Flight Report: Bangkok to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific
March 1, 2016
Bangkok Suvarnabhumi to Hong Kong on a Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300
Cathay Pacific Check in at Bangkok was only visible in the immediate vicinity due to obstruction by a neighboring airline. However, plenty of desks were open and the queue time was under 10-minutes. Online check-in was easy but I needed to check-in my hand carry bag that weighed 10kg. Cathay Pacific, like many carriers, now only allows a maximum of 7kg. Staff service was welcoming and the boarding gate was shown clearly on a map. There was no direction to security which as any frequent user of BKK will know – can be confusing.
Boarding for a full flight lacked efficiency – there were few staff available to assist and the process was chaotic with many passengers ignoring the staggered boarding instructions. The PA was only in English, and with 90 percent Chinese passengers many did not appear to understand. This lead to a congested airbridge and an uncomfortable 15 minutes wait without air conditioning.
AIRPLANE & CABIN FLOWN
The Boeing 777-300 Economy Class cabin was at full capacity with no spare seats observed.
Cathay Pacific Economy Class passenger are permitted 1 x 20kg checked luggage and 1 x 7kg carry-on baggage, in addition to a small personal item such as laptop bag, briefcase or backpack. This is for all International flights (apart from New Zealand).
This was the older Cathay Pacific fixed back seat product and configured in a spacious 3x3x3 layout. I had a window seat (44K), 6 rows from the front of cabin – the 32-inch pitch and 18-inch width was comfortable. There is no recline intrusion from the seat in front and your own personal recline is provided by the seat base sliding forward. It offers a good degree of comfort for a regional flight of 2.5 hours but there is little support for the lower back which is likely to be uncomfortable on longer sectors. The table is strong and once released reveals an International power socket making this a functional seat for a business traveller wanting to get on with work – however, there is no USB. For a regional service it is an impressive product.
CABIN & TOILETS
The cabin was clean and well presented. The seat colors of turquoise and navy blue give a nice ambience. There are 6 washrooms available for the large cabin of 356 seats. Upon first use toilet seat covers are used and staff were observed checking cleanliness prior to landing. Cathay Pacific offers good amenities for regional flights that include facial moisturiser and hand cream – some airlines do not even offer this on long haul.
The flight pushed back on time, and arrived at Hong Kong 15 minutes ahead of schedule.
Economy Class meal on Cathay Pacific Airways
FOOD & DRINK
35 Minutes after take-off a combined meal and drinks service is offered with 1 staff serving per cart – it takes around 10 minutes to arrive at my seat 6 rows back. The meal choices were shrimp noodles or omelet with chicken sausage. The tray was well presented with nice tableware and a good quantity of food for the short 2.5 hour flight. The fruit was well cut and tasted fresh as did the yogurt. The main entrée of shrimp noodles was tasty and I was impressed with the standard of flavour despite there being no sauce. The bread was disappointing being cold and of poor texture. It takes a further 40 minutes for the food to be cleared and a second bar service is offered.
Personal IFE was available. The 8-inch PTV screen was good quality with both touch screen and hand controls available. Programming included 44 new movies, 35 Asian options and 17 “classic” films. Music was comprehensive but TV options were poor for non-Chinese or Asian travellers – there were zero western options. Gate-to-gate entertainment was available. The air show was clear and offers transfer gate information for HKG.
A pillow is provided on each seat. This was soft, clean and a good size. No blanket was available but the cabin temperature seemed fairly warm so there did not appear to be much need for one. Cathay Pacific (unlike Singapore Airlines) do not offer any form of towel service on their short flights.
Economy Class washroom amenities
The service lacked any welcome during the boarding phase of the flight, with staff simply pointing to the correct aisle. There did not seem to be any presence of staff in the cabin during boarding and there was no assistance to customers for finding seats or placing luggage in the overhead bins. Staff only appear at end of boarding. The meal service is efficient but the service felt quite robotic and lacked any smile or enthusiasm. The meal choices are explained but very quickly and it was difficult to hear the staff in the window seats. When asking staff to repeat the options it felt like an inconvenience to them. The service felt rushed and cold in general. Staff seemed a little overwhelmed with the full flight and had an air of dread because of this. 1 staff member per cart is perhaps challenging for a full cabin seeing that drinks and meals are served at the same time. The Captain PA’s were very clear and offered good details on route, flight condition, weather at destination and this was very clear.
Upon arrival at Hong Kong staff seemed more enthusiastic to say goodbye than at the welcome, with all staff acknowledging passengers on walk out. As usual Cathay offer plenty of staff for connecting flight assistance. Tall signage is used to show the baggage carousel but unfortunately this was incorrect.
Overall, the product is excellent, the seats were comfortable and functional and the food is also meeting a good standard for the length of flight. Some efficiency issues on the ground exist that should not be difficult to improve on. Onboard, the staff service was a little sultry and could do with some warmth – a smile goes a long way when you’re remembering your flight experience.