With several aircraft types in the Cathay Pacific fleet, the plane to book in Business Class is the Airbus A350. Sporting the airline’s newest Business Class seat, you’ll find these jets soaring on many of Cathay’s Australian routes. That includes between Hong Kong and Melbourne, where I’m headed tonight.

It’s been great visiting Hong Kong on this journey and seeing the city back in its pre-pandemic glory. While it’s sad to be leaving, when you must depart Hong Kong, doing it in the highest cabin on the home airline’s newest plane certainly softens that pain. Let’s fly.

Check-in and boarding

Checking in for this Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Business Class flight isn’t quite like a typical airport departure. That’s because I opt to use Cathay’s In-Town Check-In service. Situated at Hong Kong Station on Hong Kong Island itself, my bag is tagged and taken right in the city.

With the suitcase sorted and my boarding pass printed, I’m free to do as I please. I could stay in the city for any final shopping or meetings, sure. But this was a strategic move. By completing check-in early, I’m able to take the train straight to the airport and proceed through the departure formalities many, many hours before my flight takes off.

Usually, I’d try to maximise my time in Hong Kong – rather than at Hong Kong International Airport. But I’ve been here for a week, and a midnight flight provides time to visit several of Cathay Pacific’s lounges. It’s a done deal.

There’s a dedicated queue for Business at the boarding gate. Just like clockwork, it’s called first. Happy days.

Lounge access

Hong Kong Airport is home to a significant number of lounges. With a boarding pass in Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Business Class, you can choose from:

The Pier tends to be the best pick before flights to Australia. These departures are often from the gates nearest to this lounge. If you happen to be flying from a gate closer to the airport’s regular check-in zone, I’d suggest The Deck. It’s more modern than The Wing – a beautiful environment that mimics the stylings of an upmarket apartment.

Passengers preferring a change of scenery can also visit Qantas’ lounge in Hong Kong when departing in Cathay Pacific Business Class under oneworld Alliance rules.

Top-tier frequent flyers have two more options in Hong Kong. The following lounges are available to oneworld Emerald cardholders, including members of Cathay Pacific Diamond (and above) and Qantas Platinum (and above).

Given that I check in for this flight many hours before departure, I have a chance to visit both of these options. I stop past The Wing for lunch, some bubbles from the Champagne Bar and some relaxation time in a Cabana. Later, I retreat to The Pier for dinner and some more ‘me time’ in a day suite – complete with airport views.

Boarding is slightly delayed tonight, so while this is usually a ‘quiet’ lounge, a boarding announcement is made for this Melbourne-bound departure.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Business Class seating

Cathay Pacific has long been known for offering direct aisle access from every seat in long-haul Business. True to tradition, Cathay’s Airbus A350 Business Class cabin is no exception. It starts with seating in the expected 1-2-1 layout. But compared to Cathay’s more aged Boeing 777s, the A350 seat is a step up.

Designed by Studio F.A. Porsche, it strikes a good balance between comfort for sleeping and space for working. When the former is the goal, the seat extends completely flat. I typically use one side of the blanket to soften the seat. When you’re trying to work, the sturdy tray table and nearby power point make this easy.

This is a nine-hour flight from Hong Kong to Melbourne, and I manage to get around 6.5 hours of sleep. I could have stretched this even further if not for trying the food as part of this review. (When I’m flying ‘just to fly’, I’d only eat in the lounge instead to maximise my rest).

As for the seat’s other features, storage options are generous. There’s a small cupboard at shoulder height that’s handy for your amenity kit, water, headphones, smartphone and other bits and pieces. When opened, the door to that cupboard doubles as a mirror at the top with a quick-reach pouch at the bottom.

There’s a larger storage compartment down by your feet, which later forms part of your flat bed. Handily, it’s coloured bright red inside – helping to highlight any items you may have left behind. A fixed shelf next to you also proves useful for things like drinks and nibbles when you don’t want to have the full meal tray in the way. Cathay Pacific does have a new Business Class seat on the way, but its existing product is still a solid performer.

Food and beverage in Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Business Class

As I said, for me, overnight flights like this are mostly about maximising sleep. But if you have a long day and don’t have the chance to dine beforehand, you won’t be left hungry.

Service on tonight’s Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Business Class flight begins with a drink before takeoff. If you’re in the mood for bubbles, Drappier Champagne is ready and waiting. I’ve already enjoyed bubbles in The Pier, so I opt for the refreshing and non-alcoholic Cathay Delight. It’s the airline’s signature mocktail – not unlike a smoothie.

Going back to getting a good night’s sleep: it’s clear the airline realises this is generally the goal. To help you get the most rest, breakfast orders are taken before departure. Just complete the breakfast card – practically like hotel room service – and hang it on your coat hook. You can even specify when you’d like to be woken up or whether the crew should just let you doze.

For the sake of this review, I indulge in a light supper after departure. The prawn and pork dumpling noodle soup gives me one last delicious taste of Hong Kong. I enjoy it with a cup of JING ‘jasmine spring tips’ tea, and then I’m out like a light.

Fast-forward to the morning and the crew know that I want to maximise my rest. I’ve preordered a simple pastry and coffee, which is delivered to my seat around 30 minutes before landing. I’m woken 10 minutes earlier, to go and change from my (BYO) pyjamas.

Service and entertainment

On redeye flights like this hop in Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Business Class, ‘less’ is definitely ‘more’ on the service front. As a oneworld Emerald frequent flyer, I get a quick greeting from the purser as I settle in. It’s a nice touch – and I appreciate that it happens early in the flight before I’m trying to doze. Otherwise, my supper is delivered promptly and my breakfast timed to get as much sleep as I can. I really can’t ask for more.

I don’t get much of a chance to explore the entertainment choices on this flight, but I can see that they mirror the offerings on my journey up to Hong Kong a week prior. Overall, there’s a good mix of movies and TV shows of broad appeal to Western audiences. Being able to access the aircraft’s tail camera provides a bird’s eye view of our journey.

Even though every seat in this cabin affords direct aisle access, I always try to grab a seat by the window. When you’re always seeing the inside of planes, being able to sneak one last glimpse of a city is a nice way to end each visit. As is being able to look out and see your city of arrival while still strapped into the seat.

It’s worth highlighting that Cathay Pacific doesn’t offer pyjamas in Business Class. There are currently two airlines offering direct flights between Melbourne and Hong Kong. Qantas is the other – on which you will find PJs – although many frequent flyers will have amassed a wardrobe of these over the years and could pack their own. Still, having them available on the aircraft would be a nice touch, whether for first-time pointy end flyers or those who didn’t think to bring them.

The verdict

Cathay Pacific has long set the standard in long-haul Business Class, with the Airbus A350 currently offering the airline’s best experience. (Well, except for certain Boeing 777 flights on which Business Class flyers may be able to sit in First Class, but that doesn’t count!)

The Cathay experience combines solid lounge options in Hong Kong with a comfortable bed and delicious inflight dining. While not of use to me on an overnight sleeper leg like this, it’s worth noting that Cathay’s Airbus A350s offer inflight Wi-Fi as standard. Charges apply depending on the length of the flight, but I always find connectivity useful when flying during the business day.

We’re expecting to see Cathay Pacific’s newest Business Class product, Aria Suite, in the flesh later this year. It will bring closing privacy doors to Cathay Pacific Business Class. As for whether pyjamas become part of the package, we’ll have to wait and see.

Also read: Cathay Pacific’s premium push brings yearly launches of new seats

Feature image courtesy of Cathay Pacific. Other photography by Chris Chamberlin, who travelled as a guest of Cathay Pacific.

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Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Business Class (Hong Kong – Melbourne) was last modified: June 16th, 2024 by Chris Chamberlin