I recently took a short trip down to Bangkok to take advantage of a good deal with Cathay Pacific from Bangkok to New York via Hong Kong. It’s been a while since we’ve last reviewed Cathay Pacific’s short-haul Economy product here at YTHK, so I figured that it would be useful to report on the experience. This is also the first time we’ve reviewed the A350-1000 economy class seat at YTHK, which flies to long-haul destinations such as New York, London, etc..
Flight 1: Hong Kong to Bangkok
I arrived with my family at Hong Kong Airport 3 hours before our flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok. The airport was packed, and the Business Class priority check-in line – which Cathay Silver members and above are eligible to use – was overflowing with vacationers. Fortunately, the lines through security and immigration were quite short, and we made a beeline for Cathay Pacific’s The Wing First Class lounge. While I initially intended to review the lounge, it was also filled with travellers. Cathay Pacific shut down the Business Class portion of The Wing during the COVID-19 pandemic and started welcoming all lounge-eligible passengers to the First lounge. However, this has led to overcrowding issues, especially during Cathay’s morning bank of regional departures. We left the lounge after an hour and made our way to our gate, where our A350-1000 was waiting to take us to Bangkok.
Cathay Pacific A350 Hong Kong Airport
After a short delay, Business Class, Cathay elites, and oneworld elites were invited to board. A mad rush ensued as what seemed like half of the plane clamoured to get in line. I was welcomed by the one of the Inflight Service Managers (more on that later) and directed towards my seat.
Cathay Pacific Flight CX615
Saturday, January 14, 2023
Origin: Hong Kong (HKG) Dep: 10:25 (10:35)
Destination: Bangkok (BKK) Arr: 12:35 (12:20)
Duration: 3 h 10 min (2 h 45 min)
Aircraft: Airbus A350-1000 Reg: B-LXC
Seat: 59K (Economy Class)
Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 Economy Class is laid out in two cabins: one directly behind Premium Economy behind the 2nd and 3rd doors, and one between the 3rd door and the tail of the aircraft.
Cathay Pacific A350 Economy Class
I’m indifferent about Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000’s cabin design, which is sleek and modern but quite sterile. Each seat is 18 inches wide, which is noticeably more comfortable than the 17 inch seat width you’ll find on Cathay Pacific’s 777 aircraft. Standard seats also come with 32 inches of seat pitch, which is the industry standard in Asia.
We arrived at our seats 59H and 59K, which were exit-row seats that came with more than enough legroom for the two hour hop down to Bangkok. There are some downsides with these seats. Most notably, they’re really close to the bathrooms, which can get a little irritating as passengers rush to take a leak right before landing. I also wasn’t able to use the television screens during take-off and landing, and instead tried to avoid awkward eye contact with the cabin crew seated in the jump seats in front of me. That being said, I feel like it’s a small price to pay for all the extra space.
Cathay Pacific A350 Economy Class Screen
Cathay Pacific has outfitted their A350-1000 Economy seats with some useful features that you won’t find on many other airlines. All “standard” seats come with an integrated cup-holder and tablet-holder, which can be folded out to unveil a smaller storage compartment.
Cathay Pacific A350 Economy Class Cabin
Passengers in front-row Economy seats also get a small tablet holder on their tray tables.
Cathay Pacific A350 Economy Class Tablet Holder
If you scroll back a bit through this blog, you’ll find that we’re weirdly obsessed with seat padding here at YTHK. I’m happy to report that these seats are one of the best padded Economy seats flying out there. Cathay Pacific outfitted the seats with a dedicated layer of plush padding, which should make any flight bearable. The seats also come with a six-way adjustable headrest, which Cathay claims provides more support than your average Economy seat. I found that to be largely true – the headrest “cradles” your head and neck a lot better than in other standard Economy seats. My only complaint was that the headrest felt a little bit flimsy; its “wings” would collapse quite easily.
Cathay Pacific A350 Economy Class Headrest
Each seat also comes with a USB-A outlet, which is under the entertainment screen. There’s also an AC power outlet under each seat, which is a bit difficult to find. Unfortunately, both the USB-A and AC power outlets were broken on my outbound flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok. While I wasn’t too bothered given the short flight length, it’s disappointing to see Cathay Pacific skimping on maintenance for their cabins.
Cathay Pacific has decided to install USB-C outlets in lieu of AC power outlets on their A321neo aircraft – which I hope won’t be the case going forward for their long-haul fleet. Finally, there’s a massive 10-inch entertainment screen at each seat, which is touchscreen activated and quite responsive. No complaints here!
Cathay Pacific A350 Economy Class Screen
Overall, I was very impressed by Cathay Pacific’s Economy Class hard product on the A350-1000. The seat gets all the “basics” right from the excellent padding, to the decent seat width & legroom, to the large screen. Throw in an extra comfortable headrest, nifty storage units, and a tablet holder, and I’m comfortable with calling this an industry leading Economy Class seat.
As passengers boarded the flight, I took some time to explore the inflight entertainment system during boarding. For the sake of transparency, I lost the photos I took on my flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok of the system, so any photos in the following section are from my return flight.
Cathay Pacific A350 Economy Class Entertainment System
The entertainment system was intuitive and had a good selection of newly released movies such as Don’t Worry Darling and Bros.
Cathay Pacific A350 Economy Class Entertainment Selection
The television selection was also pretty good. Cathay Pacific has a collaboration with HBO Max, so there were recent seasons of shows like House of the Dragon and Season 2 of The Flight Attendant. I also appreciated that they loaded box sets of many TV shows, instead of only offering 1-2 episodes of a given show.
Cathay Pacific A350 Economy Class TV Shows
Without a doubt, my favourite feature of the system is the search function, which can be used to find specific movies, TV shows, or songs. The system also comes with a moving map, outdoor camera, and live TV via CNN and the BBC. While it may not be the best entertainment system offered out there, you certainly won’t go bored even on Cathay Pacific’s longest flights.
Search for anything you want in Cathay Pacific’s A350 Economy Class
Moving on to the flight itself, an Inflight Service Manager stopped by our seats to welcome us onboard on account of our Cathay status. As it turns out, she was not the Inflight Service Manager on our flight, but was rather staffed as a “regular” Economy flight attendant due to personnel shortages. Cathay Pacific has been (very publicly) struggling with a significant cabin crew shortage and it showed on this flight – there were two Inflight Service Managers staffed to work the Economy cabin on this flight. I imagine that it’s weird to go from barely setting foot in Economy Class to doling out meals on a two-hour hop to Bangkok.
We were welcomed onboard by the Inflight Service Manager and the Captain on our flight over the public address system shortly after pushback. Our taxi and takeoff were uneventful, and the meal service started immediately afterwards. We were asked before takeoff by a flight attendant and an Inflight Service Manager for our meal choice, which was a nice recognition of loyalty.
Anyways, lunch was a choice between a chicken curry with rice or pork with potatoes. I picked the curry. While our meal orders were taken first, the meal service for our Economy cabin started at the back of the aircraft, so we were one of the last passengers served. The chicken curry came with a small side of fishcakes, a bowl of fruit, Haagen Dasz ice cream, and a warm roll. I also ordered some red wine, which the flight attendant obliged (perhaps a little too enthusiastically) by pouring me a massive cup.
Cathay Pacific’s A350 Economy Class Meal and Drooonk – Chicken Curry with Rice, Red Wine
The meal was delicious. The chicken was tender, the curry was flavourful, and the fish cakes were good too. I also enjoyed the fruit and ice cream, which were refreshing after the heavy main meal. Cathay Pacific temporarily cut back on their regional meal service amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, so it was nice to see the restoration of a full hot meal. Cathay Pacific has also introduced paper cups in lieu of plastic cups for cold drinks, which has been marketed as part of the airline’s efforts to reduce single use plastic waste.
Service on the flight was great. The Inflight Service Manager-turned-regular-flight-attendant working our section was particularly friendly and helpful. She went above and beyond to help me find an AirPod case which had slid out of my pocket during takeoff. The rest of the crew were also friendly and courteous.
Our approach and landing was uneventful and we landed in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport on time. Despite a monstrous line at immigration, we were in a taxi in less than 30 minutes.
Flight 2: Bangkok to Hong Kong
This flight was very uneventful, so I won’t go into too much detail about the experience. We were checked in at Cathay Pacific’s Business Class counters at Bangkok Airport by a customer service agent who seemed to make it their mission to talk in single-syllable words. Unfortunately, Bangkok Airport has stopped allowing frequent flyer status holders to access priority security lanes. Thankfully, the general security lane was rather short.
Cathay Pacific Priority Check-In at Bangkok Suvarnabumi Airport
I stopped by the Air France-KLM Lounge, which Cathay Pacific is using with the closure of its own Bangkok lounge. I hope that the lounge reopens soon, especially as Cathay Pacific has already restored 4 of its daily flights to Bangkok.
Air France-KLM Lounge Bangkok
The lounge was split into two parts: a dining section to the right of the reception counter and a “traditional” lounge section with armchairs to the left of the entrance. The dining section was pretty full, so I wasn’t able to get any photos.
Air France-KLM Lounge Bangkok
The lounge had a standard coffee maker, as well as a larger buffet near the dining area. The buffet had a selection of cold options including a sushi platter, canapes, fruit, and Thai papaya salad. Another side of the buffet had a selection of mediocre hot options, including pasta and a few stir fried dishes. In typical French fashion, there was also some (surprisingly bad) cheese, a tower of macarons and a small selection of red, white, and sparkling wines.
Air France-KLM Lounge Bangkok
I got some work done before heading to our gate. Interestingly, Bangkok Airport changed their holding pen boarding set-up, so passengers should (in theory) be free to leave the gate area at any time before boarding their flight. 20 minutes after the published boarding time, an announcement was made welcoming all Business Class, Cathay elite, and oneworld elite passengers to board. After getting my boarding pass scanned, I made my way down the jetbridge and was welcomed on board by the Senior Purser.
Cathay Pacific Flight CX702
Tuesday, January 17, 2023
Origin: Bangkok (BKK) Dep: 19:15
Destination: Hong Kong (HKG) Arr: 22:55
Duration: 2 h 40 min (2 h 00 min)
Aircraft: Airbus A350-1000 Reg: B-LXP
Seat: 59K (Economy Class)
Back in Cathay Pacific’s A350 Economy Class
We settled in quickly to our seats, which were the same as those I had selected on our outbound flight. The friendly flight attendant serving my section and I chatted for a bit during boarding about my trip to Bangkok and the state of COVID-19 in Hong Kong. We were later welcomed by the Senior Purser, who offered us bottles of water. Interestingly, as part of tweaks to Cathay Pacific’s service flow, it appears that Senior Pursers – who previously only served First and Business Class – will “officially” serve Premium Economy and Economy passengers going forward.
On this flight, I also noticed that Cathay Pacific has gone gender neutral with all announcements, which now start with “Hello Everyone” instead of “Ladies and Gentlemen”. Interestingly this wasn’t the case on my outbound flight. Regardless, I think it’s a step in the right direction.
Dinner was served after takeoff. We were proactively served before the rest of the passengers in our section to guarantee a choice of meal. There was a choice between Hokkien seafood noodles or chicken curry (again).
Cathay Pacific A350 Economy Class Meal Service
I ordered the chicken curry. The meal once again came with a warm roll, fruit, and ice cream.
Cathay Pacific A350 Economy Class Meal – Chicken Curry (sans massive red wine)
The curry was fine – not as good as the one served on the outbound flight but definitely edible. The chicken was tender, but the sauce was slightly bland and the vegetables were soggy. Still, I feel ridiculous saying anything bad about a hot meal on a two hour intra-Asia hop. While our meals came first, our drinks were only served after the rest of the passengers in our section were served. I ordered another cup of red wine, which, much to my disappointment, was half the size of the pour on my flight from Hong Kong to Bangkok.
Trekking back towards Hong Kong
Like any self respecting aviation geek, I spent the rest of the flight watching the airshow. Much like on the outbound, the service on this flight was excellent. After several not-so-good experiences with service on long-haul Cathay Pacific flights in the past year, I had low expectations going into this trip. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by the crew on my return flight, who were friendly, courteous, and efficient. Shortly before landing, a survey popped up on the entertainment system. I think my response summarises how I felt about the service on this flight.
We landed at Hong Kong Airport’s third runway without incident and taxied
until we arrived in Macau to the main terminal. Hong Kong has eliminated all COVID-19-related travel restrictions, so we breezed through immigration and baggage claim in 20 minutes. Good riddance to the days of 4-hour-long waits for COVID-19 PCR test results and 21-day-long hotel quarantines!
In Conclusion: Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 Economy Class
Everyone from Hong Kong seems to possess an innate need to rag on Cathay Pacific endlessly; I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of it too. However, credit where credit is due: Cathay Pacific offers a fantastic Economy Class product on its A350-1000 aircraft. The seats are comfortable, the food is delicious, the entertainment (aptly) entertains, and the service has improved.
If the price is right (it often isn’t, but that’s another post for another time), I wouldn’t hesitate to fly Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 Economy Class on any flight.