Snowboarding in Whistler: Cathay Pacific First Class New York – Vancouver


As is always the beginning with us and Cathay Pacific, the story starts out with us getting dropped off at Terminal 7 at JFK. Right away we went to the First & Business Class check-in desks around the corner from the Economy ones.

When the gate agent saw all our snowboard gear, she immediately asked if we were heading to Whistler. Why, of course!

After checking our 50+ pound bags (70 pound allowance for First Class), we walked toward the separate security checkpoint. Unlike last time we were at T7, it was open! I was relieved because I knew this meant passing through in about 5 minutes time and then more lounge time.

British Airways First Class Lounge

We actually didn’t take any photos this time because nothing much had changed. If you’d like to see pictures of the British Airways First Class Lounge, check out my RTW post.

The lounge was pretty packed. There were no empty lounger seats available so Joann and I grabbed a table by the bar and helped ourselves to some Veuve Clicquot champagne. A few glasses of that made up for the less than desirable seating.

Gate & Boarding

Soon enough, it was time to start heading to our gate for our 10:00 pm departure. Since we were only flying to Vancouver, I wanted to make sure we got on ASAP and maximized every minute possible in First Class. Hell, I’d take a ground delay as long as I could wait it out in the suite!

Cathay Pacific 889
New York (JFK) – Vancouver (YVR)
15 February 2014
Depart: 10:00 pm
Arrive: 12:50 am (+1)
Duration: 5hr 50min
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seats: 1A, 2A (First Class)

Boarding & Settling In

Boarding was easy. They announced First & Business classes to board first, and from a different line than the Economy one that was already stretching to the next gate over.

We were greeted at the door and escorted to our seats on the left hand side, 1A & 2A. These are the best First Class seats on Cathay’s 777 because even though there are middle seats in the cabin, they open to the right side. There is very little foot traffic on the left side of the First cabin.

Suite 1A

Suite 1A

As soon as I sat down, our flight attendant, Catherine, came over to introduce herself and Ivy, who would be serving us in the cabin.

She brought over pajamas and offered a welcome drink of champagne which I gladly accepted.

BROWN Shanghai Tang Pajamas... yuck!

BROWN Shanghai Tang Pajamas… yuck!

A glass of Krug to start...

A glass of Krug to start…

The Suite

While we were waiting for the rest of the plane to board, Joann and I just chatted in her suite while she took pictures of everything. As she is the resident #hustle Blog Photographer, she made sure to capture every part of Cathay’s spacious First Class suite.

Passenger's Point of View

Passenger’s Point of View

IFE Remote Control

IFE Remote Control

IFE Remote Control

IFE Remote Control

This was only our second time in Cathay Pacific First Class, but it was such a dream last time that we had basically memorized all the amenities the suite and service had to offer.

We spent the next 15 minutes until takeoff discussing what we were going to have for dinner. I decided on a general “YES” to the entire menu.

The Food

The food on this short flight to Vancouver was very good. I was happy to see the Stir Fried Lobster with Ginger on the menu because I had been wanting to try it after seeing this behind-the-scenes video.

First Class Menu

First Class Menu

There was a wine promotion going on so we partook in some different wines from around the world. Most were passable; nothing really amazing about them.

Starting with red wine & hot almonds

Starting with red wine & hot almonds

Smoked Salmon Carpaccio w/Avocado Creme Fraiche

Smoked Salmon Carpaccio w/Avocado Creme Fraiche

Prawn Caesar Salad

Prawn Caesar Salad

Between the two appetizers, the Smoked Salmon was the clear winner. The Caesar Salad was just played out, the prawns a bit boring. Smoked salmon + all the trimmings easily beat that out.

Vegetarian Duck & Soup

Vegetarian Duck & Soup

The mock duck was easily my least favorite dish of the meal. Just give me real duck! I could have just gone without this course completely.

Stir Fried Lobster w/Ginger

Stir Fried Lobster w/Ginger

The Stir Fried Lobster with Ginger was as good as it looked in everyone’s trip reports.

Cooked well, not tough at all, and great wok-fried flavor. I wish I could have asked for another portion.

Raspberry Yoghurt Cake

Raspberry Yoghurt Cake

Hot Milk Tea

Hot Milk Tea

The Service

Our flight attendants, Catherine and Ivy, were amazing for this flight. They were friendly and attentive without ever being intrusive.

Dinner service was paced perfectly. Once we were done with our tea and desserts, we changed into our pajamas in the lavatories.

When we came back, our beds were fully turned down, ready for us to sneak in a few hours of sleep before descent.

Ready for bed!

Ready for bed!

Since the flight time was under 6 hours, we only got a few hours of shuteye before being awoken by the Captain announcing our descent into Vancouver.

And just like that, our quick taste of luxury was over.


We rated this flight an A. Everything on Cathay Pacific is a pleasure – spacious and comfortable seat, good food, top notch service. Can’t ask for much more.

The only reason we didn’t give it an A+ is the flight time. It was too short!!

Like our last time in Cathay First, we wished it never ended. Kudos to the cabin crew for giving us another incredible experience and encouraging us to save more miles for redeeming on Cathay Pacific!


How We Paid For These Tickets

This Whistler trip came together perfectly.

First, the New York – Vancouver (and onward to Hong Kong) route flown by Cathay Pacific is only one of two nonstop options from NYC.

Also, it’s the cheapest point redemption available in the US that will let you experience REAL First or Business Class. We’re not talking the domestic stuff that our US airlines throw at us. International premium cabins are a whole different beast.

Second, American Express was running a 50% transfer bonus to British Airways.

British Airways Award Chart

With the help of the chart above and using, I found out that JFK-YVR is ~2,450 miles apart. That puts it right in Zone 4, where First Class is 37,500 Avios per person. Again, this is only one-way.

So for the 2 of us, I transferred 50k AmEx Membership Rewards points to my British Airways Avios account. With the 50% bonus promo, that gave us 75k Avios.

Normally, for such a short flight, I don’t think the extra 12,500 points over Business Class is really worth it, but for our situation where we were drowning in points, I felt we could afford the extra point outlay.

That being said, do what’s within reason for you! We’ve flown Cathay Pacific Business Class and it’s an amazing product. That alone blows domestic First Class out of the water.

Finding the award availability was easy. Just log into your account at and search for award flights. If you need a detailed post, I touched on it a while back. The process and web site have changed a little bit, but this walkthrough still applies.

After finding the flight and day we wanted, we were prompted to pay a total of 75k Avios + $34.90 in taxes/fees for 2 people.

Not a bad price to pay at all and easily attainable for any mile & point earners like you and me!

4 Comments Snowboarding in Whistler: Cathay Pacific First Class New York – Vancouver

  1. Pingback: Snowboarding in Whistler: Introduction - The #hustle Blog - The #hustle Blog

    1. The #hustle Blog

      Back when we selected seats last year, the process was 180 days out and you can call the Cathay US office to assign you a seat. They will always let you know that 2A & 2K are bassinet seats and you will be moved if need be. I believe that process is still the same today. Pretty easy. Thanks for the question!

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