After checking with the agents with regards to boarding, I collected my luggage from the lockers and made my way to gate 66 which is just a minute walk away from The Pier lounge. On reaching the gate, there was a large crowd blocking much of the boarding gate. I guess passengers are excited to be headed to the Alps, especially with the delay. Apparently boarding has yet to start but I did catch a snap of some activity on preparing the plane. I did not exactly know what they were doing but it looks like they were checking the window of the plane. First time noticing this and I figure this might be the cause of the slight delay in boarding.
Soon after I snapped the above photo, boarding was called beginning with those needing assistance and First Class and OneWorld Emerald members. I manage to hurry but still got stuck in a queue of sorts and there wasn’t any staff member to usher First Class passengers up front.
CX383 Hong Kong International HKG – Zurich Kloten ZRH
Boeing 777-300ER B-KPG
Gate 66 Seat 1K
On entering the aircraft, I noticed it was going to be a full flight in First with many of the seats filled up. As such, the crew seems a lot busier and I was left to my own to settle down. It was kind of nice to NOT have all the attention when you are taking some stuff out of the cabin luggage for the long haul flight.
As I got seated on 1K, I was served a welcome tapas of yellowtail salsa ceviche. For drinks, I got an orange juice even though champagne was offered. Over the speakers, the Captain welcomed us onboard and announced a quick flight to Zurich.
In addition to the snacks, I was handed a fresh towel and offered some magazines and newspapers. I had actually purchased some chocolates on the ground with some excess Hong Kong dollars meaning to share them with the crew. It was then that I handed them the gift as a token of appreciation since I had enjoyed several good flights with Cathay Pacific.
It was nice to see they offered Monocle on board the cabin today and it would be a good way to pass the time while on the ground.
Because as it turns out, the inflight manager Gilbert came over to every passenger in First to explain our delayed pullback due to a shorter anticipated flight time, and the airport would not have yet to open if we went on our way too soon.
Pyjamas were then handed out along with amenity kits and Bose headphones. The menu for today’s flight followed shortly after.
The menu for the flight can be seen below:
During pullback the captain came online with some bad news that a fellow passenger has fallen ill and thus we will need to head back to the gate. The time was well past midnight at 1:17am by this time, and I need to charge my phone. The good part was a USB outlet was available within easy reach but for some reason, passengers were asked to disconnect devices before taking off. Thus I had wanted to wait till we are in the air to begin charging. With the new delay, my phone needed the boost in power. In addition, I took the extra time we had in the ground to change into my pyjamas so that I could rest immediately after the meal.
Eventually with the passenger and her bag offloaded, we head for the runway again. Once back on the taxiway, the Captain announced we would be arriving around 7:15am, 45 mins behind schedule. While the flight attendants did give out bottled water to passengers in First Class, they did not offer much else as they seemed certain it would be a short delay and they rather not serve anything else.
Shortly after take-off, the meal service started under dim lighting conditions as some passengers have chosen to skip the meal. While I had a perfectly filling dinner earlier, I like caviar so I would not choose to forgo it since I was not sleepy yet after a refreshing ginger drink.
The caviar does have the right condiments but it seems to have a simpler presentation and it seems to miss something, until I realized, there were no lemon wedges or halves here. The next part of the meal was the Chinese appetizer dish which was a cold plate of heavily marinated beef shank and cucumber bits. This dish was not to par as the beef was tough and has too much sweetness to make it appetizing.
Fortunately, the soup was still as good and marks the highlight of the Chinese meal set for me. To me, flying the China-based airlines including Cathay Pacific means the clear broth soup is like what my mum cooks and ultimately provides that warm, fuzzy feeling of home when travelling. That is luxury in one sense indeed.
By right, I was ready to call it a night after the soup but there was still the main course and again I liked the fatty codfish, so the dish of steamed black cod served with vegetables and rice was another excellent light meal for supper. Though the steamed rice which I expected to be fluffy was served a bit dry. Maybe more results of the cut in service?
Perhaps due to the late night departure, the service was a lot faster and many guests have chosen to forgo desserts. That is why the crew came out and enquired if I still would like some dessert after the meal. With my sweet tooth, it is always something I replied yes to.
However, there was some wait as they needed to heat up the Chinese dessert of papaya and snow fungus soup. During the wait, they asked if I would like any drinks on top of the glasses of champagne and water, they asked if I would like any other drinks. I got some tea while waiting and it was served with another box of pralines.
During the wait, I was approached to fill in one of the survey forms. For some reason, I have gotten a lot of requests by crew to fill in these forms (even at the back of the cabin too!). Since I had time to spare, I did take a few minutes to fill in the questionnaire to provide honest feedback in the hope some hard product could be improved.
About 5 minutes after completing the survey, my dessert arrived and it was a pretty large bowl of snow fungus sweet soup. By this point, I was feeling a bit sleepy and thus I just took about a third of the soup before calling it quits. Thus I would not comment on the dessert quality, though I have to note I do not like papayas at all. Fortunately papayas in soup and desserts have most of their unique taste and scent taken out to make it more palatable. In this case, the papayas were more like sweet potatoes.
One thing I loved about modern First Class seats is the one touch button on the left to recline the bed into a seat. This is something not available in Singapore Airlines First Class. For a more personalized seating position, the touch screen controls on the right allows passengers to set the angle of recline, footrests and lighting around their seat.
Being in the front most cabin, there was no need to do the turndown service myself as a crew offered to do it after collecting the last of my meal. Meanwhile, I head to the lavatory to brush my teeth and make myself comfortable.
The newer jets does have nice ambient lighting as well to make the cabin more comfortable. I prefer some bit of light when sleeping for some reason rather than a pitch dark environment.
However, Cathay Pacific like other Asian airlines still have their cabin too warm for proper comfortable sleeping. Once again I woke up about 2 hours later sweating and that meant I wanted something to cool down.
The best way is to get some ice cream and whisky on the rocks. Häagen-Dazs ice cream was served here as is the usual for Cathay Pacific flights and lounges. A glass of whisky is served alongside it and that certainly helped me to cool down and get back to dreamland.
It was not until breakfast time did I finally woke up to the clanking of metal utensils in the galley. The cabin lights were slowly brightened to allow for the second meal service to begin as I arose from my slumber. First thing I remembered was a flight stewardess coming forward to ask me for my preferred beverage to start the breakfast. I asked for the usual freshly squeezed orange juice and the ‘forest berry’ smoothie, both of which I enjoyed to perk me up.
A fruit plate with honey and preserve selection is placed on the table along with butter, salt and pepper. Fruits was a great way to start breakfast, and the presentation was stellar here with a good selection too!
After I finished my fruit plate, I asked for a cup of cappuccino like the usual routine every other day. A basket of toast was served with the cappuccino though there was just too much served and that got me to wonder how much bread is wasted in every commercial flight.
Flying on Cathay Pacific or any Asian carrier means I tend to ask for the congee or porridge for breakfast since it is like a comfort food. They are great enough for a light fare when you are bloated and tasty enough to start the day. Though the ingredients in this flight was simple, I enjoyed the dish as the flavour was right.
Another reason for choosing the congee was that it came with ‘Cha Siu Sou’ or a puff pastry filled with BBQ pork, coincidentally one of my favourite dim sum dishes. While the dish is not comparable to some of the best I had in the ground, it was above average and that certainly filled me up better than normal toast.
With the end of breakfast service, there was still about 45 minutes before we were scheduled to land. The crew handed out another round of fresh towels and I took the time as well to freshen up in the lavatories and change out to my clothes.
After that I just settled into my seat and back to continue watching the inflight entertainment system. With not much time left to complete any programme, I settled on entertaining myself with the route map.
It seems that 12 hours could just easily pass by when you are flying up front. And that I find is the true value of flying in First Class. Converting what is usually something one dread to something semi-enjoyable by eating and drinking well is a luxury.
Thank you indeed from Cathay Pacific for the availability and even on this full flight, it did at least manage to meet my needs.
Eventually we landed in Zurich after a fairly direct approach at 9 minutes past 7 in the morning with the sky still pitch black during the winter season. Even with the delay, the Captain certainly did try his best such that we arrived only half an hour late. Another short taxi and we docked beside a Swiss Airbus jet before passengers got ready to disembark.
Flying in First also means you get to access your winter jacket from the personal closet beside your seat before disembarkation. After all, I was travelling from the tropics to spend winter in Switzerland. Our relatively early arrival made for a short immigration queue during passport control and the efficient Swiss system meant my luggage was not far behind by the time I was out to collect them.
With flights on Cathay Pacific First Class previously, this flight was no longer spectacular and neither was it memorable with a full load and the standard service one have come to expect. However, there is no longer a ‘wow’ factor even though I enjoy the amenities and Chinese comfort food onboard. Many airlines have cut back on First Class and basically only a few remaining airlines have proper First Class and Cathay Pacific shows it can still be one of them with leading amenities and a comfortable seat. I only wonder how long more this would exist.