a row of seats in an airplane

Review: Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class (HKG-BKK)

Home » Airlines » Cathay Pacific » Review: Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class (HKG-BKK)
Review Overview

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.

an airplane parked at an airport
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.

people standing in a room with a large window
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.

a row of seats on an airplane a row of seats in an airplane an airplane with seats and a television on the side
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.

a seat in an airplane
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.

a seat in an airplane a group of people sitting in an airplane
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.

a seat with a seat belt and seatbelt
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.

a close up of a seat
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.

a seat with a pair of pockets
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Phone Storage

I did mostly appreciate that I could put my bag under the footwell.

a seat in a car
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.

a usb port on a car a close up of a power outlet
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.

a table in an airplane an airplane seat with a screen
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Bi-Fold Tray Table

This A330 didn’t have air nozzles, unfortunately.

a overhead panel of an airplane
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.

a pillow on a seat
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.

a black headphones in a plastic bag
Cathay Pacific Business Class Headphones

Cathay Pacific’s A330 Business Class Pre-Departure Service

Waiting at my seat was a menu for this flight.

a white paper on a grey surface
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.

a glass of green smoothie on a table
Cathay Pacific A330 Regional Business Class Pre-Departure Beverage

After the boarding process, the crew came round with hot towels.

a towel on a table
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.

an airplane at an airport
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.

a plane on the runway a white airplane on a runway
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.

a view of a bridge and mountains from an airplanean airplane wing and an island
Taking Off from Hong Kong Airport

At around this time I pulled up the airshow on Cathay Pacific’s entertainment system.

a screen with a map on it
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.

a screen with images on it a screen with a movie screen a screen with a movie screen a screen with a picture of a movie a screen with images on it a screen with a movie on it a screen with a group of images
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.

a toilet and sink in a bathroom
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:

a menu in a book
Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class Menu

Here’s the wine and drinks list, available on all Cathay Pacific flights in business class:

a menu of a wine restaurant a menu on a table a menu of drinks on a table a menu of drinks on a black surface
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.

a tray with food and drinks on it
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.

a plate of food on a tray
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.

a bowl of food on a table
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).

a cup of ice cream on a plate with a spoon
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).

a plane with seats and people sitting on it
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.

an airplane wing and a view of the earth from the window
Views upon Landing into Bangkok Airport

The sky became progressively more hazy as we approached Suvarnabhumi Airport.

an airplane wing and a city an airplane wing over a city
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.

an airport with airplanes on the runway a plane on the runway
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.

a group of airplanes on a runway
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?

Read more from this trip:


  1. Great review. I really like your honest contents as well as a clear distinction between facts and your personal view.

    Fully agreed that such business class product has minimal value add to premium economy.

    My recent experience was that in May 2023 when travelled from Narita back to Hong Kong, I upgraded myself using Miles from PE to Business, but was shocked to find out from the seating plan when I checked in online, that it was this old style lazy-Z seat rather than a flatbed. (It showed A350 when I requested online upgrade). Somehow I had an impression that lazy-Z has already been phrased out for the 4+hr flights to Tokyo, but it seems (heard from friends) that there are still a few serving between Narita and HK, whereby Haneda is all(?) flatbed (based my experience since 2014 with 30+ times on biz between HK and HND/NRT)

    Given Tokyo is such a popular route and prices to Japan are crazy esp these days, I could not get my head around why CX still deploy old planes (while, I guess, there could be sufficient plane “inventory” to pick post-covid for CX to choose).

    Just want to warn reader that for short/medium haul there is a chance that your will be swapped out of flatbed to lazy-Z on Biz. It really can’t tell when CX change flight (hence the config) and this is a risk to take….. (At least true for the HK/NRT route…)

    1. The 777-300s carry a staggering 438 seats, hence the need to carry demand to NRT! They’re not great (I flew one a couple of days ago, which I won’t be reviewing, as it’s similar to this post) – HND rarely ever has award space, but CX548/9 are a safe bet for the 777-300ER, as they sell first class.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *