Reply To: Qatar Airways / Cathay Pacific business class trip report – Europe – Australia.

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rferguson
Participant

Part 3 – HKG – ADL on CX
A330-300

Departure:
Hong Kong is one of my favourite airports in terms of airport facilities, shopping and lounges so although I had a transit of around four hours it wasn’t too much of a drag. Transit security from my inbound QR flight was an absolute breeze and although I was close to The Pier I decided to give my legs some much needed exercise and walked all the way to The Wing where I had a coffee and snack.

I really like how all CX’s lounges in HKG take on a really different design DNA and although I much prefer The Pier, I still enjoyed my quick visit to the wing. After a wander around the shops and forgot about Australias ridiculous policy on liquid Duty Free purchases. Basically anything over 100ml is not allowed – even when purchased beyond airport security and in a sealed duty free bag. There is a secondary security check at the gate for flights to Australia and any liquids are confiscated. I’d planned on buying a coffret of perfumes as a gift but when the sales assistant told me she would have to unseal the box, open it, take the individual bottles out and place them in a clear plastic bag I changed my mind. Oh! But of course you can buy Duty Free on arrival in Australia at inflated prices. Convenient that.

I made my way to The Pier where I could easily spend half a day. I love the aesthetic of this lounge, it’s usually relatively quiet and the food options are better than The Wing. When boarding time came I made my way to the gate area where the Australian bound flights depart and proceeded though the secondary check. Boarding started about forty minutes before departure with priority to Business Class passengers.

Boarding.
It’s been a while since i’ve flown CX and i’d always been a fan so I was interested to see how they would compare to QR.

I was greeted at the door by the cabin senior and directed to my seat. I’d chosen a window seat half way down the cabin to avoid any noise from the galleys at the front and back of the Business Class cabin.

When Cathay first launched these seats they really were something special. And to a degree they still are far superior on what is found on many other airlines. The whole cabin appeared drab and tired however. These A330’s are definitely in need of a bit of TLC. The colours are faded, the lockers small, the toilets old fashioned and the lighting old school. The difference between the QR cabins (including the QR A330 I had for my final DOH-CPH sector) and this CX one was quite stark.

The seat is pretty much the 1.0 version of the seat also found on QR’s newer aircraft although there are some noticeable differences. Stowage areas are very limited on CX and the TV flips out from a side console on CX whereas the TV and table unit are fixed in front of you on the QR version.

Welcome drinks, hot towels, menus and wash bags were distributed.
Boarding was complete and the door closed. At this point we were also notified of an ninety unspecified Air Traffic Control delay during which time we would be kept on the stand. The captain was very apologetic and explained it affected all flights departing HKG at that time and the delay completely caught the crew off guard. He was very good with the updates soon coming back on the public address to announce the delay would be around one and a half hours. And then again after that to give us the time we were due to be airborne. The CSD was lovely and took this opportunity to come and welcome passengers and she apologised for the delay also. During the delay the what would have been post take off drinks service was completed on the ground which was served with a ramekin of nuts. Around an hour later the crew began to prepare the aircraft for it’s departure. Ninety minutes later we were in the night sky.

The flight.
Once we were in the air the crew immediately began the dinner service. I’m not sure if some of the stewardesses had hot dates lined up in Adelaide and were unhappy with the delay or what but the crew (with one exception (the steward) plus the CSD) were generally a bit off. I appreciated the desire for them to get the service done ASAP – it would benefit both passengers and crew – but it was literally pretty much thrown out. Zero interaction, no smiles, no niceties whatsoever.

Business Class catering never was one of CX’s strongest points even some years ago and that is still the case. It definitely lags behind it’s main competitors in asia and the middle east. There is no choice of starter, food is served on a tray from a trolley and the main courses are not ‘plated’. Other little things I noticed also – there isn’t even salt and pepper on the trays anymore. Sachets are available ‘on request’ now.
That being said what I do like about CX’s catering is they always service two full meals on the HKG to Australia flights which are generally around eight to nine hours in duration.

The dinner menu was:
Starter: Herbed balik salmon with asparagus and dill mustard mayonnaise with side salad.
Mains: Pan fried chicken with ginger and rice. Pan fried sea bream with bacon and vegetables. Lamb korma with saffron basmati rice. Mushroom agnolotti with truffle cream sauce.
Dessert: chocolate mousse and crumble or baked lemon tart. Cheese and biscuits.

I had the starter and chicken main and passed on the cheese or dessert and instead tried to get another cat nap in. I napped for a few hours and woke up just before the lights were switched on two hours before arrival into Adelaide. Another full hot meal was served and as always I enjoyed the chinese dim sum.

Breakfast menu:
Starters: juice, smoothie, fresh fruit, bircher muesli.
Mains: Scrambled egg, sausage, bacon, tomato. Selection of dim dum. Salted chicken congee.

WIFI/IFE: The A330’s are not wifi equipped. The IFE offers an excellent amount of programs a lot of which are dedicated to the various markets in asia they serve.

Arrival.
We ended up landing just over an hour late. I wasn’t sure what to expect on arrival in Adelaide. It only has a handful of international arrivals so that could mean passport control is super quick or dreadfully slow. Thankfully it was the former with most of the arrival (and departure) procedures automated. Another bonus with this great little airport is that International and domestic flights are combined in one very compact terminal unlike Sydney, Melbourne or Brisband where transiting is a pain.

Cathay used to be my favourite airline to fly on. Whilst for me personally their HKG lounges are still the best in the world onboard could do with a refresh if it is to stay at the top of the league.

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