The airline with the best average rating is Cathay Pacific with 8.4/10.
The average flight time is 5 hours and 47 minutes.More information
Greeting Flight Report community and thanks for stopping by. I've always been intrigued by Cathay Pacific's "fifth freedom" route between JFK-YVR. The Avgeek community has long declared the flight as the best way to cross North America. (The fifth freedom allows an airline to carry revenue traffic between foreign countries as a part of services connecting the airline's own country.) I've had my eye on award availability on this flight from time to time. I even had it booked all the way to HKG a while back but a series of events led me to cancel. The combination of free time, award availability, and sufficient points balances all converged to allow me to fly the route. I booked with BA Avios as that was the currency I had available and a transfer bonus form AMEX padded the balance. Now that news of the service ending has come out I'm glad I checked it out when I did.
Positioning to JFK was the next decision. My ideal was to try JetBlue Mint for the first time but the fares were not within my budget. I turned to American Airlines as I was well stocked with gift cards from various credit card "incidental credits". (So bummed that loophole has been closed.) I saw an AA J fare on the day I needed for $649.00, which is as low as I have seen. Not one to leave well enough alone I upgraded the fare to F with $150.00 and 15,000 AA miles. An extravagant airplane ticket indeed but I rationalized good value as the price was still less than J on JetBlue, UA, or DL.
I had a day in New York to fill so I decided to catch a Yankee game at the new (to me) ballpark and also have a look around the TWA Hotel. Please visit the LAX-JFK report for the tourist bonus if you're so inclined.
I started my morning by riding the hotel shuttle to JFK. I had checked in online and had a boarding pass via the CX app. My plan was to visit the Flagship First Dining for breakfast and then head out for my day of baseball and airport hotel touring.
Cathay Pacific has enrolled in TSA Precheck so i was airside quickly and I headed to the Flagship Lounge complex. I wasn't sure what kind of reaction would get showing up at the lounge 12 hours prior to departure but to the credit of American Airlines and the staff there was no pushback. I scanned my boarding pass and the agent was initially unsure if Flagship Dining was available to CX F passengers. She made a call, even gave the person on the phone my flight number and departure time, and I was presented with the invitation.
On we go to breakfast.
The lounge is very quiet at this hour.
I made my way straight to the dining room after taking a few snaps of the very nice J lounge.
I was enthusiastically greeted at the entrance and I surrendered my lounge invite and selected a seat. There was only one other guest at the time, the John Waters look alike that I shared the LAX FFD with the day before. Small world. He knew everyone here too and made sure to tell them that he just took his medicine so he cannot eat for 30 minutes. Good to know.
I was presented with a breakfast menu.
I opted for a Bloody Mary cocktail and the Steak, Eggs, Frites menu item. I know it's the same dish as I ordered on my last breakfast visit. Predictable. I asked for the bacon cheddar biscuit from the pastry basket but it was not available.
The server took my order and returned with my cocktail nd water. She mentioned that the kitchen was testing out some quiches and asked if I would like to sample a few. I agreed to do so and thought that was a nice offer.
There were three flavors but I cannot recall the varieties exactly. One was a meat based and two were vegetable. They were not that pleasing. It seemed that it could be any frozen quiche that one could buy from Costco or any grocery. Perhaps they had been sitting in a warmer for too long or something. She asked for feedback and that is what I told her, in as polite a way as possible.
The Steak, Eggs, Frites (really it's a Benedict) was served and was far more enjoyable. I added a cappuccino (unfortunately from a machine and not made by the staff) to the order and had an enjoyable breakfast. I pointed out that the menu description says "crispy potato strings" and these were omitted. The server checked with the kitchen and agreed. She brought out some old sad looking hash brown as a replacement but that wasn't asked for or needed. I was just trying to be helpful so they could note that what was served was not as described on the menu. I think I only noticed because I have had this dish here before and it was topped with the potato strings.
I thanked the staff and headed off into the city. I assumed that there would be a different crew when I returned that evening so I didn't bother to tell them that I would be back.
I had a great time roaming about the TWA hotel and catching a ballgame at the new Yankee Stadium. I was short on time so I took an expensive Uber back to my hotel from The Bronx, picked up my luggage, and scampered back to JFK to enjoy some dinner and cocktails before the flight.
The CX check in counters before opening.
Back up tot he Flagship lounge, about 8 hours after my first visit of the day.
I scanned my boarding pass, as I did this morning and was offered the invitation to dine again. I don't know why I expect to be hassled but I was pleasantly surprised that the lounge agents were not concerned, or even aware of, my odd lounge usage patterns. I had not taken a meal since my lounge breakfast so I was ready to wine and dine. I was again shown to the table of my choosing and I opted to start with a glass of the Krug Grand Cuvee.
I really enjoy the full window views from the FFD facility.
The AA lineup of 777 aircraft departing to Europe were in full view.
Food and beverage menus for the evening service. The wines first.
The Korean-style beef carpaccio caught my eye so I requested this to start. The beef was lovely in texture. I think thedish should have some spice if we're calling it "Korean-style". Either way very enjoyable. A good quality protein makes for a good quality crudo. The portion is way too large for a single diner so I have to assume that there is some pre-plating that happens so they are reluctant to change it for a solo diner.
The TWA theme continues today.
The serive was excellent this afternoon with unsolicited refills of the Champagne and some nice chatting. It's a really large glass.
Up next from the small plates section was the Muscovy Duck Bacon. The thin duck breast slices are very flavorful and well seasoned. The soft egg yolk is delightful. I'm sort of impressed with this one. It's so easy and yet still feels elevated. The kitchen didn't serve the Pecorino cheese on the dish as described in the menu. I can't help my vigilance and pointed this out to Salma.
Watching the evening rush with great wine and tasty bites. I'm quite content here.
I made time to grab a shower as we're still a couple of hours until boarding.
The showers are clean, well appointed, and readily available.
I make my way back to the FFD after showering and am greeted with by the same friendly faces. Salma immediately delivered a glass of the Krug, unsolicited. A really excellent service trait to remember what I had been enjoying and bring it over without asking.
I resumed my tour of the starters section of the menu with the Spring Pea Salad. A nice arrangement of textures. The macadamia nuts( listed on the menu) turned into pecans but still add a flavorful note. I also requested the "Flagship Lemonade" cocktail but found it was made too sweet for my liking.
Salma tempts me with the dessert menu.
I request the cheese but I implore her to request a small portion. No such luck.
As the sun sets over the airfield I am treated to a lovely sky.
The FFD never got busy during my visit, maybe reaching 50% capacity at one point.
After a nice chat and some more of the Krug it was time to make the walk down to the gate.
I was greeted at the door by Lesia, the IFSM and shown to my seat by Tracy. I about fell over when I saw Tracy who is among the most stunning examples of our species I have ever made acquaintance with. Ken was the other excellent flight attendant in the F cabin. Interesting that Ken is YVR based and Tracy is based at HKG.
I'm in 2A for tonight and with the light 3/6 load I have the 1A / 2A side to myself.
Tracy inquired as to my beverage preference and I opted for the delicious 2007 Comtes and a glass of water.
The travel kit and pajamas were delivered. I asked Tracy if I might exchange the male kit for the female but she insisted I keep both.
Pajamas by PYE.
Getting situated with the Bose noise canceling headphones.
The cabin lights are dimmed for taxi and takeoff. The Captain gave his welcome aboard announcement and he could be a voice double for the late, great Alan Rickman. Is Hans Gruber flying the plane?!?! After a short taxi we depart from 22R.
Once the seatbelt sign is turned off, which is much sooner than it would be on a US based carrier, I head to the loo to don the lounge wear.
Fantastic Aesop amenities are stocked. There is an Aesop store not too far from home and I was wandering by and saw it for the first time. I popped in thinking it was funny, knowing the brand form CX, but once I saw the prices I wasn't laughing.
Cathay offers a supper service on this flight, similar to long haul midnight departures, except the caviar is omitted. It appears in my inebriated state I neglected to capture any pictures of the menu but I did partake in the service.
Tracy laid the table complete with bread basket and tantalizing garlic bread.
Searching for a video program to enjoy during the meal I stumbled upon one of my favorite Christopher Guest movies, Best In Show. He gets so much out of this cast, it's no wonder he goes back to them time after time.
I opted to start with the soup. A delicious mushroom soup garnished with chive oil.
Oops, the garlic bread hopped out of the basket during turbulence and landed in the soup. Guess I have to eat it now.
For the main dish I opted for the stir flied beef from the "Chinese Favorites" section. I selected the sublime Lynch Bages to accompany the dish. I very much enjoyed the dish. the meat was very tender and the seasoning was spot on.
I opted for a sweet next, uncharacteristically, rather than the cheese. It was a lovely raspberry cake.
Dinner was quick and efficient with friendly exceptional service. After the meal was cleared and the table stored I lounged for a few minutes with the Glenmorangie Signet, a fantastic rich dram.
I gave into the urge to sleep around Madison Wisconsin. The good dent I made in the Comtes and the Lynch Bages are certainly co-conspirators in this desire to sleep.
I requested the turndown service and Ken did the honors. The CX bed is legendary. A spacious sleep surface with quality bedding.
I slept well enough that the sound of arrival announcements was my wake up call. We touched down at YVR around 1:00.
The aircraft resting at YVR before the continuation to HKG. Interesting that it has the new livery yet not he refreshed interior.
The Ground Service: N/A. I arrived before the check in counters were open and used a mobile boarding pass.
The Lounge: I've opined on the AA Flagship First Dining several times now and it really is a strong feature. The food was acceptable even if they were out of various items or simply neglected to plate them. The service in the lounge was truly impressive and whatever was lacked in polish and precision was more than compensated for with kindness and good intentions.
The Cabin: It's a timeless layout that still feels special after all these years. The 6 seat cabin is both open and private. The bed is legendary and truly very comfortable.
The Crew: Ken and Kelly were perfect. Friendly, efficient, very conscientious. Truly assets to the CX organization.
The Food and Beverage: A fine meal for the late departure. The Comtes and the Lynch Bages are world class wines and make for a special experience whenever you take them.
Overall: I'll agree with the Internet that this is the best way to traverse North America. Especially if YVR is your final destination. I arrived at 1am and slept on the floor of the check in area until security opened at 4:30am. Oh the glamor of first class travel!
Thank you very much for reading and happy flying.