Cathay Pacific Business Class Review, Sydney-Hong Kong

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The Airline: Cathay Pacific Airways

The Flight: CX110 Sydney to Hong Kong  (0740 departure; 11.45 arrival)

The Equipment: Airbus A330-300

The Cabin: Business Class, seats 18D & G


On the super-busy route between Sydney and Hong, the ante has recently been upped by Cathay Pacific with the rollout of a new Premium Economy and Business Class Service. The airline has no less than four daily flights between the two key hubs, 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. Highlights of this improved Business Class service includes a new flat-bed seat (available on all flights ex-Australia), which is one of the longest and widest in the industry, and 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. 

Check In:

As Marco Polo members we were able to pre-assign our seats, and complete online check-in up to 48 hours before the departure. At the airport, the process of bag drop at Sydney Kingsford Smith was quick with no problems with friendly, polite and efficient service. The baggage allowance for Business Class flights is 30 kgs a person, which was more than enough for eight nights in Hong Kong. The Business Class ticket also allows access to the Qantas Business Class Lounge in Sydney as it's part of the One World group. This is ideal to fill in the time before our early morning flight, a large and spacious lounge offering hot and cold food, freshly made specialty coffees, newspapers and magazines. It's located airside on level 3 and was near our departure gate, accessed by escalators.

The Service:

From the moment we boarded the A330, we were greeted with friendly smiles and nothing was too much trouble - even that early in the morning! We were shown to our seats (which were in the middle of cabin, towards the back of the first section of Business), had jackets taken away to be hung up, and were offered refreshments. Then the crew came around with newspapers, amenity kits from the French label Agnes B, and the senior flight attendant, who was Japanese, introduced herself personally to each guest. Throughout the flight, the crew were subtly attentive. There was no wait for any request, and when most of the passengers had reclined their seats to sleep, they patrolled regularly to top up water and check that everyone was comfortable with everything they needed.

The Food:

As our flight from Sydney departed so early, the first meal service was breakfast, followed by lunch a couple of hours ahead of our arrival into Hong Kong. Breakfast began with a choice of orange juice, apple juice, or a mixed berry soy milk smoothie, with fresh fruits, yoghurt and assorted cereals. There were an impressive 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. Lunch came with two starters, a pork terrine with mango chutney, and a mixed salad. There was a choice of four mains including lamb cutlets, Chermoula coated snapper, and a vegetarian kidney bean masala. I opted for the Asian dish, black bean chicken with steamed rice, pak choy, mushrooms and carrots, which was delicious. A selection of cheeses, including Jindi Blue and Tasmanian Heritage Brie, fresh fruit and apple tart rounded things off nicely.

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. Thumbs up.

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, with seats on the windows facing towards the window slightly away from the aisle, and those in the middle ideal for couples or friends/work colleagues travelling together as they face slightly towards each other, also away from the aisle. The seats are finished in a slick greenish-grey herringbone cloth design, and are very generous in size, stretching to over 205 cm (81") in length when reclined fully flat. The width is also generous by industry standards at just under 60 cm (23.5").

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. Another key part of the design is increased personal storage space. There's a side cabinet feature that is home to your comfortable noise-cancelling headset and a vanity mirror, with the bonus of extra room for small items such as glasses and gadgets. The cabinet door also doubles up as a privacy divider if you're travelling on your own. 

If you are crazy enough to want 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, as I did, another touch a 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. Let's just say I wasn't bored.

The Verdict:

Cathay Pacific has taken on its competition forcefully with this new Business Class service, from the generously sized and comfortable flat bed seats, to the state-of-the-art connectivity and fine cuisine. The seat configuration is also a major bonus, whether you're travelling on your own or with someone. From before your flight, to during and after, you're well looked after, comfortable, and well fed, which means you will arrive well rested. In my book that makes a long haul flight in Business good value for money.

Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific Airways is the 2014 Skytrax Airline of the Year and offers flights to over 190 destinations in 42 countries and territories. From Australia the airline has over 70 flights a week to Hong Kong from six major Australian cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Cairns and Perth - with a choice of flying in economy, premium economy or business class.

There are four flights daily from Sydney, three flights a day from Melbourne, daily flights from Brisbane, four flights a week from Cairns and Adelaide, and ten flights from Perth. All flights provide connections over the Hong Kong hub to the airline’s worldwide network, including eight European destinations (from March 2015 Zurich will be added, taking the number to nine). From Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific offers 5 daily flights to London, offering a choice of flying in economy, premium economy, business class or first class.

For more information on Cathay Pacific, visit

Joanna Hall