Cathay Pacific Business Class Review, Sydney to Hong Kong

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The Airline: Cathay Pacific Airways

The Flight: CX162 Sydney to Hong Kong  (1100 departure; 1750 arrival)

The Equipment: Airbus A330-300

The Cabin: Business Class, seat 14D

Time & Date: 2014


Cathay Pacific upped the ante on the super-busy route between Sydney and Hong last year, with the rollout of a new Premium Economy and Business Class Service. The 2014 Skytrax Airline of the Year has four flights daily from Sydney, three flights daily from Melbourne, daily flights from Brisbane, four flights a week from Cairns and Adelaide, and 10 flights from Perth. Premium Economy and Business Class feature on all flights, which currently use A330 aircraft, however it has replaced one Airbus 330-300 with a Boeing 777-300ER on CX138/CX139 between Sydney and Hong Kong three times a week. This will be daily from February 2015. Some of the highlights of this new and improved Business Class service includes a new flat-bed seat, 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 and versatility, while allowing it to also be highly functional for eating, working and relaxing. 

Check In:

As a Marco Polo member, check-in was a courteous and speedy affair at the airport. The baggage allowance for Business Class is 30 kgs a person, which is generous for a two-week trip to the UK and Ireland with a lot of moving around. The Business Class ticket also allows access to the Qantas Business Class Lounge at Sydney's Kingsford Smith Airport, being a key member of the OneWorld group. This is ideal to fill in the time before my mid-morning flight, as it's a large and spacious lounge offering hot and cold food, freshly made specialty coffees, newspapers and magazines, and located airside on Level 3 near the departure gate.

The Service:

On boarding the A330, I was greeted with friendly smiles from everyone, and nothing was too much trouble. I was shown to my seat, which was in the forward section of the Business Class Cabin, and soon after I was offered refreshments. Then, before takeoff, the crew came around with newspapers, nice amenity kits from the French label Agnes B, and the senior flight attendant introduced herself personally to each guest. Throughout the flight, the crew were attentive, responding to requests quickly, and patrolling the aisles regularly when most people were getting some rest.

The Food:

As my flight from Sydney was mid-morning, the first and main meal service was lunch, followed by a light afternoon meal a couple of hours ahead of our arrival into Hong Kong. Lunch began with a starter of marinated prawns with herb and citrus fennel salad, and a mixed salad with Balsamic vinaigrette. There wasn't a choice, but I heard someone say they preferred something else, and they were brought a different dish from the Premium Economy cabin. For the main course, there was an impressive four choices with one for vegetarians, including a seafood stir-fry, pan-fried lamb chops, a herb roasted chicken breast and mushroom ravioli. Having had breakfast in the Qantas Lounge, I opted for the vegetarian pasta dish, which was cooked to perfection, and had a nibble on the baked cheese cake for dessert. Before arrival the offerings included fresh fruit, a choice of a prawn wanton noodle soup, a smoked ham and cheese quiche, and a Singapore style turnip cake, with a Maggie Beer ice cream to wash it all down.

The wine list had a decent selection on offer with Champagne Deutz Brut Classic to start with, and moving on to a 2012 Innocent Bystander Yarra Valley Chardonnay, from Victoria. Options in reds included a Cheval Noir Saint-Émilion 2011, and some wines from Spain were also a feature. Besides wine there was the usual complement of port, cocktails, whiskies and beers. A good selection.

The Seat & Entertainment:

The A330-300s currently being used on Australia routes 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, while those in the middle face slightly towards each other, and away from the aisle, although you don't have to have any interaction with your neighbour unless desired. The seats are finished in a slick greenish-grey herringbone cloth design, and are very generous in size, stretching to over 205 cm in length when reclined fully flat, and very generous in width also at just under 60 cm.

The flat bed seat is controlled and adjusted by the touch of a button, from upright, through to the relaxed position, and gliding easily into fully flat for sleeping. The seat’s foam has been ergonomically designed to optimise comfort in the sitting position and also to allow for a more deepened sleep, and on hand at your seat when you board is a heavy duvet and a pillow to really make you feel at home. Another key part of the design is increased personal storage space. There's a side cabinet between you and your neighbour where you'll find your comfortable noise-cancelling headset, with the bonus of extra room for small items such as glasses and gadgets.  

If you want to work, or recharge/power up any gadgets such as a tablet or reader, the seat is also 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. However, if you prefer to pass the nine-odd hours to Hong Kong watching TV or a movie, which is my preference, another touch a button opens a large 38 cm  screen, complete with audio and video on demand. Cathay's StudioCX has a rotating library of 100 movies, 500 TV shows, 888 music CDs, 22 radio channels, and 70 games. There was plenty to choose from including some new release movies and hot new TV series, allowing you to catch up with the latest hits you haven't yet had time to check out at home.

The Verdict:

Cathay Pacific threw down the gauntlet to its competition with the launch of this new Business Class service, with perks including the generously sized and comfortable flat bed seats, the the state-of-the-art connectivity, and some pretty fine cuisine. The cabin configuration is also a major bonus, whether you're travelling on your own or with someone - it suits everyone. From pre-flight, to during and after disembarking, you're well cared for, comfortable, and well fed, which means you will arrive well rested.

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.

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Joanna Hall