Hello, flight-report community, and welcome to my first aviation adventure of the new year, a whirlwind three-day-and-change trip to Hong Kong and Tokyo, in Cathay Pacific and JAL First Class.
AC503 - YYZ-ORD - 1/7/2018 - E190 - Y - Brief summary with below CX807 - ORD-HKG - 1/7/2018 - 777-300ER - F - Check it out here CX520 - HKG-NRT - 1/9/2018 - 777-300ER - F - You are here JL10 - NRT-ORD - 1/10/2018 - 777-300ER - F - Coming soon AC506 - ORD-YYZ - 1/10/2018 - E190 - Y - Brief Summary with above
When last we saw our intrepid flight-reporter, he had just arrived at the Regal Airport Hotel, having flown into Hong Kong from Chicago in Cathay Pacific First Class. You may have gathered that from the rundown above.
The above-linked flight-report has the full description of how these flights came to be booked — if you care about such details, and haven’t yet read it (or if have read it, but promptly forgotten because some stranger’s international joyrides aren’t the most important thing in your life), I urge you to go back and check out the details. This flight-report will still be here when you get back.
Waking up — Regal Airport Hotel Hong Kong
Once again on this trip, sleep did not come easy. I went to bed a little before 11, and found myself up and awake before 4. After puttering for a bit, I checked out about 10 to 5, and decided it was time to take the short walk back over to HKG.
The Regal isn’t bad for an airport hotel, but certainly isn’t worth the money. I would have explored more cost-effective options, but I wanted a sleep that was very close to the airport so I could arrive for my lounge-hopping well-rested. Yeah. That worked out.
The hallway between the Regal and the airport still has some Christmas finery out.
Right on 5:00, I arrived at the almost deserted arrivals level of HKG. Okay, it’s not as deserted as most world airports at this time, but it’s weird to see the thriving sea of humanity that is HKG so bare.
Quickly upstairs to departure…
Which was nearly as dead as downstairs.
I stopped by the First Class check-in, but I think it’s a good thing I had my boarding pass printed in Chicago. Nothin’ doin’ here at this hour.
Equally, nothing doing at the South security post, which was closed up tight.
Fortunately, there are signs of life to the North. It’s amazing at an airport like HKG to go through security and customs without breaking stride. Super-priority lane for First passengers? Nope. Just show up ridiculously early.
And so I found myself airside in the main terminal of Chek Lap Kok at ten past five.
Let’s start our lounging adventure at the nearby Wing, shall we.
Cathay Pacific The Wing First Class Lounge
I arrived at The Wing at about 5:15, and was checked in. But First Class doesn’t open upstairs until 5:30, so I just chilled out for a few minutes, until the upstairs lounge was available. Which is about as long as it took me to write this report up to this point.
Upstairs I went, for a little bit of exploring. Having done a bit of research, there were a few highlights I wanted to hit. I would later come to discover the upstairs entry directly into the First Class part of the lounge. Rookie mistake.
But first, the entrance way to the First Class part of the lounge, and some reading materials.
From there, it was highlight number one — The Haven, the dining room at The Wing. At the entryway, I’m shown to a seat, and the breakfast menu presented. I request an orange juice and a coffee, and ultimately settle on the Eggs Benedict. I’m told it will be about 15 minutes — which seems to be the amount of time Cathay says it takes to create any dish, in the lounge or in the air. My waitress points me towards the buffet, should I want anything in the meantime.
There was only one other couple in the Haven when I was there, so it was a very private dining room.
And now, the buffet — starting with the basics of an English breakfast — bacon, sauteed mushrooms, and grilled tomatoes — off by themselves.
Then, some pastries, toast, and other snacky stuff.
Juice, granola, and yogurt.
Hard-boiled eggs, and a collection of dim sum.
And some salad stuff.
I grab a quick snack to go with my dirinks — the dim sum is really good. I should have gone with more of that.
15 minutes turns out to be more like 7, and I’m barely done my snack when the Benny arrives. Perfectly prepared, and with some nice Hollandaise. I really enjoyed this… although my waitress was bringing the other two guests their Full English at the same time, and it looked excellent as well.
Having gobbled down my first breakfast, time to explore a little bit more. First, a little bar along the corridor.
The main First Class seating area.
And highlight number two, the champagne bar. There’s one other guest in this area, but I had this side to myself.
A trio of champagnes on offer. What to try, what to try.
I decide to sample the Moet Rosé, which is quite nice, for my first champagne of the day.
And then it’s off for highlight number three of the Wing, the legendary Cabanas. Fortunately, they’re quite available at this moment.
This is a really nice, secluded oasis with in the secluded oasis. A quick tour starts with the sink area.
A dressing table.
Rain shower and tub.
And a daybed. That’s about it.
What? Limit myself to 90 minutes in this heaven? Never! (Okay…. actually, in 90 minutes from now, I hope to be on my way up to the Pier, which also hopefully won’t be too busy.
WiFi throughout the lounge is fast and good quality — even in the cabana.
I decide to spend my cabana time in the tub, because really… you can showers at a lot of airports. And there are nap rooms in a smaller number of airports, but still quite a few. But a bath in an airport? That’s a true rarity. This will only be my second airport bath, after the Lufthansa First Class Terminal. Woulda been three, but the masseuse in the TG Royal First Spa at BKK wouldn’t let me have a post-massage soak. But that’s another story for another day.
After a very relaxing and soothing 30 minutes in the tub, it’s time to get on and and hand this cabana back to Cathay. Truly a great lounge experience, which I thoroughly enjoyed. And I can do this traveling in Y if I’m a OneWorld Emerald? Makes ya wanna go for status, man.
Leaving my cabana behind me, I decide to make a quick stop by the champagne bar for one more sample. This time, the Baron de Rotschild, which I don’t believe I’ve had before. Not bad, but not my favourite.
Then, it’s back out into the wilds of the main terminal, which is decidedly busier than it was earlier, for the long walk up the main axis of the Y-shaped terminal. We’re off to The Pier!
Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge
After about a ten-minute walk, I found myself at the top of the escalator down to The Pier, the larger of the two First Class lounges Cathay operates here. Downstairs, my boarding pass is checked. I enquire about the gate number for this morning’s flight to Narita, but I’m told it’s not posted yet.
There are more people here than there were in The Wing, but it’s still pretty sparsely occupied at this hour. There are a number of rooms, each off this main corridor with these big, beautiful wood tables.
A few of the various seating areas.
The bar is manned at this hour, but it’s pretty quiet.
An extensive array of reading materials.
The Pantry, where one can pick out various snack items and drinks.
There are some very nice workstations in The Bureau.
Finally, let’s get a second breakfast going, shall we? It’s off to The Dining Room, which has a decidedly old English supper club feel to it.
The menu is a little more extensive than in The Wing, but many of the items are the same or similar. So I get a second shot at my full English breakfast. I request a glass of water and a cappuccino to accompany it.
It’s delivered very quickly — maybe two minutes after I ordered it. I guess this is pretty much prime time for breakfast in the lounge, so the most popular items are probably constantly being prepared. This is a very enjoyable dish, and the scrambled eggs are perfect. But I think what I saw of the presentation in The Wing looked a little better.
I don’t want to be stuffed for my flight — which I hope, since it’s departing after 10:00, will be a lunch flight and not yet another breakfast, but I can’t resist ordering the dan dan mian noodles, which I love. They are promptly delivered, and man, are they worth it. Just delicious. I enjoyed this so much.
Service in The Dining Room was super-attentive — I had orders taken, items delivered, or needs asked after, by no fewer than six waiter or other lounge attendants, and everyone was polished and excellent.
Full for now, I decide it’s time to check on the other highlight of The Pier in my opinion — the day suites. Sure enough, one is available, and I’m promptly shown to it.
These are small rooms with a comfy enough couch built into a wall that overlooks the tarmac. It’s a great place to take a nap, I’d imagine. An even better place to just hang out for a while and watch what’s going on outside.
Controls for the day suite — from left to right, a power plug, two USB ports, a switch for the window curtains, and controls for the two lamps in the suite.
The suites are separated from the hallway just by curtains — so not quite as private as the cabanas.
But the views onto the tarmac make up for that.
Or, you can pull the shades if you want to shut out the light and get a better sleep.
But really, who wants to shut out all the fun happening just outside?
An EK 77W passed behind the CX 359 occupying the gate just outside my window.
AA’s 77W is boarding one gate over.
The ocean and the mountains beyond are visible in the distance.
A TG 333 pushes back.
And just to keep things interesting for me, the CX 359 just outside gets a bit of engine work done while I watch.
As elsewhere in the CX lounges here, the WiFi is fast and strong. Not much has changed since the last corporate shot — but can’t resist getting just a bit artistic with a pair of CX 359s in the background.
I really enjoy my time in the day suite, just hanging out and enjoying the view in private. While I’m here, my Mileways app pings me, letting me know they’ve finally decided on a gate. We’ll be leaving from Gate 60, not far at all from The Pier. Excellent. It means I can hang out in my little day suite a while longer.
AA pushes back about 9:00 — about thirty minutes before I’m supposed to start boarding to Tokyo. At this point, despite the couple of coffees this morning, I’m feeling pretty tired. Must be careful not to fall asleep and miss my flight.
About 20 minutes past nine, I decide it’s time to leave my little Fortress of Solitude, and I head out of the day suite, and then upstairs, into the comparably manic environment of the main concourse at HKG.
It’s a short walk from The Pier over to Gate 60, where my ride up to Narita is being prepped.
I see we’re still rocking the old livery. Never really did care for this look — the lack of titles, or really anything, above the centre line just bugs me for some reason. I do like the big bold green on the nose, though.
It’s pretty quiet at the gate — boarding is slated to start at 9:35, about 15 minutes from now. I’m surprise nobody’s queuing up yet. Shortly after this, an agent goes around putting up the signage, with separate lanes for economy, Premium Economy and lower-tier elites, mid-tier elites and Business Class, and First and top-tier pax.
They start us boarding about 9:55. There’s no way we’re going to be leaving at 10:15, I think.
The Flight Report
Flight: CX520 From: Hong Kong (HKG) To: Tokyo Narita (NRT) Date: 1/9/2018 Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER Registration: B-KPA Seat: 2A ATD (STD): 10:44 (10:15) ATA ( STA): 14:59 (15:15)
For this flight, I’m completing my “tour” of the A-side of the CX 77W F cabin, sitting in 2A. It’s pretty much the same as 1A, except it’s one place further back. And the flower on the wall is closer to the seat. Viva la difference!
Boarding is done for both F and J via door one, which makes the F cabin a little crowded during the boarding process, but I guess is easier than doing it through door two? Although most of the J cabin is behind door two, so it would create a bit of traffic flow problems, wouldn’t it?
The seat is wiiiiiiiiiide. And it comes with the same pillows as the longhaul flight, although the bedding is obviously reduced to one small, wrapped blanket which I wouldn’t end up using. I still love the pillow mounted into the headrest. Such a smart idea.
Legroom shot. Miles of space.
Looking forward — another pillow on the ottoman. Also note power and USB ports on the outside wall of the suite.
The IFE screen isn’t the newest-generation, but is still large enough, and can be positioned appropriately for pretty much any position.
Three windows to the seat, looking out on a rainy Hong Kong morning. Not that it really mattered — I actually never even went “outdoors” during my stay at HKG.
Outside wall reading light, and the aforementioned flower.
Storage cubby, wired IFE remote, and touchscreen seat controls. Two-prong headphone jack is located below.
On the inside wall of the suite, there’s another reading light — because who can have enough of those? As well as your literature storage, and some seat controls that come in handy when you’re in bed mode.
Once again, CX uses some interesting routes. I’m impressed that we’re going to fly all the way to LA, then back to Tokyo. And still get there in like three hours.
During this flight, service would be from Irene, Doris, and a male attendant whose name I did not catch. Irene introduces herself first, and offers a pre-departure beverage. I request a champagne, and a glass of Taittinger, CX’s regional First champagne, is quickly delivered — although it’s not poured in front of me, rather brought from the galley pre-poured.
A look across the cabin. No overhead bins anywhere in CX F, and the ever-present art at the front of the cabin. Again, with just two seat opening onto the A-side aisle, it’s a very private cabin. We’d end up full in F this morning, although I barely noticed anyone else — except for the head of the guy in 1A appearing over the top of his seat every now and again, and the guy in either the row-two middle or starboard window seat, who spent the latter part of the flight horking loudly. Very First Class.
Doris introduces herself at this point, offering my the menu, and Bose noise-cancelling headphones, which are more than good enough for this flight, or for a longhaul flight.
A hot towel is also offered.
Let’s take a look at the menu, shall we?
As I peruse the menu, the male flight attendant stops by, and asks if I’d like some nuts to accompany my drink. Why sure I would - as usual, a smoky mix of almonds and pecans.
Correcting the service faux-pas from my previous CX First flight, Japanese customs forms are offered while we’re still on the ground in Hong Kong, complete with a pen with which to complete them.
Despite starting boarding about 20 minutes behind schedule, they announce boarding complete right at our scheduled departure time, 10:15. The safety video rolls, and we push back about four minutes later.
The captain tells us to expect a little bit of chop as we climb into the jetstream that will get us to Tokyo very quickly.
The same movies as on yesterday’s flights.
I end up checking this one out, something I’d been meaning to see. It’s not bad.
The rain seems to be intensifying as we taxi past the end of the terminal on our way to the runway.
It’s a bit of a long taxi, but there isn’t much of a line in front of us. Here, the CA 737 that preceded us starts its very wet roll.
We’re next up, and we’re off, into the rainy morning skies above Hong Kong. A nice view of the main terminal as we climb.
It takes a while to get through the clouds, but once we do, it’s a much nicer day.
When they turn off the seatbelts, I head forward to check out the lavs — this time, the “middle” F lav, which is smaller than the one on the port side, which I photographed in the previous flight-report.
Drinks are quickly offered and delivered — more champagne, some water, and decidedly Japanese-themed snacks. I’d forgotten how much I love wasabi peas.
Irene pops by to take my meal order. I’d been going back and forth between the steak and the Japanese option, but since I’m most likely going Kaiseki on tomorrow’s JL flight — unless there’s a really compelling reason not to — I end up going for the steak again. Again asked how I liked it, I said medium rare. Let’s see how they can deliver on that.
The table is quickly set for lunch. I request a glass of the Saint Julien red to accompany my meal.
Garlic bread in the bread basket is a little bit better this time around. The other breads are good, too. I ended up eating the lot of them, because I’m a glutton.
About this time, there’s a little bit of chop — nothing terrible, but just enough to make me want to leave the red wine alone or the time being.
Irene informs me that since the seatbelt sign is on, they can’t serve the soup just now. Would I like to start with the appetizer instead? Sure, why not. I’m not fussy about the order. It’s quickly delivered. It’s simple, but I really enjoyed this dish — nice, solid smoky salmon, baby asparagus that was perfectly crips and maybe just a little bit pickled, a nice tasty dill potato salad, and little bursts of flavour from both the capers and the pesto. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Fortunately, the seat belt sign is turned off shortly after I’m done the starter, so I do get some soup. Very nice as well. More coarse and chunky than I had expected — that’s a good thing.
The main course is quickly brought out. The filet was a tale of two steaks — the front half was tender and perfect, the back half a little dry. I really enjoy the onions, and the beans and potatoes are just okay The carrots were a miss for me.
This is from the more tender part — not bad, but certainly not medium rare.
My main course dishes are promptly cleared, and Doris asks if I’d like some cheese. She pops by with a board showing all three of the cheeses on offer, and I request a little bit of each. All very good, particularly the Camembert.
A glass of the Sauternes dessert wine is also offered. And who can say no to that?
The fruit is presented at the same time as a the cheese, and I really enjoyed the balance of tastes and textures amongst the cheese, crackers, and fruit. This course and the starter were my favourite parts of the meal.
And last but not least, dessert. I really enjoyed the pomegranate mousse and jelly dish.
Finally, I request a coffee. I’m feeling really tired at this point, what with all the sleep issues.
My movie comes to an end as dessert is served, I check our progress. We’re coming up on the southern islands of Japan — about an hour out of Tokyo, and doing about 790 mph groundspeed. Sweet tail wind! I have successfully eaten my way from Hong Kong to Japan.
As Doris clears out my dishes, she asks if I want anything else, and I just request some water. A bottle of Evian is delivered.
Very tired, and having just enjoyed my coffee, I decide to see if I can pull of a post-coffee power nap to feel a bit refreshed upon arrival. I put the bed down with a little less than an hour to go in the flight. It’s not as comfortable as it is when the bed is made up fully, but it’s still very good. I actually do manage maybe a twenty-minute power nap, waking up as the first round of arrival announcements are made, and we’re crossing the Japanese coast.
Hey wait, Captain — you seem to have missed Narita. It’s over there!
Fortunately, a few minutes later, the captain realizes his error, and starts turning us around to line up.
Chasing our shadow to the ground.
The pilots are clearly fighting a knuckballing plane for the last minute or so of the flight, and we touch down a little long, using almost the full length of the runway to slow down. But, we can walk away, and the plane is reusable, so it’s a success. I was not at all surprised a little bit later when I noticed they had turned traffic around and were landing the other way, given the last few moments of our flight.
It’s not a very long taxi in to Terminal 2, which is pretty quiet at this hour.
And finally, we arrive into a rather unexciting gate, and our flight comes to an end.
Goodbyes and well-wishes are offered, and we’re quickly let loose through door one, and into the terminal.
Arrival into Narita
But first, a quick look at the nose of our plane from the jetway.
It’s a bit of a hike to customs and immigration, but it’s dead quiet when I get there — there’s no wait to use a machine or to see an agent. And about ten minutes after being let off the plane, I’m landside at Narita’s Terminal 2 — my first time at this terminal.
From there, I head outside for the first time since Toronto Sunday morning, waiting for the hotel shuttle to the nearby Hotel Nikko Narita, where I’ll hopefully get some sleep before heading back to North America on JAL tomorrow.
There’s not much to say about the Nikko. It’s pretty basic, with small rooms, but it’s also quite affordable for a Tokyo-area hotel. I will say this — it does offer a pretty good view of Narita from my window. In this case, I get to watch B-KPA take off on her way back to Hong Kong.
Thanks for joining me for this lounge-hopping adventure and short First Class jaunt up to Tokyo. I hope you’ll join me in the near future as I make my way back to North American for my first longhaul JAL F flight.
Cathay Pacific The Pier - First Class Section
Hong Kong - HKG
Tokyo - NRT
It’s hard to argue this is a great way to fly 1,500 miles. The meal was solid, the seat and service fantastic. But it’s the lounges that stick with me — both of Cathay’s F lounges at HKG offer something unique and interesting, and getting the chance to explore it was absolutely a highlight for me.
All in all, ORD-HKG-NRT in CX F is a fantastic use of 70,000 Alaska miles. Just fantastic.
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