The last time on a Cathay Pacific 747. Forever. It is unfortunate I will never be able to set foot on such a beautiful CX aircraft again.
Due to the overwhelming response to my previous report on CX382 from Zurich to Hong Kong, I am publishing this one extra quickly for you to enjoy. I am happy you guys liked the photos. All of you will also be happy to know that I managed to get onto the 747 of Cathay Pacific, which will soon only be recollected in trip reports like this one. Use the last chances to fly this bird from Hong Kong to Tokyo!!
(Sorry, I have fewer photos for this report, but I was really tired and slept through most of the flight.
We landed in Hong Kong after our flight from Zurich and were not surprisingly unimpressed by the (non-existent) ground services for Cathay Pacific First Class Passengers. We had to take the massive transit hike upon us before we then realised the newly opened Pier Lounge was next to gate 63 and another long-haul walk ahead of us. It must have taken us approximately 1 hour from the aircraft to the lounge, especially because the transit security check (which is pretty useless) has no priority lane. So you will be queuing with all Economy Class passengers. As a lot of Europe flights (DUS, CDG, LHR, FRA, FCO, MXP, AMS, MAN) land at similar times, you can have hundreds of people ahead of you, even if you are the first to exit your aircraft!
But once you at The Pier, you want to forgive all of this. The lounge is truly wonderful. This is what Cathay Pacific says about The Pier, the newest addition to the plethora of lounges in Hong Kong and also the global CX lounge network, which is going from white marble and black, shiny tiles to a more wooden, brass and botanical atmosphere to soothe passengers:
Experience our First Class lounge, The Pier, where every considered detail evokes a feeling of care and tranquility. At The Retreat, our elegant in-house spa, you’ll enjoy bespoke service and soothing massages—while at The Bar, you’ll be treated to exquisite cocktails unique to The Pier.
Refined comfort at The Retreat - Unwind in one of our eight Day Suites, with quiet views over the runway. Furnished with a daybed, reading light, and privacy curtains, each Day Suite makes for a perfect area to catch up on sleep or work undisturbed, before boarding.
Massage service and shower rooms - Calming, personalised massage treatments will help to ease the strains of the day, in preparation for your voyage. If you’d like to freshen up before your flight, our shower rooms are stocked with fluffy towels and premium amenities.
Inspired dining - Asian and international influences are showcased in The Dining Room’s seasonal à la carte menu, featuring classic dishes, signature noodles, and specialty desserts—pair your dinner with a drink from the extensive wine and beverage list.
A generous spread - If you're in the mood for a quick and light bite, The Pantry offers a generous spread of grab-and-go delicacies, and is freshly replenished throughout the day.
Elegance and ambiance - Order your favourite tipple, or one of our signature cocktails, at The Bar—a warm and elegant meeting place with green onyx walls and walnut wood panels—where you can soak in the views from within a rich, atmospheric setting.
Designed for productivity - The Bureau offers six secluded work suites equipped with iMac computers, for quiet productivity in a home office environment. High-speed Wi-Fi, offered throughout the lounge, allows you to stay connected at all times.
The senses considered - To help you relax, we’ve designed an engaging journey of the senses—from the signature Cathay Pacific fragrance (a soothing blend of lavender, bamboo, green tea, and jasmine), through to the quiet acoustics of the natural materials, and the warm, ambient lighting present in all environments.
I feel that sums it up quite well, but I will let my pictures speak for themselves:
Seating areas next to the window with a residential feel
More seating areas - I know in the pictures it may not look as nice, but once you visit the lounge you will understand the hype. It appeals to all senses. The scent, Touch, Look, Sound - everything seems to fit together perfectly. Just standing still for a minute and listening to the music, enjoying the scent, looking at the beautiful surroundings is truly amazing and something I will not forget. Maybe I should design my new house after this lounge? It is really something that works elsewhere as well and does not necessarily have that hotel vibe which is nice for a few days but not anything you could live in. This maybe resembles a record price mansion in Beverly Hills or a luxury penthouse in London.
Can you see the Asian influences?
This has to be one of my favourite features: The horseshoe-shaped bar. It offers all kinds of drinks and bring what I love about Cathay Pacific inflight (the variety of cocktails) to the ground. The friendly employees will help you to make a choice from the selection and then serve it at your seat. The waiters are all very discreet though and do not run around the lounge like crazy, as can be the case for the Gulf airlines. There is something very 'Cathay Pacific' about it. When you need something, somebody will be there to assist you.
The central walkway which connects everything in the lounge is stunning and is the first thing you can enjoy when you enter the lounge. It sets the right tone for your visit, and the green walls of some natural stone (onyx I believe) is very unique. There are also always hosts in the entrance willing to help you with any inquiries you might have. Unfortunately, for us, they could not help us. Even though we had arrived in First Class and were connecting to a flight with First Class (which was sold as Business Class), we were not assigned seats in the exquisite nose First Class section of the 747. That is really unfortunate! They tried their best, though. At one point when I asked her why this was the case considering we were First Class passengers, she suggested it was because priority is given to Full-Fare First Class passengers, and not award ticket fliers in a cynical tone. I quickly pointed out we were flying on a revenue ticket, and she apologised. This must be a stigma against a youngster flying in First Class…
More sitting areas. For everyone who doesn't know, this lounge-style is being transferred to other lounges in the network. Bangkok, Tokyo Haneda, Taipeh and Manila all already have the new lounge, while London is scheduled to open a new lounge with similar features this June.
A330 waiting outside. I believe it was also flying to Bangkok, just 30 minutes earlier. There are so many connections between Hong Kong and Bangkok! Even in First Class. Coming from Europe, it is simply unbelievable to have 20+ frequencies on a 2.5-hour flight with the largest long-haul aircraft and some even with First Class. Would you choose CX 77W, TG 747 or EK A380 First Class on this route? It is all yours to decide… In Europe, even on flights from London, one of the larger cities, most Europe services are operated by either the A320 family of the 737 family. If you are lucky you might catch a 767 on BA but still with standard seating. The only short flights with larger aircraft are LHR to Moscow flights while Cairo also seems to be getting larger equipment (AF A340, KLM 777, BA 787). Other than that, we are always doomed for 3-3 configurations and Business Class with a blocked middle seat.
Our bird for the flight. A beautiful CX 747.
That is where we should be sitting, but all 9 seats have been taken probably by Elite members. When we asked for these seats in ZRH, we were told we have to inquire again at HKG. What a disappointment…
Going down the jet bridge towards to the majestic queen of the skies. Maybe for the last time? I will miss the 747s in the Cathay Pacific fleet. We don't have to be scared of the 747 disappearing from the sky though. British Airways has just reconfigured some of their 747s and will reconfigure even more soon with an updated Club World cabin. They are planning on keeping them in service for another 10-15 years. But then again, the BA 747 is not the most exciting product display!
The soon to disappear livery. This flight was basically an insight into 'old CX'. Old livery, old plane, old seats. I still really liked it though!
Going up those stairs to the exclusive upper deck section reserved just for Business Class.
The renowned coffin seat. First of all, it is not that bad. Really. It is well padded, sufficiently wide, and most importantly, it is very comfortable and offers privacy. In the take-off position, it is already leaned back at quite a large angle which is very relaxing. I did not feel like in a coffin and actually quite liked the seat. When it is fully flat there are incredible amounts of space for the shoulders. Probably almost a meter wide at the head. And you can look out the windows when waking up. It is a really nice setup and I do not think it deserves that much criticism.
The seat also had a cushion, and the FA quickly offered me a blanket when she saw how tired I was. This was the type of service that gives you goosebumps because you are so well looked after.
I headed to the lavatories (which were also exceptionally nice and large, and even had a window) and changed into my pair of First Class PYE pyjamas from the previous flight. After emerging with my clothes, the FA took them from me and hung them up for me. She also quickly stated "Mr ******, we hope the short-hop to Bangkok will impress you even more than your First Class flight. She realised from my pyjamas I was a First Class customer! This is what no training can do, but is rather service from the heart.
It is difficult to see, but here is truly loads of space around the head when in bed mode. The entertainment system was surprisingly good as well for such an old aircraft, While Air New Zealand and Virgin Atlantic are fitting out their 787s with a similar herringbone seat, they are installing much smaller IFEs. This one was massive, almost as big as the new one that can be found onboard the 777 product.
Unfortunately, I was too tired to take pictures of the meal service (it was 4 in the morning European time!) but I can tell you it was decent. The dim sum option was nice with Guilin style chili sauce. As stated in the previous report, try and snatch one of the orange vanilla muffins. They are just sublime, especially when they are fresh from the oven.
The cabin crew on this flight was an absolute delight and took care of all things I requested. I hope that they frequently operate this sector, as I will be flying with my parents on this route during the upcoming summer and I would be glad to have the same purser on the flight again. She really enjoyed her job and made us feel at home and asking us about our plans for Thailand.
The 747 upper deck feels like an exclusive club, and I must say I really enjoyed the cabin overall. Yes, it can't compete with the updated product on the 777-300ER with regards to comfort and freshness of design, but I would happily choose the 747 for these short hops up to 4 hours to enjoy the privacy and intimacy of the upper deck.
Look at that mood lighting with the Cathay Pacific colours. Is it just me or is there less focus on mood lighting on the 777? On the 747 the entrance was also lit in a soothing pink-purple while the 747 just had the standard lights with no special effect. I wish there was as much pronunciation on mood lighting on the 777 and A330 fleet. It can really set the tone. E.g. the BA 747 First Class has the indistinguishable blue lighting which adds the space ship effect. I think mood lighting really stays in the memory of the traveller and can create distinct memories. Maybe CX can also add a signature fragrance onboard their flights? I know that SQ does this on their A380 flights while LH also has a signature Bvlgari scent in their A380 First Class cabins. This can be very subtle, but it would underline the Asian elegance.
Another shot of the seat just before our descent into Bangkok.
The other members of the private club that I couldn't see!
Landed in Bangkok. Thank god the walk wasn't that long and Cathay Pacific also handed out fast track cards. That made everything that little bit smoother. Why don't they do any of this in their hub, Hong Kong?
Cathay Pacific The Pier - First Class Section
Hong Kong - HKG
Bangkok - BKK
I am really looking forward to flying this sector again this summer - I am even booked on the new A350-900 which I hope has an outstanding Business Class product. It will be styled by Porsche Design, and BMW really came up with something spectacular for Singapore Airlines' 777 fleet! I think it is amazing what is offered on such a short flight less than 3 hours when I compare it the regular 2 hour ZRH-LHR flight I take every couple of weeks. I have flown Thai Airways 747 First Class on this route as well, and they are also noteworthy for high quality. I love their redesigned 747 First Class cabin. Emirates also operates a daily flight, but the timings of this flight are abysmal for any normal passenger. Who wants to land in Bangkok just before midnight? Back to CX, The Pier is also outstanding and worthy of all the praise and awards that it is attracting.
For the ratings of this flight, I have stayed objective and not given this cabin an advantage due to the nostalgia. It is my actual belief that the comfort of this cabin is really high. My advice is that if in future you have the chance of flying the CX 747, I would take the chance in a heartbeat, even if the 777 offers a slightly better product. On the 747, you can get upgraded to First Class and also the upper deck is an awesome experience. The seat is not really as bad as a coffin and the service will be better than usual due to the small number of passengers on the upper deck and 3 dedicated FAs. The toilet is also very large. Overall, it feels like you are flying in a luxurious charter jet with CX service. Don't let that opportunity go by. When the 747s are finally all phased out (probably this year!) you will regret it.
I have more exciting flights coming up soon so make sure you check back.
Any questions, just post a comment!
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