British Airways First Class Lounge O’Hare
Cathay Pacific First Class ORD-HKG
Hyatt Regency Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific’sThe Wing First Class Lounge HKG
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class HKG-KUL
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
Around Kuala Lumpur
Malaysia Airlines Golden Lounge KUL
Malaysia Airlines Business Class KUL-MEL
Radisson on Flagstaff Gardens Melbourne
Australia Open Day One (2nd round of tourney)
Great Ocean Road Excursion
Australian Open Day Two (4th round of tourney)
Park Hyatt Sydney
Sydney Opera House Tour
Qantas Domestic Business Lounge SYD
Qantas Domestic Business Class SYD-BNE
Qantas Business Class BNE-LAX
Cathay Pacific (CX) First Class ORD-HKG
This would be our 2nd time flying Cathay Pacific in first class but the level of excitement was still sky high. We flew them originally in June of 2013 on our trip to Bali so we knew what to expect and we were looking forward to it! You earn miles for moments like these, period!
When it was time to board First Class passengers, several passengers started to board and there are only six seats. So either they also called for One World Emerald passengers to board as well or some people were just trying to board early. I got bumped on my right arm as a man rushed ahead of me to board only to get told, “we are boarding First Class passengers only at this time.” Which I admit gave me a little smile since he decided to bump into me without apologizing or looking back at all. JERK.
Anyhow once onboard we knew where to go and where greeted by the Purser and directed to our seats. I was able to secure seats 1A and 2A by calling Cathay Pacific’s US customer service line two days ahead of the flight. I tried to call them exactly six months prior to our flight but they would not assign seat 2A ahead of time due to that being a “bassinet seat” allowing for babies/infants. When I checked CX’s website and “managed my booking” I noticed that seats were assigned and they were 2A surprisingly and 2D. I didnt’ want 2D as we would be separated by a “wall” in the cabin. So when I called two days prior to the flight they were indeed able to switch my wife to 1A. In my opinion this is the most ideal set up for a couple traveling together as you are more secluded and each have window access. Luckily there ended up only being four passengers in first class for our flight leaving the middle D row seats empty, giving all four passengers the windows and allowing for the most privacy.
My suite on Cathay Pacific, 2A
We put our carryons in front of us, under the foot rest where there is plenty of space to store a large carryon. Not long after sitting down we were asked what type of beverage we would care for. I asked for a glass of Krug Champagne and my wife went with one of their signature drinks named the “Oriental Breeze” but did have a tiny sip of my Krug.
I also noticed the cabin was indeed refreshed in the past year compared to our last flight with Cathay. The cabin layout looks identical but cosmetically they simply refreshed some of the surface materials. The wood and the seat materials are immaculate and do look brand new and very stylish. I must say the Cathay First Class cabin is just stellar and a quite splendid way to travel! I proceeded to take several photos of the cabin before actually sitting down and enjoying the flight.
While enjoying our drinks and waiting for all the other passengers to board we were also provided our complimentary travel kits which consisted of lovely Aesop products and complimentary PYE branded pajama’s. Aesop products are very well regarded and is a Melbourne founded company offering high quality skin, body and hair care products. The kit consisted of a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, mouthwash, earplugs, a cloth to clean your glasses or laptop screen, reshape seed lip cream, rind concentrate hand and body balm and camellia nut facial hydrating cream. In regards to the pajama’s my wife found that she preferred them to Cathay Pacific’s old pajama’s provided by Shanghai Tang. The PYE pajamas were indeed stylish while being super comfortable. PYE is a renowned shirtmaker with two stores in Hong Kong and several others around China. I must admit I think the look of these pajama’s with the top button buttoned is top notch. I asked for an XL (however the size sticker on the pajama’s bag says “L”) and my wife grabbed a size medium. I thought it might be a cool idea for the woman’s version of the PYE pajamas to be a different color or accented with perhaps a more feminine color but my wife did enjoy them and they will be a keeper in both of our closets. By the way there is a coupon on the bag containing the sleep suit in which entitles you to a “free gift” at any PYE store location good through the end of 2016.
After putting all my goodies away I enjoyed the amuse bouche which was somewhat of an avocado ceviche or avocado with tuna or salmon. The dish was bursting with flavor! The Krug champagne was excellent as usual but is it strange or unusual that I prefer the cheaper Veuve Cliquot Brut Yellow Label (which is much more commonly available and served in the Cathay Pacific lounges in Hong Kong)?
Before take off we changed into our pajama’s to get totally comfortable. The bathroom is perfectly adequate, but when comparing it to the bathroom on our Thai Airways Airbus A380 flight we took in Aug of 2014, this bathroom is tiny! I wish there was more space to properly put your clothes when changing into the pajamas. Neither one of us like changing clothes standing directly in front of the toilet! The First Class cabin has two bathrooms and the other is even smaller! The bathrooms are for First Class passengers and I noticed the flight crew using the bathrooms as well which makes sense and is perfectly fine.
We had a very smooth takeoff and climb out to cruising altitude. The captain came on and told us of our routing which was over the north pole which I found interesting considering the typical routing is up over the southern edge of Alaska and back down. I believe this routing added a little time to our trip compared to our first flight from ORD-HKG. Next, Bose noise cancelling headphones were handed out along with menu’s for our lunch and dinner service’s.
My wife and I decided shortly after placing our orders to have our lunch together in her suite so she let the flight attendant know we wanted to dine together and they added the tray extender to make the table larger then proceeded to set the table. I quickly sat down across from my wife in the companion seat before they had the table all set up. This is a lovely perk of flying Cathay Pacific First Class, to dine with your companion at 37,000 feet is a special experience most certainly.
Our meal service started with a tin of caviar. My wife is not a big fan of caviar so she tried a spoonful or two with the pancake/blintz to help mask the flavor and gave the rest of her tin to me. I noticed that on this flight they have indeed added a “mother of pearl” spoon for the caviar which is the proper way to eat it. A metal utensil can altar the flavor of caviar. The spoon, while appeared to be mother of pearl, felt more like plastic. Sadly, several months ago Cathay stopped serving Balik salmon with a compliment to the caviar. I did enjoy the salmon on our first CX flight in 2013 so it was missed by me on this flight.
I went with the salad with lobster and my wife went with the white asparagus soup. Both were good. My wife stayed with water and the Oriental Breeze for her beverages and I stayed with the Krug Champagne and water throughout. Service was professional, polished and attentive. Not overly friendly or I felt not much personality showed through from the flight crew but they did a great job overall and I could find nothing to really complain about. I mentioned to one of the flight attendants that I enjoyed the amuse bouche earlier in the flight and she mentioned that they sometimes get to try/sample the food and the flight before she had the amuse bouche (a dish containing mango) and she thought it was great and recommended it if I see it on my next flight. I also asked if they were a Hong Kong based flight crew and the flight attendant responded with a simple “yes”.
My wife enjoyed her tenderloin and she fed me a piece and for an airplane dish I thought it was outstandingly flavorful and tender!
I had the crab stir fry main which was OK/good but nothing memorable nor extraordinary. Presentation and plating was good and all the food looked amazing.
For dessert my wife went forward with the cheese plate which I skipped but instead opted for the pistachio cake with ice cream and raspberry sauce which was very tasty. The meal was capped off with assorted chocolate pralines and coffee or tea.
Naturally after a large meal you get tired and we had the flight attendants convert our suite into bed mode. There is a button to push that converts the seat to a fully flat bed. The attendant then added a substantial mattress pad for comfort and additional cushioning. By the time they are all done setting it up the bed looks very inviting! I laid in bed watching a few movies before dozing off lightly for just a 2-3 hours at best (not a good plane sleeper). My wife fared better than me and got 4-5 hours of solid sleep as the bed is cozy, soft and wide (for an airplane).
About 1.5 hours before landing the flight attendants took our dinner orders. The tables were set again and first up was a bowl of assorted fresh fruit and bread bowl. I had the grilled cod which was light and buttery, just how I like my fish! My wife had the pasta (not pictured) which she found to be satisfying. I ended up with water and changing to Hong Kong style milk tea which is a favorite of my wife and I. The Hong Kong style milk tea complimented the strawberry vanilla cream cake we had for dessert which was perfect.
Fresh, seasonal fruit to start dinner service
Before starting our descent into Hong Kong we filled out our immigration forms since we were staying over night in Hong Kong and we changed out of our pajama’s and into our street clothes. The flight attendants tidied up our suites by removing our sheets and mattress pads and we were all set.
We have flown international first class on American Airlines, Cathay Pacific (x2), Thai Airways, and United Airlines and Cathay Pacific is hands down the best of our limited sample. We hope to experience more but I don’t think there is a better way to get to Asia from the USA. Perhaps Singapore Suites class but I think it would be an arguable debate. Thanks to the staff and crew of Cathay Pacific for a wonderful, memorable and safe flight!
We ended up redeeming 67,500 American Airlines miles and paid $2.50 (now $5.60) for the 9/11 security fee plus an American Airlines $25 telephone booking fee (now $35, Edit: AA recently announced there will be no more telephone booking fees on CX! starting mid Feb 2015) per person for these flights. A grand total of 135,000 AA miles and cash price of $55.00. Amazing considering how easy it was in 2014 to earn American Airlines miles via the Citi Executive card at 100,000 a pop. I wrote about that card here, here, here and originally here.
(Please also note, I had an itinerary change as the late night CX flight to Kuala Lumpur is no longer operated so I had the option to stay overnight in Hong Kong and take the first flight in the morning to Kuala Lumpur or to take the earlier Sunday morning flight departing ORD around midnight and have a long layover during the day. We chose to overnight in Hong Kong)
Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions, comments or if I missed anything!