CX797 Hong Kong International HKG – Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta CGK
Airbus A330-300 B-LAJ
Gate Seat 15A
I was the last to board the business class cabin at around 6:50pm, though the plane was still awaiting some connecting passengers. Given that I had taken this flight several times before, I was expecting a regional Business class configuration (a trip report I had covered here). Thus I was pleasantly delighted by the Cirrus long-haul seat configuration which is preferred against the fixed shell regional Business Class seat. The regional configuration is Cathay Pacific’s achilles heel when compared to Singapore Airlines that have a much nicer regional Business Class seat.
One of Cathay Pacific’s signature drink, ‘Oriental Breeze’ was part of the welcome beverage provided to passengers. Naturally I picked that option from the tray. Since I had covered most parts of the seat in my previous flight which has the same seat and configuration, I would just say the Cirrus cabin was fantastic to lounge in.
Over the PA system, the captain announced an estimated flight time of 4 hour and 11 minutes. Though we were advised of some delays in departure due to weather as Hong Kong was under a Cyclone Signal 1 earlier in the afternoon that has caused slight delays. I do wish that Cathay not keep its passengers cooped up waiting inside the plane though.
Only one passenger was offered additional drinks during the wait. Must be a CX diamond member in 14A, as I thought to myself. It was disappointing for certain that other Business class passengers were not offered extra drinks for the long wait on the ground. Fortunately I was in Business class and on the long-haul seat so I was definitely comfortable waiting and reading my newspaper.
Menus were distributed during the wait on the ground and a passenger in 16A requests’ for hot chocolate was rejected as pullback was to begin shortly after. Pullback began at 7:33pm while the crew went around to prepare cabin for take off. Apparently Cathay Pacific requests for devices to be unplugged from the USB outlet for take off and landing. This was a first time for me and I wonder what was the reason since none was given by the crew.
The menu for the flight read as follow:
Inflight entertainment system also reset itself during the pullback, and as usual, these electronic systems are prone to trouble. Since the system reboot was for the whole cabin, I figured it was some error not limited to my seat.
After taking off, I took the chance to use the restroom since we had such a long wait on the ground. On the way there, I observed the Business Class cabin was lightly loaded with several empty seats in the middle section, though most of the window seats were occupied. Lavatory interior was well maintained with a nice-smelling orchid placed on the wall. Jurlique amenities were provided for Business class passengers too though the size of the lavatory was small as expected in an A330.
Back at my seat, the cabin crew went about to offer pre-dinner drinks. On top of requesting for another cup of the Oriental Breeze mix, I asked for a stationery kit as well. I made sure to request for nuts with my drink lest they did not include it in the service like my last Cathay Pacific flight.
Before long, dinner service started with the laying of the table cloth. My past experience with this flight was I would fill myself up in the lounge before boarding which I did this time as well. I was not expecting anything good served onboard thus I was surprised with the nice salmon appetizer that comes with créme fraiche and some roe. The side garden salad looked greener too, while the garlic bread served from the basket was still good!
The appetizer was a nice start to the meal and I finished it even though I had a filling dinner already in the lounge. The wait in the tarmac for take-off must have made me hungry again. For the main course, Cathay Pacific allows Business passengers to choose from the tray as all choices are displayed prominently. I picked the Chinese selection once again since they tend to be the solid options. It was nice to see Cathay offering chopsticks with the main courses as a while back, they used to offer chopsticks only for First Class passengers. The pan fried chicken with onion sauce was tasty like what is served in a HK-style cafeteria. That meant canteen-style food but it was tasty nonetheless and to my liking. A lesson for airlines is to offer tasty edible food rather than be ambitious with overly fancy food that might not work with re-heating.
The pace of the meal service was good but considering the flight was quite empty, I thought it could be better. There was a bit of a lag between the main course and the dessert and given the portions for main course are not even that large, I thought most passengers would be done quickly with it. Though the crew did at least go around to offer drinks.
A cheese course was offered on top of fruits after the main course was cleared. Fresh cutleries were laid out and this has become essential in a premium airline. Furthermore I liked the inclusion of mango in the fruit platter for this route to a tropical nation!
Häagen-Dazs ice cream was offered to passengers and this flight has a good range of flavours onboard. Ice cream flavours were mango & raspberry, summer berries & cream, and cookies & cream, a nice departure from the plain vanilla. More tropical fruit flavours for me please!
In the end of the meal, I requested for cappuccino during the crew’s walk-around where they offered tea or coffee. The cappuccino had the right amount of foam and a dusting of cocoa while brown sugar was also offered with a fresh tea spoon. Great presentation and quality once again.
Hot towels distributed once again after the meal. The number of hot towels offered in a premium cabin can also be another benchmark to differentiate a great airline or otherwise. After all, there is nothing like the feeling of clean hands after the meal and ability to continue with your inflight movie uninterrupted.
I reclined my seat to a lie-flat position after the meal and continued with my movie just to test out if I could watch a movie comfortably while fully reclined. It turns out that was not possible and a lounge mode is probably better for watching the superb StudioCX system.
After completing my inflight movie, I took a nap just as we passed Vietnam. The lie flat seat along with a nice ambient lighting in the cabin allowed me to rest for about an hour before the captain announced through the cabin of our descent.
While these seats are fantastic, the monitors need to be stowed on descent and that prohibited the continuous watching of the inflight entertainment. On a light load those forward facing and full lie-flat seats might be better for movie-addicts-on-a-plane.
Our flight landed into Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta uneventfully, as we docked by a gate. Arrival customs and immigration was surprisingly pleasant at this late in the night but there was a long wait for the luggage to appear. That meant the luggage carousel was crowded by the time the first luggage appears. So it seems Jakarta has solved the problem of inefficient immigration but has yet to solve the issue of slow luggage delivery. In the United States it is the other way around.
Cathay Pacific has delivered great service as expected of this premium airline with the quality in amenities and food served in the cabin. However there are some rules and regulations like boarding passengers way too early even when the plane is going to be stuck on the ground and the need to unplug devices from the USB port which does make it feel slightly backward. It should be imperative for airlines to solve workflows and procedures to make a journey as comfortable and efficient as possible, and the onus is not on the passenger to feel it was taken for a ride.