Cathay Pacific is now rolling out its revamped business class dining service on flights between Australia and Hong Kong.
A staged launch from mid-2018 introduced the new concept to passengers on long-range flights to the UK, Europe and North America.
This includes three starter choices instead of just one; as many as six main course options; a refreshed series of popular ‘Most Loved’ dishes available as snacks any time during the flight; express meals and supper plates for travellers who want to spend less time eating and more time working or sleeping; and a ‘room service-style’ breakfast card for overnight flights.
Most noticeably, the trolley has been banished from business class aisles: in keeping with the promised ‘restaurant-style' ethos, all meals are individually plated in the galley and then hand-delivered to each passenger.
The same goes for drinks: choose what you want from the seriously re-styled menu, then tap the Call button to summon the cabin attendant to take your order.
Australia marks stage two of Cathay’s rollout, in this case to what the airline considers its ‘medium-range’ flights – other destinations in that category are New Zealand, India and the Maldives.
Sydney is first cab off the rank, with the revised meal service now featuring on each of Cathay’s four daily flights; Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide and Cairns will follow in June.
The main difference when measured against the long-range service is that no mid-flight refreshments are available on the medium-range journeys.
Australian Business Traveller hopped onto Cathay Pacific flight CX110, which departs Sydney at 7.30am to reach Hong Kong around 3.30pm, to sample the airline’s tweak of business class dining and provide a preview of what the rest of Cathay’s Australian flights will see.
As a morning departure from Sydney, two meals are served on CX110: breakfast comes around shortly after take-off, with a light lunch offered a few hours before landing.
The first thing you notice is not the meals but the menu, which has been creatively redesigned with a little of the philosophy of an inflight magazine to become more readable and, not pun intended, digestible.
Colour-printed at a newspaper tabloid size, there’s one page for each meal service (even if the meal takes up only one-third of the actual page), and another two pages for drinks.
Then comes three pages of foodie-friendly articles, starting with a profile of one popular Cathay Pacific dish plus a spotlight on restaurants at three different Cathay Pacific destinations.
You can also study up on restaurant recommendations from a highly-regarded chef.
Finally, take a slightly more detailed dive into certain foods, such as cheese.
But what about the meals themselves?
On my flight, breakfast was a choice between:
- Chinese breakfast (prawn and ling congee with stir-fried rice vermicelli)
- Western breakfast (omelette, pork sausage, braised beans and spinach)
- Continental breakfast (a warm pastry, Greek yoghurt, apricot and raisin compote and granola)
The crew say this is the same set as would be typically offered under the ‘old’ business class dining service. I opted for the Chinese breakfast.
The presentation is a certainly a step up, and the breakfast was much as I’d expect – tasty and enjoyable – but the harried crew were forced to bustle up and down the aisle to serve every single passenger.
This constant galley-to-seat-to-gallery activity didn’t contribute to a relaxed vibe and meant the crew had little if any time to chat with each passenger – something which runs counter to Cathay Pacific’s stated goal of making its business class dining service more personal.
On the upside, if you're sitting well away from the front rows of the business class cabin your meals will arrive nice and hot, straight from the gallery, instead of lukewarm (or worse) off the trolley.
A few hours out from Hong Kong, a ‘light lunch’ was served.
In the toss-up between the beef burger and nasi goreng with chicken satay, I opted for the later. Both were followed by a strawberry tiramisu.
For a 'light' meal this was pleasingly substantial as well as very enjoyable.
Cathay Pacific’s upgraded business class dining service is a clear improvement for Australian business travellers headed to Hong Kong, although based on that early morning flight it’s difficult to say if the meals themselves represent a significant step forward for the airline’s dining experience or more of an incremental improvement.