Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Trip Report: Cathay Pacific Business Class Dubai to Los Angeles via Hong Kong

***This is part 17 of my "Camels, Bats, and Bloggers" trip report detailing a recent trip to Dubai and Seychelles, with a final stop in Las Vegas to attend the 2014 BAcon conference hosted by BoardingArea***

1. Introduction - Camels, Bats, and Bloggers
2. Emirates Lounge at SFO
3. Emirates First Class San Francisco to Dubai
4. Conrad Dubai
5. Old Dubai, Ski Dubai, and At the Top
6. Emirates Terminal B First Class Lounge at DXB
7. Emirates First Class Dubai to Mahe, Seychelles
8. Four Seasons Seychelles
9. Air Seychelles Economy Class Mahe to Praslin
10. Raffles Praslin Seychelles
11. Island Hopping - La Digue
12. Island Hopping - Praslin, Cousine, Curieuse, St. Pierre
13. Hilton Seychelles Northolme Resort and Spa
14. Emirates Business Class Mahe, Seychelles to Dubai
15. 7-Star Luxury at the Burj Al Arab
16. British Airways Lounge at DXB
17. Cathay Pacific Business Class Dubai to Los Angeles via Hong Kong
18. 2014 BAcon Conference in Las Vegas + Mandalay Bay Hotel
19. American Express Centurion Lounge at LAS

We had already taken one step closer to home from the Seychelles to Dubai, but now it was really time to head back. The direct flight from the West Coast to Dubai is already long enough at 16 hours, but we were going to take the even longer route via Hong Kong that would add another 8 hours in transit.

Before this year I had actually never flown Cathay Pacific, but within the past 12 months it's been the airline I've flown the most. While the First Class product may not be as extravagant as other airlines such as Emirates, we found that's it been consistently excellent.

But in my opinion, Cathay Pacific's Business Class product is where they really shine, and it's one of the very best in the market today. Today's flight would be similar to our return from the Maldives on Cathay Pacific earlier this year, starting with a ride on the Airbus A330-300.

Quick aside on trip reporting - at times it can actually be hard to sit back and enjoy yourself in the moment, because you're so consumed with capturing every single detail. More than anything, what I really enjoyed about these flights is that I'd taken them before. With all the previous photos and experiences in my back-pocket to lean on, there was no longer a sense of needing to stay alert, which in turn allowed me to enjoy myself more.

We headed over to the gate just as boarding was starting. From the looks of it, DXB-HKG is a heavy business travel route with the Business Class cabin at full capacity.

Our ride to Hong Kong

Since I had booked the trip several months out, I was able to get seats in the mini-cabin from rows 19-21. Since this is partitioned off from the larger Business Class cabin and Premium Economy sections, it's extremely quiet and private and would highly recommend getting seats here if available.

A330-300 seat map

Without the Dom and caviar that you get in First Class, Business Class comparisons across airlines boils down to the seat. And Cathay's are top-notch, featuring the reverse herringbone 1-2-1 configuration. The seats are extremely comfortable and private, and stretch out into a complete 180 degree flat bed.

And the best part about these seats are that they are as wide as you can find out there. In fact, the Cathay Pacific Business Class seats at 21" are actually wider than the 20.5" you get in Emirates First Class on the 777-300ER!

One little detail that makes all the difference in the world is the wedge that sticks out diagonally from the seat near the armrest. It can be raised or lowered based on your preference, and provides that extra little bit of space that you need to maneuver and shift while sitting, or to sleep comfortably on your side.

Even though I admittedly watch a lot of TV and for the most part am caught up on the latest blockbusters, I was still disappointed in the IFE selection on our flights. There was literally nothing that I wanted to watch and luckily had brought backup IFE on my iPad which was loaded with all the Sons of Anarchy I needed to fill the 24 hour journey.

The IFE and seat controls are simple but effective, and in some ways I like the idea of the tactile controls as opposed to dealing with the complexity of a fancy system.

The footrest provides plenty of space and there is more than enough space in front of you to place a bag as well as your shoes.

Since we hadn't eaten much that day and the lounge food wasn't very appealing, we were looking forward to a proper meal. And since we had been traveling for 2 weeks in the Middle East and Africa, I had a huge craving for In-N-Out Burger, Mexican food, or Asian food. Given that we were on an Asian carrier, understandably the last one was the only craving that I was able to satisfy for now.

Dinner service started about an hour after takeoff, and consistent with our previous flights, the food on Cathay Pacific is a true highlight. I would take these meals over the food served in Emirates First Class any day.

First up was the prawn appetizer, salad, and garlic bread.

I chose the red snapper in sweet and sour sauce for my entree and was as happy as could be, it was absolutely delicious.

To finish up, cheese and then the chocolate mousse cake. The food was excellent, and really my only gripe was that service was a bit slow, with meal service taking around 2 hours from start to finish.

There was only 3-4 hours of flight time left, and we dozed off for a the remaining few hours before landing at HKG where we had an upcoming 4-hour layover. I won't bore you with the details, since we literally repeated the layover we had in May, which was spent showering, relaxing, and eating at The Wing lounge.

The internet speed at the Cathay Pacific lounges was blazing fast, and I only wish that all lounges could provide similar speeds. We were able to make calls and video chat with no issues.

At this point we had basically pulled an all-niter, and in general were just exhausted from the 2-week trip. Other than the fact that our flight from Hong Kong to Los Angeles was on a different plane (Boeing 777-300ER) and twice as long as our flight from Dubai, it was essentially the same experience.
So I did something I've never done before in my life...I actually passed on the opportunity to eat on-board the flight! For people that know me, they know how crazy tired I must have been since I just don't miss out on any opportunity to eat.

But again, the beauty of being on a flight that I had taken multiple times was that I didn't like I was missing out on anything. Immediately after boarding the Benadryl went down the hatch, earplugs and eye shades went on, and 30 minutes later I was out like a rock for a glorious 10 hours of barely-interrupted sleep.

Next thing I knew we were just a couple hours out from LAX and the second meal service was about to start. No chance that I would miss this one.

Breakfast started with some fresh fruit, along with a croissant.

I always go for either the congee or dim sum for breakfast on the Cathay flights, and flipped a coin to decide. Dim sum it is.

I spent the last hour shaking out the cobwebs in my head, and arrived at LAX as rested as one can possibly be after a 12 hour Trans-Pacific flight. Overall, another fantastic flight aboard Cathay Pacific and I can't wait to fly them again.

P.S.We really need to work on our Global Entry pictures, can two people look any more suspicious than this?


  1. You are right that CX is the sweet spot. I just flew CX F last week. Meh. Huge premium to pay for what is essentially nothing more than a bigger seat. Meals not much different that CX J. Of course, you get Krug and caviar, but is that worth the premium? Dine on demand... not really a big deal. Better service? Nah. They still huddle in the galley and you gotta chase them for beverages, etc.

    In the end, it's all about the cost per seat, and CX delivers a great J seat with reasonable amenities.

    1. Yup, even though CX F is objectively better than J, in many cases it's not worth the incremental premium, especially on the back end of a long journey where you plan to sleep most of the time.

      Although, I have to admit that the PYE pajamas are quite nice, and I've put the free gift of pocket squares from PYE to good use. While CX doesn't offer much in terms of ground service, also a marginal benefit if you have a long layover at HKG to be able to access the F lounge.

  2. Those are indeed some suspicious looking pictures!!! :-D

    1. We weren't smuggling anything, I swear!

  3. In my opinion, better than most north american airline companies. Cheers to Cathay Pacific!

    1. Agreed, no North American airline even comes close. Thanks for the comment!

    2. No worries! Keep the trip reports coming. I really adore the little details

  4. Great post. In your opinion, if one is tight on points, is CX first worth the extra points, or is business good enough?

    1. That's a really tough one. In my opinion, First is always worth the extra cost over Business Class if the marginal number of miles required is 10-15k (one way) which the case for many programs. The biggest constraint on my ability to travel is time-off from work, so if I'm able to upgrade each of my trips then I'm happy to spend the miles.

      That's my personal take, and it varies from person-to-person. Many people prefer to spend their miles on economy in order to travel more frequently.

      But to directly answer your question, CX Business is definitely good enough, but if you have the opportunity to grab First I would absolutely take it even if you are tight on points. At the end of the day, you'll find more ways to recoup those points later on.

  5. Thanks! This is helpful. Great blog.

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