RTW to Bali: JFK-HKG Cathay Pacific First Class

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Our first ever long-haul flight in an international premium cabin… Cathay Pacific First Class. Pure ecstasy in the air.

This is going to be a LONG post with LOTS of pictures… and it’s all worth it.

After walking through the throngs of people hovering around the gate, we were among the first to board. As I handed my 1A boarding pass to the flight attendant at the door to the aircraft, he directed me to the left and all the way up. We were finally here!

JFK (New York) – HKG (Hong Kong)
CX845
25 AUG 2012
Boeing 777-300ER
First Class

Seats 1A, 2A

The Suite

The first thing that went through my head as I walked to the very front of the plane was “WOW.” I’d seen plenty of pictures prior to this but being here in person was actually a surreal feeling. Right then, I knew all the planning, credit card churning, and overall points hustling had all been worth it.

Right away, we both got to exploring our own suites and taking pictures with every device imaginable – iPhone, Canon 300 HS (our point & shoot of choice), and my Canon 40D digital SLR.

Easily, the best parts about the suite are the privacy (only a step below completely enclosed suites) and the seat width. The seat is 3 feet wide; Joann and I even watched a movie together sharing it.

This command center of an airplane seat also had plenty of storage compartments for your small travel gear, a closet,  and a dual-purpose ottoman – 1) to extend the bed when fully flat and 2) to act as a seat for a visitor.

One thing to note if you have a chance to fly this plane (and you should try your hardest to) is that the left side of the cabin will be the most private.

Check out the seating chart. Each row has 3 seats, but both the D & K seats access the aisle on the right. Therefore, only 1A and 2A access the left aisle so it’ll feel a bit more private.

I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves, but I assure you, they don’t do the suites any justice.

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

First Class Suite… private!

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

From the reverse angle…

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

The behemoth of an airplane seat… 3 feet wide

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Ottoman that doubles as a visitor seat for couples dining

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Noise cancelling headphones

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Everyone else settling in; our side was most private b/c of this wall. And there’s Mama ‘Just Another Points Traveler‘ on the left!

Settling In

Settling in wasn’t so much settling in as it was being kids in a candy store. With so many things to snap pictures of and try out, I’m sure the “usual” First Class travelers thought we were nuts, but who cares?! It was our first time and we were going to live it up.

The flight attendant stopped by to tell us about the amenity kit and pajamas (the nicest ones we got on the trip). She also asked if I wanted anything to drink. Of course, I immediately told her Krug.

She came back with the bottle and glass, poured it at my seat, and left me with my bubbly until push back. This gave me Joann plenty of time to take pictures of all the cool things around the suite, and just get ourselves settled for an amazing 15 hour journey.

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Krug champagne, Shanghai Tang pajamas, and Trussardi women’s amenity kit

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Krug Grande Cuvee & assorted nuts

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Ermenegildo Zegna men’s amenity kit

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Trussardi women’s amenity kit

Dinner

Since it was our first time in international long-haul First, dinner service was absolutely amazing.

Joann joined me in my suite so we could eat together. The large tray table was set beautifully as we both just sat back in our pajamas and watched the flight attendants work. Everything was placed with purpose – from the silverware to the food on the plate; even the salt and pepper shakers.

Overall, the meal was very good (save the scallops) but nothing restaurant quality, I’d say. It was still airplane food, afterall.

The caviar service was definitely fun though, as neither of us have had it before. I could get used to that in the sky!

For those who are curious, here are a few scans of the menu, which we kept: cover, pg 1, pg 2, pg 3, wine cover, pg 1, pg 2, pg 3

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Me in my seat and Joann joining me in the ottoman. The table is huge!

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Caviar service & some more Krug

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Butternut squash & apple soup

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Pan seared scallops over mesclun salad w/lemon vinaigrette

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Pan seared beef tenderloin w/mushroom ragout, potato roulade, and bearnaise sauce

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Strawberry & green peppercorn crumble w/dulce de leche ice cream & vanilla sauce

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Green tea & pralines

Sleep

After dinner, it was about 3:00am for us so, of course, we were dead tired. We asked the flight attendants to make our beds while we went to the bathroom to freshen up.

It didn’t take long for me to knock out. I threw on the eye mask from the amenity kit and sprawled out on a damn wide bed. Hours later, I was awakened by Joann (not before sneaking a pic of me snoozing) asking if I wanted to have a snack because we were only 5 hours out of Hong Kong.

What?! I slept over 8 uninterrupted, comfortable hours… IN AN AIRPLANE. I was surprised… and refreshed. This was another moment where I understood why people love flying in premium cabins.

I went to the bathroom to freshen up before ordering my snack.

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

First Class bathroom

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Aesop amenities

Snack

I hit the call button and within about 15 seconds, a flight attendant was at my side. I asked for the Roasted Duck Noodle Soup and a Diet Coke from the menu. My tray table was set solo for the snack. Joann and I ate at our own seats so we could both relax in the big seats.

Afterwards, I felt like I wanted something more so I ordered some vanilla ice cream as well. Hey, why not?

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Roasted duck noodle soup

Breakfast

Since Joann came to my suite for dinner, I went to hers for breakfast. The ottoman seat is a little snug in the shoulder area, but it was fine for a short breakfast.

I’ve heard plenty of great things about the dim sum on Cathay and we felt like having a non-traditional (for us) breakfast so we both ordered the dim sum off the menu.

By the time everything was brought out to us, we had a massive breakfast spread in front of us. We’re definitely not used to this kind of breakfast so it was pretty awesome and quite filling.

The dim sum itself was delicious, especially with the spicy chili paste. The strawberry “energizer” (read: smoothie) was really good and also, very fresh. And, of course, we LOVE our coffee so we were really happy to have some freshly made Nespresso onboard.

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Fruit plate, pastries, and jams

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

A couple of Americanos and my smoothie

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Dim sum

The Service

Overall, the service was way above average. I would have rated them the best, but the Swiss Air on our return trip ran away that award.

The Cathay flight attendants always happened to be around when you needed them, and were out of sight when you didn’t. It was a perfect balance of attentiveness vs. passenger privacy.

They were so polite, friendly enough, and made us feel like we really belonged up front.

The personal service and attention you get in a First Class cabin of 6 people cannot be compared to any other method of commercial flying.

Everything Else & Wrap Up

As for everything else on the flight, I can’t recall a single negative thing.

The First Class cabin felt very spacious, probably because it didn’t have any overhead bins. It sounds like a minor detail, but it’s one that you appreciate when you experience it.

The personal closet in the suite was perfect for storing my 22″ carry-on, shoes, and change of clothes.

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

Joann’s bag (not mine!) in the closet

The noise cancelling headphones worked great to cancel out the engine drone.

The AVOD (Audio/Video On Demand) was great; Studio CX is a really good product and available in all classes. It’s even better watching movies on that 17″ screen.

After spending almost 16 glorious hours in the air this way, it’s no wonder why people regard Cathay Pacific First Class as one of the best experiences in the sky.

Once we got to the gate, we could see our own jet bridge approaching the First Class door so we could disembark… truly a sad moment.

cathay pacific first class jfk hkg hong kong bali

So long Cathay First!

12 Comments RTW to Bali: JFK-HKG Cathay Pacific First Class

  1. Brad

    Great review Mike. It was great to bring back memories of my own experience in Cathay First. Gotta give you credit for posting the picture of you sleeping. Hilarious!

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  6. Harrisw51

    Thanks for the tip on the seating. 1a and 2a it is! Looking forward to my jfk hkg then sin CMB trip in December

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