Which Cathay Pacific Flights Need The A350 Most?

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I’m writing this post between Sydney and Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific’s 777 as the return segment of my week in New South Wales. My family sometimes travels with family friends, and honestly, as an extrovert, that’s mentally exhausting for me. All the children traveling with us are around half my age, and my parents and their friends are around triple my age, which doesn’t bode well for me when with family. On the plus side, my parents were kind enough to let me have my own time in Sydney, which I’ve grown to really like, so I’m grateful for that and enjoyed my time there for the most part.

a building on a body of waterSydney, Australia

At the same time I haven’t had the time and energy to (sanely) catch up with my friends back in Hong Kong, or finish anywhere near the amount of work I was expecting to get done, for that matter.

On that note I rather excitedly boarded this Cathay Pacific flight home. I’ve already reviewed my outbound segment and really enjoyed my flight, though knew that since this was a daytime flight, I’d probably end up feeling a little differently.

an airplane with a few seatsCathay Pacific Boeing 777 Business Class

I’m normally wrong when I make such assumptions, but in this case I wasn’t.

Cathay Pacific’s hard product continues to be great

I’ve flown every Cathay Pacific hard product out there (bar first class), and while I have my contentions regarding their shorthaul business class seat, their longhaul business class seat is tough to beat. Out of the few longhaul business class products I’ve flown in recent years, Cathay Pacific’s A350 is the best by a substantial margin. While I’ve ranked Qatar Airways’ 787 hard product a close second in the past,as I sit in Cathay Pacific’s 777 seat while writing this post, I find this to be ever so slightly better – despite being more limited in terms of getting comfortable, as well as being clunkier.

a seat with pillows on the sideCathay Pacific Boeing 777 Business Class Bed

Cathay Pacific’s had their 777 seat for a while, but it was meticulously designed from the beginning. Sleeping positions are abundant, I love the amount of storage that the seat offers, and while there isn’t a mattress pad, I’m perfectly happy with the bedding that Cathay offers.

My outbound redeye was one of the most perfectly designed flights I’ve had with them – I had a great meal that lasted all of 20 minutes, I slept incredibly well (as far as it goes in airplane cabins), and I woke up to a decent second meal. For a redeye you can’t ask to be pampered any more.

Cathay Pacific’s soft product is uncompetitive

This flight left Sydney at around 4 PM, and arrives Hong Kong at around 10 PM. With the limited time difference, sleeping for anywhere more than a short nap on this flight will just give you unnecessary jetlag that you wouldn’t otherwise have to deal with, assuming you’re traveling point-to-point. I was up for the sunrise so still slept a little, though spent most of the flight working (well, trying to work, but as much as I’d like to blame that on the airline, it’s not their fault). 😉

I’d love to give Cathay credit for their soft product on the catering front, as the food itself is exceptional. While both were sloppily plated, the first meal was phenomenal, while the second meal was pretty good.

a plate of food on a tableCathay Pacific Boeing 777 Short Ribs Falling Apart

But if you find yourself peckish (or bored) in the middle of the flight, you’re kinda left to your own devices. I know that’s not the case for longer flights (Cathay Pacific has a rI ather nice snack menu on flights exceeding 12 hours in length), but nine hours is still quite a bit of time to burn. There’s a nice entertainment system (still one of the world’s best, despite its age), though that’s about all you can do. Even if there was a snack menu, I’m not sure if I’d burn the bulk of my flight time snacking, unless I was planning to spend the rest of my day at the gym (and hopefully not rehab).

As cool as an inflight bar sounds, Cathay Pacific doesn’t need to lose any more money than they already are. This is where an investment comes in on the A350 that will get me to go out of my way to fly it on a longhaul daytime flight.

IMG_0593Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Business Class

Why some routes need the new A350 more than others

I knew that this flight didn’t have WiFi coming in, so I loaded up all my documents, ready to work quite a bit during the flight. Then I realised I forgot to load one webpage that would make half of my workload much more difficult to complete on the flight. That’s my fault. But things like these happen often, which is where inflight WiFi really comes in handy.

a large white airplane at an airportCathay Pacific Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport

I get that 777s are more profitable for Cathay Pacific on these routes, and they’ve been talking about potentially adding inflight WiFi onto their 777s. However, I’m on one of Cathay Pacific’s newest 777s right now, one delivered at around the same time as Cathay Pacific’s first A350, and I’m feeling the yoke of Cathay Pacific’s incompetence with installing WiFi on 777s.

I’m not nominating the flight I’m on right now to be replaced by an A350 (though I do find it odd why Sydney is the only route Cathay Pacific operates to Australia that is operated solely by non-WiFi equipped aircraft – if anything, I think the A330 route can be replaced by an A350, while the Brisbane route doesn’t need an A350 as much). I’m just sitting in my seat thinking “hey, I probably really wouldn’t be enjoying this daytime flight if it was twice as long, and I was traveling to New York”.

Bottom Line

On one hand I’m just ranting – I still managed to be somewhat productive over the past few hours, and I’m just finding myself something to do whilst I’ve loaded up my editor for the flight. Add on to the fact that I haven’t really had the time to talk to anyone over the past week, and I’m really wishing that I had the option of onboard WiFi, as I’m kind of longing for some kind of company (in this case, over text). Sure, my family’s onboard, but they’re all asleep or watching movies (anyone who’s known me for more than a day knows that I’m not a movie/TV person). So instead I spent my time working and pondering over which flights are really in need of onboard WiFi.

I’m happy that Cathay Pacific made the investment to install onboard WiFi onboard their A350s. I like the pricing system, and I’ve heard that it’s fast. It’s just that I believe daytime flights between business cities (New York, London Heathrow, Los Angeles, Chicago) of 13+ hours would benefit most from onboard WiFi, and currently it looks like more “leisure” European cities (*ahem* Zurich *ahem* Brussels) with nighttime outbound flights are getting priority, as the A350 can operate these routes more efficiently.

I’m really hoping that Cathay Pacific either:

  • gets on with installing WiFi onboard some of their 777s – that would be an investment I’m pretty sure a lot of business travelers would appreciate
  • employs at least one A350 on some of their 16-hour daytime flights to New York (JFK) and Chicago, and some of their more prestigious routes such as London Heathrow, as they continue to take delivery of new planes

I mean, I’m writing from a fully reclined seat in a really good business class hard product, so at least I have the option to nap, or at least just lay in my seat. I’m imagining that some people seated a few rows behind in economy would appreciate onboard WiFi more than I would at this point in time.

How far off base am I? Do you value onboard WiFi on daytime flights as much as I do?

1 comment

  1. Out of Cathay’s entire network, I think that Toronto needed the A350 the most. While CX does use the A350 to YVR, CX does not allow booking of YYZ-HKG through YVR on CX856/859 so if we want to try the A350 going from Toronto, it would be two separate bookings and that the YYZ-YVR leg is very expensive as on all Canadian domestic flights. While CX also uses/will use the A350 to SFO, EWR, and IAD, going through US CBP from anywhere without US pre-clearance is a pain and that the security in US airports is a very frustrating experience, which cancels out the overall positive experience on the A350. I have read about what you said about the seat padding on the A350, but I think that is very much a non-issue because the higher cabin pressure, humidity, and better cabin design and better lighting cancels out any flaws on the seat itself. I find the 777 cabin very outdated and the lower cabin pressure/humidity, yellowish cabin lighting, and louder cabin noise really makes the whole experience on the 777 negative. So to conclude, going from Toronto to Hong Kong, we’re out of luck when it comes to newer airplanes. I think CX really needs a better and more transparent management that is actually willing to listen to customers’ suggestions, because frankly, I have seen on their Twitter page about other people asking when Toronto will get the A350, CX just never replies. It’s bad to leave customers in the dark. And it’s so unfair for Toronto not to get the A350 while nearby Newark gets it. Until my planned move to Vancouver in the next two years, I will go to Hong Kong from Toronto through BA and Finnair through London and Helsinki where both BA’s 787 and Finnair’s A350 are more comfortable than the CX 777, and that the food and the hard/soft product is better.

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