On the Ground: The ticket agent was prompt and courteous. Within five minutes of lining up at the Cathay Pacific first-class check-in, I was en route to security. (30/30)
Pre-flight: Focused on televised news in the lounge, I’d lost track of time when a hostess reminded me it was time to board. After quickly passing through the First/ Business gate and into the Boeing 777-300ER, a lovely attendant led me to my First Class Suite, an impressive piece of airplane real estate stretching the length of three windows and enclosed by a waist-high wall. As she hung my jacket and stowed my carry-on in my suite’s floorlevel cupboard, I realized that with no overhead bin, the high-ceilinged space felt lofty. After proffering a flute of Champagne along with an embroidered pouch containing indigo blue Shanghai Tang pajamas and slippers, the attendant introduced the features of my seat. An ottoman doubles as a seat for visiting colleagues when not incorporated into this big bed in the sky. A drop-down armrest expands the seat width and serves as a side cocktail table. The fully adjustable seat with its four-way lumbar support and massage feature easily accesses techie gizmos, including a pull-out 17-inch TV with premium headphones to enjoy the on-demand audio-visual programs, 110-volt plugs for my computer, plus ambient mood and reading lights. (29/30)
In-Flight: Soaring over clouds while feasting on caviar and smoked salmon, fragrant mushroom soup, grilled lamb chops with mustard cream sauce accompanied by a heady Domaine Jacques Prieur Beune Champs Pimont Premier Cru, I began to feel slightly decadent, like a lord in my own condo in the sky, with servants. Satiated, I worked a while on my computer before donning the elegant pajamas and reclining into movie-watching mode. After three films and a snack of fragrant barbecued duck noodle soup, I transformed my seat into a cushy flat bed measuring 36 inches wide and 81 inches long — big enough for a 6-foot-3-inch guy.
Coddled by a couple of pillows and puffy duvet, I dozed off to wake six hours later to the aroma of brewing coffee. With 55 minutes to landing, I was willing to forgo the last refreshment. “Eat, you need energy for Hong Kong,” insisted the motherly attendant, reminding me that all meals are prepared to order as she fastidiously organized my choice of savory chicken.(39/40)
The Experience: After a 15 ½-hour non-stop flight that left me rested beyond belief, Cathay Pacific’s first-class service proved as perfect as long-haul flying gets. Passengers on connecting flights could refresh in the lounge with a shower or bath in a private cabana.
Total Score: (98/100)
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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