Review: Cathay Pacific First Class New York to Hong Kong

Review: Cathay Pacific First Class New York to Hong Kong

Flight info

  • Cathay Pacific (CX) 845
  • New York (JFK) - Hong Kong (HKG)
  • Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
  • Depart: Saturday 1:30am
  • Arrive: Sunday: 5:50am
  • Scheduled Duration: 15:45
  • Seats: 1D, 2D
  • Cabin: First Class

Booking

For the first leg of our honeymoon to Bali, we wanted an especially nice flight to kick off the trip. When booking roughly 6 months before, we had locked in business class seats on Cathay (using pre-devaluation AAdvantage miles), as no first class award seats were available. After checking almost daily for first class seats to open up, 2 finally did about 30 hours before the flight. We quickly called up the Executive Platinum desk at American Airlines, and after a few minutes, we were confirmed in the first class cabin.

Pre-departure

We arrived at the airport about 3.5 hours before departure and approached the first class check-in counter. In less than a minute, we had our boarding passes and proceeded to security. Though we didn't get Pre-Check on our boarding passes (since Cathay doesn't participate in the program), the first class security lane at Terminal 7 was open. There was a short line and we were through quickly, at which point we proceeded up the escalator to the British Airways Galleries First Class lounge.

The lounge was pleasant and quiet, with a satisfactory selection of food for so late at night. The space almost completely cleared out as the BA redeye flights departed before midnight.

The flight

About 10 minutes before our scheduled boarding time, we made our way to the gate and waited by the first class stanchion for boarding to be called. 

Shortly thereafter, we walked down the jet bridge and were greeted warmly by two flight attendants, who directed us through the galley and to the left into the small first class cabin. 

 Cathay Pacific 777-300ER First Class Seatmap. (Courtesy cathaypacific.com)

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER First Class Seatmap. (Courtesy cathaypacific.com)

The cabin is laid out in a 1-1-1 configuration, with only 2 rows of open-style suites. 1A and 2A are the most private, as they have an aisle to themselves. The remaining 4 seats share the second aisle, but it hardly feels claustrophobic. 

The first class seats are incredibly spacious. Though they don't have closing doors like some other top-tier international airlines, Cathay's seats still feel quite private, thanks to generous side partitions. One would have to lean far forward to be able to see other passengers in their seats. There is a partition between the D seats and the left aisle, so we weren't really aware of the other side of the first class cabin. 

 Cathay Pacific First Class seat

Cathay Pacific First Class seat

The seating area itself is incredibly wide - it feels more akin to a loveseat for two people than an armchair for one. There were two fluffy pillows waiting at the seat, plus another attached to the headrest. There are ample storage areas, including a magazine pocket, closable bin near the elbow (a good fit for a smartphone), a storage closet for hanging clothes and storing shoes, a lighted inset pocket beneath the IFE monitor, as well as storage under the footrest/buddy seat. We'll get to this buddy seat in a minute.

The two crew members assigned to our cabin, Jenny and Oscar, immediately came by to introduce themselves and ask if they could bring us anything to drink before departure. Both were sensational throughout the flight - attentive, anticipatory, efficient, and warm. They quickly distributed our pajamas, slippers, and amenity kits and made sure we were acquainted with the features of our seats. They also brought out a special-meal-friendly amuse-bouche for each of us, which we found quite tasty. We had ordered vegan (VGML) and vegetarian (VLML) for this flight.

 Cathay Pacific first class VGML (vegan) amuse-bouche

Cathay Pacific first class VGML (vegan) amuse-bouche

There was a short ground delay, so we enjoyed our pre-departure water and orange juice and changed into our pajamas. The fit is quite large for their stated sizes, though very comfortable. We hung our street clothes in the personal closets at the front of each suite. 

The IFE monitors look a bit small compared to the likes of Emirates and some other first class products, though are quite functional. The screen can be released and extend out on an arm. This allows it to get closer to you, as well as pivot side to side. Though the resolution didn't seem super high, it was perfectly fine.

 Cathay Pacific first class IFE, storage, and buddy seat / footrest

Cathay Pacific first class IFE, storage, and buddy seat / footrest

Seat and lighting controls were located on an angled touch screen panel near our left forearms, next to the IFE controller. While the interface was easy to use, I was glad there were physical buttons on the right partition, for bleary-eyed trips to the bathroom mid-flight. USB and electrical outlets were located on the wall of our left consoles.

By the time boarding was complete, all 6 of the first class seats were filled and we began our pushback. After taxiing, we had a smooth climb up to cruising altitude, at which point the meal service began.

Here was one of our favorite aspects of the flight: the buddy seat in each suite allows two people to dine comfortably face-to-face. We requested to dine in Spencer's suite for the first meal, so Jenny quickly installed a table extender on the standard tray table. I sat down with a pillow behind me in the rear-facing buddy seat and buckled my seatbelt. It's great that these seats include seatbelts, so you don't have to return to your own seat during turbulence. I found the buddy seat quite comfortable, and we had ample legroom and table space for both of us and our meals. 

During our meal, we unlatched the IFE monitor, extending it out and rotating it to face our table. This was perfect for watching the airshow while dining together. 

Dinner

 Cathay Pacific First Class VGML vegan appetizer

Cathay Pacific First Class VGML vegan appetizer

As mentioned, we had ordered special meals for this Cathay flight, and the catering did not disappoint. The meal service began with individual bread baskets and a personalized, hand-written note from our first class cabin crew. Spencer and I received the same appetizer - a generously portioned salad with squash, zucchini, peppers, and artichokes. We shared a pot of Chinese loose-leaf tea throughout the meal.

 Cathay Pacific First Class VGML Entree

Cathay Pacific First Class VGML Entree

For the main course, Spencer received a pasta dish with tomatoes and cheese. I got a grilled tofu and vegetable entree. The food taste, presentation, and quality were truly exceptional. This rivaled many of the best meals I've had on the ground.

Dessert included a large bowl of fresh berries with a side of cream. We each received a plate of chocolates at the end of the meal.

The sleeping experience

After dinner, I decided to get some sleep, as it was quite late for my internal clock. I asked the cabin crew about the bedding, and they offered to make the bed for me. I went to the restroom to brush my teeth, and returned to a perfectly made bed. The sleeping surface was quite comfortable, as there was a mattress pad and high-quality sheets. If I had one complaint, it was that the cabin was kept on the warm side, so I found myself sweating throughout the night. 

Mid-flight snack

I slept for a solid 6-7 hours, only waking up periodically from some turbulence. At this point, it seemed like it was time for some more food. I joined Spencer in his suite and we were served some mixed nuts and cookies, along with more tea. We played some co-op games on our iPads, before settling back to get some more rest.

Breakfast

 Cathay Pacific First Class Breakfast for two

Cathay Pacific First Class Breakfast for two

For this meal, Spencer sat in my suite's buddy seat, and we inquired about some food. We were still a few hours out of Hong Kong and feeling hungry again. Oscar installed the table extender and offered to make us freshly scrambled eggs (he even proactively offered to do so without milk, noting that I had chosen the non-dairy vegetarian meal). He said it would take a few minutes to prepare the meal, so he brought us some dried fruit and bread to enjoy in the meantime. We also got a pot of tea and Spencer selected a smoothy, which was tasty.

 Cathay Pacific First Class scrambled eggs made-to-order

Cathay Pacific First Class scrambled eggs made-to-order

Oscar brought us eggs and a couple of orders of toast with jam. The eggs were perfectly cooked-to-order. It was another excellent meal that we got to enjoy face-to-face. We watched the airshow while dining to track our progress into Hong Kong. 

Before we knew it, we were landing, and had a smooth touchdown and short taxi to the gate. We proceeded to The Wing First Class Lounge to shower, then The Pier First Class Lounge to eat and relax before our next flight to Bali.

The bottom line

This was a fantastic first class experience on Cathay. Jenny and Oscar, our flight attendants, were a class act and made this special trip all the more memorable.

The food was better than any we've tasted on any flight - ever. It was that good. 

Traveling as a couple, we enjoyed each meal face-to-face, thanks to the first class suite's "buddy" seat, and table extenders, which made it even more special.

We found the seats to be very comfortable for lounging and sleeping; there was excellent bedding, plenty of storage, and lots of space to get comfortable. 

This was truly one of our most memorable flights ever, and not just because we were on our honeymoon. Cathay has an incredibly solid and well-rounded hard and soft product that is among the best out there.