Hello, Flight-Report.com community, and welcome to my latest whirlwind adventure to Asia, featuring a healthy dose of Cathay Pacific First Class, a bit of Business Class and First Class with JAL, and brief experiments with Porter Airlines economy class and Delta regional jet.
PD945 - YTZ-BOS - 9/17/2018 - Q400 - Y - Check it out here CX811 - BOS-HKG - 9/18/2018 - 777-300ER - F - You are here CX903 - HKG-MNL - 9/19/2018 - 777-300ER - F - Coming soon JL742 - MNL-NRT - 9/20/2018 - 787-9 - J - Coming soon JL6 - HND-JFK - 9/21/2018 - 777-300ER - F - Coming soon DL5366 - JFK-YYZ - 9/21/2018 - CRJ-900 - F - Will be summaraized with HND-JFK
Background & Booking
Welcome to the main event of this trip. In a recent comment on socalnow’s latest First Class adventure, I predicted I’d be logging some time on Award.flight by the time the day was done, and in the end, I did indeed do just that. With some points burning a hole in my pocket, and a lull in business-related travel in September, it was a good setup for taking a few days for adventuring. When I did my CX/JL First Class week at the beginning of the year, I noted that perhaps I would make it New Year’s Tradition. Well, I got greedy. I couldn’t make it a full year.
Surprisingly, I found availability on this Boston to Hong Kong flight at just over three weeks out — which would seem too late for initial inventory release, and too early for “last-minute” releases that usually come inside two weeks out. But I was glad, because it allowed me to create two-week “no travel” buffers before and after this trip.
Having found a way to Hong Kong, I started looking for options to add more value, and I quickly stumbled upon Hong Kong to Manilla the same day as arrival into HKG. But with my inbound flight arriving at 05:10, and my flight to Manila slated for 16:35, that means a nice long day in Hong Kong to enjoy the lounges.
Or, y’know, I guess I could go into town for a bit.
Naaah. The lounges.
So I called in and booked, happily exchanging my 70,000 Alaska Miles and less than $50 U.S. (some fees waived due to my status-matched MVP Gold 75K status), for BOS-HKG-MNL in CX F. Still one of the best mileage value deals going.
When last we saw our intrepid flight-reporter…
… he had just arrived into Logan’s Terminal E on Porter Airlines from YTZ, and set up shop on the arrivals level to post that flight-report, and wait a few hours for Cathay’s check-in to open.
After killing some time down there, I decided to try checking in using the Cathay Pacific app, but that sadly didn’t work out for me, asking me instead to check in at the airport. Hopefully, not a bad sign.
After sitting for a while, I decided I needed to stretch, so I headed upstairs. Just like the arrival level had filled in as the evening rush began, departures was buzzing, with most of the usual European suspects accepting check-in for their evening departures across the pond. It’s a nice touch that flags from (presumably) all nations that fly out of this terminal are hanging overhead.
Tired of the very air conditioned air conditioning, I decide to take a step outside. Not much spotting from landside at E, but there was a decent look at these three out-of-towners in a row.
Stepping back inside, I found what I presume to be signs that Cathay would set up here once it was time for check-in to begin, so I set up in a seat here to kill the time until it opens up, puttering on my computer and watching check-in activity for Virgin Atlantic, which was next to (presumably) Cathay’s spot.
I wander for a bit, then head back downstairs where more seating is available, and when I come back up at about 9:30, it looks like I was almost right — Cathay has set up where Virgin Atlantic used to be. I start the First Class line, and at about 9:45, like clockwork, a small army of red-jacketed Cathay Pacific agents descend on the newly-set-up counters, and check-ins begin.
Check-in and security
I’m quickly called forward and hand over my passport. A few short moments later, I’ve got boarding passes for BOS-HKG and HKG-MNL, and lounge invites for here in Boston and in Hong Kong.
The PreCheck lanes closed at this hour, so I get the big “expedited screening” red stamp on my boarding pass, and I get to keep my shoes on. Other than, it’s normal security. But the line is short, and it takes only a few minutes before I’m through and airside at Terminal E.
British Airways Galleries Lounge
Cathay uses BA’s lounge here at Boston, located upstairs by Gate 10, from which we’ll be departing in a few hours. At the desk, my lounge invite is taken, and I’m welcomed inside.
By this point I’m starving, so my first stop in the lounge is to grab some food. The dining room here has a few long shared tables, with buffet stations on either side.
Cold drink, and some snacks.
Finger sandwiches and crudites.
Chips, bread, and soup.
And on the other side, there are some salad fixings — although they’re oddly set up to be accessible only from the other side of the counter.
A few hot dishes with turket cutlets with a corn-tomato relish, and a veggie pasta.
Italian Wedding Soup, and prepared ramen and tonkatsu bowls.
Beef Bulgogi, and Chicken Tinga and tortillas.
And some desserts.
I grab myself some sparkling water, a pork tonkatsu, and some Italian Wedding soup. Everything’s good enough, although the Tonkatsu isn’t very hot. But it is tasty.
As I’m eating, catering is busy, packing stuff up. Soon it becomes apparent why, as the BA flight to London has its boarding call, and the lounge all but clears out. Apparently, the BA pax get food. I’m not sure if they’ll set up a different spread for CX passengers, or what. I guess I’ll find out.
With the lounge empty, it’s a good time to take a tour!
Apparently, the food isn’t the only thing reserved for BA.
And as I complete my tour, I find they’re working on one side of the buffet, but the other side has been cleaned out.
With that done, I figure it might be time for a shower, and then a bit more to eat once I see what’s available for we Cathay folks. I ask about a shower at the front desk, and the agent there rather bluntly tells me that she’s working the BA flight, that CX people will be here soon, and I should talk to them. She seemed quite tired, but that didn’t seem very service-oriented.
I take a seat at the end of the lounge, one of the few places with a bit of a view of the apron, and watch as this BA 777 arrives to be cleaned up prior to its 7 am Daytripper return to LHR.
WiFi in the lounge is decent, especially since it’s basically empty at this point. Typical for BA lounges, the password is a BA destination.
I check in on my ride over to Hong Kong, but discover that according to FR24, B-KQM landed at about 10:25, pretty much right on time. No good view of her from the lounge, but you can see the Cathay swoosh on the tail just past this Emirates 77W.
Back to the buffet, and indeed, there is a dumbed down version of the buffet for the late-night crowd. It starts with this vegetable soup, and the pork and ramen available before.
Salad, cheese and crackers, and a few sandwiches.
And that’s it. I guess CX isn’t willing to pay for a full spread for this late-night departure. Still hungry, I try the chicken, pesto, and mozzarella sandwich, and the veggie ramen. Definite misses here. The noodles feel fresh in the mouth, but the broth is bland and lifeless, and the sandwich is rather stale.
I briefly debate another tonkatsu as I’m still quite hungry, but decide against it — I’d rather board hungry, since there should be a fairly large meal available after we take off. And I think I might even be able to stay awake for it! (But we’ll see.)
Back out to reception, and an agent takes my name for the shower list, and tells me someone will come get me when it’s ready. So back to my seat I go, and putter until it’s shower time.
And sure enough, after about 20 minutes, the agent pops by to let me know the shower is ready for me, and shows me to the suite.
The shower suite is a good size, and clearly designed for handicapped passengers. But the shower itself is a bit of a disappointment. The water gets nice and hot, but the water pressure is mediocre. Still, some 20 hours since I last showered, it feels good to refresh before the long flight.
Shower done, I putter for a while, and with 1:10 listed as boarding time, I decide to head downstairs tot he gate at about 12:55.
To my surprise, there’s already a significant mob formed up here, so I find the line for First Class and OneWorld Emeralds, and join in.
They start boarding )only a few) wheelchair pax about 1:05, and at 1:13, they start boarding the First Class line. Complete with an apology for the delay. Of three minutes.
There are newspapers available on the jetway, and boarding is done through just one door, the 2L. At the door, I’m greeted by Wai, one of the two attendants working First Class, who escorts me towards my seat, handing me off to her partner in F, Sharon, as we enter the F cabin.
The Flight Report
Flight: CX811 From: Boston Logan (BOS) To: Hong Kong (HKG) Date: 9/18/2018 Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER Registration: B-KQM Seat: 1K ATD (STD): 02:01 (01:50) ATA ( STA): 04:52+1 (05:10+1)
For this flight, I’m seated in 1K, because unfortunately both seats on the A-side of the plane were occupied when I booked. In this 1-1-1 configuration, the only real difference between A and K is that the starboard side shares the same aisle with the middle seat, while the A seats have an aisle all to themselves.
Although ExpertFlyer showed all six seats occupied even a few days before departure, the flight went out with 2A unoccupied, leaving us with a five of six load.
As I take my seat, I store my rollaboard and backpack in the aisle-side closet as there are no overhead bins in F. Still, with the large locker, a wide sideboard along the outside wall, and plenty of space under the ottoman, there’s plenty of storage in this seat.
The most noticable thing about this seat is its width. Two people could sit side by side comfortably. Okay, so two people smaller than me. But two people nonetheless.
Seat controls and the IFE wired remote are along the back of the sideboard, with simple touch controls for the seat to go up, the seat to go down, and that’s about it.
A reading light along the outside wall.
And a flower between windows two and three of my suite for the next 16 hours.
A power port and a USB port are along the sideboard as well.
Legroom shot. Yeah, it’s not a problem.
And a look forward at the ottoman, which can double as a seat for passengers who want to dine together. In total, the seat comes with three pillows — one on the ottoman, one on the seat, and one “hard-mounted” into the antimacassar. I love that mounted pillow idea so much — having a nice soft pillow up there even when you have one lodged behind your back, as it my preference.
The IFE screen is mounted along the aisle. Note that while CX's F suites are not enclosed or doored, they are still quite private. I never saw anything of the passenger in the first row middle seat, except when one of us was getting into or out of our seat.
The aisle-side wall features the safety card and magazine, another LED reading light, and some seat controls that come in particularly handy when the seat is in bed mode.
A look out my windows as boarding continues — the night has turned rainy here in Boston.
Sharon pops by, and asks if I’d like something to drink — perhaps some champagne? Well, who can say no to that? She reappears momentarily with a glass, and then the bottle. They seem to pouring Deutz on the ground.
A few minutes later, as I enjoy the Deutz, the standard Cathay smoky mix of cashews and almonds is offered.
Overhead — once again, no bins, making the space seem very airy.
Art on the forward bulkhead.
As soon as my champagne is nearly finished, a refill is offered proactively, and gratefully accepted.
Wai stops by with my amenity kit, headphones, and pajamas/slippers/eye mask pack. The male travel kit is the same as always. Here’s a look at the contents. It’s not a great amenity kit, but I find the cases useful. The headphones are comfortable Bose noise-cancellers, and are great.
The IFE screen is available at the gate, and features the great variety CX is known for.
Wai stops by with the menu next, explains that they’ll be back to take orders in a few minutes. She explains that the flight will be about 14:57 to Hong Kong today.
Here’s a look at the menu. It appears that CX is not just serving Deutz on the ground, but in the air as well. I’m enjoying the Deutz, but a bit disappointed, as I have a special soft spot for Krug.
Shortly afterwards, Sharon stops by with a (very) hot towel, and asks if I’d like a third refill, which I accept, although requesting a glass of water to accompany it, since I want to stay hydrated.
Our captain, an Aussie (no surprise there), introduces himself over the PA, reiterating our time to Hong Kong, and offering the slight understatement that the weather upon our arrival will be “a considerable improvement over the past few days” in Hong Kong.
The safety video rolls, and we push back at 1:51 am, one minute behind schedule. No apology is offered. Interesting that the video includes specific instructions to keep the ottoman and side storage clear during taxi, takeoff, and landing, suggesting that the video delivered to this monitor is specific to First Class
A little mood lighting as we taxi.
Sharon stops by as we taxi to take my order, guiding me through the ordering process. I’m pretty hungry, having not eaten a real meal since breakfast the day before, with only snacks along the way. So I decide to go full out — assuming I can stay awake. For my main, I go with the beef, prepared medium rare. “Please allow me twenty minutes to prepare your meal for you,” Sharon says. Oh, okay. If you must.
Since it’s 2:00 in the morning, it’s a very short taxi, and we’re soon lining up and into the night sky over Boston.
As we cross over 10,000 feet, the cabin service director stops by to say hi, and offer the most perfunctory “Hi nice to meet you” as she turned around and moved on to the next seat. Oh well. At least Wai and Sharon are super. They’re already busily getting beds ready for passengers who choose to go straight to bed.
Around then, things get quite bumpy for a few minutes, and the seatbelt sign stays on, so I don’t get a chance to change before dinner.
I check out the new releases on Studio CX, and eventually choose Deadpool 2 — it’s action-filled, silly, and simple to follow, so it really fits the bill at this late hour. But really, CX… must we have five minutes of commercials before the start of every film? Long live the hyper-capitalism of Hong Kong, I suppose.
As the movie starts, Sharon offers a drink. I ask for some more champagne, as well as some sparkling water, which is quickly presented, accompanied by some more nuts. The Deutz is really growing on me, and five or six glasses in, my disappointment in the lack of Krug is on the decline.
True to Sharon’s word, Wai sets my table for the first course about 15 minutes later, setting up the caviar course, and topping up my champagne. I love CX’s blinis, and the combination of the caviar, the creme fraiche, and the blinis is a delightful start.
A decent bread basket is also offered — although no garlic bread, unfortunately.
As is the traditional CX F handwritten note from my flight attendants. Always a nice touch.
Up next is the butternut squash soup with crispy croutons and freshly-cracked black pepper. Soup on a plane is always pretty good, and this was no exception.
And then the salad, which was at least interesting, with olives, tomatoes, bocconcini, and prosciutto. The vinaigrette was some sort of red wine and herb dressing, and all in all, the salad was pretty good.
Up next comes the main. I wouldn’t call the steak medium rare, but it was tender, and tasty, I accompanied it with the Amarone, which was delightfully deep and oaky.
Dinner continued its very efficient pace with a cheese plate — a little bit of everything offered, and it was all quite enjoyable. A handful of different crackers were also offered.
And rounding out dinner, I have the warm pistachio cake with ice cream. Just delightful. Not overly sweet, but quite tasty, and with a crunchy, almost biscuit-like consistency. I really enjoyed these.
Dinner comes to an end with another hot towel, a toothpick, and a pair of pralines. Coffee or tea is offered, but it’s about 22 hours from my last sleep, and I think it’s for me to go to bed. Without any more caffeine in my life.
With dinner over, and the turbulence long behind us, it’s time to change. Oddly enough, the larger of the two F bathrooms, the one on the port side of the plane, would remain locked every time I approached in the first half of the flight, even when all F seats were occupied. Not sure if it was inoperative or what, but I changed in the smaller lav on the other side of the aisle. It’s a tighter fit, but still nicely appointed.
The pajamas fit me well and are very comfortable, a more green/brown shade than my previous grey and blue/grey CX pajamas.
And here’s a look at the slippers (very comfortable and large enough for my feet, which isn’t always the case), and eye mask (very comfortable as well.)
When I come back to my seat, Wai has proactively transformed it into bed mode and made it up for me. Time to get some sleep!
A bottle of water is also offered.
We’re approaching the shore of Greenland, and dawn is breaking outside. Time for sleep.
The cabin is kept a delightful temperature, much cooler than usual for Cathay or other Asian carriers. Not really cool, but cool enough that it’s just delightful to sleep cuddled up with the duvet around me. While the moving map is playing, CX plays classical music over the headphones, so I drift off to sleep with my eye mask on, and soft music playing.
I manage to sleep for about six hours, and feel quite refreshed when I wake up on the other side of Greenland over the Arctic Ocean and headed for the northern shores of Siberia.
Up next, I continue my habit of watching Star Wars films on planes, and take in Solo. I’m not a massive Star Wars person, but it entertains me enough. so it works.
As soon Wai notices I’m up, she asks if I’d like anything to eat. I choose the duck noodle soup, and it’s delivered about 12 minutes later, along with another Perrier. The duck is rich and tasty, and the broth is great, especially with the chili paste mixed in. A great little snack.
I follow it up with a little taste of the Glenmorangie single malt, which is a nice little treat to sip on as I watch the movie.
About halfway through I get up to use the lav — port-side lav is still locked — and as I head back, Wai lets me know she’s dropped off another can of Perrier at my seat. I appreciate the proactivity this crew shows.
By the time the movie ends, we’re about six hours out of Hong Kong, and flying over Sibera — back into the night.
This time when I get up to use the lav, the port-side lav is open — so I guess it’s not inoperative, I just chose previous visits at the same time as other passengers, or maybe the flight crew. This lav has a similar look, but a bit more space, and a bench that comes in handy for changing purposes.
Back at my seat, I choose my next movie — the Newly Added section is rapidly running out of options that grab me much, but a film about a hurricane seems somewhat appropriate for this trip to Hong Kong.
Halfway through, Sharon asks if I’d like anything to drink, and I ask what they have in the way of beers. Apparently, Carlson, Heineken, and San Miguel. And I was hoping for their custom-made Betsy Beer just to see what it’s like, but no dice. Oh well, the San Miguel will do. I also request the burger from the snacks menu.
About 15 minutes later, it’s brought out to me. Not a bad little burger. A lot of tomato, though.
After I’m done, I’m presented another bottle of water and another hot towel.
When the movie ends, we’re about 3:30 out of Hong Kong, I decide it’s time to top up my sleep, so on goes the moving map with its accompanying classical music.
I doze in and out of sleep until we’re about two hours out of Hong Kong.
When I sit up, Sharon notices almost immediately, and walks me through my breakfast order. In spite of myself, I decide to have the eggs to see what “freshly fried on-board” is like. I also request the smoothie, some orange juice, and an espresso.
I choose a movie to watch to finish out the flight – to my surprise, it's not bad.
Breakfast starts with some fruit, the smoothie, a couple of danishes, and a croissant.
The fruit is very good quality, and a nice assortment.
The danishes are tasty, but the croissant is rock-hard and doesn’t really entice me at all.
My full complement of beverages for breakfast. Everything is pretty good.
And finally, the main is served with some freshly cracked black pepper. The eggs are pretty good, actually. Just about perfectly done. The steak, to my surprise, is actually just about medium rare, and quite tasty. There’s also a small sausage hidden underneath the steak in this picture. All in all, a pretty good breakfast.
After breakfast, I’m offered yet another hot towel, and a toothpick, which seems to follow every meal.
As we’re about an hour out of Hong Kong at this point, I decide it’s time to change back into my street clothes. Sharon sees me heading for the lav, and makes a beeline for my seat. When I get back, the bedding is gone and it’s made back up.
As I store my pajamas, slippers, amenity kit, and other takeaways, here’s a look at the inside of the locker behind my monitor.
As we descend, Wai stops by to chat, and mentions noticing that I was taking a bunch of photos of the seat, the food, etc. Then she mentions on a recent flight, she had The Points Guy in her First Class cabin, and enjoyed checking out his Instagram with photos. I tried to explain the idea of flight-report — that it’s not mine, but a community of enthusiast who share their thoughts on their aviation adventures. She mentions that she likes that kind of thing, because it helps them focus on what they’re doing well, and what they can do better. I gave her the URL, and hopefully she’ll check it out. And feels it does justice to the service provided by the team on this flight.
She asks about my plans for my nearly 12-hour layover in Hong Kong, and suggests that the lounges are very good, and I confirm that my plan is to hang out in the lounges and enjoy everything they have to offer for my stay at the airport.
Then we talk a bit about my flight onwards to Manila, and my plans to return on JAL. She wishes me well.
After that, I spend the last few minutes of the flight enjoying the ambience. The scenery outside is not great, as this flight arrives like it departs — in the dark. But soon enough, the HK-Macau-Zuhai mega-bridge is viewable. It seems to have survived Mangkhut fairly well.
And then touchdown at 4:51 am.
It’s a pretty short taxi by HKG standards, and by 4:59, we’ve arrived at our stand and this leg of the journey is all but over.
As we’re waiting to for L1 to be opened, I chat with Sharon a bit. They’ve been stuck in Boston for a few days as a result of the storm here and related cancellations. Up next for her? Manilla. “But not for four days, now.” There’s some relief in her voice at that last bit.
With the door open, I bid Sharon and Wai goodbye, and head out into the jetway. Unfortunately, as in Boston, there was no good way to get a look at my plane from here.
Arrival and Transit Security in Hong Kong
Immediately as I step off the plane, even in the air conditioned jetway, Hong Kong hits me. It feels like the high 20s or low 30s with about 800 per cent humidity.
We arrive into a gate in the low 20s, only a short walk from the security transfer. Moving sidewalk is available, but I’ve just been sitting for most of the past 16 hours, so I’ll hoof it, thank you.
Transfer security is very quick, and at about 10 minutes past five, I’m back airside at HKG. And security only took that long because they wanted to give my keychain a second look. It's weird to see HKG so quiet. But also quite nice, since the alternative was people still stranded here had recovery from Mangkhut been slower.
I head back upstairs to level seven, for the entrance to the first stop on my lounge tour — The Wing First Class. Unfortunately, at quarter past five, it’s about a quarter hour until it opens. Yep, definitely doesn’t look inviting.
Oh well, that affords me few minutes to take a walk down the main concourse of HKIA, and finally get a glimpse of B-KQM, getting cleaned up and re-catered after its long journey to Hong Kong. Wonder where she's off to next?
And that’s where we’ll leave this flight-report. We’ll pick things up with my lounge-hopping adventures in HKG, as well as maybe even a thought or two on my flight to Manila, in my next flight-report.
Thanks for joining me for this trip… I hope you’ll join me for the next segment!
British Airways Club World Lounge
Boston - BOS
Hong Kong - HKG
This flight was pretty much Cathay First in a nutshell. The seat (and bed) are pretty great. If they’re not cutting edge in terms of bells and whistles, they make up for it in size and comfiness.
The catering was very good, but probably not out and out great. While I’ve enjoyed every meal in Cathay F, I can’t think of a single meal that I still remember in the long term with great fondness, like my lamb dish on EK F on the short HKG-BKK sector.
Along with the seat, the strength of Cathay F is the service. I’ve had consistently great crews with warm, attentive and proactive service in my handful of CX F experience, and the service provided by Wai and Sharon was a great example of that. They were a great crew and made the flight a memorable experience.
Ground services…. I’m sorry, what was the question?
The big negative here was the lounge. It was a attractive, modern, and plenty large enough, but it certainly didn’t feel First Class, and the departing BA agent kind of made it feel like she was doing us a favour by having it open for us late-night cretins. And the downgrade in catering — I’m just presuming this is a CX management cost-cutting move — made the lounge seem all the less attractive.
But all in all, a great flight with decent food, great IFE, a wonderful crew, and a very comfy bed. I was very pleased by this experience.
And Wai, if you do check this out, thanks again for everything on the flight, and all the best to you and Sharon in your future travels!
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