Class: Cathay Dragon First Class
Date: April 7, 2019 | 6:10PM – 9:29PM
Actual Flight time: 3 hours 19 minutes
Booking: Revenue+Avios: Japan, Singapore, HK & Beijing
After a bunch of economy class flights (both short and long haul) on my trip around Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, I was definitely ready to step back into first class. To be honest, I don’t find economy class to be all that bad, apart from the food department – but I always eat at the airport anyways so I have no problems skipping a meal on the plane.
I arrived at HKG over 3 hours before the departure time to take maximum advantage of Cathay’s first class lounges. First class passengers are given a ticket to the “courtesy channel” which definitely cuts a bit of time going through Hong Kong airport’s busy security screening lines.
I first stopped at the Amex Centurion lounge to check out their food options. The HK Centurion lounge is always busy (sometimes to the point where it is hard to find a seat), but their food is always top notch.
The beef brisket was so amazing, I still vividly remember how good it was! I also made use of their freshly brewed cappuccino that you can request from the bartender.
Next, I hurried over the The Pier. The Pier is known for it’s full sit down dining menu, day beds and free massage.
This is my first time at The Pier and it completely blew me away. I’ve been to a few first class lounges before but this is completely next level. The grand lobby would fit right in a multi million dollar show house.
My first order of business was to eat more food. It looks like the menu was refreshed recently – I ordered spicy chicken wings, soy sauce chicken rice, a burger and finally a mango sago dessert. I would say the food is good and the menu extensive, but don’t set your expectation at Michelin star level of taste and presentation.
I also tried to request a massage, but was told there is a four hour wait, with the expected time to be around 4pm. Since my flight is scheduled to leave at 3pm, I declined to put my name down.
Next, I had to check out the other first class Cathay first class lounge in HKG – The Wing. The Wing is actually bigger than The Pier and has more seating area, but their food menu is more limited. However, they are known for the Cabana, a massive shower / bath / lounge area. I tried to book this straight away, but was given a buzzer and was told they had no idea when it would be available. While I waited, I went to the business class area of The Wing, where the noodle bars is at.
I got some dim sum and ordered a beef brisket noodle from the bar. It was absolutely delicious, comparable to a local cha chaan teng in the city! Unfortunately, my boarding time came near without the buzzer going off, so I just requested a “normal” shower room at The Wing.
The shower room was very big, with a big seating area and stocked with Jurlique creams and cleaners. Afterwards, I headed to my gate.
This is where one of the most common travel mishaps occurred to me – a massive delay. The plane was delayed for 3 hours, due to a late arriving plane. I honestly didn’t mind the delay (I understand that Beijing airspace is crowded and known to favor military flights), but I really wished they would let passengers know sooner and not minutes before at the gate, especially since Cathay would have known hours before this would happen.
I would have had my massage and probably gotten a cabana if I stayed at the lounges. Instead, I went back to The Pier and lounged on the day beds (oh yeah, I asked again for a massage and was told it now had a 6 hour wait…). The day beds had a excellent view of the Tarmac and I enjoyed watching a massive BA A380 get towed away. It was also very quiet, you can easily nap there for a few hours. Then, just before my flight I visited the shower rooms there to compare them with the ones at The Wing.
The room was just slightly smaller than The Wing, but still complete with a bench, seating area and very nice smelling Aesop soap and toiletries. If you don’t consider the Cabanas, I think the shower rooms at The Pier is just a tad bit better than The Wing.
I was one of the last ones to board the plane. Like Cathay Pacific first class, I was personally escorted to my seat and offered a pre-departure drink of anything on the drink menu. Given the gluttony I had in my last 6 hours, I just asked for still water. I was given a amuse bouche to accompany it.
The seats was spacious and comfortable. One particular thing that stood out to me was how wide the footwell area was; unlike some other seats in business class. You can use the touchscreen or use the remote to control the screen. Blankets was offered after take-off. The screen did not have the highest resolution but had a huge movie selection, especially local Hong Kong ones.
One funny thing to note was that there was 3 kids (think ages 7-10) accompanied by a single parent in the first class cabin, which has 6 seats in total. I thought I was in for 3 hours of crying and other unwelcome noise – but I was surprised at how quiet they were. They were no different than a adult – the kid next to me was watching Apollo 11 with no subtitles. I found that shocking, I guess rich Chinese kids really are bought up differently…
Food and Drinks
After reaching cruising altitude, I was offered the menu along with another drink course. This time I selected the champagne, which came with warm nuts.
I was honestly stuffed at the point given my last 6 hours at the lounge, but was pleasantly surprised that a short regional route would offer full service 3-course dining. I’m a huge fan of Pho so I ordered the Vietnamese beef soup. I was also offered a selection from the bread basket where I selected garlic bread, as usual. To accompany the meal I ordered a Hong Kong style milk tea.
I managed to eat everything – no complaints about the food at all. Although the “Vietnamese” beef noodle soup did not taste like a traditional Pho, it was still good. I particularly enjoyed the dessert.
First class Cathay Pacific/Dragon lounges at HKG really are a cut above other airports. Even though I ended up staying 6 hours at the airport, not once did I resent that or wish I was elsewhere. The only negative is that the wait list for massages and the Cabanas is really quite ridiculous at prime times during the day, especially during the afternoon and evening when there are a lot of departing flights.
As for the flight itself, the seat and food was excellent. But what really sets Cathay apart (and Cathay Dragon is no exception), is the service itself. The attendants really take their time to get everything perfect for you. When they hand you a drink or set the table, they take their time to make sure everything is in the exact right position. They will also actively try to converse with you – an example of this was when the person in front of me ordered the “Signature drink”, the attendant would notify him that it was recently changed and now contains gin instead of vodka and if that was OK.
This is exactly why I love Cathay so much and will continue to fly them whenever given the chance.