Cathay Pacific 777-300er flight number CX830 with a flight time of 15 hours and 6 minutes and a total distance of 8066 miles. Leaving HKG at 9:35am, arriving at JFK at 1:09pm.
I was looking for a way to get back to the States from Hong Kong and I was hoping to book Singapore Airlines but there was no award availability for first class to any US City for the dates I had to come back. So, in a last-ditch effort, I reluctantly looked on the British Airways website figuring there would be no availability for Cathay Pacific but lo and behold there were two seats in first class available. I have a decent amount of Alaska Airlines miles and Alaska only charges 70,000 miles to fly first class on Cathay Pacific between Asia and the US. I immediately called Alaska to book the award.
The Alaska agent I spoke with was helpful and very polite but the whole process of booking the award was kind of a pain. At first she could see the availability then couldn’t. I was placed on hold four different times and was hung up on three or four times. I was starting to think it wasn’t going to happen but after about 20 minutes on the phone she was finally able to get the award booked and ticketed. This was going to be my first time on Cathay Pacific so I was extremely excited I was rounding out my trip in their first class.
I used 70,000 Alaska miles and $106 for this trip. This is an incredible deal considering they were charging $17,826 if paid in cash. Minus the $106 I was able to get 25 cents per point. That is probably the highest value I’ve ever received for a loyalty point.
I called an UberX from the Grand Hyatt early that morning. One thing I noticed is almost all my Ubers during my stay in Hong Kong were Teslas. Not a bad way to get around. The ride came to about $60 USD and took approximately 30 minutes.
Along with my boarding pass, the Cathay Pacific associate handed me a pass for any of their lounges. I wish I had time to check out The Pier but I didn’t have a ton of time so I ended up in The Wing.
I hear The Pier is a better lounge but I was pleased with the Champagne bar inside the first class section of The Wing. It’s never too early to have a few glasses of fine Champagne. I limited myself to three glasses of Moet & Chandon Rosé Imperial. I figured with a few bottles of Krug coming up I better take it slow. 😉
By the time I arrived at boarding area 18 it wasn’t crowded at all.
We were delayed 25 minutes prior to boarding. When we began boarding there was additional bag screening on the jet bridge. It was a little inconvenient and the guy checking the bag did such a half-ass job looking into my bag there’s no way he would have found anything. Not that I had anything to hide…
Once we did board we were delayed another 15 minutes and then our taxi out to the runway took another 15 minutes. This was my first time at HKG airport so I didn’t mind the delay. I got some good plane watching in.
Take-off was smooth with some decent views of islands around Hong Kong.
They had a tail camera but the video wasn’t that clear.
When I initially booked the flight I was assigned seat 2D and I was unable to change due to it showing it was fully booked. But when I checked in at the airport the associate asked me if I would prefer 1K. I was traveling solo so I much prefer a window seat so I gladly accepted. Here’s a seat chart from SeatGuru showing the first class layout.
As you can see there’s only 6 seats in first class in a 1-1-1 configuration with 81 inches of pitch and 36 inches of width, according to SeatGuru. There were only two others in first class, seated in 1A and 2A, so I basically had the whole right side of first class to myself.
I was surprised how soft the seat was. This was by far the softest airline seat I’ve ever sat in.
I suppose that’s one reason why a lot of people say Cathay Pacific has the best beds in the sky.
The seat is an open suite which means they’re not fully enclosed but I found them to be very private.
The ottoman across from me has a seat belt so if you wanted to dine with someone you could.
On the outside of the suite you have your own closet that also houses the bedding. It doubles as storage because there are no overhead bins. It was a little tight but I was able to get all my belongings in it.
One thing I liked about the seat was I had three windows and of course the flower hanging on the wall was a nice touch.
On the left side of the seat is an armrest, some basic controls for the seat and a slot for reading materials.
On the right side was the remote for the TV and some more advanced seat controls as well as a few small storage compartments.
The remote was pretty standard. It reminded me of the ones on Delta.
Up closer to the ottoman on the wall were a couple different outlets.
The tray comes out from the right side of the seat and is huge. I mentioned earlier you could dine with someone at your seat and with this huge tray you wouldn’t have any problem with space.
The Amenity kit was from Aēsop. They have one for males and one for females.
It was pretty basic with a comb, toothpaste and a toothbrush, mouthwash, lip and eye cream, earplugs, and a piece of cloth.
The flight attendant came by before takeoff and gave me pajamas, slippers, and some eye shades. I put the pajamas on immediately so I would have fresh clothes when we landed. The flight attendant hung up my clothes as soon as I came out of the bathroom. I thought the pajamas were great. Not too heavy so I never got hot during the flight.
It seems they run a little big. I got a large and thought I could probably do a medium.
The bathroom was located on the left hand side of the first class cabin. I was expecting it to be a bit more spacious but it was fine.
The soaps were Aēsop. If you have never used these products before they are very good. I highly recommend them.
The TV sits flush against the wall in front of the closet but can be pulled out since it’s on an adjustable arm. The TV is just over 15 inches which is kinda on the small side these days.
Since this was Christmastime and my favorite time of year I happily watched a few Christmas movies. I watched Home Alone, Rocky, and Elf (which I was only able to watch about 30 minutes of). I just don’t like that movie. Lastly, I watched Die Hard which is a debatable Christmas movie. For the life of me I can’t remember what I was watching but I remember they showed nude breast. Most airlines I thought wouldn’t show that but I suppose they missed it or Cathay Pacific doesn’t care. I was fine with it.
Cathay calls their entertainment system StudioCX. One thing I can disagree with is 21 Jump Street is not a western classic. I mean, come on, give me a break!
Other than watching movies I spent quite a bit of time just watching the airshow.
And before departure the flight attendant handed out Bose noise-canceling headphones.
Let’s get to the good stuff: the food and drink! Compared to my Singapore Airlines flight, where I drank everything on board, I managed to keep it under control a bit knowing I had plans when I landed.
When I first boarded, Nancy, the in-flight service manager, asked if I’d like a pre- departure beverage. Of course I would since Cathay serves Krug Champagne. I love it that they bring you an empty glass and pour your drink at the seat every time. Krug runs around $200 a bottle.
Also before departure they brought out a scallop amuse bouche. It was delicious and set the tone for the rest of the food. Sadly, Cathay Pacific is doing away with serving this delightful treat in the near future to help cut cost.
After the amuse bouche they brought out a hot towel. This was actually the second hot towel I received and we hadn’t even pulled out of the gate yet. I won’t post any more pictures of hot towels but I had about ten total throughout the entire flight.
One of the flight attendants handed out menus before takeoff. She informed me I could order anything off the menu at anytime during the flight. This menu was a lot smaller than my Singapore flight but everything I had was perfectly cooked and delightful.
After takeoff it was 25 minutes before they offered the next drink; I had more Champagne, of course. They served it with warm nuts.
Soon after, they came by to set the table for lunch service. One of the things I loved about their meal service is how they reset the table every time a new dish or course was brought out. Even brought new silverware. I was surprised at how good and detail-oriented they were about the service. I’m a former server at a prime steakhouse so I can appreciate the effort they put in to make sure I was well taken care of. The personalized note was a nice touch as well.
The first course was caviar and Champagne. The presentation was flawless. The caviar was served with traditional garnishes of blinis, chive crème fraiche, and chopped egg, alongside a basket of assorted bread. I also ordered a glass of Jean-Marc Brocard Chablis Grand Cru which retails for about $60.
Next up I had lentil harissa soup.
After that I had the salad of roasted baby beets, bocconcini, and mesclun.
As my main I had the grilled strip loin with herb roasted portobello mushrooms with a green peppercorn sauce and a béarnaise sauce. They did take a temperature on the steak and it came out perfect.
With the steak I had a glass of Chateau Lynch Bages Grand Cru Classé. It retails for about $150.
For dessert I had a warm caramel fig cake with vanilla ice cream and, what else, more Champagne.
After that, I finished with a Johnny Walker Blue Label.
That was a heck of a lunch. So after about a two-hour food and drink extravaganza I was ready for a nap. I was able to sleep for about two hours before we ran into some heavy turbulence that woke me up. So I ordered a cappuccino to help get my bearings back.
After about another two hours I decided to have a snack. Instead of ordering something off the snack menu I ordered off the lunch menu. I had the fettuccine with shiitake mushrooms, white wine, garlic, chargrilled fennel, and white truffle oil. As with the lunch service, they reset my table with a tablecloth and another bread basket and…more Champagne.
I asked Nancy how many bottles of Krug they had on the flight as I was getting concerned they might run out. Thank God there were only two others in first class because she said they only stocked three bottles for the flight. I think I might have had all three by the time it was said and done.
About an hour before landing the dinner service started. The first course was fresh fruit.
For my main I had the sea bass with lemon butter, savoy cabbage, pancetta, and grilled vegetables.
For the dessert I had the baked pear tart with mixed berry coulis.
Everything I had on this flight was perfectly executed and delicious. This was by far the best airline food I’ve ever had. It might not have been the biggest menu but they nailed everything they offered.
Moments before landing I received a couple of chocolates. Like I hadn’t had enough to eat. Ha!
From the moment I set foot on the plane I knew I was in good hands. They called me Mr. Ensor right away and called me by name the whole flight. The meal service was as well done as it could have been. I was given a hot towel after every meal and about five more during the duration of the flight. The crew was personable and seemed to genuinely care about providing top-notch service. Every time I went to the bathroom they escorted me there and opened the door for me. There were several times I had to get up and go to the galley to get a refill on my drink but I honestly don’t expect them to keep up with my champagne consumption. Before departing the plane every flight attendant came by to tell me bye and wish me a safe journey onward. This was probably the best flight crew I’ve every had. I’d give service a 9.8/10
This was an incredible flight. For 70,000 miles this is an incredible redemption. The staff was fantastic, food was the best I’ve had on an airline, the seat was by far the softest of any airline, and the entertainment was spot-on. The only thing that could have been better is if they offered wifi on this route but I suppose it’s nice to disconnect once in a while. The 15-hour flight flew by, I could have easily done another ten hours without any complaints. Cathay Pacific really knows how to do first class. I look forward to flying them again in the near future.