Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1000 Economy Review

Since Virgin Atlantic launched their new Airbus A350 there has been a lot of talk surrounding the new Suite product. In fact, there has been so much talk about it that I forgot there was even an economy product onboard. On a recent trip to New York, however, I found myself without a flight home and without hesitation was on Virgin Atlantic’s website looking at prices.

Booking

Usually, my flights with Virgin Atlantic are paid using points seeing as I am a big fan of their mileage plan. Points are transferable to Virgin from American Express at a 1:1 ratio and you’ll only need 10,000 points to book this trip in off-peak season. Seeing as this plane has just been launched, however, there were absolutely no points seats available in any class and an Upper Class ticket would have set me back a lot more than I could afford. With this in mind, I opted for an economy class ticket which carried a cost of around £180 one way. This isn’t a bad price one way from New York to London and I jumped on it.

I booked this ticket using my American Express Gold Card because of the 3x point multiplier on transactions directly with airlines. Booking this ticket therefore earned me just under 600 American Express Membership Rewards Points.

Ground Experience

Virgin Atlantic use Terminal 4 at New York JFK and I arrived on the air train from Jamaica station. Seeing as I wasn’t checking in a bag, I headed straight through security which had a waiting time of around 20 minutes and down to the gate area. Economy passengers are not eligible to use the Virgin Atlantic lounge unless they are Flying Club Gold members with Virgin Atlantic in which case lounge access is complimentary. I was able to visit the lounge so headed upstairs by gate A5 where I entered and enjoyed a complimentary ‘unwind’ body massage, a full a la carte dinner, complimentary drinks and a game of pool before heading back to the gate area. You can read my review of that lounge here.

Once I reached the gate I was amazed at how busy it was. Every single queue was bustling with life and staff were loudly announcing that only Sky Priority could board the plane. Seeing as I was Sky Priority, I headed into the premium queue and within 5 minutes was walking down the jetbridge onto the new Airbus A350.

The Flight

Once onboard, I was directed to my seat by the cabin crew who were instantly less welcoming than I expected. I had been lucky enough to secure one of the seats at the front of the economy cabin and once I reached it I realised it was a bulkhead window seat! Beaming with happiness I checked online expertflyer.com to see if I had fellow passengers in this row and found that I didn’t, another score.

The legroom in this bulkhead row is significantly better than that in the rows behind me and before anybody else got onboard I had a chance to sample the legroom they had. For passengers not in the bulkhead, I found it to be super tight around the legs and would not want to find myself in a middle seat in economy on this plane. Having flown in on TAP Portugal’s A330NEO, I was surprised at the lack of space on these seats and not impressed at all.

Before long, I realised that expertflyer had done me dirty and I did in fact have two fellow passengers in seats B and C. With fixed armrests, however, I’m not sure how much of a difference having a free row would have been.

The Seat

I have to say upon arriving on the aircraft I was a little disappointed with both the width and pitch of Virgin’s seat. My bulkhead seat had reduced width which is standard on all airlines and aircraft because of the need to squeeze a table and screen into the arm rest but legroom was greatly enhanced.

Behind me, however, legroom was incredibly tight, and I would not have wanted to spend my 7 hours in those seats.

Each seat features two USB plugs, a tray table, a personal monitor and movable headrest. My seat had the same features but they were just located in different places from the seats behind me. Above each seat is a personal air conditioning nozzle, a light and a screen displaying the usual seat belt and smoking signs.

The inflight entertainment systems were really impressive on this plane. I’m not aware if they are new for this aircraft but if so, Virgin have done really well. There was an excellent selection of films and TV alongside a moving, controllable map and tail cameras. I was really disappointed to see British Airways didn’t add tailcams on their A350 so when I saw Virgin opted for that option, I was very impressed.

The screen was very responsive and acted quickly on my touch. I didn’t manage to watch any films because of the amount of work I had to do on this overnight flight but with the quality of the headphones, I’m not sure I would have wanted to. Luckily, I still had my headphones from the day before’s flight on TAP Portugal so used them when I did start a film towards the end of the flight.

I was lucky enough to be sat in the front economy cabin which had a cosy 8 rows of 9 seats. The rear cabin houses a further 19 rows of 9 seats and felt far less private.

In front of each seat is a literature pocket which was filled with two inflight magazines, a safety card for the new plane, a sick bag and supplied a perfect place to store your menu and passport.

Finally, waiting on each seat was a standard uncomfortable economy pillow, a nice red blanket and a pair of appallingly quiet headphones which I asked to change. Once the headset was replaced, I realised the problem wasn’t just apparent in the first pair but standard across all pairs and opted to use my buds instead.

The A350 is fitted with WiFi throughout which was quiet reasonably priced. You could purchase a full flight messaging package for £2.99 which I assume allowed WhatsApp and Facebook messenger, a further £6.99 got you access to WiFi for an hour and for £20.99 you could watch crazy cat videos for the whole flight. As usual, I opted for the relaxing option at £0.00 which allowed me to not check my phone every second and actually relax for once.

Service

Something that really impressed me about this flight was the speed of the service. It only took the crew 10 minutes to start the first drinks service from which I asked for a white wine. The wine was ok and tasted slightly bitter but I find that with almost every white wine on offer in economy. It was nice to see that I was given a little bottle instead of being poured a glass like the day before on TAP. The wine was served with a bag of pretzels which went down a treat.

Something I always love about Virgin Atlantic crew is how energetic and bubbly they are and seeing as I had never flown them in economy before, I was eager to find out if this was the same across all cabins. Unfortunately, I found the crew to be less engaging than on previous occasions which I understand is to be expected in economy where they have to cater for hundreds of passengers. I am a big believer in crew making or breaking a flight and on this flight I think they played a key roll in making me identify the negatives of the product. They seemed annoyed to be working in economy overnight which I totally understand but shouldn’t be shown to passengers.

Around 1 hour and 30 minutes after taking off, the crew were around with meals and a choice of gnocchi, barbecued pulled pork and chicken curry. I opted for chicken curry and my tray was promptly delivered. The first things I noticed were all negative. Firstly, there was no bread roll which I expect to see in most longhaul economy meals. Secondly, there was only two real bits of food to eat with the chicken curry sitting next to a bowl of cheese and crackers. I would have liked to see a salad or other side dish accompanying the curry.

After tucking in, however, I did start to see the positives. Firstly, a bottle of water was given which is so much better than the terrible plastic cups of water I still see on other airlines. I never understand why airlines give them but that is a rant for another time. Secondly, I found the chicken curry to actually be quiet nice and not as dry as I initially thought it would be. The crackers were, well crackers, and were a nice way to finish the meal. I opted for another white wine to wash the meal down with which was as bitter as the first but my neighbour went for the red which she concluded was ‘not bad, pretty average’.

Overall, I thought the meal service was rather weak and nothing to be too proud of. I thought more work could have gone into the presentation of the meal and portion sizes and I would have liked to see another dish alongside. If I hadn’t eaten already in the lounge, I would have been very disappointed and a tad hungry after that meal service.

After dinner, I was expecting the lights to be dimmed so that passengers could use the final 4.5 hours to sleep but the lights stayed quite bright which meant had I wanted to sleep, I would have found it relatively hard. Around 20 minutes after collecting my dinner tray, the crew were back around asking if anybody would like a tea or coffee. I decided against both and worked away on my laptop which just about fitted on the wobbly tray table.

Around an hour after this, I began to feel very drowsy and opted to hit the hay. This wasn’t quite as easy as on other flights, however. I found the seat to be quite hard and the temperature onboard too cold to instantly nod off. Nonetheless, after 30 minutes or so, I fell asleep for the next 2 hours to be woken up (on request) for the breakfast service.

The breakfast service consisted of a small box with a yogurt and some fruit inside it and an option of a drink. I chose orange juice which went down really well.

As far as the breakfast was concerned, I was again left disappointed and would have loved to see Virgin serving up something hot like an omelette. I also think it could have been served a little later as I had at least another 30 minutes sleeping time in me but I understand that the crew have a lot to do towards the end of the flight and can’t be faffing around with clearing up our breakfast.

Before long, we begun our descent into London over Ireland and I was able to watch the descent on my IFE screen which was really magical.

Conclusion

I was expecting quite a lot from Virgin Atlantic’s A350, maybe because there had been such a hype over the new Upper Class product being launched. When I got on board, however, I realised that the seats were really quite tight around the legs, the food was pretty shoddy and the crew were nothing like what I had experienced on previous flights. I also found the headphones to be rubbish, the seat quite hard and the temperature far too cold.

With all that being said, I thought the inflight entertainment was excellent and much better than that provided by many other transatlantic airlines and I really lucked out having the bulkhead seat.

Overall, however, I was left relatively disappointed by my economy flight with Virgin Atlantic.

Flying Club Suite on BA A350’s FIRST OFFICIAL Flight

The British Airways A350 has caused quite some stir around the aviation and travel world over the past month since it was revealed. It’s the first time BA have made a change to their aging 2-4-2 business class which was once so revolutionary. With Toronto announced to be the stage for the plane’s inaugural long-haul service, I booked a seat in the new club cabin for just four days after launch only to be left disappointed when they moved the first outing to September 2nd bound for Dubai. I booked this flight immediately and have been counting down the days ever since until today where I finally got the test the cabin out for good.

Booking

To fly this plane’s inaugural in club, you needed quite a bit of cash as ticket prices were in the thousands. If you didn’t use my trick saving you hundreds of BA’s long haul flights, you really were losing out.

I booked an economy and premium economy return in order to review two of the three cabins but in order to try the Club Suite before anybody else, I was offered a space dependent upgrade to club world by British Airways. I was under absolutely no pressure to push any opinions about the product, however. The ticket cost me around £400 which I booked using my American Express Gold Card to receive 3x points.

The Aircraft 

British Airways took delivery of their first A350-1000 in late July 2019, I was on hand to witness the arrival and unveiling of the aircraft where I made this short video touring the cabin and the extract below is from my article touring the plane which you can read here

“The cabin features 56 seats in a 1-2-1 configuration with each seat boasting direct aisle access. World Traveler Plus (premium economy) has also benefited from a makeover in its soft product as new pillows, quilts and amenity kits are introduced. Finally, the World Traveler cabin is set up in 3-3-3 configuration with slimline seats and passengers will be able to use inflight WiFi throughout the flight”

Ground Experience 

I checked in at Terminal 5 in the Club section located at section H. The staff here were all super friendly and directed me on my way with my boarding pass.

As a club world passenger I was able to use the fast track facility in Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Compared to fast track lines in other airports, this one felt rather less premium and took a long 20 minutes until I was through. If I’m honest I don’t think there was a huge difference in timings between fast track and normal security.

The security pushes you out into the main concourse with the first of the two British Airways lounges located on your left. The Galleries north lounge was heaving when I arrived and the queue to get in was pretty long leaving me standing their for at least five minutes. Once I was in I couldn’t find anywhere to sit, even on the terrace and left instantly.

The other option for club passengers is the Galleries south located a 5 minute walk through the terminal with the other BA lounges. This lounge is less busy as I feel it is less well known and the offering of food seemed different. In this lounge they were offering salads and sandwiches with more space to sit.

I headed down to B gates as soon as it was announced on the screens hoping that there may be some sort of event to mark the flight. There wasn’t. Once there I visited the final business class lounge which I actually find to be the best of them all. It is much quieter than the other two with a similar food offering and service. It also has the perk of having an Elemis spa.

The Flight

I headed down to the gate as boarding begun and there was some serious crowding around the gate entrance as many passengers were at the wrong gate and thought it was the Philadelphia flight leaving from gate 32.

Nonetheless, boarding was strictly enforced in groups and as a group two passenger, I was in the tunnel around 15 minutes after I started queuing. Once we reached the jetbridge, the queuing continued.

The CSM personally welcomed me onboard with a ‘welcome back’ which I thought was a lovely touch and would go on to be the standard for the amazing crew throughout the flight.

I walked to 1A through the large front business class cabin where I was welcomed again by crew and sat down.

It took five or so minutes before I was offered a welcome drink and then soon after, a hot towel, the days menu and my amenity kit were offered.

Waiting for me onboard was a large pillow, a bag containing the bedding and a pair of noise cancelling headphones.

It was nice to see the screens were up-to-date with information from the days flight.

The Seat 

The new British Airways Club Suite is set up in a 1-2-1 configuration of reverse herringbone seats. The seat is similar to that used by airlines such as Air Canada but with the door attached. I played around with the door as soon as the seatbelt signs were off and my while my initial reaction wasn’t great, I grew to like it. I found that in a seated position I was able to still see over the top, thus making it less private than I thought it would be but while in a lie-flat position, the door made a huge difference and I felt fully enclosed.

To the left of the seat, you can find a storage compartment filled with reading material and a small tray for storage. Next to this is a reading light which is activated by pushing the top part into the wall.

Below this is the first cupboard storage which is actually rather small but fitted with a mirror. On the left side is another small storage bin, this one the most useless of them. And finally, in the middle, the largest of the storage bins was fitted with two USB ports, a plug socket, headphone input and remote control for the IFE. Interestingly enough I didn’t actually find myself using the remote control once as the screen was always reachable. For a full look at this, see the video.

Below the storage areas is a screen for adjusting your seat position. The screen allows you to move different areas of the seat to your satisfaction or to be presets such as lie flat or takeoff mode. From talking to the crew, I was told you have to hold down the takeoff preset button until it has a green circle surrounding it so you know you’re in a position for takeoff and landing.

At feet level to your left, you’ll find the final storage compartment which is an area to store your menu and safety card. I also found it to be a good fit for the amenity kit.

In front of you sits your large IFE screen which I found to be very responsive and equipped with a good selection of films, games and map features. The map was fully touchscreen and was the same map as Cathay Pacific use. I was a huge fan of it then and I’m a huge fan of it still.

The tray table is released from underneath the screen by pinching a small clasp underneath. I actually found it to be a bit fiddly and struggled with it while moving the table back

Finally to your right, you’ll find a rising armrest operated by the same clasp as the table.

Because of sitting at the bulkhead, I was actually lucky enough to have huge amounts of storage infront of my seat too.

In terms of legroom I am still a tad confused as to if there was enough or not. I often struggled to reach the footrest while sitting up and eating but at the same time was touching the front edge of the seat while in a lie-flat position.

Each seat has personal lights above the seat but no air vents. I wore a polo shirt the whole flight and wasn’t cold at all.

One of the major downsides of having such a wide seat is that the aisles are very narrow. It was annoying that for cabin crew to walk past while you were in the aisle, you’d have to stand inside a vacant suite or have an awkward shuffle past each other.

Service 

After takeoff I was asked what drink I would like and opted for the champagne. The champagne served in business class is Carnard-Duchene “Cuvee Leonie” Brut which retails at around £30 a bottle. It tasted nice accompanied with a lovely bowl of nuts.

Soon after this I was asked what I would like to eat from the lunch menu which was served around 30 minutes after my order was taken.

As a starter, I opted for the Arabic Mezze starter. With Qatar Airways Mezze in mind, I was left a little disappointed and still a little bit hungry. The components all tasted good and it was delivered with a warm brown roll. I still think it is a shame that BA serve meals on a tray rather than a plate but that’s an article for another time.

Next up, I ordered the grilled chicken which was delivered around 20 minutes after finishing my starter. I found that because of the large cabin, food was still being delivered as mine was already finished so I moved my tray to the bulkhead storage and continued to work during this time.

The grilled chicken was actually very nice and filling. It was a shame my bread roll dish wasn’t removed or replaced and there was a definite lack of seasoning options compared to Virgin Atlantic or Qatar Airways.

Finally, after another long wait, my meal was replaced with a cheese plate to finish off. As I stated in the video review, I am usually far too full to eat desert or cheese onboard but this meal hadn’t hit me all to hard so I tucked in. The cheese was excellently presented and tasted fantastic.

After my meal, I asked the grew for a gin and tonic and the CSM suggested I try one of the cocktails. I opted for the gin zing which was brought with popcorn and a dairy milk chocolate because he could’t decide which one I would prefer.

After this, magnums were brought around which was a nice treat.

My final meal and drink came around two hours before landing in the form of ‘afternoon tea’. I was offered either a selection of small sandwiches or tapas and opted for the tapas because sandwiches are served in First Class and I wanted to try something a bit different.

The tapas tasted good and was perfectly accompanied by a hot chocolate.

If the food wasn’t enough for you, there was also a club kitchen set up in between the two cabins with snacks and drinks on offer.

Back to the flight

After my lunch service I attempted to turn my seat into a bed but with very little going for me, one of the crew members took pitty and helped me out. I wasn’t actually sure if they were expected to help or not but it seemed like he was helping me only because I was so bad at it myself!

I found the mattress topper to have limited comfort as it was quite small and easily became scrunched up when you moved around. The duvet and blanket, on the other hand, were both good and the pillow was very comfortable.

I actually ended up getting quite distracted from work after lunch and ended up lying back and watching Notting Hill with a few more glasses of champagne.

In terms of entertainment, the options were good and WiFi is provided too. The prices were quite high for the amount of data you get and I decided not to purchase. The prices are as follows: 25MB for $4.99, 75MB for £11.99 and finally 150MB for £17.99.

Conclusion

Overall, I had an amazing time onboard which was down to an incredible crew and fun passengers. From talking to the crew, I know that this wasn’t just a random selection but the creme-de-la-creme. Each crew member was super attentive and I was treated very well.

I think the seat is an enormous upgrade from the old product and I was impressed with both the privacy and comfort of the suite.

Although the food service was dragged out, the actual food was nice and not overly filling which was good as I so often leave an aircraft about 20lbs heavier.

In conclusion, I think BA have done very well upgrading their business class and I can’t wait to see them roll it out on more routes and aircraft over the next few years.

Qatar Airways A380 First Class Review

Qatar Airways have always been one of my favourite airlines and having tried out their old business class on the A380, new QSuite business class on the A350-1000 delivery flight and Qsuite on the B777-300ER, I decided that it was finally time to try out the most premium cabin of all on the world’s best airline: Qatar Airways. Below, you can see my video review of the flight so be sure to check that out as well as having a read of this article.

The day before this flight, I had landed in Doha with Qatar Airways from Hong Kong and stayed overnight at the lovely Warwick Hotel and seeing as my flight wasn’t until 2am the following day, I opted to book myself onto one of the city tours Qatar Airways offer and explore the city a little more. I headed to the airport at around 2pm where i dropped my bag and checked in for the flight and then headed down to arrivals where I met my tour guide for the trip.

Dropping my bag at the amazing first class check-in area

We arrived back at the airport at around 5pm and I was absolutely starving hungry. I headed back into the First Class check-in area and through the incredible security channel where I didn’t see another passenger the whole time. This process screamed luxury to me.

Arriving at the first class check-in area

At the end of the security process, I was led up an escalator and into the remarkable Al Safwa First Class lounge. The lounge is incredibly built and covers a huge amount of space with a jacuzzi, several rooms, its own duty free and more. To see the full review of that lounge click here.

Booking

Qatar first class is hard to book on points as it only flies on one of their aircraft: the Airbus A380. I managed to find award space on only one of their routes which was to Perth and seeing as there was only one seat left, I jumped on it and booked.

I paid 123,750 Avios and £152.90 on this ticket which some might think to be a little stupid but I had the Avios to spend so considered it worth it.

Ground experience 

The ground experience had stuck out for me as being the best I had ever had. The walk from the taxi to the lounge had been seamless and when I left to walk to the gate, I interacted with passengers for the first time in the whole experience which I thought was great. It took 10 minutes to walk to the gate and once I arrived I was impressed at how the boarding area was split between economy passengers and first/business passengers.

I was grilled at the gate for my reasons of travel and had my bag searched thoroughly. Eventually, I was allowed into the private waiting area and made sure I was the first to board when boarding was called.

The walk to the plane took me up an escalator and down a jetbridge where I was welcomed by the cabin manager and led to my seat: 1A.

The Seat

Qatar Airways have a small first class cabin on the A380 set up in a 1-2-1 covering two rows. I was lucky enough to be seated in row 1, at the front of the cabin.

The seats are very wide but not the most private. Each seat is equipped with a TV, lamp and power plug at the far end.

To the left, you will find a table for storage alongside the tray table which is stored in the side wall of the seat.

The left armrest features a bottle holder and remote control device which was very unresponsive and slow.

The right armrest features another slow remote control which controls the lighting and seat features and your Oryx one headphones.

The Flight

Once I was seated, the crew begun to ask what drink I would like. Initially, I opted for a lime and mint mocktail because, well, i’m obsessed with it and then I eventually bailed and had the best drink on the menu – Krug 2004 Vintage Champagne.

The drinks came alongside a hot towel and a bowl of cheese and grapes which tasted horrendous.

Next up, my amenity kit, pyjamas, menus, wifi voucher, arabic date and arabic coffee all arrived and the crew came around one more time to take my dinner order.

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We took off on time out of Doha and as soon as the seatbelt sign was off, I headed to the enourmous bathrooms to change into my pyjamas. I opted for a medium but they were very baggy and next time would go for a small size.

Once I returned, the crew were round immediately to set my table for the dinner service.

First up came my caviar course. I have to say this was probably my favourite course and was definitely nicer than the caviar course on Cathay Pacific. The caviar is served on a beautiful glass plate with pearl spoons so that the taste of the caviar isn’t disturbed.

Next up came a small appetizer which I hadn’t actually ordered. It tasted lovely and I believe it was tofu.

Finally, my main course arrived which was the veal steak. I was very full by this point so didn’t manage to finish the meal but from what I did eat, it tasted fantastic.

After the meal service was complete I lay back with a few more glasses of champagne and enjoyed what the IFE had to offer. The IFE screen is a lot larger than what you will find on other airlines and the Oryx one entertainment system has a fantastic mix of films, TV, music and games. The onboard WiFi (free for first class passengers) was also a great way to keep me busy during the flight.

After a few hours of drinking, I headed to the bathroom to brush my teeth and moisturize my face for bed. There are two first class bathrooms located at the front of the cabin, both equal in size. The bathrooms must be four or five times larger than normal airplane bathrooms and are equipped with a bench running down one side, a large sink, cupboards packed with amenities, a hangar but unfortunately no shower.

Picture from previous flight in 2018

Once I returned from the bathroom, I realised the crew had made my bed up for me. The fully flat seat was covered with a thick and extremely comfortable mattress topper, a duvet and the classic purple blanket. This made for an amazingly comfortable bed which I fell asleep in almost instantly with the help of my eye mask and ear plugs from the amenity kit. I never usually sleep very deeply on planes but this was an exception and seven hours later, I awoke with only 3.5 hours to go until we landed.

The Bar

Business and first class passengers have equal use of the bar area on the A380. Unfortunately, the bar is located at the rear of the business class cabin which makes it a little unaccessible for first class passengers as they have to walk through the whole upper deck to get there.

The bar area is lovely, however, and well worth a visit. There are an array of nibbles laid out and a barman to make you whatever drink you desire.

As I was in the bar, one of the crew members found me and asked if I would like to begin my breakfast service when I arrived back. I said I would love to and followed her back to my seat where my table was set with a bread basket, jam and melon juice.

Breakfast started with a small greek yogurt covered with granola which tasted good.

Next up, first class passengers have the opportunity to create their own breakfast (see menu for choices). I did this and created my own full english spread which arrived promptly.

I have to say I was extremely disappointed with the breakfast options and the meal wasn’t of a standard I would expect in First class. The omelette tasted very stodgy and I didn’t finish it.

After finishing breakfast, the crew cleared my table and unmade my bed. For the final two hours I did some work in the bar before heading back to my seat for landing.

Conclusion

The start of my Qatar Airways First Class experience had been luxury to say the least. The process from checking in to leaving the lounge was unbelievably seamless and I can’t wait to do that again soon.

The process did become less premium onboard but only because the product didn’t live up to the Qatar Airways business class QSuite product. If you forget that product completely, I thought the service was great, food highly average and seat good but it could have done with more privacy.

Eurowings Airbus A320 Düsseldorf-Hamburg Review

Eurowings, a subsidiary of Lufthansa, is one of the fastest growing airlines in Europe – with bases in 14 European cities, both in Germany and elsewhere.  Following the acquisition of much of Air Berlin’s former fleet, Eurowings now serves over 210 destinations, with 205 aircraft and is Europe’s third-largest point-to-point carrier. Today, with such a large footprint in the European aviation industry, and with a new plan for the future – focusing on short-haul operations – I decided to sample Eurowings’ onboard product, comparing it to the airline’s competitors.


Flight Profile:

Eurowings Flight 7063, Düsseldorf-Hamburg

Aircraft: Airbus A320, D-ABDU, ‘Hertz’ Livery

Seat: 5A (More Legroom)


Having flown initially from Manchester to Dusseldorf, I experienced what it is like to connect at Germany’s third largest airport. The process was very simple – despite involving a passport control check due to my non-Schengen origin – and I found Dusseldorf airport to be extremely pleasant. It offers a plethora of restaurants and bars, which feel exclusive and tranquil, compared to the usual atmosphere of international airports.

Dusseldorf Airport Layout.

Boarding for my flight began promptly, with my incoming aircraft arriving on-time. Both of my flights with Eurowings were extremely punctual, with both flights eventually arriving ahead of schedule and departing within 5 minutes of pushback time. An analysis by Flightstats backs this up, with a recent report proclaiming Eurowings as a European leader in punctuality and reliability, with over 90% on-time flights and a 99% reliability rating.

My flight to Hamburg would be operated by D-ABDU, an Airbus A320 inherited from Air Berlin, which has since been painted in the ‘Hertz’ livery, to publicise Eurowings’ partnership with the car-hire rental company.

D-ABDU’s Hertz Livery being unveiled. Image: Eurowings Pressroom

Eurowings’ Airbus A320 aircraft is the backbone of their fleet and can accommodate up to 180 passengers, with BIZclass occupying the first three rows of the aircraft.

Overview of Eurowings’ cabin.

Eurowings’ BIZclass functions much like any other European short-haul business class on a legacy carrier, like British Airways. Passengers receive á la carte catering, a free adjacent seat, lounge access where applicable and priority check-in.

Eurowings’ BIZClass offers a free middle seat.

I appreciate that – as a low-cost airline at heart – Eurowings offers the chance for passengers to upgrade to satisfy the needs of business travellers.

Eurowings Airbus A320 Seat Map

I allocated seat 5A, in the ‘More Legroom’ section of the cabin, for a reasonable price prior to departure. At the time of booking, this seat also contained a complimentary drink and snack whilst onboard. These seats can be allocated for an even lower cost, if you select Eurowings’ SMART fare at the time of booking. You can look at an overview of Eurowings’ fare types here.

These seats have approximately 32″ of seat pitch, which makes a tangible difference on short-haul flights – especially when coupled with slim-line seats.

Eurowings’ ‘More Legroom’ cabin section.

I would highly recommend choosing these seats, over seats at the rear of the cabin, for the extra comfort and quick disembarkation.

Eurowings had RECARO seats on this particular aircraft, which offered both a seat back pocket and storage behind the tray table, which was very practical.

Eurowings’ RECARO seats offered lots of storage, which is notable at a time when airlines are removing seat-back pockets.

Additionally, the slim-line seats maximise legroom whilst still providing enough comfort for the length of intra-European flights Eurowings operates.

Eurowings cabin, looking forward.

I would like to give a special mention to the cabin crew on this flight, who were extremely accommodating, friendly, humorous and diligent with their onboard service. From offering free refills of passengers’ drinks in the forward part of the cabin, to giving recommendations for my short time in Hamburg, the cabin crew were exceptional for a low-cost, domestic flight.

Departing from Dusseldorf, one of Eurowings’ core markets.

Snacks were offered to all guests in BIZcass and sat in the first few ‘More Legroom’ rows, immediately after departure from Dusseldorf. Guests could choose between a sandwich and a chocolate cake, with a beverage of choice. I had a sandwich, a cup of tea and the crew kindly came around the cabin again prior to landing and refilled drinks, at which point I asked for a glass of water. This service was impressive for a budget airline on a 45-minute domestic flight.

Eurowings’ onboard snack.

Unfortunately, it does appear that this complementary snack will no longer be offered to guests sitting in ‘More Legroom’ seats unless they are booked on a BIZcass fare – as part of the new initiatives to return Eurowings to profitability.

Here are some photos of my time in Hamburg:

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My flight touched down in Hamburg ahead of schedule and the crew wished everyone a pleasant day, with a light-hearted “Tschüss” to each passenger.

Bottom Line

A good budget airline should provide each and every passenger with a punctual, reliable and comfortable flight.

Eurowings fulfils this, and even goes beyond – with hospitable crew, extremely punctual services and great value-for-money extra legroom seats. Whilst Eurowings may have some way to go in retrofitting older aircraft with Wi-Fi – for example – it is most definitely one of the leading budget airlines in continental Europe.


Disclaimer: This flight was paid for by myself and views expressed are entirely my own. 


 

Qatar Airways First Class Lounge Review

Qatar Airways are well known for their excellent service in premium cabins both on the ground and in the air. Having flown their QSuite business class only the day before, I was eager to find out how the First Class product compared to other airlines and having just stepped off Cathay Pacific’s first class, the bar was set pretty high. Before I got to step on the plane, however, I had to sample the lounge experience in Doha. You can see my full video review below or read on to find out what I thought.

Al Safwa First Class Lounge

The ground experience in Doha is simply incredible. Your taxi driver will ask what cabin you are flying in and if it is first or business class, will drop you at at a specific area where staff are on hand to take your bags for you and lead you to your specified first or business check-in area. I’ll write more on this in the flight review so hold tight for that.

As soon as you collect your belongings from security, you are led up an escalator and straight into the Al Safwa First Class lounge. This process is seamless and I didn’t see a single other passenger until I got to the lounge.

As soon as your boarding pass is checked, you are guided down an enormous corridor filled with historic artifacts, huge paintings and a waterfall. It really is mind-blowing how EXTRA this place is.

There are corridors on both your right and left leading to other rooms which I will take you down later in the article but at the end of the corridor is another enormous waterfall and the restaurant/bar area.

I took a seat right away and my menu was brought over along with a choice of drink. It was proper restaurant service which I loved.

I opted for the beef sambusak which was really nice for an appetizer.

Next up I had the lamb chops which were my favourite part of the meal.

The lounge is fit with several different rooms coming off from the main corridor starting with a business room on the left.

The business room has a mixture of PCs and Macs in quiet rooms which would be a perfect for a business meeting or a quiet spot to do some work.

Next up, the first class lounge has a private duty free area with all the duty free products you would expect from the shops downstairs.

On the right of the corridor is another restaurant area which had a sushi bar and salad bar.

I sat there for a short while toward the end of my stay where i enjoyed a few glasses of wine, sushi and a bang average chicken sandwich.

The lounge features a family room off to the left with a few darkly lit rooms, televisions and a private food area filled with small sweets and nibbles.

Attached to the family area is a kids and gaming room. The room was amazingly kitted out but I highly doubt it is used often as I don’t expect many kids pass through.

Off to the right is the spa area which has both a male and female spa and double and single bedrooms which are bookable for 6 hours. I booked one of the single rooms which was great as it gave a place to drop your bags base yourself for your stay in a lounge.

The spa menu was on show but the prices were quite expensive and i found it weird that you had to pay for a treatment. I opted for a visit to the Jacuzzi which was free and it was a lovely way to relax. I was also brought slippers and a gown to change into afterwards which was a lovely touch.

Conclusion

The Al Safwa lounge is huge and full of things to do, eat and buy. As I left the lounge for my flight I felt extremely relaxed and ready for my 13 hour flight. The food had been lovely, the staff had been very attentive and I thought the private rooms were a lovely touch.

If you have a chance, I would highly recommend paying this lounge a visit and checking it out for yourself.

Qantas A330-200 Business Class Review

Domestic business class isn’t usually anything to get excited about. In Europe, you get a blocked middle seat, one shoddy meal and free drinks during the flight. In Australia, however, the game is different. Welcome to my review of Qantas’ A330-200 business class product as i flew from Perth to Melbourne. To see the video review, just click below, sit back and enjoy!

Booking

Qantas charge a stupid amount of money for their domestic business class in my opinion. A one way flight on a random day in September pulled up a total cost of £879 – not worth it. I, on the other hand, paid for this flight using miles accrued on my American Express Gold Card which I transferred to British Airways to make the booking. If you want to read more on how to do this, click here.

The total cost of this ticket was £10.40 and 22,000 avios points.

Check-In

Because i was transferring from another flight, I had to pick up my bags, clear immigration and take a ride on a 30 minute bus which looked and sounded like it was from the 1800s. It was such a strange experience coming off a first class flight, onto that bus and then straight into the Qantas terminal but that’s what travelling is all about, right?

Once i reached the Qantas terminal, I dropped my bag at one of the desks and headed through the deadest security line I have ever seen. It really surprised me just how dead the airport was. Once inside the terminal, I headed straight to the FANTASTIC Qantas business class lounge which I will be reviewing soon after this.

Boarding

My flight was called and the lounge manager came over to tell me that my plane was ready for boarding. I packed up my belongings and feeling slightly tipsy from the 5 hours of lounge drinking on top of 13 hours of drinking on the flight from Doha, I headed to the gate to see an enormous queue. Only after investigating further did I actually realise that there was a business class line positioned to the right of this line which was totally empty! I walked straight through in seconds and before I knew it, I was onboard.

I was greeted in a strange way onboard. As always, I walked to the plane door with my gopro camera filming for me but as soon as i reached the aircraft door the cabin crew member covered up the camera and said I was not allowed to film him under any circumstances. I assumed this meant I couldn’t film at all but he quickly reassured me as long as he wasn’t in shot, I had the all clear. I guess some people really don’t like being on camera eh?

The Seat 

Qantas have set their A330s up in a 1-2-1 configuration covering two cabins. The front cabin has 22 seats while the rear cabin has a cozy 6 seats.

The seats alternate on the windows so if you want a ‘real’ window seat, select rows 2 and 4 ONLY. All of the other window seats are closer to the aisle, thus reducing privacy and placing you further from the window.

The seat was nice and comfortable with space to park your feet below.

A touchscreen with films, maps and all the rest…

…a table area to your side for storage and another storage area above the table…

…a USB and AC power port…

…a holder for reading material and safety card…

…a mirror…

…and a reading lamp.

Once getting onboard i noticed that a bottle of water had been placed in the storage compartment, a set of headphones was waiting along with sleeping materials like an eye mask and duvet.

The seat controls were very sophisticated and responsive and I found it cool how you could sit in a pre-set 3/4 position for takeoff which was much more comfortable.

The Flight

Once onboard and seated, I was offered a welcome drink which was a choice between water, champagne and guava juice (don’t worry I had never heard of it either). I chose the guava on the false premises that it was orange juice and was pleasantly surprised.

We pushed back on time and the crew came around to take our meal orders. I was told there wasn’t any choice as most of the passengers wanted to sleep on the flight but that I could have a drink and bowl of soup after takeoff. I said I wanted that and was told it would be delivered promptly after takeoff.

We took off on time out of Perth and within 10 minutes the food had arrived. I was really impressed with how efficiently the food arrived and it tasted fantastic. I actually ate this without thinking to snap a picture so be sure to check out the video to see how it looked.

Seeing as I had been up for the last two days with very little sleep and a lot of flying, I nodded after soon after this and woke up two hours later as we were approaching Melbourne. Straight away, a crew member asked if I would like anything to eat or drink and when he said he could bring me the light breakfast option, I opted for that!

The breakfast came in the form of two muffins, a bowl of fruit and yogurt, an ANZAC cookie, a cup of tea and a glass of orange juice. It was a refreshing start to the day but nothing to fill you up.

For the final two hours of the flight I sat comfortable watching ‘the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ on the IFE which finished just as we landed in Perth.

Conclusion

I had an amazing experience onboard Qantas’ A330 and was so impressed at the work they put in for this domestic flight. Both the hard and soft product were so impressive and I loved how the crew personalized their service based on what each passenger wanted. Because I didn’t want to sleep all the way, the crew were engaging and talkative but to others who it was obvious only wanted to sleep, they left them all alone.

This cabin is a super comfortable way of crossing Australia and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again!

Qatar Airways B777-300ER Business Class QSuite Review

In February 2017, Qatar Airways was delivered the first ever Airbus A350-1000 which was fitted with theit state-of-the-art QSuite business class. I was invited on that flight which meant that I was able to sample the incredible QSuite. Seeing as this was a delivery flight for media only, however, a full review wouldn’t have been a fair review so just over one after, a decided the try them out for real on a 9 hour flight from Hong Kong to Doha.

Booking

Booking Qatar Airways in the QSuite can be expensive on this route. If you want to pay cash for Qatar’s business class, it is often clever to route out of airports such as Stockholm where cheap fares can easily be found.

I booked this flight using British Airways Avios which I had earned by using my American Express Prefered Rewards Gold Card. If you don’t know how you can book flights using miles and points click here for my beginners’ guide. 

I booked this flight for a total of 60,000 avios and £92.10.

Check-In

Something i love about flying out of Hong Kong is the ‘in town check-in’ service they offer at Hong Kong Station. If you have a ticket on the airport express train, you can drop your bag and get your boarding pass printed up to 24 hours before your flight departs. I used this service before i got on the train and it was amazing!

Ground Experience:

Because I had already dropped my bag off and printed my boarding pass, I headed straight through security but I couldn’t see a a fast track entrance so simply entered the normal channel and was through in a few minutes.

Qatar Airways business class passengers are able to use the Cathay Pacific business class lounges in Hong Kong but because i had landed the previous day on a Cathay Pacific First Class ticket, I was able to use the first class lounges and you can see the review of The Wing and The Pier. 

I left the lounge when boarding was announced and managed to join the business class queue as the first passenger. Around five minutes later, I boarded as the first passenger and was greeted onboard by the sublime Qatar Airways crew who led me all the way to seat 10A.

The Seat 

Qatar Airways are in the process of retrofitting their Boeing 777-300ERs with the new business class QSuite product.

The QSuite is a private suite and the cabin is setup in a 1-2-1 configuration with alternating ‘real’ window seats and window seats closer to the aisle. In the middle, the 2 seats alternate between being closer together in the middle (perfect for couples as it makes a double bed) and further out towards the aisle. The QSuite has the ability to bring dividers down to form a block of four seats in the middle for familes or meetings!

The double bed in action

Each suite has a table on the left for storage.

Below this are the seat controls, plugs, power sockets, headphone jack and remote control to control the screen.

The screen is a large flat-screen which wasn’t all that responsive but worked well.

On the left of the seat there is a storage box which can be raised and it holds the headphones…

…a bottle of water and reading materials.

Above the seat, also on the left, is a reading light which has several brightness settings and was very maneuverable.

Directly in front of you is the tray table which is released with a catch below. The seat was large and sturdy.

Finally, the suite is made private by the sliding door on the left.

The Flight

As soon as i was welcomed onboard I was offered a welcome drink and opted for the signature Qatar lime and mint mocktail. I loved this drink and proceeded to drink it over the next few hours!

After my hot towel and welcome drink arrived, a crew member came and introduced herself as she talked me through the seat features. She also took my meal orders from the menu (see below) and asked which snacks I would like so that she could reserve them and make sure nobody else ordered them before they ran out! She also informed me that the two seats in row 9 in the middle were vacant meaning that if I wanted, I could try the double bed out!

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Before takeoff, my drink was refilled and my pyjamas arrived which weren’t the best quality but were comfortable enough for the 9 hours.

We took off into the night on time and began our 9 hour flight through darkness to Doha. As soon as the seatbelt sign was turned off, I headed to the bathroom to get changed and when I returned the crew asked if I would like to eat and begun to set my table.

As a pre-meal drink, I opted for the pineapple margarita which was nice but I had to scrape the salt from the side for it to be bearable.

The first course to arrive was the tiny salmon appetizer which took 3 mouthfuls to finish but tasted good.

Next up came the Arabic mezze dish which consists of pitta breads and dips. The pittas were nice and warm and the dishes went well together.

Finally, my main course arrived and I couldn’t of been happier with my choice. The prawns tasted so good and I was even tempted to ask for a refill.

After the meal service, the crew cleared my table and brought a tomato juice and chocolates.

As I finished my meal, the crew set up the double bed for me in row 9 without me even knowing and as my table was cleared, she led me to my new private suite!

The double bed is amazing, you can barely feel the partition and I was able to lie over both beds with a map on one screen and a film on the other.

I asked if my snacks could be delivered to the double bed and the crew were happy to oblige. First up came two small burgers with pineapple juice. The burgers were amazing and came with a small salad side.

Next up came two skewers with a choice of sauces. These were lovely but very much a ‘snack’ and were gone in two bites each.

After this, I was ready for a sleep and nodded off to the King’s Speech playing through my headphones. Around 5 hours later, I was woken to find myself sprawled across the double bed and felt like I had just woken in a small hotel room, it was honestly that good.

Conclusion 

The Qatar QSuite is an incredible product, there is no two ways about it. My flight from Hong Kong to Doha proved just how amazing the Qatar food, crew and seat could be and I can’t wait to fly this product again in the future.

The Pier First Class Lounge | Hong Kong

Flying Cathay Pacific First Class is well known among frequent travellers to be an experience of a lifetime. In fact, when I tried it, I fell in love. More of that love story here.

Part of the experience that makes flying Cathay First so incredible, however, is the ground experience in their base Hong Kong. Because I was flying out of New York on my first class trip, I obviously didn’t have access to these facilities but the next day, I departed Hong Kong with Qatar Airways in their fabulous QSuite cabin.

Because I had landed on a first class ticket, I was granted access to both First Class lounges by simply showing them my boarding pass from the day before. I had been told by lots of people that I had to land on the same day to gain access but trying my luck paid off and I was allowed into both the Wing and Pier First Class lounges. I have reviewed them in one video below but one article has been written for each lounge so be sure to check them both out.

The Pier First Class Lounge Review

With about an hour until my Qatar Airways flight and having just had the bath of all baths in the bang average Wing First lounge, I headed to gate 62 on the underground train and into the Pier lounge. On arrival, two women greeted me and instead of scanning my boarding pass, I flashed them my one from the day before and was granted entry.

Picture by travelingwellforless.com

The moment you walk into the Pier you know it is going to be a more luxurious experience than the bland Wing lounge. The entrance takes you into a well carpeted corridor fit with oak tables in the middle and plants standing on them. The walls are decorated with lamps and artwork making passengers feel really at home.

As you walk down the corridor, exits to the right and left lead you to different areas of the lounge.

At the start of the corridor is an exit on your left taking you through the ‘library’ into the main seating and bar area. The bar is well stocked and placed nicely in the middle of the room.

The seats all look lavish and comfortable and some are set up around tables.

The next exit to your right takes you into the ‘bureau’ which has 6 small office type rooms equipped with Mac books.

The next area along the corridor takes you into the ‘retreat’ area. Here, passengers can book day rooms, foot massages and showers. Seeing as my time was extremely limited in here, I opted for a day room which didn’t disappoint.

The rooms have excellent privacy, are extremely comfortable and most importantly have fantastic views of the airport.

As I was seated, an Emirates A380 pulled up right infront of my window!

Passengers passing through here are entitled to a free 15 minute massage in ‘The Retreat’. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit so stayed in the day room.

Finally, at the end of the corridor is the real gem! The restaurant area is amazingly lit unlike the its counterpart in the Wing and the menu looked extensive for both food and drink. I didn’t stop here as I only had a small amount of time.

 

The views from the restaurant are lovely and it makes the lounge well lit by natural lighting.

Final Thought

The Pier lounge oozes with comfort. Whether it’s walking through the quiet, carpeted and well decorated corridor, sitting in the well-lit and well-stocked restaurant or watching an Emirates A380 pull in from your private day room, you’re guaranteed to enjoy your stay in the Pier.

The only thing stopping you from visiting the Pier is the bath option in the Wing lounge. My advice would be exactly what I did. Allow yourself 3 or so hours to visit both lounges.

Start by visiting the Wing, have a bite to eat but don’t fill up then head to a cabana for your amazing bath and shower and once you’re feeling refreshed, head to the Pier for a proper meal service and relax with a foot massage and a visit to the day rooms!

The Wing First Class Lounge | Hong Kong

Flying Cathay Pacific First Class is well known among frequent travellers to be an experience of a lifetime. In fact, when I tried it, I fell in love. More of that love story here.

Part of the experience that makes flying Cathay First so incredible, however, is the ground experience in their base Hong Kong. Because I was flying out of New York on my first class trip, I obviously didn’t have access to these facilities but the next day, I departed Hong Kong with Qatar Airways in their fabulous QSuite cabin.

Because I had landed on a first class ticket, I was granted access to both First Class lounges by simply showing them my boarding pass from the day before. I had been told by lots of people that I had to land on the same day to gain access but trying my luck paid off and I was allowed into both the Wing and Pier First Class lounges. I have reviewed them in one video below but one article has been written for each lounge so be sure to check them both out.

The Wing First Class Lounge

The first of the two lounges I visited was ‘The Wing’. This lounge is both a business and first class lounge with the partition at the top of the stairs. I approached the desk, showed the staff my first class boarding pass and was told to make my way upstairs and turn left instead of right.

Picture by onemoreweektogo.com

Once I got to the top, there was no boarding pass check and in complete honesty, anybody could have wondered in. It would have been nice to see better enforcement.

Once you enter the lounge there is a buffet of rather unappetising food to your right and seating areas overlooking the airport to your left. I assume this buffet isn’t used much seeing as there is a restaurant area to your left after the buffet.

I entered the restaurant area and was seated in the uncomfortably dark room.

I was given a menu which had certain lunch options including lots of different types of noodles. I opted for the Shanghai noodles and a glass of champagne which both arrived promptly. The noodles were OK but I didn’t finish them and left the restaurant slightly unsatisfied.

As you exit this room there are three more seating areas to your right stretching out to the end of the lounge.

The seating areas are rather bland and unappealing and even the self-service champagne bar didn’t scream first class.

There is also a bar with more seating areas overlooking the airport.

My final stop on this review was to the private cabanas. Because I knew what to expect from other reviews I expected the WOW moment not to hit me but as soon as I walked in, I was amazed!

I was very lucky in that there was no waiting list for the cabanas as I am told there often is so book one before you eat if you’re visiting this lounge.

The private cabanas are the most extravagant I have seen in an airport lounge featuring a bathroom, sink area, large sofa, enormous open shower and finally the crown jewel: a bath tub!

The amenities don’t fall short either. Each cabana is equipped with shaving kits, dental kits, creams, slippers, a bath robe and more.

Both the bath and the shower have shampoo, body wash and a stupid amount of towels.

Finally, to your left is an oversized cupboard where you can hang your whole wardrobe and a desk with charging ports and a large wall mirror.

The bath is nice and big and for picture purposes I filled in with shower gel to create some privacy bubbles! Honestly, it was the perfect way to relax before a long flight and I loved it.

After I had taken a bath, I tried out the shower which has three nozzles. I decided to turn them all on at once and got blasted with cold water from every angle!

Once I was definitely clean I lounged around in my bathrobe on the comfortable sofa before leaving the lounge and heading to the Pier.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the Wing First Class lounge isn’t the most impressive. The seating areas are unappealing and the restaurant areas dark. The buffet selection didn’t look the best and most of all I did feel comfortable in the lounge which can definitely be said for its sister lounge the Pier.

The cabanas are, however, an absolute game changer. They are the coolest rooms I have seen in an airport and the bath is novelty like no other.

If I were visiting again on a short stopover I have to say I don’t think I’d visit the Wing but skip straight off to the Pier.

16 Hours of Luxury: Cathay Pacific B777 First Class Review

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 private queue for First Class was totally empty when I arrived

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).

Booking

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.

Check-In

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.

Access to the Flagship First dining area is granted with your First Class ticket

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.

Ground Experience

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.

The Seat

Cathay have configured their 777s 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.

The huge wooden table top to the left provided the perfect storage space

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.

The Flight

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.

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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.

Final Thoughts

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.