Tried & Tested

Flight review: Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class

4 May 2019 by Michael Allen
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

Background

Cathay Pacific offers three trans-Pacific flights per day from Hong Kong to Los Angeles. I was flying on CX882, departing at 1635, the latest departure offered (unless you count CX880, which departs at 0005, as being the latest).

I had already done this flight twice before in my life, always in economy class, always with dread given the flight time of 13 hours (and a whopping 15 hours and 15 minutes on the return segment). So I was delighted to be able to try Cathay’s business class service this time.

Check-in

Because I was on stand-by for an upgrade to business class, I had to check in at the economy class counter, where there was a short queue. The check-in attendant wasn’t particularly jolly, but he checked my bag and issued my upgraded ticket efficiently.

As is usually the case in Hong Kong, I proceeded swiftly through security and, being a Hong Kong resident, cleared immigration in seconds by inserting my Hong Kong Identity Card into a machine, then scanning my thumbprint.

Lounge

Once I’d cleared immigration, I headed for The Wing Business Class lounge, to which I had access with my ticket. I’ve published a full review of my experience in this lounge here:

Lounge review: Cathay Pacific The Wing Business Class Lounge

Boarding

Boarding was a little disorganised. The lines for the various boarding classes were overlapping each other in a confusing fashion. I overheard one Marco Polo Club Green member complain to a member of staff that there was no difference between the regular economy line and the Marco Polo priority line.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

However, as a business class passenger, I was swiftly onboard. It’s worth noting that because this is a US-bound flight, you will be subject to additional questioning about your plans in the US before you are allowed to board the flight.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

The seat

Business class on this B777-300ER has 52 seats, laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

My seat was 21G, an aisle seat. The product is a Cirrus seat, made by Zodiac Aerospace, now acquired by Safran Seats, which reclines into a fully flat bed and offers direct aisle access. For an essential overview of the various business class seat products available, have a read of our Business Class Seat Guide here.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

Which seat to choose?

The 1-2-1 configuration obviously means that the window seats on the right and left offer more privacy, as you will not have an immediate neighbour – being in 21G, I had a passenger next to me to my left. Some privacy is afforded by the design of the seat, and you can create more privacy for yourself by opening the door of the compartment containing the headphones, as this blocks off the view to the neighbouring seat. However, this compartment, which also contains a bottle of Evian water and the amenity kit, must be shut for takeoff and landing.

So, in summary, if you’re travelling alone, you should choose: 15-26A or 16-26K. If you’re travelling as a pair, you may like to book 16D and 16G, 17D and 17G, 18D and 18G, etc. That way, you will be able to talk to each other without having to lean across the aisle.

Furthermore, you may consider it advantageous to sit in rows 11 or 12, as these sit within their own section, just behind first class, and are separated from rows 15 to 26 by the galley. This section may be quieter due to there being fewer guests in it, but there may also be noise from the galley, particularly if you are sitting in row 12, which backs up right against the galley.

You may wish to avoid seat 15A, as this seat sits by itself in the top left-hand corner of the larger business class cabin, and is closer to the galley than other seats. You may also wish to avoid row 26, which backs right up against the galley.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

The flight

After taking my seat, I was promptly offered a hot towel and welcome drink: juice, champagne or a kind of mocktail called Cathay Delight, which has a kiwifruit base with coconut milk and a touch of fresh mint. I decided to give this a try, and it tasted good – the coconut milk added a creamy texture. It was nice to have another non-alcoholic option besides just juice and water.

We took off on schedule without any issues.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

More on the seat: To my left, I found the controller for the in-flight entertainment system. There is also a reading light, socket as well as USB port to charge your devices, buttons to control the seat, and an AV input.

The layout of the seat control buttons is intuitive, with buttons mapped out in a shape that resembles that of the seat itself. Also, you can recline the seat to fully flat with the single touch of a button, and bring it all the way back up again with the touch of another button.

The reading light, which can be adjusted, is well positioned, so that – unlike in economy class – the light does not bother other passengers.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

The in-flight entertainment screen is large and responsive, and the layout makes the entertainment options easy to search. It feels a bit like Netflix, albeit with a different interface. The selection of films and television series is excellent, and it’s unlikely you would struggle to find enough to entertain you, even during a journey of this length.

There are also several very new releases available. I watched Vice, which only had its theatrical release in December 2018.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

There is also a good amount of storage space within the seat. I was able to fit all my things – headphones, newspapers, books and charging cables – into the large seat pocket next to my legs. You could also store items in the above-mentioned area where the airline-provided headphones are stored.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

Wifi is available on this flight when the plane is above an altitude of 10,000 feet, but you have to pay.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

One hour will set you back US$9.95. If you want to use wifi for the whole flight, this will cost US$19.95.

You can pay with American Express, Visa, MasterCard, JCB, UnionPay, PayPal and Alipay.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

I was impressed by the bi-lingual menu, which promises “a new style of Business dining” – more on Cathay’s new long-haul business class dining concept here – and is presented in an A4 format on good quality paper and beautifully designed. The front of the menu is made to look like a magazine cover, with the “cover story” being about dim sum and a kind of short editor’s letter accompanying an image of some tasty-looking haa gaau (shrimp dumplings), siu maai (pork and mushroom dumplings) and caa siu baau (pork buns). The menu is even dated “April 2019” in the top right-hand corner, as a monthly magazine would be.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

The text in the images below may be too small to read, so I will detail the menu options here.

Dinner

There was no choice for the starter, which was seared tuna, sweet corn salsa and baby romaine lettuce.

There were six choices for the mains, including two vegetarian options and one “Hong Kong Flavours” option. These were:

  • Steamed egg white with prawns in spanner crab meat sauce, egg fried rice and asparagus
  • Seared lamb rack, potato gratin, roasted carrots, snow peas, salsa verde
  • Braised beef brisket with flat rice noodles in special beef broth (Hong Kong Flavours)
  • Beef burger with Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, pickled onion and zucchini on toasted brioche bun with chunky fries
  • Tagliatelle with zucchini mint sauce and roasted zucchini
  • Chick pea, eggplant and millet salad, roasted bell pepper, spinach and lemon honey vinaigrette

It was nice to see two vegetarian options, given that vegetarians can often be left without a choice.

For dessert, there were four choices:

  • Cheese plate, including Saint Paulin, Camembert, crackers, grapes, spiced pear paste
  • Osmanthus jelly with wolfberries (Hong Kong Flavours)
  • Selection of Mövenpick ice-cream
  • Seasonal fresh fruit

Brunch

For starters:

  • Seasonal fresh fruit
  • Smoothie: a mix of mango and passionfruit

For mains, there were three options, including one vegetarian option:

  • Vegetable egg souffle with cheddar cheese, tomato coulis, pork sausage, sauteed potato served with warm pastry
  • Penne pasta with red pepper sauce, edamame, pine nuts and feta cheese served with mango pudding (vegetarian)
  • Beef and mushroom congee served with friend Singaporean noodles

Snacks

Four different types of snacks, including one vegetarian option, were also available upon request throughout the flight:

  • Chick pea, eggplant and millet salad, roasted bell pepper, spinach and lemon honey vinaigrette
  • Braised beef brisket with flat rice noodles in special beef broth (Hong Kong Flavours)
  • Beef burger with Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, pickled onion and zucchini on toasted brioche bun with chunky fries
  • Galley snacks: Mövenpick ice-cream, caramel popcorn and other sweet and savoury nibbles, available in the galley
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

Overleaf was an impressive two-page drinks menu.

White wines

  • De Wetshof Estate Limestone Hill Chardonnay Robertson 2018: This award-winning South African wine offers a tangy medley of tropical fruit and zesty lime accents with a fresh, chalky finish
  • Tomas Cusine ‘Auzells’ Costers Del Segre 2017: Alluring citrus and nectarine-scented fruit notes with honeysuckle accents. Fine acidity keeps this wine crisp and lively across the finish line.

Red wines

  • Château Macard 2015: A smoky, meaty Bordeaux with hints of blackberry and cherry. The fine tannins and bright acidity create a dry finish with a cigar-scented flourish
  • Catena Zapata Appellation Agrelo Cabernet Sauvignon Lujan De Cuyo 2016: Plush, ripe and generous dark fruit flavours create a silky palate with rich layers of spicy oak accents and a powdery finish

Champagne

  • Champagne Deutz Brut Classic NV: Blended from Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier, and long-aged. Citrus, apple and biscuit on the nose with a palate of lemon meringue, honey and light red fruits. A perfect aperitif, or with light fish and poultry.

Dessert wine

  • Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2012: Aged for six years in seasoned oak casks to soften and marry flavours of bright blackberry cherry fruit and notes of mocha

Aperitifs and cocktails

  • Bombay Sapphire Dry Gin
  • Bacardi Rum
  • Absolut Vodka
  • Martini Rosso
  • Martini Extra Dry Campari
  • Sweet and Dry Sherry
  • Bloody Mary
  • Screwdriver

Whiskies

  • Chivas Regal 12 Years Old
  • Johnnie Walker Gold Reserve
  • Jack Daniel’s
  • Canadian Club

Cognac and liqueurs

  • Hine Rare Fine Champagne
  • Drambuie
  • Cointreau
  • Bailey’s Irish Cream

Beer

  • International selection

Juices

  • Orange
  • Apple
  • Tomato

Soft drinks

  • Coke
  • Coke Light
  • Sprite
  • Perrier water
  • Tonic water
  • Soda water
  • Ginger ale

Coffees (served regular or decaffeinated)

  • Freshly brewed coffee
  • Espresso
  • Cappuccino
  • Caffè latte

Others

  • Hong Kong-style milk tea
  • Hot chocolate

Teas

  • Ceylon breakfast
  • Earl grey
  • Jasmine spring tips
  • Japan green
  • Oolong
  • Chamomile flowers
  • Peppermint leaf

Signature drinks

  • Cathay Delight: a kiwifruit-based non-alcoholic drink with coconut milk and a touch of fresh mint
  • Pacific sunrise: a refreshing combination of Champagne and Drambuie with the zest of orange and lemon
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

A member of cabin crew laid out the tablecloth for me and asked me which drink I would like to start my meal off with. I opted for a glass of the Château Macard 2015. This was served alongside a bowl of nuts.

The wine is served in a stemless glass, giving a more casual feel. A glass with a stem would have been nice, but I imagine they go stemless to minimise the chance of the wine spilling over during turbulence.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

The starter of seared tuna, sweet corn salsa and baby romaine lettuce was delicious. I was impressed that they had managed to serve the tuna seared in this way on an aeroplane.

The accompanying bread roll was a nice touch. The bread was of notably higher quality than the rolls you get in the economy class cabin.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

Unfortunately, the knife I was given had a small mark on it from some unidentifiable substance. While this didn’t really trouble me personally and I didn’t bother asking for a replacement, I feel some more hygiene-minded passengers might take issue with it. I’m sure the cabin crew would have provided a replacement knife swiftly if asked.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

For the mains, I chose the Tagliatelle with zucchini mint sauce and roasted zucchini, despite being tempted by the burger. I had already had a burger for lunch and anticipated eating a lot of burgers during my time in the States.

The pasta tasted great and the crumbled cheese on top added a nice tangy flavour.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

For dessert, I opted for the cheese board, and also ordered a glass of the Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2012 to go with it. This made for a great combination of flavours.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

Finally, I rounded off the meal with a decaf coffee (given that I wanted to try to sleep later). It’s great to be able to have the option of decaf on board, as you may want to have the taste of coffee to round off a meal without actually ruining your chances of getting any shut-eye later in the flight.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

The flight

Following the meal service, I watched the movie Vice (as mentioned above). After that, I read some of the newspapers I’d picked up in the lounge, as well as a book.

Given that this flight takes off at 1635 Hong Kong time, I thought it strategic to try to stay awake until at least 2200 or 2300 Hong Kong time. That way, I could aim to get at least five to six hours’ sleep, and then wake up refreshed with only a few hours of the flight left to go.

So, around that time, I reclined my seat to a flat bed, put in the supplied earplugs and strapped on the supplied eye-mask. It’s worth noting that I did this myself and that no member of cabin crew asked me if I would like turndown service, though I’m sure they would have been willing to help if asked.

The seat was very comfortable, with ample room to stretch out, including for someone like me who sleeps on his side. The cabin was quiet and the cabin crew were careful to avoid walking down the aisle during the sleeping time unless absolutely necessary, to avoid disturbing passengers. After a short while, I drifted off into an undisturbed slumber, waking up around six hours later feeling refreshed.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

I was pleased to see from the flight tracking section of the in-flight entertainment system that we were approaching California. A short while later, the brunch meal service began. It’s worth noting here that Cathay’s new long-haul business class dining concept, which came to this route last month, does allow passengers to fill out a “room service” style form as a means of requesting what breakfast they would like, potentially enabling you to get a bit more sleep.

I opted for the vegetable egg souffle with cheddar cheese, tomato coulis, pork sausage, sauteed potato served with warm pastry.

This was delicious, particularly the sausage, which seemed to be of high quality. The coffee was also of excellent quality, pretty much as good as the filter coffee you’d get from a coffee shop on the ground.

Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to Los Angeles

Arrival

Having had a good sleep, a tasty brunch and a stellar cup of coffee, I felt fresh and ready to greet the afternoon in Los Angeles. We touched down slightly ahead of our scheduled arrival time of 1435. Disembarkation was swift; however, we arrived far from the terminal and so I had to ride a crowded shuttle bus to the terminal for around 10 minutes. Though I did get some awesome up-close views of a taxiing A380 as our bus drove alongside it.

Immigration at LAX was a nightmare. I had to wait at least an hour in the line – the last thing you want after a long flight. Staff were apologising for the delay, saying there were too many flights coming in at once for immigration staff to handle.

By the time I reached baggage claim, my luggage had already been offloaded to one side of the carousel to make room for other incoming luggages.

Verdict

Flying Cathay’s business class on this route turns the 13 hour flight experience from a something to be dreaded to something in which to delight. The jet lag that you get from travelling between Hong Kong and the West Coast of the US can be severe, and the privacy and comfort afforded by the Cirrus seat pretty much guarantees you will sleep well, arriving in your destination fresh and minimising your jet lag.

The extensive food and beverage offering was very impressive and the choices are elegantly presented in the menu. The wide and varied film and TV choices, broadcast on a large, user-friendly screen, ensure you’re unlikely to get bored during the flight.

The service is also great, with cabin crew being attentive when you want them to be, and leaving you alone to sleep when you want to.

Fact file

  • Price Online return fares in mid-May start at HK$47,082 (US$6,002) return
  • Flight No. CX882
  • Configuration 1-2-1
  • Seat width 21 inches
  • Bed length 75 inches
  • Seat recline Fully flat
  • Departure 1635
  • Flight duration 13 hours
  • Contact cathaypacific.com
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