Cathay Pacific 703 ( CX703 ) - Hong Kong to Bangkok Business Class Boeing 777-300
AIRLINE: Cathay Pacific
AIRCRAFT: Boeing 777-300 (B-HNH, first ever Boeing 777-300 in commercial service)
CLASS: Business Class
SCHEDULED: DEPART 2005 ARRIVE 2145 (on time)
After arriving from Taipei at about 3pm, I had plenty of time to kill. I had considered getting an earlier flight to Bangkok, but a quick look at the departures board showed the only other CX flight to Bangkok before mine had been cancelled. In fact this flight had been cancelled every day for the past week and the cancellation was continuing for all of June, due to political unrest in Thailand reducing visitor numbers. It was still too early to see which gate I would be departing from so I decided to check out 'The Wing' lounge first.
Flight Information Display HKG - after I arrived from Taipei
The Short Bar @ The Wing lounge
My workstation @ The Wing - home for the next few hours
I settled in at one of the many workstations overlooking the tarmac and borrowed a power adapter from The Wing customer service desk. Unlike the Thai Airways business lounges, the Cathay lounges in Hong Kong have bars with barmen to pour you a drink. There is also a self serve area in The Noodle Bar. I visited the Short Bar and got myself a vodka and orange.
I found the food quite ordinary, there was a selection of sandwiches, a couple of Chinese type bun items, and the made to order noodle soups at the noodle bar. None of which were particularly outstanding.
View from my seat
Being an aviation buff, I was really happy that the lounge had great views of the tarmac action. The lounge is elevated above the main departures level, and has a nice open feel, with no roof other than the main airport terminal roof. You can see straight out to the main windows of the terminal. Very nice!
After chatting on the net for a couple of hours, and having a few vodka's I felt pretty tired. I had been doing nothing but flying and sitting in airports for about 12 hours. I decided to freshen up and have a shower in one of The Wing's 'Shower Suites'.
Shower Suite - what is the black tap? I didn't know so I didn't use it!
The shower suite contained a few basic amenities including Dermalogica moisturisers, dispenser shampoo/soap etc. There was more amenities like toothbrushes available upon request to the bathroom attendant. I was very impressed with the cleanliness of the room. It appears they clean each suite after every use and place fresh towels ready for the next customer. I was impressed. After a very nice hot shower I felt completely refreshed and ready for my next flight.
Lounge Seating @ The Wing
I moved over to the lounge area for the last hour or so before departure of CX703, and settled again with a cup of coffee. I asked for a latte at the bar, and the barman used the automatic coffee machine, although right next to it was a proper cafe style coffee machine. Perhaps he did not know how to use it?
lovely presentation on a tray to take back to your seat
At some point during my lounge visit I discovered that my flight (which continues on to Colombo after Bangkok) would be departing from Gate 3. Great!! That gate is literally right next to The Wing. I could observe Gate 3 directly from my seat in the lounge.
CX703 to Bangkok and Colombo - Gate 3 as seen from The Wing
Having been in the lounge for about 4 hours I was a little over it and craving to get home to my bed in Bangkok. I packed up my stuff and headed down to Gate 3. Along the way I saw this warning:
TRAVEL ALERT - AVOID ALL TRAVEL TO BANGKOK
For a moment I thought something huge at happened in Bangkok whilst I had been traveling, but then I realised it could not have because I had been reading the Bangkok Post online whilst in the lounge and there was no real new development. The army had already taken back Bangkok from the red shirts days ago and the curfew was already over in Thailand. It seems the Hong Kong government was a bit slow in reducing the travel alert status to Thailand. A few days later, Thailand was placed in the Yellow section above, which seems more reasonable.
Boarding has JUST been announced
There was a long queue of passengers at the economy area of gate 3, you know that crowd, the ones that think they are going to miss something if they don't make a mad dash for the plane the second the doors open. This seems fairly typical in China/Hong Kong from my limited experience in those places.
I took the left queue and walked straight on and turned left at the first door. It's so much nicer to take that first door rather than the second isn't it?
Business Class Cabin
It's already dark outside and I don't like disturbing people with camera flash so all the following pics are taken with no flash with my trusty point and shoot Sony TX-7, which I must say does pretty well in low light!
Tonight's flight would be on board B-HNH, a Boeing 777-300. I discovered that this was the first ever 300 series Boeing 777 delivered. It was almost 12 years old. The aircraft was fitted in a 2 class layout with business class and economy class. The business cabin features recliner style seats with a looping personal entertainment system. The seats are fine but I wish they had a little more legroom. It is not easy squeezing out from the window seat into the aisle when someone is occupying the other seat. Especially when they are eating!
Seat pitch could be better
Welcome Drink - Cathay's signature non-alcoholic Kiwifruit Delight
I was quickly offered a selection of welcome drinks, champagne, juices and the KiwiFruit delight. I decided to try the delight! It was quite tasty actually. The flight attendant serving my part of the cabin tonight was a lovely Thai lady. She spoke in Thai to the passenger beside me who she later told me actually went to University with her back in Bangkok. Small world.
Cathay A340-300 in OneWorld colours parked next door
The flight load tonight was quite reasonable, with about 80% of the business class seats taken. Economy looked well over half full. Considering the do not travel alert to Bangkok, this seemed ok to me! Of course, there was possibly quite a few continuing on to Colombo.
It didn't take long for everyone to be seated and we were soon watching the safety video on the old projector at the front of the cabin. The weather en route was going to be bumpy for the first half of the flight, and just a couple of minutes after takeoff we entered thick cloud as we tracked south west towards Thailand. With a bit of turbulence it took a little bit longer before the crew were released from their seats, while the rest of us were instructed to continue observing the seat belt sign. Menu's were then handed out...
The drinks menu differed slightly from my previous flight. The champagne on this regional flight would be Billecart-Salmon, whilst the previous flight was Champagne Deutz. I'm told the reason why Deutz was served on my previous flight from Taipei was because that flight had originated in Japan and a long haul drinks menu was being used. Both main courses tonight were asian dishes, prawns with rice or chicken massaman curry. I decided to take the chicken. I was disappointed the entree was salmon as I don't eat salmon... I was also disappointed with ice cream for dessert, I would have preferred a nice cheese cake or something like that. Never mind!
Before the meals were presented we were given fast track immigration cards for Bangkok:
Just before meal service, we have tracked south before turning towards Thailand - now in cloud and turbulence at cruise altitude
The meal tray came out with the appetiser, followed by a selection of breads, I took the hot garlic bread. To accompany my meal I would be having the Billecart-Salmon champagne.
Salmon appetiser - and garlic bread
As mentioned, I don't like salmon but i decided to pick out a bit of the lettuce with the dressing. Not very nice, lettuce was too cold, even icy like it had been frozen. Dressing was ordinary too. The garlic bread however was nice!
Chicken Massaman main
The main course, the chicken massaman curry, was delicious. I also like the little salt and pepper shakers in the shape of small rocks. I finished off the main meal completely and was then offered some ice cream, there was a couple of flavours to choose from, I took vanilla...
Haagen-Dazs Vanilla ice cream
The lovely flight attendant continued to keep my champagne regularly refilled whilst I lounged back and watched the inflight entertainment. I have to thank Cathay Pacific for introducing me to the hilarious television show from the UK called 'The Inbetweeners'. I saw one episode on this flight and I was laughing out loud so much I may have been disturbing other passengers. Since then I've watched the entire two seasons of this show and love it.
After dessert we had a tea and coffee service, I took some coffee...
After coffee was complete we still had just over an hour to go so I continued watching the inflight entertainment. I managed to catch a very interesting documentary about an Indian slum. It was a weird feeling watching life in a slum, whilst sitting in business class drinking French Champagne at 37,000 feet. Made me think about just how lucky I am.
About to descend into Bangkok
By this last part of the flight, flying conditions were very smooth and the captain announced good weather in Bangkok for the landing. He said goodbye to those continuing on to Colombo as a new flight and cabin crew would be performing the next leg of the flight. The cabin crew announced that those continuing to Colombo should remain onboard whilst the aircraft is cleaned and serviced for the next leg.
After a smooth landing on Runway 19R we taxi'ed to the F concourse and parked...
Taxi'ing past an Air Macau A319
Having flown this sector (HKG-BKK) with Thai Airways a couple of months earlier I was slightly disappointed with the food. Thai Airways offer a much more extensive dinner on this sector than Cathay did. However the service on Cathay was probably slightly better, with the crew again taking the time to address me by name, something I rarely see on Thai Airways. Overall it was a good flight but it had been a very long day of airports and flying and it was time to go home and get some sleep. But not before I saw this sign in the airport on my way out:
Kind of weird feeling walking under that, considering the place is half burnt down and looted after the political demonstrations and riots that followed just a couple of weeks earlier. I wonder when they plan to change this billboard?
Thanks for reading...