Tier Points running to Jakarta – Part 2

Just a brief recap: I flew to Jakarta on the morning CX777 departure to Jakarta and I was doing a back-to-back for BA Executive Club Tier Points. Jakarta is 2,000 miles away from Hong Kong, which qualifies as a long-haul flight. A round-trip bags 280 TPs – which is nearly 20% of my TPs for Emerald this year!

I was picked up by a Cathay staff at the gate and was guided through transfer, which consisted of him walking me up to the departure concourse via an elevator. He had my boarding pass in hand and settled me down in the lounge while he dealt with my passport and stuff. Within 5 minutes he came back to me and told me to head to the boarding gate. I happily obliged. I was very impressed by the service I got at Jakarta – no confusion and I was able to transfer without entering Indonesia!

The FIDS

There was a queue at the security check before the gate, but it digested quite quickly.

Priority lane for boarding pass check

I am liking the gate area design

The gate area was quite full of people. It was rather difficult to find a seat. But I happily stood. Once boarding was announced, Business Class was invited to board first, followed by Emerald and Sapphire.

When I boarded the aircraft, the ISM and SP were in shock to see me back. I then explained to them I was doing a back-to-back. They asked me where I would be sitting. I originally chose 21A at the rear of the Business Class cabin. The ISM was very insistent that I moved to 11A – so that I would be served first on this sector, and that the air conditioning system was not working at the rear cabin. I was too happy to oblige. More importantly, everyone now knows who I am – I was feeling more like a VIP on the return!

The inflight map

Boarding finished rather quickly, due to the light load on the return sector. Business Class was half full, PEY was similar and EY was a bit fuller.

Plane spotting while taxing to the active runway

Onwards and upwards

I quickly started watching another movie

For pre-refreshment drinks I had Gin and Tonic

Even though it was a 2 pm departure, and the menu was branded as a refreshment – the meal was really a glorified version of lunch / dinner. The full servings, perhaps given the 5-hour block time

To Start: Balik Salmon, cucumber, creme fraiche, salmon roe and lemon

Seasonal mixed salad and balsamic vinaigrette

Garlic bread was excellent as ever

A menu shot

Loving the view

As per protocol, all the options of main courses would be rolled out on a cart. I still have mixed feelings for this way of doing things – the main courses would be cooled, and even if a main looks good, there is still the chance for it to taste bad. In all honesty, I am looking forward to dine on demand: especially the extended menu choices.

Followed by

Pan fried beef fillet, tomato onion sauce, asparagus, lotus root, mushroom and steamed jasmine rice

Pan fried sea beam, savoy cabbage, kipfler potatoes, black pepper and garlic butter

Thai red chicken curry, garlic vegetables and steamed jasmine rice

I had the Chinese beef option. It was excellent.

Evidence. My wine was topped up throughout the service – I must have a few glasses during the main!

Fruits and cheese soon followed

The sun begins to set at this point

The dessert was simply divine. Peanut butter macadamia cake

It was so good that I asked for a second helping! I also asked for a comment form so I can praise the crew for the lovely service I received.

The meal service took about 3 hours, which I took to be a good pace, though I am very sure my neighbour did not agree (he got his laptop out for work after main!) This was due to the turbulence during the flight, but I think it was an afternoon flight – people would have had lunch earlier

The SP came by to thank me for choosing CX on my TP run and asked me whether she could offer me a cup of hot chocolate. I happily obliged.

Before landing, I also asked for a cup of green tea

Catching up on some work prior to landing! We were put in a holding pattern due to congestion

Putting my seat back to take off position prior to landing

A bottle of water was available upon request

When the gate information finally appeared, I knew my day was coming to an end

Back at home after a long day!

Verdict? Overall an excellent flight. The catering was very good. While not too fancy, it was completely edible and I enjoyed the service. I particularly loved the Yealands Land Estate Sauvignon Blanc – not a pricey wine, but definitely very drinkable on the plane. I hope to continue to see this wine on board, as I have for the last 5 months. The service was commendable – perhaps because I have flown the outbound sector, the crew was warmer and more proactive this sector. But either way, very good service. The delivery was excellent. Hard product and inflight entertainment excellent as ever.

Tier Points running to Jakarta – Part 1

The following two reports cover my day trip to Jakarta on Cathay Pacific’s Business Class on a Sunday. The reason I chose Jakarta was because HKG-CGK is over 2,000 miles, which means that it is classed as a long-haul flight with BA’s Executive Club. Bagging 280 Tier Points in a day, at no additional cost to an ex-EU fare, is about the best deal you can get. It also helps that CX777/CX776 constantly runs on long-haul planes as doing the back-to-back would have been painful on a regionally configured plane.

I woke up at 5.45 am and left home at 6 am for my flight at 9.20 am. I took the Airport Express shuttle bus to Kowloon Station where I did my in-town check-in.

I arrived into the airport just 2 hours before my flight. Security was packed but with the HK efficiency, I was through and through in 15 minutes.

The gate today was Gate 2. While the Wing is definitely just next to my gate, I was assured that it would be packed. The Qantas Hong Kong Lounge, which doubles up as JAL’s lounge in the morning/early afternoon before Qantas and BA’s evening departures, provides a rare sanctuary for plane spotting, breakfast-eating and (more importantly) catching up with caffeine undisturbed.

COFFEE!

Japanese rice provision for Japanese passengers

My breakfast, with a lovely cup of flat white

Second course: made to order wonton noodles

My view

SQ001 onwards to Singapore

Leaving the Qantas lounge for my flight. The lounge was not populated at all despite the morning rush hour flights. Staff was courteous and happy to oblige with any requests. Food offering was superb.

As ever, the Priority Pass lounge had a long queue

My flight was about to board when I arrived

My chariot today – newly painted A333

Flying business today!

My seat was 21A, which is an excellent seat. Being at the back of the Business Class cabin means that there is minimal foot traffic as all toilets are in front of you. You are also in the mini cabin which means it is a bit roomier. The only downside is that you will be served last.

This is 20A

My view

Welcome drink: no bubbly in the morning

Hot towel

Business class was full but boarding was quickly done. Safety demonstration soon followed

The seat controls – really showing its age

Push back

The journey is just over 2,000 miles – exactly why I was on that plane!

Taxing to runway

Entering runway 07R for departure

And here we go

Shing Mun Reservoir and Sha Tin

Victoria Harbour

Then I started my inflight entertainment

I was offered a post-take off drink. I took a coconut water (I was rather surprised to see that on the menu) I also asked for a champagne. The Purser serving my aisle was very snappy – not overly approachable, but she was straight to the point, also yelling ‘certainly, sir’ – very typical HK efficiency!

First course: Seasonal Fresh Fruits

With breakfast pastries

Second course: Special K

Third course: Braised beef brisket and noodles – yum!!! It was very flavourful and the beef was flavourful. It was hands-down the best breakfast I have had on the plane. The noodles were well cooked but not overly dry.

A cappuccino to end

Breakfast service concluded about 1.5 hours into the flight, which was rather efficient. The food was decent in portion and quality. I was generally pleased

I decided to start working

I got some sparkling water

And HK style milk tea – one of my favourite drinks on board Cathay

Crossing the equator

Hot towel offered again just under an hour out

Seat returned to take off position

21A has two windows

I asked for a bottle of water to keep myself hydrated until I get on the plane again!

Descending into Jakarta

Our flight route today

The curtain was shut immediately after we arrived to make sure that business class passengers disembarked first

I was picked up by the ground staff who helped me pass through transit. I was led to the lounge while the Cathay staff took care of the rest and came back with a boarding pass. I was impressed by the meet and assist service I was provided with as a back-to-back customer.

The flight was very good. The catering was a stand-up from what I had to London a few months ago – Cathay certainly had the potential to do very well in terms of food. The service I received was good, nothing memorable. The Purser was very to-the-point, but was not as friendly as the ones on SQ. Given a full flight, it was understandable that I felt like I was on an assembly line. Hard product was excellent as ever. Not a bad half a day mileage running. And spoiler alert: my return trip was better!

My virgin flight on Cathay Dragon’s Business Class

After I got off the plane from Heathrow, I walked towards the transit counter for my onward boarding pass with Cathay Dragon. I found out that my flight had been delayed for 50 minutes, which gave me ample, if a bit too much, time to explore the Cathay lounge at KUL. Food and drinks options were disappointing to say the least, but I only needed some water, so I was not too fussed. Wifi was not very good, I was not able to do a skype voice call properly.

I left at the stated boarding time on the boarding pass (with the new departure time). Like SIN, KUL’s security is at gate, which can mean a long queue for a full flight. While the flight was not full (20/24 in J, 180/293 in Y), the lack of priority security as in SIN for frequent flyers and premium passengers meant that it took quite a while. Oh well, the flight was not boarding yet so I was not fussed.

The plane in the new livery

Once in the gate area, there was a segregated seating area for premium passengers, which was very nice.

Boarding soon followed. Business Class passengers were invited the board, and they enforced this religiously – even frequent flyers were not allowed to board at the first instance. Once onboard, I was offered Dragon Sunrise, a special cocktail, which I enjoyed immensely.

Instead of hot towel we got wet wipes.

Safety demonstration

The gate bridges were disengaged

Push-back

A short taxi was then followed by the take-off roll

Table was set and I was given the menu

Sunset outside

Drinks and nuts service came first. I had the cocktail and a glass of water

First course: Seared scallop starter, with Taittinger Champagne. The starter was not bad though the citrus salad was a bit of a weird combination

More sunset

Garlic bread and rolls were offered

The main course: Braised chicken with red date and black fungus, seasonal vegetables and steamed rice. It was meh, passable.

Dessert was the bog-standard ice cream

I was left rather hungry by the underwhelming main, hence I asked for more ice cream, which was served quickly

We were making good progress

The bulkhead legroom was good

The regional headphones left more to be desired

Soon enough it was 30 minutes prior to landing, when the seatbelt sign came on

Overall verdict: I really enjoyed the service. The crews were personal in their approaches and seemed really genuine, which was a marked difference from some of the Cathay service I got. Although it was evident that Cathay Dragon lacked the level of poshness as with Cathay Pacific, the service was much better. The catering was passable but the wine list was good. For such a short segment, the hard product was decent – the inflight entertainment was of excellent quality, the seat was comfortable, though it helped to have a bulkhead window seat with no seat mate.

BA Dreamliner to Kuala Lumpur

Picking off from where we left off, I looked at the departure FIDS just to make sure that my flight would depart from Terminal 5.

BA701

Heading to the transit bus

BA701

BA701

The bus affords some good plane spotting

BA701

BA701

Arriving into Terminal 5

BA701

My flight would depart from gate B48 so I left for the B gates

The irony of seeing this advertisement in a predominantly BA terminal

The B gates lounge

The food offering was… meh… there were only sandwiches and cakes on offer – no real hot item despite nearing dinner hours

My selection

I flagged down an attendant for some champagne. I asked for a glass and he insisted on bringing two – saying that I needed that!

The saving grace of the lounge was that it was rather quiet

At about the boarding time, I headed to the gate

To my surprise, there was no queue at the gate, which was unusual – passengers seemed to really love the idea of queuing up to board the flight. I would later discover a rather light flight awaiting me: full in First, about 70% in Club, about 20% in World Traveller Plus and another 20% for World Traveller.

My plane was the further one

The boarding sequence

My plane

I was the first to board the airplane

My seat for the flight – 6A

An empty Club cabin (for now). For its 787, BA retained the yin-yang design from 2006 and opted for a 2-3-2 configuration. 7 seats a row is rather bad given that airlines like JAL opted for 8 seats per row for their economy cabin.

My view

The usual pre-departure beverages were offered

The IFE was available gate to gate

The menu for tonight

The legroom

We left 20 minutes behind schedule as some passengers did not make the flight and their bags were offloaed

Safety demonstration soon after

We took off about 40 minutes behind schedule

The privacy screen was up once the safety demonstration was over

Last view of England

My first movie…

The amenity kit (washbag) was offered

Its content

Hot towel

Pre-dinner drinks

More nuts as I was very hungry

The starter plate: it was really not bad but would love a plate for the bread.

The main: Satay Chicken rice. Overcooked and poorly seasoned. I do hope the new Club World investment meant better main choices

By this time, we are well into our flight

https://flic.kr/p/SZRBq9

The cheesecake was divine… but I hate the fact that I could only choose between dessert, cheese and fruits, when I could have all three on Cathay

Tea to end

I then made my bed for the night. I had about 4 hours of sleep and woke up with the sun high up in the sky

I was hungry and got some snacks – I must say I was rather taken aback by the lack of food in Club Kitchen despite it only being halfway through the flight

Club Kitchen

And seriously – serving tea in Club with paper cups?

Time for another movie

2 hours left!

With 1.5 hours to go, breakfast was served

I asked for a Buck’s Fizz to go with, especially given it would be early afternoon already in KL

cheers!

The main was exactly the one I had on BA27 last June – quite interesting how the menu for breakfast was almost nearly the same!

Approaching Malaysia

In descent

The full route for the day

The KL airport

My chariot of the day

I arrived into KL a bit over 30 minutes late, hoping to just go to the gate of my next flight on Cathay Dragon to Hong Kong only to find that that flight was delayed for nearly an hour! Well at least there is a lounge!

Verdict? The 787 was surely quiet and quite pleasant. The Club World cabin was a bit dense and could feel claustrophobic at times. The lack of storage space and lack of space to manoeuvre were also problematic on such a long flight if one wanted to work or to stretch out. The service was okay if a bit slow – which was really not understandable given the light load across the flight. The catering was a passable attempt for most part. It was a pleasant ride no less, but there are surely better ways to fly.

See my flight with Singapore Airlines on a flight: LHR–SIN

 

BA Euro Traveller & Club Europe to/from Vienna

This is a short report featuring a return trip to and from Vienna that begins my ex-EU trip to Hong Kong. I flew out in Euro Traveller (which is BA’s regional Economy Class – though more akin to LCC now as they charge for food and drinks on board). BA operates some of their flights out of Terminal 3 and Vienna is one of these ‘special’ flights. I do like the idea of flying out of Terminal 3 as it means I can access to Cathay lounge, which was indeed very nice.

I arrived about three hours prior to the flight at Terminal 3 via National Express on quite a gloomy day.

BA706

BA706

BA706

BA’s Check-in area

BA706

Priority lane was quite empty

BA706

Soon enough I got my boarding pass and my bags were all tagged priority. I was then told I should use the Fast Track for security.

BA706

Fast Track security was a breeze. It took a mere 5 minute, which was a record for me in Terminal 3. I do thank my OneWorld Sapphire card! In no time, I was in the Cathay lounge enjoying the Cathay-branded brew – the Betsy Beer.

As part of the ‘Life Well Travelled’ campaign, Cathay introduces the ‘Betsy beer’ which is ‘a high-quality craft ale that has travel in its DNA’. Uniquely the beer has three ingredients: dragon eye, Hong Kong honey and fuggle. It was very unique in taste and rather sweet – not a fan, but good to try.

BA706

The sun breaks through

BA706

One hour prior to boarding, I moved over to the dining area to get some food. I asked for some sparkling water and white wine to go with my dinner.

BA706

My selection: I must say that the food quality has improved appreciably since I was last here in December. Very enjoyable, indeed.

BA706

My gate today

BA706

The flight was to be very full and I got a text message that I could check my cabin luggage in as well.

The gate agents did not have much success in getting people to check their bags, in part because if they are travelling on hand-baggage-only fare, they would not want to wait for the bags at Vienna. Given that I had two other bags in the hold, I was happy enough to offer to check my hand baggage, which was met with appreciation by the gate agent!

BA706

Boarding began soon after

BA706

BA706

I bagged an exit row window seat, which in my opinion, had a much better legroom than some of the Club Europe (Business Class) seats!

BA706

BA706

The flight left on time and arrived pretty much on time

BA706

BA706

BA706

BA706

BA706

This is my first flight featuring the M&S Buy On Board program, although I did not partake

BA706

BA706

BA706

I do like the idea of being able to pay with avios!

The flight was short – just under two hours – and soon enough, we began our descent into Vienna.

BA706

BA706

Vienna was very picturesque and I was blessed with very good weather. I had a nice long stroll in the loop and it was rather refreshing.

Belvedere Palace

Burggarten

Somewhere medieval

Somewhere old

It was a satisfying stroll

I began my travel to Asia the following day after a whole day stay in Vienna. I took the train from the City to the airport

BA701

And this is the arrivals hall

BA701

Like the other ports I have visited, BA only has three counters for check-in

BA701

The FIDS

BA701

The lounge was alright – not much food and beverage. I just used the free wifi and did some emails

The flight was calling at gate D29, which was a bus gate

BA701

BA701

BA701

BA701

BA701

BA701

BA701

View from my seat

BA701

Legroom from row 1

BA701

Take-off

BA701

BA701

BA701

BA701

Hot towel was offered

BA701

The view makes up for the lack of inflight entertainment

BA701

BA701

BA701

Club Europe was half full today and service was fast, efficient and personal… exemplified by having two scones! (This would be my last flight was the old Club Europe catering – will miss the scones!)

BA701

BA701

Toasting to a good trip

BA701

After afternoon tea, we were nearing London

BA701

BA701

BA701

BA701

BA701

The descent into Heathrow made for great sightseeing

BA701

BA701

BA701

BA701

BA701

BA701

BA701

The Concorde!

BA701

Landed

BA701

We were parked next to the JAL flight to Haneda

BA701

BA701

Next time I will pick up on my connection to Terminal 5 and my flight to Kuala Lumpur on BA’s Dreamliner in Club World Business Class.

Verdict? BA’s new Economy concept seems to be working well – there were plenty of orders for food and drinks. I like the idea of being able to pay with avios and I think the avios/cash conversion is very reasonable. Of course, paying at all is undesirable and I will continue to eat up in the lounge and fill up my water bottle before flying with BA on Economy; but I will be open to the idea of purchasing on board when I have to.

BA’s old Club Europe catering suits me well, but perhaps not for the gentleman across the row from me who did not appreciate the lack of choice for afternoon tea. I like the bulkhead seat which has good legroom – but this is nothing compared to the regional seats in Asia or even in the USA.

 

 

Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong to London Heathrow

The final leg of my Christmas break saw me flying back to the UK. I was booked on the A350 service to Dusseldorf, then to Stockholm on Air Berlin before returning to London. It was going to be a rather long day but I was mostly excited for the A350!

I arrived at Hong Kong International Airport in good time for my flight. The flight was scheduled to leave at 01:05 but I arrived shortly after 21:00. I did not want to bother my parents too much so I elected to get to the airport earlier so they would not have to stay up; and I had work to do, which could be done in the lounge anyways.

At check-in, I was informed that the flight to Dusseldorf was overbooked and there was also a concern that I was going to misconnect at some point during my ‘pierced-together’ trip – even though these tickets were in the same PNR. The duty manager was called, and she asked the check-in agent to call flight control to see whether there would be any seats in the direct LHR flights. Soon enough, I was issued with a boarding pass for CX251 – the direct London service.

I did not mind that much – knowing that Cathay had a lot of A350s on order, I knew that chances would come. And lord and behold, my flight from SIN to HKG in June is now scheduled to be flown by an A350.

Gate number was 2, and with less time now to explore the airport, I went to the Wing for a drink and catch up on some emails.

This would be the second last long-haul trip I take that I would be using the Business Class lounges. As the series suggest that I am chasing OneWorld Emerald, and by the end of Easter, I would make OneWorld Emerald.

The Wing Business lounge has a very welcoming feature, which is that it has an open bar (open in terms of both the amount of alcohol you can drink; and open in terms of the view) and you cannot resist this shot!

The drink list

The lounge is as busy as ever. I really would not miss this part. The Qantas Lounge would make a much better place to stay if you have a longer waiting time. But with just over an hour, my priority was to find somewhere closer to my gate and just work.

I arrived at the gate at boarding time (23:15) but there was no movement whatsoever. The gate agents just arrived. The flight must be delayed.

I joined the queue for Business Class.

Soon enough, a notice came up regarding the delayed boarding time. The reason given for the delay was anticipated shorter flying time (which was not true in the end)

The flight would be very full

Queue started to form for Economy Class

At about 23:30, the FIDS started to show ‘boarding soon’ – which was a good sign. By this time, the Business Class lengthened and boarding passes were being checked.

Boarding started soon after for First and Business Classes. When I approached the podium, the agent took my boarding pass to scan. A red beep came on. Was it an upgrade? I wish! But my request for a window seat came through (I was originally assigned 23D, and now 20K) I was most happy.

I was offered Champagne as a pre-departure beverage

Boarding was completed in an orderly fashion and safety demonstration came on at about midnight.

Inflight entertainment was available thereafter

I was then offered a hot towel

The seat controls

The noise-cancelling headphones

The inflight map

Pushback!

After half an hour of taxi, we took off at 00:30on Runway 07R

Goodbye Hong Kong!

To clear Chinese airspace, the plane would need to reach 15,000 feet. Hence the departure pattern took the flight south of Hong Kong before heading North to give the plane a bit more distance to make the climb

The first thing to do was to put on a movie in anticipation of the service

My choice tonight: a light-hearted comedy

I was then given the menu and a bottle of water

The amenity kit

The table was laid 50 minutes after take-off. The Senior Purser would take meal orders (whether you want a full service or a reduced ‘express’ service). I requested the soup from the express service and wanted a full service for the main course. As for drinks I asked for a champagne

Supper: A tasty blend of freshly prepared savoury dips and grissini

Garlic bread and rolls

I asked for the Yealands Estate Land Made Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015, which continues to be my favourite wine on board Cathay since I first had it in December

Cauliflower cream soup and grissini

Gross-looking but passable main: Seared beef short rib steak, ratatouille, grape tomato, parsnip mash and garlic thyme sauce

The saving grace was that it was not well done

Pralines were offered after the crew was done with the main service

I requested an ice cream from the snack menu, which the crew was more than happy to oblige

And to finish, a chamomile tea with honey

The service took nearly two hours, which was okay given the length of the flight. My movie finished just as the lights were dimmed. I quick made out my bed.

The 77W has wider beds given the wider fuselage. The Cathay seat was very comfortable but the pillow was a bit thin… I slept soundly for 7 hours, which was great.

When I woke up the breakfast service just started. I had an orange juice and the berry smoothie

Fresh seasonal fruit. Oatmeal, chia seeds, coconut milk and mango puree (which was superb!)

Pork and dried vegetables congee, baked barbecue pork pie. My expectations might have been too high for this main course. The congee was grossly oily and baked barbecue pork pie was too.

A cappuccino was requested

The legroom was excellent, of course

A hot towel to conclude the service

I was given the invitation to fast track immigration

Seat back to the take-off position

The seatbelt sign came on 30 minutes prior to landing

Just when we were crossing the English Channel

Gear down

Final approach

We arrived 10 minutes ahead of schedule (the captain promised us 30 minutes though!)

The route today

Thank you for flying CX

We docked at Terminal 3

I used the American Arrival lounge for a shower and some proper breakfast food

The breakfast spread was impressive – the champagne!

I ordered something from the menu, though

A Buck’s Fizz to start the day – why not?

My Egg Benedict – which was excellent!

I then made my way to the National Express station for my coach, thus concluding my flight report.

Overall Verdict? The check-in staff went above and beyond in arranging me to take the direct flight, which exemplified the company’s motto – service from the heart. On board, the service seemed a bit rush and with such a large J cabin, it may feel like part of an assembly line. The catering was hit and miss – some bits of it were good (the oatmeal, the soup etc.), some were downright gross (the breakfast). But as ever, the hard product is amazing and can afford you a good night’s sleep and decent entertainment. With this solid offering, Cathay is indeed the better one of the OneWorld airlines to and from Hong Kong, despite the novelty of A380.

Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class Osaka Kansai to Hong Kong

On my return to Hong Kong (and to London), I chose to fly out of Osaka instead of Tokyo, in part eyeing the later evening departure and the fact that our last stop on this trip was Kyoto, which has a direct train to Kansai Airport. When I booked, only CX507 was available in Business Class. So despite the regional configuration (CX595 had the long haul configuration), I chose to fly CX507.

We departed Kyoto a bit later than we wanted and only got into Kansai about 1 hour 45 minutes prior to departure, which was not always going to be a problem. But, with it being very peak season and Cathay with its 3 evening departures out of Kansai, check-in took over an hour to process, even in Business Class.

(Un)surprisingly, Business Class was overbooked. I did not hold the more valuable ticket that the ground staff was looking for (I suspect the later two flights were overbooked as my flight’s seat map remained open until online check-in) so I did not obtain the sizeable cash for downgrading. Oh well. My ticket was cheap enough so I should not moan.

After checking-in, it was already 45 minutes to departure. The ground staff gave me a Fast Lane pass (as a custom for Business passengers, I presume) and urged me to hurry up as boarding will begin very soon.

Gate 4 today

As ever, the Business Class line had more people than there were seats for Business Class.

My ride today

My seat today is 14A. Legroom is 45 inches and width 20, which is not bad for a 4-hour ride to Hong Kong. I mostly enjoyed myself, although I would definitely appreciate direct aisle access.

Welcome drinks offered

Hot towel

Inflight entertainment was available gate to gate

Except… during the mandatory safety demo

Soon enough we were on our way. A short taxi followed by a short take off roll

Welcome announcement post-take off

Gin and Tonic and mixed nuts

A brief note here: the Senior Purser was offering seconds for nuts after the drink cart came around. He noted that I did not like the wasabi beans, and when I asked for more nuts, he proactively offered me the mix without the wasabi beans. That exemplified the Cathay service

Soon enough table cloth was laid in preparation for dinner service

To start: Smoked duck and roasted vegetables, Mixed salad and balsamic vinaigrette, Plum soba noodles

With assorted bread rolls

Champagne Billecart-Salmon Brut

Main Course: Steamed pork rib, onion sauce, jade melon mixed vegetables and steamed jasmine rice; White wine: Yealands Estate Land Made Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Selection of Cheese and Fruits

Ice Cream

Bailey’s on rocks

The meal service took the good 2 hours to complete. By the end of which, we were approaching Taiwan

A chamomile tea to finish off the meal

Eventually we made our descent into Hong Kong

Closer to New Year than Christmas… there were still Christmas decorations lying around

As ever, noise-cancelling headsets for Business Class

Final approach

The flight landed just before 9 pm, which was well ahead of the scheduled arrival time of 9:35 pm

I stopped by the Arrival Lounge and had a bite to eat

Menu

Not very spacious

My pasta: a real passable attempt

Shower

Overall verdict: I was mostly pleased with the flight. The regional business seat was not the best, which seems to be the consensus, but for a flight where sleep is unnecessary, I am not fused. Service was good, not excellent, but granted the full flight on the regional configured 773 which holds nearly 400 souls on board. The food was above par and so was the wine. The inflight entertainment is, as ever, hard to fault; and the noise-cancelling headphones are, well, functioning. A good flight, could be better, but again could have been worse.

Cathay Pacific Economy Class: Hong Kong to Tokyo Haneda

Last Christmas, I reviewed the Premium Economy product between Hong Kong and Tokyo gfHaneda, which I found to be overrated. As part of my Christmas ritual, I flew the route again, this time in Economy class: the food was downright inedible but the seat was decent and the entertainment options were good. Although for a flight this length, the premium that normal people would have paid to fly this flight during Christmas peak season could not be justified. My ticket was tagged along with my travels from the UK, and it did not cost any extra to go to Japan – so here I am.

As a OneWorld frequent flyer, I could check in using the Business Class desks

I chose to go to the newest Cathay lounge in HK, which is the Pier. The entrance is just next to Gate 66

I quickly got myself some breakfast as I have not eaten yet

The food was half-decent: the freshly-made noodles and buns were alright, but the food from the servery was just a bit… grim. Oh well, the flat white from the coffee corner was the saving grace though

After my breakfast, I went to the tea corner for some tea. Here Cathay serves the gourmet JING Tea, which the attendant will brew the tea from loose leaves for you after you have chosen. All a very indulgent exercise if you like tea.

I chose the Jasmine Silver Needle tea, which was very clear and easy to drink.

I picked one of the window seats at the lounge and enjoyed the plane-spotting exercise that it afforded me to do.

Soon it was 8 am and it was the advertised boarding time of the flight. So I walked to my gate.

My chariot awaits

I took the Business Class lane and headed down the air bridge

My seat today is 41A. Legroom is good.

Boarding was done relatively efficiently and we pushed back roughly on time. Flaps were deployed once we left the gate.

It took another 20 minutes until we eventually took off. Hong Kong was rather gloomy then.

Cathay’s 77W features a nose camera. Gear up!

Once we broke the clouds, it looked beautiful up there

Spotted an Hong Kong Airline A330!

Breakfast was soon served. I chose the Chinese option but they ran out!

The breakfast was… at best a passable attempt. But having fed myself in the lounge, I am happy to just feed on the cold items

Approaching Japan

And Tokyo

Speed brakes deployed

Tokyo was equally gloomy

Full flaps deployed

Landed

The route today

We arrived more or less on time and the luggage came out quickly with priority tags. Although with a high premium traffic port like Haneda, the first class bags came out first and there were quite a few of them.

Overall verdict: The lounge in HK is, as always, excellent, despite the lack of quality food when I was there. It was not crowded and I enjoyed the tea and coffee, which were superb. The legroom was good for a short flight, the IFE was excellent as usual. The service was robotic but that was to be expected for a full flight. The food was passable. The lack of choice in the third row of Economy was disappointing but again I had eaten. The timing of the flight is excellent, though not worth the premium this flight commands during high season. It is another good flight by Cathay – nothing spectacular as one would expect from a 5-star airline, though.

Cathay’s long-haul Business Class and new London lounge

When I left you last, I just landed into Terminal 5 of Heathrow. My next flight was a CX flight to Hong Kong which departed from Terminal 3. So I needed to follow the purple signs which would lead me to the bus to Terminal 3.

I just missed my bus! But there were chairs so I patiently waited for my next bus

We were dropped off at Terminal 3 and had to be screened before the transfer desks. I showed the fast track people my Business Class boarding card and was granted access to fast track. Security took less than 2 minutes and in we go

I approached the Cathay desk for my boarding pass – but there was no one there. I was told by a BA ground staff that I should go to the lounge if I wanted a new boarding card on Cathay stock.

The Cathay lounge opened the day I flew (7th December) – though it had been running for a week then (soft opening). Everything looked very, very new and very, very posh. Like the lounges in Hong Kong (The Pier), Bangkok, Manila and Tokyo Haneda, the London lounge is designed by the London-based design firm Studioilse. The lounge boosted a view of the tarmac (though it was not exploited by me given the early sunset hours of London) and a bigger size (given that it took, also, the space where the KrisFlyer lounge used to be at). Having not been to the old lounge, I couldn’t say how it compared – but this is definitely one of the most impressive lounges I have been to this year – food and drink offerings are unparalleled by the Galleries lounge in Terminal 5 and it never felt too crowded (despite with 4 evening departures and all of them very full in Business and with, I am sure, many elite members in Premium and Economy classes)

I first grabbed a shower suite to shower before seeing my friend who will be arriving in the lounge – she will be flying the later evening flight to Hong Kong onwards to Sydney

Next I needed something to eat to fill my tummy (I haven’t had much lunch and the afternoon tea on BA was barely fulfilling!)

Offerings

Condiments

Drinks at the noodles bar

The bar area

The bartender very eager to be in the picture

The drink list

I had a Mojito and waited for my noodles order

My first helping of food

The noodles was not very good – it was just a bit bland, but the fried rice was flavourful, well-presented and warm

I was offered some champagne as everyone was extra jolly for the grand opening of the lounge (though champagne can always be sought in the bar!)

Second helping of food

Everything was excellent – and I was starting to miss food from Hong Kong

And ice cream to finish

It was time for a stroll around the lounge

The lounge is great, especially when you are travelling with someone. A few more helpings of champagne with my friend, I headed to my departure gate

My flight was already closing

Only door L2 was engaged today so there was a long queue just to get on the plane!

My seat: 21K

View was great

Welcome drinks

Just below 6,000 miles to go

The flight left on time and safety demonstration video was played soon after

Afterwards the inflight entertainment system was made available

Taxi was short and we took off quite early

Ex-London food did not fail to impress

The dinner menu reads:

Starters: Smoked salmon with capers, onion and parsley, chive crème fraiche; Mixed salad with white asparagus, cucumber and radish, served with soy vinaigrette

Mains:

  • Braised beef and turnips, stir-fried vegetables and steamed jasmine rice
  • Corn-fed chicken breast, seasonal vegetables, roasted new potatoes with jus
  • Prawn curry, mushroom palak and cumin basmati rice
  • Papparadelle with spicy tomato mascarpone sauce

Cheese and Fruit

Desserts:

  • Yogurt lime mousse, rhubarb and ginger
  • Bourbon and vanilla cheese cake

My table was laid right after take-off

Nuts and drinks

Starters – excellent

Garlic Bread

Mains – the portion is a bit small but the dish was well-executed, the beef was tender. I had the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to go with my meal, which was delightful

Cheese and fruit

Dessert was okay

I like the cake better

Mood lighting was engaged soon after dinner service. I was offered some chocolates and tea

We were nearly leaving Europe by the time dinner ended – it was well elaborated service that was not too rush. The crews were attentive and offered to refill drinks sometimes

I woke up with after 6 hours to go

The flat bed

The sun is about to come out

Soon enough, it was a new day

I was hungry (again!) so I ordered some snacks – fish ball (instant) noodles with pak choy

And ice cream

The view remained the best inflight entertainment

My coffee was topped up when prompted

The seat controls

Getting into China now

The mood lighting came back on about 2 hours prior to landing

Hot towel

My table laid

The smoothie and orange juice

The breakfast menu reads:

  • Orange or apple juice
  • Mango and passionate smoothie
  • Frest fruit and Bircher muesli

Mains:

  • Tomato omeltter, veal sausages, mushrooms and tomato
  • Stir-fried rice vermicelli, duck julienne, preserved snow vegetables and bamboo shoots
  • Shredded pork and mushroom congee with preserved cabbage

When I was served the main, there was a sudden turbulence. The Senior Purser dropped the main onto my table, which caused a few vegetables to fall on the table. She profusely apologised and offered to clean up the ‘mess’. I insisted it was alright. I said I would survive. But she insisted on fixing it – so I let her. Her strive for excellence had been impressive throughout the flight – she was also the only one who addressed me by name every time I saw her. She exemplified service straight from the heart the best but I think this is more an exception than a rule on Cathay

My coffee with my Santa hat!

Arrival information

Last legroom shot

Approaching HKG

Verdict?

By all counts, this was a great flight – my best yet on Cathay. The flight was very full in all three cabins but the Business Class cabin was quiet, private and comfortable. The seat was very good, although I did not get much sleep or as soundly asleep as I would hope. The cabin crew was good, and the Senior Purser was excellent – I wrote a follow-up complimentary letter. The food was decent as well.

I have flown BA to and from London in Club World – so how does Cathay fare on the same route? I think Cathay wins on every count: the cabin, the seat, the crew, the inflight entertainment system and the food and drinks. I do tend to sleep better on BA – god knows why – so I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t fly BA anymore. But I will gladly fly Cathay from London to Hong Kong everyday if things stay the same.

 

 

BA A320 Club Europe: Stockholm to London

left my hotel three and half hours before my flight as I was planning to have lunch in the airport anyways. I picked my flight time strategically to enjoy the afternoon tea service on BA’s Club Europe product, which is always good and consistent. I took the airport bus from Central Station and nearing the airport, I spotted this:

BA operates out of Terminal 2, which was the last stop of the airport bus. Like Munich, which I visited in June, BA has three manned desk in Arlanda Airport: one for Club Europe and OneWorld elites and the other two for ticketing and Euro Traveller. I was promptly checked in, and my onward boarding pass to Hong Kong was also printed.

BA uses Aurora Lounge in Arlanda, which locates inside the secured area but before immigration. It is a third-party lounge shared by many airlines. The offering is not too bad, but not too good either. It can be rather crowded and the internet connection can be a bit hit and miss.

Lunch – passable

The lounge

View of the check-in area

Food offering

Drinks

Wine on tap… interesting

Flight Information Display… Not quite user-friendly, the information is rather small

Towards immigration

A very full flight today, once again, the gate agents are happy to take bags for check-in. I arrived rather late and both the elite and non-elite lines were full of people. The agents insisted, however, on boarding passengers in Club first before Gold Card (OW Emerald) members, so I ended up being one of the first people on the plane

In Sweden, the sun goes down rather early in winter

Gate disengaged after boarding. We departed 5 minutes ahead of schedule

Towel offered: I saw the cabin crew freshening the towel with hot water on the tap!

Safety demonstration

We were cleared for take-off at 15:10 (5 minutes after STD)

The view!

The cabin crew started the service right away. Most of the passengers declined the meal service and I was served 20 minutes after take-off, which was rather efficient

My choices of drinks: sparkling water, tea and champagne

The reason why I fly!

By the time I finished with my food, we just passed Denmark

Sipping champagne while working on a speech I had to give that weekend

The best inflight entertainment

Approaching England

Over Southend

… And Greater London

In a holding pattern

Glorious sunset

On final approach

Landed!

We parked in satellite B

It is probably as good a flight as intra-Europe business class goes. The crews were witty and efficient, but they would not go the extra mile. When I went to use the facilities, the crews were reading the papers and snacking on nuts. There was a water service prior to the descent, which was probably better than the other flights I have been on. The seat was hands-down bad: I would fly in the back in emergency exit any day than in Club (but my ticket was in conjunction with the HKG segment), I guess we are spoiled in Asia!

Next installment: Cathay 77G Business LHR – HKG with a review of CX’s new lounge