Cathay Pacific is a Hong Kong-based airline with a sterling reputation for world-class service.  They serve a wide variety of markets (all of them international, of course) and have long been a stalwart of nonstop flights between Hong Kong and the United States.  Cathay Pacific First Class is one of the “aspirational” First Class cabins, one that people save up their miles to fly, and with good reason.  I’ve been lucky enough to fly them in First Class four separate times so I’m fairly well-qualified to tell you what it’s like.  So many of you enjoyed my review of Singapore Airlines Suites Class, so let’s do it again.  Sit back, pour yourself some Krug champagne, and take a look at the full experience of flying Cathay Pacific First Class!

a person pouring champagne into a glass on an airplane

Checking In

Hong Kong International Airport is enormous and beautiful, the architecture is just fantastic.  When you walk into the departure hall of Terminal 1, you’ll see massive rows of check-in desks for what seems like every airline in the world and even some airlines for other worlds.  If you’re flying in First Class, head to the far left row and you’ll see the white marble of the Cathay Pacific First Class check-in area.

people standing in a room with laptops

Once the check-in agents see you heading their direction they will usually walk up to greet you long before you make it to the desk so they can assist you with your luggage.  Within a few key strokes they will have you checked in and hand you your lounge invitation.

Now, the next part is out of Cathay Pacific’s control, but the annoying thing about HKG is there is no priority security lane for Premium passengers (I know I sound spoiled saying that, but it is annoying).  Once you make it through security, the fun truly begins!

The First Class Lounges

Cathay Pacific has two First Class lounges at HKG from which to choose: The Pier and The Wing.  They are both unique and wonderful in their own way and both are worth a visit if you have the time.  (a note: you can access these lounges if you hold Oneworld Emerald status and are traveling on an international itinerary, regardless of your class of service!)

The Pier

One of Cathay’s newest lounges, I’ve raved about The Pier.  It’s located under gate 65.  The signage is similar to other lounges but what lies at the bottom of the escalator is one of the best airport lounges in the world.

a sign with a logo on it

a sign on a wall

Most of the Cathay Pacific lounges have a design theme which emphasizes marble and shiny surfaces.  Your first clue that the Pier will be different is the giant wooden Cathay Pacific logo which greets you at the bottom of the escalator.

a metal object on a wood surface

Once you’re welcomed in by the lounge staff you’ll enter the main hallway and feel like you’re in a different world.

a room with chairs and a table

a wooden table with a bowl and potted plants

The design theme is unique and luxurious and so different from almost any other lounge I’ve ever visited.  The amenity list is long and similarly luxurious, from day suites for longer layovers to foot massages.

a couch in a room

a basket of towels and a basket of towels

The bar area almost resembles a lounge from a country club back in the 70s to me.

a man and woman sitting at a bar

The Dining Room is similarly unique with green leather and ample wooden trim.  The food is catered by The Peninsula hotel and is just superb.  I highly recommend the Dan Dan noodles.

a glass of champagne on a table

The Wing

The Wing has been around longer than The Pier but it is wonderfully luxurious and a little more glitzy.  The lounges at HKG are either the floor below the gate level (like The Pier) or the floor above the gate level, like The Wing.  Since the ceiling of the lounge is in fact the ceiling of the terminal it has a very open feeling.  When you walk into the lounge, the first thing you’ll see is the Champagne Bar.

a group of wine glasses on a tray

a group of champagne bottles in a bowl

Once you’ve had your fill of a few different varieties of champagne, you can explore the rest of the lounge, which is decorated with lots of black marble.  There’s a nice bar with all manner of premium boozes (beeze?) available.

a group of people in a lounge

The dining area is offset from the main lounge area but features similar entrees as The Pier, since they’re both catered by The Peninsula hotel.

One of the best amenities offered by The Wing is access to Cabanas.  The Cabanas are more than a shower suite, there’s a shower, a bathtub, and a chaise lounge in which to relax before your flight.  They even offer a shirt-pressing service directly from your Cabana.

a bathroom with a bathtub and a leather couch

a bathroom with a couch and bathtub

The Cabanas make The Wing worth a visit, such a relaxing experience before…well, relaxing on your flight I guess.

Which is better: The Pier or The Wing?

If you’re flying back to the USA aboard Cathay Pacific your flight will typically depart from gates 1-4, which are directly next to The Wing.  If you’re flying elsewhere in the world you could be departing from any number of gates.  I think both lounges are worth a visit but if you’re not a loungenerd like me I’d say go to the one closest to your gate.  They’re both fantastic and luxurious but in completely different ways.

Cathay Pacific First Class

The Cabin

When you board, you’ll be walked to your seat by a cabin attendant, who will immediately offer a beverage (champagne, perhaps?) and offer to take your carry-on luggage.  There are no overhead bins to give the cabin more of an airy feel, but there are areas available for your roll-aboards.

a man standing in a room with a map on the wall

Since Cathay Pacific recently stopped flying the 747 (which is a shame), the only First Class cabin is aboard their Boeing 777-300ER fleet.  There are six seats in the First Class cabin, each one with aisle access.

The Seat

a seat in a plane

Cathay Pacific First Class features an amazing seat, one of the best in the sky in fact.  The product has been around for quite a while now but remains competitive, even though it lacks a separate bed or the fancy gimmicks like showers in the sky.  Plus, each seat comes with its very own orchid!

a purple flowers in a vase by a window

The seat itself is very wide, in fact you could almost fit two people in it side by side.

a seat with a pillow and a pillow on it

You might actually think it’s too wide, but you can fold down an armrest to make it feel a little more comfy (the extra width is to make the seat more comfortable in bed mode).

a seat with a magazine in the back

An ottoman awaits your feet, under which you can put extra luggage if necessary.  You’ll notice a seatbelt on the ottoman, why’s it there?  So if you’re traveling with a companion they can join you for dinner!  Probably not a better venue for a date than clinking glasses of Krug champagne in your comfy Cathay Pacific First Class pajamas, after all.

a seat in an airplane

As you’ll see here, when the seat is in bed mode the footrest extends all the way to the ottoman to create a bed long enough for almost any traveler.

a seat in a plane

If that looks like it’s not comfortable, don’t worry, it’s very comfortable, particularly because the cabin attendants can put down a mattress pad of sorts along with a very cozy comforter to ensure a good sleep on board.

a bed with a blanket and a laptop on a table

The Service

You cabin attendants begin taking care of you from the first second you step aboard the aircraft.  Once you’re comfortably ensconced in your seat, your cabin attendant will offer you a beverage.  Take the champagne, it’s Krug Grand Cuvee and very delicious!

a person pouring champagne into a glass

a glass of champagne on a table

I do want to briefly talk about the difference in the service “style” between Cathay Pacific First Class and Singapore Suites Class.  Cathay Pacific cabin attendants do not want to disturb you and generally stay out of the cabin unless they are summoned by a guest.  So Americans, who are typically scolded for using the flight attendant call button when on a US carrier, will need to take note that they actually want you to use the call button.  Indeed on my first Cathay Pacific First Class flight the in-flight manager eventually came by my seat to ensure I was enjoying my flight, since I hadn’t asked them to do anything special for me!  I compare that to the service style of Singapore Airlines, where cabin attendants seemingly appear out of nowhere everywhere you look to ensure you’re having a great experience.

The cabin attendants speak good English and I’ve always had very friendly and professional cabin crew on my flights, the service style is nice without being too over the top or robotic in my opinion.

The Food

The food on Cathay Pacific receives mixed reviews, although I’ve always enjoyed it.  Meal service begins with an amuse bouche, which I’ve enjoyed some times and have had no idea what to do with it other times (like the one below).

a glass of soup with a cracker on a plate

After figuring out what to do with the amuse bouche they serve an absolutely fantastic caviar appetizer.  The appetizer has changed slightly over the years in terms of presentation but it’s still wonderful any way you look at it.

a plate of food on a table

a table with food and wine glasses on it

a bowl of caviar with a spoon on a plate

I was going to post about the salads, but let’s be honest it’s a salad.  They’ve all been fine and vegetable-y.  Let’s show some of the mains.

a plate of steak and sauce

a plate of food on a table

Cathay Pacific First Class holds a near and dear place in my heart, as they’re one of the few airlines who can seem to cook a decent steak on board.

a plate of steak and vegetables

Desserts have been fine, but the enormous main entrees usually leave me with little room to enjoy it.  Don’t worry, I still fight through though.

a plate of food on a table

a plate of desserts on a table

Taking away the differing opinions about the quality of the dinner service it’s almost universally agreed upon that Cathay Pacific First Class makes the best breakfast in the sky.  The scrambled eggs (scrambled on board) are simply beautiful and taste terrific.

a plate of food on a table

The Experience

I have to be honest.  Even though Qatar Airways is the airline on which I’ve had the most fun in First Class, there’s just something special about Cathay Pacific First Class.  There really aren’t any weaknesses to their First Class service and it’s widely available throughout the world, versus Qatar’s limited First Class network.  The cabin service is wonderful, once you get the hang of using the call button, and I’ve never had a cabin attendant who has been anything less than pleasant.  It’s smooth, consistent, and just about perfect in every way.

a glass of champagne and a bowl of cashews on a table next to a window

So here’s to Cathay Pacific First Class, one of the best ways to fly!


Have you flown Cathay Pacific First Class?  What did you think?  Which image is your favorite?  Talk to me in the comments below!

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