Cathay Pacific has my all-around first class, though it certainly isn’t the newest product.

Their food is good enough, though not fantastic. I always choose the Chinese entree, I do love having dim sum for breakfast, and the smoked salmon and caviar is good.

Singapore probably does a better job with main meals, and they serve both Dom Perignon and Krug rather than just Krug. But Cathay does a better job with mid-flight snack options. (I think Asiana and ANA do a better job with food than either Cathay or Singapore does.)

Their lounges in Hong Kong are fine. I like The Wing’s first class lounge, and I haven’t been there in the past few months so haven’t seen the refresh. But there’s no real special ground service — such as escorts to and from the flight, golf carts, special security and passport control.

I’ve always liked the amenity kits and pajamas, though I previously reported the rumor that Cathay Pacific would be changing their designer pajamas. And they are, which is the last thing I’d refresh about their first class since Cathay’s Shanghai Tang PJs are my favorite.

The service in Cathay First is very good. It’s not as super-attentive as Singapore, if you’re an American used to US airlines you need to know in advance that you must call for assistance (the flight attendant call button isn’t just for emergencies, and you won’t be met by government officials upon landing if you use it). They stay out of the cabin so as not to disturb you, and come quite happily and quickly when you call.

They also have an excellent, extensive on-demand entertainment system.

But what’s the most standout about Cathay First, and why even though it isn’t the newest product it remains my favorite, is the seat. It isn’t a modern “suite with doors” though it is a suite with tremendous privacy. It’s as wide as any seat, plenty of personal space, and it is just darned comfortable — both the seat and the bedding. I sleep better in a Cathay First seat than any other airline’s product.

So I find it intriguing that they’re tweaking the product — not replacing it, mind you, just making it incrementally better.

According to CX World, the refresh will include:

..glossy dark grey texture material on the outer surface of the suite, warm-toned natural leather for most of the interior surfaces and a plush burgundy carpet in the aisle.

Seats will be refitted with a custom-made fabric that is soft and smooth to touch, while individual artworks, made of copper and steel and created by Maria Lobo and Linda Leviton, will complement the overall cabin design.

There will be greater adjustability to the tray table, a drink holder on the side console, a bigger closet built into the seat (which is great, I can’t fit my rollaboard in now if the bag is stuffed), touch screen seat and light controls (presumably similar to Etihad), new bedding and new pajamas from Pye. They’re adding Bose QuietComfort noise-canceling headphones. And the lavatory will get a refresh as well.

The cabin will debut July 27, and will roll out across the airline’s 777-300ERs. Cathay’s 747s will not get the redesign as the aircraft are slated for retirement. It’s just another reason to prefer the 777 — many like the 747 first class in the nose, I will take the 777 every time for 6 seats rather than 9 and also because I find a smoother ride on 777s.

I haven’t seen any photos of the new cabin mockup yet, so I’ve contacted Cathay’s PR folks hoping for some. I’ve also just gone ahead and reserved an award ticket for next year so that I have a good chance of experiencing the new cabin.

(HT: JALFlyer via Milepoint)

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  1. Eugene said,

    Hmm I’m flying JFK-HKG on July 27th 130am flight, I’ll bet that this is still the old F. Maybe I’ll get the new one on my way home.

  2. Mike @ The #hustle Blog said,

    Super excited about this because my wife and I absolutely LOVE flying in CX F!

  3. Beachfan said,

    Spot on analysis of CX first which is why I prefer it to SQ F. However, once I did receive ground escort in HK for a transfer. I think it’s available upon request.

  4. Steven S said,

    Now now, no bitching about being stuck in the “old” CAthay First. S
    till the best flight I ever took!

  5. Trevor said,

    Gary – do you have any familiarity with Pye with regard to the pajamas?

  6. jason said,

    I love Cathay, and can’t stand SQ intrusive service with a fake smile.

    Anyway, the seats remind me of Frasier’s dad recliner. Very old but damn comfy.

    The only thing I always skip is that caviar (presented without the tin container). Not sure what fish roe they are serving. Sincerely hope it does not come from Chinese farms.

  7. dhammer53 said,

    George is going to pick on you for not putting a credit card link in your post! LOL.

  8. blueline7 said,

    Do you think there is any chance that YYZ will reintroduce F?

  9. John said,

    Tried Cathay Pacific first class last year for the first time, on a Hong Kong trip. Couldn’t think of anything to complain about. Great food & wine. Rarely had to use the button as the attendants were very attentive.
    Best first class I’ve encountered, but I’ll try your Singapore suggestion sometime.

  10. Mike said,

    @Jason since you don’t eat the caviar why do you care where it comes from?

  11. Randy said,

    What’s this about pushing the button? I’ve never once pushed the button on a CX flight (neither F nor J). I’ve flown F on 777 and 747 and always found the service great — never felt the need to summon a FA.

  12. Frank said,

    I am excited to see PYE Pajamas. I love their shirts and think they will be better than Shanghai Tang for sure.

  13. Mel said,

    @Jason – I asked the FA about the caviar and she showed me the container. It is from France. I asked for a second serving and she gladly obliged, along with the wonderful Balik smoked salmon. My wife and I finished a bottle of Krug by ourselves!!!

  14. YVR said,

    I fly the CX First Class product about 2-3 times per year and I am very pleased to see that CX has decided to change the supplier of their sleep suit pajamas. In the last 7 years, I have noticed that the quality of the Shanghai Tang product go deteriorate. From the material to the stitching, I found that the product was not as good as it used to be. Perhaps this was also noticed by CX which prompted the change in suppliers. I will look forward to trying the Pye sleep suit pajamas next month when I fly HKG-YVR.

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