Tried & Tested

Cathay Pacific Airways Business class

30 Aug 2010

BACKGROUND Cathay Pacific (CX) launched the Hongkong-Milan-route on March 28 this year. Italy is the only country in Europe where CX has two direct destinations (Rome and Milan). Milan Malpensa is popular with shoppers as Milan is Italy’s fashion capital. It is also more convenient for people on business trips to the northern part of Italy, as well as neighbouring countries such as Switzerland and France. The flights between Milan and Hongkong operate on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.

CHECK-IN I arrived at Milan Malpensa Airport from Turin after a one and a half hour drive, dropped off my Hertz rental car and promptly went to the check-in area at 1130 for my 1335 flight. For shoppers, the custom and VAT (tax refund) departments are conveniently located in Area 1 of the Departure hall (a VAT Desk is also available after immigration) while CX check-in is in Area 2.

I checked in at the First class check-in counter with my partner’s Diamond status card and was offered the Fast Track pass through immigration, which only took a few minutes to go through.

THE LOUNGE CX Business class and First class passengers are offered lounge passes to British Airways’ Terraces Lounge. I saw many of our Italian friends in the lounge, and later on board, as they were returning from Italy after a holiday or a business trip.

BOARDING Marco Polo members have special access to the boarding queue together with Business class and First class passengers. It only took one minute to board and I was soon seated and served a drink.

I was also offered the ladies’ Agnes b. amenities bag with skin products, but I noticed that mouthwash and hairbrush were no longer included I checked with the chief purser but I was told they had never noticed these changes.

THE SEAT Seats in the Business class cabin of the Boeing B777-300ER had the latest 1 x 2 x 1 herringbone configuration. They are fully flat seats with a duvet and two soft pillows. Mine was the 16K window seat but I also noticed that there was a small section of Business class ahead with only with eight seats (rows 11 and 12) that looked very cosy and probably very quiet. I will definitely try these seats the next time I go to Italy.

The seats are relatively comfortable for a mid-size person like myself, but they might be tight for larger and taller people. However, the convenience of the route and the attentive service of the CX crew made up for it.

All seats have PC power outlets for those with their laptops or other electronic items.

THE FLIGHT It was a day flight and I could not sleep. Unfortunately, there were not many choices on the magazine rack, so I made full use of the long list of films that included many latest releases. The plane is well equipped with video on demand (AVOD) that has 24 movies in English, Japanese and Chinese with Chinese, English and Italian subtitles, 16 TV programmes and 22 radio or music channels.

ARRIVAL We touched down right on time at 0700. The journey lasted 11 hours and 6 minutes. We were offered a pass for the arrival lounge, which is a great facility for people who need to freshen up before heading straight to a meeting. Since I live in Hongkong, I had no need of the facility, but I appreciate that for business people on the move, having this option makes all the difference.

VERDICT A very comfortable and smooth journey. Milan is a welcome route with great domestic and international connectivity. Although some might have complaints about the new Business class seats, CX’s Asian-style hospitality has kept its fanbase loyal. I always feel at home once on a CX flight.

FACT FILE

CONFIGURATION 1-1-1 in First, 1-2-1 in Business and 3-3-3 in Economy

SEAT RECLINE fully flat

SEAT WIDTH 56.69cm/23.5in

PRICE Internet rates for a return Business class flight between Milan and Hongkong range between HK$39,690 (US$5,108) and HK$62,020 (US$7,981) in September.

CONTACT www.cathaypacific.com

Mary Traverso Ng

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