Having become disillusioned with “British Airways”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/airline/177156-review-british-airways, I’d like to say we voted with our feet by choosing Cathay Pacific for our flights to Hong Kong and onwards to Manila. However, I suspect they were the better bet for costs, times and route. So how did they compare?
Well firstly, when our flights were booked, seats were allocated: my biggest beef with BA is being charged for a specific seat even in business class.
Arriving at Terminal 3, 3 hours before our flight, check in was straightforward and we were quickly armed with lounge passes for Heathrow and Hong Kong. The lounge was quiet and, having checked out the variety of seating available, we got ensconced in comfy brown leather swivel chairs and footstools overlooking the runway. There was a good selection of Western and Asian food: a full English breakfast with fruit, yoghurts, pastries etc. with dim sum and noodles cooked to order. The bar had the usual range of alcoholic drinks, including prosecco, with lots of newspapers and magazines being available.
Our seats, 11d and 11f on a 777 300ER (in case anyone is remotely interested), were in an area with only 8 passengers, in a 1 – 2 – 1 configuration. The seats all faced forward and so there was no hopping over a stranger’s legs to get out like with BA and we had two loos for the 8 of us. There was the choice of orange, water or fizz, and this time it was champagne, before take-off.
We were 30 minutes late in setting off on our 11-hour flight (although this was made up), but we were soon having pre-lunch drinks and warm nuts before a starter of ham hock and pea terrine served with a red onion relish and salad. Although there was a menu with a choice of 4 mains, the dishes were presented on a trolley so you could see what you were getting, which I liked. I had braised chicken with yu hsiang chilli sauce, Shanghainese pak choi and jasmine rice, whilst Roy, who thought as it would be his last traditional meal for 2 months, plumped for seared herb beef fillet, roasted vegetables and parsley potato mash. Both were excellent, as was the accompanying Sauvignon Blanc. We then had a selection of cheeses, grapes and crackers before puddings of lemongrass crème with pineapple or toffee apple pecan crisp. And just to finish us off, a box of chocolates was handed round with tea or coffee.
Snoozes were then needed although the inflight entertainment had a good range of recent films, music TV etc. The flat beds were good enough for a 6’ 2” man, although when completely flat, were a little uncomfortable. The staff were very friendly, particularly one constantly smiling chap who whenever we passed the galley tried to tempt us with healthy/unhealthy snacks, smoothies, hot and cold drinks.
Breakfast was served before landing with lots of choices: apple juice, smoothie, bircher muesli and fruit, although an omelette was on offer with more traditional Asian style dishes.
After a few days in Hong Kong, we flew onwards to Manila. There were four Cathay Pacific lounges spread across the huge departure area and as we didn’t have a gate, had to guess which might be the nearest. The lounge was long and narrow, and we found comfortable booth-style seats overlooking the runway and settled down with a glass of fizz (Moet unlike the prosecco at Heathrow) and although a good selection of food was available, we’d only just had a hotel breakfast.
This time we flew on the new AS350-900 aircraft which had chargeable wi-fi available. The configuration was the same, but we were in a much larger cabin with 8 rows. Despite being a short flight (1 hour 15 minutes), they still managed to serve a three-course meal and arrive on time.
So, the final verdict: there are so many similarities, but Cathay Pacific just edges out BA as I save money and don’t have to hop to go to the loo.