Cathay Pacific A340-300 Business class04/10/2012
FIRST IMPRESSIONS I arrived at Heathrow’s Terminal 5 on a domestic British Airways flight and took the shuttle bus to T3. I had already checked in online, which you can do 48 hours before a flight via Cathay Pacific’s website. BA couldn’t issue me with a boarding pass, although all my bags were checked through to Hong Kong, so I made my way to the Cathay Pacific transfer desk at T3, where I was given my boarding pass, lounge invite and a very welcome and unexpected upgrade to Business Class.
LOUNGE The Cathay Pacific lounge at T3 is well signposted and I headed up in the lift. The lounge has a First class area on the right and Business class one to the left. There are half a dozen workstations, clean toilets and also shower facilities. Drink options are fine, but the food is less varied. There are well placed departure monitors and announcements are made for departing flights.
BOARDING Pre-boarding announcements were made and I started to make my way to the gate about 30 minutes before departure. Cathay has priority boarding for First class, Business class and Marco Polo and Oneworld alliance frequent travellers, depending on status. On board I was offered a choice of water, fruit juice or champagne. I settled down with a glass of bubbly.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? On this aircraft, 18A is a window seat in the middle of the Business class cabin. This particular configuration doesn’t have a First class cabin. The toilets and galleys are at either end of the cabin so the middle rows may offer less noise during the night. All seats have direct aisle access, again this is a huge benefit for an overnight flight.
To see the seatplan, click here.
FOOD AND DRINK There was a drinks service about 45 minutes into the flight and dinner followed soon after. Main courses were a choice of braised beef brisket, or three-cup chicken with rice, pan-fried cod or an Indian paneer curry. There was a cheese or fruit option for afterward, and tea and coffee. I managed to go to sleep straight after dinner and wake up just as the breakfast service was to start. There was a choice of fruit juice or smoothies, yoghurts and cereals. The main courses were a mixed omelette with bacon and sausage, crepes with Cumberland sausage or Chinese congee with fish cake. There were also snacks and noodles for anyone peckish during the night.
Drink options were exactly the same as my outbound trip. Champagne was a Billecart-Salmon Brut and the whites were a Trinity Hill Sauvignon Blanc from Hawkes Bay in New Zealand and a French white from Burgundy. Reds were a choice of a Medoc or a Peter Lehmann Shiraz from the Barossa Valley. There’s also the option of a vintage Port and various whiskies, cognacs, liqueurs and beers – not forgetting the CX signature cocktails and mocktails.
ARRIVAL Strong tailwinds meant we landed almost 50 minutes ahead of schedule. Our gate was quite a distance from the immigration and luggage carousels and it took about 15 minutes to get to the baggage area. My bags made it safely and I headed out to take the Airport Express train to Central Hong Kong.
VERDICT Very smooth flight, despite awful weather conditions. Great onboard service. The unexpected upgrade more than made up for the small fortune I had paid for my economy class ticket.
PRICING In January, Cathay Pacific business class returns were available online for £3,528.20