Cathay Pacific: LGW to HKG flight review

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Cathay Pacific A350

Director was on board for day one of Cathay Pacific’s first business class offering from Gatwick to Hong Kong, testing the airline’s brand new fleet of Airbus A350 aircraft

In early September, just shy of its seventieth birthday, Cathay Pacific launched the only non-stop flight from Gatwick to Hong Kong and pushed a fleet of brand new long-range Airbus A350-900 aircraft into service. The four-times-a-week route offers the choice of 38 business, 28 premium-economy and 214 economy seats. The extra-wide-bodied A350 is 25 per cent more fuel efficient than current wide-body planes, while higher cabin pressure promises to reduce passenger fatigue.

The predominantly carbon-fibre jet is a far cry from the two-plane Shanghai to Sydney air freight service launched by founders Roy Farrell and Sydney de Kantzow in January 1946. Nine months later, operations switched to Hong Kong and the Cathay brand was born. By the 1970s the airline fulfilled the founders’ aspiration to cross the Pacific and in 1980 Heathrow became Cathay’s first European destination. Flights from Manchester were added two years ago. With a sense of Farrell and Kantzow’s pioneering spirit – in part due to the celebratory balloons, cake and champagne at Gatwick – Director boarded the inaugural flight…

Check-in

Business class passengers are allowed two pieces of hold luggage (40kg maximum), one piece of carry-on baggage (10kg) plus a small bag. Though travelling light we checked in at the airport. With a couple in the queue ahead of us, staff opened a second desk and promptly issued a boarding card and access to departure and arrival lounges. 10/10

Lounge

Fast-track passes meant we breezed through security. The third party-operated ‘No 1 Lounge’ offers a mix of tables, chairs and sofas furnished in dark wood and grey hues. Friendly staff ran through the complimentary buffet, bar and hot food menu (the eggs benedict was delicious). Bench seats had plug sockets, free WiFi was speedy, while adjacent rooms provided quiet working and sports lounge environments. 9/10

Boarding

We boarded through a dedicated sky bridge at the front of the aircraft but because a galley kitchen and exit divides the main business cabin from the final two rows (and we were in the last) we caught up with premium-economy passengers boarding via a second ramp. Overhead luggage bins gave ample room for our carry-on bags. 7/10

The seat

Seats, laid out in a 1-2-1 formation and angled for privacy, build on Cathay’s existing offering, including seat wings and large table. The 45in pitch and 75in length make it the airline’s most generous business class fully flat bed. The control panel is slick and dispenses with the clutter of previous models. British plug and USB sockets are tucked into a side cabinet that’s perfect for storing travel documents and valuables. The pullout 18.5in monitor is supplemented with a second touchscreen video handset. Cathay’s choice of films and television series weren’t extensive but provided a strong choice of new and old releases. 9/10

Cathay Pacific A350 business class seat

The facilities

Crew handed out dark grey amenity bags containing a 20 per cent discount voucher for manufacturer Seventy Eight Percent and Jurlique lip balm, day cream and hand cream, plus earplugs, toothpaste, toothbrush, mouthwash, flight socks, hairbrush and eye mask. 9/10

Cabin crew

Impeccably turned out in burgundy or rose tunics, the all-female crew were friendly and completely at ease with the new aircraft type. The in-flight manager took time to speak to all passengers. 9/10

Food and drink

Having enjoyed a glass of champagne before pushback from the stand, two hours into the flight we were served a hearty lunch, with a choice of main courses from a trolley. We opted for the wok-fried butterfly prawns. Breakfast was served 90 minutes before arrival – our choice of cheese and red pepper frittata was topped up with several servings of warm pastries. 8/10

In-flight dining on Cathay Pacific A350

Verdict

Would we have preferred to pick meals from a menu than a trolley? Possibly. But swift service in a state-of-the-art aircraft made for a very comfortable flight… 61/70

Cathay Pacific details

Cathay Pacific flight CX0344 from Gatwick South terminal to Hong Kong International Terminal 1

Cathay Pacific offers one-way business class flights on this route from £3,675

cathaypacific.com

@cathaypacificUK

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About author

Richard Dunnett

Richard Dunnett

Richard Dunnett has been the associate editor of Director magazine since March 2013. He writes about entrepreneurs, SMEs, FTSE 100 corporations, technology, manufacturing, media and sustainability.

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