Cathay Pacific First Class Review: 777 from JFK to HKG
This is Part 4 of a multi-part series detailing my trip to Hong Kong and Cambodia, flying First Class and staying within a $350 budget for ALL expenses. If you haven’t read the first 3 parts yet, please check them out:
Arriving at JFK for my Cathay Flight
To say I was excited to check out Cathay Pacific would be an understatement. I have read many reviews of this product, and I knew that my flight was going to be a great experience. Luckily I got some sleep at the Holiday Inn, but I was up early with no problems, looking forward to getting to the airport. My Cathay flight was scheduled to depart at 9am on Thursday. In order to get to the airport with enough time to experience the lounge and have a decent (free) breakfast, I caught the free hotel shuttle at 7am. The shuttle dropped me off at Terminal 7 with no problems. There was an average size line for economy check-in, and I looked around for the Business/First check-in line, but did not see one. Instead I was escorted over to the Premium Economy check-in area with no waiting.
There were actually two people that checked me in, one of them in training, so it took a little longer than normal. However, they were very nice about it, and apologetic for the minimal delay. I proceeded through TSA (no pre-check with Cathay) and was entering the British Airways One World Lounge by 7:30am.
For my comprehensive review of the JFK Terminal 7 British Airways First Class Lounge, click here.
At 8:20am, the lounge agents made an announcement that the Cathay flight to Hong Kong was boarding First and Business Class passengers. I departed the lounge shortly thereafter and made a quick stop at the ATM for some cash for the trip. When I arrived at the gate, I bypassed the long economy and business lines and immediately boarded. I was the second passenger on the plane.
Boarding the Plane
The first person to board was also a First Class passenger, so she momentarily took away the flight attendant from the entry door. However, in less than 2 seconds, another flight attendant showed up to check my boarding pass and take me to my seat. The amazing first impression here was that the crew seemed genuinely excited to welcome me on board and show me to my seat. They asked me to follow them, and escorted me directly to my assigned suite 2D.
The Cathay First Class cabin has a total of 6 suites, 2 on the left side windows, 2 down the middle of the cabin, and 2 on the right side windows. My 2D was the rear middle row seat in the cabin. The first thing I noticed was how roomy the cabin was, while still being very private. The cabin seemed very large because there were no overhead bins hanging down to take up room. Instead, the suites themselves had small built in closet-like storage for carry-ons, and also hangars to place coats, sweaters, etc. I easily placed my roll-away bag in the closet and hung up my jacket.
Next, I looked around the cabin. Each suite had a large private space complete with a fresh flower, pillows, and blankets.
While I was taking it all in, two flight attendants came up to introduce themselves to me. They asked me how to pronounce my name, told me their names, and made it clear that the were very excited to have me on board. Next they asked if I would like some champagne while I settled into my seat. Of course I said yes!
Within seconds they had popped the cork on a fine bottle of Krug (about $150 per bottle), and came back with a champagne flute and a welcome aboard appetizer. The champagne was flowing, and as the other First Class passengers boarded, it appeared that we all had a glass to celebrate the flight.
I asked if the cabin was going to be full, and luckily the window seat next to me was not reserved. I asked if I could move over to sit by the window.
Shortly thereafter the attendants handed out the Aesop amenity kit and the classy pajamas.
The amenity kit included a nice wooden comb, earplugs, a very comfortable eye mask, a microfiber wipe, Aesop Lip Cream, Aesop Facial Cream, and a dental kit. The pajamas were “tailored by PYE” and according to the affixed tag, were a garment “designed to enrich your flying experience through unparalleled quality, comfort, and style.”
As I sipped my Champagne, I knew this was going to be an excellent flight experience. I settled into my window seat and watched the safety video as we prepared for taxi.
I was also offerred a menu for the food and drink choices for the flight. The menu was several pages long, and I enjoyed reading through the various offerings.
First up was breakfast (since it was only 9am). Both Western and Chinese choices were available.
The next page detailed the dinner choices, followed by the drink list.
The next page was the champagne, wines, and port selections.
But, wait, that’s not all…they also were offering a special French wine selection menu…
The flight attendants stressed that I could eat breakfast and dinner whenever I chose, just to let them know. I indicated that I wanted the breakfast shortly after take off and then I would let them know about dinner later. For breakfast, I ordered the free-range scrambled eggs with spinach, mushrooms, and potatoes. To drink, a Bloody Mary.
As we taxied, I had my face glued to the window, plane spotting. I was able to snap this photo of both the Emirates and Etihad A380s (although the Emirates plane is hidden behind an El Al 747 I think). I will have a chance to sample both of these in September!
There was a short delay before takeoff due to traffic, which caused us to depart about 20 mins late. However, it was an absolutely beautiful day out of New York and I got some great views of Manhattan! The captain informed us shortly after take off that it would be a 15 and 1/2 hour flight to Hong Kong.
After we passed 10,000 feet, the attendants came out to refresh drinks, offer water, and see if anyone needed anything. The attention to detail was outstanding!
Shortly after we reached cruise altitude, they began preparing breakfast. First up was a fresh fruit plate with coffee.
Next, was the free range eggs with potatoes, mushrooms, and spinach. I also chose a croissant with honey and more coffee. The eggs were very tasty, and were quite obviously freshly prepared. Overall, a delicious breakfast.
After breakfast, I asked the attendants to make up my bed while I changed into my pajamas. The bed was a very generous size, and included a pad for the seat, a duvet, and three pillows. Very comfortable!
I watched The Big Short on the large entertainment screen which was adjustable. I pulled it out, so that it was directly in front of me and angled the screen down for the optimal viewing angle. After the movie I fell asleep for about 6 hours.
Dinner on Cathay Pacific
When I woke up, I was hungry and asked the flight attendants if I could have dinner in about an hour. They asked me what I wanted to order–I chose the fish.
I watched some tv while they set my table, brought out warm nuts and the drink menu. I ordered one of the french reds to try.
Soon, the first course of caviar arrived. It was Italian origin and was actually really good. I have had caviar in the past and haven’t been a fan, but this one was mildly flavored and pretty tasty. I ate the entire tin with my red wine. The mother of pearl spoon was a nice touch!
Next was the potato truffle leak soup. This was by far my favorite course! The flavors of this soup were superb! I could taste the truffle and it complimented the soup base very well. I should have ordered more!
Next was the salad. King Crab and Avocado–delicious! The crab tasted very fresh and the portion was very generous!
Finally, it was time for the main course. I had ordered the Chilean Sea Bass and it did not disappoint. The fish was complemented with a saffron fennel mash and spinach.
I thought that each course was presented exceptionally well and tasted equally as good. This was by far the best food I have ever had on an airline. It was easy to tell that the flight attendants took great care in both their service and their cooking.
After dinner, I was offered a cheese plate and ordered a glass of Johnnie Walker Blue Label (about $220 per bottle) to wash it down. Everything was beyond great! Finally, I finished with some Haagen Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream.
Then it was time for another nap. When I awoke, we were in the decent into Hong Kong.
This Cathay Pacific flight met or exceeded all of my expectations! I was very impressed with the service and attention to detail. Even though the suites are not enclosed, I felt like I had a lot of privacy and was never disturbed or distracted by another passenger or crew member. The seat was very comfortable, and when converted to a bed was very roomy, soft and easy to sleep on. The entertainment selection was great with lots of first run Movies and TV–and the screen was large and easily adjustable. Even the first class bathrooms on this flight exceeded my expectations. They were relatively large and had nice amenities and were always clean.
This was by far the nicest flight experience I have ever had on a commercial aircraft. It is very apparent that Cathay Pacific realizes that the airline industry is a customer service industry and treats its customers very well.
I redeemed 67,500 miles plus minimal taxes/fees for this one-way flight. Unfortunately, this month, American Airlines raises the number of miles required for this same one-way flight to 120,000. While still not a bad deal considering the service and treatment on this flight, I was very glad to have the opportunity to experience this as one of the best deals in the points/miles game!
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