Introduction Hi there! I am sharing with you my trip to Nanjing, Hong Kong and Taiwan during my school break in December 2017. Despite stopping over in Hong Kong several times, I have never actually left the airport to explore the city. As such, I decided that it is finally time to visit Hong Kong. On top of that, it was a while since we visited Taiwan, especially the southern part, and so that was added to the itinerary. With extra time, I decided to pay Nanjing a visit to visit the War Memorial sites as well, and possibly try the Cathay lounges in Hong Kong by upgrading my ticket with my IHG Reward Points converted to Asia Miles. Talk about killing 2 birds with 1 stone. With such a complicated itinerary, there was only one airline to fly: Cathay Pacific.
I have been a loyal customer to Singapore Airlines for many years, flying with them despite them being pricier than alternatives. However, I had a very bad experience one my recent flights with SQ. This trip with Cathay was a refreshing experience and made me question whether flying SQ all the time was worth it.
Here was my itinerary for the entire journey:
19 Dec CX 710 SIN to HKG B777-300ER Y (HERE) 19 Dec KA 622 HKG to HGH A330-300 J (Coming soon) 22 Dec KA 811 NKG to SIN A330-300 J (Coming soon) 25 Dec KA 432 HKG to KHH A330-300 Y (+/-) 31 Dec KA 495 RMQ to HKG A320 Y (+/-) 31 Dec CX 735 HKG to SIN A330-300 Y (+/-)
You may be wondering why I am flying to Hangzhou (HGH) instead of Nanjing. This was because I could only get confirmed seats on the flight to Hangzhou, and waitlisted on the flight to Nanjing. As such, I did not want to take the risk of not getting an upgrade, and decided to fly to hangzhou and take a high speed rail to Nanjing the next morning. This arrangement also let me have a 8 hour layover in Hong Kong to experience the much-raved about oneworld lounges in Hong Kong. Just avgeek things.
Pre-departure With my flight at 8am, I woke up at 5.15am to catch a Grab to Changi Airport. I arrived at just past 6am. This flight was departing from Terminal 4, Changi's newest terminal with many manpower saving self-service options.
I proceeded to the check in counters for my check in.
Since I was connecting to a business class flight, I was allowed to use the priority check in counter. However, there was actually a very long queue and took me almost 10 minutes to get through. There was almost no wait for the self-service counters. But as I wanted to get a priority tag on my bag and a nice business class boarding pass, I decided to stay in the priority line There were ample staff around to help passengers. There were quite a few passengers who were unsure about how to use the self-check in and needed assistance from the staff, who patiently guided them. Changi Aiport setting the standards as always. However i noticed quite a few passengers having issues with checking in, and were directed to the counter with staff, resulting in a long queue there. I guess there are some minor teething issues left with the system, which I am sure will be settled soon!
After check in, I proceeded to the automated immigration clearance and security. There was the hardly any queue at this time of the day as there were only 2 cathay flights scheduled to depart around this time. I was airside in about 5 minutes. unlike other terminals, I was not requried to remove my laptop and ipad from my bag during X ray, and whole body scanner was used.
Once airside, I was forced to walk through a corridor of Duty free shops before getting to the main councourse of terminal 4, where i settled for a sandwich and cappucino at Paris Baguette for breakfast. After a quick bite, I proceeded to explore the new terminal. Given the time of the day, and adding on that there were not many airlines operating from the terminal, the terminal was pretty empty.
FIDS. I think that was pretty much all the flights departing from T4 that day. Dominated by Air Asia group of airlines and Cathay Pacific, and a few others like Korean Air etc.
T4 has a nature theme to its design. The roof has petals and there are many "trees" placed in the terminal to give it a vibrant and outdoor feel. Here is a picture of these features
The main walkway leading to all the gates. The narrowbody gates are H gates, while G gates can hold widebody aircraft, but are located at the extreme end which I will be heading to today. The entire walkway is again lined with trees, in line with the nature theme
The signature Peranakan Love Story wall, where a love story is being played on the facade. I didn't actually watch it, but it was there to showcase some of Singapore's Heritage, There were some Singaporean shops there as well, like Heavenly Wang selling singapore food.
T4 also has a strategic location of being parallel to the runway, which provided wonderful views of aircraft taking off. However, I feel like they did not maximise this by making a public viewing gallery with runway views. Instead, the runway view is only visible to those in the transit area. What a waste!
Views of the runway.
Here you see the earlier Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong CX 650, which coincidentally departs at 0650, operated by the all new A350-900XWB. I was tempted to take this flight, but decided not to as it would require me to wake up at unearthly hours.
Since T4 is quite small, I explored it quite quickly and just enjoyed the runway view for a while before heading to my gate. My flight will depart from gate G19 today
A view of the majestic B777-300ER in the old cathay livery taking me to Hong Kong today. Definitely one of my favourite aircraft. There was another B777-300 aircraft parked next to my plane operating the 0955 flight to Hong Kong. I also did consider taking that flight instead, but decided not to as the cabin products on the B777-300 were far inferior to that on the 77W.
Pre-boarding announcement was made at about 0725, explaining the sequence of boarding. There were separate queues for priority passengers and economy class passengers. As usual, everyone rushed to line up the moment the pre-boarding annoucement was made.
At 0730, boarding began and priorities were respected. Business class, Oneworld elites and premium economy class passengers were welcomed to board first. Economy class passengers just boarded all at one time, without much respect for row numbers. I just followed the crowd. Cabin crew were at the door to welcome us onboard
Walking past the Business class cabin, which looked about 50% full.
View of the long haul economy class seats.
This aircraft was in the 340 seat configuration 3 class configuration, with 40 business class seats, 32 premium economy and 268 economy class seats. useful configuration for a busy regional flight.
I quickly snapped a picture of the seats before my seat mates came by.
It was a comfortable seat for any flight with 32 inch pitch, 9 across economy class (which will soon be gone from Cathay's Fleet). Entertainment screen has really good resolution and good range of movies. There was also live feed from the camera at the nosewheel. I really like that additional storage compartment below the entertainment screen: it is a good place to put your phone when charging or spectacles when sleeping. Unfortunately this aircraft was starting to show its age: the tray table felt really loose and I was actually worried that it would come loose haha. Headphones were pre-placed in the seat pocket. Inflight magazine and duty free shopping was also placed in the seat pocket
At 0755, Captain came on the PA to welcome us onboard, announcing a flight time of 3h15 minutes. It was to be a smooth flight today with occassional turbulence. Is it just me or are pretty much all cathay captains non-chinese?
Pushback was on time and safety video was played. Nothing fancy like SQ's new safety video, but it was quick and to the point.
Scenes of pushback:
A short taxi to the runway. Our fellow Cathay B773.
Take-off shots with views of the future T5
After the seatbelt sign was turned off, I closed my window shades and watched some movies on the entertainment system CX Studio. Good range of movies and more importantly, a good resolution.
Had a quick walk around and the aircraft before meal service. Economy class was 100% full, not a single empty seat. Majority of passengers were asleep or watching movies. Paid a quick trip to the lavatory as well. A very basic lavatory with soap and moisturiser. No amenities like combs were available.
About an hour or so after take off, crew came around for meal service. Breakfast was served on this flight. A choice of seafood congee or omellette was available. I believe this is standard offering for CX on this route. I recall having the same choices available on SIN-HKG route in 2014. Back then I chose the omellete. Today, I decided to go for the congee instead. This was served with Yogurt, a orange muffin and fruits. I chose coffee and orange juice for drinks. I think the meal is exactly the same as 3 years ago, just that the cutlery used is different. Unfortunately, plastic cutlery was in use this time. What a shame for a premium airline. #Costcutting
Although the portion looked small, I actually felt full after eating it. The fruits were decent. The orange muffin was standard airline muffin, but was a little too sweet for me. Would have preferred a simple hot bun with butter. The seafood congee was excellent. It was comforting and had a generous amount of seafood like prawn, fish and squid. It was just nice in terms of saltiness as well. More importantly, it is not greasy at all, unlike the noodles option often served on SQ. I really really much prefer is congee was the option instead of noodles- it is just much more palatable and suitable for breakfast (to me at least). Coffee was strong, but still not as good as SQ's. Somehow the orange juice was really really too sweet for me. Overall, a good breakfast!
After trays were collected, I continued watching my movies. Flight was uneventful. We were just past Vietnam at this point in time and heading northwards towards Hong Kong. Crew came around with beverages and checked if passengers needed anything. In general, the crew on this flight were efficient and warm, and not robotic. One particular crew member was cheerful and bright, which makes flying more pleasant.
I dosed off for a while and was awoken by the Captain announcing our descent into Hong Kong Airport. He expected us to have to be in holding pattern (as expected for the overcrowded HKIA) for a while, but still we will touchdown on time at about 11.45am. I guess the delays were factored into the scheduled flight time! Weather in Hong Kong was clear, with ground temperature of 18 degrees.
Wing views while flying around
After a while, flaps were deployed and we were approaching HKIA.
A nosewheel camera makes things more exciting! Caught the wheels being deployed on final approach
Getting closer and closer
Touch down! At about 11.45 as promised.
We quickly exited the runway and taxied to our gate. Taxiing to the gate did not take too long. Captured the HKIA tower while taxiing to our gate
Parked next to sister airline Cathay Dragon's A330 in new colours. Would be on one of this later.
Disembarkation took a while as the flight was quite full and I was seated at the window. But i was in no hurry as I had a 8 hour layover.
I went to the transfer to clear security again and headed up to the departure level. The queue was long, but the security staff were efficient and I cleared in in less than 10 minutes. (Later i learnt that it is faster and easier to transfer in HKIA then exit HKIA hahaha). And I was back at departure floor in no time
That is when my lounge hopping at HKIA began, exploring all the oneworld lounges available! Stay tuned for part II of the report! Feel free to leave comments below!
Singapore - SIN
Hong Kong - HKG
Changi Airport T4: Although some people lament that automation leads to lack of human touch, there is no other way forward given the manpower crunch in Singapore. T4 is like any terminal in Changi Airport: modern, efficient and sets the standards. While there are some teething issues e.g, problems at check in, I am sure that it will be sorted out soon. However, getting to T4 is quite a hassle if one is not taking the taxi. One will need to take a shuttle bus from T2. Hope that more airlines will opt to operate from T4, if not the retail shops will find it hard to be viable. The only downside to T4 is the lack of public viewing gallery.
Cathay Pacific: A very decent flight on Cathay Pacific on this 4h flight to Hong Kong. Crew were friendly and efficient without being robotic or artificial. Bonus to the cheerful crew member. Although food is not Cathay's strong suite, it was good on this flight. Cutlery and tray looked cheap, but unfortunately is becoming the norm (heck you are lucky to even get a meal on flight these days). Cabin products are competitive, though it is starting to show its age. All in all, Cathay does provide good value for money.
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