Review – Cathay Pacific 747-400 Business Class – HND-HKG

Ever since I was a little kid, I have wanted to climb the stairs to fly the upper deck on the queen of the skies – the 747 jumbo jet. After many years, I was finally able to ascend those stairs and ride top side on a 747. I am not going to lie, I totally geeked out over this flight!

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This was one of the first flights I booked for our trip and I opted to use British Airways Avios that I had earned from my Chase British Airways card. The flights cost 20,000 Avios per person + ~$23 in taxes and fees. By comparison, paid tickets were running ~$1,800 for a one-way flight on this route in business class, so I consider this a pretty good redemption. Regardless, this flight was a bucket list item for me and it was probably the only time I have ever been excited to not be flying the top cabin on an aircraft (since the 747-400’s offer a first class cabin).

Cathay Pacific 543
Tokyo-Haneda (HND) – Hong Kong (HKG)
Depart: 10:45 AM
Arrive: 3:05 PM
Duration: 5 hours, 5 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Seat: 88K (Business Class)

After a great stay in the Cathay Pacific Lounge at Haneda, we headed to the gate which just a quick 1 minute walk from the Lounge. Upon arriving at the gate, they were already boarding economy class passengers, but I had to run over and get a picture of the 747 that would be taking us to Hong Kong.


I will proudly own how much I was nerding out over this flight and I am fairly certain I sprinted to the gate to get on board. While walking down the jet bridge I was able to snap a quick shot as well.


We boarded through door 1L where you could turn left into the first class cabin, or right into the business class cabin. We turned right and walked through a few rows of business class seats before arriving at the most glorious stairs I have ever had the privilege of climbing.


Once we reached the top of the stairs, we were at the back of the upper deck business class cabin.


As boarding had started about 10 minutes prior to us reaching the gate, most of the upper deck cabin was already filled up. I took my seat a 88K which is the first seat behind the emergency exit.


The business class seats on Cathay Pacific’s 747-400’s are often called “coffin style” seats as they are very tight and do feel and look somewhat coffin-esq. The seats are relatively comfortable, though if you are a bigger person they are very confining. I am fairly skinny and tall and found them to be pretty constricted and towards the end of the flight I would say the seats were borderline uncomfortable. I cannot imagine flying a longhaul flight in this product.

It is also worth noting that the seats face away from the windows, so if you are like me and like to look out the windows when you fly, you really have to crane your neck around to get that view.


Waiting at the seat was a pillow, a blanket and a pair of Cathay Pacific headphones.


Although I did not get a picture of it, you should know that the overhead bin size on the upper deck is very tight. I had difficulty getting my 22″ rollerbag (which fits pretty much everywhere) to fit.

After settling in, one of the flight attendants came by with a hot towel and a selection of pre-departure beverages. The options were champagne, water or orange juice. Although I am not a huge champagne fan, I was celebrating finally getting to fly topside on the 747 and opted for a glass of champagne.


There is a small ledge that juts out from the right side of the seat which is large enough to hold a drink and the towel.

While enjoying my champagne, I started to check out the seat and the functions. To the left of the seat is the video controller, power plug, seat controls and entertainment screen.


About 10 minutes after we boarded, the Australian captain came on the PA to announce that we were facing a strong headwind and that our travel time would be just under 5 hours as a result, but that we should be arriving right on shhhh-edule. I do not think I have ever been so happy to hear that a flight I was on was facing a head wind as it meant more time topside on the 747!


After the captain’s announcement, the purser came on the PA to welcome everyone aboard and directed everyone’s attention to the safety video. Since the entertainment system has to be stowed during takeoff and landing, it is a bit strange to hear the safety video playing, but to not actually be able to see it very well.


While the safety video was playing we had a swift push back from the gate and before I knew it we were taxiing to our runway. After a few minutes of taxiing we were cleared for takeoff and I watched eagerly out the window as the 747 went to full thrust. About 10 minutes after our smooth takeoff the seat belt sign was turned off and the flight attendants started passing out the menus for the flight. One thing that was a nice touch was that I was addressed as “Mr. Vesey” every time the flight attendants interacted with me.




They also had the usual array of beverages to select from, including Cathay Pacific’s signature Cloud Nine drink.





While perusing the menu, I noticed that we were flying past Mt. Fuji. I quickly had my girlfriend snap some pictures as we passed and she captured this beauty of a shot!

IMG_8511 (2)

Before the meal service started I jumped up to use the lavatory and snap a few pictures. The lavatories were very tight, so I really failed trying to get a good picture.


Cathay Pacific offers Jurlique lotions and soaps in their business class lavatories.


I got back to my seat just in time for the flight attendant to take my drink order. I ordered a Cloud Nine which was served with some mixed nuts with wasabi peas.


The Cloud Nine is always refreshing and the wasabi peas were especially good with the mixed nuts.

Before the appetizer was served I decided to check out the entertainment system. The entertainment screen swings out from the left hand side of the seat.



The problem is having the screen out prevents the flight attendants from easily serving you, so it is not the best setup.

In any case, the CX Studio was filled with quiet a few options from movies to tv shows and music and even shopping.









There was even a kids specific section in case you had little ones with you on the flight, which I thought was a nice option even though I do not have kids.


True to form I of course stuck with the airshow during the meal service.



A few minutes after I got through the entertainment options the crew started bringing around the appetizer which consisted of soba noodles, ham and mozzarella roll and a salad with yuzu dressing.


The appetizer was served with a glass of still water (which I needed at that point) and another Cloud Nine. The soba noodles were delicious, while the salad was rather bland. The ham and tomato and mozzarella roll was different. I did not care for the texture (kind of like a stiff jello) and the taste was rather bland as well.

They also brought around the bread basket, though they were out of the delicious pretzel bread by the time they reached my seat. Instead I opted for the garlic bread, which is also always delicious.

For the main course I chose the Australian grass fed beef filet. It was served with some green beans and carrots, a red wine sauce and a potato gratin.


The beef was not overcooked as it usually is on an airplane and was just ok. The red wine sauce it was served with was tasty enough, but the green beans, carrots and potato gratin were borderline inedible. I took a bite of each and left the rest on the plate.

After the main course was cleared away the cheese and fruit cart was wheeled around. I selected the fruit, but no cheese.


It was simple and tasty.

After the fruit they brought around a selection of Haagen-Dazs ice creams and sorbets. I am not usually big into ice creams, but the summer berries and cream ice cream was excellent.


I paired my ice cream with a Hong Kong Style Milk Tea which Cathay Pacific executes perfectly.


After the meal service there was still about two hours left in the flight so I sat back and continued reading Hard Landing by Thomas Petzinger Jr. If you are an aviation nerd like me, it is an excellent book about the eras leading up to and following the deregulation of the airline industry and well worth the read.

Shortly before our arrival the captain came on the PA to announce that we would be arriving right on shhhh-dule. The flight attendants came through the cabin with arrival cards for Hong Kong after the announcement.

We had a smooth touchdown in Hong Kong where it was raining and a bit on the chilly side (as it would be for most of our time in Hong Kong). We collected our bags, headed down those glorious stairs and made our way towards customs and immigration before heading to the Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel & Towers.


Final Thoughts

While the seats and the food on this flight leave a lot to be desired, it was a bucket list item for me so the ability to climb those stairs and fly the upper deck really outweighed all the negatives of this flight. With that said, if you have the option to fly Cathay Pacific’s 777 with the reverse herringbone seats in lieu of the 747, you will have a much more comfortable flight. I do not know that I would necessarily go out of my way to fly the Cathay Pacific 747 again, but man was it a cool experience!

For those of you who have flown Cathay Pacific’s 747 in business class, what did you think?

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2 thoughts on “Review – Cathay Pacific 747-400 Business Class – HND-HKG

  1. Hi,

    thank you for this review 🙂

    I’ve just found out at checkmytrip that our flight from HKG to DPS in July will be on B747-400 (originally, it was B777 regional). Just like you, I’ve always dreamed to have possibility to fly in upper deck of this machine at least once in my life. I have already called CX call center and reserved two seats: 83A and 83K (I’ll be travelling with my wife for our anniversary). I’m really exited about this flight. Fortunately, both of us are skinny, so limited size of seats will not bother us during this relatively short flight. I only hope they don’t change it back to B777 regional (we’ll fly it anyway on our way back to HKG). It will be great to compare CX’s B747 hard product with new business class in B777-300ER, which will bring us from AMS to HKG and again from HKG to AMS.
    Regards from Poland 🙂

    1. Cathay Pacific is pretty notorious for doing plane swaps like this, though I’d actually say it’s an upgrade going from a 777 regional configuration to a 747 with the fully lie flats. Remember that the overhead bin space is tight up top on the 747, so don’t pack those carry on bags too full! Happy travels!

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