The airline with the best average rating is Cathay Pacific with 8.4/10.
The average flight time is 15 hours and 58 minutes.More information
Greetings Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by this report. This is the continuation of our trip to Vietnam that became a reality after a Cathay Pacific "mistake" fare that was honored. Feel free to visit the SNA-ORD report for more background on the planning, etc.
Jennifer and I spent the night at the Regal Airport Hotel. It's a pretty run down property but it was just what we needed to get some good sleep and be ready for a very special travel day. This is Jennifer's first time flying Cathay Pacific in any class of service and we were both very excited to share the experience. As a lifelong commercial aviation enthusiast I know spending 24 hours in a travel day, in premium cabins in this case, is a joy for me, but will Jennifer find the same enjoyment? Or any enjoyment? The outbound went well, even with two Y flights at difficult times so I am optimistic that we'll have a great day.
I find The Pier First Class Lounge to be one of the most lovely lounge spaces in terms of design. Jennifer confirmed my biases, it's true love.
After securing a foot massage treatment for Jennifer we made our way to the dining room for breakfast. We were quickly seated and presented menus.
Our drinks order was promptly taken. A cappuccino and vitilizer for me and a Cathay delight for Jennifer.
For breakfast I selected the "Western Set" with poached eggs. The eggs were prepared perfectly.
Jennifer selected the "Chinese Set" and added the Dan Dan noodles on my recommendation. There are a lot of flavors to sample here and she enjoyed tasting all of it. Her least favorite was the Dan Dan Mein!
Shortly after breakfast concluded Jennifer's buzzer alarmed and indicated that it was time to head to The Retreat for a foot massage.
While Jennifer enjoyed the spa treatment I enjoyed a shower. I skipped the dismal hotel shower knowing the space and amenities would be far superior here.
Both refreshed we reunited and I gave Jennifer a tour of the rest of The Pier. The Pantry buffet area was our first stop.
The Bureau should you have some work to do. We did not.
The bar for some breakfast Champagne.
A quick stop to check out a day suite. One of my favorite features of this lounge.
A little bit of time left for simply lounging.
Boarding was oddly civilized and competent, additional security screening aside.
We were greeted by the friendly Filipino purser. She welcomed us aboard and handed us off to Cherie to be shown to our seats. Jennifer in 2D and myself in 2K. She gives met he window seat because she know how much enjoyment I get from it. Is it any wonder we've been married for 16 years?
The seat is well documented. It's spacious and private. Despite being a previous generation F product I still find it very good.
2D in the center section.
Vanessa, the other exceptional flight attendant in first, offered a beverage of our choosing. The Champagne please! It would be a 2004 Krug on this day. I requested water with ice and Jennifer requested water with no ice.
My best buddy in the buddy seat.
The crew, aware of our overt excitement, were instantly fun and upbeat offering to take pictures. Going into the flight I was a bit concerned how the "mistake fare class" would be received. Are we not quite F passengers? A nuisance? If there was any animosity I could not detect it. We were treated with generous service, some of the best I have ever experienced on board Cathay Pacific. The load today was 5/6, FWIW.
Sneaking a peek into the mini J cabin.
Exploring the amenities.
Getting acquainted with the meal options.
Taxi and push back. I have no idea if we left on time. We were such giddy children enjoying our circumstances that I lost all perception of time.
Taxiing past Haeco for a 7R departure.
Lining up for 7R and the off.
A look at the menu for today.
Service started with a reprise of the lovely Krug. The amuse was served at this time. Previous versions of this service saw the amuse served on the ground. Poke style raw tuna for today.
We delayed lunch for a couple of hours and Jennifer went straight into lounge in bed in your PJs mode. It's funny how comfort preferences differ. I'm far more comfortable in the reclined chair. To each their own. Cherie took our meal preferences and reserved them to enjoy later.
I also visited the lavatory to don the lounge wear.
This aircraft has not received the screen refresh and touch screen controller.
About 2 hours into the flight Cherie asked if we were ready to enjoy lunch and offered to setup the extended tray so that we may dine together. Let's start the show.
We started with the beautifully presented caviar paired with the 2004 Krug.
The accoutrements down to the mother of pearl spoon are all perfect. On our ANA outbound Jennifer tried caviar for the first time and she was not impressed. Today was a different story as everything came together for her to thoroughly enjoy the experience.
The Chablis to enjoy with the fig and prosciutto salad.
A bread basket is delivered with the salad course.
I asked for a glass of the New Zealand Pinot to enjoy with the soup.
Wine traffic jam.
The mushroom cream soup was fantastic. Earthy and rich with cream.
Jennifer opted for the black cod as her main and was reasonably satisfied.
My wine selected the main course, the fantastic Lynch Bages Grand Cru Classe, synonymous with Cathay Pacific First Class.
Fail on the presentation but my goodness that beef and that wine were fast friends. A very delightful experience to savor.
The cookery was more medium than I would have preferred but it was by no means a lost cause.
The mains were cleared and we opted for a pause to enjoy a few sips of wine. I know we're rather difficult guests with our timing and specific requests but all of these idiosyncrasies were accommodated in a very first class way without any hesitation or sense of frustration, as they should be.
We decided to go with the one of everything method for the final course.
To most people 16 hours on an airplane is bordering on insanity. When you are fortunate enough to travel with Cathay Pacific in first class it's a perfect amount of time to fully experience the decadent product.
After a few hours break I was anxious to try something else from the menu and had my eye on the laksa since the moment I saw the menu. I rang the call button and Vanessa appeared within seconds. I requested the laksa and she informed me it would be about 10 minutes. She offered a drink and I opted for the Champagne. She also asked if I would like chili and if I had enjoyed laksa before. We then launched into a long conversation about the dish and the variations found all over Southeast Asia. Vanessa is from Singapore so she is a laksa veteran. She was quite surprised at my experience with Katong, Sarawak, and Asam, laksas. I really enjoyed hearing about being Singaporean and the culture there in general. It was a break from the sometimes formal façade that one experiences with Cathay Pacific staff.
The laksa was in the katong style and was imminently pleasant.
The morning departure delayed my ability to sleep but the alcohol hastened it too. My bed was made and I managed a nap for a few hours.
Jennifer has slept much earlier than I did and took her pre arrival meal while I slept. I awoke about 2 hours before landing and accepted the offer to store my bed. At about 90 minutes to arrival Cherie asked if I would like to order dinner. I wasn't interested in the dinner meal per se but the hamburger from the snack menu sure sounded like a fun way to wrap up this fantastic flight. Cherie said she will start it right away and it would take about 15 minutes. She also asked if I would like to start with some caviar while she prepared the burger. Yes, yes I would enjoy that.
A second encore for the 2004 Krug.
Had I known that a caviar service was a possibility I would have skipped the burger. It was another excuse to break out the Lynch Bages. It works with burgers too, in case you were wondering.
The burger was very tasty, the potatoes not as much. How could they be sitting for so many hours and then reheated. Perhaps some crisps would be a better choice if you feel the need to serve a starch with the sandwich?
Out over the Atlantic to line up for landing.
The fastest 16 hours of my like had elapsed as we gracefully touched down on 4R.
2 engines 4 long haul. The 777-300ER is an amazing machine.
The Ground Service: We were in possession of our boarding passes and only carry on luggage so we didn't stop at the F check in area. On account of the early hour there was no wait for security or immigration so we were trough with minimal fuss.
The Lounge: The Pier is a lovely lounge. The dining is good, while lower end then say The Private Room at SIN, it's still of acceptable quality and selection. With OW entrance requirements so low it has to be. The spa service is an excellent touch and well appreciated. I also find the showers and restrooms to be well cleaned and stocked with excellent Aesop amenities. The private nap rooms are also an excellent feature that I wish more lounges had (yes you, NH and SQ!)
The Cabin: Elegant and spacious it feels very special. The bed is wide in the knee and shoulder area and very comfortable. When you fly on the ships that have received the upgraded monitors and IFE controllers you really appreciate the difference. The resolution on the older equipment is quite poor. I will say the older screen have better ability to articulate and move for optimal viewing position.
The Crew: Vanessa and Cherie were lovely, engaging, and kind. They balanced this with very precise and technically proper service too. I was very pleased with how the fare we paid seemed to have no bearing on the product we received. I've never noticed any service issues when traveling on points so I shouldn't expect any on a "discounted" fare, but who knows. This flight took place before the situation in Hong Kong escalated with civil unrest and mass demonstrations. I don't know if future experiences will change based on what has to be a very stressful time to be a resident of HK.
The Food and Beverage: Krug and Lynch Bages are a fantastic treat. I found the presentation on the main courses to be somewhat uninspired, especially the beef dish. I had to wonder if delaying the meal service by a couple of hour changed the quality of the food. It should not have unless the crew warmed them prematurely. Also the chips served with the burger have very little chance of being successful so I'm not sure why they are offered. Otherwise, all food and beverage items were well received. We can argure whether laksa and burgers belong on a first class menu and I understand the perception. I'm of the mindset that if they're good quality why not offer them?
Overall: Our first CX F experience could not have been better. Of course the joy of sharing this experience with Jennifer and the excitement of traveling without the children surely colored my perception and took the edge of my critical thinking We had and engaged crew, decadent meals, good sleep, and the 16 hours were by in a flash. Jennifer was not put off by the "long way home" and was an excellent travel companion. I was so very tickled to share this experience with her and can't wait for our next adventure in October.