Cathay Pacific Business Class Review Johannesburg to Hong Kong and Hong Kong to San Francisco

Posted on February 6, 2019 by in Travel Deals

I have had my share of Economy Business and First Class experiences on Cathay Pacific. Most of them have been very positive.

I was curious what would have changed for this trip from Johannesburg to San Francisco.

Cathay Pacific uses one of (the many) Priority Pass lounges at Johannesburg airport. These lounges all have the same catering and look quite similar. The Shongolo lounge isn’t bad but do not expect much in terms of catering. What I discovered there is a ‘Woolworth’ in between Terminal A and B which has fresh ‘food to go’ and excellent and cheap espresso drinks.

Anyways Boarding was perfectly on time and moved quickly thinks to Cathay’s efficient boarding policies and good agents on the ground. Business Class was only about half full which I find surprising given that my flights on Cathay Pacific seem almost always 100% full in Business and Economy class.

Cathay Pacific has added a new catering menu that is a mix of inflight magazine and the old school menu. I thought it was done very well and is a nice touch.

The airline also has added GoGo satellite WiFi on their 777 fleet recently – however there is no satellite coverage for most of the Indian Ocean …

Typically my complaint about Cathay Pacific is the the low quality catering. This was true for the Johannesburg to Hong Kong flight unfortunately too. To start it off this daytime flight (body time) of 12.5 hours comes with just two meals – one of them breakfast (at 10 PM body time). In between you can snack on a very limited selection of items.

I thought the appetizers looked plain awful, the same goes for the salad and bread quality. I just refused the whole tray which confused the flight attendant quite a bit. The main course was salmon which was just ok – it tasted much worse than the rather beautiful description and presentation.

My wine that I ordered earlier would only be served after I rang the call button and in a badly chipped glass.

I opted for Häagen-Dazs ice ream and a hazelnut dessert.

The meal service was over quickly but I felt I was cheated out of it – there was nothing to celebrate a Business Class flight – it was like a bad Business lunch where you feel more hungry AFTER you eat.

I had asked to hold back the vegetarian dish to eat it later (aka as dinner) and also ordered a noodle soup. This again was too much and the purser came by to tell me what a misbehaving passenger I was for ‘extending/ changing my dinner order’.

No penalties were applied though and I still got to eat 🙂

Once landed in Hong Kong I continued to The Pier lounge since it was 1 AM ‘body time’.

I really liked the lounge and after some good food, fresh coffee and a hot shower I was ready for my flight to San Francisco.

Gate 3 is about 25 minutes fast walk from ‘The Pier’ lounge so don’t start too late. The extra security for US flights always seems a bit improvised but it all moves so fast.

This flight would be 100% full and everyone was ready to get some good night’s sleep at the planned departure past 1 AM Hong Kong Time. Since it felt like early evening to me I decided to stay up for the full dinner service.

With me being the sole person awake the dinner service was great and the catering much above the standard for my prior flight.


The pilots earlier announced a very fast jet stream for us to take advantage of. Indeed we had a massive 211 mph tail wind but barely any turbulence.

The little soup snack was outright delicious too.

I fell asleep as we were passing North of Hawaii and missed breakfast because of my shuteye.

Not completely by surprise – I feel Cathay Pacific delivers a very solid, understated Business Class product by design. I’m a big fan of their seats despite it’s age. The catering has always been their issue but at least the lounge catering and the flight to the US had excellent catering. The airline adds a lot of effort to appear professional and to be on time. This won’t be my last Cathay Pacific flight!