Until this past fall, believe it or not, I had never flown a true International First Class. Cathay Pacific from Boston to Hong Kong was my first and, like a talented and experienced first lover, everything about it was wonderful. What they did to make me feel blissful for 15 hours went so far beyond my expectations that I really didn’t want to get off the plane. I wanted to keep going.
Granted I have flown first class on “international” flights in North America (US to Canada, Mexico, and Caribbean) and they were very nice, but that is more like taking your cousin to the prom instead of a hot date. Nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t really count.
Was I excited? Oh heck yes. For a guy who does cartwheels and dances of joy for getting to fly Emirates Business Class, you can’t imagine how tickled I was to be having my inaugural international first-class flight on the award-winning Cathay Pacific.
Was the experience worth my buildup and excitement? Absolutely!!!!!!
In this post, I will describe:
- Cathay Pacific CX 811 Flight Basics
- Boarding Cathay Pacific First Class
- The First Class Cabin
- Take Off
- The First Class Food and Beverages
- The Amazing Service
Cathay Pacific CX 811 Flight Basics
The Boston flight is unique because it departs around 1:30 am and arrives in the early morning in Hong Kong. This allows passengers to connect to many Asia destinations and arrive at their final destination not much later than mid-day.
- Route: Boston to Hong Kong
- Flight duration (scheduled): 15 hrs 25 min
- Departure time: 1:37 am
- Arrival time: 4:30 am (40 min early)
- Equipment: 777-300ER (4 classes)
- Seat: 1A
From FlightAware, our actual flight path took us north over Canada, then the top of Greenland, over the Arctic, down through Siberia, crossing Mongolia, China, and into Hong Kong.
Boarding Cathay Pacific First Class
My Cathay Pacific Boston Logan First Class Experience post will be published this coming Wednesday, called Cathay Pacific International First Class: The Boston Experience.
I start this post with walking down the jet way to the airplane. I showed my ticket to the flight attendant at the door of the plane, and she introduced me to another flight attendant who showed me to my seat and explained the cabin and suite to me.
I was struck by how spacious the cabin felt and how large the suite was, much larger than it looks in pictures. There are no overhead bins and that too adds to the exclusive ambiance. Instead of bins you have a closet.
I was asked if I would like a beverage, perhaps champagne. I asked what champagne was being offered. The attendant apologized for not informing me before I asked, and told me it was Krug Grande Cuvee. Maybe it is the best of etiquette that she should have told me without me asking, maybe it is that first class passengers just know it will be good and need not ask, either way it is a different standard of service.
“Krug will be delightful,” was probably my response, and if you have never had Krug it is beyond delightful. It has pleasant flavors of pears, honey, flowers, and a very subtle fermentation. This is a champagne that sells for about $160 a bottle (where I live) and yes once you drink it you will understand.
Over the next 30 minutes I settled in, had four flight attendants introduced themselves to me, and was brought a number of different and wonderful things.
A fresh orchid was brought to my suite. Having an orchid travel with me somehow made me happy. Orchids are such a beautiful and calming flower.
I was offered a refreshing hot towel. My Bose headset and pillow and blanket were pointed out. A menu was presented on a beautiful teak-wood board.
I was given an amenities kit which contained a cool wooden comb, toothbrush and paste, mouthwash, Aesop lip and face cream, and something to clean my eye glasses with.
I was also offered pajamas with sincere apologies that the smallest size they had remaining was large. I probably would have fit in a small, maybe a medium. For as comfortable as these pajamas were, I swam in them and although I would have loved to keep them, it was not worth it as they did not fit.
Amen I say: my Krug was refilled before takeoff.
The First Class Cabin
Although the suites in the Cathay Pacific First Class cabin are open, they are very private. For this flight, five of the six seats were occupied.
As this is a Boeing 777, the cabin has two aisles. There is a fairly high wall separating the two A seats from the 4 D and K seats. And with the angle and design of the suite, I could not readily see the passenger in 2A, nor any other passenger at all. I changed into and out of my pajamas in my suite.
The colors are subtle and the upholstery a bit worn, but the suite design and seat width (36 inches) make for a great experience.
The ottoman, equipped with a seatbelt, can be used as either a guest seat for a meal, or an extension of the bed.
The bathrooms are larger than coach, very clean, well stocked, and have a cool sink. Two bathrooms exclusively for 5 passengers meant never a wait.
Our seats were brought to takeoff position, are suites cleaned up, the captain made the announcements, and safety was reviewed. Then it was time to go. We were told we should arrive early, it would be dark outside for the whole flight, and our flight path would take us pretty much over the North Pole (I wish it were light outside).
The east coast was experiencing a strong storm system that evening so the first couple hours of the flight were bumpy, but the only restriction due to the turbulence was no hot beverages. And we were off. As the cabin was so private, I had no idea which passengers where awake or asleep. I was awake, hungry, and happy.
The First Class Food and Beverages
Immediately after takeoff, the flight attendant (the warm and wonderful Tomeko) asked if I would like a drink. I requested a coke as I did not want to be too buzzed knowing there was more alcohol I wanted to try.
She also asked I would be enjoying their caviar service and recommended champagne or vodka with it. I affirmed that I would be enjoying it but would like to have the Saint Clair Wairau Sauvignon Blanc 2016 with the caviar. The fresh balance and light, lingering acidity proved a perfect compliment for the caviar. Notice the handwritten welcome card on the table from the flight attendants – it was truly a nice touch.
For dinner I enjoyed beef tenderloin and enjoyed the Chateau Branaire-Ducru 4eme Cru Classe 2008. Anyone who follows me recognizes that I am partial to Bordeaux and this one delivered a balanced earthy taste with a hint of raspberry perfect with the beef. I also tried the Soho McQueen Pinot Noir 2015 but having that after the Bordeaux wasn’t really fair to the Pinot Noir.
Fruit is refreshing after 5 hours of sleep.
After another 3 hours of sleep I enjoyed the dim sum. It was wonderful.
I had croissants and pastries for breakfast as I am not so much into eggs on an airplane. The bread was served with wonderful accompaniments and orange juice.
The menu had so many other offerings, but I know better than to over-eat in a pressurized cabin on an airplane. Though I really wish I had tasted the lobster roll. Click on the thumbnails to see the menu:
The Amazing Service
As I pointed out in my Which International First Class is Best: Cathay Pacific, Qatar, or British Airways? post, the category winner for service was Cathay Pacific because, although all three had excellent service, one thing that stood out to me about the Cathay Pacific crew – they seemed so happy that I was so happy, the happiness was contagious.
After eating, they made a bed for me and brought me a bottle of water. I watched a movie and dozed off. I stirred and woke up after about 5 hours of sleep (my body thought it was morning after all). They noticed me awake and came to see if I would like anything. Tea service, fresh berries with rose sauce, and cognac and chocolate hit the spot. The cognac was Tesseron No. 76 XO Tradition – harmonious and generous in tastes.
I slept maybe another 3 hours and I was hungry again. They somehow knew this and asked if I would like something to eat. Yes I would. Dim Sum.
It was like they got in a rhythm with my needs and wants. They did not overly check in on me, but if I did want something is was as if I never had to ask.
Cathay Pacific is a wonderful airline with wonderful people. Service is top notch. Their hard product, although a bit older and not an A380, is very comfortable. Their soft product is elegant and such a treat.
This was a very fast 15 hours and will be a lifetime memory.
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Amazing read Paul!
I usually watch youtube videos on peoples reviews of flights but there was something about reading it, I was imagining being on the flight myself!
15 hours is some flight, I don’t blame you not wanting to get off the plane!
Thanks Matt. Your comment means a lot to me. I see the reviews on YouTube also, but unlike the written review I keep wondering, “How did it taste?” “What was it like?” and mostly “How did you feel?” I much prefer the written reviews and so do them myself (plus I am not a great videographer). Sort of like reading the book vs seeing the movie.
Stay tuned for Wednesday when I post my pre-flight feelings.
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Sounds great! I look forward to it 🙂
Another first class first class review. I have to say this looks so much better than my Finnair experience, which was already good. Krug, caviar, and my favorite flowers to boot.
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Thank you sincerely for the first class comment 😉 Yes the difference between a nice business class and first class is significant. I know you are not so much into caviar, but I am curious have you ever tried Krug?
I Don’t think I have. I’ve had a few champagnes, but always preferred cava or prosecco. I guess that’s my sweet tooth.
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