When they’re good, they’re good: Cathay Pacific long haul business class SIN-HKG CX690

After a sleep-deprived birthday celebration in the lion city, it was time to head back home to Honkers.

We’d checked on online but once at the airport my phone wouldn’t connect to the WiFi so that I could retrieve my electronic boarding pass. There was a huge queue for business checkin counters, which the CX ground staff said I’d have to join if I needed a boarding pass. Luckily a few minutes later, my phone finally connected to the WIFI and I got my boarding pass.

CX uses the Dnata lounge in Singapore, which certainly isn’t worth getting to the airport any earlier for. Unfortunately, the  BA and QF lounges, which my Australia-bound friends have raved about, opened well after our flight departure.

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Awkward! Luxuriating in comfort while economy passengers stream through

Fortunately, today’s flight was on time, unlike our flight to SIN a couple of days before. As we were sat in the mini business cabin, economy passengers were streaming through during boarding, which made it a little awkward. There you are, sitting in your spacious seat, sipping on your welcome drink of champagne, averting eye contact and any envious looks! You realise how many people fit an economy cabin when they are streaming past non-stop!

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Very civilised

 

Finally, there was a break in the economy passenger deluge and I could get up to use the bathroom before takeoff. While spacious and furnished with Jurlique products, the waste bins were full and someone hadn’t flushed. Eww!
Back in my seat, the deluge of economy passengers had found their seats, and the cabin was quiet and calm. Our Captain announced a flight time of 3 hours and 17 minutes, and an on time arrival. In contrast to Friday’s flight, I wouldn’t mind being stuck in a holding pattern in this seat 😉

This was my first time flying Cathay business class in the long-haul configuration and I finally was able to understand why so many people rave about this airline. There is a huge difference between the premium and cattle-class products, and even within business class it varies according to whether one is flying in a  regional or long-haul seat. Much like Finnair’s A350 business cabin, it was very comfortable (it did perhaps feel a  bit more spacious than Finnair) and one could easily while away the hours in such comfort.The seat is intelligently designed and I really like the seat controls, which make it easy to find the right position in which to luxuriate. Moreover, the crew on this flight were genuinely personable. When Cathay is good, it really is good!

However, I’m not too sure I’d like to be sat in one of the individual window seats, 21A and 21K, at the start of the mini cabin. Take a look and you might also feel it’s a bit cramped:

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Excellent levels of privacy – your fellow passengers are there, but not really

After takeoff and a brief bout of turbulence, we were welcomed by the black-clad cabin manager,and thanked for flying Cathay Pacific.The drinks service started shortly after, which unfortunately felt very slooooow, especially we we were tucked away in the back mini cabin.When they finally reached our seats, I asked for a coconut water, but there was only a trickle left. I was pleasantly surprised later when the cabin crew returned with more. In the meantime, I sipped on a lovely Pacific Sunrise, which is champagne with drambuie and orange peel.

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Drinks were also served with hot nuts

Not long after, lunch was served.


I’d ordered the Indian vegetarian meal, like last time. The crew were kind enough to check if they had any gluten free bread on board, but alas, no. The appetiser, a kind of vadai, was a bit underwhelming, but the main curries were delicious: cauliflower with fresh ginger, beans, cumin rice. Unfortunately there was no yoghurt to accompany it. The third option on the regular menu, soto ayam, smelt awful and it lingered in the cabin, yuck.

Again, the meal service was quite drawn out, but this being a day flight, it was rather pleasant. Cheese and fruit were plated from the trolley.I was completely stuffed, but then came ice cream. How could I resist? 🙂 I reclined my seat a little and ate it slowly as I watched The Middle. As the meal service wrapped up, hot towels were again offered.

My interaction with a great crew member as I was purchasing duty free again showed me just how great CX can be, when flying up the pointy end. He commented on my bag, a great find from Amsterdam, and we chatted about travelling, our favourite destinations, etc. I hadn’t experienced such spontaneity and personality from CX crew before, so it really made an impression.

We landed at 16:32 – it’s always when you’re comfortable and in no hurry that you land on time in HKG! Unfortunately Studio CX stopped upon landing – it would be great if it were fully gate-to-gate.

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Not great when Studio CX suddenly cuts out on the ground, but the arrival info is useful

Overall, this was a pleasant and surprising flight. I finally got to see why so many people praise Cathay Pacific! Of course, when you’re seated down the back of the bus, it really is an average experience. Business class fares between HKG and SIN are quite high, around HK$5000, so unless you’re travelling as part of a longer route connecting in HKG or are using miles (or, of course, if it’s on someone else’s dime!), I couldn’t justify it.

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