CATHAY PACIFIC AIRWAYS (Doha Hamad International to Hong Kong International), BUSINESS CLASS, AIRBUS A330-343X
Cathay Pacific Airways is an international award-winning scheduled airline registered and based in Hong Kong, offering passenger services to over 168 destinations in 42 countries and territories on five continents, with a well-developed Asian network. The airline serves a number of gateway cities in North America and Europe, with easy connections with its Oneworld and codeshare partners, American Airlines and British Airways via Los Angeles and London, respectively. The airline also has access to over 17 destinations in China through its subsidiary, Dragonair. Cathay Pacific is an official SkyTrax 5-star airline.
The company was founded in Hong Kong in 1946 by two visionaries, Roy Farrell and Sydney de Kantzow, who both paid HK$1 apiece to register the airline. They named the airline, Cathay Pacific Airways. Cathay is the ancient name for China, while Pacific was named because far-sighted Farrell believed that one day the airline might fly across the Pacific Ocean.
The airline initially started services with two US Army surplus Douglas DC-3 Dakota aircraft: Betsy and Niki. The former aircraft, Betsy is repainted in her original 1940s livery, and is suspended from the ceiling at the Hong Kong Science Museum.
Cathay Pacific Airways remains deeply committed to its home base, and has in recent years made substantial investments to develop Hong Kong as one of the world’s leading international aviation hubs. In addition to its fleet of 136 aircraft, (includes 26 cargo freight aircraft), these investments include catering and ground-handling companies and the corporate headquarters at Hong Kong International Airport. Cathay Pacific continues to invest heavily in its home city and has another 94 new aircraft due for delivery up to 2019 (including the 48 A350-XWB (Extra Wide Body)). The airline is also building its own cargo terminal in Hong Kong that will begin operations in early 2013. Cathay Pacific is also investing heavily in its freighter aircraft, with six Boeing 747-400ERFs, and 10 new generation Boeing 747-8Fs being scheduled for delivery by the beginning of 2013.
Cathay Pacific owns 19.53% of Air China Limited, the national flag carrier and a leading provider of passenger, cargo and other airline-related services in Mainland China. Cathay Pacific is also the major shareholder in Air Hong Kong, an all-cargo carrier offering scheduled services in the Asian region.
In November 2012, Cathay Pacific Airways was named Best Airline in the World and Best Airline First Class in the 2012 Business Traveller China Awards. The annual awards, now in their eighth year, reflect the highest praise bestowed by China’s frequent travellers on various service providers with connections to the Mainland.
The awards were presented in Shanghai in November 2012 as Business Traveller China celebrated its 10th anniversary. The results of the 2012 awards were based on the magazine’s reader poll which ran from July to September in 2012.
Cathay Pacific and its subsidiaries employ some 32,900 people worldwide (more
than 22,500 of them in Hong Kong). Cathay Pacific is listed on The Stock Exchange
of Hong Kong Limited, as are its substantial shareholders Swire Pacific Limited and
The airline is a proud founding member of the Oneworld alliance, with its subsidiary, Dragonair, is an affiliate member. The airline celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006; and as of October 2009, its major shareholders are Swire Pacific and Air China. It is reciprocally one of the major shareholders of Air China. Cathay Pacific currently holds the title of the world's third largest airline, measured in terms of market capitalisation, according to the International Air Transport Association.
Cathay Pacific Airways has one daily flight between Doha and Hong Kong, using the Airbus A330-300, operating with a 3-class configuration. I tried and tested the new Business Class seat on this long haul flight from Doha’s Hamad International to Hong Kong Chep Lap Kok international. Greetings from seat 11A (from right-hand side corner):
Route: DOHA HAMAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (DOH) to HONG KONG (HKG)
Departure date and time of flight: February 2015, 01:55am
Flight number: CX640 (Cathay 640 heavy)
ATC Callsign: Cathay
Flight duration: 7 Hours 30 minutes
Cabin: BUSINESS CLASS
Aircraft type: AIRBUS A330-343-X (38 aircraft of this type in service)
Aircraft registration: B-LAL
Aircraft Serial Number: 1222
First flight: 19th April 2011
Aircraft delivery date: 14th May 2011
Aircraft engine types: Two x Rolls Royce Trent 772B-60
Frequent flyer programme: Marco Polo Club
Marco Polo himself took many months and years to explore the world, but if you fly Cathay Pacific Airways then you can do that in a few hours, and join his exclusive club for frequent flyers at Cathay Pacific! It would be enough to make the great man jealous of those gold and diamond cardholders, were he alive today that is.
Seat configuration for this aircraft:
Business Class: 39 flatbed seats with 180 degree recline (1-1-1-1 configuration)
Premier Economy Class: 21 seats in a 2-3-2 configuration,
Economy Class: 191 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration
Punctuality of the flight/route taken:
The flight departed on time from Doha into the dark Arabian night, and headed onto Asia, flying over India and entering south China in the early morning. The flight landed on time in Hong Kong, early on in the morning (just in time the Business Class Arrivals lounge to open!...my connecting flight from Hong Kong to Hangzhou on Dragonair).
Any baggage issues:
I had already checked-in my baggage at Dubai’s new DWC airport for this flight (I flew First Class with Qatar Airways from Dubai to Doha, and this was a connection onwards flight to Hong Kong), so I was carefree at Doha! As a Business Class passenger, the check-in baggage allowance is 30kg for one bag. On flights to, from, or via the US, Canada, and some countries in South America, 2 pieces of baggage may be checked-in with dimensions measuring up to 158cm (62 inches) in total and 32kg in weight for each bag.
For all classes, each passenger (except an infant) can bring a free baggage allowance of one cabin bag not exceeding 56x36x23cm (22x14x9 inch) in size. These dimensions include wheels, handles, and side pockets.
Lounge experience at Doha:
This place is like a small luxury hotel in itself. You can easily stay here for more than a day! So, seriously, if you have a very long stopover in Doha while flying with Qatar Airways (and I mean more than a day…not just a few hours), don’t bother going outside to the city proper, because you can just stay at the lounge and pamper yourself with good food, Jacuzzis, showers, free internet, free pajamas, free beds, free massage, and endless amounts of bubbly! This place is awesome. Much better than any other Business Class lounge I have been to in the world…even better than what Emirates, Etihad, Oman Air, BA or anyone else offers, and the staff are very friendly as well.
In-flight magazine: Discovery (published by ACP Magazines Asia Ltd)
Comments regarding the pre-flight service:
Passengers’ in Business Class are offered hot lemon scented towels prior to departure. This is followed by a drinks service, which consists of some of the world’s finest wines, and champagne. In Business Class, the cabin crew offer five kinds of drinks prior to departure:
Both Cathay Delight, and Oriental Breeze are signature drinks provided by Cathay Pacific Airways, and both drinks are equally impressive in taste, look, and feel. The rose water really gives the Oriental Breeze a very exotic touch. It’s the kind of drink that has the power to make a sad man smile. I mean, hey come on, cheer up- you’re flying!
Comments regarding the pre-meal service:
Around about 35 minutes after departure, drinks were served from the trolley along with the helping of the huge Macadamia nuts, and salted almonds on bone china plates. I opted for another glass of that fine Champagne (Billecart-Salmon Brut), and also the piper-heidsieck Brut.
There was also the celebrated Cathay Pacific complimentary bar service for Business Class passengers, including various alcoholic beverages, and soft drinks. Ground coffee, and decaffeinated coffee or tea (English earl grey, Ceylon, and Chinese green tea) were also available. On top of this, there were a selection of herbal teas including green tea with jasmine, peppermint, and camomile with honey.
With or without the meal, the wine list included for this flight would make anyone’s mouth water:
Buissonnier Bourgogne Cote Chalonnaise 2012
Coopers Creek Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2011, New Zealand
Chateau Taffard de Blaignan Medoc 2009, French (Bordeaux)
Gemtree Bloodstone McLaren Vale Shiraz 2010, Australia
Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port, 2007
Ample choice of whiskies (Chivas Regal 12 Year old, Johnnie Walker Gold Label, Canadian Club, and Jack Daniel’s), Cognac (Hine, ‘rare and delicate’ fine champagne), and various beers, aperitifs & cocktails, and liqueurs.
I opted for the signature Cathay Pacific cocktail to go with dinner: Pacific Sunrise- champagne with drambuie with zest of lemon orange.
Comments regarding the first meal (dinner):
For the first meal, a choice of four entrées were provided– all selected from a superb range of Asian, Middle Eastern and Western dishes.
Meals are served on a low trolley that gives the passenger an inviting eye-level choice of what's on offer and the airline is also introducing new food service items with a more Asian feel in their Business Class. All food in the Business Class cabins in Cathay Pacific is served on elegant bone china tableware specially designed and exclusively produced by Narumi of Japan.
Freshly prepared Arabic savoury dips accompanied with mini pitta bread
Mixed salad with French vinaigrette
The roasted potatoes may have been slightly hard, but the salmon’s exceptionally awesome taste certainly did the trick in disguising that fact. What I really liked about the salmon were the sprinkled spices and pepper, which were spread right the way across the skin of the meat. A wonderful touch to the touch. The fresh taste of the salmon reminded me of a similar dish I had at The Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai earlier this year.
There were four options for the main course, including:
Braised Halal beef in onion and dark soya sauce, steamed jasmine rice, and choy sum*
Chicken breast onion mousse in tarragon sauce potato mash asparagus baby squash red pepper
Chu chee curry prawns with steamed rice, and mixed vegetables.
Wild mushroom and Ricotta cheese agnolotti with tomato concasse and cherry tomato.
The main course came with a large bone china bowl containing a generous amount of fresh seasonal salad served with vinaigrette (provided by Birch & Waite). There was a generous serving of soft and hard bread rolls from the breadbasket. Oh, and then there are those cute salt and pepper pots- they look like tiny mice (not sure if that would be appealing when you pour your salt and pepper on your delicious meal).
*This dish is a signature Chinese dish provided by Cathay Pacific to showcase the best of Hong Kong’s culinary magic. Authentic Chinese dishes on Cathay Pacific, such as this one, are specially created by the culinary experts at Cathay Pacific city, and selected by the passengers.
I opted for the chicken breast. Delicious chunky chicken pieces that go fine with steamed white rice, and some boiled white cabbage. The good thing about those chicken cuts was that they did not have the skin or bone on them, so therefore all the hard work hard already been done. All you had to do was eat them, and enjoy them bite by bite.
Passengers in Business are treated like royalty, and it’s almost as if you are dining at a 5-star restaurant, albeit in the sky. Cathay Pacific Airways is one of the first airlines to have rice cookers, toasters and skillets on board, enabling their flight attendants to prepare freshly cooked rice, toast, and eggs to your liking. On this flight we did not have First Class, but passengers on flights that have First Class can also go à la carte, choose their own meals, and dine anytime they wish.
It’s amazing how much we take flying for granted these days. Call me nuts but I love planes, and as an engineer by background, I could not help to notice a few things on the aircraft. One of the things that I always wonder is the serene feeling of flying at night, and the questions such as: ‘Are we really flying at 670mph?!’, and ‘Is it really -59 Celsius degrees just outside that window?!’ Talking about meals on the go, I finished my meal in about 20 minutes, during that time we had travelled around about 223 miles. Now, which restaurant in the world offers you that experience?!
Cheese & Dessert:
A selection of Blue d’Auvergne, red Leicester, Taleggio with cabernet paste
A selection of fresh seasonal fruit
Praline luxury chocolates.
The plate of fresh seasonal fruit was equally well dressed. Generous portions of kiwi fruit, mango, melon, and watermelon were provided. The skin had been taken off, so all the hard work had been done for you (passengers are spoilt on Cathay Pacific).
Most other airlines are going with Godiva or some other luxury chocolates. It’s nice to see that Cathay Pacific Airways does offer something different for their Business Class passengers, and Praline Belgium chocolates are just delicious.
Comments regarding the after meal drinks and in-flight snacks:
A second round of drinks was offered after the meal. This included coffee and tea (green tea and earl grey tea). I ordered a cup of coffee. Should any passenger want wine or champagne (even if it is the morning!), then these drinks are served in exclusively designed glassware.
Pan-fried beef skewer on cheese and spring onion potato cake with tomato relish
Soya duck and preserved sweet vegetable in rice stick soup
Ice Cream (Haagen Dazs)
Macadamia nut cookies, peanuts, Kit-Kat bars, salted almonds, red apples, and crunchy cereal bars were available all throughout the flight.
Comments regarding the second meal (breakfast):
The breakfast service started around an hour and a half prior to landing at Hong Kong.
A selection of smoothies, including strawberry smoothie (which I had)
Fresh seasonal fruit
Generous and colourful portions of pineapple, strawberry, melon, watermelon, and kiwi- all well placed on a banana leaf, which gives it that exotic look. Of course, the banana leaf is placed on a bone china plate.
There were three options for the main course, including:
Arabic style breakfast
Cantonese Dim Sum
Spinach omelette with beef sausage sautéed mushroom grilled tomato
I opted for very colourful ‘spinach omelette and beef sausage sautéed mushroom’ dish, which could easily make it for the ‘meal of your life’ title. There is no rush with a dish like this, and its best that you take your time to enjoy every bite.
Comments on the in-flight entertainment system:
The new Business Class seat has a 15.4” personal television screen (PTV) that can be pulled out of the front bay with a click of a button. If you are seated in the middle aisle seat then during take-off, landing, and taxi, you end up looking at your neighbours PTV. Each PTV comes with Audio and Video on Demand (AVOD), offering a choice of over 100 movies, over 500 TV shows, 888 music CDs, 24 radio channels, and over 70 games – and with 10 languages represented, you’re sure to find something you enjoy. Huge headphones with noise cancellation technology are presented to every passenger in Business, and Premium Economy Class cabins. When it comes to entertainment, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Audio on Demand service is offered to all passengers on long-haul aircraft. Audio books are also available. Each seat in Business Class has an 110V AC power port. Premium Economy and Economy Class passengers may have to share a power port with adjacent seats.
Connections enabling passengers to listen to, or watch on their individual screens, content on their personal iPods or USB devices are available on this aircraft (the Airbus A330-343X).
The music played upon boarding and upon dis-embarking the aircraft changes every month on Cathay Pacific flights. Some of the tunes played include ‘Faith’ by Medwyn Goodall, and ‘Feel’, by Robbie Williams.
Comments of professionalism of the cabin crew:
The cabin crew appear to have been trained very well, and seem to know how to handle all kinds of situations. The trainers must have had everything thrown at them, ranging from rowdy passengers to those having a nervous breakdown. These people are amazing. They really do pamper you. To the outsider it may seem that being cabin crew is an easy job, however in fact it’s a very challenging job, and there is more to the job then just handing out the meals. With many months of hard work and training under their belt, cabin crew members are chosen very carefully by the airline. God forbid, if anything happens on a flight (could be anything ranging from ill passengers, fights, drunken passengers, hijackings, and even pregnancies!), then it is the cabin crew who have to handle with such situations in a calm and cool manner. It certainly takes a certain personality to do such a job, and with a constant smile on their face too (a genuine one).
Like they say in the corporate world, you may have the best brand in the world, but that brand is worth nothing if it not for the people that make great things happen for that brand. Cathay Pacific's current uniforms are designed by renowned Hong Kong designer, Eddie Lau. Ladies wear a red skirt with a white blouse that has the ‘brushwing’ logo in gold and red colours. The ladies also have a bright red blouse jacket which they can wear- matching with the red skirt. The gentlemen wear black starched trousers with a white shirt. Along with that the men wear a red tie with black stripes (junior cabin crew), or a gold tie with black stripes (senior cabin crew).
Cathay Pacific Airways stand by their words, and truly give a 5-star service. If you are a frustrated passenger (for whatever reason), then let me reassure you that the cabin crew are always trying to go through great trouble to make your flight as comfortable as possible. I am saying this from personal experience. As a frustrated passenger (we have all been in that situation at some point or another in our lives), it can be easy for some of us to lose their cool when things are not going as we expect them to be. It’s because of the professionalism and integrity of the cabin crew that the airline is classed as a truly 5-star airline that endeavours to provide a truly 5-star service to its customers.
Comments on the interior of the aircraft (including seat comfort):
The new Business Class cabin is fitted with the spanking new fully flat bed, which is just over 2 metres (82 inches) long. All the Business Class seats on Cathay Pacific aircraft were designed by James Park Associates, and Recaro Aircraft Seating. All First Class seats were designed by Zodiac UK, and Economy and premier Economy Class seats were designed James Park Associates and Zodiac USA.
A bed extension increases its width by 16.5 cm (6.5 inches) to provide additional hip support, while the side storage compartment offers extra knee space for sleeping on one’s side. In addition, if you need more space during your sleep, then the armrest may be moved up for more privacy, or down for more space. The Business Class seat can recline 180 degrees into a comfortable full-length, fully flat bed that ensures one experience a comfortable sleep. It’s this kind of legacy that would have made both Roy Farrell and Sydney de Kantzow proud of the hard work put in by the senior management at Cathay Pacific city. Indeed, it was their profound vision to make every passenger love their flight experience with Cathay Pacific Airways and with a bed such this, the airline lives up to their expectations and dreams.
There is certainly plenty of space available. I had my camera bag (which is annoyingly big), plus my laptop (I seldom have to sleep on a daytime flight so I end up working!), AND my carrier bag. All of these were neatly stored before departure. Oh, there is also space for you to put your shoes during the long flight so you can sit like as if you are sitting on your sofa at home. The Business Class cabins on all aircraft have artwork displayed in front of the cabin by Maria Lobo.
The side cabinet houses not only the headset and a vanity mirror (nice addition…you can imagine the celebs putting on their best look prior to landing), but has room for small items such as glasses and other minor but important things – and the cabinet door doubles as a privacy divider. Then there is are minor but important touches such as the personal reading light (with adjustable brightness) and a personal stowage compartment with space for a water bottle and magazines.
The Business Class amenity kits include a dental set and earplugs; a comb and shoehorn for men; and a hairbrush and cotton pads for the women. The disposable toothbrush and shoehorn for male passengers are made mainly from cornstarch and cellulose, which are biodegradable, recyclable and use fewer production resources.
In January 2015, Cathay Pacific Airways unveiled its new range of amenity kits for First and Business Class passengers on long-haul flights which feature natural skincare products from renowned Australian brands Aesop and Jurlique, respectively. Signature products such as hand cream and lip cream are presented in a specially designed case from Aesop for First Class passengers, while the Business Class kit has been created by Seventy Eight Percent, a Hong Kong-based design company that creates high-quality bags for globetrotting professionals.
Specially designed for female passengers in First Class, stackable camel-coloured Aesop cases are offered on flights to and from Hong Kong, allowing passengers to attach the two kits together after their journey. Male First Class passengers are given a grey Aesop case.
For Business Class passengers on long-haul flights, an amenity kit designed by Seventy Eight Percent is provided. Seventy Eight Percent has been nominated as one of Asia’s noteworthy emerging brands in recognition of its innovative designs, sophistication and impeccable quality. Natural skincare products from Jurlique are included in the kits, which come in 12 colours and will be presented onboard on a rotational basis.
Cathay Pacific General Manager Product Toby Smith said: “We are very pleased to be continuing our collaboration with Aesop and Jurlique, and are also looking forward to working with a local brand in Seventy Eight Percent. When selecting our brand partners, we look for alignment with our own design principles which guide the way we shape our products to deliver a memorable travel experience for our passengers.”
Full details of the contents of each First and Business Class amenity kit are as follows:
First Class Male Amenity Kit
First Class Female Amenity Kit
Business Class Amenity Kit
Cathay Pacific logo and livery:
Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, Cathay Pacific Airways used to support a green and white striped livery. This old livery was replaced with the current "brushwing" livery In 1994 the airline announced that it would establish its new corporate identity, with a 23 million Hong Kong dollar (RM 7.3 million) program to update its image. - Cathay Pacific relaunched its corporate image in the early 1990s. Cathay Pacific commented that after building a reputation over 50 years for technical excellence and high-quality service, Cathay Pacific had no intention of changing its core values. Therefore, the new corporate identity was merely intended to communicate these values more effectively to all current and future customers.
Cathay Pacific worked with Landor Associates, the world’s largest corporate identity management firm, to help create the new identity. The brushwing livery expresses the carrier’s unique character as an Asian with an international outlook. The sophistication of the logo conveys Cathay Pacific’s technical expertise and uncompromising attention to safety and reliability. The brushwing also embodies a sense of energetic flight, and being a “handmade” symbol it acknowledges the company's devotion to high standards of caring, personal service.
In October 2014, the airline unveiled a new identity, symbolising the airline’s efforts to create a better, more beautiful and more enjoyable journey for passengers, they refreshed many aspects of the brand identity. Centred on the timeless brushwing icon, they sought to simplify, clarify and beautify. The brushwing no longer sits constrained inside a box, and has been gently harmonised and set free. The airline also defined tighter rules around sub-brands which will now be clearly aligned within a simplified, tiered hierarchy. They are also using a tighter palette of colours and typography. Click here to learn more.
Overall rating 1-10 (worst-best): 10
Lounge Experience at Doha Hamad Airport
IFE and IN-FLIGHT SHOTS
About Airline PR
This is a special section on Airline Branding, and Airline Public Relations written by me on all the flights I have been fortunate enough to have been on. These are not records taken from somewhere else, but are actual flights I have been on. Most of the flight trips are officially sponsored by the airline companies in order to promote their certain routes, and aircraft. Airline promotion and PR related work in the aviation industry is one of my expertise.
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B777-300ER Cockpit Video 1
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