Class: Cathay Pacific First class
Aircraft: 777-300er (77H) – four class
Flight: CX 865 (formally CX 889)
Route: JFK – YVR
Date: November 9, 2018 | 9:19pm – 12:12am (+1)
Actual Flight time: 5 hours 53 minutes
Booking: Revenue + AP + Avios: NYC & Vancouver
I arrived at JFK about 3 hours before departure. There was only a couple of people at the check-in counters and Cathay has separate check-in counters for both business and first class passengers.
As a first class passenger on a international route, Cathay gives you access to the First class dining section of American Airline’s Flagship lounge at JFK. You are also given access to the TSA pre-check queue for Security screening, but in my experience it didn’t help much as it was a complete circus when I went through there.
American Airline Flagship Lounge
The Flagship lounge was very busy when I arrived at 6:30pm. After passing through the lounge check in counters, there is a long hallway before the main area for business class passengers.
The main area was very busy, almost all the seats were taken. The food also looked mediocre, so I quickly went to the side door reserved for First Class dining guests.
Once past the door it was extremely quiet, compared to the noisy main area. The server asked me where I wanted to sit – there was a option of booths (seats 4 people), round tables that seats 2 and a smaller square table that faces the tarmac set up for one person.
I opted for the Booths for more space. There was only 2 other passengers, all travelling solo. I noticed everyone of them opted for the solo seats facing the tarmac and I was the only one in a booth.
Here is the food and drinks menu:
AA First Dining serves Krug Grande Cuvee champagne and I couldn’t help but get a glass. I also got a Gin Basil Lemonade, Chicken Satay as starter and Beef Short Rib as my main.
Everything was delicious. I also have to give props for the service at this lounge. My server walked past every 10 minutes to see if I needed a refill or anything else. I wasn’t particularly hungry, so I ate at a fairly slow pace. At one point, my server came over with a concerned look on her face and asked if there was anything wrong with the food!
After dinner, I also took a quick shower at the Lounge. Shower rooms are off to the side and are on a first come first served basis. No reservations are required and you just sort of walk in and lock the door.
There was at least 6 rooms so I didn’t have a problem getting one when I wanted. The rooms are spacious and clean towels are wrapped and waiting for you on the bench. The shower space itself is very big. Soap and Shampoo is available on the side.
The only thing I can think that can be better is the water pressure, it was quite weak.
After freshening up at the lounge I went to the gate (7 minute walk). The flight was delayed by around 30 minutes so I sat at the gate watching TV shows for a while. At the aircraft doors, the flight attendant walked me personally to my seat, 1A. Cathay has no overhead bins in first class and there is a closet behind my seat for my to store my luggage.
Cathay has first class in a 1-1-1 configuration and the D and K seats face the right aisle, while the A seats face the left aisle. As I was in 1A, it was extremely private, I never even saw how many passengers were in the 4 seats on the right aisle.
First impressions: the seat is huge! It is so wide it felt almost like 2 economy seats in one. There is also ample storage space on the side. The ottoman is set very far back, so you have unlimited space to stretch your legs.
I was asked what I wanted to drink as soon as I sat down (champagne for me!) and was served with a ramekin of warmed nuts. Before takeoff, I was given my amenity kit, pajamas, slippers and menu. The PYE branded pajamas and slippers were very comfortable and I got a dark green color. There is a paper slip that specifies the pajamas and even the slippers were made with 100% organic cotton.
I also got a coupon for any PYE store in Hong Kong or China for a $500 cash voucher or a gift box of pocket handkerchiefs.
The Amenity kit had Aesop branded hand and lip cream and the other usual toiletries.
Once the seatbelt signs were off, my attendant came to asked me what I wanted to eat. As I was stuffed, I asked to skip the cheese course and soup. I also said I would take some garlic bread, after hearing many bloggers raving about how good they were.
However, my attendant insisted I also tried the soup as well, which I’m glad she did as it was very good. She asked me multiple times what wine I would like but I just had the Sencha and Iron Buddha tea.
The lobster was a little chewy and small, but otherwise everything was absolutely delicious. I especially liked the chocolate cake 🙂
Bedding & Service
I feel the service on Cathay Pacific is what sets them apart. My FA would walk past and glance at my seat to see how I was doing every 15 minutes. No awkward eye contact or questions. Once they see you are ready to have plates cleared they would bring your next course; or when your movie is finished, they would ask if you would like your bed made. I never had to call my attendant once and everything was offered proactively.
I was feeling tired so I skimmed through my movie (I had no idea what was happening anyway) and once my flight attendant saw the credits was coming up, asked if I wanted my bed made. I said yes and went into the bathroom to change into the pajamas.
I have to say the bed looked extremely inviting and comfortable when I came back.
Cathay has a mattress pad and fluffy blankets. I found the mattress softness to be perfect. Unfortunately the cabin was kept quite warm. While it wasn’t a problem when sitting, under the pajamas and blankets it really got quite hot.
I slept for about 2 hours and I woke up sweating. You don’t get your own air nozzle so there is no way to control the temperature or air flow.
One final thing to note was when the captain made his pre-landing call that we were landing in 15 minutes. I was confused because no one seemed to mind me lying in bed with the mattress pad and blankets even though we were obviously very close to landing. I asked my FA if she wanted me to change back to seat mode and she said since I was continuing to Hong Kong she won’t touch any of my stuff. I said I was getting off at Vancouver at which point she then changed my seat back and I changed back into my clothes.
I wonder if I wasn’t deboarding at YVR, would I have been able to lie and bed when the plane was landing on the runway…
This flight was amazing, one of the best I have had to date. The seat was very spacious and comfortable. I have seen better food on other first class flights but for this trans-continental flight I had no complaints at all.
The service especially was top-notched, way beyond my expectations. I sat Air Canada business class a few days later and let me tell you the service was a far cry from what I got here. I had a short chat with my FA about where she was based and compared the food between Vancouver, Toronto and Hong Kong. She really seemed to genuinely care about the passengers and wanted them to be happy. If I had to give a reason why Cathay is my favorite carrier, it would be because of the service more than anything else.
All in all, if you ever have a need to travel between New York to Vancouver, I would recommend Cathay Pacific without hesitation over any of the North American carriers.