Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cathay Pacific Business Class : CX134 Melbourne to Hong Kong

Last month I finally got to try out the latest Cathay long haul business class seat. It was a long time coming I suppose since the seat has been in operation for well over a year and now features on all flights between Australia and Hong Kong. All CX flights to Australia are operated by the Airbus A330-300 in a 3 class configuration with economy, premium economy and business class. Today I will take a look at flight CX134 which departs Melbourne at 7.40am during the winter months, and 8.40am during the summer months. I warn you, there is a lot of photos... 51 in total!

A fairly quiet check-in zone at MEL



I had been up until 1.30am the night before this flight so it was a very drowsy start to the day when my alarm went off at 5.30am. A quick shower and tram ride through the city saw me at the Melbourne Skybus terminal by a little before 6am where I unfortunately just missed a bus as it was already full. Fortunately they run a frequent service and we were on the move by about 6.05am, arriving at Tullamarine airport about 6.25am.

Check-in by this stage was very quiet, presumably most people had arrived quite early. I approached the business class counter where the lovely check-in agent had already pre-filled in a departure card for me with my name and flight number. A very nice gesture and one I had not experienced with other carriers in Melbourne. With carry on bags only the check-in process was very fast and I was handed my boarding pass along with the express departures card.

Security was quick and the express card meant I was straight through passport control and headed through the terminal towards the Qantas First Class lounge. Cathay does operate it's own business class lounge but since I have oneworld Emerald status I was able to enjoy the more luxurious surrounds of the Qantas first class facility.


I had a great breakfast with a glass of Taittinger champagne. I had the corn fritters which I find hard to resist with an added poached egg. To finish off I decided a macchiato was in order, to try and wake me up a bit:


The aircraft was parked nice and close to the lounge so I could watch it being loaded during breakfast:

B-HLQ, my aircraft for today

The Emirates departure to Auckland  - as seen from the First lounge
The flight was being operated by B-HLQ which was rapidly approaching its 13th birthday. One of the older aircraft but what does it matter when the seats are so new? Here are the stats for today's flight:

FLIGHT:            CX134
AIRLINE:          Cathay Pacific Airways
AIRCRAFT:      Airbus A330-343X B-HLQ (first flight 10/08/2001)
SEAT:                14A
DEPARTURE:  0740 (Scheduled) / 0743 (Actual)
ARRIVAL:        1520 (Scheduled) / 1533 (Actual)

Boarding was under way as I approached the gate and all passengers boarded through door 1L. I was warmly welcomed by the cabin crew and made my way to seat 14A. It is almost a suite with high walls and lots of privacy. These new seats face towards the window rather than away the window like the old Cathay configuration. Let's have a look at the cabin and seats:


The centre seats can be divided with a moveable wall for added privacy - note the storage facility beside the leg which opens like a roller door


The packaged blanket on the foot rest, it does get a little narrow towards the end
I was busy snapping away when the cabin crew came by with some welcome drinks, I grabbed a juice:


The seat control panel - reading light, seat adjustments, power port, lighting, AV inputs and AVOD controller




Hopefully from all of the above photos you have some idea of how the cabin and seat look and feel. It's got to be one of the worlds best business classes. It's close to a first class design with the level of privacy and the aisle access for every passenger plus a fully flat bed.

Along with the welcome drink a hot towel was offered. The captain, an Australian judging by his accent, welcomed everybody on board and advised a flight time of 9 hours 29 minutes. At 07.43 am the aircraft was pushed back from the gate and the engines started. The inflight entertainment screen played the safety demonstration and we were on our way to runway 34 for a departure to the north.


Loads of Qantas 737's at the domestic Qantas terminal

Nice and green as we approach winter in Victoria

The AVOD controller always shows vital statistics which is handy
As we climbed into the sky an amenity kit was passed out and I kicked off my shoes. The amenity kit contained socks, eyeshades, ear plugs, tooth brush and moisturiser/lip balm. I went looking for more storage facilities and found the following :

By your feet to the left is this area to store small items, I placed my amenity kit here

By my feet to the right a roller door opens for a place to put your shoes

A small door at eye level to the left opens to reveal the noise cancelling headphones and a small mirror
Overall I think the seat is superbly designed and it is supremely comfortable. Well done Cathay! This is a great place to spend a few hours in the sky. When in bed mode it is very comfortable and completely flat.

Just after 8am local time and whilst we were still climbing the menus were handed out along with a bottle of water. This flight offers a full hot breakfast after departure and then around 4 or 5 hours later a full luncheon as well. I like airline meals so this menu was pretty exciting to me. Daytime flights are all about eating, drinking, watching movies and relaxing. I much prefer them to overnight sectors.


Here are the breakfast options today:


And here is my seat just 40 mins into the flight, messy already! But it's my little space and I can do what I want with it !


Breakfast commenced with some essential morning beverages... coffee, tea, smoothies, juice...


The drinks were served from a trolley as you can see above.


I had a coffee and a few moments later my table was set up. Cathay still choose to serve business class meals on a tray on the table rather than laying out every component separately. I suppose this speeds things up a little and in fact it still looks quite classy:


As you can see above the tray came with a bowl of fruit, bowl of bircher muesli, butter and a bread plate. Breads and pastries were served from a basket and I had a rather nice croissant. Individual jam jars were available to go with it. For my main course I decided to go for one of the Asian options, since I had already eaten a western breakfast in the lounge.


I decided to grab a smoothie too since they looked pretty tasty:


The egg noodles were a little dry and overall the main course wasn't particularly delicious but it was passable. The service was all over within the space of an hour. With the tables cleared it was time to have a rest, I had not had enough sleep the night before so I took a nap. I always put my seatbelt on over the blanket to ensure I am not woken up by the crew if the seatbelt sign comes on during the flight.



I had a bit of broken sleep and ended up just watching movies for a while. Soon enough it was time for lunch. The menu for today:


Some carriers offer a choice in starter but Cathay are still  only offering one choice, so too bad if you don't like seafood because I find these Asian based carriers insist on serving prawns, salmon or other such seafood dishes for a starter. Cathay are offering prawns, scallop and spanner crab on this service.



Fortunately I liked the starter and finished it off, along with some garlic bread from the bread basket:


The main courses came by on a big trolley so you could have a look at them before selecting if you wanted. The meals come in standard ceramic plates, they are not individually plated up. A lot of carriers have moved on from this older style of service and plate up meals on order. Qantas, Singapore, Turkish etc all do that, but Cathay and Thai still operate with these dishes that they just pop in the oven and then onto your table.



The main I had was seared lamb chops and it tasted pretty nice. It came with a fennel puree and cavalo nero (or kale as I know it). A decent enough main course.

Next we continue with the serving from a trolley idea and here is the fruit and cheese (with a good supply of wine and soft drinks below) :




Take your pick from the various delicious looking fruits and cheeses, I had a strawberry, some grapes and a lovely cheddar cheese which was served with a nice quince paste.


In case you weren't full just yet some lovely pralines were handed out:


And finally... dessert. I ordered a peppermint tea to finish the meal with too.



With dinner all over it was time for some more movies and general relaxation time. Every now and then a glass of chardonnay was delivered:


Speaking of chardonnay, can I just say at this point that the stemless wine glass is not something I am into. A wine glass should be held FROM THE STEM so as not to heat the wine in the bowl. This is not an option on a stemless glass. So Cathay please get rid of them.

Other passengers chilling out (the cabin was fairly dark but my camera can see through it)
In case you were wondering what the lavatory looks like then the next two pics will show you. Jurlique amenities are available:



As we approached Hong Kong the AVOD system showed connecting gate details which is very convenient. I was traveling onwards to Bangkok on CX703 and by checking this screen I knew my next gate number:


It was an unusually clear day in Hong Kong as we made the approach. We went right around Hong Kong island and Kowloon, with my seat on the left I was treated to some beautiful views:



The landing was nice and smooth and as we taxi'ed to the gate I spotted a British Airways A380 and a Lufthansa 747-8... both interesting aircraft that I would love to fly on at some point:


Approaching our gate - we park next to a Dragonair A320
As we disembarked 9 hours 30 minutes after leaving Melbourne I reflected upon the flight. I think the service was impeccable and polite at all times, the meals were satisfying (although a choice of starter and some more nicely presented main courses wouldn't go astray), and the seat was perfect. There is clearly no better way to travel between Melbourne and Hong Kong and this is probably one of the best seats on offer between Melbourne and Asia. I would not hesitate to book with Cathay again!

B-HLQ unloading and after turning around it was bound for Dubai




10 comments:

  1. Once again Aussie Flyer.... a great report.... Thanks.

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  2. I love the idea of the main meals coming out so you can see what they look like and choose! In the past I have asked flight attendants to remove the cover or look at others meals to see what I want before being placed down! Great review, love the pictures!

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  3. Appreciate your thorough appraisal of business class of CX 134. We are flying the same route in Premium Economy and wondered what the service was like. Thanks

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  4. I could not stop reading from start to finish. Great informative read and very insightful photos. Thanks you I am flying tomorrow and was doing a little research. Oh BTW I have just started this year to drink my Wolf Blass chardonnay from stem less wine glasses. My sister-in-law calls them vegemite jars lol.

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    1. thanks so much for reading and I hope you have a great flight! I'm still very anti-stemless wine glasses btw!

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  5. What a great read. I couldn't stop from start to finish. Great detail and insightful photos. Thank you as I am flying tomorrow. BTW I have just started to drink my Wolf Blass Chardonnay from stem less glasses. My sister-in-law calls them vegemite jars. lol.

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  6. A great review! I flew this aircraft a few months ago and I felt quite honoured to have traveled on an aircraft my favourite blogger has travelled on. The only difference between new aircrafts and old aircrafts is that there is no 3D maps on the older planes. Also was the Entertainment System available from boarding to landing?

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    1. Gosh I can't remember now, I feel that the entertainment was available the whole time , but can't be sure. Thanks for reading and your lovely comments!

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  7. I've booked my first ever business class ticket on CX 134 and just came across your excellent review. Seems like I've made a good choice!

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