Good Advice Tried and Tested

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER first class

25/02/2013

CHECK-IN Cathay offers online check-in 48 hours before departure with this flight, so I had checked in on the Friday before my Sunday flight. I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 3 at 1900 for the 2040 departure on CX256 to Hong Kong. Both bag drop and security were very quick.

THE LOUNGE Cathay’s business and first class lounges at Heathrow – by Zone C on the first floor – resemble those at Hong Kong International. The first class one had a range of seating areas, a work zone, free wifi, and a good choice of food, including noodles to order. It was not busy, even as passengers for the flight after mine began to enter. 

BOARDING The flight was called at 1950 and I walked to Gate 21, surely one of the most distant gates in T3. There was a line for business and first class and I entered the aircraft via a separate door.

THE SEAT Cathay has both B777-300ER and B747-400 aircraft on the route. This was a B777-300ER with two rows of first class configured A-D-K. For a small cabin it is spacious, and each seat has ample room – enough for someone to dine with you at the large table that comes out of the armrest. The seat is almost double width, and the ottoman in front so far away that you can’t rest your feet on it without reclining – the seat meets it to become a fully-flat bed.

There are no overhead lockers but there is room for a bag under the ottoman, and space for another in the wardrobe area – although if you put a roll-on bag in here it would be quite cramped when hanging a suit. There is a UK (and US) plug socket, and the table allowed me to spread out my papers and work on my laptop. The Studio CX in-flight entertainment system is among the best in the world, with about 100 movies, 500 TV shows, 900 albums, and ten language options. First class has 17-inch screens.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? If you are with someone, choose pairs D and K – they are separated by an aisle but D opens out into it, whereas there is a wall between D and A. Row A is best for solo travellers. I noticed that while this aisle only had two seats on it, there seemed to be more crew walking up and down from business class behind (it may just have been on just this flight). There was a slight glare from the galley in 1A (my seat), so pick 2A.

THE FLIGHT Shortly after take-off I was given an amenity kit with Acca Kappa products and a lovely Shanghai Tang pyjama kit with slippers and an eye mask. I was working when the meal was going to be served but was given the option of eating later. The menu included a starter of Caviar and Balik salmon “Tsar Nikolaj”, and international and Chinese options. The former were roasted parsnip and apple soup, mixed salad with confit of duck, pan-fried Anglesey sea bass with white wine clervil sauce, herb-crusted lamb loin with sweet red onion jus, and spinach and ricotta mezzelune. The latter were chicken and mushroom soup, Shanghai-style sweetened cod, and braised chicken with abalone oyster mushroom sauce. 

The excellent wine list included Krug Grande Cuvée, Vincent Girardin Puligny-Montrachet Vieilles Vignes 2008, and Castello di Gabbiano Alleanza IGT Toscana 2008. There was also an 1855 Bordeaux Classification wine promotion detailed in a fascinating booklet – six Classified Growths are included, with this flight having Lynch Bages 2004.

The staff were superb. When it was time to sleep, an attendant made up my bed swiftly. I slept for seven hours and breakfast started shortly after I woke.

ARRIVAL We landed on time and it was a short walk to immigration, where there was no queue. My bag emerged after a short wait.

VERDICT This really is a fabulous product that is a step up from Cathay’s impressive business class.

FACT FILE

  • PLANE TYPE B777-300ER 
  • CONFIGURATION 1-1-1
  • SEAT WIDTH 36in/91cm
  • SEAT LENGTH 81in/206cm
  • SEAT RECLINE 180 degrees 
  • PRICE Internet rates for a return first class flight from London to Hong Kong in April ranged between £5,712 and £10,316 depending on flexibility.
  • CONTACT cathaypacific.com

Tom Otley