I recently had the pleasure of flying business class on Cathay Pacific from New York to Hong Kong. Everything about the flight was superlative, from the friendly service to the tasty Chinese cuisine and Murad toiletries.
In light of this experience, I was very intrigued to hear about what Cathay changed when it unveiled its new business class in March. When I flew with them in February, the best part, in my opinion, was the seats, which are each individually situated in "herringbone fashion" and surrounded by privacy partitions. This set-up is especially appreciable when trying to sleep: There's no getting distracted or woken up by your neighbor moving around, turning on lights, or flipping through movies. The comfy seats also feature plenty of intuitive nooks and crannies in which to store your items close at hand. And, of course, they lie flat come bedtime.
On both ends, the check-in experience went smoothly – at JFK, Cathay business class passengers use the British Airways lounge, which is nothing remarkable but definitely does the job. The lounge in Hong Kong, called The Wing, is more noteworthy: The design is sleek and modern with lots of warm wood, white marble, and modern furniture by Knoll and B&B Italia. Best of all, you can slurp up fresh, hot bowls of goodness at the Noodle Bar around the clock. (It turns out the fat, flavorful noodles make as great a breakfast as they do a midnight snack).
So what are the most noteworthy changes?
The biggest news is the seats, which are both wider and longer than previous ones, making them some of the most spacious in the sky. The seats get even roomier when folded flat with a new feature called Bed Extension, which adds another three inches in width. New ergonomic-friendly cushion design and fresh duvets, blankets, and pillows further up the comfort level. Overall, travelers have reported having much more room in which to store their belongings and stretch out while eating or working on a laptop.
The other big change is that in the new business class, the center row of seats subtly face toward each other instead of away, which is ideal if you're traveling with a companion. Previously, many passengers reported feeling isolated and cut-off from fellow travelers. For those traveling solo, you can request an outboard seat, which are angled toward a window. Or if you find yourself in the center section, then maybe you'll make a new friend while using the new "cocktail tables" that separate the seats. Either way, once you recline your seat and pop out the TV screen, it's back to having maximum privacy.
Another noteworthy innovation is the revamped entertainment system: An adaptor allows passengers to plug in their Apple devices (iPads, etc.) and stream videos or other media straight to their personal 15" TV screen. (Universal outlets keep your devices fully charged). Of course, there's also a full library of over 100 movies, games, music stations, and TV shows (I may or may not have watched 10-plus episodes of "Glee" to and from Hong Kong).
Numerous other touches – original artwork by Hong Kong artist Maria Lobo throughout the cabins, new uniforms on the flight attendants, small vanity mirrors discretely hidden in each seat – round out the experience. Select A330s flying between Hong Kong and Sydney introduced the new business class in March; this month, lucky passengers can get the experience aboard the giant, new Boeing 777s on select flights between Hong Kong and New York. Later this year Cathay will expand the new business class to Los Angeles and Chicago routes.
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