Cathay Pacific (CX) is a SkyTrax 5-Star Airline and has been in the Top 10 for the last 8 years. CX Business Class contributes to those awards with a great hard product, good food and entertainment and solid service. My recent experience on a long-haul flight on their latest Boeing B777 from the US to Hong Kong wasn’t quite a 5-star experience. Read my Cathay Pacific Business Class review to see if it is worth your money for a premium cabin flight!
Pre-Departure: Cathay Pacific allows up to 40kg (2 pieces) of checked luggage in Business Class, with Marco Polo and OneWorld elite members getting up to 20kg extra. On flights to/from the US it’s 2 pieces of up to 32kg each for everybody. You also get 1 carry-on of up to 10kg and a personal item. That’s more than enough luggage for me, but not as generous as some airlines.
At the airport, Cathay Pacific offers Priority Check-in for Business Class Passengers with dedicated lines. I already had my boarding pass, but lines were short. You’ll have lounge access while you wait for departure.
The Boarding Experience was mixed on my flights, ranging from completely chaotic on one flight to perfectly organized on another. On one flight from Hong Kong, lines were not set up properly and different gate agents sent people to different places, making a mess of the process. On my departure from San Francisco, lines were set up and announced properly, with First Class, Business Class and Elite Members receiving priority, followed by Premium Economy and Economy Class.
Onboard Service: Service on my flight from San Francisco to Hong Kong was professional, but not very friendly or attentive. I was welcomed at the door, but wasn’t offered to have my jacket hung up and the pre-departure drinks took a while. The food and drink service was slow, with staff not offering to refill drinks proactively. They were hard to track down to order anything beyond what was delivered as part of the meal service. Overall, I’d consider it a step up from the US carriers, but not nearly as friendly and attentive as Singapore Airlines, ANA or other 4- or 5-Star airlines.
Food: The food service on this 14h+ flight consisted of dinner served after departure, a selection of mid-flight snacks and breakfast prior to landing.
The dinner offered a simple appetizer with dips and breadsticks in a plastic wrapper and a choice of fresh breads, all served on one tray with a white table cloth. Drinks were served in glass ware. It was followed by a choice of beef or pork – I enjoyed the beef, it was well prepared and tasty with a side of carrots and mashed potatoes. As a dessert, berries or a cheese plate were offered.
If you wanted to maximize sleep, you could also order a lighter meal, all on one tray. With the meal there is a good choice of soft drinks, wine and champagne – the Deutz Brut Classic NV (at $22/bottle) and the BV Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 ($7/bottle) were good, but won’t win any prize.
After a rough trip, I maximized my sleep time and skipped the offered snacks – burgers or soup. I did wake up in time for breakfast, which consisted of an orange juice, coffee, fresh fruit and a main course of omelete with bacon, potatoes and a grilled tomato. Similar to the dinner, the selection and quantity of food was limited, but the quality was good. Refills of coffee or juice were a little easier to come by than during dinner.
There were also Asian choices of seafood congee, stir fried noodles and dim sum.
Overall, the food offering was barely average for business class. I found the dinner to be disappointing and the lackluster service didn’t help!
Seat Boeing B777-300ER (4-class): Cathay Pacific uses a reverse herringbone 1-2-1 layout with fully flat seats and direct aisle access for all passengers. The business class cabin is very large on this plane with a mini cabin and one large cabin.
The seat is pretty wide at 21in and long at 81in, with a narrowing foot cubicle. My window seat was slanted towards the window, with limited privacy to the aisle. There is a good-size shelf between the seat and the window. You’ll also find a small storage cubby with a door, open storage in the foot area and under the ottoman for all your stuff! The controls for the seat and the video controller are in reach next to the seat and easy to use. The seat belt is one of the new style with a built in airbag, making it a little heavier.
The large video screen folds out due to the angle of the seat, which means you can’t watch during departure and landing. It is very clear and delivers crisp colors, making it a pleasure to use. You also get a set of good noise-cancelling headsets and have a power outlet and USB port next to your seat to power your own laptop, phone or tablet.
The seat gradually reclines to a lounging position or a fully flat sleeping position. You get one soft, thick pillow and a good quality comforter. The seat was comfortable to sleep on, even without a mattress pad. I slept like a baby – partly courtesy of the very comfortable seat and partly due to my exhaustion!
Amenity Kit: Cathay Pacific offers a nice amenity kit with a boring fabric bag, but high-quality Jurlique lotions inside, as well as standard dental kit, socks, ear plugs and sleep mask.
Entertainment: The entertainment system offers a good selection of TV and 100s of movies from around the world, so everybody should be able to find something. I like the ability to see what will be playing on the Cathay Pacific website, giving you a chance to pick something you like ahead of time or bring your own entertainment if you don’t like it! I’d consider the inflight entertainment top notch, both in quality and selection.
Bottomline: Cathay Pacific used to be my favorite airline to Asia and after having read many raving reviews, I was disappointed with the overall experience. The seat is very good and comfortable, although I personally prefer the staggered seats used on ANA or Asiana that face forward and offer more privacy. Despite it being a new seat, it showed signs of wear and tear, with trim pieces out of place and fabric separating from the seat. The mixed service on the ground and professional, but not very friendly or attentive service in the air were especially disappointing, as it used to be a hallmark of Cathay Pacific. The food and wine were mediocre, leaving the entertainment as the only stand out feature.
Overall, I don’t think the above average prices are justified by the total experience and I’d recommend Singapore Airlines, ANA, Asiana and Thai Air over Cathay Pacific any day!