Maximizing Miles in the Maldives: Cathay First, Eating in Singapore, and a Park Hyatt Water Villa – Cathay’s New San Francisco Lounge

  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 departed the Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf at the conclusion of our free stopover in San Francisco (who says that American doesn’t allow stopovers on one-way partner awards? They do, at the North American gateway city.)

On arrival at San Francisco International Airport, check-in was a bit confused. We walked straight up to the first class line, one person was being checked in ahead of us, I was surprised how many people are already in the queue nearly three hours before flight. It took longer than usual, apparently because of the reservation system changeover at Cathay which apparently was one of the less smooth transitions we’ve seen in awhile (and I say that having flown US Airways on the day that the combined America West-US Airways moved over to SHARES, flying out of Florida on a Sunday with online check-in and kiosks non-functional). The agent actually needed to see my printed confirmation to prove that I had onward travel beyond Singapore for immigration purposes, even though my onward travel was on the same itinerary.

Once check-in formalities were handled we proceeded to a short though slow-moving security line, made an immediate left-turn towards the first set o lounges, and found our way up to the new Cathay Pacific lounge which has gotten much attention since opening a few months ago.

The lounge is bright, the furnishings match a standard Cathay Pacific style. And it’s certainly a good lounge by U.S. standards. But it’s a “Business and First Class lounge,” there’s no separate first class side, and it is a busy lounge.

We got there long before our flight and there were very few open seats. We found a couple of seats together in the corner, and one was even near an outlet. My immediate reaction to the lounge, in addition to being crowded, was that there weren’t enough seats that had access to power. I wasn’t too worried about it, my first class seat would have seat power, but you still don’t want to draw your battery down before a 14 hour flight.

Internet access requires a fixed code which they’ll give you at the reception desk, it’s on a sign and they’ll hand you a slip of paper with the password to use.

Food was modest — make your own salad, a couple of hot items including overcooked pasta — the highlight of course was the noodle bar.

I had some spicy peanut soup which wasn’t especially spicey, a bowl of peanut sauce more or less with noodles (not a bad thing!).

Soon enough it was time to board. Ultimately, and I know I point out the flaws in the lounge, it was a nice space considering it was a lounge inside the U.S. and it’s even an improvement over when Cathay was using the BA lounge. I like the design, the noodle bar makes it authentically Cathay, it just needs to be larger. It’s too crowded leading up to a packed 747.

Of course I would have loved a separate first class section, that’s not realistic with just two flights a day — one with 6 seats and one with 9 upfront — and not usually full cabins at that (although the first class section would likely be full of oneworld top tier elites regardless of class of service).

Ultimately they didn’t have enough space to work with, they did a nice enough job with the space they had, but I wouldn’t purposely arrive early just to experience the lounge.

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. I was at the CX Lounge in SFO a couple of days after grand opening and really enjoyed it, especially the noodle bar. Our flight was the daytime flight to HKG and the lounge was empty early, but filled up quite a bit as you noted.

  2. Gary – not sure that two flights a day is sufficient justification for lack of first lounge. We recently came back from Whistler using CX YVR-JFK service and they have a separate F lounge. For most of the time we were the only ones in there (though one other guy showed up eventually, this is with F full on board). They do this despite having only one 777 and one 747 flight each day. Maybe they have more love for the Canadians 🙂 Interestingly the F lounge was just a separate area at the end of the lounge with nobody “policing” access, so pretty much anyone could have gone there. Only notable difference, other than being empty, was they had champagne at the bar and some better wines

  3. Took this flight last month and had the same impression; nice-looking new lounge but far too crowded. Internet barely worked when I was there, also. it beats having to go to that ugly old Terraces lounge at SFO, but I was disappointed. The noodle bar I like as an idea but I thought those dan-dan noodles (the peanut ones) were sub-par for a Chinese carrier.

    I was much happier, of course, once I sat down in 2K.

  4. The Cathay Pacific lounge in SF was my favorite to visit in the US, because the food was so much better than the Delta lounges.

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