Flight: Hong Kong to Heathrow
Airline: Cathay Pacific
Flight Number: CX253
Plane: Airbus A350-900
Cabin: Business Class
This is my review of my flight from Hong Kong to London’s Heathrow on the A350-900, on CX253.
I’d previously flown in on the A350-900, and originally CX253 was marketed as being on the Boeing 777-300ER, but it seems there was a change of fleet. Part of this change of fleet also meant my automatic seat assignment had moved me from window to aisle – and I like a window seat!
This is also (currently) the only daytime flight operated by Cathay from Hong Kong – with CX251 at 22:05, landing at 05:35 and CX255 leaving Hong Kong at 22:45 and landing at 06:05.
Whilst I can see the benefits of flight overnight – for me, this is a much better flight!
One thing to add is that because of headwinds, and also avoiding Russian airspace – this flight took 15 hours!!
Being a OneWorld Emerald member I was able to use the First Class check in.
Annoyingly, I managed to delete my photos of the Check In, so have borrowed the image below from the Cathay website. Essentially, unlike ‘traditional’ checking in experiences, a ‘host’ checks you in, and airport staff come with printed baggage labels and attach them – before taking your suitcases off. No desks, no conveyorbelts!
The service (in my view) is a lot more personal and premium than even BA’s First Wing, or Qatar’s Business Class check in in Doha – so Cathay have this nailed, in my option.
On my visit to Hong Kong’s airport, only one lounge was open which was The Wing, which was excellent. However, there are many other (also extremely good) lounges which have since re-opened, and I will be returning soon to review them!
This flight was on Cathay’s Airbus A350-900, which has a total of 280 seats. 38 in Business Class, 28 Premium Economy and 214 in Economy. Cathay does not operate First Class on their A350’s – instead the 777 is their First Class choice of plane.
Having been originally assigned 12D due to the aircraft change, the Cabin Crew allowed me to swap to window seat 19K, which hadn’t been taken.
I have done a full review of the seat here, but I found the table quite small, however this seat was in a lot better condition!
Food and Drink
Before takeoff champagne was offered with water.
Unlike my outbound flight, I was proactively offered a drink once we’d taken off. I took a beer which was served with hot nuts.
There is a good amount of drinks offered in the form of cocktails, wines, beers, tea and other soft drinks. After my dinner I stuck to the Australian red wine, which was excellent!
Lunch was offered around an hour after takeoff, and served as a 3-course meal.
To start, the offering was:
- Bean soup with kale and bacon
- Miso glazed chicken.
I went for the chicken, which I am afraid was one of the worst things I’ve ever been served in Business Class on any airline. The chicken looked repulsive, tasted disgusting, like a butcher’s seconds; I literally wouldn’t feed it to my dog and she’ll anything! My colleague who was sitting in 14A also came to the same view, having had the same. Luckily there was garlic bread served with it – so I ate that!
For mains, on offer was:
- Shrimp and pork dumpling
- Barley risotto with leak
- Chilli and beer braised duck
- Clay pot rice with pork belly
- Slow cooked lamb rack
In fairness to Cathay, there was a very large offering of different foods, unless of course, you are a vegetarian!
I went for the duck, which was OK. Nothing to write home about – but I enjoyed the rice!
For desert, the offer was:
- Mango sago
- Vanilla syrup
- Ice cream
Unlike other airlines cheese was not deemed a seperate course – but I chose it anyway as I didn’t fancy any other deserts.
One thing I’d generally comment is that Cathay offer pretty small portion sizes!
Dinner was a reduced, but relatively wide-ranging series of options, with all starters were fresh fruit:
- King oyster poke bowl
- Pizzich faro pasta
- Wok fried beef noodles
There was only one desert option which was a pavlova.
I decided to have the noodles and enjoyed those more than my main.
Snacks & All-Day Menu
All though I’ve been critical of the quality of Cathay’s food, unlike many airlines, they do offer an all-day menu consisting of ‘cooked stuff’;
- Shrimp and port dumplings
- Korean grilled chicken
- Various galley snacks
Whilst I didn’t fancy any of the hot options, I was offered some ice cream and grabbed some galley snacks.
Similar to my outbound flight, the amenities kit was provided by Bamford, who I am told area very good fashion brand!
Although the bag was a different colour, inside the amenities kit was:
- Tooth brush and toothpaste
- Mouth wash
- Eye mask
- Lip balm
- Body lotion
- Face mist
Wifi was available for purchase $19.95 for the whole flight, a little more than the outbound by $0.45! Despite the price increase, I thought this was pretty good value, and I used it for the full 15 hours. Throughout the flight I had a good speed of internet for sending emails and so forth.
The entertainment was no different from my outbound, so I am going to recycle some of those images:
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 cheap headphones!
The cabin crew were very good.
They were polite, nothing seemed too much trouble – and I really enjoyed the fact that they came to me first for my food option – presumably because I was a OneWorld Emerald member.
Even during the course of the flight, I was proactively offered re-fills on drinks – and was regularly checked in on.
So, well done cabin crew!
Landing in Heathrow
Surprisingly, the experience landing in Heathrow was pretty good, and my luggage came quickly.
As I’ve written previously, Cathay Pacific have some great lounges, which I’ve always admired.
Once again, I was somewhat disappointed by the food on board, and consider it pretty poor quality. This may be because the food was’t ‘my thing’ – but my colleague who loves this style of food also wasn’t overly impressed.
Other than that this is a petty good way to spend a 15-hour flight…….but I think all in I’d have rather flown Qatar Airlines and had a stopover in Doha, if the price was the same.
So, surprisingly, I don’ t really rave about Cathay the way others did pre-covid and would consider which airlines I’d select more carefully – but I’d still visit their global lounges in preference!