After some time in Tokyo, we flew from Tokyo to Taipei to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific, stopping over in Hong Kong for just under a day, before heading home to Perth.
Cathay Pacific’s Business Class was comfortable, with good service and food – and on this trip I got to check out both of their different regional and long-haul Business Class seats.
Planning the trip
After booking our journey to Osaka on Jetstar, it was time to investigate options for coming back home. This time, all six of us were determined to fly business class on a full-service airline. The return journey was surprisingly easier to book. Using Qantas points, there were 6 seats available in business on the overnight Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Perth on 24 Dec.
Our four friends simply paired that with a morning Tokyo to Hong Kong flight, leaving about 9 hours in transit – plenty of time to visit the city. The overall ticket from Tokyo to Perth in business class cost 78,000 Qantas Points + $100 in taxes (jumping to 90,000 Qantas Points from 18 September 2019).
However my partner and I wanted to maximise our time in Hong Kong, without the hassle of a stopover. There is an interesting feature of using Qantas points for international awards, where any connection under 24 hours is classed as a ‘transit’ instead of a ‘stopover’ – there’s a Point Hacks guide which explains stopovers using Qantas Points here.
The benefits of a transit is that your journey isn’t broken up, so luggage is checked through the transit stop, and it usually doesn’t affect the points needed for the ticket. Since our Hong Kong to Perth flight departed at 10:40pm on 24 Dec, we just needed to land in Hong Kong after 10:40pm on 23 Dec.
Using the multi-city booking tool, I managed to piece together a connection by flying Tokyo to Taipei to Hong Kong, arriving 11:10pm on 23 Dec. Then we had a 23 hr 30 min transit which allowed us to stay overnight in the city and spend the next day exploring, until the evening. There were no additional points required for flying via Taipei, except $25 more in taxes – not bad for an extra lounge visit and flight!
A cash fare for the same flights was just under $6,800 AUD (full fare business), so using points represented good value for redemption, at 8.7c per point.
Cathay Pacific Fleet: Regional and Long Haul Seats
Cathay Pacific operates a fleet with a variety of aircraft and seat types, depending on the destination of the flight. The ones relevant to this overview include the regional 777-300 and A330-300, and the long-haul A330-300.
The regional aircraft have all been refurbished with the new recliner business class seats, which are identical in both aircraft. The only difference is the configuration: 2-2-2 in the A330, and 2-3-2 in the 777 due to a wider fuselage. These recline into a shell so you don’t disturb anyone behind you, and the leg rest can come up to create a comfortable armchair-like experience.
The long haul A330’s are kitted out with 39 of the now-standard reverse herringbone seats many of you will be familiar with. They come with plenty of storage space, direct aisle access, and can convert into fully flat beds.
Pre-flight: CX451 Narita – Taipei
We arrived about three hours prior to our flight at Narita International Airport. Despite the long stop in Hong Kong, our bags were allowed to be checked all the way into Perth.
We received boarding passes for all three flights, as well as lounge invitations for each transit.
Flying the long way back home as well, but at least it’ll be fun.
There was a dedicated Fast Track security lane which we entered by simply flashing our boarding passes, which I prefer to the ‘Express Path’ system in Australia. Looking at the size of the normal queue next to us, I think we saved at least 15 minutes.
That’s a long line for security on the right!
Having done my research on oneworld lounges in Tokyo Narita, I decided the JAL Sakura lounge was worth a visit for lunch.
The lounge is beautifully designed, with light elegant tones all around.
The grand staircase up to the food area
More importantly, there was a good hot buffet section including beef curry, crumbed chicken fillets, udon noodles and more. I assembled myself a delicious lunch from what I think is some of the best business lounge buffet food out there.
Soon, it was time to transfer to the Narita Cathay Pacific Lounge for boarding announcements.
This is an ageing lounge with no hot food options when we visited.
On-board CX451 Narita to Taipei
We settled into our window pair of seats – 14A and 14C. There was plenty of legroom between seats – 45’ pitch to be precise. USB and power ports were available. It’s worth nothing the centre phone holders won’t fit any phone bigger than an iPhone. My Nexus 6P was simply too wide.
The usual pre-departure drinks were offered, and menus distributed. For this four hour afternoon flight, a refreshment would be served.
Table cloths were laid out, and the starters were served first on a tray. The smoked duck was well-presented, almost like fine dining style, and I opted for the garlic bread.
This was followed by the beef tenderloin. Unfortunately a bit tough to eat, but otherwise serviceable.
And some fruit and cheese to finish. I really liked how they walked out with a big platter of fruits, and individually picked out the ones you wanted onto your plate.
Brief stop: Taipei
Making a bee-line to the recently renovated Cathay Pacific Taipei lounge, we settled in and explored the Noodle Bar options…
..and decided to try some authentic Taiwanese style beef noodles with a pork dumpling.
I’m sure it was delicious, but we didn’t get a chance to enjoy it properly because I was then notified that our next Cathay Dragon flight, KA483, would be delayed for a few hours and the only other option was to switch to a Cathay Pacific flight that was boarding right at that moment!
Not wanting us to be delayed, the lounge agents quickly made a phone call and printed off new boarding passes for us. We dashed through the terminal to catch our next flight.
On-board: CX531 Taipei – Hong Kong
Thanks to the expertise and efficiency of the lounge staff, we reached the gate while economy was still boarding. Skipping ahead through the priority lane, we took our newly allocated centre seats 12D and 12G on the regional A330-300.
The cabin experience was basically the same as our previous flight, except we noticed the crew on this sector were much more animated and friendly, striking up conversation with the guests.
Dinner was served on this short, 90 minute flight.
Although not too hungry, I chose the halibut fish. All the components of this meal were great, except the rice which was very dry.
Before long, we touched down in Hong Kong and took a bus to the city, ready to have a quick sleep and make the most of our transit the next day.
When settling into bed at midnight, I saw the delayed flight we were supposed to be on was still en-route to Hong Kong. I guess this last minute change was a blessing in disguise as we ended up arriving much earlier than planned.
Lounges in Hong Kong
By 6pm the following evening, we boarded the Airport Express train to meet up with our friends and indulge in an evening in a number of lounges before our overnight flight.
First stop – the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge for a reminder of home.
We all tried the obligatory Spice Temple char-siu pork, which was delicious.
And also took a shower in their well-appointed shower suites, with ASPAR products.
Next stop was Cathay Pacific’s newly renovated The Pier lounge, near our gate.
Since this isn’t a lounge review, I won’t bombard you with details and pictures. But it was easily the best business class lounge we’ve ever been to, and I don’t think there are many that can top it. This is the place to visit, if you fly business class out of Hong Kong.
Our group raided the Noodle Bar and food hall (Christmas turkey was on offer!), but I was most drawn to the unique Teahouse..
..where I ordered their special of the month – a calming jasmine and lily tea blend.
On-board: CX137 Hong Kong – Perth
Our group of six took up nearly one entire row of window seats, in the forward main cabin. It sure was amusing for staff to watch us taking photos and trying to talk across seats. I settled into 15A and ordered my favourite drink – the Cathay Delight.
Since it was Christmas Eve and we were going to fly into Christmas morning, the Australian captain started his announcement with ‘Twas the night before Christmas…’, and continued his whole spiel as a poem. He received a loud round of applause for his efforts.
This seat, the ‘Cirrus’, is similar to those found on some other carriers such as American Airlines. The IFE screen can be latched, giving a lot of space around your head when seated.
This previous Point Hacks flight review covers all the features and hidey-holes in great detail, but in a nut-shell, there is plenty of storage for shoes, literature and gadgets. Noise cancelling headphones are supplied.
Amenity kits designed by Seventy Eight Percent were given out.
These contained all the essentials for a flight, plus Jurlique skin care products.
Dinner was served first, with a two-course supper or light meal available.
The surprisingly tasty bread dips, with another Cathay Delight!
Ricotta stuffed chicken breast, with polenta
Chicken breast is often regarded as a ‘safe, boring option’ and in this case, it was just that. Good, simple flavours, although it was definitely too heavy for me to finish at midnight.
Soon it was time for sleep. Although they don’t supply mattress pads, the seat coverings are soft enough to be comfortable and breathable. Here’s a stock photo of what the bed looks like.
No, that’s not me! Image courtesy of Cathay Pacific
A common complaint about these seats is the size of the foot cubby, and yes, that was a minor issue for me at 185cm tall. I managed a few hours of restless sleep (still not used to sleeping on planes just yet), until it was time for breakfast.
And then before I knew it, we landed in Perth and that was the end of our first international business class holiday!
Summing up – Cathay Pacific’s Business Class cabins between Tokyo and Perth
I really enjoyed the business class experience with Cathay Pacific. I suppose the best ways to describe it are predictable, efficient and pleasant. While nothing stands out in particular, all aspects of the service and product are good.
If I could suggest improvements, small touches such as pyjamas, mattress pads or pre-selecting meals online would go a long way in making this a competitive choice for travellers.
But having paid 78,000 Qantas Points and minimal taxes (note this will jump to 90,000 Qantas Points from 18 September 2019), I feel this represents excellent value for three business class flights, access to three outstanding lounges, and the chance to add a sneaky Hong Kong mini-stopover into the mix too. I wouldn’t hesitate to book this itinerary using my points again.