Reviews

Review: Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 business class (Perth-Hong Kong)

With a new 'sleep service' and upgraded inflight dining, there's little left to want aboard Cathay Pacific's Airbus A350-1000s.

Overall Rating

By Chris Chamberlin, November 8 2019
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-1000 business class (Perth-Hong Kong)
Route

Perth to Hong Kong (return)

Aircraft Type

Airbus A350-1000

Airline

Cathay Pacific

Flight

CX170 + CX171

Cabin Class

Business

Seat

23K + 22K

Notes
The Good
  • New 'sleep service' helps maximise rest
  • Crystal clear HD TV screen
  • Cathay runs the only non-stop flights between Perth and Hong Kong
The Bad
  • No pyjamas provided on overnight flights
X-Factor
  • Upgraded dining makes for a near-faultless inflight meal service
Service
Meals
Seating
Overall

Introduction

Now appearing on flights to Melbourne, Perth and other destinations, Cathay Pacific's newest Airbus A350-1000 aircraft takes its business class to the next level.

Check-in

  • Frequent flyer program: The Marco Polo Club and Asia Miles, Oneworld alliance.
  • Codeshare: Qantas and several other airlines codeshare on this flight. Qantas Points and status credits can be earned when flying on a CX, QF or other Oneworld flight number.
  • Checked baggage allowance – 32kg limit per bag:
        • 2 bags, 40kg total: standard allowance
        • 2 bags, 50kg total: Marco Polo Club (MPC) Silver members
        • 3 bags, 55kg total: MPC Gold, Oneworld Sapphire
        • 3 bags, 60kg total: MPC Diamond, Oneworld Emerald
  • Carry-on baggage allowance: 1x115cm bag plus one small item such as a laptop bag, briefcase or handbag, at a combined total weight of 10kg, or 15kg for Marco Polo Club Diamond members only.
  • Priority airport services: Check-in queues are minimal at both ends, with priority boarding enforced. There's no fast-track lane at security or immigration in Perth or Hong Kong, although Hong Kong's eChannel service is available for those who've registered.
  • Priority baggage: Business class bags were the first to be delivered at both ends of the journey, and in Perth, this proved to be a real time-saver: making it possible to dash and join the exit queue before a large contingent of passengers from another flight hit the baggage hall, which saw that exit line lengthen considerably.

Lounge

Out of Perth, Cathay Pacific uses the lounge of its Oneworld alliance partner Qantas, in Terminal 1.

Given that Cathay's Hong Kong flight departs after midnight, the lounge offers a better-than-normal spread which allows travellers to eat a late dinner on the ground and head to sleep in the air.

Among the many options were sandwiches, salads and crudités, joined by hot dishes including soups, samosas and pizza.

There's a self-serve bar with a variety of beer, wine and spirits, although barista-made coffee is available too, for those struggling to stay awake ahead of the late departure.

Multiple shower suites are also available, with towel packs (and dental kits, if required) available from reception. Although available on a first-come, first-served basis, there was no wait to use one.

When departing Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific business class passengers can choose between the airline's The Wing, The Pier, The Deck and The Bridge business class lounges.

Read: Your guide to Cathay Pacific's Hong Kong lounges

Ahead of CX171, The Wing proved the most convenient, being located directly across from the flight's departure gate and right near passport control and security screening.

For Oneworld Emerald frequent flyers including Marco Polo Club Diamond, Qantas Platinum and others, access is also available to Cathay Pacific's The Wing First Class and The Pier First Class lounges: the former offering private cabanas, and the latter with complimentary day spa treatments and resting rooms.

Cathay Pacific business class passengers who aren't Oneworld Emerald members can also access these lounges when connecting from a Cathay Pacific first class flight onto a Cathay Pacific business class flight, such as from Paris to Perth via Hong Kong.

Flight

Cathay Pacific's Airbus A350-1000 now flies daily between Perth and Hong Kong, appearing on the overnight service out of Perth (CX170) and the afternoon departure (CX171) back to the WA capital.

Three times a week, the airline's Airbus A330s also run night-time flights out of Hong Kong and daytime flights up from Perth, which still offer a 1-2-1 business class product, albeit not with the current-generation business class seat.

ET review: Cathay Pacific Airbus A330 business class

The journey time between Perth and Hong Kong is approximately 7hr 45min, while Cathay Pacific also offers direct flights from Hong Kong to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

Seat

With the Airbus A350-1000 a sizeable upgrade to the A350-900, Cathay Pacific goes big on business class with one large cabin of 46 seats, in a 1-2-1 layout.

That's compared to 38 seats on the A350-900 which are split into two sections, with 30 seats in the forward cabin and eight more seats further back. However, the seat itself is identical between the A350-900 and the A350-1000.

There's no sliding door as you'd find in business class on airlines like Qatar Airways, China Eastern or Delta out of Australia, but there's still a reasonable degree of privacy thanks to the seat's shell, which wraps around each passenger's head:

Against the aisle, an armrest can be raised after take-off and houses a water bottle holder, for easy access while relaxing or sleeping.

Just don't forget to check this space upon landing, as lowering the armrest blends it in with the rest of the seat.

Legroom is excellent with enough space to comfortably stretch forwards, and a sea of leg and foot rests which are more reachable once the seat has been reclined, and later form part of your fully-flat bed.

Speaking of beds, Cathay Pacific now offers its new 'sleeper service' on these flights: you'll find your goodies in the bag on your seat, with slippers delivered by the cabin crew.

This includes a mattress pad which is perfectly shaped to the seat, and softens the bed for a more comfortable rest.

You'll also find a plush duvet, as well as a large-sized Bamford pillow. The duvet is large enough to form a cocoon, if you'd like to soften the seat further while still sleeping under the blanket.

Pyjamas aren't provided, but relying on a BYO pair made for a solid night's rest, almost from the moment my head hit the pillow until it was time for breakfast in the morning.

ET review: Cathay Pacific's new business class sleep service

The seat can be transformed into a bed by a single press of the control button, accessed via the side panel where there's also a storage nook:

Inside sits a mirror, passport-sized storage pouch, your headphones and the AC, USB and headphone outlets.

Extra storage is available in a literature pocket down by the floor, pre-stocked with the safety card and the airline's magazine.

A larger storage bin can be accessed by raising the seat's side panel.

Finally, Cathay Pacific has opted for central lockers on its Airbus A350s, an option that many other airlines haven't taken, so there's also plenty of room for bags and bits above you.

Meal

From Perth to Hong Kong, the service begins with the expected welcome drink, with the crew offering a variety of non-alcoholic beverages including Champagne (Billecart-Salmon Brut NV).

After take-off, the full bar opens and a gin and tonic (Bombay Sapphire) hit the spot:

Supper is then served, and as the flight is designed to help passengers maximise their rest, this comes as a single tray service, with a choice from the following four mains:

  • Stir-fried beef tenderloin with oyster mushroom, choy sum, capsicum and steamed Jasmine rice
  • Braised pork belly and soy-braised egg with noodle in soup
  • Pan-seared barramundi fillet with parsnip purée, broccolini and edamame, with brown butter sauce
  • Beef burger with Monterey Jack cheese, bacon, pickled onion and zucchini on a toasted brioche bun, served with fries

Having seen the beef burger on several inflight menus previously and not having tried it, this was an easy choice: arriving perfectly cooked and with crisp fries, enjoyed with a pot of Australian tomato sauce.

To finish, there's a cheese plate, a selection of ice cream, seasonal fresh fruit or a dessert of vanilla cream with orange compote, ginger crumb and candied orange zest, which came beautifully presented:

Before drifting off to sleep, breakfast can be pre-ordered by completing a hotel-style card and leaving it on your seat's coat hook:

Wanting something lighter after the burger and dessert, the 'continental breakfast' option was the choice pick, with fresh fruit, Greek-style yoghurt with mixed berry compote and granola, orange juice, bakery items and a latte, to start the day.

All was enjoyable, except for the croissant which arrived rock hard and inedible, as has been the case on some previous Cathay Pacific flights, which generally occurs when the pastry sits in the oven for too long.

Other options included the 'Chinese breakfast' of seasonal fresh fruit, preserved thousand-year egg and pork congee, and stir-fried egg noodles with mixed vegetables, or the 'Western breakfast' with the same fresh fruit, a warm pastry and a cheese omelette with chicken sausage, lyonnaise potatoes, roasted tomato and peperonata.

Returning from Hong Kong to Perth on the mid-afternoon CX171 service, an 'Oriental Breeze' mocktail is a welcome arrival before take-off, blending sour-plum tea and cranberry juice with honey, lemon guide and a dash of rose water.

A 'Cloud Nine' cocktail follows ahead of the meal service, mixing Absolut Vodka and Cointreau with lemonade and a dash of lemon flavour, with mint leaves and a sugar-coated rim added for freshness and flavour.

With a 3:05pm departure out of Hong Kong, Cathay serves an early dinner, beginning either with a Thai-marinated prawn and glass noodle salad, or a sweet potato soup with sour cream and garlic croutons, which went perfectly with a Hong Kong style milk tea.

The main course offers the following choices:

  • Steamed black cod with preserved Chinese olives and mandarin peel sauce, choy sum and steamed Jasmine rice
  • Grilled beef tenderloin, roasted artichoke heard, oven-dried tomato, soft polenta and thyme jus
  • Prawn wonton with noodles in soup
  • Cavatelli pasta with cream leek, mushrooms and Pecorino cheese

Having eaten a fair share of local bites on the ground in Hong Kong, the beef tenderloin was a refreshing change and arrived medium-well. Complementing it was a glass of the 2015 Bordeaux Château Mecard:

To finish, the usual cheese, fruit and ice cream options, or a dessert of chilled pomelo and sago pearls in mango and coconut milk: nice and light, albeit not as visually striking as the dessert out of Perth:

Just under two hours before landing, a second service offers fruit and a Tiramisu with either the signature beef burger – identical to the Perth-Hong Kong leg – or a sakura prawn seafood fried rice in XO sauce with choy sum, for some more variety:

The rice was nice and moist, and the fried egg was still crispy, making for a great supper. The Tiramisu was also flavourful but could have done with less cream on top.

Entertainment & Service

Be entertained with an 18.5-inch high definition screen at every seat, which folds out from the side and can remain in place during take-off and landing, firmly locking in place:

Inside, a selection of movies, TV shows, games, music, live satellite TV, the 'moving map', and access to the aircraft's external cameras: all of which can be explored by touching the main screen, or using the separate remote found at the side panel.

As you may have noticed, the background images displayed reflect the flight's destination, and although the supplied headphones are nothing flash, connecting a premium BYO pair is easily done.

Service on both flights is excellent with the crews regularly addressing passengers by surname, offering countless hot towels, promptly answering call bells and being attentive during meal times, without being too 'familiar'.

The A350's LED cabin lighting also helps set the mood and brings colour to the space, which makes for a nice and relaxing atmosphere or a gradual morning wake-up:

Satellite-based WiFi Internet is available on this aircraft, priced at US$9.95 for one hour or US$19.95 for the entire flight, and worked well when used on the Hong Kong-Perth leg.

All in all, with a comfortable fully-flat bed with recent 'sleep service' improvements joined by inflight dining that's also recently been elevated, Cathay Pacific's Airbus A350-1000 business class is an excellent choice on flights to Hong Kong and beyond.

Also read: Cathay Pacific brings Airbus A350-1000 to Melbourne

Chris Chamberlin travelled as a guest of Cathay Pacific.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

Moose64

Moose64

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

22 Feb 2019

Total posts 5

Chris, I looked into Cathay for a booking to KUL via HKG and Qantas advised status credits/points dont accrue in Business, only Y. Might be the reason when looking to book on the QF website Cathay isnt an option, only Malaysia, JQ, or SilkAir. Disappointing

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2948

Flying to Kuala Lumpur via Hong Kong is certainly the long way around! Much easier to fly direct with Malaysia Airlines, or if you're chasing Oneworld, Qantas to Singapore and a quick hour-long hop across with Malaysia Airlines (or Jetstar for status credits, on an eligible fare). It's not correct that Cathay Pacific business flights to Kuala Lumpur don't earn status credits, however. Going to the Qantas earning calculator and keying in HKG-KUL shows what you'd earn (on top of the Australia-HK leg).

Perhaps the agent was confused about the Malaysia Airlines earning rates, where they're certainly correct that business class between Australia and Asia with MH accrues points and status at economy rates, but that doesn't apply to Cathay Pacific. In any case, you wouldn't book that journey via the Qantas website: you'd book directly with Cathay Pacific.

Rkwm

Rkwm

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 88

Moose64 I was told exactly the same , only Y accrues SC/Points.

So I took MH J and very thankful it was excellent including service , food , punctuality and comfort

linz

linz

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

16 Nov 2018

Total posts 1

Landed home this morning after a quick 2 night/ 3 day trip SYD-ZRH, LHR-SYD flying CX J class with one leg on the A350. Gotta say, it's 5.15pm and I'm still powering through the day. CX J class really is top notch. Easiest biz bed IMO to get a decent sleep

bcworld

bcworld

07 Mar 2013

Total posts 21

When oh when will the brioche bun fad ever end! I've never met anyone that actually prefers a burger in brioche!

Glideslope

Glideslope

06 Nov 2019

Total posts 2

Burger on a brioche - delicious!

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2948

bcworld: For what it's worth, I really enjoyed the burger and it was certainly tempting to have one again on the return flight, but decided on the other dish for some variety (and, telling myself I shouldn't eat fries twice in the same week!).

Fosseboy

Fosseboy

28 Sep 2018

Total posts 7

I am for the burger in a brioche bun...its lighter than a burger bun. I just had it on Qatar Per/ Doha and it was so good I took it on the return flight.


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