Posts are going to start going down as school kicks back in. I’ll try to get the Switzerland report out as soon as possible so I won’t be too behind.
Hello from Highstown, New Jersey. Around a week ago, I flew with Cathay Pacific to New York. Given that we haven’t actually reviewed Cathay’s Business Class product to North America, I’m going to be churning out a trip report. However, given that I’m going to have a hectic month or so (I’m kind of moving to the States for school…), I thought I’d do a quick little “First Impressions” post that Alvin seems to absolutely adore so that I could share some opinions about the flight.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Hong Kong Airport
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Seat
It’s the Cathay Pacific Zodiac Cirrus seat. It’s an extremely practical and well designed that is still impressive some 4 years after the product is introduced. The seat is generally well designed, from the latches that release the entertainment screen, to the storage areas, to the spaciousness of the seat. I have to commend Cathay Pacific’s product team for taking an “on-the-shelf” Business Class seat and actually making changes that really positively impact the customer experience… Right Finnair? However, I will note that there are some little finicky things that were minor annoyances in the customer experience that I’ll elaborate upon in the main trip report.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat
Less impressive was the state of the cabin. It was pretty gross. There were some liquid stains that looked really disgusting on the seat controls, and some areas of the seat were a little bit dusty. Additionally, the seats haven’t really been maintained well, with finishes peeling off and breaking.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Panel
All things considered, it’s a fantastic hard product that’ll likely never age. If only they were kept in better shape…
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Food
It’s pretty well documented that Cathay doesn’t really offer the best Business Class dining experience. Unlike some of their competitors who have upgraded their dining to encompass plenty of dine-on-demand options, and are shifting towards restaurant-style plating, Cathay Pacific offers a pretty “low-frills” dining experience. However, they appear to be trying to shake off the “we have crappy dining” image by partnering with Hyatt Hotels and a celebrity chef by the name of Daniel Not-So-Green-Enough-For-Cathay for their meals. While there haven’t been changes in the ways that meals are served or prepared, the food served with the promotion generally seemed to be incredibly tasty.
To start, there was a nice crab salad and another side salad which were both tasty, fresh and well prepared. Cathay appears to have recently stopped using plastic salad dressing containers and has replaced them with olive oil and balsamic vinegar bottles which are a nice, classy touch. The old plastic vinegar packets were pretty gross.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Starter
For my mains, I had the deep fried mud carp filled with pork, shrimp and spring onion which was served with rice and vegetables, created with One Harbour Road of the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, which was incredible. Many have slammed Cathay over offering a non-fancy dish for their inflight catering, but I think the whole concept of “home dining” is one that is lovely and reminds me of some fantastic times.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Filled Mud Carp Main
The highlight of the meal was dessert, which was a Hong Kong style chilled coconut milk pudding with red bean. It was absolutely fantastic, refreshing and a nice little taste of Hong Kong before 2 months in the US.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Dessert*salivates*
There was also a second meal service, which was served midway throughout the flight. I thought the timing of the meal was quite weird, as it was wedged right in the middle of the flight where many passengers were asleep. I know that it was designed to imitate the dining schedule of passengers on Hong Kong time, but people just weren’t up for it, which is an oversight.
The highlight of the second meal service was undoubtedly the rice wine steamed halibut main course, which was flaky, extremely flavourful and truly amazing.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Halibut Main Dish (I sort of took a bite of it before realising I had to take a picture…oops)
Based on the quality of the food on this flight, I feel that if Cathay stepped up their catering game in terms of presentation and flexibility (which also ensuring that cabin crew aren’t busting their a$$es off to serve meals), they’d have one of the best Business Class meal services in the industry.
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Amenities
Shortly after take off, passengers were given a bottle of Evian water, as well as an amenity kit. Due to backlash over the poor design of the previous “washbag” amenity kit, Cathay has switched back to a conventional zipper bag which a perfect pencil case. Although the content of the kits were largely identical to the older kits, Cathay took the opportunity to give a small cup of mouthwash for passengers, which I thought was a nice touch.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Amenity Kit and Evian Bottle
As for the toilets…well…they were toilets. As is standard with Cathay, they were kitted out with Jurlique amenities which were actually quite useful. I’m quite tempted to take the skin spray mist thing with me. (Disclaimer: I can confirm that I didn’t commit theft).
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Service
It’s no secret that I’ve been generally disappointed by the service on Cathay. More often that not you’ll encounter cabin crew members that are either unfriendly, cold or just flat out rude. However, I had high expectations of the inflight service, mainly based on the fact that I had a PHENOMENAL team of crew members on my last flight to New York.
The cabin crew serving the business class cabin were quite good. There was Jo, the friendly Senior Purser, as well as Sonya, the incredibly friendly flight attendant serving our aisle. The crew actually smiled and were warm and welcoming, which I found was nice after a few slightly disappointing inflight service experiences with Cathay Pacific.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class View of Sunset
There were little touches of the signature Cathay Pacific service in their delivery, which I thought was quite nice. The flight attendants were constantly smiling and willing to help customers, and were professional while being really personable and willing to joke around.
However, despite providing some good service, I felt that they didn’t really hit the level of service that I’ve had on some flights with Cathay where I’ve been blown away at the phenomenal service. Meanwhile, this group of cabin crew felt more like a “great” crew.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin
I’m not disappointed, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t expecting a little more.
At a time where airlines are innovating with their business class product, Cathay’s product is good enough. You’ll generally find that the seat is fantastic, while the cabin crew are fine. However, it’s not industry-leading. There are still problems with the food, specifically pertaining to the presentation of the meals, service flow, flexibility and If Cathay feels that it’s alright to have a product positioned at the industry standard in this day and age with competition as fierce as it is, sure, but maybe that explains why your profits are plunging. Business class is the bread and butter of airlines, so any airline that doesn’t want to offer a product that customers are going to proactively choose over competitors is just weird.
So, maybe it’s time to start fixing up your product. Maybe it’s time to introduce new catering options, but make it so that you’re not making your flight attendants work even harder than they already have to in a flight, and speaking of flight attendants, treat them better. Maybe there’s a reason why you’ve slipped from best to not-the-best in the space of four years.
Go. Get of your skid-marked butts, slash your big fat bonuses that you’re spending on another vacation home in Malibu and actually make an airline that is worth being proud of. Maybe make an airline that your key market, Hong Kongers, actually like.