Greetings Flight Report community and welcome to a series of reports covering a quick trip to Hong Kong on Japan Airlines and Cathay Pacific. This was a bit of a last minute affair and a sort of Father's Day gift. I had been pining for some JAL F time and when I saw a seat on LAX-NRT leaving on Father's Day I signed up. I was very indecisive about whether to stay in Tokyo or travel beyond. In the end I decided to continue to HKG. The return was up in the air until the last minute. I thought about Delta HKG-SEA but that is a tough one on us NRSAs. I figured HND was a good option in terms of connection and a morning arrival. With the Delta HND-LAX departure in mind I booked HKG-HND via Cathay Pacific. Never one to leave well enough alone I was considering CX all the way to LAX when I stumbled on to JAL HND-SFO F space. Yes, I would get home later but I would have a nice 5 hour stay at HND to enjoy the observation deck and lounges. Very tempting. Add in the access to the lovely CX F lounges in HKG due to the onward connection to Oneworld F at HND. I decided to use JAL on the way back too.
Carrier, route, equipment, class, lounge, and procurement method:
I arrived at the airport about 2.5 hours from departure time. My boarding pass was quickly obtained from a Cathay Pacific Kiosk. In a strange twist of fate the line for immigration and security was quite manageable and I was through the south side in about 15 minutes.
I presented myself at The Wing with my CX boarding pass and my JL itinerary. Initially the lounge attendant wasn't familiar with the Oneworld policy but after a chat with her associate in a small office nearby I was welcomed into the lounge.
I walked by the champagne bar and down towards the bar area. A moment of excitement for me when I spotted a group of three men sitting and going over some documents. A second glance revealed one of the men was former United States Secretary of State John Kerry. I have an immense admiration for him and believe he is a fine American who has served my country with honor for many decades. Of course I was too timid to take the opportunity and interrupt to thank him for his service. Shame on me.
I prefer to spend my time at The Pier but when you exit security and The Wing is right there it's worth a stop. I took up a seat in The Haven for a bite to eat.
I neglected to get a shot of the menu today. I requested the eggs benedict and while it was being prepared I browsed the buffet.
The menu asks that you allow 15 minutes for the food to be prepared but I can't remember ever waiting more that 5 minutes. Such was the case today when a well executed Benedict was delivered promptly.
Time to make the trek to the main event. I snapped a picture of the sandwich/salad/tea bar on the way out.
It's a bit of a haul out to The Pier but my flight today was leaving from 64 so it's the logical lounge to use.
With my boarding pass already stamped form The Wing I did not have to show my onward F itinerary to gain entrance into the lounge. I'm still taken by the design and aesthetics of this place.
At this point I was still uncommitted to the JL HND-SFO-SNA itinerary so I popped into The Bureau to sit at the computer and look up loads on Delta and make a final decision. I believe I could have made it home from either NRT or HND and saved my 70k Alaska Mileage Plan miles for another day. I didn't make the final call in HKG either. I printed my Delta listing for HND-LAX and didn't really make the decision until I was at HND and had to decide whether to go through transit security or enter Japan. I paused by the international transfers turn off and paused but in the end the cost of redepositing my AS miles and paying for the Delta yield fare was too much…only for the privilege to NOT fly JAL F. I am so childish with my points. I almost always have buyers remorse. I like the idea of the fancy plane ride but when I have a zero balance of AS miles I second guess…
The third computer I tried had a working printer. The first two were virtually out of ink. I let the front desk know, as a courtesy, but they just kind of looked at me funny.
Time to have a seat in the Dining Room and enjoy some noodle. I was greeted immediately, seated, presented a menu, and offered a beverage.
The menu was as it was last month.
I ordered The Cleanser and the Dan Dan Mian. Both were very tasty and satisfying.
After the tasty treats I retired to The Library and enjoyed a Bloody Mary cocktail in the living room with heavy jets parked adjacent.
To procure the cocktail I made a visit to the bar. CX beer, interesting.
I took a look at The Pantry. I really like the way the food is presented, especially the jars.
The time came to pry myself from this most comfortable perch and make the short walk to gate 64.
I booked this flight rather close to departure so the very last window seat available was 24A. It's more or less over the wing and is also missing a window so perhaps that is why it was not highly coveted. Another passenger approached me and asked if I would switch to her center/aisle seat so she could sit across the aisle form her daughter rather than directly next to her. I declined the offer.
Let's take a look at the seat and around the cabin. Such a huge cabin compared to the JAL F or J offerings from yesterday.
I accepted orange juice from a tray.
I deployed the monitor for the safety video and to enjoy the map.
The aircraft pushed on time and the taxi was about 15 minutes.
Menus were distributed after takeoff and I was addressed by name by both the CSM and the FA working my section.
The meal started with a base tray and fruit. Both served from a cart. I ordered a Bloody Mary, which is a pain in the ass for the crew as these items are not provisioned on the cart. It was no problem and she returned with the drink in short order.
A second cart passed with cereal, yogurts, and muesli but I declined those options. For some reason I took a main from the next card. It was uninspiring. It was breakfast. I didn't take but a bite or two.
The service was fast but also assembly line and robotic. The FA serving me was good and used my name at every interaction. She was also young and pretty, so that doesn't hurt. Her name tag said Pink.
The remainder of the flight I was out cold sleeping and was awake just before final approach. We touched down on time to a sunny day in Tokyo.
Cathay Pacific The Pier - First Class Section
Hong Kong - HKG
Tokyo - HND
The Ground Service: None.
The Lounge: The Cathay Pacific F lounges in HKG are some of my favorite in the world. My opinion hasn't changed.
The Cabin: The seat is tried and true. It is comfortable in all positions with ample storage and direct aisle access from every seat. The J cabin, given the large size with no dividers in this section, seems less exclusive.
The Crew: The service was efficient and the addressing me by name was impressive. There were no finer points of service as there just were not opportunities for such. The service was, overall, inferior to the JAL J flight, perhaps time of day and size of cabin were factors.
The Food and Beverage: The meal was adequate. There was certainly a lot of food on offer with a fruit course, yogurt/cereal course, and main. I jsut wasn't in the mood for the dim sum this time but it's probably a better choice than the Western.
Overall: If I'm looking at this as a comparison of the two J products offered on the same route then CX is hands down the better option for hard product and lounges. JAL is superior in service. I can't really compare a dinner to a breakfast so food can't be awarded to either. In the end I prefer CX F. :P
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