Cathay Pacific first class: everything you need to know

First class on Cathay Pacific is reserved for the airline's longest flights: here's your guide to making the most of it.

By Chris Chamberlin, August 23 2019
Cathay Pacific first class: everything you need to know

Offering flights to 80 destinations in more than 30 countries across Asia, the Pacific, Europe, North America, the Middle East and Africa, Cathay Pacific connects Hong Kong to the world.

Many of those routes feature Cathay Pacific first class, which takes pride of place on the airline's flagship Boeing 777-300ER jets with six open-design first class suites plus the airline's very highest level of service.

Welcome to Cathay Pacific first class

Here's what you need to know about flying first class with Cathay Pacific.

In this article:

What is Cathay Pacific first class?

As the name implies, first class is Cathay Pacific's highest level of service, comfortably sitting above (and in front of) business class, premium economy and economy.

Primarily offered on key routes like Hong Kong-London and Hong Kong-New York, first class offers passengers the best airport lounge access on the ground, and in the air, a much wider seat than in business class, with upgraded inflight service and dining.

First class vs. business class on Cathay Pacific: what's the difference?

In Cathay Pacific first class, where available, your journey begins in a dedicated first class lounge as opposed to the standard business class lounge. For example, you'll find two separate first class lounges at Hong Kong Airport, another Cathay Pacific first class lounge at London Heathrow, and so on.

On board, you'll relax in one of just six private suites at the very front of the plane, which are much wider than business class and which transform into a longer bed. Food and beverage is taken up a notch with favourites like vintage Champagne complementing a seasonal fine dining menu.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 first class

If you're connecting from a Cathay Pacific first class flight to a Cathay Pacific business class flight – such as flying from London to Hong Kong in first class, and then from Hong Kong to Sydney in business class – you'll also be able to enjoy the Cathay Pacific first class lounge in transit, even though your onward flight is in business class.

Five reasons we love Cathay Pacific first class

1. The journey begins in some of the world's best airport lounges

Flying out of Hong Kong Airport, your Cathay Pacific first class ticket provides access to two Cathay Pacific first class lounges: The Wing First Class, and The Pier First Class.

The Wing has long been popular with passengers given its favourable location, Champagne bar and private 'cabana' suites...

The cabanas at The Wing First Class Lounge

... but in more recent years, The Pier First Class Lounge has edged out in front, taking that to the next level with an upgraded look and feel, spa services, day suites with airport views, and more.

Explore The Pier First Class Lounge

2. The wide, comfortable seat and bed

Taller travellers, rejoice: Cathay Pacific's first class suites can transform into a bed measuring 81 inches (205cm) from tip to tail – longer than a king-sized bed on the ground.

Rest comfortably in Cathay Pacific first class

The seat is also spaciously wide, whether you're dozing off or staying awake and getting some work done. It's so wide, in fact, that there's an extra armrest you can lower if the seat feels too big, or simply for added comfort:

Tweak your Cathay Pacific first class suite for optimum comfort

3. You can dine or meet with a companion

Although there's no onboard bar or lounge area as some airlines offer, your Cathay Pacific first class seat is actually two seats in one: one for you, and another that a companion can use to join you during the flight, such as for a meal or to host an impromptu business meeting.

When your legrest isn't in use, it forms a companion seat

Just note that each passenger has to be booked into their own seat, so you can't book one first class suite and have two passengers arrive at the airport, hoping to share it from take-off until landing. Of course, to use that companion seat, your guest should also be flying in first class.

4. The inflight dining

Certainly, Cathay Pacific's first class lounges offer solid pre-flight food and wine, although for first class passengers, the best dining experience can be found in the sky, where vintage Champagne and caviar begin the à la carte meal service.

It wouldn't be Cathay Pacific first class without the Champagne

Ordering a steak? It doesn't just come as-is – you'll be asked how you like it cooked. Enjoying some of that caviar? We'll let you in on a little secret: Cathay Pacific often carries one extra serving on board compared to the number of first class passengers: so if you really enjoyed it, you may be able to repeat the course.

Caviar service in Cathay Pacific first class

5. You can enjoy first class perks year-round

Not every Cathay Pacific flight offers first class service, but when you are flying first class, you can earn Club Points in the airline's Marco Polo Club scheme at the highest rates, or the highest number of status credits in partner programs like Qantas Frequent Flyer of any passenger on the same flight.

Earn enough of these and reach the top Diamond, Platinum or Oneworld Emerald levels and then every time you fly with Cathay Pacific or a Oneworld partner airline, you'll have the same experience as a first class passenger on the ground, even if you're not flying first class.

First class passengers can use fast-track lines at the airport

For example, you'll be able to use first class priority check-in, visit the first class lounge before your flight, zip through the same priority boarding queue as for first class passengers at the boarding gate, and have your checked bags priority-tagged with "first class" labels for expedited delivery at the other end.

It's not the 'full' first class experience, but it's still a nice reward for your travels, particularly on flights where there's simply no option to fly first class.

Three tips before you fly first class on Cathay Pacific

1. You can bring a guest into first class lounges

Flying Cathay Pacific first class, but joined by a companion who's travelling further back on the same flight – such as in business class – or even taking a different flight from the same airport?

Even if you don't have any frequent flyer status, your Cathay Pacific first class ticket allows you to bring one guest into the airport lounge before your flight. That guest can be travelling with Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon or any Oneworld alliance airline in any class of service from the same airport.

You can always bring a guest into the lounge, even without status

2. You may be able to visit a lounge after your flight

When arriving on a Cathay Pacific flight into London Heathrow or Frankfurt Airport, your journey may conclude with access to an arrivals lounge, with first class passengers joining business class passengers (and eligible frequent flyers) in the same lounge.

At Heathrow, the American Airlines Arrivals Lounge welcomes travellers from 5am until 3:30pm daily, catering to passengers arriving on flights CX237, CX255 and CX251: but not CX257, CX239 or CX253, which arrive in London at or after the closing time.

The orientation of Frankfurt Airport also allows passengers arriving on flights CX289 and CX283 to visit the Cathay Pacific lounge upon arrival from Hong Kong.

Just note, guests are not permitted in arrivals lounges, unless that guest is otherwise entitled to access themselves, such as by flying business class or first class, or when holding eligible Marco Polo Club status.

3. You can sometimes sit in first class on a business class ticket

From time to time, Cathay Pacific flies aircraft equipped with first class seating on routes where first class isn't actually sold, such as Sydney-Hong Kong.

When this happens, seats in the first class area become an extension of the business class cabin, with the same lounge access, service, dining and amenities as normally offered in business class: but delivered while sitting in what's otherwise a first class seat.

Sometimes, lucky business class passengers end up sitting in first class...

High-tiered Marco Polo Club members are usually offered these seats before non-frequent flyers, but when selecting your business class seat online, if you happen to notice two rows of three seats at the front of your business class cabin (which you likely won't be able to select), there's no harm in asking at the airport if one might still be available.

Getting a first class upgrade on Cathay Pacific

Where first class is sold as its own cabin, you may be able to upgrade your business class seat for a first class suite using Asia Miles.

The number of miles needed varies from flight to flight, and as with all points-based upgrades, is subject to availability: either before you travel, or when asking about an upgrade at the airport.

Use your Cathay Pacific Asia Miles for a first class upgrade

For more information on Cathay Pacific first class upgrades, read our Executive Traveller guide.

First class on the Cathay Pacific Boeing 777X

Currently, if you're flying first class, you're travelling on a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft – but as Cathay Pacific looks to the future of its fleet, and of first class, the airline is currently evaluating what first class might look like on its next batch of Boeing 777s, known as the Boeing 777X.

Speaking with Executive Traveller in mid-2018, former Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg shared that “we’re building models and testing different concepts, but we haven’t finalised it yet,” hinting also that sliding doors or high-walled suites were also under consideration, although no final decision had been made.

Read: Cathay Pacific's new Boeing 777X first class

Cathay Pacific first class lounge reviews

The Wing First Class Lounge, Hong Kong

Known for its Champagne lounge, private cabanas, open feel and airport views, The Wing First Class lounge isn't far from check-in and passport control for those beginning their journey in Hong Kong.

Sample the Champagne in The Wing First Class Lounge

That's convenient for those departing from gates nearby, but reason enough to go exploring down to The Pier, when time and practicalities allow.

Review: Cathay Pacific The Wing First Class Lounge, Hong Kong

The Pier First Class Lounge, Hong Kong

As the newer of Cathay Pacific's two Hong Kong first class lounges, The Pier First Class Lounge offers many of the same amenities as The Wing – shower suites, restaurant dining and bartender service – but with the airline's modern 'home away from home' design.

Enjoy company in The Pier First Class Lounge

Add to that, a day spa with complimentary treatments, and private napping and relaxation suites closed off from the lounge proper, which offer near-ground-level views out across the airport.

Review: Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge, Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific first class lounge, London Heathrow

Situated in Terminal 3 at London's Heathrow Airport, Cathay Pacific's first class lounge isn't only a haven for the airline's own first class passengers (and eligible frequent flyers) – it's also a favourite of passengers flying with other airlines, too.

Enjoy the peace and serenity in Cathay Pacific's London first class lounge

For example, a first class ticket on the likes of Qantas, American Airlines or British Airways out of Terminal 3 also provides access, as does a Platinum, Diamond or Oneworld Emerald frequent flyer card when travelling with Cathay Pacific, these partners or indeed, any other Oneworld alliance airline from the same terminal.

Review: Cathay Pacific first class lounge, London Heathrow

Cathay Pacific first class FAQs

Is Cathay Pacific first class refundable?

While Cathay Pacific's first class fare rules may change from one country to another, on itineraries departing Hong Kong (such as to London), the airline sells two types of first class tickets: First Class Standard, and First Class Flex.

First Class Flex is naturally the most flexible, and has no charges when cancelling and refunding the ticket both before and after departure, with 'no show' fees also waived if requesting that refund after departure.

First Class Saver is instead lower-priced, but has added fees attached to these and other changes. Expect to pay HKD$1,800 to cancel a flight before departure, or HKD$1,800 plus a no-show charge of HKD$2,200 to cancel a first class flight after departure. These amounts will be deducted from your refund.

Can I upgrade to Cathay Pacific first class?

As above, you may be able to upgrade to Cathay Pacific first class using Asia Miles, when already travelling on an eligible Cathay Pacific business class ticket.

Upgraded to first class? You'd be smiling too!

However, upgrades on Cathay Pacific are all one-class, so you won't be able to upgrade from premium economy (or economy) straight to first class: only from business class, and only from an eligible, paid ticket.

How much does Cathay Pacific first class cost?

As you'd expect, fare prices can vary from one flight to the next and may also change when flying into and out of different cities, so there's no set price for a one-way or return Cathay Pacific first class flight.

However, as a guide and using that same Hong Kong-London as an example, a return first class ticket in mid-February 2020 currently sells for HKD$79,919 when booked as a First Class Saver fare, or HKD$117,459 when booked as First Class Flex.


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!