Hi and welcome to my new anthology series American Vacation Story!
A Study in Green: CX J to Newark
A new world hangs outside the window. Beautiful and strange. It must be falling away. I must be. Sound and color with me for my mind. And the ship shows me where to go when I needn't speak.
This series will cover my annual vacation to the US in Summer 2016, which contains 4 journeys in 3 different sets of tickets with 2 alliances. It looks like 4 mini stories while they are somehow connected to my previous reports.
In order to make the reports more interesting, I will reveal the routing as we go on. The series will be broken down as follows:
Chapter 1 - CX890 HKG-EWR, Boeing B777-300ER in J [You are here!] Chapter 2a - AA1615 EWR-CLT, Boeing B737-800 in Y [Here] Chapter 2b - AA5164 CLT-BHM, Bombardier CRJ-200ER in Y [Here] Chapter 3a - DL ATL-ATL, Boeing B767-200 Spirit of Delta in J/Y [Merge into 3b] Chapter 3b - UA5865 ATL-ORD, Embraer E-175 in Y [Here] Chapter 4a - CX807 ORD-HKG, Boeing B777-300ER in J [Flight cancelled and merged to 4b] Chapter 4b - CX807 ORD-HKG, Boeing B777-300ER in J [Here]
This report is about comparison. Fellow NGO85 had flown this route in Jul 2015 (thanks Michael’s permission for quoting his report here^^) while I took it almost a year later. During this period CX has changed a lot. Therefore it is a good chance for comparing the CX J product and services after its rebranding.
This report will also have a quick look on the new CX Pier Business Lounge. Besides, the management of CX Lounges in HKG was changed to Plaza Premium (also manages TG Lounge and United Club in HKG) from May 2016. I would like to see if it has any impacts on services. This is my first time in business class!
Apologized that this report is quite long lol Please take time!
Time flied and it was time to my annual vacation (Operation AL Burning). I planned this vacation immediately after returning from US in Jul 2015. At that time I had some Asia Miles going to be expired which were enough for redeeming a long-haul J ticket. Hence I decided to redeem it and US would be my preliminary destination. Finding the long-haul J award availability was a challenge because CX always holds the seats especially for the US. I kept searching and one day HKG-EWR accidentally released a seat. I promptly called MPC and redeemed it successfully.
I had my OLCI the day before departure via the CX mobile app. But the app was totally rubbish where it kept looping and crashed at the OLCI page lol
I could only check in on my Surface. For seating, CX uses a 3-class 77G (no F) on this route. At first I wished to sit in the rear mini cabin as NGO85 did. Sadly the window seats were only available in forward J cabin during booking. Thus I went for 16K because of possibly less galley noise. Being a no-beef person, I pre-ordered the special non-beef meal since I believed it might be better due to its separate preparation.
On the departure day I only applied half day AL because I still had few candidates to interview. I took the Airport Express from the Central Station in the afternoon.
I arrived the airport 2.5 hours before departure. After a recharge, I headed to the CX check-in counter in Concourse B. The J lane has a rebranded signage (to me its fonts are too small). Not many people at the lane.
The agent greeted me and asked my destination. I handed my passport and replied 紐華克 (Newark in Cantonese). But the agent seemed not understand where I go and asked again. I repeated it as 紐瓦克 (CX's translation) and sadly she did not know what 紐瓦克 means and asked. I said it third time by spelling E-W-R, she still did not realize it! What?! You could type E-W-R or my passport no. in the system to find it out!
I was annoyed at that moment and said one more time: Newark in New Jersey near NYC and my flight number is CX890! She suddenly sobered up and said “Oh! You are going to New York very nice…” lol To me Newark is not New York! They are in 2 states!
Despite the “Newark” incident, the agent was indeed friendly and efficient for the check-in. Guidelines for the carry-on baggage.
The agent tagged and checked my baggage, handed me the boarding pass with lounge invitation. She mentioned my flight would depart from Gate 3 in the South Concourse. She also strongly encouraged me to use the newly open Pier Lounge while reminded me it had to take time to get there.
Once in airside, I rushed to the Smoking Lounge. Glad to know that the airport has upgraded the air ventilation there^^
Then I headed to the Pier Business Lounge located in the Northwest Concourse near Gate 65 (1 gate after the First Lounge Entrance). It was a long walk from the security checkpoint which takes about 20 minutes. OMG on my way I saw a KA A330 in the ugly new livery!
The Lounge Entrance. I took the escalator downstairs.
The Pier Business Class Lounge
Once entered the first thing to see is the gold shark fin logo. The reception is on the right. I was warmly greeted by the concierges. They scanned my BP and asked if I wanted to store my bag (they have lockers). I did not need it and they let me inside.
The lobby with elegant décor
I started my visit from the right of the lobby, the Bureau. If you are workaholic, go there. Some solo chairs.
It has several iMacs with a printer is placed under each workstation.
FIDSs are everywhere with the newspaper offerings.
Look at the top right! Oriental Daily (東方日報: Feud of CX) is allowed to access the Lounge!
I then turned left to the main area of the Pier Lounge. It is divided into several amenities zones, and CX applies the wooden theme with different interior designs to each zone. There are 2 hallways connecting all of them: one is for accessing different amenities zones, another one is linking all the seating areas with views over the tarmac.
A long transparent partition separates the amenities zones and seating area. It was Friday afternoon and the Lounge only had few people.
The Lounge Signage with FIDS. They are all installed between zones.
First, the Food Hall.
Different from the Bridge Lounge, it is not in buffet setting (a cost cutting measure? or environment friendly? :P). You need to order the food from the attendants.
The food offerings are solely western options.
The self-service coffee cart
I ordered an ice-cream. It is the same one served in Y and was not a brick.
Second, passing the Food Hall was the Bar
Third, the Noodle Bar
Seating in the Noodle Bar
Different with the Food Hall, it has a limited buffet with few Chinese hot dishes.
It also has a refreshment corner with coffee and cookies
If you do not want a buffet, you can order from the menu.
I ordered the famous Dan Dan Noodles. It was good while I think the taste was in Japan style rather than Sichuan one.
Forth, the Teahouse. Apart from different kinds of tea, you can have any non-alcoholic drinks and confections.
The dark color design and wooden ceiling of Teahouse reminds me the new CI Dynasty Lounge in TPE Terminal 1. I love this design very much and it is my favorite space of the Lounge^^
Following is the Showers which has 14 shower suites. Sorry I did not take pictures here as the concierge at the desk staring at me strangely. I decided to use the shower however I was told it was full and I needed to wait at least 30 minutes (that's why so few people in other zones??? lol)! I had to skip it.
At the end is the Relaxation Room. The couches in the main area
Behind the partition there are 14 (again?) daybeds for napping. Lighting is of course a bit dim.
In general the amenity zones are well-positioned so that the noisier areas are closer to the entrance, while it will be quieter when you move away from the entry. The Lounge is very large. IMO the new Pier First and Business Lounge should occupy the whole level of the Northwest Concourse.
After the Lounge tour I strolled in the seating area. It is divided into several sections with different design concepts. USB and power sockets are everywhere.
I grabbed a tarmac facing seat, settled down and connected to the Wi-Fi which is very fast
Enjoying the nice view of the tarmac. A CX B77W together with an AY A350 at the remote stand.
I left the Pier Lounge last minute. The Lounge and Gate 3 are the 2 ends of the Terminal. I did an 800m run back to my Gate.
Despite running, having a smoke along with plane spotting were necessary. A BA Giant next to an EK Giant
Tarmac view from the Northwest Concourse
A LH A340
Although I arrived late to my Gate, the very long queue told me that there was a delay. It was the flight to the US thus passengers had to pass the additional security screening.
But as a J passenger it was another story. There was a separate line for J on the left. I entered the zone in seconds.
I walked to one of the security checking desk and was shocked to see the security staff was one of my co-workers in HKG during every CNY! “Ashleyyau! Why are you here?!” He surprisingly asked. Aa a result my carry-on checking was instantly cleared ;)
My Gate FIDS
The dedicated J line. Boarding had started awhile where business class was already finished. But as a J passenger, I could cut the line anytime
My bird today. Gate 3 is super plane-spotting unfriendly (If you recall, my first CX flight also departed at this gate^^). It is a 1.25-year-old 77G (B-KQX) which was just delivered in Apr 2015 as “Our 50th 777-300ER” (NGO85 took the 51th^^).
Wow I was going to the dedicated J jet bridge!
Following the Taiwanese couple
Newspapers were provided at the door. However Oriental Daily was still involuntary denied boarding…
2 FAs greeted me at the door and I turned right
My J cabin view with the famous reverse herringbone Cirrus seats. My seat 16K was the third on the windows side.
My seat 16K. A seat tour: it features a rebranded antimacassar and a rebranded pillow was placed. They are changed to cosmic latte color tone.
Seat pitch is very good. The rebranded duvet was preplaced on the ottoman.
PDB was offered and I requested water.
Windows view of my seat
The retractable armrest which require to be down for take-off and landing
The seatback pocket
The 15-inch touchable IFE screen. Our route today
Our flight info
The overhead bin. My back seatmate did not use it and I entirely owned it^^
The overhead lights.
The convenient all-in-one side panel includes a reading light, seat adjustment, the IFE control, a power socket, a headphone jack and a USB port. The noise-cancelling headphone was preplaced inside the side cabinet
The storage cubby under the desk
Under the seat is a cubby for shoes.
A super hot oshibori was offered. It was nice to refresh myself after an 800m run
The US immigration form was distributed
Following were the UNICEF donation form and a duty-free promotion leaflet.
My seat view to the back. One of the Y passengers had the most generous legroom^^ Today our flight was 100% full.
The FA working on my aisle was checking whether our carry-on were properly stored.
Boarding finished before 6pm. Nevertheless, the door was remained open for another 25 minutes with no information provided. Later the John Krasinski-look-like Captain came back from the rear cabin to the cockpit
Eventually the door was closed at 6:20pm. The Captain came on the PA system to have flight announcement. He firstly apologized that there was a Y passengers suddenly collapsed and they had to take him off the plane to the hospital. He then welcomed us on board with our flight information i.e. expected turbulence and arrival time.
We pushed back at 18:26pm. Our neighbor was a B77W to LAX tonight
A brand-new safety video was played
A CX A330 in new livery parked at the remote stand
We had a U-turn to the South runway. A SA A340
In spite of the low air traffic in Friday evening, we had to make way for the narrow bodies. An UO A320
An AK A320
We were ready
And took off! 2 CX Queens were waiting in the hanger for their new dressing
We were leaving HK to the south and turned East. The Ladrones Islands
Once we levelled off, the redesigned “new” amenity kit and a bottled water were distributed
The lens wipe is now replaced by the mouth wash.
I was offered the menu even I had pre-ordered the special meal
The rebranded menu is very simple, black and white with text only (another cost cutting?)
The wines and drinks list
Maybe we had delayed an hour, aperitif service was merged with dinner and it started quickly. The linens were laid.
Service began with the FA came around with drinks and warm nuts.
Initially I wanted to try the CX signature drinks. Unfortunately he apologized that they were running out. Are you kidding me?! The flight just departed how come they were already not available??? I then requested OJ.
Browsing the IFE. It has decent selections of content with always pop-up ads which is annoying.
As I opted special meal, I was the first to be served. The starter tray with dessert were delivered. I finally had the metal tableware on CX!
The starter was merely vegetables: shredded green bean starch served with the very Y looking salad (no dressing). They were ice cold despite tasted ok. The special meal had its own bread, yet the FA still gave me garlic bread. It was perfectly warmed.
I was demoralized when I saw other passengers had the shrimp starter…
The FA delivered my entrée followed by and explained it was curry fish with rice. But actually it was fried fish fillets with corn sauce (粟米斑腩)… BTW it was hot and tasted good. The vegetables were not overcooked. For drinks I had Baileys.
The normal entrées were all displayed on a cart, which the FA rolled through the cabin for passengers choosing. At this point I restored my delight with the non-beef meal because half of the choices were beef…
Sadly the raspberry jelly dessert was super sour.
I was stuffed after the entrée. The FA came through with the cheese and fruit cart. I declined the cheese and chocolate but fruit only.
Subsequently the FA came to me and recommended the mango pudding since they had some left. I replied that I was stuffed and did not need it. Unexpectedly he lured me that it was a famous CX dessert designed by a 5* HK hotel. Difficult to decline his generous invitations I went for one. It was sweet and much delicious than my special dessert.
Dinner wrapped up when we were approaching Kyushu and was concluded by another oshibori.
Cabin view after dinner. Even the FA had not yet dimmed the cabin light, most of the passengers were already called by the sandman.
Time to visit the front toilet.
This 77G only has the normal Y toilets, but clean and tidy.
The only different is it stocked with Jurlique products.
Behind the curtain is the PA system on this B77W
I turned my seat into bed mode and try to get some sleep.
I was 5'8". The fully flat bed is spacious for me. The duvet was cozy and did not make me hot during sleep.
Unfortunately I could not sleep completely as being too full. I browsed the seat back materials.
The rebranded safety card.
The duty-free catalog featured the horrified expensive mooncake @@
My front seatmate started his dinner until now. He pre-ordered a western vegetarian meal.
Being stuffed, I still felt uncomfortable in the sitting position lol So I stood up in my seat and hoped the gravity could help my digestion. View behind my seat.
My front seatmate also stood up after his dinner. We looked at each other, and headed to the galley together and chatted. The seatmate is in fact an UA 1K member that he usually flies between NYC and HK on UA. This was his first time flying on CX.
We backed to our seats. The front seatmate successfully digested his food and went to sleep. On the other hand I took out my Surface and did my flight reporting. Can you guess which report I was processing?^^
Knowing that I was working, the FA came and asked if I wanted some hot drinks. He proposed the chamomile tea to me.
I was the noisiest passenger then lol Mood lighting was on
The FA passed through the cabin hourly during my work. He brought me another cup of chamomile tea afterwards. I had a short chat with him. 2016 was his 20th year working in CX. He mentioned only 5 HK people (me and a family of 4) were in J today. A Taiwanese tour group occupied more than half of J seats.
He even brought the snacks basket to me for choosing. My snacks offerings. Mostly the same as Y.
The beautiful sky outside my window
I worked for about 2.5 hours until crossing the IDL.
Cabin in mid-flight. My front seatmate had woken up and started his work while his neighbor was watching movies. We were the only three awake passengers then.
Initially I wanted to try the mid-flight snacks yet I was still full. I ordered the chocolate Haagen-Dazs ice cream and it was delivered in a minute. The FA reminded me it was just taken out from the refrigerator so I had to wait to be eatable. After 15 minutes it was still a brick.
After the ice-cream I felt sleepy ultimately. Before sleeping I went to the accessible toilet between the 2 J cabins. It was as clean as the front one.
Changing diaper is a woman job on this 77G
One addition to the accessible toilet is that it has a tray for stowing personal items when you are doing a big job
I then had a very good 5-hours sleep until breakfast service started
Breakfast service (in HK time) began 2 hours before arrival
Linens was laid. A fruit plate and a bread (same with dinner) were served. I requested OJ for drinks.
The FA asked if I wanted to have cereal or yogurt. He gave me a box of Kellogg's corn flakes!
As usual my entrée was the first to deliver. It was fried noodles with shrimp and 2 pieces of turnip cakes. Size was so generous compared with the normal dishes. It was ok with the help of chili sauce, like those in the HK fast food chains. I was once again stuffed.
Another round of entrées parade
In summary, the J catering were mostly unchanged after rebranding (except the menu card).
After the breakfast I completed the US immigration form. The 2nd Sunset at the South shore of Lake Ontario.
We were now over the Finger Lakes
Approaching Newark. The Captain came back for weather updates that Newark was now 32C
The mood lighting was on during descending
Eventually we landed on runway 22L 20 minutes behind schedule. It was ok given that we had an hour delay in takeoff.
We parked at Gate 55. Disembarking
The crews gave warm goodbyes at the door and the FA thanked me for flying CX. In return I thanked for his great services.
Entering Terminal B2
A look back at my bird on arrival
A PD Dash 8-Q400 at the adjunct gate and a Y4 A320 at the back
I took the escalator upstairs.
Welcome to the America!
The immigration was slow because a lot of people could not pass the immigration inquiries and they were brought to a separate room for further questioning. I waited nearly 45 minutes for my turn.
Maybe the officer saw my passport has many admitted chops, mine was very fast. The officer only asked when I would leave US and let me go after fingerprinted.
I proceeded to the baggage claim and my baggage was already circulating.
I took my baggage and passed the custom with no wait. Landside of Terminal B
After a 15+ hours flight my most priority task was having a recharge^^
Next I took the AirTrain to Station P4 for taking the hotel shuttle.
The carriage is a bit small.
Unfortunately the shuttle was super slow for pick up. I nearly waited for half and an hour. I had called the hotel 2 times and got the same answer: the shuttle was coming then lol
In the end I reached my hotel at 1am. I had a quick shower and started my overnight stay in Newark for the morning flight next day.
I was very impressed by the FA’s services. I sent an email appreciating the FA after my vacation. One month later I got reply from CX as below:
This is the first chapter of American Vacation Story and please stop by the rest of this series.
Hey… Did I forget something essential in this flight report?
No. I indeed put it below.
Bonus: Evolution of CX Boarding Pass 1986-2016
I moved my house in mid-2016. When packing stuffs I discovered my grandpa’s BP travelling to the UK on CX in 1986. It is the return segment from LGW. 30 years later CX resumes its HKG-LGW flight^^ Covers of the BP
The flight no. CX250 is still in use with the same departure time for LHR-HKG route
Another one is my grandma traveled to KUL in 2000. But CX will axe and transfer this route to KA wef May 2017.
This one in 2015… Sorry I omitted it from my first report and put it back 1.5 years later lol
And lastly in 2016… Goodbye to the last CX color BP together with the Lounge Invitation. Now they had changed to black and white printout (same with BA)
BTW, where did I go? OK I give you the hint: please roll back to the beginning^^
And this was what I saw on my second journey.
Thank you for your reading! As CNY is coming, an early Kung Hei Fat Choy greetings hereby! ^^
Cathay Pacific The Pier - Business Class Section
Hong Kong - HKG
Newark - EWR
My first time in business class. For business class, CX performs well on this TPAC (but Y is another story). The rebranding is mainly reflected on the Lounges and inflight amenities. Both inflight products and services are mostly the same. The catering could be better. It is a redeemed ticket so overall I am very satisfied for this flight.
Cabin comfort: Good. A young and clean B77W. The Cirrus seat is functional and comfortable with plenty of legroom and privacy. The only criticism is the windows are a bit difficult to approach due to the seat divider. I prefer the new B/E Diamond Seat on AA B789 / CI A350, but the CX one is still good. The redesigned amenity kit is more useful than the "old" wrap one. No slippers. My cabin is quiet since most passengers are in sleep between meals. The toilets are the same with Y but clean and tidy throughout the flight.
Cabin Crew: Very Good. A 20-year veteran worked on my aisle and he was very friendly, proactive and in detail. He was mostly here when I was not in sleep. He delivered the personalized services to me. The rest of the crews were efficient and nice.
Entertainment: Good. Newspapers are available on the jet bridge (still no Oriental Daily). Standard seatback literature. The IFE has assortment of programs (more local side). I do not like the frequent-pop-up ads in StudioCX which is annoying. But it does not bother me too much as I turn it to airshow in default and entertained by my own device.
Meal and catering: Good. It has been the weakest area for CX J. Unimpressive. The special meal does not have big differences to the normal. Standard catering procedures are followed. It is weird that CX signature drinks are running out quickly (cost cutting?). The dinner starter is ice cold and the salad is too Y. The breakfast size for special meal is much generous than the normal. Despite both entrées are hot, their qualities like the food in the HK fast food chains. Snacks are available throughout the flight.
The new CX Pier Business Lounge is fantastic. Contrary to the new CX branding which emphasizes on simplicity, the Lounge adopts a warm and gorgeous design. It might not as gorgeous as the First Lounge, but still has the fine interior design and spacious with comprehensive services providing anything you might want in a lounge. Plenty of seating. Staff are generally friendly. Decent selections of food and quality is very good. Change of management agency does not have noticeable deviations in service at this moment. It becomes my favorite Lounge.
For EWR, the immigration was a bit slow but still better than ORD. AirTrain is convenient.
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