While proceeding to the Cathay Pacific counters to check-in, a staff member checked my e-ticket and directed me to the Premium Check in facility. Once there, my name was checked against a list and the Premium facility crew tagged my luggage while I was motioned to take a seat. Another agent by the desk checked me in all the way to Zurich and it was a matter of minutes before I had both boarding passes and my Hong Kong lounge invite with my luggage tags.
With that, I was off to see the lone immigration officer to get a stamp on my passport and had a direct entry to the Premier lounge with no First Class lounge. I also had the option of using the First Class section of Pura Indah lounge next door. Just one or the other, so no lounge hopping here.
Bored of the lounge I head out for a cup of Starbucks before proceeding to the security check. I did notice 2 Cathay crew leaving the Premier lounge. Could it be they were looking to escort me onboard? I’ll never know since I was in no hurry and there is no queue on the security area.
CX776 Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta CGK – Hong Kong International HKG
Boeing 777-300ER B-KPR
Gate Seat 1K
They were already boarding the back of the plane when I walked to the plane and as expected I was the only First Class passenger onboard. Since it was a regional flight, I was happy to get a flight with a First Class seat and that was a luxury indeed.
Ensconced in the tranquility of 1K, Doris hung my winter coat bag in the closet by the side as she welcomed me onboard. After I had settled down, she brought over a selection of newspapers and magazines.
Then she asked for my choice of drinks, even offering champagne. As someone who doesn’t drink much alcohol, I asked for the freshly squeezed orange juice instead. This came with a cold refreshing towel that should be standard for tropical country departures!
For this regional First Class, there was no amenity kit nor pyjamas available though there was the Bose noise-cancelling headset to better enjoy the options afforded by StudioCX – the name of Cathay’s inflight entertainment system.
Before pullback and taxi, the crew came by to hand me the menu and take my drink orders that would be served once we are in the air. No Krug in the front cabin for this regional flight either, though much of the beverage remains standard and they still have the Blue Label whisky and their signature cocktail selection.
It only took a while for boarding to be completed, time really passes by fast when you’re up front. Though we did spend a lot of time taxiing to the runway as the afternoon is quite a busy time at Soekarno-Hatta Airport as I spotted 777s from EVA and China Airlines while an arriving SkyTeam liveried Garuda 777 just landed and was headed to the gate. Jakarta is truly in need of an aviation infrastructure upgrade.
After take-off, the crew came over to bring me my HK style milk tea, which is served with a portion of warm nuts. The tasty assorted nuts and a well done cup of hot milk tea was the perfect snack for a cosy flight.
At this point in time, I was asked if I would care to have the meal. It was already afternoon but with nothing much to eat while in the lounge, I ordered the Chinese meal hoping for a good late lunch.
However there was some time required to prepare the meal and with just myself in the front cabin, it was time to snap some photos of Cathay Pacific’s First Class, which is quite old but still spacious and private for one.
Back at the seat, I patiently waited for the appetizer to be served. Even though the presentation was much nicer, the dish seems to be like those served on Business class as it was just good old cocktail prawns over a bed of potato salad. The prawn was juicy enough that I finished it but the potato salad was not worth the trouble. A small bread basket was also placed on the table with the usual welcome note by the crew wishing me a joyful journey with Cathay Pacific.
A glass of water was already served with the appetizer and I ordered Cathay’s signature mocktail for an additional drink. Not the best thing to do when a flight suddenly became so turbulent that service had to be stopped mid flight. Fortunately I was quick to hold onto the glasses. The crew even came out to help me clear some stuff to prevent spills. They did in fact re-appeared with fresh drinks after the flight has calmed down. While all of this went down, I enjoyed a Chinese flick titled ‘Never Gone’, since flights are the best time to find some ‘unknown’ titles and a portion could even become entertaining. The light-hearted drama was not too bad and makes for a great way to pass the time too!
For the main course, the Chinese meal comprises of a chicken with chestnuts along with seasonal vegetables and in this case was kai lan, a type of greens with crunchy stalk that is common in Hong Kong stir-fry. Rice served also seems dry and I did not have much of it, preferring to leave space for dessert. I had a similar dish served in Air China Business class and I thought they did a better job in the dish. Cathay does seems to lose a bit of luster in championing for Chinese cuisine nowadays.
Afterwards, it was time for dessert and also the happiest part of a meal, in my opinion. While I did not really want the cheese course, the crew prepared it for me and just asked me to take a few nibbles. Which is precisely what I did, since I am not a huge fan of cheese, and most Asian carriers do not stock good cheese anyway.
I was more keen on the marble cheesecake and fresh fruits platter that they have for me. The crew asked for tea or coffee orders as well and I had some Tie Guan Yin to aid in the digestion of this meal. The marble cheesecake was fairly ordinary but I liked the presentation of the fruit plate which had perfectly scooped melon spheres.
Chocolate truffle was handed out in a nice box with towels after the meal, which by this time meant we were more than half-way across to Hong Kong.
After the meal, I also head to the lavatory at the front of the planes to freshen up and was glad to find Aesop amenities. These works very well to reduce dehydration that one gets by travelling!
Once I got back to my seat, I was treated to another beautiful sight since it was sunset time. The partially clouds makes for a better sunset with wonderful contrasting colours for the sky and the ocean. Watching the sunset from the air is even more inspiring and having 3 windows to experience it is priceless.
The dimmed cabin lighting allowed me to enjoy this spectacular sight and some rest before a smooth landing into Hong Kong. I did ask the crew if the First Class cabin is fixed for the Jakarta-Hong Kong flight and apparently it isn’t. Passengers might perhaps see 2 or 3 flights per week with First, and Cathay does not pro-actively sells seats on First for this journey. Though I was glad they have the same hardware, the flight was not long enough to warrant the extra expenditure if I was flying just this segment. Without the amenity kits, pyjamas and caviar, it is not a real First Class experience. But with miles, I appreciated that I managed to get both the short and long haul flights both in First Class, since it made for a great value!
In a nutshell, Cathay Pacific still has a great First Class seat that is comfortable with amazing cabin crews that perform when needed. However, the meal was lacklustre and the lack of amenities on regional First Class flights meant the whole true experience of flying in First is not accomplished.