Cathay Pacific First Class, Hong Kong – New York JFK: Vietnam, Cambodia, Macau and Hong Kong Trip Report


I walked over from the business class exit of the Wing to gate 1 where my JFK flight would be leaving.

The gate area itself gets cordoned off for a US-bound flight. Since Hong Kong security isn’t signed onto the War on Water, doesn’t confiscate liquids at security, there’s a separate security and liquids check.

Every time I go through this procedure I think about what it must be like to be departing Hong Kong on United, in economy, and not be permitted to bring water onboard. For 15 hours, dependent on United flight attendants for hydration. Shudder.

There was a long line snaking around the gate area to board for economy, but not line for premium cabins so I walked right on and down the jetway.

Once on the aircraft I smiled, once again with the better part of a day to spend with the familiar seats.

Of course with this return flight I still wouldn’t get a taste of Cathay Pacific’s new first class. But that’s alright because I’ve got another couple of bites at the apple later this year.

And I would try new service elements.

Cathay has introduced, since February 1, an amuse bouche service while on the ground.

The tuna was actually pretty good, a nice predeparture snack, and that was followed by towel service.

Amenity kits and pajamas were distributed.

Menus were passed out as well, click on these to enlarge:

And soon enough it was time to push back and taxi.

I flipped the entertainment system to the nose camera for takeoff roll and ascent.

Once up to a cruising altitude the flight attendants came around taking lunch orders and setting up the main meal.

I began with caviar and salmon.

And then moved on to the Chinese options, which are generally better than the Western mains on Cathay.

The first meal on Cathay always ends with petit fours.

The Western prawns looked tasty, though, and so did the cake and ice cream.

Once done with lunch, and though it wasn’t yet 11am in Hong Kong, I decided to see if I could nap and adjust as quickly as possible back to time in the States. Plus I had gotten up early and hadn’t had much sleep the night before, so thought I had a chance.

I changed into my pajamas while a flight attendant made my bed.

I dozed for maybe an hour, but really wasn’t sleeping. One of the things I like about the Cathay seat is how comfortable it is not just in bed mode but also for lounge, having the bed made and bringing it up maybe a quarter of the way to watch television.

First up I decided to watch About Time, a British independent film with Rachel McAdams about a family where the men are able to travel back in time during their own lifetimes, and a young man who tries to alter things each step of the way to improve his love life and the lives of those around him. It was actually remarkably well done, and not to give away any of the plot I’ll say that this is the first movie that I can ever remember crying while watching. And I’m not proud to admit this one did make me cry.

After a few more shows, and maybe 7 hours in total into flight, I decided to order a snack.

Afterward, some more tv and finally I was tired enough to sleep for about 3 hours. Upon waking we were perhaps 90 minutes out of New York and they offered to serve another meal. I actually wasn’t up for anything on formal offer, so asked about remaining options from the snack menu (I sort of wanted the burger, but they were out) and instead went with fruit and then an entrée from the main meal.

… plus egg tarts from the snack menu.

By the time I had finished eating there was only a bit over 30 minutes left to go. I got up to go to the lav to change back into my street clothes, a flight attendant clear away my bedding, and we were on the ground in New York shortly thereafter.

No complaints at all about the flight. Cathay Pacific continues to have probably my favorite airline seat, despite not offering ‘doors’ they’re wide especially with only 3 seats across rather than the standard four and the bedding is comfortable. The food and snacks are good though far from the best in the sky. Pajamas and amenities are excellent. Service is very very good, in a reserved way, they are there the moment you need them but aren’t proactively monitoring you. I would fly Cathay Pacific first class anywhere, any time for sure.

We taxied quickly to the terminal, and I just look arriving at JFK terminal 7 because there are really no walks at all needed to get to immigration. I was through quickly with Global Entry, rechecked my bag onto the American Eagle flight home to DC, and was through the small terminal and outside to the Airtrain in no time.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. With these long posts, is there a way to post a little bit (a teaser) and then link to the rest? I don’t care about one single word of the post but need to scroll down pretty far to get to the next post.

  2. @mark – is the ‘more’ link in the post not working for you? I’ve tried to do just that — and it works for me in Google Chrome but haven’t looked at it in other browsers.

  3. Why do the international flights to the US not permit passengers to carry on water purchased after security on the planes?

  4. Gary, the more link doesn’t work on my Safari mobile browser. Shows the entire post

  5. >Every time I go through this procedure I think about what it must be like to be departing Hong Kong on United, in economy, and not be permitted to bring water onboard. For 15 hours, dependent on United flight attendants for hydration. Shudder.

    In fact, if I’m flying from SIN back to the US in whY (as I’m doing with my family in a few weeks), I now route via NRT for just this reason.


  6. @David because security itself doesn’t prevent you from bringing your own liquids to the airport, as required by the US’ “War on Water”

  7. @David: I believe the problem is that the liquid check flying from Hong Kong is made at the gate. The security check you go through to access the general gate area allows liquids therefore, in order to satisfy the US there is a an additional liquid check as you board, with no opportunity to purchase liquids (or, probably, fill a water bottle from a fountain) after the check.

  8. Can you explained how you rechecked for the Eagle flight from T7? Did you do it from the CX desk or does AA have a setup there that I’ve missed in the past?

  9. @CW – sorry, the bag was actually tagged to JFK and I just dropped it back off once through customs, but there is a place to tag bags over to AA in the international arrivals area

  10. Thanks, I was not aware of that. I always dragged to T8…will keep an eye out next time…

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