This is my first experience of flying ‘real’ First Class and to be able to conduct this in Cathay Pacific is truly something special. Since I had a lot of luggage and having been spoilt by the luxurious transfers in China, I thought why not just settle for a hotel limo. While the Hong Kong airport express is excellent, it doesn’t have a Cathay First Class counter if I recall… And I wasn’t staying at the W, Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton which were the hotels with direct access to the Airport Express. Thus I had obtained a ride to the airport on a Mercedes Benz S Class from the Sheraton HK. It was a nice ride and the limo even has complimentary wifi onboard. This meant I was able to do some facebook browsing and messaging using the wifi on the 40 minute ride to HKIA.
I was dropped off in the first section of the main terminal which was home to the first 2 rows, and they are reserved for Cathay’s First and Business Class check in counters. I headed straight to the First Class counters which unlike any other counters have no luggage conveyor. Instead, a luggage attendant will come over to bring passengers’ luggage over to be tagged. A clear display facing the passenger shows all details of their flight and it does feel like a whole new experience. Passengers are also able to check in 3 bags compared to the usual 2, and the luggage attendant was helpful enough in getting a box so I can put my shoe box and some toiletries in it to be checked in.
After passing me the boarding pass with seat 1A in it though, that is where the experience stops. No special priority screening. Thankfully, there was only a small queue at the security screening, and the queue at immigration was equally short. The excellent this was just after immigration lies the entrance to the Wing First Class Lounge and since the Business Class lounge was being renovated, it was only accessible to First Class passengers. Like many virgin experiences, entering a First Class Lounge was a first for me and being inquisitive, I decided to check out the wonderful private cabanas that Cathay Pacific provides its First Class passengers with. I was directed to the first cabana and it was a nice little private space one could retreat into. I started the experience by relaxing with my iPad at the lounge chair before deciding on a nice shower before my flight.
This made it the second time I had shower in an airport. Even with the small porch in the cabana being accessible to others using the cabana, it still felt private and really relaxing. The ample space also made it a comfortable place for a shower as I could really stretch out. They even have a full size bathtub, but seeing that it was quite old and had some stains, I just headed for the rain shower. Bathtubs are after all for the lazy evenings, and not the morning when one still has the energy to do much stuff. With the refreshing shower done, I used the complimentary amenities to dress up before storing my luggage by the receptionist desk. I was provided with a small envelope with a token enclosed within and it was a really nice to be free of the hand carry bags while I roam around my favourite airport in the world – Hong Kong International. I managed to do some shopping at the Shanghai Tang store which had a trousers I had wanted in stock (they were out of stock in town).
My next stop after that was The Cabin, which is Cathay’s newest lounge in Hong Kong, and having had a short visit during my last trip passing by Hong Kong, I didn’t manage to capture the whole essence of the lounge. This time, though, I really like the new lounge and the concept it brings to passengers. Unlike the Pier and the Wing which are similar lounges offering a full variety of services and amenities for the First Class passengers, the Cabin is open to all premium passengers, meaning there is no specific First Class section. But the individual space-age chairs more than make up for it. The ones with a view of the tarmac are the most desirable, and while the right section of the Cabin is pretty small, the one on the left is much more spacious and comes with a Health Bar.
They were offering a nice selection of salads and sandwiches for guests, while the bar itself has a daily selection of healthy beverages from juices to teas. I ordered a glass of grapefruit juice and a cup of chilled chrysanthemum with honey. The latter is perhaps one of the best chilled tea beverages I have drank and instantly made me a fan of this lounge. The way this lounge was designed was catered to the weary frequent flyers and with a healthy theme around it, I do believe it will help to relieve the stress of flying! A really ingenious concept for an airline lounge!
Since I wasn’t interested in their salads, and still with some time to spare, I headed out of the lounge to watch planes, and this is another airport where one can do without lounges. With the open plans of the gates, and all security screening being conducted before the immigration and at transit points, it has an open and airy feel. This also means everyone is free to view all other passengers’ planes. This time round, I manage to capture the pullback of the Korean Air 747 which was still docked when I saw it earlier while shopping for my pants.
Eventually, it was back to the Wing for some proper meal before the flight. The small dining area was much more packed compared to my earlier visit when no one was in the dining area. Since the buffet table food was not to my fancy, I asked if I could order the Dan-dan noodles. The receptionist asked if I wanted a small or large bowl, and I picked the former since I didn’t want to be too full for the food onboard later. I also helped myself to a small morsel of roast pork or commonly known as char siew topped with some broccoli with mushrooms for my vegetables.
Once seated, a waiter came over and took my order for drinks and I went with green tea since they do not have Longjing tea. When the tea was served it came in a hot metal pot with this small piece of paper to act as the handle, but with the handle so flimsy, it teared on the top section, making it hard to handle the pot. In my opinion, they should have just went with a porcelain tea pot and save passengers of all the hassle. The noodle that came later was excellent as usual and one of my favourite airline lounge food!
After my small meal, I asked for a cup of Haagen-Dazs cookies and cream ice cream and enjoyed it in the far corner of the lounge near where the renovations were taking place. Even with the slight noise from the renovations, it was still a nice place to relax and with no one else around I was able to do a Skype conversation on the iPad with my mum before boarding. The mezzanine location of the Wing also ensured the nicest views amongst the other lounges in Hong Kong. Cathay’s lounge in Shanghai also had a similar placement giving it a vantage spot of the departure concourse and the flights departing. I had a nice conversation undisturbed in this end of the lounge before proceeding for boarding. On the way to boarding, I also got to capture some shots of Cathay’s 100th Aircraft with a special livery.
Though I arrived at the airport way earlier before my scheduled departure, I was really relaxed and truly enjoyed the facilities in Cathay’s home lounges. Their new innovative lounge offerings in Hong Kong coupled with the convenience of its amazing international airport makes Cathay Pacific one of my favourite airlines and reminds me again to be loyal to the company!