Flight Report: HND-HKG on CX 549

16Apr13 CX 549 HND HKG 003

Where Diego sinks into Cathay’s uber-comfortable long-haul seat for a second time, can’t eat the appetizer, and orders sweet wine to go with his mixed nuts.

OVERVIEW

  • Airline and flight number : CX 549
  • Route : HND-HKG (leg 1/2 to final destination MNL)
  • Date : 16 April 2013
  • Scheduled departure time : 1640
  • Scheduled arrival time : 2000
  • Equipment : B777-300ER
  • Travel class : Business

At the gate, front-end passengers were assigned the usual separate lane and invited to board the plane first.

16Apr13 CX 549 HND HKG 001

Nice boarding gate, by the way. Props to Haneda’s design team for the splendid work (and also for the great roof I saw earlier).

16Apr13 CX 549 HND HKG 002

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Same as in HKG, HND offered a separate boarding bridge for first and business class.

16Apr13 CX 549 HND HKG 005

The bridge led into our bird just forward of the first-class cabin, which allowed me a (very brief) peek at one of the luxurious seats.

16Apr13 CX 549 HND HKG 006

I wish I had the time to document this part of the plane more thoroughly, as it’s unlikely I’ll be able to afford paid entrance here anytime soon. Alas, there were passengers marching in behind me and I had to scuttle aft towards my section.

Here we are – business class.

16Apr13 CX 549 HND HKG 007

Let’s move on to the next part: the seat.

SEATING

Not as posh as the first-class mini-suite we saw earlier, but more than adequate nonetheless (especially for a regional flight).

16Apr13 CX 549 HND HKG 008

I could only manage this quick shot as there were other passengers marching in from behind. Pity, but I had no plans of going down in history on other travellers’ blogs as “that ruddy idiot who blocked the aisle and backed up a queue just to take pictures of his seat”. There are a few more in my earlier post documenting my flight from HKG to KIX: different bird (was an A330-300 at the time, versus a B777-300ER now), but very similar seat equipment.

Given the near-identical seat, I’ll just quote straight from my post about CX 566:

The seat had more buttons, switches, and thingamabobs than the Galactic Emperor’s throne. (And I’ll bet he didn’t have the benefit of a personal TV or lie-flat sky-bed.)

I tried it in various configurations, from straight-back (take-off mode) all the way to lie-flat, and various points in between. Hard to give a proper assessment on such a short flight (there were some features I didn’t get to try), but I can imagine a long-haul passenger will be quite happy with all the various options for relaxing and sleeping.

The dining table slid out from underneath the cocktail table near the window. Big enough for most purposes, but slightly larger would have been better.

There were storage options aplenty, including a small locker near the aisle for shoes (too small for me though), a coat hook, a compartment near the leg area (complete with a small net for a water bottle), and a little cabinet near the window (used for keeping the IFE headset but with room for other personal articles as well).

I’d just like to add that the seat seemed ever so slightly larger this time around. I could be wrong of course – relying on memory here rather than a scientific measurement – but I suppose it’s possible. The 777 is wider than the 330 after all, and since CX has the same business class configuration in both models (4 seats to a row) there should be just a little bit more room available per seat.

IN-FLIGHT ENTERTAINMENT

Again, very similar to my previous flight, so I’ll quote from my CX 566 travel report to fill in this section (with a few differentiating comments):

HKG-KIX [HND-HKG for this post] may have been a regional route, but it was on the rather long side (about 4 hours) so we were given the full range of entertainment options, including movies. The TV screen was stowed in a wall recess and folded out towards you when in use; no problems for the most part but the awkward position (and the need to keep it stowed during take-off) meant that I could barely watch the pre-flight safety video. (NB: No central screen in the front cabin; none that I saw at least.) I popped out the remote control from the side panel and happily flicked through the choices, settling on The Hobbit for most of the flight. [I chose a different movie for my return flight, a recent Korean flick featuring an actor whom I recognised from the time he was on Running Man]

The headphones – well-built, apparently noise-cancelling (or at least noise-insulating) – were tucked away in a small cabinet by the window. Great for keeping them out of the way during meal or work time.

CATERING

Early in the flight, before the meal service, cabin attendants went around offering mixed nuts (tastefully served in small porcelain dishes rather than the usual bags) and began taking orders for drinks. There was an extensive wine list on this flight – par for the course where CX is concerned – and I decided to treat myself to a pre-dinner sip of sweet wine. I can’t recall exactly what I asked for on this occasion, but reading off the menu card in my trip archives, it would have either been a drop of sweet sherry or a little Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2007.

16Apr13 CX 549 HND HKG 010

More likely the sherry, as I’d expect the port to have a somewhat different colour, and also because I’d already downed a little bit of Dow’s in my first flight of this journey.

Our menu card for the evening offered the following dinner courses:

Starters

Poached angel prawns with seaweed and plum mayonnaise

Mixed salad with artichoke and Japanese sesame dressing

Green tea soba

Main Courses

Roasted chicken breast with port wine sauce, creamy Parmesan polenta, roasted carrot, turnip and parsnip

Sauteed haddock with sa cha sauce, steamed jasmine rice and kailan

Japanese beef curry with steamed rice, peas and carrot

Cheese and dessert

Cheese selection

Fresh seasonal fruit

Ice cream

Tea and Coffee

Pralines

We were also offered a choice of bread (not on the menu); I opted for a couple of slices of toasted garlic bread.

Interestingly, CX 549 had more options on their menu than CX 566: 3 starters (against 1), 3 choices for the main course (against 2). I haven’t flown enough with CX to hazard a guess as to whether this was route-specific, or had something to do with the aircraft type (larger plane, more galley space?), or was perhaps influenced by the time of day; it would be great to find out why.

Let’s have a look at those starters. Bear in mind that there was no need to choose just one; all 3 dishes on the menu would have been served.

16Apr13 CX 549 HND HKG 009

So why are there just two here, the salad and the soba? Regrettably, I had to turn away the prawns due to a mild food allergy.

Incidentally, note the lovely little salt and pepper shakers in the upper right-hand corner of the tray (bokeh’d into blurs by the camera though). They’re in the shape of little pebbles, white and black; no need to say which colour held what contents. I’m really glad I got the chance to use these, as I’ve read somewhere that CX are phasing out spice shakers (cheap cost-cutting measure but such are the times we live in).

Now for the main course. I chose the roasted chicken breast.

16Apr13 CX 549 HND HKG 012

Not bad, though I don’t remember being too favourably impressed. Roast chicken may be better for one’s health than pork or beef, but poultry meat has never been a favourite of mine – when I do have bird flesh I prefer it salted, batter-dredged, and deep-fried to within an inch of its life. Perhaps I just felt like having a change from all the beef curry I survived on during my time in Japan (which cancelled out the third menu option) and of course I wanted to avoid seafood (striking out the second).

I cannot recall if I had the cheese plate, but I suppose I would have taken a photograph if I did. (Feeling too full from the lounge buffet, perhaps?) In any case, the next item I have an image of is the fruit platter.

16Apr13 CX 549 HND HKG 011

I might pass up the cheese, but I’m not likely to pass up the ice cream.

Lo and behold, here’s the little cup of wonder now.

16Apr13 CX 549 HND HKG 013

SERVICE

This is where I’d normally comment on how the cabin crew enhanced the flight experience (or ruined it utterly). However, it doesn’t seem fair to pass judgement on the service so long after the fact, especially as I’d failed to take notes and can’t now recall being either distinctly impressed or let down by the attendants. I suppose the lack of any strong impressions is itself an indication that the flight went reasonably well – no major pluses, but more importantly, no massive hiccups.

OVERALL IMPRESSION

As noted earlier, it’s hard to comment on the soft product (i.e., service) several months on. Where the seat is concerned though, I can say with confidence that I loved every moment I sat in that comfortable mini-cabin and enjoyed using its many features (including the IFE). Good food, nothing exceptional. For the right price, I’d happily book another flight with CX on the same route.

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8 responses to “Flight Report: HND-HKG on CX 549

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  2. The food looks simply marvelous! Much better than the stuff I was served in Delta’s business class on the way to Japan a couple of days ago. Their food gave me a terrible tummy ache and I had to turn down dessert (hot fudge sundaes, my favorite!).

    • Sorry to hear about that – must have been pretty bad if it led to turning away dessert. I hope the rest of your holiday more than makes up for it!

      Incidentally, do you normally write about your flights to/from holiday destinations? I’m a bit of an airline nut and I rather enjoy reading about people’s onboard experiences, learning about different airlines’ services (especially meals) and so on. The regrettable incident aside, what was flying with Delta like? (I’ve flown with them twice before but both times in economy; no idea how things are in the pointy ends of Delta’s planes.)

      Cheerio, and all the best on your latest adventure.

      • Thank you! So far my trip has been going very well. I just got into Nagasaki tonight, I am so excited to explore the city over the next couple of days —- especially since I read your posts earlier!

        Besides the terrible food, the flight on Delta was just fine. If the food had been good I probably would have written a blog post on it. But since I only have negative things to say, I’d rather not. What did you think about Delta in economy? I actually thought their food was better in Economy than Business Class!

      • Mm, wasn’t too impressed with their economy product. The seats were not the most comfortable on the market; also the upholstery felt old and cheap. Tired-looking cabin, no VOD, so-so service.

        That was nearly three years ago, though – I’m hoping that they’ve given their fleet a much-needed refresh since that time. I do know that the business cabin’s been thoroughly overhauled, but no idea if good ol’ cattle class has been given the same treatment.

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