Cathay Pacific First Class Review – the end of a love story?

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Cathay Pacific First Class isn’t easy to book these days using AAdvantage miles – availability is just a few seats per month now but it is much easier just a few days before your trip. I had booked my return from Singapore via Hong Kong to San Francisco.

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After my flight from Singapore to Hong Kong I went to the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge (The Pier) – more about that soon. I really enjoyed this new lounge but was happy to leave after almost 4 hours of constant eating and drinking for my flight at the other end of the terminal at Gate 3 (next to the Wing First Class lounge).

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The six suites were occupied by just 3 passengers. The cabin attendants introduced themselves and served nuts and champagne before take off. I also got my amenity kit (which seem to be getting smaller and smaller with every flight) and pajamas.

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I slipped into my pajamas before take off and was looking forward to get some sleep (take off was planned for 12.30 AM). The pilot announced plans for an on-time departure.

And the first time ever – I got a small hand – written note welcoming my on board!

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So far so good!

However the skies over South-East China weren’t our friends that night – all the way to Eastern Japan it would lit up that night with thunderstorm cells – and it seems we hit them all.

The flight attendants and passengers were strapped in for 2.5 hours and pilots reported planes going up and down 100 feet because of ‘bumps’. Not a fun way to travel the Pacific especially after my recent travels through thunderstorm alley earlier that month with Etihad, Malaysia Airlines and Air Asia.

Eventually the weather settled down and I got a chance to try the caviar (I could not sleep as well with that level of turbulence).

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I finally gave in to my sleep deprivation at 3.30 AM local time and had saved the entree and breakfast for the time when I would wake up.

The Cathay Pacific seat transforms into a huge bed that is very close to a hotel bed. I slept very well for 6 hours and just barely had time to try the meals I saved.

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I did not like the Cantonese style lobster that I had set aside. So many shells and so little taste. I liked the breakfast more, though the items were really cheap (besides the yogurt). Most free hotel breakfast at Hilton hotels is much better.

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What always stands out with Cathay Pacific is the CX Studio entertainment system which has a good selection of movies and is as easy to use as it gets. Before I even had coffee we started our approach into San Francisco.

I was expecting to touch down and be out in minutes giving my experience in February on the exact same flight. Not this time! Global Entry had been suspended because I went to Turkey, I went to a regular passport check and secondary screening with a very curious (but polite) officer.

Once I made my way to the luggage belt I was wondering where my ‘Priority Baggage’ was since most bags had come out by the time I arrived at the belt. The friendly attendant traced my bag back to Hong Kong – it never made it on the flight! Apparently because my tag had gotten ripped off during transit at HKIA. That hadn’t happened to this bag ever on dozens of flights. Oh well – I got a receipt and the promised to have the bag delivered once the next flight would arrive. Indeed the bag arrived within 36 hours and was delivered to me.

Customs greeted me with a big smile since they would be able to unpack just my backpack and not my whole suitcase since I had big SECONDARY BAG CHECK on my Global Entry Receipt that gets you a full search of every little pocket and item. See how all these secondary security checks unfolded on my next flight.

Somehow that wasn’t a great experience – the entire flight. Only the bag is something that CX can control (and they would have to rely on the HKIA baggage handling system there too). It was just a combination of unrelated negative factors.

I only had my bag delayed once (thanks to overbearing Tel Aviv security for my flight to Addis). Time for a different airline experience on my next Pacific crossing!