In mid November, me and my partner went on a short 5D/4N trip to Taipei over the weekend for some shopping and feasting at the Taiwan famous night markets. About a month before the trip, I was checking for reasonably priced tickets but all airlines with nonstop SIN-TPE flights were offering fares at quite high prices, ranging from almost S$500 on Scoot and flying at ungodly hours, around S$600 on Jetstar or Tiger with no frills included, S$700 on Eva or CI, to almost a ridiculous S$1000 on SQ! Thus it was a surprise when searching for one-stop flights, I discovered that CX was offering flights for less than S$500 to TPE via HKG with various flight timings! VN was also offering rather low fares of less than S$450 via SGN/HAN but their return timings are not too good. Thus, I booked ourselves on CX (including a sector on KA) with the flights below. Departure from Singapore was rather late at noon as it was one of the flights offering low fares, other than the very early 0650am and late evening departures.
The flights would have allowed me to try all the 3 generations of CX economy seats (old economy on B772, non-reclinable economy on B744 and new economy on B773ER). However due to some flight changes because of delays, I missed out the chance to try the infamous uncomfortable seats on the B744.
Check-in was done online 48hrs prior to departure and our departure flight was very full! It ended up being over-booked on the departure day. On the departure day, we dropped our bags at Changi Terminal 1 at the CX counters. There was a rather long queue for check-in even for bag drops as check-in was being performed for our flight as well as the flight to BKK. However the queue moved rather fast and we were very soon issued boarding passes for the flight as well as the connecting KA flight by a friendly agent. He also commented that almost all CX flights out of SIN today was full or overbooked! Guess CX has really garnered a large chunk of SIN-HKG/via HKG traffic!
Boarding passes issued.
Through immigration without any frills and I went to get some light bites. Our plane has just arrived and parked beside an EVA Air B773ER.
14 November 2013 Cathay Pacific CX 690 Singapore (SIN) - Hong Kong (HKG) B777-200 B-HND Economy Class
Proceeded to the gate D32 25min prior to departure and there was still a rather long queue of pax undergoing security screening. The gatehold room was totally full!
B-HND, a B777-200 delivered to CX in 1996 (more than 17yrs of age), would be operating the flight today.
Boarding soon started, first by pax needing assistance, followed by premium/status/Marco Polo Club passengers. Judging by the number of pax boarding during the initial call, almost 1/3 of the pax were with some status on CX or Oneworld! This was followed by economy by rows from the rear. We were seated right at the back at one of the 2-seaters section, we boarded soon after.
Went through economy cabin right to the rear of the aircraft. Crew were greeting pax and assisting with luggage.
There were no pillows nor blankets pre-set on the seats. However these were available upon request, even though we helped ourselves to the pillows and blankets which were stored in the overhead bins above us and the space behind our seats at the last row. However, the crew did came down the aisle offering blankets after most pax were settled in.
View out of the window.
First generation 6-inch PTVs with no AVOD and not so fantastic seat pitch.
Seatback (from later in flight).
Seat recline was quite good though, so much so that if the passenger in front fully reclines, there would be a bit of problem watching the PTV (which is un-adjustable) unless one also reclines fully.
Boarding in progress. However I must admit that the cabin of this antiqued B772 is kept very clean and well-maintained. There is no way one would realize that this is a 17yrs old plane!
Boarding almost done while waiting for the last few pax to trickle in. Flight time was announced to be 3h15m.
Doors closed about 10min behind STD. A rather boring animated safety video was played.
Taxi to the runway. A SQ B772 was also parked right at the end of T1.
Scoot B772, SQ A345 and 2x AK A320s at the remote stands.
Another SQ B772 beside while we were holding for takeoff.
Taxi onto Rwy20C and held for a while.
And then we were gone, about 20min behind schedule.
Climbing away from Changi.
Made a left turn towards the north over Peninsular Malaysia.
Seatbelt signs switched off and service announcement was made.
Out over the South China Sea, where we would remain while on course to Hong Kong.
A look at the stuff in the seat pocket. Inflight magazine, safety card, duty free magazine, airsick bag and a pair of headphones.
First service was the distribution of wet towelettes. Inflight entertainment controls were of the old school press-buttons type on the armrests.
We started watching an animation film, Turbo. All films were run on loop istead of AVOD. Screen quality was not too clear and audio remained rather soft even though it was turned on to the max. Reminiscing flying in the '90s.
Shortly after, special meals were distributed and lunch service started. There was no bar service conducted prior to meal service, but I guess at this hour, passengers would rather be served lunch immediately. As the meal service was conducted from the rear of the aircraft towards the front, we were served first.
The very friendly and engaging purser serving us offered a choice of either chicken pasta or fish with rice. We selected one of each. The meal tray also came with a bowl of fruits, warm roll with butter and Haagen Daz ice-cream! I also had a white wine and apple juice to go with the meal.
Fruits and bread roll.
Penne pasta with chicken and peas in tomato based sauce. Tasted alright even though not a too fanciful dish.
Stir-fried fish with egg fried rice. A rather tasty choice, though again a very simple dish. CX seemed to be rather conservative with their economy meals.
Dessert of Haagen Daz strawberry ice-cream was distributed earlier together with the main course.
Enjoying my ice-cream.
Cleared every single morsel of food!
The purser then came round to clear our trays and offered additional drinks as well. As we wanted some tea, which would be served later, she removed the teacups from our trays and assured that hot tea would be served in a short while. We also had a short chat with her while trays were cleared and commented that this is a really old aircraft. Humorously, she corrected us by remarking that the aircraft is not old, but classic! She also mentioned that the flight is totally full in Business and Economy, and even spare crew seats were taken up by crew on staff travel! Now this is a crew with personality!
Shortly after, hot Chinese tea was served. Coffee was offered as well.
Back to our movie after meal service, though it was quite difficult to enjoy the IFE on such a 90's system. After the movie has finished, we were somewhere near Vietnam. More than an hour to go, but too short to complete a second movie. Also encountered some turbulence as well, which prompted the seatbelt signs to be turned on for a while. Nothing too major though.
Experiencing turbulent weather.
Flying into the sunset after across the turbulent zone..
Visit to the lavatory. Other than the necessities, hand lotion and face moisturizer were available.
View of the classic (as in the words of the purser) cabin.
Towards the end of the flight, another crew member distributed comment forms and requested us to assist to fill up one of it. A nice CX/KA branded pen was offered as a momento for filling up the form, as well as inflight shopping discount vouchers. We also requested for some playing cards, which were also given to us! Of course, I gave high scores for the cabin crew service, above average for meals, but not so good scores for the cabin interior/seats/IFE, mainly due to the classic aircraft used for this flight.
Pilot came on to announce the start of descend into HKG about 30min prior to arrival. However, cabin crew only prepared the cabin for landing halfway through descent, about 20min before landing. Headsets were collected and cabin was secured.
IFE was switched off but the flight map and connection information was shown all the way till landing.
Descending. Due to heavy traffic, we were also put into a holding pattern.
Approaching Hong Kong.
Flaps and gears down.
We landed on Rwy07L, right on schedule. Thank you for flying Cathay Pacific, a member of the Oneworld Alliance.
Taxi to the gate.
Parked at Gate 47. An Air India B787 was parked 2 gates away!
Our reasonably comfortable and well-padded seats for the flight.
The classic Business Class cabin. Sorry for the blurred image.
After disembarkation, we had to proceed to the transfer area flight information display to check on our connecting flight on Dragonair. However, a gate was not yet allocated for the flight.
Singapore - SIN
Hong Kong - HKG
Overall it was a rather good flight on CX. Cabin service was good with responsive and friendly crew, and meals are acceptable. The only downside was the classic aircraft used which put CX in the second position as compared to their direct competitor, SQ, on the route. However, with CX almost always offer lower fares than SQ, it is still considered value-for-money flying CX.
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