Review – Cathay Pacific 777-300ER First Class – HKG-ORD

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. If you have to end a two week trip abroad, I cannot think of a better way to do so than in the first class cabin of a world class airline like Cathay Pacific!

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Review – Cathay Pacific 777-300ER First Class – HKG-ORD

This flight was part of the American Airlines award ticket I booked from Singapore back to Orlando. Since this segment was included in my American Airlines redemption, it set me back 67,500 AAdvantage miles. By comparison, paid tickets were running ~$10,200 for a one-way flight on this route in first class, so when you factor in the business class ticket from Singapore and a connecting flight to Orlando, that is an absolutely stellar redemption value.

As we exited The Wing First Class Lounge we turned left and were pretty much right at our gate. Before you could enter the gate area there was a queue of people where security was “searching” people’s bags. They basically just opened my bag up and moved a jacket over, then re-closed it. It really give me a strong sense of safety and security on this flight.

Cathay Pacific 806
Hong Kong (HKG) – Chicago-O’Hare (ORD)
Depart: 11:50 AM
Arrive: 12:25 PM
Duration: 12 hours, 35 minutes
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 2A (First Class)

By the time we reached the gate, boarding of all cabins had already begun. There was a separate line for first class, business class and economy passengers. We proceeded directly to the first class line where our tickets were scanned and we were directed down the jet bridge. We entered through door 1L and turned right into the first class cabin. We were met at the door by the purser who directed us to our seats – 1A and 2A.

Cathay Pacific’s 777-3ooERs feature only 6 seats in First Class in a 1-1-1 configuration.

CX Layout

I much prefer seats 1A and 2A as they are the only two seats that share the aisle on the left hand side of the aircraft which makes it feel much more private. The middle seats are completely blocked off, so you really have a sense that you are in your own world.


After making my way back to seat 2A, I saw home for the next 12 hours.


One thing to note about the first class cabin is that there are no overhead bins like JAL offers on their 777-300ERs. Instead, there are little lockers that you can store your bags in. The problem is, they are pretty tight – especially for a 22″ roller bag like I travel with. This locker is also where you are supposed to hang your jacket, which with a bag in there just does not work. Sorry for the poor picture quality of the locker.


 I ended up needing to place the blanket on my ottoman as it was originally in the locker and would not fit with my two bags – an exceedingly poor design in my opinion. After some finagling I was able to get my two carry on bags stored and started to check out the seat. Waiting at the seat was a pillow which was rather thin.


To the left of the seat was the seat controller screen and the in-flight entertainment (IFE) system remote control.


The seat controller is a touch screen unit that was not super responsive. I am not sure if that was just my seat, but I consistently had to touch the screen multiple times in different areas to get the seat to move at all.


Below the seat controls and IFE controller there is a storage area which was relatively shallow, but was good for holding my computer and cell phone chargers.


The seat is incredibly spacious at 36″ of width and features an armrest that drops down from the side of the seat.


I actually really like this feature as it allows you plenty of space if you are lounging in the seat, while also offering you some more traditional seat structure when you wanted to do some work.

Opposite the seat was a nice ottoman which features storage underneath and can double as a companion seat if you wanted to dine with a travel companion.


To the left of the ottoman was an international style power plug along with a USB and S-Video plug.


To the right of the ottoman was the IFE screen, which fits into the storage locker area.


The IFE screen is also a touch screen and swings out and pivots around to wherever you desire.



Also waiting at the seat was the traditional orchid which was real and is a very classy touch.


After getting settled in the in-flight service manager, Alina, came by to introduce herself and welcome us aboard. We were offered our selection of a pre-departure beverage and although I am not really a champagne fan, I opted for a glass of champagne.


We were also offered the traditional amuse bouche, which was a smoked tuna and mango dish that was very tasty.


Cathay Pacific serves Krug champagne in their first class cabin. Everyone always raves about it, but I honestly just do not get it. It tasted no different to me than most other champagnes. After the smoke tuna amuse Alina brought out piping hot towels, which was really nice.


Alina then came back around with pajamas, which were Pye.


Cathay Pacific’s First Class pajamas are a burgundy color and really made me feel like an emperor since the top has buttons from top to bottom. They seemed to run true to size.


Also included in the pajama bag were a pair of slippers and a Cathay Pacific branded eye mask.



The pajamas were comfortable and fairly soft, but I have to give the edge to JAL on comfort and softness when it comes to their pajamas.

Alina also handed me an Aesop amenity kit. There were separate amenity kits for male and female passengers.



The male amenity kit included a comb, a toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, face cream, a glass cleaning cloth, ear plugs and body lotion.



Lastly, Alina passed out a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones which were very comfortable.


While checking out the cabin I noticed there was a hump in the ceiling which was direct above seat 1D.


Cool random fact – that is actually the pilot rest area and there is a little bed up there!

One thing to note about Cathay Pacific’s First Class seats is that while they are in the upright position, it is quite a stretch to reach the ottoman. I am 6’5″ and could barely reach it myself. And yes, those are crabs on my socks – my sock game is on point.


I spent the remainder of the boarding process enjoying some great views of the 777-300ER parked next to us.


There also happened to be an older gentleman on the flight who was in seat 2K who had been bumped up from Business Class to First Class. He spent pretty much the entire boarding time calling anyone and everyone he could to let them know that he had been bumped up to First Class. Based on his baggage choice (Rimowa) and his familiarity with the aircraft, he seemed like he was a regular traveler, so the phone calls surprised me a bit. But then again, who among us does not love a free op-up upgrade?!

About 10 minutes before we pushed back, the Australian captain came on the PA to welcome everyone aboard. He also advised us that he strongly recommended that we keep our seat belts fastened as he expected it to be a bumpy ride over the northern Pacific. Within a few minutes the cabin doors were closed and we pushed back.

As the safety video played, my eyes were glued to the window as Hong Kong Airport offers some great views while taxiing.



We taxied right past the 747 cargo planes, which always makes me happy to see a 747 in the wild.



Interestingly, while we were on an active taxi way, the first officer came out from the cockpit, opened door 1L and then re-closed it. I am guessing this was due to a sensor in the cockpit showing that door 1L was still open, but the re-opening and closing was never explained to anyone. Apparently re-closing the door seemed to work as we continued our taxi after that.

One thing I found very cool is that Cathay Pacific’s IFE system on their 777-300ERs features an outside camera which is mounted on the bottom of the fuselage just behind the front wheel. My eyes were glued to it during the takeoff.


We took off from runway 7R and were quickly airborne rolling out over Kowloon Island and Hong Kong Island. It was a crystal clear day so the views were spectacular.




About 10 minutes after takeoff the fasten seatbelt sign was turned off. The two flight attendants working the First Class cabin – Joy and Ibuki – then came around presenting passengers with the menu for the flight. The menu was served on a nice wooden plate.




Since our flight coincided with the Chinese New Year, Cathay Pacific was offering special puddings on the flight to celebrate the Year of the Monkey. Neither sounded very appealing to me, so I never tried either.


The drink menu was quite extensive as well and featured some very good wines.









Lunch service began promptly and started with a serving of warm mixed nuts. I opted for another glass of champagne, mainly because I would be trying the caviar again to see if the combination would somehow win me over (spoiler alert – it did not).


Cathay Pacific puts some kind of smoke seasoning on their nuts which I really just do not care for as it is pretty overpowering.

Joy then came around to set my table, which pulls out from the compartment to the left of the seat. The lunch service started with a tin of caviar.


Cathay Pacific serves Calvisius caviar.


The caviar was served with the usual accompaniments, a bread basket and a glass of still water.



The bread basket contained an assortment of rolls and a piece of Cathay Pacific’s delicious garlic bread.


Also served on the tray was a nice hand written note from Joy and Ibuki wishing me an enjoyable flight.


I thought this was a really nice personal touch.

I have to say though, I just do not get the love that people have for champagne and caviar. I was trying hard this trip to understand it, but I just could not.

After the caviar, Joy brought me a bowl of the cream of chicken soup.


It was served at the perfect temperature and very tasty.

Next came the mesclun salad.


It was very colorful and nicely presented, but kind of bland tasting.

For my main course I opted for the pan fried prawns with risotto.


The prawns were just ok and somewhat bland themselves and the risotto was more of a rice pilaf than a risotto.


After the main course, Ibuki brought me a hot towel and took my order for dessert.


I decided to be a fat kid for dessert since I could not decided between the berries and cream and the fruit tart – so I ordered both.


The berries and cream were beautifully presented and very delicious. The cream was more of a milky yogurt consistency, but the combination was still excellent.

I also ordered a cappuccino with dessert, which was served with brown sugar cubes.


Ibuki also brought my cappuccino with cocoa dusted almonds, a truffle and a chocolate bar with almonds in it – all of which were excellent.



The real star of dessert though was the almond pear tart. It was served with salted caramel ice cream and was incredible. It was so good I would literally fly Cathay Pacific again for that alone.


The lunch service lasted about an hour and a half from start to finish. After lunch I went into the lavatory to change into my pajamas. The lavatories had a somewhat modern feel to them and in the First Class cabin feature real linen towels.


As with the amenity kit, the lotions and soaps in the lavatory are also Aesop.


One thing I will note is that on our JAL flight, the flight attendants took my clothes and hung them up for me in the closet. On our Cathay Pacific flight that did not happen. I am guessing that is because there is a locker with hangers in it at every seat, but with a roller bag stowed in the there is no room to actually hang clothes. It was a poor layout in my opinion and was another example of why I actually prefer JAL First Class to Cathay Pacific First Class.

After I changed into the pajamas I perused the CX Studio options looking for something to watch while relaxing.






Cathay’s CX Studio selection is quite vast and includes everything from current popular TV shows like HBO’s Ballers to new (to video) release movies like Our Brand Is Crisis. I opted to watch Our Brand Is Crisis and it was quite good.

It is also worth noting that if you are traveling with young children, CX Studio offers a separate kids entertainment section.


After watching Our Brand Is Crisis, I pulled my laptop out to do some work. I also ordered a glass of the Glenmorangie Signet.


The Signet was very good and I had several more after that.


In fact, I finished half the bottle before I knew it! That made me a bit sleepy so I ended up passing out sleeping for about an hour. When I woke up I decided to watch another movie. This time I opted to watch Bridge of Spies with Tom Hanks. Being a history nerd, I thought the movie was excellent. I also ordered another cappuccino which was served with a little biscotti cookie.


During the movie I started to get a bit hungry. I had been craving a burger and sure enough, there was one on the snack menu! The snack menu read as follows:


When I ordered the burger Ibuki told me it would probably take about 20 minutes to prepare, which was no problem. About 20 minutes later Ibuki brought the burger out with a glass of ice water.


I gotta say, I pride myself on fully immersing myself in the local culture when I travel, but after 2 weeks, this burger was damn good! The beef was actually cooked to a nice medium, was juicy and very flavorful. I had debated between the British tea trio and the burger since I knew the tea trio was also very good, but I am very happy I opted for the burger instead.

I ended up doing a few more hours worth of work at which time we were approaching the west coast of the Canada. The sunrise from 40,000 feet is always awe inspiring to me.


I guess if I had to pick an office view, this would definitely be the one I would pick.


About a half hour later Joy came by to take my order for breakfast. The breakfast menu read as follows:


I ordered scrambled eggs with fresh fruit, yogurt, a banana muffin and a Hong Kong style milk tea, which Cathay Pacific executes excellently in my opinion.

Breakfast started with a warm towel.


At that point we hit some pretty bad turbulence which put a stop to the meal service as the captain asked the flight attendants to take their seats. That lasted for about 35 minutes after which point the meal service was resumed.

Joy came back to set my table and started me off with some fresh fruit and the banana muffin.


The fresh fruit was good, though I really do not like the grapes they serve on Cathay Pacific as they contain big seeds.


The banana muffin was insanely good and was served piping hot.


Joy then came back with my Hong Kong style milk tea which was well executed as always and paired nicely with the banana muffin.


Next the yogurt was served separately. I had never had this particular brand before, but it was very good.


After the yogurt, Joy came back with my main course – the scrambled eggs.


To be honest, it was pretty disappointing. The eggs were soft scrambled and runny, which I do not care for. The potatoes were soft, mushy and a bit on the chewy side. The bacon was almost entirely fat and the sausage link actually did not look fully cooked when I cut into it. I had a few bites of the eggs and left the rest. It was not quite as bad as the egg dish on Hong Kong Airlines, but it was pretty close.

After I finished breakfast I headed to the lavatory to change out of my pajamas. By the time I had re-stowed my bags and got settled back into my seat we were starting our descent into Chicago.


I enjoyed some of the views of the Illinois coast as we came in.


It was a pretty clear day and our routing took us right past downtown and the Sears Tower.


We also ended up with a pretty good view of Navy Pier as we came around on approach.




As we started our final approach into O’Hare, I switched on the nose camera to enjoy the view on landing.







We had a smooth touchdown about 10 minutes earlier than our scheduled arrival time. It was a fairly short taxi to the gate, but there was some cool air traffic on the ground like this Korean Air 777-300ER on its way to Seoul.


After a quick 5 minute taxi we arrived at our gate. We thanked the cabin crew on our way off and then headed for immigration which we cleared quickly thanks to Global Entry.

The crew on this flight were good, but I cannot say that they were great. While both Joy and Ibuki were very nice and extremely attentive, it did not seem like Joy really wanted to be there – and it showed. As is typical with Cathay Pacific, the flight attendants take a more hands off approach to give their passengers some privacy. Though as soon as you hit the flight attendant call button they are at your seat within seconds.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I think it was a very good flight, though I have to give the edge to JAL on food and service. The Cathay Pacific seat is incredibly comfortable and the IFE system is definitely designed better though so Cathay beats out JAL on those items. At the end of the day though, we are really just splitting hairs here are both are an exceptional way to travel though!

What is your favorite Cathay Pacific lounge at Hong Kong Airport?

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