 16E, so I asked the gentleman in 16G if he minded switching to my seat, which he didn’t. We then shuffled seats so my sister was sitting in 16G, my father was behind in 17H, my mother was in 15G and I was in 15H, next to a friendly older gentleman.

IMG_0212Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Legroom

The friendly flight attendant serving my aisle came around with orange juice, Cathay Delight and champagne. I really do like Cathay Delight, so I went with a glass of that.

IMG_0188Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Drink

It soon came with a hot towel.

IMG_0192Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Hot Towel

I soon needed a lavatory visit, and ran into the inflight service manager along the way. During this time, I decided to tell her that I expected the A350, and she said she knew about it, and that the A350 had some battery problems, so was stuck on the ground. I get that – I wasn’t mad at anyone, but I mean, you’d be disappointed if your world-class A350 got substituted by a regional 777.

IMG_0189Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Lavatory

IMG_0190Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Lavatory

IMG_0191Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Lavatory Amenities

I asked for a blanket – while I didn’t intend to sleep, originally, I felt kind of tired and decided that I might drop off a bit by landing or something. I don’t hate Cathay Pacific’s regional blankets – as long as they stay on regional flights, they’ll do the trick.

IMG_0195Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Blanket

Their new safety video soon played, which I didn’t pay much attention to (I’ve kind of memorised the video word for word by now).

IMG_0194Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Safety Video

After the safety video, the captain came on the PA and described our departure and arrival times. He apologised, in his words, for two reasons: the delay (as we had to wait for the aircraft to arrive, due to how unplanned the equipment swap was), and he also apologised to everyone who “booked this aircraft deliberately to try the A350”, which apparently had a battery problem and was stuck in Manila. While it sure was disappointing, not only do I not blame anyone, but I don’t envy everyone on the flight that had been directly affected – it was delayed by two days and even left three hours later than its planned time, so everyone on the flight was stranded.

Experimenting with my new camera, I looked out the window from my aisle seat and was able to capture a reloading Dragonair A330 parked next to us.

IMG_0197Dragonair Airbus A330-300 Hong Kong Airport

It was a truly beautiful day at Hong Kong (it was for the week – I don’t know what happened, but the weather during my time in Hong Kong last June was phenomenal for the most part), so I just admired the view as we taxied over to the runway.

IMG_0200Traffic Hong Kong Airport

IMG_0201Traffic Hong Kong Airport

IMG_0202Traffic Hong Kong Airport

We taxiied up to the runway at about 5 PM, and we started the takeoff roll into the air, which was pretty long, as this 777 was packed (in business class, and most of economy). Most passengers that booked premium economy on the A350 were upgraded here, while I assume a small fraction were downgraded, so both cabins were pretty much packed.

IMG_0203Runway Hong Kong Airport

It was a pretty amazing day in terms of the weather, but I was only able to grab a few pictures from the aisle seat.

IMG_0205Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

IMG_0206Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

IMG_0207Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

IMG_0208Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

IMG_0209Takeoff Hong Kong Airport

The cabin was pretty quiet upon takeoff.

IMG_0210Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Cabin upon Takeoff

IMG_0211Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Cabin upon Takeoff

I had a look at the menu, which read as follows:

IMG_0213Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Menu

IMG_0214Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Menu

There’s no way that Cathay Pacific can serve a three-course meal, even in business class, on a flight where flight attendants basically have half an hour to work with. Therefore everything was served on a single tray – smart, in my opinion.

The appetiser consisted of fresh fruit, which was good for what it was.

IMG_0217Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Appetiser – Fresh Seasonal Fruit

It was served with some bread, of which I selected a normal bread roll. It was good but not exceptional.

IMG_0219Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Bread Roll

For the main course I selected the prawns, which was the obvious choice – there’s no way you can nail spare ribs on a flight, but prawns are relatively easier. The prawns were perfectly cooked and the sauce was great, and I also loved the risotto – easily one of the best main courses I’ve had on a plane.

IMG_0220Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Main Course – Pan Fried Prawns, Tomato Cream Sauce, Green Beans, Capsicum and Tapenade Risotto

Look at the prawns – they’re translucent, but not bright white on the inside. Even compared to prawns on the ground, that’s great.

IMG_0222Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Main Course Prawns

For dessert we had banana cheesecake with raspberry coulis. While banana and cheesecake is technically a combination of rich, heavy food, the raspberry coulis cut through enough for this to be a good dessert.

IMG_0218Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Dessert – Banana Cheese Cake and Raspberry Coulis

I’ll leave the summary of the meal to my tray after the meal (in fairness, I eat whatever’s served most of the time, but this was awesome).

IMG_0227Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Meal

Service during the meal was very friendly, and surprisingly relaxed. I could tell that the crew had the hang of the aircraft and were also very friendly for what it was worth during the hour, which I can’t say about most hourlong flights (and certainly not the return).

Shortly before we descended I briefly browsed the entertainment system, which was extensive, as always on Cathay Pacific. Unlike their Kaohsiung flights, Cathay Pacific also seems to feature movies, at least in business class.

IMG_0245Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Entertainment Selection

IMG_0246Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Regional Business Class Entertainment Selection

The sun was just starting to dip down as we began our descent into Taipei, which looked really nice.

IMG_0228View upon Descent Taipei Taoyuan

IMG_0231View upon Descent Taipei Taoyuan

IMG_0233View upon Descent Taipei Taoyuan

IMG_0234View upon Descent Taipei Taoyuan

The cloud textures got increasingly better as we descended.

IMG_0241View upon Descent Taipei Taoyuan

IMG_0242View upon Descent Taipei Taoyuan

IMG_0243View upon Descent Taipei Taoyuan

And even nicer as we kept descending into Taipei.

IMG_0249View upon Descent Taipei Taoyuan

IMG_0250View upon Descent Taipei Taoyuan

Unfortunately I fell very tired after an early wakeup, and fell asleep, waking up during landing, probably missing a couple of perfect photo opportunities. Oh well…

We landed in Taipei, taxiing past some interesting traffic before getting to our gate around 10 minutes behind schedule.

IMG_0251Traffic Taipei Taoyuan Airport

IMG_0252Traffic Taipei Taoyuan Airport

We left the business class cabin and bid farewell to the crew, of which the ISM wished me better luck with the A350 upon my return.

IMG_0258Taipei Taoyuan Airport Arrivals Hall

IMG_0259Taipei Taoyuan Airport Arrivals Hall

Bottom Line: Cathay Pacific Regional 777 Business Class

A downgrade from Cathay Pacific’s newest business class product to their regional business class product in a 2-3-2 is definitely disappointing. However, Cathay Pacific made it up big time with their service and food, which I wasn’t expecting would impress. The main course was one of the better dishes I’ve had on a plane, and the service was great too.

I wasn’t expecting to end this installment like this, but Cathay Pacific sure impressed.

Any thoughts?

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