Exactly ten days after Cathay Pacific’s 71st Anniversary ( the brand was founded by American Roy C Farrell and Australian Sydney H de Kantzow on 24th of September, 1946 – initially based in Shanghai ), I found myself on my first ever Cathay Pacific airplane. Flying business class no less, from New Delhi to San Francisco, with a stop-over at Hong Kong, which is Cathay’s home! And I was being flown by Google, which was another level of EPIC that I had probably only dreamed of till date. So many levels of “epic” on this trip. I’ve already blogged about the Google thing and the other stuff I did in San Francisco and even Hong Kong.
The Cathay Pacific Business Class lounges at Hong Kong airport were my absolute favorites! As was the response from their International social media team on Twitter. For example, I wasn’t aware that there were more than one lounge areas I could visit – The Pier turned out to be my favorite one. The international social media team not only told me about the additional lounges I could go to but also the food I should try – and I DID try and they were right! It was fabulous!
Breakfast on the flight was my least favorite meal – lunch and dinner were wonderful – especially because I was able to try out more local flavors.
If you have a layover at Hong Kong and are flying Cathay Business / First, I would recommend you use their lounge baggage holding service instead of checking into a hotel. Far better food and service at the lounges than at the hotels in Sky City in Hong Kong and you will save time. I wrote about “Eleven Hours in Hong Kong” too.
The flat bed was fabulous, the flight attendants were absolutely lovely – thank you for the extra chocolates! The Praline box is exquisite and has 5-6 flavors – the hazelnut was my favorite and I got multiple helpings.
I wish airlines would figure something out to combat the super-dry air in-flight. Even though there were lovely Jurlique products in the in-flight travel pouches, including a rose-water mist for my face, the skin on my face did not stop peeling for days. There was a moisturizer and a lip balm in the pouch as well, which I applied liberally – still no joy.
One of the ways I determine service levels at any dining establishment, including in-flight services, is by asking for “cold black coffee”. The majority stare at my face blankly but some of them come back to me with smart alternatives. For example, there are no blenders on-flight, so the assumption that a “cold coffee” has to be blended, leads to a direct, “Not possible Ma’am” response. I drink my coffee straight black, chilled with no sugar – does not require blending. But very few establishments even attempt to establish my requirements before responding. Cathay was great – the flight attendant I asked immediately responded with, “Would it be ok if I served you espresso shots with ice?” Yes please! Thank you!
The airplane windows were super clean, which was a bonus for a photographer like me. I photographed some amazing views over San Francisco ( the Salt Ponds! ), Hong Kong and even New Delhi at night. The only trouble was ( honestly, I am NOT complaining but giving perspective ) that the window was too far away from the seat and I had to extend my arm awkwardly to make most of the photos – but only during take-off / landing. Otherwise I was able to use the hydraulics on the seat to being me a lot closer to the window, prop elbow on the side board and photograph without my arm dying within a few seconds.
The sticky rice and wrapped fish meal with dimsums was my favorite during the entire leg of my to and fro journey.
The Hong Kong stopover when I was flying from Delhi to San Francisco was a short one – about 4-5 hours. Even though I had not left the airport, I had a bit of a strange experience when trying to clear security to get onto my connecting flight to San Francisco. The lady would not stop asking questions about my luggage. My suitcase stayed on the flight both ways – I only wanted access once I was back on ground in SF and Delhi. I was carrying a back-pack with my laptop & DSLR and daily-wear jewellery. The lady, who was part of security at Hong Kong airport, asked me variations of the same question, “Who packed your luggage in New Delhi?” She also asked me where New Delhi was, but that’s just an eye-roll. She wanted to know why I was going to SF and why I had stopped over in HK. I had packed my own luggage of course, as always. So she wanted to know if I’d left the luggage alone anywhere. I carry my backpack in the loo at the airport so I don’t think I’d left it alone anywhere. And she wouldn’t stop. One of her senior supervisors was standing a few feet away and came up to her twice to ask her what the hold up was. About 8-9 other passengers had been cleared by her colleague who was doing the same job with a different queue for the same flight. I understand it’s a tough job – handling so many visitors each day, never knowing who you might be dealing with. More than happy to answer questions and facilitate a smooth transit. But is it too much to ask that the person be showered & have brushed their teeth at least once a week? I had to answer her questions standing above her as all of her wafted up into my nose. Yikes.
On my flight back from SF to Delhi, the Honk Kong layover was for eleven hours. I had applied for a Visa online. It’s a simple enough process, free of charge. I was carrying a print out of the form. I presented it at immigration and was given a 15 day Visa and went on my way! Easy peasy. After HK, I was super tired and spent the entire HK – Delhi flight fast asleep. Probably the only flight till date where I slept like a baby. Hope there’s many more in my future!
Cathay was the first airlines whose ads I watched on television as a child. We only a TV at home in the late 80s, so it couldn’t have been before 1987. So this was a very exciting set of flights for me. It took so many years but it happened! Thank you Google!
Although my blog feature is not prompted or sponsored by anyone, the Indian arm of the brand has recently picked up on their social media game and you might want to keep track of their activities using the links below!
Cathay Pacific International : Twitter
All travel-related features on my blog can be found under the #EyesForDestinations