Airline: Cathay Pacific
Aircraft: Airbus A 330-300
Cabin: Business Class
Seat: 15A, window
To: Hong Kong
Date: 23 August 2013
Hey, who turned the lights out? It’s just gone 4 o’clock in the morning. It’s still dark outside and I’m all bleary eyed. My mouth feels dry and the vestiges of yesterday evening’s meal – which included a rather hefty dose of red onion – make my tongue feel as though something small and furry decided to surreptitiously crawl into my mouth and then unexpectedly lost its will to live. This really is rather early. But you see, today I am leaving Australia – unfortunately. I’m heading for Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific Airways.
Getting to the Airport
The taxi I ordered the evening before is already expecting me as I exit the hotel at around five in the morning. The journey to the international terminal in Perth takes about 15 minutes to complete. Traffic is good, but I’m still surprised to see quite a few cars on the road at this ungodly hour.
Check-in is in full swing when I arrive. Fortunately the queue for Business Class passengers is a short one, so I don’t have that long to wait. Strangely enough, the place is littered with Asians with their suitcases open and busy rearranging their bags. One young man approaches me and asks me if he might be able to check-in with me as a member of the same party so he won’t have to pay excess baggage. I politely decline but I must confess I am rather curious as to how much extra he’ll need to pay.
From check-in I head upstairs and change what’s left of the Australian Dollars into Hong Kong Dollars. And then I officially exit the country. But I’ll be back.
The QANTAS Lounge
Cathay Pacific don’t have their own lounge in Perth and instead use the Qantas Club lounge. The lounge is not nearly half the size of the domestic lounge I was in yesterday in Adelaide. But it is equally well stocked and has a good selection of well prepared and tasty food options.
Boarding starts slightly behind schedule due to the late arrival of our flight. The turn around is normally only 85 minutes for the morning service, which means that even the slightest delay is likely to have a knock on effect.
There is a separate lane for Business Class passengers to pass the gate. From the departures level it’s two flights of stairs down to the entrance of the airbridge.
As I enter the cabin I am delighted to find that this aircraft has been fitted with the new Business Class seat. So no herring bone. There’s nothing wrong with the herring bone in terms of comfort but it really is a bitch to look out the window in those seats. The new Cathay Pacific Business Class seat is very much like the British Airways First Class seat, just not quite so roomy. This must be one of my favourite Business Class seats and certainly beats the Singapore Airlines one they have on the A 380.
The load on today’s flight is pretty light up front, I only count ten passengers in total. The smaller Business Class cabin behind the L2 door remains completely empty.
The crew in Business Class are all female and very friendly. Shortly after I take my seat, one of the ladies appears with a choice of either orange juice or champagne.
And then after that it’s the scented warm towels, which are a nice, rich texture quite unlike the ones British Airways uses in First Class.
And then as the last thing before we push back, the vanity kit and a bottle of Evian arrive.
Departure is from runway 03. The taxiway from the international apron does not reach all the way to the end of the runway. So at some point we have to cross the runway to the taxiway at the other side and then from there we reach the threshold.
The acceleration is good, but it still takes us a while until we are finally airborne. And with that, I have left Australian soil.
After take-off the crew come through the cabin distributing the wine list and menu for today’s flight.
Unlike my previous experience with Cathay Pacific, on this flight the meal is served on a tray directly from the galley, instead of from a trolley. Presumably that also has to do with the light load in Business today.
In any case, the crew come to take my order for the meal and the drinks. We start with a plate of seasonal fresh fruit. The pineapple, melon and kiwi are fabulous and have remained fresh. The strawberries however, are somewhat bland in flavour.
The tray arrives with the apple juice and milk coffee I’d ordered, as well as a glass of still water.
This is followed shortly after by the breadbasket. There is a choice of different types of bread, croissants and muffins and a selection of preserves and honey.
After that comes the vanilla yoghurt, which is very rich and creamy.
For the main course I have the butter milk pancakes with caramelised walnuts, apples and strawberries with maple syrup – divine!
The meal concludes with the mandatory scented towels Cathay Pacific seem to have an abundance of on their aircraft.
And now I think I’ll listen to some music. Here’s a nifty feature of the console to operate the IFE. At the top it constantly displays the time left to go to destination. I think this is a really neat feature!
About two hours out of Hong Kong the lights go on again and a fresh set of hot towels herald the beginning of the second service. Much to my surprise, the second meal service is another full meal and not just a snack.
For an apéritif I have one of Cathay Pacific’s signature non-alcoholic cocktails – but alas I forget the name. It is a refreshing mix of kiwi, mint leaves and coconut milk. The drink is served with a small bowl of warm salty almonds.
The First Course
We begin with a trio of gravlax, seared tuna in sesame seeds on pesto and a lime marinated shrimp.
With that I have some garlic bread. Well okay, three slices. But they really were quite small.
On the tray there is also a salad with feta cheese, cranberries and a balsamico vinaigrette.
The Main Course
For the main I have the vegetarian option, which turn out to be palak paneer, dhal masala, mushroom and peas with turmeric basmati rice. The dish is moderately spicy and simply excellent, with a variety of different spices and flavours miraculously crammed onto one dish.
The hot meal is followed by a selection of fruit and cheese: Maffra Sage Derby, Jindi Blue and a Tasmanian Heritage Brie. With that I have a small glass of port.
And as though I hadn’t already had enough, the meal closes with a mint tea and a dessert of dark chocolate ganache tart on a raspberry coulis.
And this is how far I got with the tart.
And just in case there are still some passengers who haven’t had enough yet, the crew pass through the cabin with a box of pralinés, which I decline. What a meal!
Our arrival is delayed slightly. Apparently arriving traffic is rather busy.
Cathay Pacific provides an excellent arrivals lounge, which is located landside, right under the station of the Hong Kong Airport Express.
If you’re travelling to Hong Kong by public transport, I can highly recommend the Hong Kong Airport Express. Should your hotel be on the mainland, get off the train at the stop Kowloon. From there follow the signs to the Express shuttle bus. This is a complimentary shuttle for passengers with a valid train ticket and there are many different lines that will take you to the largest or best known hotels in the area.
During my brief stay in Hong Kong I shall be staying at The Peninsula, which is a truly lovely hotel. I did try taking pictures, but somehow they hardly do this grand building justice. So I will leave it here with a few pictures of the view from my room.