Review: Cathay Pacific A350-1000 Business Class (TPE-HKG)

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Review Overview

This Taipei to Hong Kong flight lasted barely over an hour in the air, but it was still really nice to be in Cathay Pacific's flagship A350 business class product, which is super comfortable and spacious.


I was excited for the opportunity to (briefly) fly Cathay Pacific’s A350 on a one-hour flight between Taipei and Hong Kong. While Cathay Pacific flies dozens of frequencies between Taipei and Hong Kong, most are operated by their regional business class seat, so I specifically sought out a flight that would be operated using their longhaul product.

It only occurred to me later that I’d flown my very first flight on an A350 with Cathay Pacific on the exact same route almost three years prior to this flight, at the exact same flight time (the flight number had changed since, though, and this flight was part of a fifth-freedom flight from Osaka, whereas my last A350 flight with Cathay Pacific wasn’t).

Booking Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 Business Class

As I hinted at in the introduction, I originally booked a flight on an internationally configured A330 back to Hong Kong, which was switched to a regional 777-300. This flight was booked with 16,000 Asia Miles per seat, for two business class seats on a one-way flight between Taipei and Hong Kong.

A week before departure I managed to bag award space on one of Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 routes between Taipei and Hong Kong on the day, so I went ahead and switched my flight to this one for an extra 1,000 Asia Miles per person.

My Experience Flying Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 Business Class

After getting off my flight on ScootBiz, I needed to head over landside to retrieve my luggage, before re-clearing immigration. Taipei Airport’s customs department is an absolute sh*t show, and the agents were also rude, barking for us to hurry up while we were frantically putting our electronics back into our bags. The immigration department wasn’t much better, as they were testing out a new electronic system that – kindly speaking – wasn’t exactly running like clockwork.

Taipei Taoyuan Airport Immigration

After finally getting airside, I headed to Cathay Pacific’s Taipei lounge for a drink. It hasn’t changed since 2016, so I won’t be reviewing it again – though it is a very good outstation lounge with good food and a very nice bar, despite not having any showers.

Cathay Pacific Lounge Taipei

Soon enough a boarding delay was anounced until 7:10 PM (as opposed to our original boarding time of 6:50 PM), so I stayed in the lounge for a bit longer and ordered myself another cocktail.

At around 6:55 PM I made my way to gate B4, where our plane would be departing.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Taipei Airport

Taipei Airport features isolated gate areas that are positioned a floor below the terminal. They look somewhat drab, but I was too excited about my first A350-1000 flight to complain.

Taipei Airport Gate Area

At around 7:05 PM boarding was called, starting with business class passengers and oneworld Emerald members.

Cathay Pacific Flight CX565
Saturday, June 8, 2019
Origin: Taipei (TPE) Gate: B4 Dep: 19:20 (19:25)
Destination: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 64 Arr: 21:15 (21:10)
Duration: 1 h 55 min (1 h 45 min)
Aircraft: Airbus A350-1000 Reg: B-LXF
Seat: 18K (Business Class)

I entered the Cathay Pacific A350-1000 to find a large business class cabin with 46 business class seats. Cathay Pacific’s A350s feature reverse herringbone business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Cabin

I picked seat 18K, which was a window seat somewhere in the middle of the cabin, away from the lavatories on both ends.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Seat 18K

As usual, center seats are great for those travelling together, though I do feel like they’re considerably less private. If you do end up seated in a middle seat across a stranger, the side console acts as a privacy screen – there’s no dedicated privacy screen here.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Center Seats

Behind the business class cabin was a premium economy cabin which featured 32 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. I’ve heard good things about Cathay’s A350 premium economy seats, though I’ve never actually tried them firsthand, so I hope to someday.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Premium Economy

Behind that was the economy class cabin, which was outfitted in a 3-3-3 configuration. Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000s feature 256 seats in economy class, spread across two cabins. In retrospect I wish I’d scrutinised the product further – I didn’t because I had a flight in this cabin booked for a couple of days later, and for some reason didn’t consider the possibility of an equipment swap (which ended up happening).

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Economy Class

Back at my seat, I reacquainted myself with Cathay Pacific’s A350 business class seat. To my right was a storage compartment, which housed my headphones (and was perfect for small items, such as a phone). The door to the compartment featured a sliding nook that revealed a mirror.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Storage Compartment

The power ports were positioned in the storage compartment. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s one of the only flaws of this hard product – the wires cut into the usable storage space you otherwise have in this cupboard, in my opinion. It’s not a big deal, though it’s definitely a bit of a puzzling placement.

Below the seat was a huge L-shaped ottoman, which was adjacent to another storage compartment. The storage compartment closed to become part of the sleeping surface.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Ottoman

The constant emphasis on bed space is what sets Cathay Pacific’s A350 business class product apart from other reverse herringbone products, in my opinion. The level of added space is simply unrivalled compared to any other similarly configured seat.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Ottoman Storage

Also to my right I found a side panel, which featured a reading light, seat controls, as well as the entertainment system remote.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Side Panel

To my left was a retractable armrest, which could be lowered – once again to create extra bed space. Furthermore, a lever caused a bed extension to rise, which created extra hip space.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Retractable Armrest

Lastly, in front of the seat was a screen. Unlike the previous iteration of Cathay’s reverse herringbone seat, it didn’t actually have to be stowed during takeoff and landing, so I kept the tail camera on for the duration of both. This was my fourth A350 flight, though two of them were on LATAM aircraft with tail cameras, whereas the tail camera was broken on the other one – so this was my first flight experiencing the tail camera on an A350, and it sure was quite high-definition!

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Tail Camera

Even though the flight was only an hour long, I couldn’t wait to spend some time in Cathay Pacific’s most updated business class seat!

Yours truly, happily seated in Cathay Pacific A350-1000 business class

After I had my picture taken I decided to take some pictures of my mother in her seat. While I was doing so, a flight attendant came over and closed the overhead bins above my mother’s seat, saying “that’ll make a nicer picture!” I thought that was really nice of her.

I was welcomed onto the flight and addressed by name, and given the choice of a pre-departure beverage (orange juice, water, and champagne). I chose champagne, which was Piper-Heidsieck NV Brut – it’s in my understanding that Cathay Pacific offers better champagne on longhaul flights, though this was a little too rough around the edges and acidic for me.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Pre-Departure Beverage

The pre-departure beverage was provided alongside a hot towel.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Hot Towel

There was a pillow waiting at my seat, which was rough on one side and smoother on the other. The pillow is similar to what Cathay Pacific uses on longhaul flights.

Meanwhile, the crew came around with blankets, so I decided I might as well grab one for the picture. This isn’t your classic business class duvet, though for a regional blanket I thought it was soft and not scratchy.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Pillow and Blanket

Waiting in the storage compartment by my head was a pair of decent-quality headphones. They weren’t good enough to replace anything noise-cancelling, though they were certainly sufficient for a flight of any length.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Headphones

At around 7:30 PM the door closed, and captain Ewal Jordan came on the PA to announce our flight time of 1 hour and 14 minutes. This was followed by the safety video, and a cute video played after that advertising inflight WiFi.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Post-Safety Video

At 7:40 PM we left our gate, and started taxiing towards the runway.

Departure from Taipei Airport

Meanwhile, the cabin turned a bright purplish hue, before the lights eventually fully dimmed for takeoff.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Cabin upon Departure

We lifted off at 7:45 PM, where we could see the lights of Taipei glimmering down below.

Takeoff from Taipei Taoyuan Airport

After we were in the air, purple and orange hues lit up the cabin. I took the opportunity to take a few cabin photos.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Cabin after Takeoff

There are over 10 rows of business class on this aircraft, and they’re all in a single, massive business class cabin. While I suppose you typically wouldn’t have the choice on a longhaul flight, I actually chose this flight over an A350-900 which left Taipei half an hour earlier, and also had last-minute award space. I did so since I wanted to fly and review the A350-1000, though from a passenger experience I’d probably go for the A350-900 next time, given the choice.

Here’s why. It’s clear that service will be much faster and more attentive in a smaller, more intimate cabin. While Cathay Pacific’s business class seats provide a great sense of privacy, they’re also far from fully enclosed, so you do get more foot traffic in this cabin compared to the A350-900 cabin. This is Cathay Pacific’s most populated single business class cabin – it outnumbers Cathay Pacific’s premium-heavy 777 main business class cabin by one seat.

That being said, if you’re into a more expansive feel, though, or like photographing cool airplane cabins like I do, you’ll quite like the A350-1000.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Cabin after Takeoff

It’s worth noting that Cathay Pacific’s A350s don’t feature air nozzles, though they generally keep their cabins quite cool.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Overhead Panel

After takeoff I also took the chance to check out my seat in bed mode. As I mentioned earlier, the integration of all of the storage compartments and bed extensions into the actual sleeping surface means that this is one of the widest and most comfortable business class beds out there. Add in the fact that the seat is quite well-padded – much more so than Cathay’s older 777-300ER variant – and you have yourself a great business class bed. This seat ranks solidly as number two out of all the business class seats I’ve flown, behind the QSuite.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Bed

Cathay Pacific executes a quick meal service on this flight for business class flyers. The menu read as follows:

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Menu

Cathay Pacific operates a simple trolley service on shorter flights – everything was served on one tray. While they’re attempting to ditch a trolley service for a more personalised experience on longer flights, the Taipei to Hong Kong route is far too short for that to be feasible.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Cabin during Meal Service

First they came over to set tables, where I received a tray containing bread, a salad, and my dessert.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Tray Table

Soon enough another flight attendant came around with the main course, and I was able to view the meals on offer on the trolley before selecting what I wanted. I selected the beef cheek, which delivered a punch in flavour, and was also decently executed – no, it wasn’t falling-apart tender, though it wasn’t rock hard either, and certainly edible.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Meal – Braised beef cheek with onion sauce, truffle mashed potatoes, capsicum and broccoli

The appetiser I received wasn’t your average airplane salad – it was nice and citrusy, with a refreshing dressing, and I particularly liked the shrimp and quinoa that they added to it.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Appetiser – Pan Fried Prawn with Quinoa and Edamame Salad

The dessert was simple – a chocolate mousse cake – though it was well-executed, and went perfectly with the rest of the meal.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Dessert – Cherry chocolate mousse cake

I was also asked what beverage I’d like, and I asked if they had anything special on offer. The flight attendant taking my order recommended a Pacific Sunrise, which was a cocktail made of champagne and Drambuie. I figured I might as well try my home airline’s alcoholic specialty drink, though since I wasn’t a fan of the champagne to start with, I wasn’t particularly a fan of the drink – that being said, it certainly delivered a strong kick!

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Drink – Pacific Sunrise

For some reason I was expecting service to be rushed and somewhat cold, probably from memory, since I’d flown the A350 on the same route (as aforementioned) when it was first launched. With this crew, any run-in issues with the A350-1000 had been resolved long ago, since they operated the meal service like clockwork. Not only did they serve the meal and clear tables very efficiently, but they were also very engaging, including asking if I liked the meal, etc.. I was also addressed by first name on almost all occasions, which I never expect on regional business class flights, especially of this length – so if anything, this crew was extremely polished, and I send them my compliments.

After the meal service I proceeded to use the lavatory, which featured a window (which I love, since on longer flights you can take pictures out of the window mid-flight, without filling the cabin with light).

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Lavatory

You can purchase one hour of WiFi on this flight for 9.95 USD, and full-flight WiFi for 12.95 USD (it’s 19.95 USD for flights with a block time of over 6 hours). Unfortunately I was planning on purchasing WiFi on my flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo a couple of days later, which was swapped to an A330, so I didn’t get to try it out – though I’ve heard really good things.

All too soon it was time to descend into Hong Kong, and the captain came onto the PA to give his “30 minutes before landing” announcement, which is very typical of Cathay Pacific.

View upon Landing into Hong Kong Airport

During the initial descent I had the chance to check out the (gate-to-gate) entertainment system, and was impressed with what I saw. Cathay Pacific’s StudioCX entertainment system deserves all the awards that it wins, and the new interface pairs well with the incredibly responsive touchscreen – selections include a plethora of both HK and international movies, entire seasons of TV shows, and a hearty selection of good music.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Entertainment System

The screen was touchscreen (and would be my navigation method of choice), though those who wish to may also use the touchscreen-enabled remote control to control the entertainment system.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class Remote

One feature of Cathay Pacific’s entertainment system is that there’s a live news feed. I flew this flight a day before the first large extradition bill protest, so was quite shocked to learn that petrol bombs had been detonated in Hong Kong. Sure enough, I didn’t think the situation would escalate so far out of hand – at this moment I have no choice but to send my home city my best wishes, and hope the entire situation can return under control sometime soon.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Business Class News

Whilst landing into Hong Kong, I was sure to turn on the tail camera, where I could see the plane’s silhouette laid over the twinkly night lights of Hong Kong.

Views upon Landing into Hong Kong Airport

After our touchdown at approximately 9 PM, we began our swift taxi into gate 64, and passed by a few interesting aircraft, including an Air Niugini 767.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Hong Kong Airport

Air Niugini Boeing 767 Hong Kong Airport

We eventually parked next to an Emirates A380 (it’s going to have a bit of a special place in my heart, since I’m leaving Hong Kong for good on one of these birds next month).

Emirates Airbus A380 Hong Kong Airport

Upon deplaning I had a good look at Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 fuselage through Hong Kong Airport’s new, swanky glass jetbridges.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 Hong Kong Airport

From there I was off home, with the impression that I’d be back on the same aircraft type a couple of days later. While our flight was swapped to an A330, I did end up spending some more time in Tokyo, so stay tuned for the flight reports to come.

Bottom Line: Cathay Pacific A350-1000 Business Class

Let’s start off by talking about the soft product on this flight – the food was as good as it gets on a shorthaul Cathay Pacific flight, and the service was stellar. Cathay Pacific’s service ethic has been reported to be heading on a downward trajectory lately, so if this was a fluke of sorts, then love me some more fluke on Cathay Pacific, please.

Regarding the hard product, Cathay Pacific kept their sublime A350 business class product on this flight. As far as non-suite products go, this is one of the best business class hard products out there, due to the ample storage, wide sleeping surface, sufficient privacy, and good padding. I particularly like how so many parts of the seat were customised just to maximise bed width, and the resulting bed is indeed very comfortable. Given the choice, I’d fly this seat over the 777, since it’s more comfortable and ergonomically designed.

That being said, I wouldn’t go out of my way to fly the A350-1000, and might even shoot for the A350-900 over the A350-1000 given the smaller, more intimate cabin. While service definitely wasn’t an issue on this flight, a less competent crew may be more efficient serving a smaller cabin; and while privacy definitely isn’t a problem in this configuration, those seated at the ends of the aircraft may face issues with foot traffic on longer daytime flights.

Read more from this trip:

Have you flown the Cathay Pacific A350-1000 before? What did you think of the experience?

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