Tried & Tested

Flight review: Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong

24 Sep 2019 by Michael Allen
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER; photo courtesy of Cathay Pacific

Background

I was supposed to have tried and tested this route and product about five months ago. Back in April, I had turned up at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) for my flight with Cathay, only to be told that the pilot had not showed up for work and there was no replacement for him. I was therefore put on a flight departing some 10 hours later, and bumped down to economy class from business class (I was travelling on a media ticket, so was presumably among the lowest priority customers for rebooking).

“We are sorry that your return flight has been delayed as a flight crew was unwell and we needed a replacement crew to operate the flight. This usually takes a bit of  time to arrange if this happens in an outport. Safety of our crew and passengers is always a top priority and we sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused,” a Cathay spokesperson told me by email back in April.

Earlier this month, I had another chance to fly this route and product (this time using my own Asia Miles), and fortunately there were no delays or pilot issues this time around.

I arrived at LAX at 8.50pm for my 12.30am flight – a little early, I know, but you can never be too careful at LAX given the notoriously long security lines. When I arrived at the check-in desk with seven people in front of me in the business class line, there was a notice saying that check-in would open at 9pm, although when staff saw business class passengers were waiting they actually opened the check-in early.

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

The check-in agent was extremely courteous, stepping away from his check-in desk and walking to the front of the line to welcome me and guide me to the desk.

I then proceeded through security, which actually went fairly quickly (for LAX).

The lounge

Since Cathay Pacific does not have its own lounge in LAX, I was given access to the Oneworld Lounge instead. I reviewed this lounge back in April, so if you are interested in hearing more detail about this lounge you can have a read below.

Lounge review: Oneworld Lounge, Los Angeles International

Boarding

Business class passengers boarded shortly after first class passengers at Gate 157. The staff member checking tickets was friendly and polite.

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

Boarding was straightforward and orderly. After boarding, I was offered a drink (I took orange juice) and later a hot towel.

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

The seat

I was in Seat 21A, a window seat. Business class on this B777-300ER has 52 seats, laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration. 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 B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

The seat was mostly clean, but I did find a small stain on one part of the seat, as can be seen below.

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

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.

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

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.

The flight

An amenity kit was waiting for me in the compartment to the left of my seat.

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

The kit is well stocked with an eye mask, earplugs, lip balm, Colgate toothpaste, a toothbrush, mouthwash and flight socks. The kit is created in partnership with Jurlique and Seventh Eight Percent.

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

Inside the compartment, there was also a 16.9 fluid ounce bottle of Crystal Geyser still mineral water, as well as headphones for the IFE.

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

The IFE controller is mounted into the seat panelling to the left of the seat, along with a reading light, buttons to adjust the seat, a three-pin socket, a USB socket, and an AV input.

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

The business class menu for the flight was well-presented. The cover story of this newspaper-style menu was about the return of Betsy Beer, a craft beer created by the airline and named after its first Douglas DC-3 aircraft that flew during the 1940s and ’50s.

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

I was impressed by the supper menu, which consisted of:

Mains

  • Wok fried cod with spicy broad bean sauce, Shanghainese pak choy and steamed jasmine rice
  • Shrimp wonton with noodle in soup
  • Braised beef cheek with sherry reduction, potato puree and baby carrots
  • Beef burger with Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, pickled onion and zucchini on toasted brioche bun with chunky fries

Lighter options

  • Yellow pepper lemongrass soup
  • Broccoli, quinoa and goat cheese salad, spinach, peas, almonds and preserved lemon

Sides, on request

  • Mixed salad

To finish

  • Cheese plate: Humboldt Fog, Gouda, crackers, grapes and apricot, pear and ginger chutney
  • Mixed berries and cream
  • Selection of Haagen Daaz ice cream
  • Seasonal fresh fruit

There was also the option of an express supper, in case you wanted to eat lighter and quicker and maximise sleep. The express supper consisted of:

Choice of

  • Broccoli, quinoa and goat cheese salad, spinach, peas, almonds and preserved lemon
  • Yellow pepper lemongrass soup

To finish 

  • Mixed berries and cream

 

Since this flight was scheduled to be a good 15 hours, I didn’t see the need for an express supper as there would be plenty of time for sleep, so I chose the normal supper. I opted for the burger, which was good, though serving a bread roll alongside the bun seemed like an excessive amount of bread. I liked how Heinz ketchup was served in a miniature glass bottle. The salad also came with an olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing.

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

For dessert, I ordered the mixed berries with cream, which were delicious, with just the right balance of cream and fruit.

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

There is also a good selection of alcoholic beverages here, though I didn’t try any as I had to go straight to the office upon landing in Hong Kong.

Here’s a rundown of them.

White wines

  • Margan Originals Chardonnay, 2018, Hunter Valley, Australia
  • Fritz Haag Riesling, 2018, Mosel, Germany

Red wines

  • Chateau Tanesse, Cadillac Cotes-de-Bordeaux, 2016, Bordeaux, France
  • Vasse Felix ‘Filius’ Cabernet Sauvignon, 2016, Margaret River, Australia

Champagne

  • Billecart-Salmon Brut NV, Champagne, France

Dessert wine

  • Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Port, 2013, Douro, Portugal

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
  • Betsy

After the meal, I watched a documentary about the Panama Papers on the in-flight entertainment system, which has a great selection of TV and movies. Then I took 3mg of melatonin I had brought with me and reclined seat to a fully flat position to sleep. The seat/bed is comfortable, although it may feel a little hard for those who like to sleep on their sides (the most popular way to sleep). Unlike the JAL flight I took on the way to Los Angeles, there was no mattress available. Cathay may be providing something like this at a later stage, but it has not been confirmed yet.

I awoke with about three-and-a-half hours of the flight remaining, having slept reasonably well. Before going to bed, I had hung up my breakfast order that I had marked on the menu below.

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

The breakfast selection, as with the supper, is also impressive. You can go for a simple express breakfast, which is just a selection of warm pastries with a choice of beverage.

For a bigger breakfast, you can choose from:

  • Chinese breakfast: slice beef and ginger congee, stir fried noodles
  • Western breakfast: seasonal fresh fruit served with warm pastry, smoked salmon and omelette with herb, creamed ricotta and wilted spinach
  • Continental breakfast: seasonal fresh fruit served with warm pastry selection, Bircher muesli

The beverages on offer are:

  • Orange juice
  • Apple juice
  • Apple, mint and ginger energiser
  • Ceylon breakfast tea from Jing
  • Jasmine spring tips tea from Jing
  • Brewed Illy coffee

All the hot drinks can be served with milk, sugar or lemon slices

There is an box you can tick that says ‘If I am sleeping, please disregard my breakfast order’.

I mentioned above that I awoke with about 3.5 hours of the flight left. Since breakfast was not being served at that time, I took another nap with my headphones on. When I finally awoke, the cabin attendant made sure I got my meal, even though many other passengers had already eaten their breakfasts and we would be landing soon.

I ordered the special apple, mint and ginger energiser drink, which I really enjoyed and it did indeed wake me up a little (along with the coffee). I found the omelette to be a little too salty and would have preferred to have had salt on the side to add myself, instead of it being put straight into the omelette. The hot pastries were really tasty, however, especially the pecan one.

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER business class Los Angeles to Hong Kong / photo by Michael Allen

Arrival

Following the meal, I went to the bathroom to freshen up with my amenity kit. The kit does not include a razor, but I asked a member of cabin crew for one and he gave me a disposable razor and shaving cream so that I could shave.

We landed smoothly in Hong Kong about an hour ahead of schedule.

Verdict

A very long flight made relatively effortless with this comfortable seat and great food and beverage offering. The service is very good, and some thoughtful elements such as ensuring I was still fed my breakfast despite oversleeping show the staff going above and beyond to ensure the customer is happy. An added mattress topper would perfect the seat-bed on this flight, so let’s hope Cathay does end up adding that soon.

  • Price Business class return fares in mid-October start at US$6,319
  • Flight No. CX881
  • Configuration 1-2-1
  • Seat width 21 inches
  • Bed length 75 inches
  • Seat recline Fully flat
  • Departure 0030
  • Flight duration 15 hours and 15 minutes
  • Contact cathaypacific.com
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