Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class TPE To HKG

Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class TPE To HKG

Flight Info


  • Flight Number: CX 489
  • Seat: 12k
  • Aircraft: Airbus A330-300 (Configuration 33K)
  • Scheduled Departure Time: November 4, 2023 10:45 AM
  • Arrival Time: November 4, 2023 12:38 PM
  • Flight Time: 1 hour 23 minutes
  • How I Booked: 122,800 Cathay Pacific Asia Miles transferred from Amex MR + ~$230.15 in taxes booked 10 months in advance. This segment was part of the TPE-HKG-LAX itinerary so there was no exact breakdown for how many miles this individual leg costed

Check In And Arrival Process


A pretty funny series of events actually occurred way before check in. When I booked this flight 10 months before the departure date, I saw that this flight had a business class configuration of 1-2-1 and I was able to choose my seat (12k) which was one of the window aisle seats. Well fast forward 9 months later and about 1 month from departure, I saw that the seat map had changed and that the new aircraft had the business class cabin in a 2-2-2 configuration.

For reference, Cathay Pacific has 5 different types of seat configurations for their A330-300 aircraft. I was originally set to fly in an aircraft with their 33K configuration but then was swapped out to the 33P configuration. This was unfortunate since 33P uses recliners instead of lie flat seats but I figured that for a ~2 hour flight it didn’t really matter what seat I was in.

Cathay Pacific Business Class A330-300 configuration 33K is in a 1-2-1 configuration with lie flat seats
Cathay Pacific A330-300 Business Class Cabin Configuration 33K
Cathay Pacific Business Class A330-300 configuration 33P is in a 2-2-2 configuration with recliner seats
Cathay Pacific A330-300 Business Class Cabin Configuration 33P

Strangely enough, about 1 week before departure, I checked the seat map again and noticed that my aircraft had been changed back to the 1-2-1 configuration! I wasn’t terribly surprised since this TPE<>HKG route is notorious for getting last minute aircraft swaps due to Cathay Pacific operating 10 daily flights between these two cities.

With that little seat fiasco aside, the check in process at Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) was easy and painless. There was no line at the business class check in counter and the counter agent was able to give me both my boarding passes for my TPE-HKG and HKG-LAX segments.

What I didn’t expect though was that she also handed me 2 lounge invitation passes. One pass was for the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge in Taoyuan International Airport and the other was for The Wing First Class, The Pier First Class, and The Deck Business Class Lounge in Hong Kong International Airport. These passes tell you which lounges you’re eligible to visit and will be scanned later on upon entering the lounge. All the other airline lounges I’ve visited only needed to scan your boarding pass so I’m not sure why Cathay Pacific does it this way.

After receiving my boarding tickets and lounge passes, the agent gave me some directions on how to reach the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge and I was on my way.

Cathay Pacific Business Class and First Class passengers receive complimentary lounge passes
Cathay Pacific Lounge Invitation Pass

Lounge


The Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge at Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) is terrific. It’s a beautiful lounge that is quiet, has good seating, and good food. I really enjoyed relaxing here before my flight and would recommend checking it out if you’re transiting through Taipei.

Cathay Pacific Business Class lounge at Taoyuan International Airport is terrific
Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge at Taoyuan International Airport

Boarding


Cathay Pacific has a traditional boarding process where passengers in First Class or Business Class as well as passengers with eligible CX/OneWorld status can line up in a dedicated line and board first.

While waiting in line, an attendant will come by and check your boarding pass and passport. The whole process was efficient and we were able to board on time!

Cathay Pacific Business Class boarding gate has a dedicated line for first class and business class passengers
Boarding Gate

Seats


Cathay Pacific’s A330-300 is a 2 or 3 cabin aircraft with differing business class configurations. As mentioned earlier, the configuration I had for this flight was 33K which is a 2 cabin aircraft that features 39 lie flat business class seats in a 1-2-1 reverse herringbone pattern.

Unfortunately, the cabin is on the older side and you can see the age of the aircraft in the seats. The seat cushioning is worn from heavy use and that combined with the monotonous cream colored color scheme prevents this hard product from standing out as something sleek and modern like Starlux’s new business class seats.

However, despite these (minor) shortcomings, the fact that Cathay Pacific can even offer lie flat seats with direct aisle access on a <2 hour flight is SUPERB. There’s no way you would get this kind of hard product at all for a flight of similar length in the US.

Cathay Pacific Business Class cabin is in a 1-2-1 configuration
Business Class Cabin

As for the individual seat, it isn’t the widest in the industry but it’s still spacious enough. I had ample space to move around and didn’t feel restricted in any way. I also found the seat cushions to be quite plush and comfy.

Cathay Pacific Business Class seat is decently spacious
Business Class Seat Front View

Reverse herringbone is also one of my favorite seat configurations since the window seats face away from the aisle and offer great privacy. However, one notable thing to call out was that if I leaned over and peeked at my neighbor on my left in seat 12G, I could see her screen and what she was watching. The good thing is that I could only see her legs but if you value complete privacy of your screen, this is something to be aware of.

Cathay Pacific Business Class seats are reverse herringbone
Business Class Seat Full View

Each seat comes with an angled footwell that starts wide but gets narrower the further it gets into the seat in front. I felt that the footwell was a good size and was long enough. For reference, I’m 5’11 and even when fully extended my feet were still a good ways off from the end of it. The only real downside was that the panel on the left side of my footwell was already peeling from old age.

Cathay Pacific Business Class seats have a footwell
Footwell

Each seat comes with two storage areas found below the seat. There is one on the left and one on the right. The storage compartment that is closer to the aisle can stow laptop bags, is triangular, and comes with a sliding door.

Cathay Pacific Business Class has a storage compartment on one side of the seat
Storage Compartment

The storage compartment on the right was below the pull out meal tray and featured a small expandable pocket. This storage area wasn’t very big but you could still fit a small purse and a water bottle in this area.

Cathay Pacific Business Class has an additional storage compartment on the other side of the seat
Additional Storage Compartment

I felt that these storage compartments are where the seat definitely showed its age. They were heavily scratched up from all the wear and tear and overall looked pretty dirty. Thankfully, the seat control panel was quite nice. Here you’ll find a reading light, your TV remote, charging ports, and the seat controls.

The seat controls were straightforward and had protruding buttons you could press in a certain direction to adjust that particular section of the seat. There were also preset positions that included the bed and upright seat position for added convenience.

Cathay Pacific Business Class seat control panel is intuitive and convenient
Seat Control Panel

I don’t believe there is a bad seat on this aircraft. If you’re traveling in a group, selecting the pair of middle seats in the center of the cabin (14D/G, 15D/G) will work well since you can lower the center divider and talk to your companion. For solo travelers, any of the window seats in the center of the cabin (14A/K, 15A/K) would be good since you’re less likely to be affected by the noise coming from the bathroom or the galley.

In Flight Entertainment


Cathay Pacific’s in flight entertainment system was great and I was really pleased with it on this flight. The UI is intuitive, responsive, and not as outdated as some other airlines. The TV is touchscreen and is hidden by default by being flush with the front seat. You can use the gray button on the side to unlock the TV and have it fold out towards you.

Cathay Pacific Business Class has a foldable touchscreen TV
Foldable TV

The retractable remote was also very user friendly and looked quite modern. Having the small screen displaying the flight time was a convenient little feature.

Cathay Pacific Business Class TV remote is easy to use
TV Remote

Each seat also comes with a complimentary set of noise cancelling headphones. These headphones are found hanging in a little compartment on one side of the seat. The door of this compartment also features a mini vanity mirror.

Cathay Pacific Business Class noise cancelling headphones are stored in a compartment on one side of your seat
Headphone Storage

These headphones honestly felt quite nice and I liked how clean they were. Some airlines clearly don’t take care of their headphones and they can be quite dirty so this was a welcome sight. Overall, the headphones were comfortable to wear and there were no issues with the noise quality from the TV.

Cathay Pacific Business Class noice cancelling headphones
Noise Cancelling Headphones

I felt that Cathay Pacific’s in flight entertainment selection was extensive and diverse. You could watch the typical Hollywood blockbusters, local Chinese dramas, info sessions, or play some games. When scrolling through the options, it took some time to reach the end so I’m sure there’s something that every passenger will find interest in.

Cathay Pacific Business Class in flight entertainment system is good
In Flight Entertainment Options

One of my favorite features was that you could pull up and look at airport terminal information. I knew that upon landing at Hong Kong International Airport, I wanted to go visit The Pier and The Wing First Class Lounges but didn’t know where they were. The entertainment system let me see the HKG airport terminal map so I could figure out exactly where I needed to go. This was super helpful and helped me be prepared when landing.

Amenity Kit and Pajamas


There was no amenity kit or pajamas offered on this flight. Cathay Pacific only provides amenity kits in first class and business class on their long haul international flights and only gives pajamas in long haul international first class.

Wifi


Since it was such a short flight, I didn’t actually try connecting to the in flight wifi. Cathay Pacific offers wifi on all A321neo and A350 aircraft but only offers it on select A330-300 and Boeing 777-300 aircraft so I’m not sure if my particular aircraft had wifi. Unfortunately, only first class passengers get complimentary wifi but all other passengers can purchase wifi according to their rates here.

Pre Departure


I was impressed at how efficient all of the flight attendants were for such a short flight. Shortly after boarding, an attendant came around asking what we would like to drink for our pre departure drink. It was early-ish in the morning so I opted for some orange juice.

When she came around to serve us our drinks, she also gave us hot towels which I always enjoy having.

Cathay Pacific Business Class gives hot towels before departure
Hot Towel Before Departure

The orange juice itself was fine but there was nothing to get excited about.

Cathay Pacific Business Class orange juice befor departure
Orange Juice

After clearing away the towel and serving the pre departure drink, the flight attendant also asked us what we would like to order for the meal service and noted it down on an iPad.

Lunch Service


Before the attendant comes around asking what you would like to order, you can peruse the menu that is found at your seat for the business class meal offerings. The menu was understandably limited for this short of a flight.

Cathay Pacific Business Class paper menu
Business Class Paper Menu

For lunch, you could order either the Chinese option or the Western option. I ended up ordering the Chinese style meal and the Cathay Delight, which is one of Cathay Pacific’s signature drinks.

Cathay Pacific Business Class lunch menu
Lunch Menu
Cathay Pacific Business Class wine list
Wine List
Cathay Pacific Business Class menu drink list
Drink List

About 20 minutes later, the food came out and was promptly served. Flight attendants came around to set our tables before serving the trays of food. I thought that the plating of the meal looked great and felt elaborate for such a short flight.

To be completely honest, this meal was a struggle to finish since I ate way too much in the Cathay Pacific business class lounge…But regardless I was still pretty excited to try the Cathay Delight since I’d read so much about it from various reviews. It has the consistency of a smoothie with a subtle mint taste and was quite delicious. I’d recommend trying it.

The lunch meal was solid but I felt that the meat was a little bit dry and could have been more tender. However, I did quite enjoy both the glass noodle appetizer and the banana yogurt cream cake. Overall it was an enjoyable meal and one that I’d be happy to have again.

Cathay Pacific Business Class lunch was solid
Business Class Lunch Meal

Bathroom


In this aircraft, there are 3 bathrooms for business class in total. Two bathrooms are found in the front of the aircraft and one in the galley separating business class from economy.

As usual, there wasn’t much going on in the bathroom. The business class bathroom did feature some Bamford hand gels and soaps with the Cathay Pacific logo but other than that, it was a normal airplane bathroom.

Cathay Pacific Business Class bathrooms have Bamford brand gels and lotions
Business Class Bathroom Gels and Lotions

Bed


These business class seats can easily convert to lie flat seats at the push of a button. I didn’t sleep on the bed but when lying down I found it to be pretty comfortable. The pillow was soft and I could see myself easily falling asleep with a blanket if I was on a longer flight.

Cathay Pacific Business Class seats can convert into lie flat beds
Business Class Bed

Refreshment Service


There was only 1 official meal and no refreshment service on this flight.

Overall Service


Since this was such a short flight, there was very limited interaction with the cabin crew. But despite that, I felt that the flight attendants were professional and efficient. All of the meals and drinks were served and cleared away promptly and the pacing felt great. I didn’t feel rushed over the course of the flight nor was I waiting for a long time for anything.

Conclusion


Honestly, this is as good as it’s going to get for such a short flight. Despite the aircraft interior being a little outdated, getting a lie flat bed with direct aisle access and being served a complete meal with pre departure drinks for a 1.5 hour flight is truly a luxury. The Asian carriers have really perfected these international short haul flights and really make it hard for me to come back to domestic US flights. My only major complaint about this flight was that I wish it was longer!

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