This was my first ever experience in First Class, and while Cathay Pacific won't blow you away with over-the-top opulence, I enjoyed many little touches that made this flight special.
In March 2019 my parents had a bit of a dilemma: they had around 95,000 expiring Asia Miles that they didn’t quite know what to do with. Now, I was slated to go to London over summer, but I wasn’t quite sure what my dates were yet. The only certainty I had was when I’d be flying back over the winter holiday, since the dates were the same regardless of which university I’d get into. (This isn’t a problem anymore, since Asia Miles don’t expire anymore with activity.) 95,000 miles was enough to either fly British Airways Club World back to Hong Kong, which would get me insight into all three business class products flying between London and Hong Kong (I’ve flown Cathay Pacific business class from Hong Kong to London a while back, and I’ve flown Virgin Atlantic Upper Class between the two cities as well), or with 5,000 more miles I could fly Cathay Pacific first class to Hong Kong.
As an aviation analyst that tries my best to compare business class and premium economy products across a variety of airlines, it was a no-brainer to book…Cathay Pacific first class. 😉 In all seriousness, I don’t regret trying Cathay Pacific’s first class product on this route – I figured I might as well have a taste of what first class on my home airline is like, given I knew I wouldn’t always have opportunities like these. I’ve also flown British Airways’ business class in the meantime, so feel free to check out my review of that flight.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Heathrow Airport
I’d just spent a day at Cathay Pacific’s First Class lounge at London Heathrow, and was excited to get home – let alone in such a stylish way! So, with bubbling excitement, I headed towards the first class priority boarding lane at Heathrow Terminal 3’s gate 42.
Cathay Pacific First Class Signage Heathrow Airport
Boarding was scheduled to start at 5:05 PM. It started at 5:10 PM, starting with the infirm, then first class.
Cathay Pacific Flight CX250
Tuesday, December 17, 2019
Origin: London Heathrow (LHR) Gate: 42 Dep: 17:50 (17:45)
Destination: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 3 Arr: 13:55 (13:15)
Duration: 12 hr 5 min (11 hr 30 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER Reg: B-KQG
Seat: 2A (First Class)
First and business class passengers were boarded through door 1L, where I walked straight into Cathay Pacific’s beautiful six-seat first class cabin arranged in a 1-1-1 configuration.
Cathay Pacific 777 First Class Cabin and Seat
Cathay Pacific’s first class cabin isn’t one of the latest and greatest, though it’s been consistently rated as one of the best first class cabins out there, for good reason. All of the seats are open suites, and face slightly away from the aisle. They’re kind of like reverse herringbone seats except for the fact that they’re far wider.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Cabin
I selected seat 2A, for good reason. Since there’s only one seat in the middle section of the plane, the A seats in this cabin have the aisle to themselves. The first class bathroom is in the front of the plane, so I had zero foot traffic during the flight apart from when I was being served – score.
The seat itself is very, very wide – so wide that part of the seat folds down to create an armrest. It can snugly fit two people, let alone one.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Seat 2A
In front of my seat was a large ottoman, which looks like the thinnest part of the seat. In reality, both my large backpack and my shoulder bag fit under this huge ottoman.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Ottoman
There was also a huge side table, fit for a laptop or a drink.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Side Storage
Closer to my seat was another storage space which fit the Bose headphones I was provided. A touchscreen remote control for the TV was situated there, as was an extensive panel for seat controls.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Side Storage (ft. seat controls and Bose headphones)
More rudimentary seat controls were featured near the side of the seat, for ease of adjustment in bed mode.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Rudimentary Seat Controls
By each seat there was also a huge storage compartment with a coat hook, suitable for a coat or a large bag (I’d bought something large for my mother at the airport, which went in that compartment). My merch for my dear mother went right in the compartment during boarding, and I forgot to take a picture of the compartment after landing. I’ve nicked a picture from Prince of Travel, featured below – note how wide it is, and how it could easily fit carry-on bags of most sizes. Do note that if you’re seated in the first row, you will feel the person behind you open and close this compartment – I learnt this the hard way after closing the compartment with slightly too much vigour at one point, getting a glare from the passenger in seat 1A.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Side Storage (credit: Prince of Travel)
To the left of my seat I found two power ports – a 110V power port, and a USB power port.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Power Ports
In front of me was a huge, high-definition TV screen, sporting Cathay Pacific’s most updated entertainment system. This TV screen could be stowed or unfolded to the position below – while you do get a bit more foot space when it’s stowed, in reality the TV is so far away and there’s so much space that it really doesn’t make much of a difference.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class TV Screen
To the left was an adjustable reading light, along with some decorative flowers.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Reading Light and Decorative Flowers
As I’d hinted at earlier, my seat choice of 2A was deliberate – the middle seats face the right aisle, so I couldn’t see anyone from my seat even if I leaned forward. Seat 2A also has the advantage of being further away from the bathroom, so I literally had zero foot traffic during the course of my flight, except for when I was being served.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Privacy
This really isn’t one of the industry’s newest or most flashy first class seats, though I liked the seat. It was extremely comfortable, well-designed, and huge. My one observation was that the seat isn’t as well-padded as you’d expect – the layers of cushioning aren’t particularly thick – though this didn’t stop the seat from being comfortable.
Cathay Pacific 777 Business Class
I had a quick peep at the business class mini-cabin. I’ve flown business class on this route before, though they’ve made many updates to their soft product in the meantime, so I hope to try them in business class again. Cathay Pacific has by far the best business class seat flying direct between London and Hong Kong, as Virgin Atlantic and British Airways both have subpar business class seats.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Business Class
Cathay Pacific 777 First Class Amenities
At my seat I was provided with a large, plush pillow, as well as a day blanket (night bedding was provided with turndown service).
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Pillow and Blanket
I was also provided a sturdy pair of Bose headphones, which I love, though in this case I used my own.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Bose Headphones
The lead first class flight attendant Katy came and introduced herself, took a drink order, and offered me an amenity kit from Aesop. The amenity kit was really nice, though the amenities were somewhat basic, consisting of a dental kit, eyeshades, mouthwash, earplugs, moisturiser, hand cream and lip balm.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Amenity Kit
I was also brought a medium-sized pair of pajamas, and asked for a small pair. Here I am in their rather imperial-looking button-up pajamas (which were very comfortable, though I’m not sure how often I’ll wear them at home)…
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Pajamas
Cathay Pacific 777 First Class Pre-Departure Service
Katy welcomed me with a hot towel and introduced their “new” welcome service beverage, which was a sparkling jasmine tea drink of sorts. I can’t see myself having too much of this, though it was refreshing, and I loved the Hong Kong touch that the concept offered. This was complete with a handwritten note welcoming me onboard (I quickly noted that they were free to call me “Alvin” throughout the rest of the flight, which they did).
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Welcome Drink and Note
I was asked if I wanted a pre-departure drink, and requested champagne. Cathay Pacific was pouring Krug 2004 Brut at the time, which I’ve tried before and really enjoyed; for some reason I didn’t get quite the same enjoyment out of this bottle, though it was still very nice to be having premium champagne onboard a plane. This was served with salted hot nuts.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Champagne
Katy also informed me of our 10 hour and 46 minute flight time.
I was onboard safe and happy, ready for a short Christmas visit home. The purser Michelle came and proactively asked if I wanted a picture – yes please! Tucked cozily into a Christmas jumper and a beanie, I was in full “grandma at Christmas” attire on this 11-hour flight.
Seated happily in Cathay Pacific first class
The third flight attendant working first class, Arale, also came to greet me. Unlike Katy and Michelle, Arale communicated predominantly in Cantonese with me during the course of the flight.
Takeoff from Heathrow Airport
As per aviation safety standards, the cabin lights were dimmed before takeoff. The captain came onto the PA to re-announce our flight time, as well as the fact that we’d start our cruise at 35,000 feet and ascend to 37,100 feet later on in the flight. He wished that we’d be able to get some good rest.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Cabin
Boarding was efficient, and we actually pushed back five minutes early at 5:45 PM. It was time to leave Heathrow’s Terminal 3, where we were parked next to another 777 (which didn’t feature first class).
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Heathrow Airport
I also saw an Ethiopian A350 parked at a remote stand.
Ethiopian Airbus A350 Heathrow Airport
At 6 PM we got to the runway and got ready for a takeoff out of London Heathrow, where we had nice views of the city in the process.
Takeoff Heathrow Airport
Normally I love cameras that offer unique angles out of the plane, but I’m not sure why Cathay Pacific bothers. Their 777s feature wheel cameras, though the quality is super crappy, to the point where you can’t really see what’s going on, especially at night.
Crappy belly camera on Cathay Pacific’s 777
Cathay Pacific 777 First Class Meal Service
After takeoff, Katy came to take my meal orders. She asked if, by any chance, I was a blogger. Dang it – I didn’t want to blow my cover, so I said “yes” without mentioning that I reviewed airlines specifically. She asked for my Instagram handle, and we’ve followed each other on social media since. I pointed out that the cabin was full (I’ve heard that a full first class cabin on Cathay Pacific is very challenging for flight attendants). Katy said “first class I’ve done many times”, expressing that she really enjoyed working the first class cabin.
Upon my drink order being taken, I asked for a Betsy beer, Cathay Pacific’s own line of beer that they serve in the air. I quite liked the intense fruity notes, though don’t expect a Stella flavour profile.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Betsy Beer
Upon my meal order being taken, she proactively offered to leave the menu at my seat for my reference, which I really appreciated. The menu read as follows:
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Menu
Unfortunately I blanked and didn’t take a picture of the breakfast menu, so I’m sorry I can’t include it in the report.
Arale then came to set my table, where she laid a beautifully folded napkin over a sleek stone plate.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Table Setup
I was asked if I preferred still or sparkling water, and asked for sparkling water. What a nice touch.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Sparkling Water
The first course was caviar and blinis. For a while, Cathay Pacific has been serving Imperial caviar, which I loved. It came with a beautiful mother of pearl spoon, as well as blinis, sour cream, chives, and chopped egg.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Caviar
Cathay Pacific does an “a la carte” dining service in first class, which is dine-on-demand. For my appetiser I chose a cauliflower and almond soup. It was creamy, delicious, and I appreciated the kale that it came with.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Meal – Cauliflower and Almond Soup
For the main course I asked for Katy’s recommendation. I was actually intrigued by the saddle of veal, though Katy recommended the roasted cod, and described that it would be crusted and delicious. Truth be told, I actually found the cod to be slightly overcooked, though everything (including the vegetables) was well-seasoned and amazing. The vegetables were perfectly cooked and not mushy as well, which I wasn’t expecting.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Meal – Roasted Cod with Assorted Vegetables
For my dessert I ordered a decadent double chocolate tart, which was served with mango and raspberry. The fruits really cut through the richness of the tart, and made for a very nice, sweet end to the meal. I also asked for a Cathay Delight, which I enjoyed.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Meal – Double Chocolate Tart with Mango
Cathay Pacific 777 First Class Lavatory
Shortly after the meal I checked out the lavatory, which was located in the front of the cabin. It featured wood finishes, as well as Bamford toiletries.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Bathroom
Cathay Pacific 777 First Class Bed
Afterwards I asked Arale if I could have my bed made, and she gladly obliged. Cathay Pacific offers turndown service in first class, and they also recently upgraded their first class bedding to include an upgraded mattress pad and thicker pillows.
I’ve got to say that while the pillows were amazing, the mattress pad and duvet were both thinner than expected. I’m sure I just had overly high expectations, but the blanket in particular was only marginally thicker than a good business class blanket, and the cabin temperature was kept quite cool. Still, though, it was so nice to have “real” bedding in the air.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Bed
One complaint – and this is really minor – is the translucent partitions that separate the middle D seats from the left aisle. This was a full flight, and whenever the passenger in 2D had his TV out, the screen was angled so it shone directly into my seat. This is the ultimate first world problem, though it was noticeable when the cabin was completely dark.
Cathay Pacific 777 First Class WiFi
Unfortunately I tossed and turned around and couldn’t sleep, mostly due to the fact that I had a lot on my mind (I don’t believe it was anything to do with the TV issue). Thankfully, I had the company of unlimited inflight WiFi. Cathay Pacific offers WiFi at the following rates:
- First class passengers like me got WiFi for free
- A 1-hour pass cost USD 9.95 (I’m not sure why you would get this)
- A flight pass cost USD 19.95
All I had to do was enter my last name and seat number, and I was good to go. I could also change devices, so I interchanged between using my computer and my phone. Even if I didn’t have free WiFi, though, I probably would’ve purchased a flight pass for just under US$20, as it offered unlimited WiFi. Speeds were consistently good enough for loading web pages – among the best inflight WiFi I’ve had out there.
Cathay Pacific 777 First Class Dine-On-Demand Options
Since I couldn’t sleep, I scoured the menu for mid-flight snack options, and found a crab noodle soup. I’m sad to say that this was probably the low point of the catering experience. The crab tasted off and the broth was overly salty, even though I enjoyed the smoothie that I ordered to come with it.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Snack – Crab Noodle Soup
Cathay Pacific 777 First Class Service
While I made my order, Katy came by and noted that I hadn’t slept a lot. We talked a bit after that – I asked her how the working the new service was like in a full first class cabin, and she seemed enthusiastic about the new service concept, saying that she preferred working the new service over the old one because she felt it was an improvement for the customer. I was delighted by her passion and eagerness to please.
Cathay Pacific 777 First Class Pre-Arrival Meal Service
I was able to catch a glimpse of the beautiful sunrise that we were getting enroute to Hong Kong.
Sunrise enroute from London to Hong Kong
I didn’t manage to get much sleep after that – probably just a couple of hours – so I asked Katy if I could have breakfast a little early, which she agreed to. As part of the new first class service structure, Katy gave me a grapefruit tonic, which she described as a refreshing drink to “wake me up”. This came with a hot towel, and was indeed very refreshing and enjoyable.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Wake up Tonic
I wasn’t feeling extremely hungry after the crab noodles, so only ordered an acai bowl for breakfast. I actually haven’t had acai much, though probably decided onboard this flight that I wasn’t a fan – though I did like the fruits that came with it, as well as another helping of the berry smoothie that I’d ordered earlier.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Breakfast – Acai Bowl
After my breakfast tray was collected I worked a bit more, and soon we were an hour and a half out of Hong Kong.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Map by End of Meal Service
Cathay Pacific 777 First Class Pre-Landing Service
Arale came by to offer me a plastic pen to thank me for flying Cathay Pacific. She then came by with a sturdier metal pen, saying that she’d found something nicer for me to keep and allowing me to keep both pens. Katy also came by to thank me for flying Cathay Pacific.
Soon the captain came on the PA saying that he hoped that we’d had a good flight, and ended with the Cathay Pacific classic “cabin crew, 30 minutes till landing”. I turned on the flight map to watch our descent.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Inflight Map
Cathay Pacific 777 Entertainment System
Briefly, before landing, I decided to check out Cathay Pacific’s StudioCX entertainment system. It’s by no doubt one of the best out there both in terms of content variety and ease of navigation, though with inflight WiFi I didn’t have too much of a need to check it out on this flight.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Entertainment System
Landing Into Hong Kong Airport
Mood lighting was turned on as the cabin was prepared for landing.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 First Class Cabin before Landing
We did an approach over the water onto runway 07L, which meant there wasn’t much in the way of views. Still, though, it was a nice, slightly cloudy day in Hong Kong, and I was glad to be home. We made a touchdown onto the runway at precisely 1 PM Hong Kong time.
Landing into Hong Kong Airport
We saw some oneworld heavies (including an American Airlines 777 – they don’t fly to Hong Kong anymore, unfortunately) before pulling into gate 3, where I made a beeline to immigration.
Cathay Pacific/American heavies at Hong Kong Airport
Unfortunately once I was home I got hit with the flu, which I’d probably contracted at some point onboard this flight. Regardless, I made a quick recovery, and spent a merry Christmas with family before returning home in British Airways’ 777 premium economy for second term, which I’ll be reviewing next.
Conclusion: Cathay Pacific 777 First Class
This was my first time in a legitimate first class product, so I don’t have much to compare it too. Flying first class was a joy, from the huge seat to the upgraded amenities and bedding, to the elaborate food and service. Ultimately even when flying in luxury I don’t think I need many of the elements that I experienced on this flight – a comfortable seat/flat bed and good food is way more than enough for me to have a comfortable and enjoyable flight, so I might stick to aiming for premium economy and business class products from now on (which is generally also more affordable under cheap deals, and I’m also much more qualified to review them, as I’ve flown many more business class and premium economy products in the past before).
Cathay Pacific’s first class is very well executed, and while there’s not much of a “wow” factor, I did enjoy the numerous little touches included in Cathay Pacific’s new first class service concept, such as the specialty pre-departure and wake-up beverages. They get many of the little details right, which I really appreciate. Katy, Arale and Michelle were also a great team that were polished and attentive despite the first class cabin being completely full – they were a joy to fly with and an asset to Cathay Pacific’s team.
I personally don’t see myself seeking to fly them in first class again; the differences between first and business class on Cathay Pacific are not enough to justify a sustained extra cost every time I redeem miles between London and Hong Kong. That being said, I would recommend flying Cathay Pacific’s first class in a heartbeat if you’re booking with miles for a one-off trip.
Read more from this trip:
Have you flown Cathay Pacific’s first class before?