I’ve had the pleasure of flying Cathay Pacific in the past and to be honest, I knew what to expect when I found out I would be flying their Business Class service on a flight from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. As I expected, everything was flawless. Even in Business Class, Cathay Pacific really delivers a luxury experience that makes it like spending the evening at a fancy restaurant and hotel, then waking up in Hong Kong.
There are a lot of options for international business class travel to Asia and for me, Cathay Pacific offers the best combination of convenience, luxury and value. I also like their level of professionalism and the attitude of everyone from ground staff to flight attendants about delivering a great travel experience, whether a passenger is flying in seat 1A or seat 67K.
Before the flight
When flying Business Class, there is no waiting in line, no hassling in the airport. I knew as soon as I got to LAX, I could relax and begin enjoying the journey. And to me, that’s the fun part about flying Business Class (or First Class!) on Cathay Pacific, it makes the journey itself a fun experience. I don’t dread a 13 hour flight to Hong Kong, I look forward to fun travel experience with attentive personnel, gourmet food and wine and a comfortable, flat bed.
I arrived at LAX and made my way through the International Terminal to the Cathay Pacific section. There was no wait to check in at the dedicated Business Class counters. Baggage allowances in Business Class are greater than Economy, passengers are allowed to check-in up to two bags each, each bag weighing up to 70 pounds.
After check-in, I make my way through security, where I was directed to a shorter line for Business Class travelers. I then make my way to the OneWorld lounge, to await my flight with free food & drinks, wine and WiFi. The lounge at LAX is large, modern and comfortable and I always have fun there as whenever I’m at a lounge at LAX, it’s the beginning of another adventure. A frequent traveler tip, the people at the lounge desk can help with flight connections and information and in some cases, can change tickets or flights.
In the air
The first thing I appreciate is the attentive, professional service from the flight attendants and crew. They are all serious about making sure I have a great flight. By hiring the right people and having a very good training system and corporate culture, Cathay Pacific passengers get on-time flights and a quality experience. I really find a difference compared to taking an international flight on a domestic US carrier.
The Business Class seats on the 777 I flew were large, state-of-the-art, comfortable places to spend time and they converted into a flat bed. A real flat bed, that goes horizontal to the floor, not something that goes flat then rests at an uncomfortable angle. And the whole seat, headrest and footrest becomes a flat bed; add the blanket and pillow and its a nice, peaceful place to spend the night. Positioned as a seat, there was a lot of leg room and a lot of space between my seat the seat in front.
Entertainment is virtually endless, one of the benefits of flying in the digital age. Noise-cancelling headphones are provided and a 15.4″ flat-screen offers over 100 movies, 500 TV shows plus music, radio and games. I spent a lot of time watching episodes of “The Big Bang Theory” and dominating the computer at Solitaire, Poker and Blackjack. There’s even a USB charging port and an Apple connector so you can watch content from a iPhone / iPod / iPad on the large screen.
Food and wine are as delicious as you would find at any fine restaurant. I started with a Mesclun salad with Parma ham and balsamic dressing. The ham was unbelievably good and I asked for (and kindly received) a second salad. For my main course I went with the USDA grilled beef tenderloin with a demi glace, roasted potatoes, baby carrots and asparagus. The beef was tender and perfectly cooked. The other entree option was chicken with jasmine rice. Dessert included cheese and seasonal fruit with an Asian cheesecake with vanilla sauce. Wine selections were equally impressive, I went with the Deutz Brut Classic champagne and paired the 2010 Chateau Hanteillan Haut Medoc Cru Bourgeois with my filet.
Another lighter meal is offered to those who want it later in the flight, which was equally as good as the main dinner. Corn chowder with bacon (also amazing) and a smoked duck salad. Breakfast, served an hour or two before landing, was a mix of Western and Asian specialties. I had the bacon, egg and brie souffle with chicken herb sausage, while others enjoyed the Asian dim sum noodle or prawn congee options. I love hot chocolate and they made a pot of it for me.
Arriving in Hong Kong
The wonderful service and luxury experience doesn’t stop when the flight lands. Most LAX to Hong Kong flights leave Los Angeles at 1 A.M. and arrive a day later around 7 A.M. in Hong Kong. It’s a bit weird as you lose a day. So for example, you might leave Los Angeles late Monday night after midnight and arrive in Hong Kong early Wednesday morning, missing Tuesday completely.
Cathay Pacific offers their welcoming “The Arrival” lounge at HKG and its another part of the experience I look forward to. Minutes after stepping off the plane, I know I will find myself inside a luxury shower room at the lounge. It’s very refreshing and then I go into the lounge and have some breakfast from the buffet. There are also computers to check email, TVs and WiFi, of course.
In addition to the luxury experience, many travelers choose the Business Class experience for the convenience and time it saves. The flights to Hong Kong are usually full and it’s very convenient to be able to pre-board. Business Class passengers are able to leave the plane immediately after First Class passengers, so it’s easier to make connections and faster to collect baggage and go through immigration.
The Business Class seats are large with lots of room for storage, both overhead and all around you, no fighting for bin space. The baggage allowances are great, another convenience. Check-in is also fast and hassle-free, you don’t have to allow hours to wait in line just to check-in and to board the flight. For returning flights back to the US, check-in even more convenient as it’s possible to check it at the MTR Airport Express station before leaving Hong Kong. The train is a fast and convenient way to get from the city to the airport in 24 minutes and I always use it.
For travel in June, 2013, from Los Angeles to Hong Kong, Business Class fare is $4,861.96. Price is for a round-trip ticket, including all taxes and charges, as shown on the Cathay Pacific website. The airline does offer sales on Business Class as well as Asia Miles upgrade promotions from time to time.
Freddy Sherman is a world traveler and editor of the travel blog travel4people.com. In the past six months, he has visited Turkey, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia and Canada and just returned from Peru. You can follow him on Twitter @thefredsherman
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Hotel Review: Island Shangri-La Hong Kong