I arrived at Heathrow Terminal 3 at 1840 for the 2040 departure on CX256 to Hong Kong.
I went to Zone C at Terminal 3 for baggage drop off. There was no queue and then I went through security in five minutes.
Cathay has recently reopened both its business and first class lounges. They are in the same place as the old lounges, but have been completely redesigned. You can read our news piece on this here:
The lounge is lovely, with the old minimalism gone, lots of wood surfaces and a set of spaces where you can have privacy and wait for the flight while looking out of the windows.
The restaurant facility is simply excellent. Depending on the time of your flight you might not want a full meal, but I’ve always felt that no matter how good the food on board, it will struggle to match what you can get on the ground, and the restaurant here has an excellent menu and a delicious one.
If you want something from the famed noodle bar, then that’s available in the business class lounge. The restaurant for passengers travelling first class is a la carte and with a good choice of wines – I’ve included a photo of the menu – hopefully you can read it.
I had brought in my glass of champagne – the Baron de Rothschild Brut NV – but was also offered the Sauvignon Blanc, which came in a huge glass and was well-filled.
I had the Wonton Noodles in Soup and the chicken satay, because I intended eating on the flight – and that was sufficient, but the fish and chips looked good as well. You could eat an awful lot here, and the service is friendly and efficient, with food coming out only a few minutes after being ordered.
This was at Gate 34 and was called from the lounge at around 1940. Once at the gate, which was about a five-minute walk away, there was a delay because the cabin temperature was too warm, and we didn’t start boarding until 2010. They were right – even with the air conditioning on it was extremely warm.
Once on board I was asked for my jacket, which the flight attendant took after first inquiring if there were any valuables in it. I said there were not, but I’d be very grateful if some could be put in. The flight attendant laughed, which I appreciated, since she must have heard the joke quite a few times.
Cathay has a few different configurations of the B777-300ER aircraft on this route. This was the three-class configuration, with no first class, so on entering the aircraft you are straight into business, which rather oddly starts at the front with row 11. The seats in the front cabin are in rows 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18 and then row 19 is just A and K (rows 13 and 14 are omitted). Note that these final two seats not only are close to the galley but also have no windows.
The second business class cabin starts at row 20 with two middle seats (ones to avoid – there is a wardrobe and washroom on the portside and a wardrobe on the starboard side) and then a full row of 1-2-1 configured seats in row 21 (A-DG-K). I was in 21G towards the front of the second cabin (all seats are aisle seats in the sense that you have direct access to the aisle).
Business class was boarded first, followed by the rest of the passengers, meaning they could walk past the seats watching us drink Champagne and mop our brows with hot towels, though given the temperature this wasn’t quite the boast it appeared to be.
It’s a while since I flew business class with Cathay on the B777-300ER.
My last flight with them was on the A350 from London Gatwick, and I remember being impressed, but noted the problems that the airline was having with the new business class seats. You can read that review here:
In the second cabin, there are four rows in the centre starting at 20 and three rows at the side, starting at 21, with a single washroom on the left-hand side. The seats in both cabins are all identical, although 11D and 11G have their IFE screens in the bulkhead in front, while all other IFE screens are in the seat in front and are at an angle, so you have to press a release button to view them once they have swung out.
For the front cabin, the washrooms are both on the left-hand side of the aircraft, and one of these (the furthermost left one, the other being in the centre of the aircraft) is quite large so good for changing in.
All seats are angled slightly, so window seats face a window. The middle seats (D-G) are angled inwards, but have been cleverly designed so you are not forced into making eye contact with your neighbour.
For centre seats such as my own, there is no privacy screen between the seats but, instead, if you keep open the door of the cupboard that has the headphones in, you gain a little privacy by default. One point here though is that when the galley is in darkness, if your neighbour puts his screen back into its take-off position but leaves it on, the ambient light shines right through onto the person sitting in the neighbouring centre seat.
The seat has a real sense of space to it, both in terms of how wide it is and also the general privacy and “airiness” of the design. Since the seat is angled sideways, there is a triangular bit of seat cushion to one side between the seat and the armrest. This armrest is lowered for take-off and landing, but is really a psychological thing since the seat is so wide you would have to be very wide yourself to manage to rest your elbow on it.
The seat reclines to meet a footrest, and if you only partially recline the seat this brings it into reach of your feet for a comfortable reading position, or one from where you can watch the IFE screen, which pops out from the angled back of the seat in front.
All the controls for the seat and the IFE are in a convenient position to one side at shoulder height, along with a reading light which has two levels of brightness, and the in-seat power (UK plug) and iPod USB jacks are here as well.
There is a large storage space beneath where the table appears from. The last time I reviewed the seat I was asked to remove items (including my laptop) from there for take off and landing. This time I was not asked, so perhaps the policy has been relaxed.
The table is firm and good for working on, and it slides out from and back into the armrest, so you don’t have to lift it up into a vertical position to put it away. This means you can get out of the seat by only pushing it slightly to one side — a nice touch.
There is also a side table next to this where you can store a lot of things during the flight.
Drinks and food are served starting from the front row, and since service was attentive but a little slow, that might be an advantage if you want to get some sleep or are just hungry or thirsty. There is the risk of some noise from that area, however.
Which seat to choose?
I’d avoid the front row in both cabins, and the back row as well – proximity to the washrooms and galleys and also premium economy behind. I don’t mind the middle seats, but for the most room and privacy the window seats are the best choice.
We pushed away on time but then had a long wait for take off because of a busy Heathrow – it was 2110 before we were airborne. This seems to be pretty standard for this flight.
Amenity bags designed by Seventy Eight Percent were distributed with Jurlique products (it used to be Murad products), eye mask, ear plugs and flight socks.
The IFE system is extremely good. The touch screen is crystal sharp, the noise-cancelling headphones excellent, and the sound very clear and responsive with the controls. There is also a huge range of entertainment. I wanted to work and then sleep, so I listened to some music through noise-cancelling headphones.
The drinks service was swiftly out. (I’ve noted the choice below, although I just had a couple of cans of Perrier, served with ice and lemon since the cans weren’t very chilled).
The menu was as follows (note that the starter was both of those items, and main course a choice between the four).
- Smoked eel, golden beetroot tartare, horse radish crème fraiche and beetroot pearls.
- Mixed salad with white wine asparagus, cucumber and radish soy vinaigrette
- Stir-friend beef tenderloin, leeks, peppers, lotus root and tofu steamed jasmine rice
- Grilled Gloucestershire pork fillet, confit side of pork, savoy cabbage, baby carrots, herb roasted potatoes and Calvados sauce
- Braised lamb rump, savoy cabbage, root vegetables and new potatoes
- Papparadelle with spicy tomato mascarpone sauce
Cheese and fruit
Cotswold organic brie, Blackstick Blue Premier, Thomas Hoe
Fresh seasonal fruit
- Lemongrass crème with pineapple
- Chocolate salted caramel
Tea and coffee
- Billecart-Salmon Brut Champagne
- Les Chapitres de Jaffelin Bourgogne Chardonnay 2014
- Yealands Estate Land Made Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough 2015/16
- Fleurie Les Saprolites Loron et Fils 2015
- Rockbare McLaren Vale Shiraz 2014
Port: Dows LBV 2014
I wasn’t very hungry since it was late and I’d eaten in the lounge, but the main course was delicious (I’m afraid I didn’t fancy the eel).
After the meal, I reclined the seat and went to sleep. The bed is a very comfortable one with lots of space, you can roll to one side or another, and there is plenty of leg room enabling various sleeping positions. I didn’t think I was very tired but still slept for a good seven hours, waking at around 0600 UK time (1300 Hong Kong time). I could have slept on, but with the time difference I wanted to wake up, so I walked through to the galley and got an orange juice from the trolley as the flight attendants began preparation for breakfast.
- Smoothies, fresh fruit, Bircher muesli or cereals
- Tomato omelette, veal sausages, mushrooms and tomato
- Stir fried vermicelli, duck julienne, preserved snow vegetable and bamboo shoots
- Shredded pork and mushroom congee with preserved cabbage
The female captain came on to tell us that we would be landing at 1515 and that the weather in Hong Kong was 31 degrees with passing rain showers. Considering the typhoon was only hours away and that night we were effectively confined to our hotel, I thought this was a considerable understatement, but then it’s not the pilot’s job to alarm you, just get you there safely, which she did with a flawless landing. Once at the gate we were quickly off and the bags arrived on the carousel with no delay.
An excellent flight – on time, good service, a great seat and good food and wine.