Travelers all know that taking long stints in small airline seats can be the most stressful and tiring part of any journey. Consider the Los Angeles to Hong Kong flight: depending on which direction, you are in your seat for up to 16 hours or more. This is a true test of service and quality for any airline. Can the crew stay rested and attentive? Is the food still as good at +14 hours as it was when you started? Is there something to do, something to watch, or some way to keep working? Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is the seating comfortable?
Discussing niceties in Business Class or First Class simply is not fair game. Let's face it, any long ride where you can lay flat is going to be heavenly compared to Coach class. Well, we can attest that Cathay Pacific gets 10 out of 10 ratings for all of the above - in coach!
Perhaps best of all was the cabin and the seating. The coach seats do not recline, instead they rotate allowing you to be in a reclined position without putting your seat back into the forehead of the passenger behind you. This is surprisingly comfortable and I managed to sleep soundly in this seat. Also there is plenty of leg room. Secondly the tray table is wider and more movable. Thirdly, every seat has full 120V AC power so you just plug in your laptop or iPAD and you can forget about battery issues. The entertainment center gives everyone a controller so they aren't punching the screen and annoying the passenger in front. There was TV and movies and music. All in high quality. Perfect!
We did walk past Business Class. Wow. Wow. Wow. I talked with one of the passenger upon arrival and he said it was the best business class seat he had ever experienced. The seats were at 45 degree angles with great privacy and great comfort. Genius.
Just behind the great seating is the world class service. It began on boarding: as a frequent traveler and a member of OneWorld, I got to board with First and Business class. I walked on the plane via the economy boarding ramp, and was met by a smile and an eager, smartly dressed attendant who ushered me to my seat, made sure I had stowed everything, and even pointed out how things worked. I kept looking over my shoulder to see if this was normal. Every traveler got this treatment, and it did not stop with the rest of the boarding, it was just a random thing as to whether you were helped or not. On any American airline traveling internationally, if you don't eat when they serve dinner, or you get up to use the rest room when they have the carts in the aisles, you better be ready for a strong warning from the flight crew. This behavior would be unthinkable on Cathay Pacific.
- When the crew brought the meals the question was "Sir, are you ready to eat?" On the second meal, I answered, "No, not really." The response was "I will put a meal aside for you, just let me know when you are hungry." I did a double take. This was like service in the 60's and 70's. When I did ask for the meal, it was eagerly delivered and had been kept fresh (I don't know how). And this was in Coach!
- When I slept, the crew had made deliveries of landing forms, and since I was sleeping my forms were left with a little note advising what it was, and this was left cleverly in front of me, but out of the way. Who does that?!!
- When I woke up, a crew member appeared out of nowhere. They had a tray with juice, water, and some finger sandwiches and some fruit. "Would you like a snack and a drink, sir?" I must have been looking at the restroom and hesitated in my response. The crew member said, "Why don't I come back?". "OK", I said, and went to stretch my legs. When I returned, they returned, and I had some water and a delicious apple.
- When I was working, I witnessed one of the crew, gently and carefully move a fallen blanket back onto a sleeping passenger to cover them again. Wow.
Once in Hong Kong, I was given a pass to the Cathay Lounges. Three letters - OMG! The food was better than most restaurants. The service was 5-star, and this is an airport lounge. Bakery items were kept warm in heated shelves, the health bar provided customized cheese, fruit, and salad plates, and there were even different cuisine main dishes depending on your preference or nationality. It was so delicious that my next flight to Shanghai (1.5 hours on the domestic partner Dragon Air that served a meal - what?) I kindly declined the meal!
Congratulations Cathay Pacific! You are our new #1 International Airline!!