Last year Timothy and I decided to have a short weekend trip to the sun during the Winter and we decided to head for Singapore, a city that was on Timothy’s to visit list. Since we would only be there for a weekend we decided to splash out and fly business class to fight the effects of jet lag and get the most out of our days there.
Of course we looked at and compared a lot of flight options using the handy tool of Google Flights, before deciding on flying there on Cathay Pacific from Amsterdam as this was the best price-quality offer.
Cathay Pacific is considered to be one of the best airlines in the world flying a young fleet of aircraft and having excellent staff and on-board service. Their long haul business class is using the so called ‘reverse herringbone‘ configuration, which gives every seat in business class a direct aisle access. The seat is slightly angled towards either the windows (at the window side, ideally for single travellers) or the middle of the aircraft (best suited for people travelling together).
When the day of the trip finally came we had a swift transfer with the Thalys high speed train from our home base in Antwerp to Schiphol Airport.
Upon arrival the check-in desks for Cathay Pacific where supposedly just opened, but when coming up to the queue it was still closed off with a barrier and the staff that was present didn’t really seem interested to be dealing with passengers and preferred continuing chatting amongst each other.
After waiting for a good ten minutes we approached the staff to ask whether we had to be there to check-in for business class, after which she opened the barrier for us and we were checked-in by one of her colleagues who just did what she had to do without smiling or genuine friendliness. After this first experience with Cathay Pacific airline staff we were disappointed and a bit worried about how the rest of the experience would be like.
As we were travelling in business class we had access to the British Airways lounge in Amsterdam, it is located in between the D and E gates along ‘Holland Boulevard‘ on a newly constructed upper floor. The lounge still had a very clean and fresh feel about it with several seating areas to choose from.
As it was morning there was still a breakfast spread to munch on in the lounge, with some small breads and pastries and of course some Dutch cheese and yoghurt to go along. Even at this hour there was a full open bar and we made use of this to start out trip with a glass of sparkling wine. All in all the lounge seemed to be a solid product, especially for the British Airways short haul flights that mostly make use of this lounge, the only negative point was that the lounge did not have its own toilets and you had to exit the lounge to use public restrooms along the corridor.
Amsterdam (AMS) 13:14 to Hong Kong (HKG) 06:34
Flight time 10 hours and 20 minutes
Boeing B777-300ER B-HNR
Delivered to Cathay Pacific on 27 September 2015
As the plane would be boarding from gate G6, which is quite a lengthy walk from the BA lounge we headed there early. As boarding time arrived business class boarded first and thus we were amongst the first to enter the plane. Upon entering we were immediately greeted by the very friendly on-board staff and shown to our seats, at the right hand side of the aircraft in the front business class cabin. The seat itself was comfortable and spacious. It was easy to transform into a full bed and the several different stowage possibilities around the seat where highly appreciated. There was a small storage space under the left armrest where you could put your shoes and across from it you could find the magazine pouch with the in-flight magazine, the duty-free shopping and the safety card.
Further along the seat in front of you, there is the TV monitor, which can be stowed away if you prefer to and an ottoman to rest your feet on. At the right hand side you have the seat controls, the entertainment system remote and some power and USB connections. Right behind this you can find a small storage space containing the noise cancelling headphones with a vanity mirror inside and ideal to put small stuff like your passport and phone away.
Along the window there is a small fixed table to put small stuff on like a drink, the main dining table is stowed away under there and can be easily swivelled and folded into place should this be necessary. Under the table you still have a storage compartment which I used to stow my blanket and pillow when I didn’t need it and a small pouch to put a water bottle in.
While on the ground we were offered a pre-departure beverage with a choice between water, orange juice and champagne. This was followed by a hot towel, the amenity kit and the menu for today’s flight.
As there where a number of no-shows the pushback and departure was slightly delayed, but this time was made up for in the air (with an early arrival in Hong Kong). Once we got airborne we were in for a choppy ride because of weather conditions and this would remain for the duration of the flight.
Right after take-off we were offered a drink and some warm nuts and I decided to try out one of their signature cocktails, the ‘Pacific Sunrise‘, which was made fresh and tasted deliciously. Soon after the table was set with a table cloth and we received our starter, some salmon and a salad along with a selection of warm breads (with some delicious garlic bread). For my main course I decided to go for the duck, which was delicious. This was followed by a selection of cheese and an apple tart (of course Timothy tried out the chocolate mousse) finished off with a cup of tea and a chocolate.
After I finished watching my movie I put the seat in full flat bed mode and slept for a few hours. Unfortunately halfway through the flight it got quite warm in the cabin which caused me to wake up and not really sleeping much more the rest of the flight. I then ordered some ice cream and a cup of tea while watching a movie.
About two hours prior to landing breakfast was served and I decided to go for the safe option with an omelette while Timothy tried one of the Asian options. The odd thing about the breakfast was that you were first served the ‘sweet’ part with some fresh fruits, pastries and some yoghurt before receiving the warm main ‘savoury’ dish, while I would preferred it the other way around (Force of habit).
The landing was smooth and after a short taxi to the gate we joined the long queue for Transit security. Once we were though we headed to the main terminal building for a visit to ‘The Wing‘ business lounge, one of the Cathay Pacific business lounges scattered throughout Hong Kong Airport. After the long flight we had we first took a shower in one of the well-equipped shower rooms downstairs before feeling refreshed and heading upstairs to enjoy a drink and a bite with a view on the airport activity before boarding our next flight.
Hong Kong (HKG) 09:30 to Singapore Changi (SIN) 13:12
Flight time 3 hours 43 minutes
Airbus A350-900 B-LRS
Delivered to Cathay Pacific on 30 august 2017
The flight boarded from gate 2, right in front of the lounge so we only went there around boarding time. I was highly excited for my first flight on-board an Airbus A350 which is currently (2018) one of the newest planes in the sky. Upon entering you could clearly see this was still a new bird, with a very light and airy cabin and some beautiful mood lighting.
Even the business class seat got a refresh, the entertainment screen is bigger with a better resolution and airshow while the remote controller has a smartphone like screen enabling you to choose between various options of viewing the content that interests you most. Unfortunately the seat felt slightly narrower and when in full flat mode you shoulder and arm would be pressed against the seat next to you.
Also the stowage areas where a bit rearranged, your shoe compartment was now under your feet while the water bottle could be stored under the left armrest. All connection and power ports where now inside of the small closet with the headphones and strangely enough the seat made more noises when moving into a different position.
As this was considered a ‘regional’ flight we didn’t get an amenity kit and a much thinner blanket but all other pre-departure offerings where similar to our previous flight. During take-off you could clearly notice this was a plane with newer technology as the noise level in the cabin was lower. The nicest thing however was the fact that the toilets had their own outside windows, bringing in some light (of course a lot people close the window blind during their ‘business’, scared that someone might look inside when cruising along at 36000 feet).
After takeoff service commenced with a drink round, followed by a similar breakfast offering as on our previous flight, this time I went for the slightly ‘lighter’ dim sum offering as I was still stuffed from the food on my previous flight.
Because I didn’t sleep as well as I had hoped on the flight from Amsterdam I decided to put the seat into bed mode and nap for about a solid two hours until descend into Singapore started. After I went for a quick toilet break right before the cabin was prepared for landing one of the flight attendants spontaneously came to me with a glass of water which was right what I needed as I felt a bit dehydrated. This is what I consider true service, keeping an eye on small gestures like this makes you feel really appreciated as a costumer.
After another smooth landing we arrived at the beautiful brand new Terminal 4 in Singapore, with almost no queue at immigration we were through in no-time and took a taxi to our hotel, The Intercontinental Singapore Robertson Quay. We’ll post a review in the coming days.
Singapore Changi (SIN) 18:19 to Hong Kong (HKG) 21:58
Flight time 3 hours 40 minutes
Airbus A350-900 B-LRT
Delivered to Cathay Pacific on 30 September 2017
Typically all good things come to an end and after a very nice and sunny weekend in Singapore we found ourselves again in Terminal 4 to check-in for our flight back home. When we first entered it was a bit confusing as there seemed to be only check-in machines, but after looking around we found the manned business class check-in counter where the friendly agent checked us in and wished us a pleasant flight. Quite a contrast from our experience in Amsterdam!.
Going through passport control and security went almost too smooth, I never had such a nice and quick experience as in Singapore.
After security we walked through the lovely terminal and headed up one level to the Cathay Pacific lounge. Upon entering you could see it was still a brand new location, the only downside being that there are almost no outside views except for a corner at the very end of the lounge. The option of ordering some fresh dim sum or noodles was very nice, the grape Fanta I tried along with it not so much.
Unfortunately Cathay Pacific uses some of the furthest gates in Terminal 4, meaning you still have to walk a bit from the lounge to the boarding gate. As our plane was parked at the furthest gate of the terminal we weren’t able to take a proper picture of it either.
The flight itself was a carbon copy of the flight to Singapore, same plane, same route. The most remarkable was however that even though the plane was only about four months old the seat showed some severe signs of wear and tear, the left armrest was almost impossible to move up or down and my tray table at first didn’t want to exit, only after the flight attendant used some muscle power and magic it finally popped out.
The meal service was quite extensive on this flight however, only ending an hour before landing, it truly felt like the food kept on coming! It started off with a salmon tartare and a side salad, of course served with garlic bread, after which I opted for the beef, of course followed by some cheeses and finally some mango ice cream as a dessert.
Once again we had a very smooth landing and on-time arrival, this time we were lucky to be the first ones in the queue for transit security and where through in no time. As our next boarding gate would be close by we opted to stop by ‘The Bridge‘ business lounge this time, after entering we turned left in the quieter area around the showers and the coffee shop where we relaxed with a bit of internet time and a Cathay Delight.
Hong Kong (HKG) 01:11 to Amsterdam (AMS) 06:07
Flight time 11 hours 56 minutes
Boeing B777-300ER B-KPY
Delivered to Cathay Pacific on 26 February 2012
As it was nearly midnight we were quite ready to board our last flight back home and get some sleep. Of course we still enjoyed a glass of champagne before departure and received an amenity kit from Seventy Eight Percent as this was a night-flight. The kit contains some eye shades, socks with anti-slip marks (to walk around the aircraft), ear plugs, mouth wash, toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, a recovery serum and some rosewater mist.
Our departure was a bit delayed due to air traffic congestion, but after a 25 minute wait at the gate we were on our way. As it was past midnight we had an abbreviated meal service starting with some dips with grissini followed immediately by the main course, I choose beef and some fresh fruits as a dessert. Timothy even went on to try the optional cheese platter but I decided to go for some sleep instead.
After a solid eight hours of sleep and feeling well rested I woke up just as breakfast was about to be served. Of course there first was the “sweet” portion with fruit and yoghurt before continuing with my main course of scrambled eggs. Once again a very enjoyable meal.
With an early arrival in Amsterdam out wonderful trip came to an end.
Will we fly business class again in the future? Was it worth the splash out on? You will read the answer in a few weeks when we will be writing a feature piece about it.
(c) Tripbytrip.org 2018