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After a brief visit to The Club SEA, we were ready to board our Transpacific leg from Seattle to Hong Kong. We’d been really looking forward to this flight, not only because we love Cathay Pacific’s A350 Business Class cabin, but also because of the new soft product enhancements to the onboard experience.
The A350-900 is a 3-cabin aircraft, with the Business Class cabin at the front of the plane divided into two sections. Rows 12-19 make up the larger forward cabin, while rows 20-21 are separated behind a galley, making the rear section a more private “mini-cabin”.
We love flying in the mini-cabin for a few reasons:
1. There are only 8 seats, making it significantly more private than the forward cabin
2. Outside of boarding, there is zero foot-traffic throughout the flight which makes it the quietest area of the plane for uninterrupted sleep
3. There is no lavatory toward the rear-left side of the cabin, which your nose will thank you for
4. Sitting directly behind the galley can dramatically speed up meal service
Of course, the caveat is that sitting in the rear cabin means you’re typically the last Business Class passengers to select and be served meals. While there is a possibility that the meal of your choice may not be available, we haven’t had this issue with Cathay Pacific. In fact, we’ve found meal service is almost always quicker in the mini-cabin.
Cathay’s A350 seats feature reverse herringbone configuration, like their 777-300ER (which we’ll be reviewing in a few weeks). However, the A350 feels like a considerable upgrade, as the seats feel a little more spacious and feature the updated IFE system.
I’m also of the opinion that the window seats are slightly more spacious than the center seats. When you’re over 6 feet, even an extra inch in the footwell can make a big difference for sleeping.
Speaking of sleeping, if you’re a side sleeper, it’s important to select the correct seat based on which side you sleep on. Left-side sleepers will prefer seats A or G, while right-side sleepers will prefer seats D or K. As a left-side sleeper, I chose seat 20A, to take advantage of the additional space since I bend my knees.
I also love the lip along the armrest, which adds a little more surface area for sleeping.
A large bag filled with the new mattress topper and duvet was resting in the footwell, along with a set of slippers.
The bedding bag was large, due to a very plush duvet.
The experience prior to take off was pleasant as expected, although our amenity kits still featured the Jurlique lotions and creams rather than the new Bamford spread. According to Cathay Pacific, the new Bamford amenity kits will begin rolling out December 1st, in four colors that will rotate throughout the year.
After boarding, flight attendants served welcome drinks and hot towels, and took our meal orders. This included selecting our breakfast choice prior to landing in Hong Kong. I selected the Western option, and the flight attendant let me know she would wake me up two and a half hours before landing.
The new dinner menu had some excellent options — I couldn’t decide between the prawns and the lamb, so I ordered both.
Shortly after takeoff, I decided to test out the WiFi. I knew I’d need to get a little work done later, so I wanted to get organized before dinner. Pricing for flights over 6 hours is only $19.95, which is even cheaper than most US domestic flights.
However when I pulled up the Cathay Pacific authentication page, WiFi was only listed for $12.95. It’s possible pricing hasn’t been updated for the SEA-HKG route since it’s still relatively new, or maybe we just got lucky. I put the Charge on my Ritz Carlton card to use up the last of my $300 annual travel credit.
Speeds were very impressive over Seattle, although it became nearly unusable and basically died by the time we got to Hong Kong. I wasn’t bothered by it since I’d only paid $13.
About an hour after takeoff, the evening meal service promptly started. While I was unimpressed with the seared lamb rack, my wife thought a little more highly of it. But the stir fried prawns were fantastic.
Service was extremely efficient, and dinner was wrapped up within 30 minutes. I love quick meal services for midnight departures, as I’m generally pretty tired and eager to get some sleep. Having a galley immediately in front of us really seemed to speed up the process.
After dinner, I headed to the forward lavatory to change into my pajamas and get ready for bed. If you’re on a daytime flight, the forward lavatories have windows, while the rear mini-cabin lavatory does not.
The new bedding was superb, and I slept like a rock for most of 8 hours. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten that much uninterrupted sleep on any Business Class product, which is a testament to the new bedding. The new mattress topper, larger pillows, and plush two-piece duvet were spectacular, and I made myself right at home with a second pillow.
When I woke up, we were flying over Japan with only three and a half hours til arrival into Hong Kong.
I decided to put on a movie and get some work done before breakfast. We went through a fairly rough patch of turblent air, which delayed the breakfast service by about an hour.
With just one and a half hours til landing, the cabin crew announced that Economy and Premium Economy class passengers would quickly be served Continental breakfasts only, due to turbulent weather. Our breakfast was unaffected, and served shortly after the announcement. I wasn’t very hungry, but thought the Western breakfast was very tasty.
With all of the recent changes at Cathay Pacific, we were pleased to see that the high standard of quality has remained unchanged. We love the A350 Business Class cabin and are excited to have a more up-to-date comparison when we fly on the 777-300ER in a few weeks. The new, enhanced Business Class experience — the bedding, in particular — was a noticeable improvement. There’s a lot to love about flying Cathay Pacific Business Class, especially on the A350, and we rank it in our top 3 favorite Business Class products in the sky right now.