Flight test: Cathay Pacific economy class

Cathay Pacific's A330 is not new but spotlessly clean.
Cathay Pacific's A330 is not new but spotlessly clean. 

Route Tokyo to Hong Kong.

Aircraft Cathay Pacific Airbus A330.

Class Economy 62K.

Flight time 4½ hours.

On-time performance Spot on.

Flight frequency Six times a day.

Seat configuration 2 x 4 x 2 (rows 65-70 have three seats in the middle).

Seat pitch and width Seats have a 32-inch pitch and a 17.75-inch width.

Luggage 20 kilograms check-in (23 kilograms if you're travelling to the Americas); one seven-kilogram piece of hand luggage plus a laptop or small handbag; more for Marco Polo Club members with silver status or above.

Aircraft condition Not new but spotlessly clean and in good working order.

Comfort Fine for a 4½-hour evening flight. Seats have adjustable headrests, recline six inches and each has a 110-volt AC/PC power supply. According to seatguru.com, the best seats in this A330 Airbus are 54C and 54H. Cathay Pacific allows you to choose your seat without extra charge, although I'm baffled as to why the airline charges more for a return from Tokyo to Hong Kong than vice versa.

Service Staff are young, multilingual (on this flight Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese and English are spoken), polite and look smart in China-red suits — some of the qualities that have helped Cathay Pacific earn a Skytrax five-star rating. The crew is generous with alcohol requests, promptly delivering wine or whisky, although I'm still waiting for a glass of water.

Food and beverages Below average. The entree of cold soba noodle salad with seaweed, wasabi and soy sauce and the Ferrero Rocher chocolate were the only appetising items on my meal tray; the lukewarm roast chicken with rice was bland and greasy; the bread roll as hard as a rock. Passengers can pre-order Hindu vegetarian, halal and other cuisines.

Entertainment Cathay Pacific's glossy in-flight magazine, Discovery, is printed in Chinese with limited English translation. The nine-inch in-seat entertainment screen has a small but interesting choice of new-release movies, including on my flight Inside Job (an examination of the global financial crisis) and Oranges and Sunshine, the harrowing tale of Margaret Humphreys, a British social worker who uncovered the forced migration of children from her country to Australia. There are also films and TV programs in Cantonese and Mandarin.

Online www.cathaypacific.com.

Tested by Leisa Tyler

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