My flight from New York JFK to Hong Kong was to be the second trip on my round-the-world adventure over Easter and I have to say I was looking forward to it the most out of any flight. The mammoth 16-hour flight wasn’t being dreaded at all but the opposite. I couldn’t wait. Below you can see my in-depth video review so why not sit back, pour yourself some wine and watch this!
After landing in New York with British Airways in their First Class cabin, I had around 24 hours in New York and a night to adjust. In that time, I collaborated with FlyNyon, a helicopter company who operate doors off flights over the city. The experience was simply magical. Check out my video of that here.
The next morning I headed to the airport bright and early even though my flight didn’t depart until 2.50pm. The reason for this? American Airlines’ Flagship First Lounge. I had heard excellent things about this lounge and wanted a full review out of the visit. Instead of extending this already long review you can read the separate review of that (coming soon).
There are several ways to book Cathay Pacific first class and I have written a separate article on how to book which you can read here to see how I paid only $103 for this ticket.
Arriving three hours prior to my flight seemed like a great idea but when I arrived at the Cathay Pacific bag drop desks I was greeted by a woman who told me it ‘wouldn’t be long’ before the staff showed up. I was the only passenger in the First Class line and cracked a small smile as the other queues filled up. 30 minutes later the check-in agents arrived where they told me the flight was 30 minutes delayed. I already knew this from a text Cathay Pacific had sent me the day before.
The check-in agent checked my bag in, gave me my boarding pass and lounge invitation card and sent me on my way through fast track security. The fast track line isn’t a separate channel like you’ll find at London Heathrow or Doha but simply a route that takes you right to the front of the queues. After a typical American thorough security search and a hopeless attempt to chat the attractive girl in front of me up, I headed to the flagship lounge which is positioned just in front of security, on the left.
The lounge is accessed by a lift and stairs and I was welcomed at the top of those stairs in such a friendly manner. The woman who scanned my boarding pass led me through the lounge showing me all the different areas I may wish to use before delivering me to the flagship first dining area to feast on Krug champagne. My hopes for this lounge were very high but the lounge was a let-down in many areas. Read the full review here.
I headed down to the gate having showered and shaved 10 minutes before boarding was meant to begin and the gate was about a 10-15 minute walk away. I arrived at the gate to see very long queues and to my surprise, I saw the cabin crew sitting at the adjacent gate which is strange for a flight that is meant to begin boarding in 5 minutes.
Nevertheless, I queued up in the first class line which had 3 other passengers present and waited. The first announcement we heard was that the flight would be delayed a further 20 minutes and that passengers should take a seat. Around 5 minutes later, one of the ladies at the desk started informing business class (not first class weirdly) passengers that they should go to the Admirals Lounge located 5 minutes away and wait for a boarding call. I joined the business class passengers and we all walked to the lounge where small snacks and a bar are located. The lounge is quiet compared to the flagship lounge but has nothing to offer in terms of food.
I sat in the Admirals lounge for what became about 40 minutes twiddling my thumbs and eager to get onboard until I heard a boarding call and quicker than I’d ever left a lounge, I was out like a bolt and down to the gate to board.
Priority boarding was strictly enforced and I marched onto the plane as one of the first passengers to board. I was greeted at the door by check-in agents who led me directly to my seat, 1A.
Cathay Pacific have X Boeing 777-300ER aircraft in their fleet have configured them in a 4 class configuration with 6 First Class seats, 53 business class seats, 34 premium economy seats and 182 economy seats.
The 6 First Class seats are laid out in a 1-1-1 configuration with each seat offering a whopping 36 inches of width and 81 inches of pitch.
The seat has fantastic storage space with the left side being almost entirely dominated by a shiny, wooden surface for drinks, amenity kits and anything else.
If this isn’t enough, there is a deep bin for your passport and phone directly to your left.
To your right is yet another storage area (take note airlines that think you don’t have things to store) for literature, your safety card and other items such as your menu.
Next to this are more seat controls which are easily accessible from a lying position.
This storage bin to your left is located just below your remote control which was amazing and the another screen which adjusted your seat and lighting.
Above this is one of two reading lamps.
About half way along the large side wall on the left is a plug and USB port for charging your electronics.
The tray table is ejected from the table surface on the left and is simply massive.
Between the windows on the left wall is a flower (yes, it’s real! I was sceptical too) which is so extra but so cool and really sums adds to the elegance of the seat.
There are no overhead bins in the first class cabin but each seat has its own storage compartment much like on British Airways… just much bigger and better. The storage compartment is located to the right of the seat ‘entrance’ and has ample space for a suitcase, shoes and your clothes (see video).
To the front right of the seat by the ‘entrance’ in the television screen. The screen is built into the seat but easily released by pushing the black button next to it. This brings it out to directly in front of you.
Speaking of directly in front of you, the footrest in place at the end of the seat (tough to see in foggy conditions) which acts as the end of your bed or a seat for a fellow passenger to join you for the food service.
Below the TV is…you guessed it… another storage compartment. This one is larger than the one on your right and fits a laptop or iPad comfortably.
Once onboard, I was spoilt with cabin crew offering me everything under the sun.
First off was the offer of a welcome drink: champagne of course. I was under the impression that this would be the splendid Krug Vintage 2004 champagne but was disappointed when the arguably better Taittinger Comtes De Champagne from 2007 arrived. This champagne retails at around £100 a bottle and tasted great! The drink was accompanied with warm nuts.
Second was today’s menu. The menu was served on a lovely bamboo board which made me feel like I was dining in a very fancy restaurant. Once this arrived, the absence of Krug was made official. You can see the full menu below.
Next up came my pyjamas. What I like about Cathay is that the crew will look at you to decide how fat you are instead of asking you.
I was brought a medium whereas I would have gone for a large and they fitted perfectly. It goes to show that the crew know the sizing best!
After the PJs I was brought Cathay Pacific headphones which were super comfy and noise cancelling.
Following the headphones was my amenity kit or ‘male travel kit’ by Aesop. The contents of the amenity kit were pretty weak (see contents in the video).
Before we took off, top ups of the Comtes came around and the lovely crew introduced themselves. One even told me that she had watched one of my YouTube videos before and recognised me when I stepped onboard (it’s the small things in life!).
We took off after a short taxi in rainy New York to some horrendous turbulence. The captain even made an announcement informing passengers it was nothing to be alarmed about but that he had asked the crew to delay service by 30 minutes because of it.
The routing of our flight took us north over Canada, Greenland, the North Pole and down through Russia and China into Hong Kong and it was amazing looking out the window as everything gradually became more and more icy. I’d never flown an ‘over the top’ route before so this was quite a novelty for me.
Over Canada, the crew were finally released to commence service and seeing as they knew my order, they simply started by pouring another glass of champagne.
Around 10 minutes later, the first meal service arrived: Caviar and Champagne! I’d seen so many pictures of this service before and it tasted just as good as it looked.
The caviar was served blinis, chives, crème fraiche and chopped eggs. The service was so good that the crew asked if they should bring some more toppings which I eagerly accepted.
The meal was served with a lovely little hand-written note from the crew welcoming me onboard. It is gestures like this which really separate airlines. Cathay Pacific were so attentive and the attention to detail was incredible.
The crew had suggested that I stuck to wither Chinese or International dishes after my caviar instead of mixing but for some reason I really wanted to try the duck salad before the Hong Kong style chicken. This was the only meal that didn’t amaze me and I was left awaiting my next course eagerly.
The crew were so fast that I knew it would be a matter of minutes maximum before my next meal arrived. Next on the list was the ‘Hong Kong style chicken curry, broccoli and steamed jasmine rice’. This meal was excellent in terms of both presentation and taste.
Following a recommendation from the crew, I also had the signature mocktail called ‘Cathay Delight’. The cold drink is a kiwifruit based non-alcoholic drink with coconut milk and fresh mint and damn it tasted good. Three more of them please!
Finally, the crew brought me a plate of cheese, grapes, crackers and nuts which was a lovely way to finish an excellent meal service.
Once the meal service was complete, I was instantly brought a small box of chocolates, a hot towel, a pot of chinese tea and some toothpicks.
My bed was then promptly made with the super comfortable bedding used by Cathay. The mattress topper was amazing and I could barely feel the seat below. The duvet was equally as nice and as we flew over the most northern parts of Canada, relaxation mode was most definitely on.
I put on a film that I had never watched before but heard great things about, Bohemian Rhapsody. The film was a killer and was accompanied by another crew recommendation: Traditional Iron Buddha tea from China.
The film finished and an alcohol induced drowsiness kicked in. Coupled with the super comfortable bedding, eye mask from my pyjama bag and ear plugs from my amenity kit I was out like a light for the next five hours and woke to find the crew had cleared my tea, replaced it with a bottle of water and switched my screen off and placed it back in the seat.
The bed is so wide that it is literally like sleeping in a single bed and the comfort was incredible. I had only been awake 5 minutes before the crew came around asking if I would like to eat or drink. I opted for the same tea and based on a recommendation from a follower, asked for the burger and chips but in an hour. I checked the time in my phone just to see if they were punctual and 57 minutes later the burger and chips arrived. Amazing!
The burger was amazingly laid out and tasted really good. This was accompanied by another glass of Comtes.
After the burger it was work time. I really couldn’t justify sitting on a plane for 17 hours without doing at least a bit of work. In fact, I am writing this onboard QF1 from Sydney to London where, again, it would be hard to justify doing no work.
With around 2 hours and 15 minutes to go it was time to eat again. How my stomach coped with it I’ll never know.
The dinner service only had one starter option which was the ‘fresh seasonal fruit’ dish. It was nice and cold!
For the main course I opted for the chicken supreme. How could you not with a name like that? The chicken was served with mushroom ragout and a bread dumpling. Both were lovely.
I was stuffed by this point and refused the offer of desert in favour of my favourite tea (I should be buying shares in these guys!)
We began our descent over China as the sun began to set and it was time to get changed into my clothes again which had been sitting in the cupboard for the last 16 hours.
We landed around an hour late into Hong Kong and I departed the aircraft feeling super fresh and refreshed.
You always hope that priority bag tags work and for once they did! My bag came out as the second bag off the carousel and I wheeled it off to the airport express train already missing my small room I had rented for the past 16 hours.
16 hours on a plane isn’t fun. That’s what everyone will tell you. While I agree that slumming it in economy may have been a little uncomfortable on this flight, I can confirm I disagree with that statement.
I had the most amazing time on Cathay Pacific’s first class product and was impressed by the super wide and comfortable seat which turned into an even more comfortable bed, the excellent seat controls, remote control and television screen, the huge amounts of storage space, the amazingly presented and great tasting food and finally the incredibly attentive crew who didn’t once disappoint.
In fact, when looking back on this flight I think the only thing I didn’t like was the duck salad.
This flight is so easily bookable with points if you use Alaska Mileage Plan and I couldn’t recommend it more, it really was the luxurious experience I was longing for.