Cathay Pacific Hong Kong To Sydney Business Class Review

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The Airline: Cathay Pacific Airways

The Flight: CX101 Hong Kong to Sydney (2355 departure; 1215 +1 arrival)

The Equipment: Airbus A330-300

The Cabin: Business Class, seat 16G

Time & Date: October, 2014


The super-busy and popular route between Sydney and Hong Kong came under the spotlight again last year, with the rollout of Cathay Pacific's new Premium Economy and Business Class Service. The 2014 Skytrax Airline of the Year offers 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, with the new Premium Economy and Business Class featuring on all flights which currently use A330 aircraft. Since February, however, Cathay has replaced one Airbus 330-300 with a Boeing 777-300ER on CX138/CX139 between Sydney and Hong Kong daily. There are many highlights of the new and improved Business Class service in particular, which includes a new flat-bed seat - one of the longest and widest in the industry - which had intensive design input from Cathay's Marco Polo Club members to refine comfort and versatility, while allowing it to remain functional for eating, working and relaxing. 

Check In:

On this occasion I was a transit passenger, as I was connecting straight through to Sydney after my flight from London, and had received my boarding pass for the last leg at Heathrow. As my layover was around five hours, I made use of the Cathay lounge closest to my departure gate, which was The Bridge, allowing me to shower and change, eat and relax until it was time to fly again. The baggage allowance for Business Class is 30 kgs a person, which is more than generous enough for a two-week trip to the UK and Ireland.

The Service:

It was my fourth time boarding a Cathay A330 on this trip, and as ever I was greeted with friendly smiles with nothing was too much trouble. I was escorted to my seat in the forward section of the Business Class Cabin, and immediately offered refreshments. Before takeoff, the crew came around with newspapers, Agnes B amenity kits, and the senior flight attendant introduced herself personally to each guest in the cabin. Throughout the flight, the crew were attentive and responded to requests quickly, and in between sleeping I noticed they regularly patrolled the aisles to keep a close eye on everyone.

The Food:

As my flight from Hong Kong was a red-eye, we were served supper soon after takeoff, with breakfast ahead of our arrival into Sydney. Supper began with savoury dips of roasted red pepper and hummus, followed by a choice of three mains including a braised chicken with flower mushroom, jasmine rice and kailan, seafood skewers with smoked barbecue butter and parsley cous cous and a mesclun salad with roast lamb loin, asparagus, feta cheese and cherry tomatoes. As I'd eaten something earlier in The Bridge, I opted for the lamb salad; it was light, and the meat cooked to perfection at medium. Although I passed, there was the option to tuck into a plate of chess or enjoy fresh berries with rose syrup.

The wine list was much the same as I'd experienced on my previous flights in the two weeks prior, with a decent selection on offer including Champagne Deutz Brut Classic, moving on to a 2012 Innocent Bystander Yarra Valley Chardonnay, from Victoria, and red options including a Cheval Noir Saint-Émilion 2011. Besides wine there was the usual complement of port, cocktails, whiskies and beers. Breakfast was a dilemma. Besides juices, a berry smoothie, fresh fruit and Bircher museli, options to whet the appetite included poached eggs, dim sum with chilli sauce and a dried scallop and pomfret congee; dim sum won the day.

The Seat & Entertainment:

The A330-300s currently working the 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. The seats are upholstered in a greenish-grey herringbone cloth and are very generous size wise, stretching to over 205 cm in length when reclined fully flat, and with just under 60 cm in width.

The flat bed seat is controlled and adjusted easily by the touch of a button, moving from upright, through to the relaxed position, and gliding easily into fully flat for sleeping - ideal for a red-eye flight. 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 your "bed" is equipped with a heavy duvet and a pillow to really make you feel at home. Another key part of the design is increased personal storage space around your seat, with a side cabinet between you and your neighbour containing your comfortable noise-cancelling headset, and extra room for small items such as glasses and gadgets.  

If you want to work, or recharge gadgets including laptop, tablet or reader, 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. If you can't sleep and prefer to watch TV or a movie, 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, so there is plenty to choose from including some new release movies and hot new TV series. With a fully lie-fat bed, however, I opted to power myself down and sleep.

The Verdict:

Cathay Pacific has upped the ante with the launch of this new Business Class service, with major benefits for travellers including the generously sized and comfortable flat-bed seats, the state-of-the-art connectivity, and top quality cuisine. The cabin configuration is also a plus, whether you're travelling on your own or with someone else - it just suits everyone. From pre-flight to after disembarking, and every hour in between, you're well cared for, comfortable, and well fed, and who can ask for anything more?

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, and from December 2014 there will also be four flights a week to Manchester.

Cathay Pacific flies Airbus 330-300 aircraft on most flights to and from Australia. It will replace one Airbus 330-300 with a Boeing 777-300ER on CX138/CX139 between Sydney and Hong Kong three times a week from December and daily from February 2015. From December, the 777-300ER will operate CX138/139 on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday with the A330 operating on the other days until the aircraft takes over daily service in February 2015. Cathay Pacific operates four times daily between Sydney and Hong Kong and will continue to utilise A330-300 flights on the other three daily flights. For more information, visit

Joanna Hall