ADDITION TO THE FAMILY
On Sunday, May 29, 2016 Cathay Pacific received the first of its A350 XWB aircraft in Hong Kong. By this year end, the airline will have 22 A350-900s, followed by 26 A350-1000s to be delivered between 2018 and 2020. These will be deployed on long haul routes.
Currently, the A350 flies from Hong Kong to Dusseldorf, London, Auckland, Fuzhou Changle, Paris and select regional cities. From March 26 it will serve the route to Tel Aviv, and to Barcelona between July and September.
The aim to include this aircraft model in its fleet is to give passengers a luxurious flight experience on Hong Kong’s flagship airline. LED mood lighting with different colours is fitted throughout Cathay Pacific’s new A350-900 with the intent of providing a “relaxed cabin ambience to reduce jet lag”. Further, supplying higher cabin pressure reduces passenger fatigue; and its Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines makes it the quietest among XWB aircraft types.
In-flight entertainment (IFE) for all 280 seats uses the Panasonic ex3 platform with a personal high-definition touch screen television. Its wide selection of movies, television shows, live news channels (BBC, CNN, and Euronews) and music are made available from just after boarding the aircraft to touch down at the port of arrival. Alternatively, passengers can stream content from Cathay Pacific’s preloaded databank onto their personal gadgets. The IFE has an e-reader too — a collection of international magazines, e-catalogue for on-board shopping, and street views of the globe on the 3D interactive map. Wifi is available across all cabin classes, as are personal power outlets, USB ports, and a tablet holder. While internet rates start from US$9.95/₹677 per hour, access to cathaypacific.com and its partner websites is free.
Luxury is turned up a few notches in the business class cabin. The 38 seats have a 4.3-inch video handset with an additional screen so you may view this and the 18.5-inch personal television at one time. The IFE also communicates to the cabin staff if you need to be woken up for meals or not.
A side storage space is added to the design to stow away large items such as laptops and slightly bigger carry-ons. This doesn’t clutter the area, while ensuring your bulky valuables are within easy reach. When closed, the stowaway becomes part of the capacious 180-degree, 75-inch long flat bed. More space is provided under the ottoman to store shoes and small bags. And when you feel like a drink, the cocktail table is now large enough with additional working surface.
In the new A350 XWB, Cathay Pacific has retained a few basic features from its B777-300 aircraft. These include sculpted seat wings to give “a balanced sense of privacy and openness”. Add tranquillity to the experience for window facing outboard seats that offer uninterrupted views of the skies.
The Cathay Pacific fleet is made up of 53 B777-300ER, 12 B777-300, five B777-200, three B747-400, 42 A330-300, seven A350-900 and four A340-300 aircraft. From September 2016, the airline increased its baggage allowance, across all routes, from 20kg to 30kg for economy, from 25kg to 35kg for premium economy, from 30kg to 40kg for business class, and from 40kg to 50kg for first class passengers.
WINE AND DINE
Cathay Pacific serves around 80 different wines from countries including France, Italy, South Africa, and Australia. While the usual wine sampling techniques are applied during selection, those done for airlines require a special expertise that considers the impact of high altitudes on people’s palates and cabin humidity.
This is why Cathay Pacific has added a new panellist to its wine division. Hong Kong-based Master of Wine Debra Meiburg has joined Cathay Pacific’s wine panel to “offer guidance on the evolution of [wine] selection”.
Rajesh Menon, the regional sales and marketing manager — South Asia says, “It’s important to realise that the travellers are evolving. They’re looking for unmatched service throughout their journey, right down to the wine being served on board. We serve around 1.8 million bottles of wine each year. With our team of wine consultants, we are sure to cater to these changing customer needs with a well curated selection on board.”
If you’re flying business class from Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata (A320) or Mumbai, you’re likely to be spoilt in the A330 with the Billecart-Salmon Brut Champagne amongst a wide selection of wines.
Those travelling business or first class from Hong Kong to North American cities will be able to enjoy a specially curated menu by celebrity chef Daniel Green. The calorie-conscious have more reason to rejoice for the man is known to specialise in high-quality, low-carbohydrate cuisine. Green believes in “taking the food we love and lowering the fat”.
Menon says, “North America is a key sector for Indians and we are happy to take yet another step to create a ‘Life Well Travelled’ experience for our passengers.”
The menu features three salad and five main course options, some of which include fettuccine, shiitake mushrooms, white wine, garlic, chargrilled fennel and white truffle oil; seared ahi, edamame, butter lettuce and sesame soy ginger vinaigrette; and a small roasted pumpkin with Thai red vegetable curry in light coconut milk and Thai sweet basil.
The Marco Polo Club (MPO) is a loyalty programme for Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. It isn’t just for the benefit of the member, but extends the advantage of MPO to the member’s nominated family and friends too.
In case your travel companion isn’t an MPO member, a lounge pass will be offered, against MPO points (starting from 200), to him/her too so you needn’t give up on your pre-boarding comfort. Diamond members with 1,800 MPO points get an additional Gold card for a companion. If your travel reduces for a certain year, by choosing the “Membership Holiday” option, you may pause your membership for a certain period of time so it doesn’t expire after being inactive for that period.
The Green MPO membership is available from US$100/ ₹6,800. Accumulating 300 points earns an upgrade to the Silver tier, a total of 600 points upgrades to Gold, and 1,200 points for the Diamond membership.