I spend my last day in Hong Kong walking through the narrow streets of Wan Chai and its many food markets. The sights, sounds and above all the smells are not for the faint of heart but they give you a very different feel for the city. In fact, ambling through Wan Chai, glitzy Central with its banks suddenly seems somehow very far away.
But it has been a hot and humid day here in Hong Kong, so eventually I decide to call it a day and head out for the airport at around 18:00.
Getting to the Airport
Departs from: Hong Kong Island Terminus
Arrives: Hong Kong Airport Terminals 1 and 2
Frequency: every 12 minutes
Journey time: 24 minutes
Fare: HKD100, that is HKD18 more expensive than the inbound journey from the airport
It is possible to check-in for Cathay Pacific flights at the terminus station of the Airport Express on Hong Kong island. Opposite the check-in counters is the lift that takes you two floors down to the platform. But today I have decided to check-in at the airport, quite simply because I have not done that before.
Location: Terminal 1, rows B and C
The airport seems rather quiet this evening, maybe because it is Sunday. The good thing is that there are no queues for check-in.
I haven’t eaten since breakfast and I could really murder a bowl of noodles right now. I ask the friendly check-in agent if there is a noodle bar in every one of the Cathay Pacific lounges, to which she replies that she is not quite sure. It is not really that important, but next thing I know she is already calling somebody somewhere to find out. So just in case you were wondering, there is a noodle bar in the Wing and Pier lounges but not in the Bridge lounge. She also informs me that, for operational reasons, my flight has a delay of twenty minutes.
The Cathay Pacific Wing Lounge
Location: The Wing, opposite gate 2
Type of Lounge: Cathay Pacific Business Class lounge
Facilities: noodle bar, coffee bar, drinks bar, Mac workstations, showers, toilets
Internet: available, the password is displayed in various locations around the lounge
Apparently you’ll need a lounge invitation to access the lounge, although I’m not sure what happens if you check-in online and don’t actually use a check-in counter before you head airside.
The noodle bar is fantastic and there are different soups available. I’m famished, so first I have a spicy Shanghai style noodle soup with crushed peanuts, followed by a Japanese ramen soup with vegetables. You order your soup directly at the counter. You are then given a buzzer which starts blinking when your food is ready for collection. While I wait I have some steamed pak choi and some dim sum.
With the imminent risk of starvation successfully mitigated, I find myself a more comfortable place to sit on one of the loungers by the coffee bar.
Priority Boarding: there are three queues for boarding: one is for Business Class passengers and the top tier members of Cathay Pacific’s FFP, one for Marco Polo members and another for Economy Class passengers. Because Australia does not allow for more than 100ml of liquids to be taken on board as hand luggage, a secondary security screening takes place just before entering the airbirdges.
There are two airbridges connected to the aircraft, although in my case there’s not really much point in taking the Business Class one to the L1 door, seeing as my seat is located in the mini cabin behind the L2 door anyway.
Configuration: 1 + 2 + 1
Seat: 39 seats. The window seats face away from the aisle, which makes the seat very private. The aisle seats however, face towards each other. However, they are still sufficiently private. This is one of the best Business Class seats out there and can easily match what British Airways has in First Class these days. In fact it is more or less the same seat. The finish of the seat is very nice and there is a lot of storage space. The overall impression is that a lot of thought was put into designing this seat. Incidentally, Cathay Pacific also provide you with a proper duvet and not just a blanket, even in Business Class.
Pitch: 82 inches
Width: 20.2 inches
Recline: 180 degrees
Facilities: power outlet, reading lamp, overhead lamp, a lot of stowage space
Audio and Video: AVOD, touch screen or remote controlled
Cathay Pacific does its own take on the SWISS Stübli, but in reverse order. The main Business Class cabin is located between the L/R1 and L/R2 doors. And then there is a further, mini cabin with only three rows behind the L/R2 galley (rows 19 – 21). Originally I was on 14A in the main cabin. But I am reseated because the check-in agent tells me it will be more private in the back. Okay, if you say so…
Business Class is not full this evening. From what I can tell, most but not all of the window seats are taken, nearly none of the middle seats are occupied.
I settle into my seat and immediately a young lady appears with a tray full of drinks. I go with the passion fruit and apple juice, which is refreshing but very sweet. Before we push back, hot towels are handed out. And they really are piping hot.
The crew are very professional in the way they go about their duties. Throughout the flight I notice that they all address passengers using their family names. Perhaps they are not as chatty and approachable as some of the other crews I’ve experienced with Cathay Pacific, but that is okay.
Once we are airborne, the service is very efficient. The crew obviously want to make sure passengers have enough time to sleep and rest before the second service and our arrival into Perth. In short sequence the vanity kit, menus and a bottle of Evian for the night are distributed.
Brand: Agnes B. (designer from Hong Kong)
Content: there are different vanity kits for men and for women and I’m not sure if the content is the same – the men’s kit contains various moisturizers and lips balm, eye shades, ear plugs, socks, a toothbrush and Colgate toothpaste (it is actually quite a large tube that should last you a couple of days); shaving kits are available in the lavatories
Welcome drink on the ground: passion fruit and apple juice
Hot towel before the meal: no
Pre-meal drink: no
Choice: one starter and three main courses
Delivery: tray service
Type of meal: dinner
Cathay Pacific offers an abridged service on this flight to speed things up and give passengers enough rest time. First of all, there is no pre meal drink. The drink arrives with the tray. Warm cashew nuts are available, but only on demand, they are not actively offered by the crew.
The tray arrives with the dessert and the starter both already on it.
The First Course
Savoury dips of red pepper and roasted eggplant with grissini.
Cathay Pacific does not take orders for the main courses. Instead, the crew will bring you a tray with the available choices for you to pick the one you like the look off.
The Main Course
Tandoori chicken breast with biryani rice and green chilli.
Chees platter: fourme d’ambert, cheddar, reblochon with crackers, apple and rosemary paste.
The meal is quite good. The roasted eggplant dip has a nice flavour that goes well with the red pepper and the grissini. The main course is okay, the Indian dishes on Cathay Pacific are always quite spicy.
Fresh berries with rose syrup.
By the time the meal ends and the tray have been removed, there are still about six hours and a half to go to Perth, which means the full service was completed in more or less one hour from take off. Not bad at all! And now, time to get some sleep…
The Second Service
The second service begins about two hours out of Perth, which seems a tad early to me. And indeed, 55 minutes before arrival everything has already been cleared away again. I think it would have made more sense to start the second service a bit later. But there are worse things that can happen.
- Mango and passion fruit smoothie
- Fresh seasonal fruit – dragon fruit, water melon and blueberries
- Omelette with pan-fried pork sausage, bacon, roasted potatoes, marinated red peppers and braised bean ragout
- Selection from the bread basket
- Tea and coffee
The second meal is a bit of a let down. First of all, because the ragout contains fava or broad beans, which I am allergic too. Secondly, everything seems slightly undercooked.
We arrive into Perth under the watchful gaze of a full moon. In the distance you can see water; the realisation that I am actually staring at the Indian Ocean takes me completely by surprise. Quite as though my brain has not had enough time to adjust to the idea!
More or less a year ago I departed from Australia from Perth on Cathay Pacific. It was in fact the outbound leg of the flight I arrived with today. I remember thinking at the time that it would be good to return to Australia and to Perth in particular some day. Little did I know at the time that I would be returning so soon. It is nice to be back for sure.
Getting into Town
Departs from: international arrivals
Journey time: ca. 40 minutes
Getting into town from the international terminal is not quite as straightforward as one might think in Perth. There is an airport shuttle that runs from the airport to the city and there is also public transport. The only problem though, is that both services run to the domestic terminal only, which is quite a distance away from the international terminal. Perhaps on the way back I’ll give it a try. But right now I’m too tired, so I think I will just grab a taxi.