With my Hong Kong lounge hopping extravaganza coming to an end it was time to make the brief walk to my gate to catch my flight to Taipei. This was the last flight of the day out to Taipei and was operated by a regionally configured 777-200 which feature Cathay Pacific’s recliner business class seats. It was easily the most empty flight I have been on in a long while which meant a row to myself!
Introduction: Taipei Mileage Running Extravaganza
Review – American Airlines 767-300 Business Class – MIA-JFK
Review – British Airways Galleries Lounge – JFK
Review – Cathay Pacific 777-300ER Business Class – JFK-HKG
Review – Dragon Air G16 Lounge – HKG
Review – Cathay Pacific The Bridge Lounge – HKG
Review – Cathay Pacific The Cabin Lounge – HKG
Review – Cathay Pacific 777-200 Business Class – HKG-TPE
Review – Sheraton Grande Taipei Hotel
Review – The More Lounge – TPE
Review – The Premium Plaza Lounge – TPE
Review – The VIP Airlines Lounge (JAL Contract Lounge) – TPE
Review – JAL 767-300 Economy Class – TPE-NRT/NRT-TPE
Review – JAL Sakura Lounge (Near Gate 61) – NRT
Review – JAL Sakura Lounge (Near Gate 92) – NRT
Review – JAL 777-300ER Economy Class – NRT-LAX
Review – The Club At DFW Lounge (JAL Contract Lounge) – DFW
Review – JAL 787-8 Economy Class – DFW-NRT
As I mentioned in my Introduction, I foolishly decided to do a mileage/status run to requalify for Platinum in the stretch of about 8 days – in (gasp!) economy. That left me needing to find a way to Taipei and being as paid tickets were ridiculously expensive since I was booking 2 days out, I opted for an award ticket so I could review Cathay Pacific’s business class product. My award ticket cost me 70,000 American Airlines miles + ~$38 in taxes and fees. I consider this quite the value as paid tickets last minute were going for $1,200+ for economy.
Cathay Pacific 408
Hong Kong (HKG) to Taipei Taoyuan (TPE)
Depart: 10:50 PM
Arrive: 12:35 AM
Duration: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200 (Regional Configuration)
Seat: 16K (Business Class)
I arrived at the gate which was 2 gates down from The Cabin about 35 minutes before departure. As is traditional in Hong Kong, there was already a long queue of passengers waiting to board the aircraft. About 25 minutes before departure, the boarding process started with business class passengers.
I boarded through door 1L, passed to the far side of the aircraft and turned right into the business class cabin. On Cathay Pacific’s regionally configured 777-200’s, the business class is laid out in a 2-3-2 configuration.
I made my way about 3/4 of the way through the business class cabin back to seat 16K, a window seat.
As is traditional, waiting at my seat was a small pillow.
While I am not a huge fan of this layout, it’s a perfectly acceptable way to travel and beats the hell out of most U.S. domestic first products.
The seat is controlled by buttons located in the armrest.
Below the seat controls is a pocket containing the in flight magazine, safety card and a pair of Cathay Pacific branded headphones.
While the headphones are better quality than your standard cheap headphones, they are certainly not the noise cancelling headphones like Cathay Pacific offers on their medium and long haul business class products. Still, they were relatively comfortable and more than adequate for the short flight.
There was an IFE screen in the back of the seat in front of mine.
While the screen is a touchscreen, it can also be controlled via the controller tethered to the seat.
After quickly settling into my seat, the lovely flight attendant came by to offer me a choice of pre-departure beverages including champagne, water, orange juice and Cathay Delights. I am a sucker for the Cathay Delights so I opted for one of those.
It was refreshing and more delicious than usual for some reason. Shortly after the pre-departure beverage service, I was offered a hot towel and a blanket.
Just as the hot towels were being passed out, the Captain came over the PA to announce that although we had completed boarding early, our pushback would be delayed at least 30 minutes due to some traffic congestion at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport. I am a big fan of watching the traffic at airports, so I spent a few minutes watching the air traffic outside.
The business class cabin was less than half full and I had no one in my row, so after checking out the air traffic outside, I promptly reclined my seat at that point and passed out for a solid half hour.
One of the things I do really like about Cathay’s regional business class product is that the seats are contained within their own shell which means that when the person in front of you reclines their seat, it has no impact on your available space. For someone who is 6’5″ like me, that is a huge benefit!
One thing that was a bit annoying was that during the delay, only the map and outside camera were accessible on the IFE. When you are just sitting on the ground with nothing to do, it would have been nice to at least start a movie or watch a TV show. Thankfully I slept for most of the delay so it was not a huge deal, but still something to be aware of.
When I awoke, the flight attendant passed me a menu for the flight. Even though it would be a short flight, there would still be a meal service. The menu read as follows:
The drink list was your standard offerings and read as follows:
We ended up pushing back about 35 minutes past our original departure time and after a short taxi we were airborne. As usual, I had the exterior camera on during the taxi and takeoff.
About 10 minutes after we were airborne, the fasten seat belt sign was turned off and the cabin crew started hustling for their meal preparations. It always amazes me how an Asian carrier can get out a full meal service on an hour and a half flight, while U.S. carriers struggle to even get a single drink service round and a snack basket passing done in the same time.
Meal service started about 20 minutes after we were airborne with the drinks cart coming around. I ordered a glass of still water to stay hydrated.
That was quickly followed by the flight attendant passing me a tray with the fruit starter, bread and dessert along with a glass of still water.
Shortly thereafter the cart was rolled through the cabin with the main courses. Since I missed out on the fish dish on my flight from New York, I opted for the sea bass.
Cathay Pacific does fish exceptionally well and this flight was no exception. The fish was moist and had a great flavor to it. That is, once you got past the uncooked piece of fat Cathay calls “bacon”.
As usual on Cathay Pacific, the dessert was stellar as well.
The meal service was completed within about 20 minutes or so and I ordered a Hong Kong style milk tea when the cart with coffee was rolled around. I should note that of the less than half-full cabin, less than 1/4 of the cabin was awake for the meal service. I say that because I never received my milk tea.
I have conflicted feelings complaining about something like this. On the one hand, there were maybe a dozen passengers for the crew to focus, so one passenger requesting a milk tea should not have been a huge request. And since there were so few passengers for the crew to focus on, forgetting this is sort of unacceptable. On the other hand, if I really wanted it that badly, I easily could have hit my call button and requested one again.
I was pretty tired though so I opted to just let it go. Instead I decided to play some ultra addicting mini golf.
As it turns out, I am as good at virtual miniature golf as I am at real miniature golf. And by that I obviously mean I am horrible.
We touched down just before 1 AM at which point I headed for what would end up being a nearly 2 hour wait in the customs and immigration line. Unfortunately, Taipei Taoyuan International Airport does not offer a fast track lane for premium cabin passengers
As I have previously said, I would not recommend this configuration for a late night flight as it is not the most comfortable to sleep in. If you can, try to get a 777 equipped with Cathay Pacific’s reverse herringbone seats as they are much more comfortable for sleeping (and overall). Overall this flight was on par with my previous experiences with the product – albeit with some slightly worse service (or maybe I just have an addiction to their milk tea?). But for a short hour and a half flight, it’s a more than acceptable way to fly!
What are your thoughts on Cathay Pacific’s 777-200 business class seats?
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