Route: Sydney to Hong Kong
First flight: April 2011
CX110 leaves at 0730, so it was a very early and quiet train to Sydney International.
For whatever reason my flight had been booked using a ‘BA’ codeshare, which meant I was unable to manage my booking or check in online. I’d phoned Cathay’s telephone helpline to confirm my meal request and try to secure a seat. I specifically wanted a window seat because Sydney to Hong Kong flights go over the outback which I enjoy watching. The staff could not have been more empathetic but explained that unfortunately they couldn’t help.
There was a small queue at Cathay Pacific’s check in desk and it seems the help staff had done more than they let on. Not only was my meal all confirmed, but they’d requested me seat 59A, an emergency exit window seat. Thank you!
Being 6am there was no security queue to speak of and exit formalities took no more than ten minutes.
Airside was uncharacteristically quiet.
Slightly to my dismay there was an announcement that the 0730 departure had become an 0830 one. I passed the time with a bit of photography
My name was called at the gate, unfortunately no upgrade, they just wanted confirmation I was happy to carry out emergency exit duties.
As you can see below my seat had ample leg room and thankfully today there were no bassinets in use. Although the toilets were nearby, the queue didn’t cause a disturbance, unlike my recent SQ A380 flight.
Take off was towards the west and we headed more or less straight out over the Blue Mountains before turning towards the north west.
The crew leader came to confirm my special meal and stopped to ensure I was aware of all the other vegetarian options. I’m not vegetarian but have to be careful of some meats, so I just think it’s safer to order vegetarian when on long haul flights. The crew leader then explained every vegetarian option Cathay Pacific offer so I can have more variety on future flights. It was a nice gesture.
About an hour later the first meal service arrived, which would have been breakfast were we on time. My tray had an orange juice, bottle of water for the flight, bread roll, a pretty bad curry, fruit salad and a yoghurt. Overall the meal was disappointing, it is hard to make a flavourless Indian meal but somehow Cathay managed to.
To see out of the window in 59A I needed to recline my seat, so I waited until the first meal service was over. By that time we were flying over North West Queensland and later Arnhem Land.
By this time most of other passengers had shut their blinds and gone to sleep. Personally I think that’s a dumb thing to do on a day flight because it will make jet lag much worse, especially as the time difference between Sydney and Hong Kong is minimal. Anyway, someone complained about the open blind, so the cabin crew came over to me. They explained someone had complained, but if I wanted to keep watching the view they would go back and tell my fellow passenger to wear an eye mask. Congratulations to the crew, she handled it very well.
Her reverse psychology worked so I decided to shut the blind and explore CX Studio, unfortunately this intro was about the best thing on offerhttps://youtu.be/m3FJoXQwlZQ
I really couldn’t find anything to entice me and opted to listen to some music.
About two hours outside of Hong Kong a second meal was served. It was very similar to the first, except this time we were offered a hot drink. I opted for green tea, which I figured would be good on Cathay, I was right. My seat mate decided she wasn’t hungry and offered me her desert, which I politely accepted.
Unfortunately as with the first meal, it was completely flavourless, which is unusual for Indian style food on a plane.
I was unable to take any photographs of our landing because of the window position, but it was smooth.
As I had seven hours before my connecting flight, I decided to see if I could visit Hong Kong city. The passport lady didn’t seem to care and off I went into town.
These brief few hours brought back memories of when I was teenager and Hong Kong was still a colony, about 25 years ago.
I really remember this Cathay TV add from the time, which stuck in my mind then and now - it seemed so modern and worldly at the time. I chuckled when I saw the very deliberate "Rolls Royce" shot of the engines and convertible. Back in those days Hong Kongers would proudly tell visitors they had more Rolls Royce motorcars per head of population than anywhere else in the world, ain't it weird the stuff one remembers?!?! https://youtu.be/ZgYddtwHlpU
Also, here is the Cathay Pacific Kai Tak arrivals video from that era, does anyone else remember City Check? https://youtu.be/Ztr_xR3EiUQ
How things have changed, I guess the new world got old.
Cathay 747 and apron at Kai Tak
Victoria Peak Tram Terminal, rather less developed than today
This water has all been reclaimed and is now land containing the conference centre
Needless to say life is very different now.Sector two
Route: Hong Kong to London Heathrow
First flight: May 2015
Having already checked in, it took no more than 10 minutes to go through exit formalities. I had started to feel quite ill and headed to the gate, which fortunately was the first one by security. An A380 sized queue had started to form, this was ‘British’ Airways after all.
I’d been on G-XLEH on one of my Singapore shuttles when I was commuting back and forth, but this time I had to keep walking back into economy. Luckily I had used my status to get a window seat upstairs, which gives a large space under the window where there is a storage bin.
The upstairs World Traveller cabin is quiet and neatly presented.
The seat was very comfortable with a power outlet underneath and a USB in front.
After a long take off roll we lumbered slowing upwards, flying over the harbour which gave great views, punctuated by cloud. Our path went more or less dead north towards Mongolia, before crossing into Russia, heading to just north of St Petersburg and then down through the Baltic towards England.
I was feeling extremely unwell so took sleeping tablets and stomach tablets which completely knocked me out. I recall a stewardess brought me a meal but I declined apologising as I was unwell. I woke up about 90 minutes from Heathrow.
The cabin crew were already serving breakfast and I took a Full English. They seemed very disorganised and confused by what was happening, which is disappointing. Sorry I didn’t get a photo, but breakfast had scrambled egg, bacon, sausage, mushrooms and hash brown. There was also a yoghurt and a tub of orange juice. Coffee followed. To my surprise it was all very nice.
We landed over Central London before a smooth landing.
We docked at T5C which meant a journey on the shuttle to T5A where passport control was fast, in part because I made sure to be by the train door nearest to the escalators.
I jumped onto the Piccadilly Line to Piccadilly Circus, which was spookily empty. I bet few people have ever managed to snap Piccadilly Circus without a single soul in it.Conclusion
All of my interaction with Cathay Pacific’s staff was very positive, they were polite and good at problem solving which I appreciated. However the food and entertainment were disappointing.
My time in Hong Kong was wonderful, I have happy memories of spending time there as a young teenager and it was nice to be back. For some odd reason the Star Ferry is still one of my favourite things.
The BA A380 is a really nice aircraft that’s quiet and comfortably configured. To get over ten hours sleep in economy is pretty good. To my surprise the breakfast was nice, even if the service seemed to be in a muddle.
Compared to my recent flights with Virgin Atlantic & Virgin Australia on the same sectors http://www.airliners.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1399911
these established players remain quite competitive.