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Cathay Pacific Airways Business Class
CHECK-IN I arrived at the airport exactly two hours before departure. The security screening at the entrance to the check-in area was fast and perfunctory – they didn’t notice the bottle of water in my bag. Check-in at the dedicated Marco Polo desk was a breeze and passing through immigration only took a few minutes. The check-in experience was a pleasant surprise, compared with the often overcrowded arrival hall.
THE LOUNGE A short walk to the right from immigration, access to the business class lounge requires climbing some steps; however, when leaving, there was a doorman helping people carry their luggage down the stairs. The lounge is very pleasant with natural light and a sea view. A terrace nicely decorated with trees, statues and shrubs runs its full length. It also has a sea view and comfortable seats where smoking is permitted. The choice of food is not large but adequate, and includes nasi goreng, salads, sandwiches and cakes. Foot massage is available here, as well as at several other places in the airport.
BOARDING There is another security check before boarding, this one more thorough. Selected bags are also searched by hand. Boarding started early and there wasn’t a long queue at the entrance to either economy or business class.
THE SEAT The seat I was originally allocated had a broken armrest, so I had to change seats while drinks, which included orange juice, water and champagne, were being served. There were two empty seats behind me, but otherwise, business class was full. The fully flat seats are arranged 1-1-1 (A-D-K) in herringbone style on the new A330-33B and are divided by panels. On the right-hand panel are a coat hook, the television screen, the remote control, a fixture with an international plug and buttons to move the position of the seat, and a reading lamp. Noise-reducing earphones hang under the lamp. On the other side, there is a shelf large enough for a glass and two night lamps, which are on all the time. At the bottom of the panel, you find the in-flight magazine and a narrow holder with just enough space for a bottle of water and maybe reading glasses. When the seat is in reclined position, you find another narrow shelf for use.
There are 41 business class seats and 223 economy class seats.
WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE Because of the herringbone arrangement, all seats are easily accessible. The galley and WC are between rows 21 and 22, so those should be avoided. I sat in row 23, seat D and did not hear any noise or disturbance from that area. People wanting to sit next to each other should choose consecutive rows,
as the aisles separate seats in the same row.
THE FLIGHT We left on time at 1600 hours and soon enjoyed pre-dinner drinks and then the meal. The starter was an excellent prawn with mango salsa, marinated fennel and a mixed salad. In my case, that was followed by stir-fried chicken with black bean sauce and vegetables, but there was also a choice of lamb chops or vegetarian pasta. Cheese was offered, as well as tasty fruit slices and a chocolate mousse cake. There was some time before dinner and I quickly tried all the options on the entertainment system, which was really easy to operate. The system carries 100 movies, 350 television programmes, 888 CDs, 22 radio channels and 70 video games.
ARRIVAL After a short but refreshing nap, we arrived at Hong Kong International Airport right on time, with the flight taking four-and-a-half hours. It took only about 20 minutes to go through immigration and get my luggage.
PLANE TYPE A330-300 (33B)
SEAT CONFIGURATION 1-1-1
SEAT WIDTH 20in/50.8cm
SEAT PITCH N/A
SEAT RECLINE Fully flat
PRICE Internet price for mid-March is HK$15,270 (US$1,962) return
The herringbone seat set-up with high panels between the seats is rather narrow but it feels more spacious once the seat is reclined. It provides convenience and a good sleep, but having a relaxed chat with one’s travel companion isn’t possible.