Over the last three years I have had the great fortune to fly with Cathay Pacific Airways three times in their long-haul Business Class. I don’t usually fly with the same international carriers regularly, so in the process of flying with Cathay Pacific so often I have a somewhat unique position to be able to compare and contrast my experiences over time and on different routes. What has impressed me more than anything else is the extreme consistency with which this premium airline provides outstanding luxury service. After my first flying experience with them, I wrote a full review of the Cathay Pacific Business Class product and so that’s not exactly what I want to do here today. Not exactly. Instead, I want to highlight just a few of the many reasons why I truly and honestly enjoy my time in the sky with Cathay Pacific and which I believe are great exemplars of the overall amazing Business Class experience they provide to their passengers.
One of my favorite aspects of premium flying happens outside of the plane – the airport lounges. I’m the type of person who gets to the airport early just to spend a little extra time luxuriating in these calm places of tranquil elegance. Not all lounges though are made the same and run the gamut from merely serviceable to over-the-top spaces so extreme in their amenities that they become de facto destinations in their own right.
While many airlines only have one amazing lounge at their hub airport, Cathay Pacific has diversified in order to better meet the needs of their premium travelers. Hong Kong International Airport is a large place, and by spreading out the lounges Cathay Pacific guarantees their guests the comfort of these luxurious lounges no matter where in the airport their gate may be located. Location is important, but so are the actual services and amenities found in the lounges themselves. Food is actually one area where Cathay Pacific excels, whether on land or in the air. Robust snacks, full bars, restaurants and more are all some of the many ways Cathay Pacific makes sure their lounge guests are well fed before or after their flights. Each Cathay Pacific lounge has plenty of space in which to relax and decompress along with workstations and outlets in case you need to catch up on email. They also features shower suites; perfect for folks like me who want nothing more than to feel clean and refreshed after a long flight.
Unlike some other airlines, the Cathay Pacific Business Class Seat was specially designed for them and the result is a personal haven the likes of which is hard to find in more traditional premium cabins. The cabins are designed so that everyone has direct aisle access and the seats themselves are like little private compartments. No space is shared with anyone else and it feels like a very special and private experience because, well, it is. Naturally the seat itself adapts to your preferences, including converting into a fully lay-flat bed when it’s time to sleep. It’s the perfect space to relax, decompress and rest and for once, I never wanted the flight to end.
Cathay Pacific, like its hub city of Hong Kong, places a special emphasis on food and for passengers that means a delicious flying experience. The Cathay Pacific Business Class menu incorporates both Asian and Western favorites, using locally sourced ingredients that feel as if they were made in a fine dining restaurant and not onboard a plane. With plenty of options, I found it hard to choose just one entree, a rarity for a picky eater like me. Now, I didn’t do this purposefully, but I did put the flight crew through their paces with my special requests. Since I don’t eat fish or seafood, instead of the appetizer I asked for the cheese course as my appetizer, which they managed without a blink of an eye. I’ve received looks of death from flight attendants on other airlines for much less, so this level of hospitality meant a lot to me. I further customized my lunch en route from Hong Kong to Chicago by asking for one of the snack meals as my main course. Throughout the course of the flight, Business Class guests can order smaller snacks or light meals if they’re peckish. The cheeseburger on that menu sounded good to me, and once again the amazing staff in the Business Class cabin saw to my special request without complaint or inconvenience to me. It may not seem like a lot, but luxury travel should be about great service, which is all too often lacking when we fly. This simply isn’t the case with Cathay Pacific and it’s a consistent trend I’ve noticed over three years of flying with them.
At heart I’m just a little kid I guess, because I love collecting Business Class amenity kits. They’re a fun part of the flying experience for me and it’s hard not to feel like it’s Christmas Day when the flight attendant brings a bag for you to open. Each time I’ve flown Business Class with Cathay Pacific, the bags have all been different, featuring local designers who all create stylish small bags that I have reused many times. On my last flight, the amenity bag was created by the company Seventy Eight Percent, who used quality materials to create a stylish bag that in their own words they hope passengers will reuse many times over. Included are the normal amenities one expects, including Jurlique skincare products made just for Cathay Pacific premium customers. It’s a nice little touch that adds an additional level of comfort to the journey.
The other special touch I want to highlight isn’t the inflight entertainment, which offers robust options, or anything tangible really. Instead, it’s the overall service provided by Cathay Pacific from the moment I checked in to when I had to say goodbye upon deplaning. Cathay Pacific has a level of consistency of service that is very rare to see today. On many flights both long haul and short haul on their affiliated DragonAir, the service has always been impeccable and provided with a certain kindness that I didn’t realize was lacking in modern aviation until I found it on Cathay Pacific. No request is impossible and instead, flight crew seemed to enjoy time spent with passengers. By the end of the 15-hour flight back home, I was joking around with them and thoroughly enjoying the experience. That means a lot, especially in the modern era of aviation when the focus seems to be on getting passengers in and out instead of their in-flight comfort. This legendary hospitality and commitment to service is ultimately why I love flying with them and at the end of the day, it’s that service which is at the heart of the luxury travel experience. More than lay-flat beds (which I love) or nice lotions, it would all be for naught if the members of the Cathay Pacific family weren’t as kind and helpful as they are.
There are a lot of reasons to fly with Cathay Pacific, but it should be about more than just getting from Point A to Point B. Cathay Pacific is a premium airline, which means guests in all classes of service are well taken care of and enjoy food and service unlike most other airlines. The Cathay Pacific Business Class experience though is something special. Not only is it one of the best I’ve experienced on any airline, but it’s enjoyable. If you stop to think about it, that’s no easy feat transforming a very long flight into an eagerly anticipated experience, but Cathay Pacific has done just that and is the main reason why I will continue to fly with them well into the future.