Cathay Pacific's new business class dining service lands in Australia

By David Flynn, May 17 2019

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.

Read more: Here is Cathay Pacific’s new business class dining concept

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.

David
David

David Flynn

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Alistarch

Alistarch

29 Aug 2017

Total posts 17

I experienced the new enhanced meal service from HK to LHR and I wasn’t too bad.

Zac

Zac

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

23 May 2014

Total posts 129

The new menu “paper” looks fantastic and promises a lot - not sure it’s backed up by the actual meal options available on that flight though. Would be good to hear about a main meal lunch / dinner service, and also see if the wines have taken a step up.

sra35

sra35

QF

02 Oct 2012

Total posts 38

It looks so much better that their previous service and I absolutely hated the trolley will cold food serviced in those ramekins. I know that there was only a light lunch served on this flight that David reviewed but I'm not a fan of my dessert being served at the same time as the rest of the meal. To me that has an economy type of feel to it.

sanj747

sanj747

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Nov 2016

Total posts 81

Burger option looks good.

highflyer

highflyer

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2012

Total posts 296

I actually dont mind the trolley service. I think it assists in ensuring a calm atmosphere... the running back and forth seems to disturb the cabin, especially during later evening flights where you want to get some rest.

Notso Swift

Notso Swift

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Oct 2016

Total posts 100

It is quaint, but I quite like it too

mrj

mrj

14 Jun 2017

Total posts 5

If the menu you sampled is anything to go by, it shows a remarkable lack of non-meat options. This is consistent with Cathay's previous approach which in my mind is behind modern tastes and cuisine. The pictures taken do nothing to give me any optimism that the food quality has improved. I love Cathay business but the food standard lets it down.

Jason526

Jason526

16 Nov 2018

Total posts 8

Look at that Chinese breakfast. You call it a "step up"? I call it a Westfield food court style. Light lunch still needs a salad to start with. Fruit and dessert need to come out separately after the meal. Sorry Cathay, you should know why you are slipping out of top 10 airlines.

2A

2A

23 Feb 2017

Total posts 10

I am in the middle of an AMS-BNE-AMS trip. Coming out, the reversion to the old service HKG-BNE after service new style AMS-HKG was a noticeable step down. Good work Cathay, see you at the end of next week.

gmwong

gmwong

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 May 2019

Total posts 4

A Cathay trolley service serving dim sum (Yum Cha) would be really authentic and unique! Any other takers?

Rkwm

Rkwm

23 Mar 2012

Total posts 87

I have experienced the new meal service several times on various flights to and from Europe from Hong Kong and return .

It was impossible to sleep as the service continues throughout the entire journey as passengers request meals when they wish .The noise in the cabin and the constant preparation of meals from the galley was atrocious.At least with the old trolley service there is an end point to the noise and disturbances.Also the menus are all hype the end product is lackluster .A huge menu but for no real reason .I was really looking forward to this revamp but it really disappointed. I took several flights in the small forward J class cabin ( 777) behind first and found the noise continued through out all flights , the same on the A350 . I have taken 11 flights thus far all of which remained consistently lackluster both in F & B quality and similar haphazard service . Sleep is important to me and I found it near impossible for the entire journey on all flights.

Chinabound

Chinabound

QF

05 Jul 2012

Total posts 7

I flew cx110 this week in business and noticed quite a drop in service from when I flew CX frequently for many years 2006 to 2015.

No warm towels, no welcome drink, no snacks mid flight. The new menu looked ok however small servings and no snacks was not a good combo. Finally a big drop with inflight service, seems like very unhappy staff. I used to love flying CX but now time to move on.

David

David

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2322

Interesting, on my CX110 this week just gone we had the hot towels and the welcome drinks.

bl812

bl812

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 174

finally some sense-it was so ugly and common to serve from those trolleys-most upper scale carriers serve individually -after all you pay 3-4 times more than economy so they should act accordingly!-anyway for the same price always opt for SQ-CX is lagging way behind and will be always.

Celestarsyd

Celestarsyd

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

31 Jan 2013

Total posts 11

I was excited to try the new dining option on Saturday flying from Madrid to Hong Kong. My preferred lunch option (Beef Short Rib) had run out, not wanting the asparagus tortellini (really?) I opted for the prawn dish. What arrived was 4 prawns and broccoli, dousing it in chili sauce made it edible. Breakfast was better but still nothing to remember, Cathay have changed the service without improving the quality at all

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