[Click above for the video review.]
After 2 long years, we were finally able to experience Cathay Pacific’s (CX) long haul First Class once again. This is a trip review of our flight from Hong Kong to Paris CDG on flight CX 261.
Sadly, we did not have time to visit Cathay Pacific’s excellent lounges in Hong Kong International Airport this time. We arrived late and were literally running to the gate. We made it 5 minutes before boarding started. Boarding pass was scanned, and we were through in no time. We took the first jet bridge for First and Business Class passengers.
Upon boarding, we were greeted by the in-flight service Manager (ISM), Nancy and Eric, the other flight attendant working the first class cabin (he was in charge of the galley). We were then walked over to our “suite” by Senior Purser, Dana. I was seated in 1K, and my companion in 1A. CX’s First Class Cabin on the Boeing 777-300ER consists of only 6 seats on row 1 and 2 in a 1-1-1 configuration. The cabin felt very spacious and open as CX removed the overhead bins in First Class. There is actually a large storage closet in each seat that is big enough to fit both a carry on luggage and a laptop bag or backpack. We stowed our belongings in the closet and took our seats. The seats themselves, though not fully enclosed compared to First Class on airlines like Etihad, Asiana, and Emirates felt very spacious and private. It is also wide, well padded, and very comfortable. In fact, it’s actually my favorite First Class seat. Dana soon returned with a hot towel and a menu. She also took our drink orders. I ordered a glass of Krug champagne (~$200/bottle), which Dana brought along with a pre-flight crab meat and cracker amuse bouche. They were both delicious! A few minutes later, she came back and offered us some First Class pajamas and Amenity Kit.
A few more refills of Krug and boarding was complete. During pushback and taxi, Dana came by and started talking to me. I asked her whether she normally flies the Paris route. “Not very often”, she responded. She mentioned that she flies mostly North American destinations. I told her I was from San Francisco, and coincidentally it turns out that SFO is one of her usual routes, and she has family in the Bay Area. We shared a few laughs, and from then on I already knew this was going to be a good flight. She asked me what I wanted to drink after takeoff. I replied with “more Krug, please”, naturally -Ha! Taxi to the runway took about 10 minutes and we were soon off to Paris.
Takeoff was relatively smooth. We hit a few small bumps on the way up, but nothing too bad. A few minutes later, the Captain switched off the seatbelt sign, and the magic started. The ISM, Nancy came by to introduce herself and greeted all the First Class Passengers with a warm welcome. Soon enough, Dana was back with my glass of Krug and some mixed nuts. She also took my meal order. I chose the caviar for starters, the leek and potato soup, the Angus beef tenderloin for my main entrée, and the banoffee pie and ice cream for dessert. My companion went with the Chinese offering for the soup and entrée.
I checked out the features of the “suite” to get familiarized. Afterall, it’s been a while since I’ve last flown CX First Class. To my immediate right (window side), was the touchscreen seat and lighting controls, the IFE remote, and a small storage bin. There is a flip-up panel which stores the large table. You will also find an AC power outlet and USB charger. To my left side was the arm rest, the magazine pocket, and the seat controls when you’re in lie flat mode. Right above my shoulders were 2 adjustable reading lights. Opposite the seat is a small “guest” seat complete with seatbelt, and right next to it is the 15.4″ swing out IFE screen that has a latch which you can unlock to adjust the position and viewing angle of the monitor. The monitor was initially stuck and I couldn’t adjust it, but the crew quickly fixed the issue. The Studio CX IFE system is responsive and easy to use. It offers a wide variety of Hollywood and Asian movies, TV shows, music, games, and one of my favorite moving maps. A Bose noise canceling headset was also available in the seat.
After tinkering with the seat, I decided to visit the lavatory to freshen up and change into my pajamas. The First Class lavatory is on the smaller size compared to their First Class lavatory on their 747-400 planes, but it was nicely decorated, well stocked, and cleaned after each use. It has an ornate sink and faucet with Aesop toiletries, and a changing bench to easily change into your pajamas.
Upon returning to my seat, my table was set. Then the meal service started with the caviar course. I really love how CX serves their caviar complete with all the garnishes (eggs, onions, crème fraîche, and blinis), including a mother of pearl spoon (paired with my glass of Krug champagne). Also included was a handwritten note wishing me a pleasant flight. I killed the caviar course within a few minutes, as expected. The next course was the leek and potato soup. It was served at the right temperature and was delicious. Then the steak was brought out. It was cooked to a perfect medium and was very tender, it literally cut like butter. Then the banoffee (like banana cream) pie and ice cream was brought out. I’m a big fan of banana flavored desserts and it certainly did not disappoint. My companion was also happy with the meal service, and the quality of the food. Shortly, Dana came back to clear my table and brought a bottle of Evian water and some chocolate pralines.
After the great meal, Dana asked me if I wanted my bed made. I responded with a “yes, please!”, as I was already in a food coma after the meal. I took a quick visit to the lavatory to brush my teeth, and my bed was ready by the time I came back. The seat, when converted into a bed is wide and very well padded using a mattress pad. The bedding was of high quality and was very comfortable as well. I fell asleep right away and slept for a good 7 hours.
I woke up about 2 hours before landing. Dana soon approached me and asked me if I was ready for breakfast. I ordered the fresh fruits and dim sum. I took another quick visit to the lavatory to freshen up and my bed was cleared, and seat brought back upright when I got back to my seat. A few minutes later, Dana and Eric came to set up my table again complete with another bread basket, coffee, water, and orange juice. First up was the fresh fruits which was a nice start to the meal. Then Dana brought out the dim sum, which was delightful! The steamed items were still moist and tender which was a pleasant surprise considering we’ve been flying for almost 12 hours. My companion went with the western option which was scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, and potatoes.
Dana asked if I would be willing to fill out a survey about the flight. I obliged and mentioned that I could even write an actual letter to management to put in a good word for the crew. I worked on the survey and letter for a few minutes and happily handed them over to Nancy. Soon enough it was time to land. Dana came back with Fast Track cards for immigration, and thanked us for flying Cathay Pacific. The landing in Paris was very smooth that it didn’t even feel like we touched down. A quick taxi to the gate and we were on our way. We said goodbye to the awesome crew and were one of the first people off the plane. We arrived around 6:00 AM and there were no lines at immigration, so we kept our fast track cards for another time ;-). Passport control was quick, and we were through in less than a minute. It was amazing how it only took us less than 10 minutes to get to the curb from the plane since we were not traveling with any checked luggage.
All in all, I can’t say enough good things about this flight. It was flawless from start to finish. The service was top-notch, the seat very comfortable, and the food was delicious! As I mentioned earlier, the hard product may not be up to par with other carriers’ First Class products, but the excellent service and overall experience makes Cathay Pacific’s First Class a cut above everyone else. I would give this flight a perfect 10 out of 10.