The seat and food are perfectly fine for a two-hour flight, though the experience does feel very premium-economy like in regional business class
As the first segment of a ticket from Hong Kong to London, I used Asia Miles to redeem a ticket in Cathay Pacific’s business class. Cathay Pacific operates many longhaul-configured aircraft between Hong Kong and Bangkok, though none of those flights worked with my schedule on the day I was flying (I could’ve brute-forced it, though I flew Cathay Pacific’s A350 business class from Zurich to Hong Kong not very long ago, and am due to fly their 777 business class soon).
It was my first time flying a Cathay Pacific plane with regional business class seats since 2016, so I was curious to see if my thoughts had changed. Relative to some of their intra-Asian competitors I still wasn’t convinced the airline had a competitive product, though I’d managed to try a couple of other intra-Asian products in the meantime, including Hong Kong Airlines, EVA Air, Korean Air, Thai Airways, and even Cathay Pacific’s own A321neo business class product. It was time to see how their long-standing regional business class product was holding up.
Booking Cathay Pacific’s A330 Regional Business Class
I used 25,000 Asia Miles to book this one-way business class ticket from Hong Kong to Bangkok. The schedule looked as follows:
12/07 CX751 Hong Kong – Bangkok Suvarnabhumi dep. 14:25 arr. 16:30
The ticket cost an additional HK$554 (~£55.6/US$71) in taxes.
My Experience Flying Cathay Pacific’s A330 Regional Business Class
My flight this fine afternoon would be departing from gate 61. After visiting the Qantas Lounge and meeting a Plaza Premium friend to check out their new Intervals bar, I walked directly to the gate, where my A330 was waiting.
Cathay Pacific A330 Hong Kong Airport
People had already begun to queue up to board. Interestingly Oneworld Emerald members (and first class passengers, none of which were on this flight) are now boarded through the middle lane, where a couple was first invited to board. This was followed by business class passengers.
Boarding my flight to Bangkok
Cathay Pacific Flight CX751
Wednesday, July 12th, 2023
Origin: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 61 Dep: 14:25 (14:30)
Destination: Bangkok (BKK) Gate: F6 Arr: 16:30 (16:25)
Duration: 3 h 5 min (2 h 55 min)
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300 Reg: B-HWM
Seat: 18A (Business Class)
I entered through the first set of doors, and was actually escorted to my seat at the back of the business class cabin.
Cathay Pacific’s A330 Regional Business Class Cabin and Seat
This was one of the Cathay Pacific A330s with the most regional business class seats, featuring 42 business class seats laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration across 7 rows.
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Cabin
Despite having been around for many years, I didn’t find the cabin to feel overly worn or tired. I’d assigned myself seat 18A, located at the back of the business class cabin. These are fixed-shell, electronically controlled recliner seats, which recline into a lazy-Z position.
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Seats 18A and 18C
Specifically, this is as far as the seat reclines. It doesn’t actually go back much further than a premium economy seat, though there is a lot more legroom. The footwell also barely fits a bigger pair of feet when the footrest is in the “up” position.
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Recline
The seat controls were located to my right, as was a shared side table. The side table was very reminiscent of the side table Cathay Pacific has in their older premium economy seats, whereas the seat controls perhaps were the biggest tell-tale sign of the seats’ age.
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Seat Controls
A further cocktail table could be pulled out of the side table, though I wasn’t sure how much I wanted to put my drinks there, in case I’d accidentally knock them over.
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Cocktail Table
Storage at this seat was fairly limited – there was a little pocket under the armrest (which did just about manage to fit my laptop), and there was a little phone pocket by the personal TV screen in front.
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Phone Storage
I did mostly appreciate that I could put my bag under the footwell.
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Footwell
Charging wise, there was a USB and mini-DIN port by the TV screen, and a universal 110V power port per seat under the armrest.
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class USB and 110V Power Ports
The tray table slid out from the seat in front, and was bi-fold. It was fairly sturdy but not overly so, so more aggressive typers (like myself) would probably experience a little bit of wobble while getting some work done.
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Bi-Fold Tray Table
This A330 didn’t have air nozzles, unfortunately.
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Air Nozzles (or Lack Thereof)
This is a perfectly fine product for the 2.5-hour flight I was on. My issue with this seat isn’t really that it’s uncomfortable or bad (and I may have been too harsh on this product in the past), but rather that it’s too similar to Cathay Pacific’s premium economy product for there to be any added value. There’s enhanced catering on these flights and obviously you get lounge access, but it isn’t worth the drastic price differences I sometimes see on routes to Tokyo and Singapore.
Cathay Pacific’s A330 Regional Business Class Amenities
Waiting at my seat was a very plush Bamford pillow, similar to what the airline hands out on longhaul flights.
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Pillow
Day blankets were available on request, though I didn’t ask for one on this short flight. Headphones were also provided (these were similar to the headphones provided in longhaul business class). I’m not sure where the photo I took went, so here’s a photo of the headphones I received on my A321neo flight the week prior.
Cathay Pacific Business Class Headphones
Cathay Pacific’s A330 Business Class Pre-Departure Service
Waiting at my seat was a menu for this flight.
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Menu
During takeoff I was asked if I wanted a pre-departure beverage, and ordered their signature Cathay Delight.
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Pre-Departure Beverage
After the boarding process, the crew came round with hot towels.
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Hot Towel
Shortly before takeoff I was welcomed by the cabin manager, who introduced herself as Denise. Denise informed me of our 2h 24m flight time, and wished that I’d have a pleasant journey.
Taking Off from Hong Kong Airport
Boarding was swift, and was completed by 2:15 PM, 10 minutes before we were slated to leave. The cabin was about half full by the time boarding was completed, and the seat next to me stayed empty.
We sat by the gate for a little bit, though the captain came onto the PA to reassure that we’d be leaving in the next few minutes. Sure enough we pushed back at 2:30 PM, ready to head to Bangkok.
Pushing back from Hong Kong Airport
It was a beautiful day in Hong Kong, and I particularly enjoyed the traffic roaming around the airport at this time of day, including an Air China 777.
Air China 777 at Hong Kong Airport
We had a fairly short taxi, as we’d be departing out of runway 25L today – we rocketed out of Hong Kong Airport at 12:50 PM, heading westward before making a left turn to begin our journey south.
Taking Off from Hong Kong Airport
At around this time I pulled up the airshow on Cathay Pacific’s entertainment system.
Airshow out of Hong Kong Airport
Since we hit some chop out of Hong Kong Airport, the seatbelt sign was kept on for a little longer than usual, and was only turned off about 30 minutes after takeoff.
Cathay Pacific’s A330 Business Class Entertainment System
Speaking of Cathay Pacific’s entertainment system, the selection was fantastic, including an endless selection of movies, entire series of TV shows, etc. I’d say the screen was fairly low resolution and had a lot of glare, though I wasn’t hugely bothered by that on this flight.
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Entertainment System
Some of Cathay Pacific’s A330s feature WiFi, though this wasn’t one of these planes.
Cathay Pacific’s A330 Business Class Lavatory
After the seatbelt sign was finally turned off, I decided to check out the lavatory. The lavatory was fairly standard, and featured a couple of Bamford toiletries.
Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class Lavatory
Cathay Pacific’s A330 Business Class Meal Service
Not long after the seatbelt sign was turned off, the meal service commenced.
Here’s what was on the menu for today’s flight:
Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class Menu
Here’s the wine and drinks list, available on all Cathay Pacific flights in business class:
Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class Drinks Menu
As you can see, there’s a fairly extensive selection of food and beverages on this short flight, including three food options, many teas and cocktails, etc.. It’s worth noting that espresso based beverages are not available on this A330 (which the two people seated in front of me learned by asking for a cappuccino as a pre-departure beverages).
All courses on this flight were served on one tray, though they were brought individually to me, as opposed to on a trolley.
Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class Meal
I played to Cathay Pacific’s strengths and ordered their Asian fish dish, which was a signature steamed halibut with cordyceps flowers (the airline cooperated with Michelin Guide restaurant Duddell’s in Hong Kong to create the dish). It was very good and I loved the combination of flavours, though cordyceps flowers can be an acquired taste, and the airline’s shorthaul food presentation isn’t spectacular.
Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class Main Course – Steamed Halibut with Cordyceps Flowers, Aged Mandarin Peel and Preserved Black Olives
The side salad was good as well, though unfortunately the garlic bread was horrible and pasty.
Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class Appetiser – Smoked Salmon with Green Apple, Fennel and Celery Salad
The crew then came around with dessert. While Cathay Pacific is serving a limited-edition yuzu ice cream from Häagen-Dazs, they’d run out by the time they got to my row, so I was just given a strawberries and cream ice cream instead (no explanation given).
Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class Dessert – Ice Cream
It’s nice that Cathay Pacific is serving dishes individually, and they do it well – despite being served last, I never felt like there was too long of a wait. It’s definitely nice that the aisles are always clear, even during the meal service (though obviously in this configuration you’ll have to clamber over your seatmate and their tray table if you’re in a window seat and need the lavatory).
Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class Cabin during Meal Service
Cathay Pacific’s A330 Business Class Service
Service on this flight was friendly, courteous, but not memorable. Cathay Pacific’s service standards in business class are definitely many steps up from where they used to be, where I was addressed by name and welcomed/thanked before takeoff and landing, and the service flow on shorthaul flights definitely feels quite premium. However, I didn’t interact enough with the crew to hve a memorable impression after the flight.
Landing into Bangkok Airport
Knowing this flight didn’t have WiFi, I’d pre-loaded some work to chip away at after the meal service, so before I knew it we were about to land into Bangkok. This was pre-cursored by the captain coming onto the PA to announce Bangkok’s weather conditions, as well as a “30 minutes until landing”. The cabin was prepared about 20 minutes before landing, which I appreciated (as opposed to 45 minutes to an hour before landing, which is far too early).
It was initially a sunny day with blue skies as we began our initial descent.
Views upon Landing into Bangkok Airport
The sky became progressively more hazy as we approached Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Views upon Landing into Bangkok Airport
We were wheels down into Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport at 2:15 PM, 10 minutes before our scheduled arrival time. While traffic wasn’t particularly dense this afternoon at Bangkok’s massive flagship airport, we did taxi past a few aircraft, including a Malaysia Airlines A330.
Traffic at Bangkok Airport
It was particularly striking to see Thai Airways’ mini-airplane graveyard, full of decommissioned 747s, A380s, and other aircraft that had become casualties to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Thai Airways Airplane Graveyard at Bangkok Airport
We reached our gate F6 at 2:30 PM, parking next to a Saudia 777. From there I decided to venture out into Bangkok briefly before my connecting Etihad flight.
Conclusion: Cathay Pacific’s A330 Regional Business Class
This was a perfectly pleasant flight, with a comfortable enough seat (and an empty one next to me), really good catering, and a great service flow. Cathay Pacific also has a really good ground experience at Hong Kong Airport (including great lounges The Pier and The Deck, as well as access to the Qantas lounge), which I need to give them credit for. That being said, I’m struggling to rate the product highly, primarily because longhaul-configured aircraft provide a far better experience, and there’s not a huge difference between flying this product and premium economy on a flight like this. If I’d flown premium economy, I’d pretty much have been guaranteed a WiFi-configured plane, a similar degree of space, and would’ve just missed out on lounge access and catering (the former can even be mitigated if you have access on the basis of your frequent flyer status).
A similar flight in Europe would’ve easily gained five stars, though competition is fierce on this route between Hong Kong and Bangkok. Many airlines, including Cathay Pacific themselves, fly longhaul-configured planes between Hong Kong and key Southeast Asian destinations. I can’t help but feel like on these routes, Cathay Pacific also falls victim to its own premium economy product, which also flies such routes.
I also think that Cathay Pacific’s new A321neo seat beats out this product. I was a little more lenient in that review, as Cathay Pacific primarily deploys some of their A321neos on lower-yield, lower-demand routes. But these older regional business class seats primarily fly to high-yield short-to-mid haul destinations such as Tokyo, Singapore, and Jakarta, which can take up to five hours – in which case I wouldn’t rate the product highly.
Do you think I’m reviewing Cathay Pacific’s regional business class product fairly?