Flight: Heathrow to Hong Kong
Airline: Cathay Pacific
Flight Number: CX238
Plane: Airbus A350-900
Cabin: Business Class
This is one of three flights operated by Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong from London’s Heathrow Airport. I was traveling for business, and was on one of the the ‘new’ flights since Hong Kong had re-opened its borders for visitors. In effect, to all intents and purposes, this flight is substantially the same as flying from LAX to Heathrow – similar distance and time zone changes.
CX238 leaves Heathrow at 16:50 and lands in Hong Kong at 13:10. For me, this is a perfect flight, as after some dinner and rest it doesn’t leave you feeling too jet-lagged once having landed the next day. It does seem however, the last flight for CX238 may have been on 13th February – with CX254 added instead, leaving at 22:05 and arriving at 18:25 (also on the A350).
There is also CX252 which leaves Heathrow at 11:50 and lands at 07:40 (yuck!), and there is also CX250 which leaves Heathrow at 17:50 and lands at 14:10.
Sadly, checking in wasn’t quite the experience I had hoped for.
I got the airport early at around 11am and a Cathay rep told me that I could not check in yet, as my suitcase would “certainly be lost”, and with that closed all the check in desks and told me to come back at 12:45. This was unfortunate, as I rather like the Cathay Pacific lounge in Terminal 3 – and with both British Airways and American Airlines, I’ve never had an issue being early.
So, off to Pret Manager in T3 until the desks were due to open at 12:45. This was especially annoying as I was traveling very heavy with 3 suitcases!
Having finally checked in at 12:45 I was able to use the Terminal 3 Fast Track……..apart from it wasn’t very fast, and took me almost 45 minutes go get through!
As I mention above, the Cathay Lounge is a fantastic lounge – and arguably one of the best lounges in Heathrow, you can find my review of it here.
OneWorld travelers are spoilt for choice in Heathrow’s Terminal 3, with the Qantas Lounge, American Airlines, British Airways Lounge – and the addition of the new Centurion Lounge. A real shame I couldn’t check in before 12:45!
This flight was on Cathay’s Airbus A350-900, which now seems to be the aircraft of choice on CX254……if you’re still with me?
I am typically a Boeing fan, but the A350 did just fine, albeit that it was flown by the world’s most grumpy captain – and no, that’s not me!
This seat is similar to the American Airlines Flagship Business Class seat, however with much more privacy!
Slightly oddly, Business Class in Cathay’s A350’s start at row 12, and miss out row 13. So, despite being 14A, I was actually the second row from the front.
I have done a full review of the seat here, but I found the table quite small, and the seat was pretty worn and being stuck together with what looked like silicone!
Food and Drink
Before takeoff champagne was offered with water.
Unusually (unlike most other airlines) they did not offer any pre-meal beverages – in fact I had to ask!
I did manage to get a Heineken (yuck!), and after that stuck to the wine! In fairness a fairly wide-ranging drinks menu was on offer, including teas, wine, and a series of cocktails.
Conducting the ‘Champagne test’, the champagne offered was Billecart-Salmon Brut, which retails about £60/bottle – so not too bad!
Once sat down, I was provided with the dinner menu.
Interestingly, I spotted that similarly to my Air Canada flight, the food orders appeared to be taken by OneWorld status. This was good news – I was the first to be asked what I wanted!
Starters offered were:
- Cauliflower and almost soup
- Smoked salmon
As I don’t eat fish, I went for the soup, which was OK. However, I did have to remind the cabin crew, as after brining me some bread, they walked past me with everyone else’s soup!
For mains, the following was on offer:
- Pork belly
- Shrimp wonton soup
- Roasted cauliflower
- Wol fried cod
- Arabic spiced chicken
I went for the pork belly, which whilst OK, was severed on a saucer – not quite the hearty meals offered on American Airlines or Qatar Airlines!
It was at this point I got a bit annoyed. Having finished my dinner for a good 30 minutes nobody took my tray, and I wanted to get on with my work!
Eventually, my tray was taken, and it was then desert time. The desert menu seemed to be itself confused as it listed cheese as if it was a ‘fourth course’ – but in actual fact it turned out to be cheese OR deserts – of which were offered:
- Cheese plate
- Fresh fruit
- Almond crumble
- Green tea cheesecake
- Ice cream
I went for the cheese, which whilst OK, I’ve certainly had far better on other airlines.
After desert, pralines were handed around. This, again, slightly confused me as they were listed as an item you could order individually.
In summary dinner was OK but I wasn’t hugely impressed by it.
During the course of the flight there were some snacks available, which included;
- Roasted cauliflower (again)
- Shrimp wonton soup (again)
- Classic beef burger
- Snacks, such as ice cream, popcorn, etc
After dinner I finished my work, decided to sleep……….but I had a cunning plan!
As this was an overnight flight (and a long one at that), breakfast was offered as the second meal. Options available included:
- Wellness breakfast
- Lighter breakfast
- Chinese breakfast
- Western breakfast
- Express breakfast
The express breakfast was ordered by a little handy card. Pre-covid BA used to do something similar – but I’ve not seen them recently!
As I mentioned above, had a cunning plan for breakfast. Because I don’t ‘do’ breakfast, I often don’t really have the second meal. But not on this occasion!
Before I went to sleep, I quietly slipped into the galley to ask if I could have an item reserved from the snack menu for my breakfast……..and it wasn’t the roasted cauliflower.
Yes, it was the burger!! Best breakfast on a plane ever!!
I am always keen on a good amenities kit – and Cathay didn’t let the side down!
The amenities kit was provided by Bamford, who I am told area very good fashion brand!
Inside the amenities kit was:
- Tooth brush and toothpaste
- Mouth wash
- Eye mask
- Lip balm
- Body lotion
- Face mist
I have to confess that the British Airways First amenities kit is still my favourite ever, from my flight to Seattle!
Wifi was available for purchase $19.50 for the whole flight. I thought this was pretty good value, and I used it for around 5 hours, before going to sleep. Throughout the flight I had a good speed of internet for sending emails and so forth.
I found the entertainment to be good and wide-ranging on this flight. However, being an airline based in Hong Kong – I found there wasn’t that much I wanted to watch.
However, I did discover something VERY cool – the plan was equipped with a nose and tail camera! This was very exciting for taking off!
The nose and tail camera on A350’s are a standard fit, but for some reason British Airways (who have bought the A350-1000’s as a replacement for the mighty 747) don’t like the cameras to the entertainment – so the camera was a treat!
Similar to American Airlines Flagship Business, there is a remote control which controls the IFE – and decent quality headphones are provided. Unlike American Airlines, there is no ‘headphone gate’ towards the end of the flight – everyone is trusted to not steal the headphones!
Generally speaking the cabin crew were lovely, very amenable, and very ‘on’ their service. They ensured I was fully topped up with wine!
With that said, waiting around 30 minutes to get my soup whilst the cabin crew walked straight past me with everyone else’s, was annoying.
Likewise, I was annoyed that post-dinner my tray wasn’t collected for another 30 minutes – so I resorted to putting it on the side console.
These are annoyances that you don’t get with other airlines, or cabin crew ‘on their game’. It didn’t matter for what was a 14hr flight – but it does make me angry on a 6hr overnight from JFK to LHR – not that Cathay do them!
So all in all, no prizes won I am afraid!
Landing in Hong Kong
Landing in Hong Kong was one these most peculiar experiences of my life – it was like landing on Mars!
I was approached by people in boiler suits with clipboards and given a barcode to put around my neck. Then my temperature was tested. Then I went to one desk to get some paperwork (from more people in boiler suits). Then I was tested for Covid (by more people in boiler suites). Then, with my barcode around my neck I got on a train (which was cleaned like it was highly infections for 15 minutes before boarding) – before finally getting through immigration and then to baggage reclaim!
The good news is that in fact the above process was very quick – and the bags were already out when I got to baggage reclaim!
As I understand it, Hong Kong has since calmed down on the Covid stuff, but it sure was a strange experience!
Cathay Pacific have some great lounges, which I’ve always admired. So, I have to say I was surprised (and somewhat disappointed) by the food on board which was served on very small plates, and I did find the business class seat to be fairly tatty. Likewise, I wasn’t that impressed by the entertainment.
The cabin crew were fine but un-memorable unlike some of the other flights I’ve been on, and the dinner service was annoying.
Accordingly, whilst I wouldn’t turn down a trip to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific – next time I visit Hong Kong, I’d actively look at what British Airways, Qatar Airways and Qantas have in terms of routes!
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