Cathay Pacific’s First Class seat isn’t ground-breaking or brand new, but its long-established reputation for comfort and service continues to win it many fans. With a brand new First Class product coming in 2021, we took a flight from Hong Kong to London in the current configuration to see whether it’s past its best, or still stands up to industry competition.
- Flight: CX253 Hong Kong T1 to London Heathrow T3
- Class: First
- Seats: 1A & 2A
- Aircraft Type: Boeing 777-300ER
- Aircraft Registration: B-KQJ
- Aircraft Age: 4.8 years
- Date: 3rd July 2018
- Departure / Arrival: 14:40 / 20:35
- Flight Time: 12h 55m
- Cost: 120,000 Avios + £34.20 per person
We arrived at Hong Kong International airport around 11.10am, three and a half hours prior to the departure time for our flight to London.
Cathay Pacific has its own dedicated First Class check-in counters in zone A.
Rather than the more traditional check in desks you find at airports with the luggage belt to the side and an agent sitting behind a desk, these are styled as ‘podiums’ where you interact with the agent while standing at eye height.
If you have checked luggage this is tagged and taken to a designated drop point out of sight by another agent.
The whole process was friendly and super-efficient, taking just 5 minutes. From here it was a short walk to the closest security checkpoint. This benefits from same level direct access to The Wing First Class lounge – out first stop for the obligatory review.
Passengers travelling in First Class with Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong have a wide variety of lounge options, not only including the carrier’s own facilities but also the well-rated Qantas Hong Kong lounge.
Almost everyone will want to sample one of the two dedicated First Class lounges, The Wing or The Pier. If time permits, you may want to try both – as we did prior to our flight.
The Wing is a good starting point, right after the security checkpoint on the left side. Once you’ve passed through the priority security lane, take a left and you’ll find this lounge has its own dedicated entrance to the First Class section on the same level (those flying Business have to go downstairs to the main entrance).
The Wing is our recommended starting point, especially if you arrive early as the departure gate for Cathay flights is often not assigned until around 2.5 – 3 hours prior to the scheduled departure time. Here you can enjoy a ‘cabana’ – your own private room with a chaise lounge, shower and bath, among the plentiful other lounge facilities.
At peak times the cabanas can suffer a waiting time, so if it’s your goal to try one – this is definitely the first lounge you should head for in order to put your name down as soon as you arrive.
Heading straight to The Pier is another option, however you may then have a long walk back to your gate if you are departing in the 1-28 range (see map above). There is a train available, though we find it doesn’t save a huge amount of time.
Boarding commenced at 2.20pm and as we managed to be first on board, I went across to the right hand aisle to take a few photos of the other four First Class seats before returning to our ‘private aisle’ pair at 1A and 2A.
The two-row cabin is bright and airy, with no overhead lockers. However there is a crew rest compartment in the forward ceiling, reducing the height slightly.
The middle ‘D’ seats have a seat-height wall to the left side, shielding them from the left aisle, with a long opaque ‘window’ for some natural light to shine through from the actual windows during the daytime.
I wouldn’t personally choose a middle seat as a first preference, however the space remains very private and the seat is angled away from the aisle. It is also staggered slightly behind the ‘K’ window seat on the right in each case, which itself is angled towards the window, further enhancing privacy.
Eddie also managed to take a peek into the forward two-row Business Class cabin directly behind the First Class section. You can see why this is favoured over the much larger 12-row Business Class section behind the second aircraft doors.
Seat selection / the left aisle
As a couple we would strongly recommend seats 1A and 2A in First Class on the Cathay Pacific 777-300ER. That’s because these two seats have an aisle all to themselves, with the other four seats in this cabin (1D/K and 2 D/K) using the right hand aisle.
Foot traffic is very low on the left side and therefore this feels almost like your own private cabin.
One issue you may face with this is that seat 2A is a designated bassinet position in this cabin, and is therefore not available for advance selection (assuming you are not travelling with an infant).
You will have to call Cathay Pacific and ask to be assigned this seat. Provided it is still available they will do this for you, with the usual caveat that if a booking with an infant included is then made in First Class on your flight you might be relocated. With a total of only six seats in Cathay First, and another bassinet position available at seat 2K, this is a very slim chance indeed.
Eddie took seat 1A and I went for 2A. The first thing to note about the window seats in this cabin is that they all benefit from having three windows – no one is short changed here.
The space around the seat strikes you right away – it’s immense. Sure we had just come off the new Singapore Airlines A380 Suites a couple of days before, but along with the new (and rare) Emirates 777 Suites that’s in a league of its own in floorspace terms.
Here you have a seat easily wide enough for two people to sit in. It’s an enormous 36 inches wide, for our regular readers familiar with Singapore Airlines seats that’s 2 inches wider than the 2006 Business Class seat, and an inch wider than the 2013 First Class seat.
There’s also an ottoman, which may look small in the pictures but is probably bigger than an Economy Class seat!
A fold-down armrest is located alongside the seat to cater for the sheer width of the seat. Similar to the bolster cushion provided on the equally wide Singapore Airlines 2006 J seat, it allows you to sit comfortably when upright.
The crew came round to take our drinks order and we each went for a glass of Champagne. The beauty of the space available means it’s an obvious choice to take your pre-flight drinks together in a single ‘Suite’, so Eddie joined me in 2A.
We were each also served with a crab meat amuse-bouche which was very tasty and a nice welcoming touch. Introduced to First Class in 2014, the amuse-bouche was withdrawn in 2017 amid some other cuts, however it seems to be back which is great.
Hot towels were also provided. Pushback was postponed due to an air traffic control issue, and the crew came round to offer us a second glass of Champagne during the short 10-minute delay.
A large wardrobe is located to the side of the seat, where you enter from the aisle.
It is equipped with three hangers and an additional coat hook.
There is also plenty of room here for your carry on luggage, even if you have two carry on items. This of course is vital due to the lack of overhead lockers in the First Class cabin.
The storage of smaller carry on items is permitted below the ottoman even during taxi, take-off and landing. Perfect for quick access to essential items.
My large rucksack fit in the space under the ottoman with room to spare.
A further small cubby to the left of the seat is good for passports, phones and other small items.
Located beneath the IFE screen is an additional open storage area. It’s the perfect location to stow the pyjamas and amenity kits after they are handed out near the beginning of the flight. The space on the left side is larger than on the right, as you can see in the photo below.
As you may notice from some of the photos, the cabin on this older aircraft was starting to show some signs of wear and tear from a few years of use – however everything still worked.
The Cathay Pacific First Class seat has a multi-standard power socket, meaning it doesn’t really matter what kind of plug your device uses you will be able to keep its battery charged no problem without worrying about having the right adapter.
There is also a USB charging socket alongside – great for charging your mobile phone while also using the main socket for a larger device such as a laptop.
Table and workspace
A large sturdy table folds out from the sideboard. It moves back and forth allowing for easy access to the seat, for example if you need to use the toilet halfway through dinner. An additional section can be added to facilitate buddy dining. The table has no vertical adjustment but we didn’t find this an issue.
The armrest is also sturdy enough to provide a more casual workspace if required, I found this quite a comfortable way to do some work.
Amenity Kit and Pyjamas
After departure, the crew bring round Aesop amenity kits and pyjamas with a choice of size – Small, Medium or Large.
There’s a set of eye shades with the pyjamas, and if ear plugs are your thing you’ll find those in the amenity kit.
The kit was otherwise fairly basic for First Class, and also included:
- Aesop facial hydrating cream
- Aesop cream to soften and hydrate lips
- A dental kit with toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash
- A comb
There are two toilets for a maximum of six First Class passengers on the Cathay Pacific 777-300ER aircraft. That’s an excellent ratio and indeed neither of us ever had to wait to use the toilet throughout the flight.
Here you’ll find the same Aesop toiletries as those offered in The Wing and The Pier lounges.
The two toilets themselves are nothing to shout about – standard size on the 777 and finished nicely with a ceramic sink and some wood-effect panelling to match the trim on the First Class seats themselves.
The in-flight entertainment system on Cathay Pacific is in the form of an 18″ screen, a little on the small side when you compare to the Singapore Airlines First Class screen sizes on offer (23″ in 2006 Suites, 24″ in 2013 First and whopping 32″ in 2017 Suites).
Even Cathay Pacific’s Business Class passengers on its new A350 aircraft have an 18.5″ screen.
There are two versions of the IFE system on the Cathay 777-300ER, an older system like we had on our aircraft, and a newer high definition system now installed on 14 of the 32 aircraft featuring a First Class cabin. These also feature upgraded IFE remotes like those installed on the A350.
Nevertheless the movie and entertainment selection was good, the moving map display was still useful (though older with much less functionality), and the IFE system can still show the feed from the on-board external cameras, which is great.
A pair of Bose noise-cancelling headphones is of course provided.
The seat is controlled via a small touchscreen located in the sideboard next to the seat. There are three preset positions and further adjustment of the individual parts of the seat is possible. It’s quite basic but does the job well.
The seat control touchscreen also adjusts the lighting, though more advanced lighting adjustment is possible through the IFE remote alongside.
Some basic seat controls are also located at the aisle side of the seat, these are ideal for the cabin crew to use for example when making up your bed or preparing your table for dinner service, without having to reach over you to the touchscreen controls (which would frankly be too far from them to reach I imagine).
After takeoff, we both ordered another glass of Champagne, which was served with warm nuts.
As you would expect in First Class, Cathay Pacific offers a wide selection in the drinks department.
The menu is ‘all in one’ and has a dedicated section listing the Champagne and wine selection, a range of Aperitifs and Cocktails, Whiskeys, Cognac, Liquors and Beer.
Of course, there is also a wide range of soft drinks including a signature ‘mocktail’.
Here are the options from the menu.
|Champagne & Wine
(click to enlarge)
|Aperitifs & Cocktails
(click to enlarge)
As always, we check on the Vivino rating (out of 5 stars) for the Champagne and wines offered on this flight.
|White & Champagne|
|Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006||4.5 stars|
|Chablis 1er Cru ‘Fourchaumes’ 2016||4.2 stars|
|Palliser Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2016||3.8 stars|
|Poggio Al Tesoro Bolgheri Superiore Sondraia 2013||4.2 stars|
|Spy Valley Pinot Noir Johnson Vineyard Envoy 2015||3.6 stars|
|Château Lynch-Bages Pauillac 2008||4.3 stars|
|Warre’s Otima’06 Single Year Tawny Colheita Port 2006||4.2 stars|
These are broadly high-end wines which as you can see rate well, and retail at S$50 – S$200 each. The Tattinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006 is difficult to source in Singapore, but you can pick it up in Hong Kong from around S$160 a bottle.
Cathay’s vintage Champagne selection
Last time we flew Cathay First Class they were pouring Krug 2004. In April 2018 the airline started a “rotating programme of the finest vintage Champagnes” in the First Class cabin. Selections not only include the Krug 2004, but also the 2006 Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, which was served on our flight, the 2007 William Deutz Cuvee and the 2002 Piper Heidsieck Rare.
We’ll be honest here – the Krug 2004 is a fantastic drop and a firm favourite of ours. We choose it over the Dom Perignon when flying First or Suites Class on Singapore Airlines and it never disappoints. We found the Tattinger Comtes de Champagne slightly sweet for our taste.
It was still perfectly enjoyable but we moved onto the wine selection perhaps a little more quickly than we would have done had Krug been on the menu!
A great feature of the Cathay Pacific First Class seat is the ability to dine together with a partner, friend or colleague at one of the suites.
We asked to have lunch together after departure at seat 1A and the crew happily set up the table for two there.
This is achieved with a large extender the crew attach to the standard table, almost doubling its size.
Another couple in seats 1D and 1K also opted to dine together, while the passengers in 2D and 2K were apparently travelling alone and ate at their individual seats.
The space on the ottoman seat for your dining companion is more than sufficient for most, though not quite as spacious as the Qantas First Class buddy dining ottoman, which we flew in March.
As this was a daytime flight, service commenced with lunch after takeoff. Later in the flight prior to landing in London, dinner was served. Snacks were also available throughout the flight, including noodles or a burger if you became peckish.
The menu below is provided shortly after takeoff and shows the options available.
(click to enlarge)
(click to enlarge)
It’s worth noting that Cathay have a ‘dine on demand’ service in First Class, allowing you to pick and choose what you wish to eat at a time best suited to your body clock (or just a general craving). This wasn’t particularly mentioned by the crew, nor does the menu itself go to any great lengths to advertise the feature.
It did seem ‘expected’ that we would have lunch straight after departure, though I’m sure the crew would happily oblige if you wanted to dine later instead.
Anyway, we were both hungry and happy to eat after takeoff, it was just a little surprising that the ‘on demand’ option was not made clear. Many passengers will be flying in this cabin for the first time and may not be aware of the perk (now you are!).
We both began with the legendary caviar and Champagne with traditional garnishes. This introductory dish is a course in itself, ahead of the soup / salad starter options and main courses.
A bread basket, butter and olive oil with balsamic vinegar are also provided for each passenger.
The crew even handwrite these cute little ‘Bon Appétit’ cards for each passenger, which is a nice touch.
I then went for the burrata cheese salad, while Eddie had the lentil soup.
Both dishes were very good, as were the bread baskets we were both tucking into at an alarming rate (refills are available!).
Finally, it was the grilled USDA prime beef tenderloin that caught my eye as a main course, with Eddie opting for the confit side of pork.
After all that food, not to mention what we had in the lounge before the flight, it was hard to do justice to dessert. Nevertheless, Eddie found room for the fresh berries with rosewater syrup, and I went for the cheese plate on the proviso he had some too!
Both were good dishes. A little box with two chocolates finished off the dinner – an 85% dark chocolate with raspberry and a milk chocolate with hazelnut.
I didn’t get much sleep on this flight – I rarely do on day flights and trust me this is no slight on the fabulously comfortable bed on offer, it’s just how my body works. Eddie was apparently having no trouble on the sleep front, so buddy dining wasn’t now going to be an option! I therefore asked the crew for dinner at my seat a few hours prior to landing in London.
Having slept a while, watched a movie and sat around doing some work I didn’t want anything huge following the lavish lunch, so I checked with the crew that the duck confit wasn’t an enormous dish – I was looking for a light option.
They said it would be very manageable so I went for that. Service again starts with the bread basket, butter and oil, and a small seasonal fruit plate.
I’m glad I stuck with my first instinct on the menu – the duck confit was an absolutely beautiful dish and even had the edge over the (excellent) steak I had earlier as a main course for lunch. Eddie truly missed out by sleeping!
I’m not a huge fan of Italian wine but I went for a glass of the Tuscan Sondraia with my dinner and it paired really well with this dish.
Overall the food on this flight was very good. Food is served on Noritake fine bone chinaware, and presentation was excellent for all courses with close attention to detail from the cabin crew.
If you’re flying one of Cathay Pacific’s overnight flights to London in First Class, there’s an excellent breakfast option we couldn’t resist sharing with you here.