The airline with the best average rating is Cathay Pacific with 8.4/10.
The average flight time is 14 hours and 24 minutes.More information
Hello flight-report community, and welcome to the main event of this series of reports — flying Cathay Pacific’s First Class from Hong Kong to Chicago! This is the segment around which the other five flights (and three tickets) on this trip was pieced together, and far and away, the segment to which I was looking forward the most.
Booking this flight — and indeed, this whole trip — began last September, when I was using award.flight to try to find any CX First Class availability in January. Finding a HKG-US flight in First on a Thursday was jus perfect for me, so I was overjoyed to find this flight was available.
I called in to Alaska, and was able to grab this seat for 75,000 miles and $61.43 USD in taxes and fees, plus Alaska’s lame $12.50 partner award booking fee.
And then I set out to find my way to Hong Kong, and then home from Chicago to make this trip a reality.
.. he had just hopped bus from HKG to his hotel in Sheung Wan in hopes of getting some sleep.
Yeah, that didn’t really happen.
I pretty much napped a few time through my day in Hong Kong, but got enough useful time to visit a few favourite spots and have a few favourite eats while I was in town. Things seemed pretty chill in Hong Kong when it comes to the concern for the coronavirus, unlike Beijing where I had my temperature check on arrival, when I got to the hotel, and when I returned to the airport.
I try to get to sleep early the night before my flight, and I get a few hours of sleep, but wake up at about 1:00 am. So I get some work done, check in with home, and putter until about 5:45, when I head out to grab the airport bus right back to HKG.
On my way there, I decide to try to check in on my phone, since they now check your flight credentials before letting you into the building at HKG in the post-protests world. I’m not able to issue a boarding pass, but I am able to check in. And here’s a pleasant surprise from check-in.
When last I looked at this flight, there was someone sitting in 1K. But at least for now, it appears maybe not. Will I be alone in First Class again? If so, that would be a nice added bonus.
The bus pulls into Terminal 1 of HKG about 6:25 am, and already there are long lines of passengers heading in, which is a bit bottlenecked by the documents check before you can get inside. But, typically for Hong Kong, the lines may be long but they move very quickly.
It’s only about two minutes later than I’m inside the bustling Terminal 1.
First Class check-in is open, although not exactly busy at this early hour. As I approach, the agents disperse to various terminals. It takes just a minute or two to get checked in, and a boarding pass is issued as well as a lounge invite and an invitation to use the courtesy channel for security. Who says CX doesn’t have ground services aside from lounges?
Quite a long line for the security checkpoint.
This lineup looks much better to me.
Between the courtesy lane security being empty and the new automated immigration checkpoint gates, it takes me a whopping four minutes to get through security and immigration, and be released airside at HKG. Wonderfully efficient.
Alright, now for the fun part. Let’s go lounge-hopping.
The Wing is my first stop, located just to the left of the security checkpoint. The entrance to the First Class part of the lounge doesn’t look like much, but it’s a fine lounge inside.
Immediately inside the entrance is the champagne bar. We’ll stop back here a bit later.
A library area.
General seating space.
The bar’s quiet. Come on, it’s almost 7:00 in the morning!
A few computers for those who need to connect.
Buffet food offerings for those who are so inclined.
I am not. But I am very hungry, so it’s off to the sitdown restaurant part of The Wing.
The restaurant area is large and there aren’t many people here at this hour. There’s a buffet along the back as well, but who cares about that when there’s an a la carte menu.
I order the Western set, along with orange juice and an espresso. The drinks are quickly brought by.
About this time, I notice this little delight on my boarding pass.
Hopefully, it doesn’t mean anything more than an extra security check before boarding.
Breakfast is pretty good, and really hits the spot. Drinks are refilled very proactively along the way.
With breakfast done, I decide to check out a Cabana. Unfortunately, they’re all occupied at this moment, but the attendant gives me a pager and tells me it’ll probably be about twenty minutes.
No problem. It’s time to see what’s on offer at the champagne bar. This bottle is my first sample, and I find it quite pleasant.
Outside, the sun is coming up and it’s getting easier to see all the hometown birds.
Before I can try a second bottle, the pager goes off, so it’s cabana time.
These cabanas are definitely the best part of The Wing — a great private little space to shower, or bath, or nap, or clean up, or all of the above.
I soak in the tub for a while and feel quite relaxed by the time it’s done, and energized to try some more champagne.
Perrier Jouet Grand Brut is my second sample, and I think I prefer it to the previous pour. although it’s close.
But my definite favourite of the three champagnes is the Deutz rosé, which is very enjoyable indeed.
With that, I’ve done about all there is to do at The Wing, so I decide to head over to the Pier. But first, I head over to gate 5, form which we’ll be departing this morning.
There’s a plane there alright, but she’s a little hard to see. A good view of the construction of the pedestrian bridge from T1 to the satellite concourse, though.
The main wing of the terminal is looking good in its Chinese New Year’s finest.
It’s about a ten minute walk up to The Pier, which is downstairs from the main concourse.
The Pier is definitely “the cooler” of CX’s two First Class lounges. The lounge unfolds off this central hallway with distinctive and beautiful tables
A bar at one end of the lounge.
A few different general seating options.
Lots of reading materials.
"The Bureau" is the business section, with a handful of desks.
The Pantry for those who want a buffet-style snack or drink.
And at the far end from the bar, the dining room, which has a real English supper club kind of feel to it.
I'm quickly shown to a seat and a menu – which looks awfully familiar – is offered.
Things are relatively quiet so it's easy to get a few pictures of the dining room.
I have some sparkling water to drink, and request the eggs hollandaise, which are quickly brought by. They're pretty good.
No visit to a CX lounge for me is complete without enjoying a bowl of dan dan mien noodles. Delicious!
But my favourite feature of The Pier are the day rooms, small suites that offer a private place to lounge or hang out, with amazing views of the apron.
Unfortunately, the apron right around here is pretty quiet in the time I'm visiting. And although the WiFi is fine in the rest of the lounge, it really seems to struggle here. My notebook, my iPad, and my phone all really have problems with staying connected and getting useful access when they do connect.
Nevertheless, it's a great way to hang out for a while. But soon enough, we're getting close to boarding time, so I leave the lounge any make my way back to Gate 5.
Things are much busier when I return.
There are lot of security staff doing the mandatory questions for every passenger on a flight headed to the U.S. I point out my SSSS rating and ask the young woman asking me the questions if I need to do anything else. She says that no, it'll just be a quick check before boarding.
Boarding begins with a bunch of passengers requiring extra time being welcomed in for another round of questioning. And then they open it up for First Class and CX top-tiers.
I get the same woman who asked me the questions a few minutes earlier, who greets me with a "We meet again!" and asks a few more questions before sending me on my way.
Of course, my boarding pass won't scan because of all the Ses, so I do get a quick secondary check, which doesn't take more than another minute. Time to board my plane!
From: Hong Kong (HKG)
To: Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
ATD (STD): 12:00 (11:30)
ATA ( STA): 11:53 (12:15)
I'm greeted at the door by a flight attendant who recognizes my seat number and immediately greets me by name. "We've been waiting for you," she tells me and introduces herself as Alex. She and her partners Kristy.
She shows me to seat 1A, and confirms what my in-app snooping earlier led me to believe – I am indeed alone in F today. On the one hand, I feel very fortunate. On the other, I think I know why CX is killing F on this route.
Alex mentions a few times that they're offering their "new" First Class service on this route, meaning there are some new details. I look forward to checking them out. But for now, let's take a look at the suite.
Here are the pillows that come in that super-wide seat. I really love the pillow attached to the top of the seat. Best headrest ever.
Legroom for miles. There's no overhead bins in CX F, so storage is either under the ottoman ahead of you, or in a closet next to your monitor.
Speaking of monitors – it looks like there's a new display attached to the old seat. This could be good. Note the door for the closet to the right of the screen.
A lousy picture of the USB and AC ports in the window-side wall of the suite.
Three big windows and a flower. Just fantasic.
Seat controls on the touchscreen to the right, IFE remote to the left, and a storage cubby below.
Reading light on the window-side wall.
And another on the aisle-side wall, as well as safety card and other documentation, and seat controls for use in bed mode.
I activate the screen, and it is indeed a new CX IFE experience for me. The system is super-responsive, sometimes perhaps a little too responsive – and much higher-definition than the previous generation.
Alex offers champagne, and who am I to say no? They're pouring Deutz, and it's quite lovely. It's accompanied by the first of many hot towels, and some warmed mixed nuts.
CX's signature "welcome aboard" note is also included on the tray. It's a really nice gesture and keepsake – and another chance to remind about the new F experience.
Next, Alex drops off the amenity kit, headphones and pajamas. She explains it's an all-new amenity kit, and promotes Bamford (the amenity kit provider) as an eco-friendly brand.
Same Bose headphones as ever – an excellent offering.
The new amenity kit deconstructed. As long as it's got CX's best-in-class sleep mask, I'm fine with it, although I preferred the old style container.
During boarding, the service leader for the flight stops by to introduce herself and add her welcome and thanks. We discuss the private cabin, and she relates the story of flying an Amsterdam flight that got switched from a 777 with F to one without. There was a couple booked in F, and they were less than happy. I can only imagine.
A look out the window as boarding continues. Unlike my previous long-haul, we had more than two dozen passengers on board today.
Kristy is right there with refills – I have three glasses of Deutz before we push back.
The safety video plays after boarding wraps up, but before we push back.
Afterwards, Alex pops by to offer me the menu. She explains that the new dining concept is complete flexibility – order anything I want, any time I want. And Kristy will be by to take my order. A fourth glass of champagne is offered, but I'm good until we get into the air.
Gone is the traditional clipboard menu, but I like the flexibility offered.
Pushback gives us a great look at the work on the pedestrian bridge.
As we taxi, Kristy offers a blanket and says something about cabin temperature that I don't quite catch.
It's worth noting that this was not the typical hot-cabin Asian carrier experience. It was actually cool enough when I was sleeping that I felt very nice snuggled up with the duvet. Very nice.
A short taxi, and off we go!
It's a perfectly clear afternoon, which means some great views as we climb up over Hong Kong.
Once we're past 10,000 feet, Kristy appears with my drink and an amuse bouche of pooched shrimp with avocado and cream cheese,
I'm not feeling very hungry after a couple of big breakfasts, so I tell Kristy I'd like to have the caviar service and the afternoon tea set now, and I'll have a bigger meal a bit later in the flight. At this point, my lack of sleep over the last few days is catching up on me, and I'd really like to get to sleep pretty quickly.
Before I head to the lav to change into the pajamas, a shot of everyone but me in the cabin for the flight.
That never gets old.
There are two lavs for First Class, on either side of the short aisle that leads to the flight deck. This is the lav against the port side of the plane, which is a little bigger, and better appointed, with a fold-down bench for changing.
The pajamas are a nice purple shade, and are immediately my favourite among my CX pajama collection, which is mostly pretty washed out grey/blue in tone.
Back at my seat, the place is set for the caviar, and it delivered. As always, magnificent.
When I'm done that, the tea service is delivered. Or, I suppose, the champagne service is delivered.
Dinner wraps up with a hot towel and a couple of pralines in a box. I also request a pot of the "Calm" tea, and it's cheerfully delivered.
This is my first time on a CX flight with WiFi, and I'm delighted to discover that WiFi is on the house for First Class passengers. The prices are reasonable for everyone else too.
The WiFi service is fast and solid, but seems to have trouble staying connected. I have to log again on a regular basis. But still, it's nice to have WFi for this long a flight. Corporate shot time!
I'm getting pretty tired, so I ask Alex to make up my bed, and she does. Looks good enough to sleep in.
She also offers a bottle of Evian, and as I'm settling in, she offers an extra pillow. I request a firm pillow, which is the same size as the other pillow, just more firm.
We're just coming up on Japan as I get ready for some sleep.
Between the pillows, the plush duvet and the very comfortable bed roll underneath, it's a great bed, and I'm quickly asleep. I get about five and a half hours of solid sleep, and as I wake up, we're coming up on Alaska.
Time to check out the IFE system. I know the rest of the family has seen this already, so I might as well see it too. Very cute.
When Kristy sees I'm up, she pops by with a hot towel and what she calls a wakeup tonic. It tastes like raspbeery with other tastes mixed in, but it's light and cold and refreshing and goes down very nicely.
I request the lunch meal now, and go with the western menu, with the beef fillet as the main course. Just some sparkling water to drink right now, and I'll have some red wine a bit later.
The table is quickly set.
And a bread basket offered. The garlic bread is the highlight here, and it is very good.
Up next, the soup. It tastes less like lime and coconut that I would have liked, but it's still quite nice.
Up next, the salad. A very different kind of salad, between the cheese, the lamb cutlet, and the roasted vegetables. But it's very good – much better than I expected, and I would have enjoyed it even without the lamb. But the lamb is delicious.
My wine order – the Shiraz. Masterful. Just wonderful.
And finally, the main course. The presentation is simple, but it's tasty enough and perfectly prepared medium as requested. It's presented with a very nice green peppercorn sauce, and a spot of English mustard.
I'm pretty stuffed at this point, so I decline dessert, and just have the cheese course to wrap up dinner. It's a nice little treat to end the meal.
And we wrap up yet another hot towel, and another couple of pralines.
By this time, we're getting closer to North America, about to cross over Vancouver on our way over to Chicago.
With my movie over, I decide it's time to get a bit more sleep.
On one hand, I feel like I'm sleeping away the whole First Class experience. On the other hand, it's such a comfortable bed.
And this tends to be the way my quick turnarounds to Asia go. By the time I'm coming home, I'm so overtired that I end up sleeping almost all the way back across the Pacific. Knowing this, I should fly "the main event" on the outbound if I'm going to, so I can be awake for more of it, and just pick a convenient bed for the way back.
But then I wouldn't get to hit those awesome lounges in HKG.
I end up sleeping for another two and a half hours or so.
I spend the next hour or so lounging around, listening to podcasts, and slipping in and out of consciousness.
About 45 minutes out of Chicago, Alex approaches to let me know we're starting our descent, and asks if I'd like to have anything else to eat. I'm not very hungry, but I put together a quick and relatively light breakfast menu.
Up first, another wakeup tonic and hot towel.
Then a capuccino to provide some much-needed caffiene.
A bread basket with some pastries, a muffin, and the like is offered.
A plate of nice fresh fruit. I appreciate the variety beyond the usual fruit salad suspects.
And finally, the main course of chia seed pudding. This was a bit of a risky pick, but I didn't want more eggs or anything as heavy as that, and I have to say, this knocked it out of the park. It was just what I was looking for – super tasty, light and yet satisfying. Yum.
And rounding out the meal service, one more cappuccino to get me ready to face the day.
After breakfast, I change into my street clothes and pack up my gear, then chat with Alex a bit. She comments that she's surprised I slept so much, but I tell her about my lack of sleep over the next few days. She rightly points out that I've hopefully minimized jetlag by sleeping a lot on the flight and waking up in the morning North American time.
She says they're on a 24-hour layover, so no big plans. And she relates the story of having a layover in Toronto one time when it was -24 C. Good times.
Soon, we're on final approach into O'Hare. It's a low ceiling, but eventually we break through.
It's a short taxi over to Terminal 5, where we park a couple of gates down from Air India. Sadly, this incredible flight experience has come to an end.
I say my goodbyes to Alex and Kristy as well as the service leader, and depart via door 2L. It appears based on the state of the J mini-cabin that they had a pretty decent load in J.
There doesn't seem to be much international traffic at this hour, and there's no wait for Global Entry terminals, so in no time at all I find myself landside in the ever-charming Terminal 5 at ORD.
From here, it's just a matter of heading over to Terminal 2 and waiting for my flights home.
But that's another story for another flight-report.
Thanks for joining me for the "main event" of this series, and I hope to see you on future adventures.
The quintessentially fantastic Cathay Pacific First Class experience. I'll be sad to see them stop offering F on the ORD route -- all of my CX F longhauls have been from or to O'Hare.
Great service from a great crew, a legendary seat, and a nice opportunity to try out the details of the refreshed First Class service on Cathay.
A great memory that will stay among my favourite flights for a long time. Even if I did sleep for a lot of it.