Cathay Pacific | Business Class Review

Photo: © Cathay Pacific Airways

By - March 4, 2019

Washington, D.C. (IAD) to Hong Kong (HKG)

In September 2018, Cathay Pacific launched the longest non-stop route in its network, Dulles (IAD)–Hong Kong (HKG), spanning 8,153 miles and operating four times each week on Airbus A350-900s. This review covers a flight from IAD to HKG in business class on Nov. 28, 2018:

On the Ground: With a 12:15 a.m. takeoff,  Dulles Airport wasn’t nearly as busy as it usually is. The Cathay Pacific route had only been operating for a few months at the time of my flight, so there was no sign outside the entrance, but a peek through the windows revealed the counter, located at Zone 1, just as you approach the terminal. The check-in line for business class was relatively short and speedy; since there is no dedicated Cathay Pacific lounge at Dulles, I was invited to relax in the British Airways lounge a short walk from the gate. The second-floor lounge offered lots of space to stretch out, windows that afforded a view of the terminal below, self-serve wine machines and a decent spread of snacks and food. Since we would be served dinner on the plane, I didn’t indulge too much.

Pre-Flight: After a lengthy pre-boarding, business-class boarding for the Airbus A350-900 was quick and uneventful. Business class is divided into two sections separated by a galley and restrooms, with seats in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration with single seats by the windows. Even though my seat in the middle section was slightly angled toward another passenger, it was still relatively private thanks to a small divider. Each seat had a dedicated overhead bin as well as smaller storage areas underneath. A cubby offered over-the-ear headphones for the entertainment system, AC and USB outlets, a pocket on the door for my phone, a nightlight and space for other small items like glasses or a pen. A zippered toiletries kit contained herbal recovery advanced serum, rosewater balancing mist and lip care balm from Jurlique as well as toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash, eye mask, socks and ear plugs. After I settled in, a flight attendant offered a glass of orange juice, water or Champagne. We departed just a few minutes behind schedule.

In-Flight: After takeoff, I checked out the entertainment system in greater detail, which featured a large, swiveling, portable touchscreen and a touchscreen wired remote control. Especially helpful was the ability to watch different things on each device; I binge-watched the entire first season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on the former and kept the live map up on the latter. As with most modern aircraft, you can see the live feed from several cameras on the plane, watch movies, listen to music, play games and even stay up with the news on live television. WiFi was available for $9.99 for an hour or $19.99 for the entire flight, and the speed was adequate throughout most of the flight. If you have multiple devices, however, you’ll need to log out of one and into another rather than connect to the WiFi on both simultaneously.

Soon after we took off, the flight attendant came to take my dinner order. I was disappointed to learn they didn’t have my first choice for a main course: shrimp dumplings with egg noodles. I ordered braised side of pork with sea cucumber, king oyster sauce and steamed jasmine rice; the dish was super flavorful even though the pork was not very lean. It was served with a salad on request and a choice of cheese, ice cream or mascarpone cream for dessert. An Express Supper option is designed for those who want to grab something before heading to sleep.

Beverages featured Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne; a zesty South African Chardonnay; a lively white from Spain’s Costers del Segre; a dry, grippy red Bordeaux; and a lusher and fruitier Argentinean Cabernet. Cathay Pacific also offered two signature drinks on board: an Oriental Breeze with sour-plum tea, cranberry juice, honey, lemon and rosewater; and the Cloud Nine cocktail, with vodka, Cointreau, Sprite and lemon. I blame Cathay Pacific for fueling my new jasmine tea addiction: The delicately floral tea was but one of eight varieties served on board, including Hong Kong’s popular milk tea. I checked off my options on a breakfast menu and hung it on my coat hook before heading to bed for the night.

Sliding buttons controlled the level of recline for the upper and lower parts of my seat, with one button automatically moving it to the lie-flat bed configuration. The fluffy comforter was amply sized; I only wish the pillow had been a bit larger. Cabin lights stayed off until after 10 a.m. D.C. time, which I thought a bit excessive. I woke up around 8 a.m. ready to work and had to rely on my overhead and reading lights. Breakfast was still hours away, but snacks like granola bars, fruit, salted almonds and caramel corn —  available throughout the flight — kept me going until meal service.

Breakfast options included Continental, Western or Chinese; I loved the pork and shrimp ball congee, stir-fried noodles, dragonfruit and melon on the Chinese set. You could also choose a warm pastry or decide not to be awakened for breakfast at all. We landed an hour after breakfast, about 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

Post-Flight: Cathay Pacific operates seven lounges at Hong Kong’s airport, including an arrivals lounge located between terminals 1 and 2 that serves light food and snacks and includes shower suites to freshen up. The Pier is tops, though, accessible by first-class passengers and select Marco Polo and oneworld members, generally upon departure or connection in Hong Kong. I checked in and signed up for a complimentary 15-minute neck, shoulder and scalp massage, for which there was an hour’s wait at 5:30 a.m.. Thankfully, there wasn’t a wait for a shower suite, which was stocked with fresh towels, plenty of toiletries, a toilet, sink, hair dryer and makeup mirror. After a glass of bubbly and some siu mai from the buffet, it was time to head to the retreat area for my massage, followed by another breakfast at the full-service dining room, whose menu changes throughout the day. I also popped into The Pier’s business-class lounge next door, accessible from the terminal; it was much larger and houses the airline’s Noodle Bar concept. Depending on where your flight lands or departs, you might also hit The Deck or The Wing; every lounge is well-appointed and makes spending time in the airport much more enjoyable.

Top Takeaways:

  • Always opt for the Chinese options on the onboard menu or in the lounges. After all, you can get a burger or an omelet anytime.
  • If you need to stay connected, $19.99 for WiFi for the duration of the 15-plus hour flight is well worth it.
  • Wine fans will be pleased with the onboard bottle selections, which are not the typical Napa Chardonnay or Cabernet and pair well with just about all menu choices.
  • The lie-flat bed and thick comforter assure you will to get a good night’s sleep.
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