Airline review: Cathay Pacific business class, Boeing 777, Melbourne to Hong Kong

THE AIRCRAFT

Boeing 777-300ER. Cathay also flies the newer Airbus A350 on this route.

ROUTE

Melbourne to Hong Kong

CLASS

Business, seat 23k.

LOYALTY SCHEME

Marco Polo Club, part of the Oneworld alliance, so points can be earned on Qantas Frequent Flyer.

DURATION

8 hours, 25 minutes

FREQUENCY

Three times a day, once with the 777 (departing at 1am), twice with the A350.

CHECKING IN

Cathay allows passengers to check in online 48 hours prior to take-off, when you can also choose your seat at no extra cost. At Melbourne Airport it's possible to check-in via a kiosk, even though it's an international flight, which greatly speeds up the process, even for those flying economy.

THE SEAT

Row 23 is the back of business class before the premium economy cabin. There are 40 business class seats in a 1-2-1 layout. Business class offers a seat pitch of 82 inches (208 cm) with a width of 21 inches (53 cm).

BAGGAGE ALLOWANCE

Business class passengers can check in two bags up to 40kg in total. One carry-on bag up to 10kg plus one personal item is allowed.

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COMFORT

All seats have direct aisle access and the aisle armrest lowers to create and extra-wide feel in the seat. The footwell with ottoman is also spacious - an area than I can find too small on some other airlines' business seats (I have large feet). There's ample storage space for your various personal effects, including a small compartment with a vanity mirror built into the door. The large entertainment touchscreen folds away to the side with a simple push and can also be controlled by a remote which handily displays the remaining flight time. The seat converts to a flatbed at the touch of a button. The amenity kit features socks, eye mask, toothbrush toothpaste, ear plugs, jurlique lip balm, moisturiser and face mist.

ENTERTAINMENT

There are more than 80 English-language movies on offer, with a mix of recent blockbusters and older favourites, along with a few arthouse and indie flicks. There's also a significant collection of movies from Hong Kong and other parts of Asia. There are some complete seasons of TV shows, while others feature a handful from a season. Not the best you'll find in the sky, but certainly enough to keep you entertained for 8 hours and beyond. The large touchscreen is clear and responsive and business class guests are provided with noise-cancelling earphones. There is a USB port and power in the seat.

SERVICE

The crew are professional and efficient, meeting requests promptly and responding to the call button with 60 seconds the couple of times I use it. They are able to get me a light breakfast despite my rising only 30 mins before landing and also allow a dish substitution during the main meal. Occasionally they do seem to rush about the cabin in a harried manner, though this might be due to our shortened flight time, which cut 30 minutes from the journey.

FOOD

Cathay has a strong reputation for food, so I'm a little disappointed by the meals in business class on this flight. Perhaps it is the late-night departure (1am), but the food on offer is not much of a step-up from economy class. Rather than courses, the dishes all come together on a single tray, much as they would in the cheap seats. It's crispbread and dips for entree, chicken stir-fry or prawns and barramundi with rice for the main and berries for dessert. There's also a lighter option featuring asparagus and leek soup and cured salmon with fennel. Breakfast is a choice of scrambled eggs with chicken sausages, stir fried noodles with barbecued pork or fish congee.

ONE MORE THING

While the food in the air may have disappointed, that's not the case with Cathay's lounges, particularly those in Hong Kong. Aside from the usual snacks and breakfast items (eggs, bacon etc) you can also find excellent dim sum on offer along with made-to-order dishes.

THE VERDICT

A 1am departure is never going to make for the best flying experience, but if you are doing a red-eye to Hong Kong, you couldn't ask for a more comfortable option than the Cathay suite.

Our rating out of five

★★★★

The writer flew as a guest of Ovolo Hotels.

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