- Introduction: Constructing — and Re-constructing — the Award Trip
- American Eagle DC – New York and the New Nicest JFK Airport Hotel, the Hilton
- Cathay Pacific First Class, JFK – Hong Kong
- The Wing lounge in Hong Kong and Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong – Kuala Lumpur
- Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
- Malaysia Airlines Business Class, Kuala Lumpur – Langkawi
- The Andaman Langkawi
- Malaysia Airlines Business Class, Langkawi – Kuala Lumpur
- Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur
- Things to See and Do in Kuala Lumpur
- Korean Airlines First Class, Kuala Lumpur – Seoul and the Korean Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul
- Korean Airlines First Class, Seoul – Washington Dulles
Hong Kong’s airport is almost always a long walk on arrival. You come in on the lower level and either proceed to immigration or to transfer security. Shoes don’t have to come off, there’s no liquid rule (which is why flights on US airlines and flights to the US require a separate liquid check at the gate — always annoying because you cannot buy a bottle of water at the airport and take it on the plane, I would hate to be flying economy from Hong Kong to the US without the ability to bring my own water onboard). Laptop does come out though, and my ‘TSA appoved’ laptop bag does me no good here.
Then it’s up the escalator to the departures level. Cathay Pacific’s primary lounges are the Pier (near gates in the 60s) and the Wing (near gate 5). In this case I’d be leaving for Kuala Lumpur from a gate near the Wing, so that’s the lounge I headed towards. I’ve always liked the Wing better than the Pier because the Pier is one floor below departures. The Wing has a better view of airport operations, and upstairs gives you a view into the terminal itself.
But the Wing has been in the midst of renovations, the business class side is done but the first class side is currently pretty limited with food available only in the business portion of the lounge (noodle bar, small buffet). I decided just to use the business class lounge, as long as there’s seating it’s perfectly convenient and really quite good post-renovation (and it wasn’t terrible before the renovation).
The first class side really has needed work done to bring it up to standard. They’re getting rid of the ‘library’ which was underutilized space. They’re turning the dining area into menu service and no longer just buffet. And they’re renovating ‘the cabanas’ shower rooms. It’ll be great to see what the place looks like come February when they’re supposed to finish.
In the meantime, the business class side it was for this visit.
Reception for the business class side is on the departures level (the first class lounge has an entrance one level up, just a quick left turn past immigration, but can also be accessed via the departures level by taking the elevator up).
I took a shower and the shower rooms are great.
After freshening up I had a seat near the buffet and windows looking out over the tarmac.
I wasn’t hungry though so I just grabbed some water, I had eaten plenty on the plane and knew I’d be getting a meal on my next flight as well.
I had about 45 minutes available at this point to catch up on email that had accumulated since taking off from New York. It was a business day, so I played some quick triage, and soon enough it was time to board my flight to Kuala Lumpur.
Of course ‘time to board’ in Asia doesn’t mean when the monitor says the flight is boarding. Rather, it means ‘wait until the monitor says last call and then start heading over to the gate.’ I could see flights show up as boarding that weren’t taking off for an hour. It’s strange every time I’m in Hong Kong on Bangkok especially to see flights supposedly boarding so early when usually they’re not, but still directing people to the gate. I don’t go off of the flight status (unless the status is ‘delayed’), but my watch instead, and in this case I knew I was about a 5 minute walk to the gate and I certainly didn’t need to be onboard more than 20 minutes prior to departure.
When I made it to the gate there was a long line of coach passengers waiting to board and no one queued for business class. So I walked right up on got on the plane, one of the earlier business class passengers to do so. Over the next 15 minutes the cabin filled up until it was completely full.
This flight featured Cathay’s standard regional business class product, which is certainly fine for a flight that’s under 4 hours. It’s a bit better than what US airlines offer domestically, closer to old recliner-style international business class. But it’s certainly not a market leader. Cathay will begin retrofitting their intra-Asia fleet with a new business class through 2013 and 2014, although even that represents only a marginal improvement. Nothing wrong with the product, certainly not as good as what Singapore offers, but perfectly fine.
I watched an episode of Magic City, ate, and napped, and that pretty much took up the entire flight.
The menu for the evening was:
Fresh seasonal fruit
Steamed black cod with wood ear mushroom and preserved vegetables, steamed jasmine rice and stir fried choy sum
Grilled Australian prime beef with onion and mustard sauce, roasted new potatoes, carrot and asparagus
Roasted duck in rice vermicelli soup
Tea and coffee
A flight attendant came up to me prior to taking meal orders, even though I was on an award ticket he acknowledge my Oneworld Emerald status and wanted to ensure I got my first choice of meals so took my order first in the cabin.
I had the beef, and immediately after ordering regretted not asking for the roasted duck soup. The meal was fine but I was so tired I didn’t snap any photos.
We were on the ground about 20 minutes late, deplaned, and made the short walk through the terminal to the train from the satellite gates to passport control and baggage claim. There were only a few people ahead of us, we cleared quickly, baggage was already up and once through a representative with a Grand Hyatt sign was waiting immediately upon entering the arrivals hall.