Good Advice Tried and Tested

Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class

30/05/2013

CHECK-IN My flight (CX135) was due to leave at 1910, the first of two CX flights that night for Melbourne, with the second (CX105) leaving at 2335 via Adelaide.

Procedures were slightly delayed since my Australian visa was on my old passport and not on my current one, a detail the airline had to clear with the authorities in Melbourne. While waiting, I went to deliver some bulky items for the trade show I was attending to the counter that handled such details.

THE LOUNGE The Cabin, located on the way to departure gate 34, is reached by taking a lift or escalator down. With few people there the atmosphere was tranquil. I made a beeline for the row of pod-like seats facing the runway and was just in time to enjoy a golden sunset. Perked up by a sandwich and juice, I put in a bit of work, aware I had to leave before the 1845 boarding time. No calls are ever made in the CX lounge – it’s indicated in a notice issued to you at check-in.

BOARDING With no queue in business, I was on the aerobridge in seconds, but had to go through a second security check. After finding aisle seat 16G, I took out the necessities I would need on the journey, such as my MacBook Air, reading glasses and some toiletries, and inserted them in various seat compartments. We were handed a sky-blue Agnes B amenity kit with the usual items, and a flight attendant stopped by to offer drinks.

THE SEAT On this three-class aircraft, including the newly introduced premium economy, business class is divided into two sections – 28 seats (rows 11-18) in the forward cabin and 11 seats (rows 19-21) behind, with all but one following a 1-2-1 configuration (A-D-G-K). I was seated in 16G in the main cabin, not a particularly desirable location as it was a middle seat and exposed to heavy traffic.

I will not go into further details of the seat as these can be found in previous reviews on www.seatplans.com, but I will commend CX for having created a palpable sense of personal space and thoughtfully adding a multitude of compartments to store personal items. One just has to remember to check all the pockets before disembarking!

There is practically no difference in seat specification between the A330-300 and B777-300ER, except that the useable bed width with the armrest retracted on the former is 27.6 inches/70cm and 29.5 inches/75cm on the latter.

WHICH SEAT TO CHOOSE? In the future, I will go for the second business class cabin with its fewer rows and more self-enclosed atmosphere. The best positioned are window-facing seats 21A and 21K for single travellers and middle seats 21D and 21G for pairs, with no galley or toilets behind them.

THE FLIGHT The meal service was conducted in the usual efficient CX style, showcasing both Asian and Western fare. Starters included smoked salmon with crème fraiche, salmon roe and asparagus and mixed salad with artichoke, all still tingling with refrigerator chill. The mains were fried seabass with spring onion and broccoli; roasted lamb shoulder rack with ratatouille, mashed parsnip and French beans; chicken makhanwala with cumin basmati rice; and spinach and saffron tortellini with tomato roasted pepper sauce. I chose the latter and found it appetising.

The wine list was extensive, and included Champagne Deutz, Brut Classic, Chateau Hanteillan Haut-Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2010 and Gemtree Bloodstone McLaren Vale Shiraz 2010.

Breakfast, served about 90 minutes before landing, featured mango and passion fruit smoothie, fresh fruit and Greek yoghurt with apricot compote and granola. I chose the Asian breakfast of dim sum of pork siu mai, shrimp dumpling, pork and chive dumpling and mini chicken glutinous rice.

ARRIVAL The early morning flight congestion that can afflict Tullamarine Airport did not materialise, but the lines at immigration were still lengthy, although they moved quickly.

VERDICT The angled design of the seat is the key to creating a real sense of personal space, and that is such a treat when cooped up for several hours in one environment.

TESTED BY

Margie T Logarta

Departure time: 1910

Flight time: 9 hours, 15 minutes

Plane type: A330-300

Configuration 1-2-1 (row 19 is 1-2)

Seat width 20.2 inches/51.3cm

Seat length 82 inches/208cm

Seat recline 180 degrees

Price Internet rates for a flexible business class return fare in mid-July start from HK$32,600 (US$4,200).

Contact

www.cathaypacific.com