Cathay Pacific Business Class, Hong Kong-Sydney

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The Airline: Cathay Pacific

The Flight: CX101 Sydney to Hong Kong (2355 departure; 1105 arrival)

The Equipment: Airbus A330-300

The Cabin: Business Class, seats 17D & G

Ask any regular business class traveller which airline delivers the best service on a consistent basis and most will nominate Cathay Pacific business class as the leader of the pack. They’ve been winning awards for decades and their latest was the “Best Airline Business Class” honour at the 2013 Business Traveller China Awards. Cathay has rolled out its new business class service on its fleet between Hong Kong and Australia along with a new premium economy. Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the new business class is the fully flat bed seats on the A330 aircraft, which are among the longest and widest in the industry, but there’s a range of other improvements which make this one of the most pleasant and enjoyable experiences in the air. The new business class has been subject to intensive design input from Cathay's Marco Polo Club members to refine comfort, versatility, and make it highly functional for eating, working or relaxing. There’s also news that Cathay Pacific is currently fitting its short-haul aircraft with a new Regional Business Class seat, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

Check In:

Cathay Pacific runs a “SuperHub” at their check-in counters in Areas A & B at Hong Kong Airport on level 7 and there are separate check in areas for first, business class, premium economy and economy. There are self check-in kiosks as well, and as Marco Polo members we were able to pre-assign our seats, and complete online check-in up to 48 hours before the departure. With just a bag drop only, we were able to move through check-in and immigration quickly and were able to use the Cathay Pacific business class lounge on level 6.

The Service:

Service levels have become one of the major criticisms of business class travel in recent years, and it appears Cathay Pacific has, at the very least, maintained theirs. Jackets hung up, newspapers and drinks delivered upon seating, amenities kits distributed. Throughout the flight, the cabin crew were attentive and there was always one of them on hand to deal with any requests.

The Food:

As our flight from Hong Kong departed just before midnight, we were offered a dinner service with an inspiring menu including Chermoula coated snapper. The wine list was also impressive, with Champagne Deutz Brut Classic essential to start with, and moving on to a Scotchmans Hill Swan Bay Bellarine Peninsula 2011 Chardonnay, from Victoria. Options in reds included a Murray Street White Label Barossa Shiraz from 2008. On our flight, however, wines from Spain were also a feature, with three additional red varieties including a Biagorri Reserva 2006, DOCa Rioja. Besides wine there was the usual complement of port, cocktails, whiskies and beers. Breakfast was also impressive with a choice of orange juice, apple juice, or a mixed berry soy milk smoothie, with fresh fruits, yoghurt and assorted cereals. There was also three choices of hot mains, including poached egg with Hollandaise sauce, bacon, potatoes, spinach and tomato, which was delicious and the egg perfectly cooked, or pancakes with maple syrup and fruit. The third choice was an Asian favourite, congee with snapper and scallops.

The Seat & Entertainment:

The A330-300s servicing Australia are configured with 39 seats in Business Class, 28 in Premium Economy, and 175 in Economy. The Business Class cabin is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration in a “herringbone” layout which means every guest has easy and direct access to the aisle so you don’t have to climb over anyone else, or have someone climb out over you. And if you’re travelling with another person, the two seats in the middle are configured so you can lower the divider and move your seat so you can be together, and then arrange your seat for privacy and quiet when you want to go to sleep. The seats are finished in a slick greenish-grey cloth design, and are very generous in size, stretching to over 205 cm (82") in length when reclined fully flat. The width is also generous by industry standards at just under 60 cm (23.5"). There’s also plenty of storage space for all your travel gadgets and books including a small closet for your shoes, a shelf to one side of the seat and a deep side pocket for your laptop and other bits and pieces.

This new flat bed seat is controlled and adjusted by the touch of a button; from upright, through the relax position and into fully flat for sleeping. The seat’s foams have been ergonomically designed to optimise comfort in the sitting position and also to allow deep sleep. Also part of the new service, and on hand at your seat, are cozy duvets, blankets, pillows and cushions to really make you feel at home.

If you really need to work, the seat is equipped with a universal power supply outlet, and a multi-port connector which includes an RCA port, an iPhone/iPod connector and a USB port. The RCA and the iPhone/iPod connector allow passengers to connect their own devices, and the USB port can be used to charge devices such as mobile phones and BlackBerry devices - very handy. If you prefer to wile away the hours watching TV, another touch button opens a large 38 cm (15") screen, complete with audio and video on demand. Cathay's StudioCX has extensive rotating library of 100 movies, 500 TV shows, 888 music CDs, 22 radio channels, and 70 games.

The Verdict:

Cathay Pacific business class has always been an industry leader and with the fully flat beds and innovative layout, it makes long haul flying actually enjoyable.

For more information on Cathay Pacific, visit

The airline has four daily flights between Sydney and Hong Kong, as well as three per day from Melbourne, 11 per week from Brisbane, and 10 per week from Perth. Premium Economy and Business Class feature on all flights, which use A330 aircraft.

Business Class deal:

Cathay Pacific has a special companion fare to Hong Kong or Shanghai, now on sale for travel from 1 December 2013 to 31 January 2014. You’ll both enjoy the comfort of Cathay Pacific’s award-winning Business Class where on the A330 service from all Australian cities – in a 1-2-1 seat configuration – people travelling together can select the middle two seats to enjoy space, comfort and privacy, as well as the ability to chat face to face. Fares start from just AU$4,073 per person from Melbourne to Hong Kong and AU$4,143 from Melbourne to Shanghai when you purchase two tickets. Fares are available from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns and Perth.

Europe Deals:

It’s not too late to get fantastic Europe flights deals with Cathay Pacific’s Earlybird sale. There are no blackout periods, you can fly in to one European destination then fly out of another, add a stopover in Hong Kong on one or both ways, and add an Asian side trip from just AU$211 if booked through a travel agent. Sale fares are available for Economy, Premium Economy and Business Class flights if booked before 31 December 2013 for departures from 1 March to 30 November 2014.

Ben Hall