CX Trip Report: Cathay Pacific flight 879 San Francisco-Hong Kong

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CX Trip Report: Cathay Pacific flight 879 San Francisco-Hong Kong

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At about 1:55pm the main lounge agent opened the doors to the First Class section fully so they’d remain open to the hallway and announced to the room, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we are now ready to board Cathay Pacific flight 879 to Hong Kong.†She continued on with a couple of additional scripted sentences thanking us for our patience, hoping we enjoyed the lounge and wished us a pleasant journey. I was nearest the door, so was the first out and made my way through the Business Class section of the lounge to the “secret†boarding door.

A door at the rear of the lounge is attached directly to the beginning of the jet bridge for gate A6, which is so cool in my book. As I made it to the agent manning the boarding scanner, the first agent rebroadcast the same announcement over the PA so everyone in the lounge now knew boarding was available. I handed over my boarding pass, she scanned it getting the acceptance beep, handed it back and wished me a pleasant flight.

a close-up of a ticketWhen I reached the flight attendant standing at the aircraft door, she pleasantly welcomed me aboard and asked where I was sitting. I responded, “2A,†and she immediately replied, “Oh, Mr. Booth… welcome and please let me show you to your seat!†I’ve only had that happen one other time where they’ve studied the manifest ahead of time to know the names of First Class passengers as they board. It’s a quick few steps to seat 2A and she showed me my personal closet and asked me to please make myself comfortable while she went back to the door to greet additional passengers.

a pillow on a coucha seat in an airplanea tv on a shelfa seat with a pillow and a bag on the floora seat in an airplaneWithin seconds a colleague of hers brought me Shanghai Tang pajamas and asked what I’d like to drink. She returned within moments with a Perrier with lemon and a hot towel. I took the opportunity to take a few videos of the cabin when two more passengers approached seats 1A & 1K. We chatted briefly and the flight attendant made her way back to greet the new arrivals noting it was just the three of us booked in First today. Those other passengers in the lounge, then, must have been Emerald status Oneworld elites, but flying in Business Class.

an airplane with a few seatsa ceiling with lights and ventsNewspapers were distributed and later a flight attendant came by with the drink list and menu.

a list of wine lista list of alcohol drinks

a menu of food on a white backgrounda menu with text on itPush back eventually came and the safety demo began on the 17†video screen next to my “pod.†I took quite a bit more video on taxi out and will get around to editing it into another video trip report after I finish each installment of the text version. After takeoff, I headed to the lavatory to change into my PJs and snapped a few pictures of the spacious setup, which included a large sink, full-size mirror, two windows and additional amenities.

a sink in a bathrooma toilet with a sign on the lida group of white bottles on a metal shelfAfter returning to my seat, a flight attendant came by with the men’s amenity kit and brought another Perrier and warm nuts.

a small black bag on a planea glass of water next to a plate of foodI relaxed and went through the vast entertainment system that features more than 100 movies and 500 television programs with a fantastic selection of new releases & classic pictures. It was quickly time for lunch with caviar and smoked salmon to start. Also adorning the table set up was a Bon Appetite card with a personalized note.

a close-up of a notea plate of food on a tableI went for the Chinese selections wanting to be as authentic as possible and was served delicious double-pork soup with mountain yam and wolfberries along with marinated white and wood ear fungus with cucumber.

a table with food on itThen it was on to the main course and I went with the sautéed pork with sweet bean sauce served with steamed jasmine rice, stir-fried kailan, mushroom and carrots. Remember my teaser from the last part where I couldn’t believe what I experienced in First Class? Well, here it is… the pork was the chewiest most fat-riddled meat I’ve ever had. I’ve had MUCH better quality at Panda Express restaurants and was just amazed at how terrible it was. I didn’t say anything to the flight attendants knowing they can’t control catering, but was so surprised at the poor quality.

a plate of food on a tableCheese and dessert was next up and I passed on the cheese as I normally do. I went with the bread and butter pudding with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce. My apologies as I totally forgot to snap a picture until I was nearly done.

a plate of food and a cup of coffeeAfter dinner I reclined back, watched some video programming and then asked for my bed to be made up, for which the flight attendants generally insist you ask of them. Another sampling of pralines and a bottled water was placed near my seat upon my return from the lavatory. Snacks were available mid-flight, but I slept soundly through them.

a plate of chocolate candies and a cookie

The conversion from seat to bed is done with a mattress pad topped with a two-layered duvet cover consisting of a sheet and heavier comforter. It by far is the most comfortable international first class bed setup I’ve experienced and I slept better than I ever have on an airplane. Ideal firmness (for me) and ample length for my 6’1†frame with oodles of room side-to-side. Just perfect. After a solid seven hours of sleep, I requested a coffee before dinner and received it with yet another hot towel. The hot towels, by the way, smelled like the spa at the Luxor (a good thing) and were infused with eucalyptus water.

a tray with a cup of coffee and a piece of bread on it Fresh fruit started the dinner service and I once again forgot to snap a picture before eating the strawberries, melon, berries, pineapple and grapes. I (gasp) again went for the Chinese option assuming lunch would be a one-off mistake. I was proven sorely mistaken and again had incredibly inedible stir-fried garlic beef with vegetables and rice. Ugh, I noted to myself that I would not make the same mistake on the return flight.

a table with plates and foodDessert was an almond pear tart with whipped cream. The portion was incredibly small, but it was delicious.

a slice of cake and a glass of waterTo complete service, another hot towel and sampling of pralines adorned my side table when I returned from the lavatory having changed out of my PJs back into street clothes.

a plate of food and a glass of water on a tableBesides the main course for each meal, the flight was outstanding. Flight attendants were attentive, but not overly so, and their English was excellent. I’ll be reviewing the amenity kit separately in typical Frequently Flying fashion soon. We arrived on-time even with a departure nearly an hour late. I was one of the first off having been wished a pleasant stay by the inflight team and I made my way to immigration and customs. Up next will be the review of The Arrival lounge and I should have that ready in a few days.


  1. Nice review Darren. Brought back a lot of good memories of my own CX F trip a few months back. I agree the food is really not up to par with the seat and service. I really did like the caviar and salmon with copious amounts of Krug though.

  2. Hey, you want authentic? You probably got authentic! Chewy and fat-riddled is the best kind of pork in Chinese cuisine. Lean pork is considered unappetizing and indicates poverty on the part of the host.

  3. Great trip report… and I quite like your green carry-on bag. Could you tell us what brand/model it is and how you like it? I’m in the market for a new carryon that isn’t a briefcase. Thanks!

    • Thanks! It’s a Victorinox bag and I love it. Great padded compartment for my MacBook Pro, plus oodles of room for files and odds & ends, not to mention the extra pockets and water bottle saddles.

  4. I agree with Joe, the mains you got were authentic Chinese cuisine! Nothing wrong about it, and the Chinese pretty much like their fatty meats. The stuff you get at Panda Express is typical Chinese cuisine catered more towards the Western/American palate and is in no way authentic.

  5. All I can say is WOW…….I am going to get an upgrade for my husband’s next trip so he can live the high life for a change…….he is a 8K plus one way traveler…..many times over. This will be a big surprise from his normal cattle call boarding!

    • Hi Donna, that would be a fantastic treat for your husband. It’s effortless to fly first class internationally and the flight, to me, is as much if not more fun than exploring Hong Kong (but I’m weird that way.)

  6. i can’t believe you compared the food to panda express. =O panda express is horrible! lol. as others have said, the fatty meat is the good stuff. =)

    • Ha! I certainly know better now about how Chinese prefer their meat. I even apologized directly to Cathay Pacific (via Twitter) for my entree review, but will leave the post as is so the comments make sense.

  7. Great report!

    Other than the Krug, wine list is lousy though. 07 was a very subpar year for Lynch Bages. But I’ll be happy with a bottle of Krug.

    Could you get seconds on caviar if you had wanted?

  8. Newbie here ๐Ÿ™‚ – just a few questions:
    1. Did you keep the PJs and was it 1 size fits all?
    2. Was there an amenities bag?
    3. I have BA miles – can I use them for the Cathay flight and how much would be required?

    Thanks for the exciting reports – we get to live vicariously through them and hope to save enough points some day to experience the 1% life – if only for a few hours.

    • @Jerry: Oh yes, definitely kept the PJs – they were available in S, M, L and XL. Yep, it had a great amenity kit. And yes, BA miles can be used for a Cathay Pacific flight (the miles required vary based on origin, class of service, etc.). Glad you enjoyed the post!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Awesome! I would like to use Cathy Pacific First-Class seat next time. Actually I have flied ANA First Square, JAL First Suite, Lufthansa A380 First and United Global First.

  10. I often fly on Cathay Pacific F class from Vancouver/Hong Kong return, and since I’m from Hong Kong, the food do taste great and good service. Cathay actually bought the gate and the area around it to build the flight lounge, which is pretty good, because the main route is HKG-SFO. I did remember the time I rode one of the last 747 trips to Vancouver. BTW, that is (I think) is the older F class.

  11. Enjoyed your review and the youtube vid. Cathay have downsized their business and aircraft. 777 have replaced the 747. The first class on the 777 can only be described as Premium Business from colleagues that have used it. With all the passengers wandering through first class it has lost its unique character. Cathay don’t seem phased and have aligned their product more closely to US carriers than Asian carriers. The CEO is American. With all the major carriers with big aircraft Cathay seem to have slipped to the next tier. It looked great and I’m jealous of your opportunity. Only travel in business myself.

    • @Francis: Thank you! I flew home on one of Cathay’s 777s and thought it was great, though yes, nothing beats the exclusive nose of a 747. Cathay’s recently announced refresh to First Class looks pretty darn good and I think it’s still the best hard product out there (not including enclosed suites).

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