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I’d been wanting to fly first class on Cathay Pacific for a long time. Initially, I wanted to fly only long-haul first class but when an opportunity came to try it out on a short-haul flight I couldn’t really resist. Here’s my Cathay Pacific first class review from Hong Kong (HKG) to Bangkok (BKK).
Booking Cathay Pacific first class
Getting these first class tickets was not easy.
I originally was going to book business class Cathay Pacific tickets with Alaska Airline miles from HKG to Sydney. But then I decided to try my luck at flying the new Singapore first class suites from Singapore to Sydney, so I decided to just make our way to Singapore on Cathay.
I initially booked us two one-way business class tickets from Hong Kong to Singapore for 25,000 Alaska miles.
But then I saw that Cathay was flying the 777 (with a first class cabin) between Hong Kong and Bangkok so I booked us two tickets to Singapore with a layover in Bangkok. The initial leg would be in first class while the second segment would be in business class.
I don’t usually like layovers but if it means trying out a new first class product, I’m always open to give it a shot.
Fast forward a few months and I log into my Asia Miles account one day and see that both legs are actually in business class!
Our aircraft had been swapped for an A350 so we’d be flying business class the entire way. This made the hassle of the layover in Bangkok not worth it.
But luckily, after constant checking, I was eventually able to switch our flight so that we would still be flying first class to Bangkok. (It really pays to closely monitor award inventory in these situations.)
The total fees for the flight came out to the following:
- Base Fare and Surcharges: $6.00
- Taxes and Other Fees: $36.00
- Ticketing Fee (nonrefundable): $15.00
- Partner Award Booking Fee (nonrefundable): $12.50
- Total charges for air travel: USD $139.00
$139 for two people isn’t bad considering the product level so as far as I was concerned this was a great redemption.
You can read more on booking Cathay Pacific with Alaska miles here.
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles is also a partner of American Express Membership Rewards and Citi Thankyou Points so it’s often not very difficult to to rack up points to transfer to Asia miles. The also have a co-branded credit card.
The Pier at HKG
We arrived extra early to Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) to check out two airport lounges: The Cathay Pacific first class lounge known as The Pier and the new Amex Centurion Lounge.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Pier. It has to be one of the most elegant first class lounges in the world.
We didn’t try out the spa but we did check out the restaurant, bar area, and day suites. The dining is top notch at the restaurant and while the day suites were interesting, they were a bit too quiet for me at the time.
I think I caught it on sort of an off-day with the service since it was far from attentive and felt very stand-offish, from the welcome desk to the restaurant. Because of that I preferred other lounges like the Al Safwa Lounge which offered us more in terms of service.
But overall I was impressed with the lounge and I think that if I visited it again, the service might turn out to be much better.
The Amex Centurion Lounge at HKG
The Amex Centurion Lounge felt much different from the Centurion Lounges in the US. This lounge was wide open in the terminal and not even close to crowded.
I loved the look and feel of the lounge.
Much of the furniture and decor was similar to what you’d find at other Centurion Lounges but it felt even more contemporary than other Centurion Lounges with its sleek bar area and open views from multiple points in the lounge.
The lounge may not be as equipped as other Centurion Lounges but I still think it’s one of my favorites.
They served some of the same cocktails you can find in the US and the service, food, and drinks, were on par with other Centurion Lounges.
Overall, it was a nice lounge visit to have after just finishing up at The Pier and I think it’s worth stopping by just to check it out.
The Cathay Pacific first class cabin
The Cathay Pacific first class cabin on the 777 is small with only six suites, which makes the experience feel extra exclusive.
The most private suites are on the A aisle but we were not able to select those given how late we jumped on booking this flight.One cool feature about the first class cabin the red carpet walkways. At first I didn’t care for them but they eventually grew on me.
They also have wall decor in the form of artwork and flowers.
While I appreciated the homey touches, the cabin does feel a little outdated. It’s not bad looking and actually quite pretty — it’s just that I think Cathay Pacific is ready for an upgrade. They are expected to upgrade their first class in the next couple of years but nobody really knows what to expect at this point.
When I first entered the cabin I was surprised at how outrageously spacious the suites were.
Even though they don’t fully enclose, they are very roomy and still feel private due to the walls of the suites protruding pretty far out.
Cathay Pacific’s first class seats are ridiculously wide. The couple sitting in front of us were sitting in the same seat for a while — that’s how wide they are.
I found the seat very comfortable. If you want, you can pull down the armrest to make things a little more practical.
As much as I like the wide seat, it’s always odd to me when seats like these and those from Singapore have ultra-wide seats with smaller footwells/ottomans.
The footwells aren’t tiny, but it’s just a weird feeling when you have so much upper body space and limited space for your feet. I prefer seats with ottomans that don’t taper like those found on Korean Air, Qatar, and others.
One thing I did really like is that there is a lot of storage underneath the ottoman.
They offered us high-quality Bose headphones that were in great condition (I’ve noticed some airlines not paying attention to the condition of their headphones).
The TV monitors are big and can be popped out for optimal viewing.
There were a ton of movies and TV shows to check out and I though the in-flight entertainment system was great. You can find out what’s currently playing in first class here.
You can control your entertainment with the touch screen remote.
Cathay Pacific First Class Dining
The dining on this flight exceeded my expectations. Since this was only a flight from Hongkong to Bangkok, they didn’t serve us premium champagne like Krug.
But even without that, the dining experience was still top notch.
We started out with some mixed nuts and sparkling water that was put on the massive tray table.
I had one of my favorites, the Pacific Sunrise.
Next the staff brought out a bread basket but also gave us a custom-written welcome message, which was a nice touch.
I have to admit that the service absolutely blew me away. They were up there with Singapore Airlines in terms of attentiveness and overall quality of service.
After delivering a bread basket, they rolled out the starters which included Sesame smoked salmon, herb salmon and mustard dill mayonnaise. The starters blew me away, as I wasn’t expecting such high quality starters on such a short flight.
After the starters out came the main course which for was the stuffed chicken breast with feta cheese, capiscum, sun dried tomato polenta and red wine sauce. This was yet another unexpectedly over the top dish — Cathay Pacific was really winning me over in a huge way at this point.
Then the desserts came out.
The first was a chocolate and coconut brownie and the second was a key lime mousse. I’m not big on coconut or key lime so I sort of struck out twice but I still gave the desserts a try and they were tasty but I think I was a bigger fan of the presentation.
Overall, the dining experience was top notch and I could only imagine what it would be like on a long-haul flight. I’d have to rank the dining among my favorite first class meals to date. You can read more about Cathay Pacific dining here.
The first class bed
Cathay Pacific is known for having arguably the most comfortable bed in the sky. Before this flight, I’d decided to request bedding even though it was a short flight just so I could test it out for review purposes.
But once we got quickly into our meal, I realized I was going to look like a jack ass by requesting turn down service, especially because I wasn’t tired at all.
So I ended up not trying out the bed but I did put the seat down so that I could get a sense of the space.
There’s a ton of room as expected and I can definitely see how this suite could give you some of the best space for sleeping.
Where to sit
I would definitely try to go with one of the window suites next time, though.
They just look much better in my opinion and feel even more private. I switched with Brad for the last 45 minutes of the flight and got into a window seat which I thought felt like an upgrade. It would probably feel even better in the more private, aisle A.
As we got close to landing they brought out some chocolates which were great.
Overall, I really loved this first class flight.
I feel like I didn’t get the true Cathay Pacific first class experience since we didn’t get to try it out on a long-haul flight with all of the offerings. But with recognizing that, I’d stay have to rate this among the top first class cabins I’ve tried.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the digital smart wallet, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.