East Coast Trip 2013: BA Galleries Lounge and CX889 JFK to YVR

CX889 New York JFK – Vancouver YVR
STD-STA: 2200-0050 (+1)
Actual: 2218-0028 (+1)
B777-300ER B-KPJ
Seat 32D

With a late departure from New York’s JFK, we had a leisurely drive from Philadelphia, leaving slightly after lunch and arrived in Manhattan around 3pm, giving us time to buy some cupcakes and even have dinner at Hahm Ji Bach in Flushing, NY before heading to the airport. Check-in for the Cathay Pacific flight was fast, and with my Dad seated in Business Class, and some of us having Frequent Flyer status with Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club, we were able to use the Business Class check-in line. Not that the Economy Class check-in line is any crowded. This is yet again another reason I fly with Cathay Pacific – I rarely find the need to queue even checking in for Economy Class flights. It took some time for the agent to ascertain the passport and seat arrangement for all 5 passengers but it was pleasant to know 4 of us had been upgraded to the Premium Economy cabin for the flight back to Vancouver. Even for the 5 hour trans-continental crossing, this was really great! Another plus point for staying loyal with Cathay Pacific.

However, the surprise does not stop here. Since my siblings do not have ‘elite’ Marco Polo Club membership, they did not have lounge access, but seeing that 3 of us had lounge access, the check-in agent made a call to the Galleries Lounge managed by British Airways to inform them of our arrival. And with that, we were given a total of 5 lounge invites!

BA Galleries Lounge
BA Galleries lounge at JFK
Art Gallery Look
Art gallery in the lounge

This is my first visit to the British Airways Galleries Lounge in JFK and I was not expecting much. However the experience was better than average, as the lounge is certainly spacious with lots of seats and dining areas. There are 2 main lounge areas, one just as we enter the lounge with artworks lined along the side of the walls and access to the Elemis spa and shower areas at the end.

Lounge Area
Plenty of space in the lounge

On the left is the main refreshments and snacks area. There are a variety of potato chips, cookies, fruits and soft drinks which is more than the usual North American lounge. There is also a dedicated bar area with tall stools.

Bar Area
Bar area at the Lounge

Since there was still some time, I decided to freshen myself before the flight and asked for a shower room. The shower are was actually very nice with a separate enclosed shower cubicle and it was kept clean with the shampoo and body wash placed in a wall-mounted container. For those travelling on British Airways Business Class, there was also a dining area with a-la carte service. I do not remember if this service is extended to Cathay Pacific Business Class but none of us felt the need to dine anymore since we just had an excellent Korean BBQ meal prior heading to the airport. We did partake in some chips and soft drinks from the counter and they were adequate for the lounge at this time of the day. While this was not an overly fantastic lounge, it was spacious and nicer than the very small oneworld Lounge in LAX.

Shower Room
Shower room

After spending some time in the lounge, boarding was called and we walked over to the boarding gate which was a short walk away. It was an very pleasant procedure on boarding as order was maintained and before long we were onboard the Premium Economy cabin. This would be my third time on this cabin, but the first time I was seated on the second row instead of the bulkhead. I will reiterate that the bulkhead seats are the preferred seats in Premium Economy due to the extra legroom. Since our party of 4 obtained 2 aisle seats on the second row and 2 bulkhead seats, I let my Mum and Sister enjoy the bulkhead seats to allow them to get a better rest during the night, though operating the entertainment system is also better for non-bulkhead seats. While I would enjoy being seated to my brother, the one occupying the window seat wanted the view and my aisle seat was good enough anyway.

Premium Economy Seatback
Premium Economy seatback onboard Cathay Pacific 777-300ER

As always, pre-departure beverages and hot towels were distributed before pullback and this is one of the distinguishing perks from Economy. The new seats has a nice compartment for the used towels, wallets and phones and this feature is also present on the re-designed Economy seats. Additional storage is definitely welcome especially when travelling in Economy.

However as I mentioned before, the seats in Premium Economy does not seem to be well made as there was some difficulty in getting my Mum’s seat to recline after take-off and I would be really disappointed if the seats could not recline in a trans-pacific crossing. Other than that this was an ordinary flight and I was able to catch one movie and some shows while having my supper. The menu for the New York to Vancouver flight was as follows:

Supper 晚餐

Prawns with marinated potato salad 香醃明蝦馬鈴薯沙律

Stir-fried prawns with X.O sauce, egg fried rice, and mix vegetables X.O醬炒蝦球,配蛋炒飯及鮮蔬

or Grilled USDA prime beef tenderloin with caramelized onion ragout, parsnip mash potatoes and Kenya beans with pepperonata 或烤美國牛柳伴焦糖洋蔥醬汁配人參蘿蔔蓉及甜椒邊豆

or Linguine pasta with truffle oil cream sauce, toasted pine nuts and baby zucchini 或松子瓜脯松露奶油汁意大利扁麵條

Peach yoghurt cake 蜜桃乳酪蛋糕

Tea and Coffee 茶及咖啡

Spirits and Aperitifs

Chivas Regal 12 years old

Johnnie Walker Black Label

Cognac

Vodka

Gin

Rum

Campari

Wines 

Germany white wine – Mosel Riesling Feinherb 2011

or French red wine – Maison Belleroche Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

or Dourthe Beau – Mayne Bordeaux 2010

Beer

Non-alcoholic Beverages

Soft drinks, juices, tea/coffee

Inflight Meal
Inflight meal of grilled USDA prime beef tenderloin

I picked the Beef Tenderloin as I had a very excellent piece of steak previously. The only meal service for this flight includes 3 choices of entrees similar to that in the Business Class cabin and this is another perk of Cathay’s Premium Economy. The steak was acceptable based on airline standards and the choices were definitely better than those served on North American carriers so-called domestic ‘First Class’ cabin. The caramelized onion ragout was a great fit with the beef even if the meat was a bit overcooked for my liking.  The meal service also included a piece of Ghirardelli chocolate which I enjoyed at the end of the meal.

Another feature I enjoy in the cabin was the take-off and landing camera views which was easy to access. The service in the Premium Economy cabin is again more or less similar to that of Economy after the conclusion of meal service. With the upgrades and all, this was another excellent flight with Cathay Pacific, and there was little to no queue as we exit the immigration at Vancouver at that time of the night. This was thus a very pleasing conclusion to a good family holiday!

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