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
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
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.