Maximizing Miles in the Maldives: Cathay First, Eating in Singapore, and a Park Hyatt Water Villa – Cathay Pacific First Class, Hong Kong – Chicago

  1. Introduction
  2. Positioning flights to San Francisco, Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf, and Some Dim Sum for the Day
  3. Cathay’s New San Francisco Lounge
  4. Cathay Pacific First Class, San Francisco – Hong Kong
  5. The Wing and Cathay Pacific First Class, Hong Kong – Singapore
  6. A Grand Suite at the Grand Hyatt Singapore
  7. Eating in Singapore
  8. Dinner at Waku Ghin, Marina Bay Sands
  9. Singapore Airlines Business Class: Singapore – Male
  10. Transfer to the Park Hyatt Hadahaa, Maldives
  11. Park Hyatt Maldives – Part I
  12. Park Hyatt Maldives – Part II
  13. Park Hyatt Maldives – Part III
  14. Maldivian, Kaadehdhoo – Male
  15. Singapore Airlines Business Class, Male – Singapore
  16. Cathay Pacific Business Class, Singapore – Hong Kong
  17. Conrad Hong Kong
  18. Cathay Pacific First Class, Hong Kong – Chicago
  19. American’s Chicago Flagship Lounge and the Final Journey Home

We went downstairs and the hotel hailed a cab for us around 9:15am for our 11:50am departure, we were at the airport around 9:50am. First stop was the first class check-in area. Even though we had our boarding passes already I just wanted to have them verify that they had located our checked bags from the day before, I hadn’t even bothered to check at the gate in Singapore as had been suggested to me, I wasn’t especially worried but figured I had the time. They confirmed that they had our bags and that they were checked through to DC as requested.

Then we proceeded through passport control and security, and made the sharp left turn over to The Wing.

It was March 2, the business class side renovations were completed and it was almost time that they’ve be closing down the first class side to be redone.

And it couldn’t come soon enough! Not that the place was a mess by any means, it’s light and airy but also not particularly ‘special.’ The only bit that’s a cut above are the cabanas, a large shower room with a tub and a deck for relaxing, it’s more space than usually allotted to showers. But I wouldn’t be checking those out this morning.

I wasn’t hungry, either, and that was a good thing since there was a line about 8 people deep waiting for tables to free up in The Haven, the dining area of the first class lounge. I’ve also never been much for hitting the buffet there and then having a seat in the dining area, it’s a closed-in space with artificial light. Not a huge fan of the buffet to begin with, I’d just assume grab a snack and take it with me back to the spacious seating area overlooking the terminal and the tarmac.

All I had was a coffee, and I settled in to use the internet, the signal has been glitchy at best on my past few visits and I wind up alternating between the lounge connection and the airport’s free connection.

Soon enough it was time to head over to our gate for the flight to Chicago. I really do feel bad for passengers departing Hong Kong and headed to the US in economy, though more so if they were flying on a US carrier. Hong Kong doesn’t enforce a liquids prohibition, so passengers have to be searched for liquids in the gate area when heading to the U.S. Which means that after security, if you buy a bottle of water for the long flight, it will be confiscated. I admit I don’t think I’d trust flight attendants that are there ‘primarily for my safety’ to keep my properly hydrated — even though I’d consider that to be a safety issue 🙂 Fortunately I would have no such concerns boarding Cathay Pacific and in first class.

Once onboard I found a couple seated in 2 D/K, they were celebrating a milestone wedding anniversary with a trip to Singapore and Hong Kong, their first visit to Asia. So the cabin would be filled 4/6 for the flight.

First came pre-departure beverages (a little Krug is always nice), then pajamas, an amenity kit, and the day’s menu.

Here’s what we would be having as our first meal:


Caviar and Balik
Caviar and Balik salmon “Tsar Nicolaj”

International Favourites
Cream of onion soup

Traditional Caesar salad

Grilled U.S. striploin with green peppercorn sauce, mixed potatoes, herb roasted portabella mushroom and vine ripened tomato
Pan-friend Mediterranean sea bass with garlic butter, vegetable saffron rice, roasted portabello mushroom and French beans
Spinach and ricotta cheese tortellini with tomato concasse and pine nuts

Chinese Favourites
Pork with lotus root and octopus soup

Cold plate – beef tendon with mixed vegetables

Sauteed pork fillet in Chinese black vinegar sauce, served with steamed jasmine rice and braised baby Chinese cabbage

Cheese ad Dessert
Fourme d’Amert, Cheddar, Reblachon, Tomme

Fresh berries with rose syrup

Warm raspberry friend cake with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce

Double boiled papaya with snow fungus sweet soup

Tea and Cofee


The salmon and caviar to begin:

Bread basket:

The Chinese meal:

And the Western option, soup and the steak:

Surprisingly, the meat was excellent, and out of the ordinary for a plane it wasn’t at all overcooked:

Much better than the average Western option on a Cathay flight, I almost always go for the Chinese exclusively because the Western choices are subpar. On this flight my wife went for the Chinese, and I gave the Western a shot only because it had been awhile since I had done so on Cathay.

We both skipped dessert, and they delivered pralines to my seat.

I went to the lavatory to change into pajamas, while the flight attendant made my bed.

I had them leave the seat reclined, rather than flat, though because I figured I’d get comfortable and settle in for the long flight but I really wasn’t tired, it was a noon departure after all and I had gotten a pretty good rest at the Conrad. So I started watching several films, and the hours just passed by.

With about 8 hours left in the flight I decided to have a bit of a snack, I had only eaten a bit of lunch, and besides I wanted to try a few items on offer (I’m a sucker for egg tarts).

Hong kong style egg tart

Assorted sandwiches
Beef pastrami with horseradish butter, mango cheddar cheese chutney, smoked salmon with lemon cream cheese

Taiwanese braised beef in spicy noodle soup

Barbecued roasted duck in noodle soup

Hot pot rice with minced pork patty with mui choy vegetable, served with pork soup with kaza root and red beans

Ice cream

I opted for the spicy noodle soup and the egg tarts.

After my snack I was ready to snooze, and I got a few hours of rest before waking up about 2 hours out. I watched a sitcom episode, and around 1:20 before landing I took the lead flight attendant up on an offer of breakfast.


Orange, apple or grapefruit juice

Pink guava smoothie

Fresh seasonal fruit

Natural or fruit yoghurt from La Ferme du Manege

Assorted cereals

Main Courses
Organic free range eggs – freshly scrambled, fried or boiled
Served with your choice of potato cake with cheese and spring onion, broiled bacon, pan fried Cumberland sausage, roma tomato with herbs or mushrooms

Dim sum with chili sauce
Scallop wih fish egg dumpling, baby spinach with shrimp dumpling, chive and pork dumpling, mini chicken glutinous rice wrapped in lotus leaf

Fish and ginkgo nut congee with baked barbecued pork pie

Bread Basket
Assorted breakfast bread and fresh toast
Served with Mrs. Bridges Scottish preserves, Tasmanian meadow honey and butter

Tea and Coffee


Breakfast on Cathay Pacific is one of my favorite treats. I know that many people don’t think especially highly of Cathay’s meals, and in general I agree. A Kaiseki meal on ANA is an affair to behold and a true out of the ordinary treat. The overall quality and presentation in first class on Singapore is impressive. Asiana’s food probably tops them all, they’re the only carrier that has ever served actual shaved truffles to me as part of an appetizer.

But Cathay’s breakfasts are really good. They could probably kick it up a notch with their coffee (and you can wait awhile, they don’t serve any hot beverages while the seatbelt sign is on). But the smoothies or “energizer drinks” are quite good. I skip the cereal, the yogurt, and even the fruit. And I’ll actually just indulge in two main course choices — the dim sum (I really like their chili sauce) and the eggs, cooked-to-order onboard, the bacon and the potato are usually especially good. Pair that with the bread basket, an opportunity to sample some really excellent preserves (and Tasmanian honey – wow). I love a mid-day departure from Hong Kong, and a midnight departure from the U.S., because it means that I’ll get breakfast onboard.

Incidentally, despite being on the menu, I’ve never actually been offered pralines at breakfast (nor have I asked!).

About 25 minutes out I changed out of my pajamas, collected my belongings and packed them back into my carryons, put the liquids from my amenity kit into my freedom baggie as I’d be proceeding back through security after I made it past immigration, customs, and over to the American Airlines terminal. And suddenly we were on the ground, on the other side of the world from where we had started, and barely worse for the wear (though rather desiring a shower).

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. […] Originally Posted by Guy Betsy No. You spoil the fun of being able to check in at the F class counters. Its only beneficial if you plan to change/reserve your seat. Is there any particular fun in doing so in HKG? I know TG at BKK, BA at LHR and SQ at SIN try to do the luxury hotel thing (sit down with an attendant instead of waiting in a queue, and so on), and there's of course LH's FCT at FRA. Is CX a similar experience? It doesn't look it from this picture… […]


  1. Gary- On my flt from Chicago to Hong Kong in first on Cathay in Nov., I thought the food was excellent. I had rack of lamb for dinner #1 and sea bass for dinner #2. Both were excellent. I also had the crab cakes for a snack. It was very good. My parents,who were traveling with me, had lobster as one of their dinner choices. They liked it also. I even liked the desserts.

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