There's no denying the fact that Cathay Pacific has one of the best first class offerings in the world. Not only are the seats, food and service top notch, but it's become more and more exclusive by the day. First, Cathay stopped releasing much of the award space we had become accustomed to. Then, they announced they were retiring their 747 aircrafts and replacing them with B777-300ERs, which have less first class seats in the cabin. The general public may not care (or even notice these changes), but those in the miles and points world know that these decisions have resulted in making Cathay's first class a near impossiblity for redemption. Thankfully though, I was able to snag a single first class seat on their Vancouver to New York flight. This is one of their "fifth freedom" routes, as it technically is a flight from Hong Kong to JFK; rather than flying non-stop however, they load and unload passengers at YVR. Wtihout a doubt, it's the single-best way to go from coast to coast.
I was lucky enough to be on one of the newly-retrofitted aircrafts. While the "shell" of the first class seat was the same as the only one, the fabric and accents have been updated. It certainly is not as drastic as what other airlines do when they put in a new first class seat, but it is noticeable (if you know what you're looking for). Can you spot the differences between these two? The next two pictures are of the old seat (first) and the new seat (second), followed by some other shots of the storange and cuntionality from the new seats.
The seat has plenty of storage and comes with full seat functionality, including lumbar support. And while you can lie the seat into a fully-flat bed-like position, the flight attendants offer a turn down service with a matress pad and comforter; so, before going to sleep it's best to let the flight attendants know you're ready for the bed to be made. It usually only takes them a minute or two and it's the perfect chance for you to change into your PJs (or "sleep suits" as they call them).
Most would agree, over all the other great aspects of a Cathay Pacific first class flight, the best part is the meal service. They start with a Balik salmon appitizer - of course, keeping in mind that all of this is accompanied by a glass (or two, or three) of Krug champagne - followed by soup and a main course. This flight's menu had roasted pepper soup, and the kosher meal (which was absolutely delicious) was Asian-style chicken.
Not only is the food incredible, but the attention to detail that comes with it is second to none. First, is the table setting. Everything is set up in an impeccable manner, including a hand-written note from the crew. Then is the crew's desire for you to be happy. This is something you really don't have on US-based airlines. On United, for example, the crew does what they have to - nothing more nothing less. If you're blown away, great. If you are severely dissapointed, they still don't care. This is 100% not true with Cathay Pacific. The crew offered wine options to me, and when I wasn't sure what I wanted, the flight attendant insisted on bringin me a taste of each of the wines on the menu. How cool is that...? Wine tasting at 30,000 feet? Yes please! Then was tea service which, like the main meal, was delivered as if practiced 1,000 times (which I'm sure it was).
Overall, though it came as no surprise, this was a fantastic flight. People often ask how you can have a bad flight in first class. The answer is really "you can't." But, if you go into a business or first class flight knowing that (even with a potentially "bad" crew) you'll have a phenomenal experience, you can then rate/review the experience objectively. That said, even by these elevated standards, this flight was a perfect 10.
Have you flown on Cathay Pacific in first class? What about business? Share your thoughts! And don't forget to share this post, "Like" us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram (@awardmagic).
Up next, I'll be continuing this trip report with reviews of TAM's first class products. First, a review of their 777-300 and then a review of their A330. Here's a recap of the posts I've written (and will write) as part of this report:
REVIEW: Cathay Pacific NEW 777-300 First Class
REVIEW: TAM First Class 777-300
REVIEW: TAM First Class A330
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