Intro: Building A New Zealand Adventure Around A One Way Qantas Flight
Part 1: Getting To New Zealand Via Asia
Part 2: Spending A Couple Recovery Days In Kuala Lumpur
Part 3: Exploring New Zealand’s Beautiful North Island
Part 4: Exploring New Zealand’s Beautiful South Island
Part 5: A Short Stopover In Sydney And The Ride Home
Even though it would cost me two awards to get to New Zealand via Asia, I welcomed the opportunity to fly on Cathay Pacific again, in first, though this time on the 777. I had previously flown up front on the 747 out of San Francisco, and it was a spectacular experience. This would also allow me the flexibility to stopover for a few nights in Kuala Lumpur, from where I found excellent award availability to Auckland.
Cathay is not known for having special ground services or access for their premium passengers (like Thai or Lufthansa,) but I arrived at the Tom Bradley International Terminal with plenty time to enjoy some good TSA security theater, and to check out the new One World business lounge.
The lounge is definitely an improvement over the old one, but it was really packed when I was there. There must have been a delayed or cancelled flight at some point because there were people camped out everywhere. The Qantas (first class) lounge is set to open in the next few months, and will likely alleviate some of the over crowding.
The food options in the lounge are standard pastries, breads, eggs, fruit etc., not too terrible. However it did receive a ‘B’ rating from the health department, incentive enough for me to wait to eat on the plane. There is also a vegetable juicer, which I had never seen before in a lounge.
After having a look around the lounge, I made my way to the terminal. I hadn’t noticed last visit just how spectacular and well designed the new building is. With huge glass windows, great tarmac views, comfortable seating with ample power ports, fabulous food and shopping options, there isn’t much to fault
Soon boarding commenced and I was instructed to board through the special first class jet bridge where I eventually found and settled in to seat 1A. The CX 777 F cabin is pretty unique in that it only has six seats total. This gives the cabin a very open, spacious feel and in theory, more personalized service.
The seats are exceptionally wide, and each suite comes with its own closet.
It wasn’t long before the champagne was flowing and amenity kits and PJs were distributed. I changed immediately, and prepared for lift off.
Soon after takeoff, menus were passed out, and lunchtime meal service started with a caviar appetizer, served this flight chilled and with a proper mother of pearl spoon!
For my main course, I went with the Chinese option – stir fried Maine Lobster with ginger and spring onion. It was delicious.
Dessert was chocolate lava cake with ice cream and my favorite, English Breakfast tea served in a proper tea service with pralines!
Dinner was also listed on the menu, but I was too full to even contemplate it. Before long, the US based flight attendant looking after my side of the cabin came by to offer turn down service, which I happily accepted. It was technically just after noon L.A. time so I wasn’t tired in the slightest, but happy to have a comfortable flying bed to lounge in.
With no in flight wifi, I spent the next few hours watching the fairly extensive entertainment offerings. The screen was not quite up to par with some of the other carrier offerings, but did the trick.
After a few hours, I started to get a little hungry. I assumed dinner would be served shortly, so in the interim I went in search of my FA who up to now had been rather elusive. I ordered a Hong Kong style milk tea to help tide me over. You can’t fly Cathay without trying a milk tea!
After finishing the yummy tea, I eventually got up to remove the tray, as again there were no flight attendants in sight. A couple hours later, stomach noticeably grumbling, I again went in search of a flight attendant to inquire when dinner would be served. I eventually located someone in business class area who asked me what I wanted and said he’d relay the info. Shortly after, my table was made up for dinner.
We were less than two hours from landing when the meal arrived, and since I wasn’t overly impressed with the rushed choice I had made, I took a couple of bites and looked forward to dining in The Wing (first class lounge) once we landed. A short time later we were on the ground.
I have to say, the service this trip was a little off. Flight attendants were absent and little details like personalized hand-written welcome notes and ensuring passengers were attended to the entirety of the flight definitely went missing. The on board experience was something I expected to be stellar given the cabin size. Perhaps its a matter of US vs. Chinese based cabin crew. Not sure but it certainly wasn’t on par with my previous CX F experience (or those of others.)
First stop in HKG was The Wing, where I put my name on the list for a private cabana. Since remodeling the first lounge a few months ago, the cabanas no longer have windows – just a view of a wall. Plus, the shower is the sleeping room is the desk is the bathroom. I just wanted a shower, not an office or a bed, so it was all good.
After cleaning up, I headed to the sit down restaurant to get some food. I rarely get off a flight in a first class cabin hungry, but in this case I was. Which was a good thing because the food in The Wing restaurant is catered by The Peninsula, and is excellent. There is a full buffet, and also a menu to order from.
After a nice sit down meal, I headed of to spend the rest of my three hour layover wandering around the massive Hong Kong airport and checking out the other Cathay lounges. Most have them have been recently refurbished and are quite nice, with decent food options. All have a noodle bar, a nice feature!
Before long it was time to catch my onward Cathay flight to Kuala Lumpur. I settled into my Business class seat (in the two cabin a340) and immediately went comatose for the short three hour flight.