Coronavirus: Cathay Pacific closes three Hong Kong airport lounges

Cathay pulls down the shutters at The Pier, The Deck and The Bridge.

By David Flynn , February 17 2020
Coronavirus: Cathay Pacific closes three Hong Kong airport lounges

Cathay Pacific has closed three of its busiest Hong Kong lounges due to the rolling effects of the coronavirus, which has seen Cathay slash flights to mainland China while other Oneworld airlines – among them American Airlines, British Airways and Qantas – reduce or cancel flights to Hong Kong.

Cathay's flagship The Pier First Class lounge, along with the The Deck and The Bridge lounges, closed their doors on Monday February 17 “until further notice”, the airline says. “We apologise for the inconvenience caused to our customers and appreciate their understanding."

The Pier Business Class lounge, along with The Wing First Class and The Wing Business Class lounges, will remain open.

The Pier Business Class lounge will become the new default for many Cathay Pacific and Oneworld travellers.
The Pier Business Class lounge will become the new default for many Cathay Pacific and Oneworld travellers.

The move will allow Cathay to aggregate passenger numbers into those lounges while reducing overall operating costs, which has become a focal point for the airline as it weathers the coronavirus storm.

"We don’t know how long this will last,” Cathay Pacific CEO Augustus Tang has told staff. “With such an uncertain outlook, preserving our cash is now key to protecting our business.” 

Tang has also requested that all 27,000 of the airline's staff take three weeks of voluntary unpaid leave as the airline seeks to ride out the worst effects of the coronavirus – now formally named Covid-19 – which has to date claimed almost 1,400 lives, mostly in mainland China, with more than 60,000 confirmed cases across 28 countries; Hong Kong reported its first coronavirus death last week.

The Deck, at the top end of HKG Terminal 1, is also being shuttered.
The Deck, at the top end of HKG Terminal 1, is also being shuttered.

The Oneworld member is particularly exposed to the impact of the epidemic: the airline's international routes are funnelled through its Hong Kong hub, while Cathay Pacific and its regional arm Cathay Dragon previously maintained an extensive network of 368 flights per week to 23 destinations across mainland China.

Some of its most popular regional routes to Singapore and Taipei have also been hammered by plummeting demand and travel restrictions.

Also read: How to change or cancel travel to China due to the coronavirus 

Your Cathay Pacific HKG lounge alternatives

Passengers who would usually visit The Pier First Class lounge – which caters to first class flyers, Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Diamond and Diamond Plus  members, Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum card-holders and their Oneworld Emerald equivalents – will be redirected to the adjacent The Pier Business Class lounge, near gate 65, if their flights depart from the more distant end of Terminal 1.

The Noodle Bar at The Pier Business Class lounge.
The Noodle Bar at The Pier Business Class lounge.

Travellers bound for The Bridge, near gate 35, should also continue towards gate 65 and The Pier Business Class lounge.

The Pier Business Class is still among the world's best business class lounges, with an extensive buffet plus Cathay's iconic Noodle Bar, a bar, a Tea Room, a series of nap nooks and spacious well-appointed shower suites.

The unique Tea Room at The Pier Business Class lounge.
The unique Tea Room at The Pier Business Class lounge.

Plan B for many The Pier First Class regulars – or perhaps Plan A, if they still desire a more 'exclusive' experience than a business class lounge – will be The Wing First Class lounge, up near gates 1-4.

Cathay Pacific's The Wing First Class lounge.
Cathay Pacific's The Wing First Class lounge.

The Wing has a markedly different aesthetic to The Pier, as it belongs to Cathay's previous generation of lounge design. The dining room menu is largely the same, with the added option of a buffet, although we suggest the indulgent cabanas will be even harder to snare.

One of the private cabana suites at The Wing First Class lounge.
One of the private cabana suites at The Wing First Class lounge.

At the top end of the terminal, The Deck – Cathay's newest Hong Kong lounge – was heavily patronised ahead of flights to mainland China, but passengers can make a beeline for The Wing Business Class lounge...

The Wing Business Class lounge is home to Cathay's original Noodle Bar concept.
The Wing Business Class lounge is home to Cathay's original Noodle Bar concept.

... or, and this may be far more convenient for Cathay Pacific flights departing from gates 15-19, visit the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge, which is immediately adjacent to The Deck.

Qantas' Hong Kong Lounge is handily situated next door to Cathay's The Deck.
Qantas' Hong Kong Lounge is handily situated next door to Cathay's The Deck.

The Qantas Hong Kong Lounge has a tended wine and cocktail bar, a BBQ pork station serving freshly-prepared char siu, a 'plate of the day' and an extensive buffet, while a whimsical dim sum trolley rolls around in the evenings.

Sample some BBQ pork at the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge.
Sample some BBQ pork at the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge.

Entry to the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge is available to Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon passengers booked into business class or holding Marco Polo Club Gold or Diamond status (along with other Oneworld business class, Sapphire and Emerald travellers).

Coronavirus precautions inflight, at lounges

Cathay Pacific is also taking what it describes as "precautionary measures" at its Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing lounges.

"The cleaning of surfaces in washrooms, lifts and other high-use areas is being conducted more frequently, and magazines have been removed. Changes to our food offering have also been made, including the replacement of the buffet with single-serve prepared meals, and the use of disposable cutlery at our Beijing and Shanghai Pudong lounges."

Cathay Pacific is also revising catering arrangements at its recently-opened Shanghai lounge.
Cathay Pacific is also revising catering arrangements at its recently-opened Shanghai lounge.

Additionally, meals on first and business class flights will be served on a single tray rather than from a trolley, while  "hot towels, pillows, blankets, magazines and inflight duty-free sales have also been temporarily suspended."

Earlier this month Cathay Pacific scrapped almost all flights to China with the exceptions of Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen and Chengdu, with each of those four cities also seeing fewer daily flights.

Cathay, Qantas cut Australia-Hong Kong flights

Cathay has also reduced flights between Australia and Hong Kong until at least the end of March and suspended several international routes including London Gatwick, Rome, Washington DC, New York Newark and Cape Town.

"Due to the Novel Coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent reduction in flight demand, Cathay Pacific Group is reducing capacity across its network, inclusive of flights to and from Australia and New Zealand," a Cathay Pacific spokeswoman told Executive Traveller. "The schedule reduction equates to approximately 37 per cent of flights from 1 to 28 March 2020."

Read more: Cathay Pacific cuts flights to Australia, mainland China

As exclusively reported by Executive Traveller earlier this week, Qantas is winding back its Melbourne-Hong Kong and Brisbane-Hong Kong flights from a daily frequency down to between three and five days each week as the coronavirus and related travel restrictions carve into passenger demand on the usually busy routes.

"We are cancelling some return flights from Australia to Hong Kong in February and March to better match the demand we are seeing," a Qantas spokesperson told Executive Traveller.

Read more: Qantas cuts Hong Kong flights as coronavirus takes hold

David

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.

06 Jun 2017

Total posts 39

Not looking good for CX at the moment, "preserving our cash" doesn't sound good. Unfortunate as CX are a fantastic airline, would hate to see them go under due to this.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

27 Feb 2015

Total posts 8

I booked a RTW business class for myself wife and daughter back in April. Flying CX Sunday night from YVR to JFK and then two weeks later AMS HKG. Had given us 10 hours to pop into Central and have a nice break on the trip before QF HKG SYD. I would be interested in reader's thoughts about how to fill those 10 hours. Maybe visiting Tan Tiang Buddha would be better than being cooped up in the terminal or heading downtown?

30 Oct 2014

Total posts 12

Definitely head to Central - easy trip on the Airport express and well worth getting out and about enjoying the bars and restaurants around Lan Kwai Fong,Hollywood Road or Central and if it is a nice day head up to Victoria Peak or else grab a Star Ferry to Kowloon side and go for a drink at the Intercon or Mandarin and enjoy the views.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2397

I'd definitely seek to escape the airport! First thing: work out your timetable to allow time needed to leave the airport, to get back and allow some time in the lounge for a meal before your flight and perhaps a shower to freshen up. This gives you a clear idea of the 'non-airport' time you have, so you can plan how to fill that and not be stressed about getting back to the airport.

For a short stop-over with some shopping I generally recommend visiting the CityGate Outlet Mall, which is a short bus or taxi ride from the airport. As you'll have many hours on your hand I'd say the Big Buddha can be done, maybe via the Ngong Ping Cable Car from Tung Chung MTR station, which is next to the CityGate Mall.

Otherwise there's certainly time to hop the Airport Express (or a taxi or Uber, as the ride for three of you might be quite cost-effective?) and head to Kowloon to poke around TST, or through to Central as andrewan has suggested.

16 Jun 2017

Total posts 6

Nooooooooo!!! I have a flight to/from Kathmandu with a 10hr layover!! Was hoping to coop up in one of the retreats in The Pier F Lounge!!! Guess not happening anymore!!! :(

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Oct 2016

Total posts 61

Due to a lengthy layover we spent a fair amount of time in the Wing and Pier F lounges yesterday (Thursday) so thought I'd share our experience. The Wing was practically empty until around midday when a few people started drifting in, but even then it felt like there was a 1-to-1 ratio of staff to patrons. The lounge had multiple cabanas ready to go mid-morning when we arrived and we were the only ones in the restaurant for a bit too.

The pier seemed the busier of the two lounges but I guess this is relative as services such as the day beds were available straightaway which I understand is unusual, though there was still a short wait for the massage! The pier restaurant was the far busier restaurant with multiple tables in use, but it had a more substantial/longer al la carte menu than the one presented to me in the Wing so that's a potential downgrade. Given our limited sample of one day I can see the wing easily being able to take the F capacity of both lounges, (and the wait for cabanas probably still won't be too bad) We stuck our heads in the wing and pier business lounges and they seemed busier though not packed so I can understand why they have not been closed.

Interestingly Cathay have removed all magazines from the shelves in both lounges for health reasons and even had small signs around star handrails stating they'd be disinfected every 2 hours (The Qantas lounge so far has not followed suit with their magazine shelves)

11 Dec 2018

Total posts 7

Cathay pacific is now waiving cancellation + rebooking fees for flights 'arriving to, departing from or transit through Hong Kong' through to End of March :

https://www.cathaypacific.com/cx/en_AU/travel-information/travel-preparation/travel-advisories/special-ticketing-guidelines-for-passengers-arriving-to-Hong-Kong.html

11 Dec 2018

Total posts 7

correction : no waiver on cancellations - only on changes...


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