Melbourne to Hong Kong
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
Marco Polo Club. Passengers can also earn points with Oneworld airlines' frequent flyer programs.
UP THE BACK OR POINTY END?
Business, seat 18K.
TIME IN THE AIR
9 hours, 30 minutes from Melbourne direct to Hong Kong.
THE SEAT STUFF
208-centimetre pitch and 51-centimetre width with 1-2-1 layout for 39 business class seats.
One checked bag up to 30 kilograms in weight, one carry-on bag up to 10 kilograms in weight. Passengers can also carry aboard an additional personal item such as a handbag, briefcase or laptop bag.
Each business class seat nestles within its own angled pod, creating an oasis of semi-privacy. It's a pleasant space. To my right is a flat area perfect for depositing books or an iPad, and there's a large recess directly ahead for my feet. On a night flight, that would form part of the lie-flat bed. To my right are controls for adjusting the angle of three sections of my seat. I experiment with these, though it seems difficult to find a reclined angle that perfectly suits my height. The seat is firm, but with a generous width.
A set of quality headphones is concealed within a compartment to my right, which pops open when pressed. A large screen, about 25cm diagonally, swings out into the space ahead of me, a neat approximation of a mini-cinema. There's a diverse selection of movies; in the new releases alone I can see 26 films, ranging from The Secret Life of Walter Mitty to The Hunger Games 2. There's also a decent choice of Hong Kong and other Asian movies. The TV episode menu is good, with many complete seasons to watch; including, I'm delighted to see, the entire first season of Tom Baker's stint in Doctor Who. Kids are well catered for with their own menu of TV, movies and games.
The business class cabin staff are smiling, friendly and efficient.
On this afternoon flight, drinks are served after departure and it's a gin and tonic (with Bombay Sapphire, naturally) for me, thanks. For my late lunch starter I choose the Iberico ham with smoked paprika chickpeas, followed by a main of lamb korma with turmeric rice and vegetable jalfrezi. The entree is presented more attractively than the main (the latter looks much like any airline meal, though in a ceramic dish), but both are flavoursome. As the airline is running a South African wine promotion I choose a glass of the Simonsig Tiara, a Bordeaux-style red which goes well with the lamb. Afterwards I enjoy a selection of Australian cheeses, though the delicious-looking chocolate tart is beyond me. A smaller meal is served before arrival; this time I choose the filling shepherd's pie and ratatouille.
ONE MORE THING
If retail therapy is your thing, you'll enjoy browsing the extensive virtual shopping catalogue within the entertainment system.
Cathay's business class is attractive and comfortable, with the self-contained nature of its seats a bonus.
Three flights daily.
Tested by Tim Richards, who flew courtesy of Cathay Pacific.