In this first installment I'll provide more background detail and general trip planning information. This trip would be my first time experiencing Cathay Pacific. Their reputation for excellence is well documented in flight reports and I was anxious to have a go. Originating at LAX allowed for a visit to highly regarded Qantas First Class Lounge (perhaps mods can add to the DB)as well. I would also add another A380 to my flown list in the form of Malaysia Airlines. It's no secret that they're a struggling enterprise so I wonder if their days as an A380 operator are numbered. Another First for me on this trip would be traveling with BA. Yes, it's a short Club World flight to AMS but a first none the less. The final first is a visit to AMS Schiphol which, based on reviews, is an excellent European transit hub.
I utilized 70k Alaska Mileageplan miles for the travel on CX LAX-HKG-CGK. I realize it's probably not the best value to pay the First Class award redemption rate and have a sector in Business but I initially planned to visit Jakarta so this was the best way. Next I booked Singapore Airlines First CGK-SIN(overnight)-PVG in First/Suites with the intention of taking Delta home PVG-LAX. About a week before the departure I started poking around for alternate routes home and came across the Malaysia space to LHR. First class award seats on MH4 are nearly always available so that was no surprise. As I wrote above the combination of First Class, A380, and Malaysia Airlines may not be around much longer so I opted to give it try. I've flown economy on Malaysia and found them to be an above average experience so why not move up to the front of the airplane?!? I used 70k American Airlines Advantage miles to book the CGK-KUL(overnight)-LHR-AMS sectors. Finally, the AMS-PDX-LAX were on trusty and reliable Delta Air Lines as an NRSA. On to the filghts!
I completed online check in earlier in the day as I had intended to arrive at the airport early, before the CX counters would be open. As with the best laid plans this one didn't quite go accordingly. I still made it to LAX about 3 hours prior to departure. The CX counters were open and there was no line for First so I stopped in to collect a proper boarding pass. I was also presented with the boarding pass for the HKG-CGK.
Security was one level up from the airline counters. The premium cabin line was short and I was through in a matter of minutes.
I had never been to the renovated Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX as a departing passenger so I was keen to have a look. All reports say it is actually a nice facility on par with major international airports around the world. My initial impressions were very favorable. It's a beautiful terminal.
Terminal as you first enter from security checkpoint.
While this is one of the busy times of day there were still lots of open space. I was so excited to check out hte Qantas/Oneworld lounge that I didn't stroll the terminal as I had planned but instead made a straight path upstairs to the lounges. It was a couple floors up via lift.
I was greeted by two young men in sharply tailored suits and welcomed into the lounge. My boarding pass was scanned and I handed over the lounge invite. What's the point of the invite if the information is coded into the ticket? Anyhow, i was asked if I had been in before and when I answered in the negative I was offered a tour. Yes, please.
First seating area near the entrance, to the right.
To the left and windows overlooking the terminal below.
Approaching the bar/dining area.
As you can see the lounge as a clean and modern aesthetic. The carpet is interesting. It plays tricks on your eyes. I'm not sure of the purpose of that.
I had not taken a meal since lunch in anticipation of this evening's dining options so my first stop was the dining room. I was cheerfully greeted by a young lady in a spiffy white jacket and shown to a table.
I was presented with the following menu:
My first selection was the LPBR and some water.
Next I requested the Hamachi crudo and the salt and pepper squid.
The crudo was flat and one note although the fish had a nice texture. The squid was excellent. I'll also note that the service was well beyond my expectations. The woman taking care of me was friendly, fun, very knowledgeable with regards to the food and wine, and she was very observant making sure I was wanting for nothing. At her recommendation I tried the myer lemon curd with almond shortbread. Perfect dessert for my palate: slightly tart and rich.
A glass of the Nicolas Feuillatte Rose
I decided a shower would be welcome before the night flight so I packed up my bubbly and headed to the bathing facilities. With no wait I was assigned a spacious and spotless shower suite.
Feeling refreshed and with a little more time before boarding I claimed a seat at the bar and ordered a negroni and a selection of cheese.
Great chutney on this cheese plate.
An espresso to finish a delightful stay in a true First Class lounge. The announcement that CX883 was now ready for boarding was made and off I went to the gate.
Some shots of the remodeled terminal on the way to board CX883.
Boarding was well underway so i don't think I even broke stride walking on board the airplane. At the 1L boarding door was the Purser/Service Manager and two 1st class flight attendants Evelyn and Jessica. We exchanged greetings and I was escorted on the very short journey to seat 1A. Evelyn informed me that 2A was vacant so I could have my choice of seats or enjoy both! Imagine my excitement in getting 1/3 of the cabin to myself. With the CX first class cabin layout as it is I would have the entire aisle to myself. The only foot traffic would be the crew and the occasional business class passenger who lost their way.
The cabin during boarding.
The one third that I would occupy.
The cabin was 4/6 for this flight but due to the configuration it felt more like 1/2. The wasrm and gracious service started right from the introductions and I was of course offered the pre-departure beverage of my choosing.
The shower of in flight goodies also commenced.
Oshibori 1 of seemingly 300.
The CX amuse-bouche.
Quick peek at the front office.
Business class mini-cabin right behind first.
There was a delay in departure and it seems to be pretty common on this flight. I got the impression it has to do with arriving too early than anything happening on the LAX end. We finally pushed back and I turned on the nose gear camera.
Some shots of other traffic at what is now early Friday morning. ETs newish service to/from DUB.
Sister ship that would be right behind us in the tracks across the pacific.
QF embarking on a long haul to the southern hemisphere.
Cabin lighting on taxi and takeoff.
The taxi over to the north complex and takeoff on 25R was accomplished quickly as there was very little traffic moving about at this time. Soon we were thrust into the darkness above the Pacific Ocean.
I had changed into my pajamas before takeoff and made myself comfortable. My plan for this late night departure was to enjoy a light snack and some champange and go to bed. I would take my main meal after sleeping for a while. With 14 hours of flying tie there was no rush to anything.
I started with some water and a glass of the Krug Grand Cuvee. The beverages were served with a ramekin of warm cashews.
I took pictures of the extensive wine/food menu for those who are interested.
The ample table was deployed.
For my midnight snack I requested the caviar service. The presentation, attention to detail in table setting, and the delicate but firm eggs made for a lovely experience.
While I enjoyed the decadence of Krug and caviar my bed was made in seat 2A.
Another set of controls can be found in the head area of the bed.
My snack ;) service ended with some pralines and Glenmorangie Signet
The cabin lighting wasn't dimmed right away as other passengers were going through the full meal service. This did not prevent me from falling directly to sleep. I found the bed to be spacious where it most matters for me, in the shoulder area. The foot area tapers but I was not impeded by it. I got a solid 6+ hours of shut eye and woke up at around 8am Los Angeles time.
I woke up refreshed and excited to enjoy the second half of the flight. I was greeted almost immediately by Evelyn. I requested some water and to have the table set again in 1A to enjoy a meal.
I started again with the Krug and caviar. Such a special pairing.
Next came the truffle infused cauliflower soup. I was very rich and had a strong nose of truffle. I enjoyed a few tastes but in the interest of trying as many flavors as possible I moved to the salad in short order.
Colorful salad presentation
For the main I could not pass on something called marrow crusted, no matter what was being crusted. The beef was cooked perfectly and had a superb texture and flavor. I enjoyed a glass of Domaine de Longue Toque Gigondas 2012. The robust and earthy Grenache/Syrah bled worked well with the beef.
Some cheese please. Somewhat pedestrian cheese presentation here.
The pear tart was forgettable.
The pralines, oshibori and toothpick to finish a lovely gastronomic interlude. I read a lot about sub-par meals in CX First so my expectations were tempered. Perhaps that's why I so pleasantly surprised by the dinner.
I returned to my sleeping suite for some IFE and drifting in and out of consciousness. Within a few hours it was time for the arrival meal. In the interest of a complete report I pulled up my PJs and ordered up a bloody mary, sparkling water, Hong Kong milk tea, and the dim sum. We were in and out of light turbulence so my milk tea sloshed around a bit.
I found the chicken glutinous rice to be enjoyable.
An espresso to wrap up another pleasant CX dining experience.
We touched down on Lantau Island on time in the early morning darkness. The location of my seat ensured I was among the first one off the airplane. I lingered briefly to snap a couple of pictures of the cabin.
Qantas First Class Lounge - TBIT
Los Angeles - LAX
Hong Kong - HKG
Kudos to making it this far into the report!
In summary I have very high marks for Cathay Pacific. The dedication of the crew was evident throughout the entire journey. I felt genuinely taken care of.
The food and beverage exceeded my expectations. A couple of rounds of Krug and caviar are always welcome.
The service was exceptional. Evelyn and Jessica were proactive and couldn't have been more hospitable.
The seat and bed combo were among the most comfortable I have encountered.
I was crazy with anticipation leading up to this trip and Cathay Pacific delivered a true first class experience. Now, on The Pier!
Thanks for reading.
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