Zurich to Hong Kong.
THE LOYALTY SCHEME
Marco Polo Club. Cathay Pacific is part of One World, so you can earn points on Qantas's frequent-flyer program.
Business, window seat 24K of a 1-2-1 configuration.
Time in the air is 11 hours 30 minutes, and we arrive punctually, even though the plane lingers long on the runway.
I explore my seat's various useful storage compartments and pockets; my best find is noise-reducing headphones so efficient the flight attendant makes me start by touching my shoulder. The seat bottom is on the hard side (a problem in Cathay Pacific economy class, too), easily remedied with a folded blanket. The seat has an abundant variety of positions: it can slide forwards, lean backwards and extend flat, with an impressive pitch of 82 inches (208 centimetres).
Business-class passengers are allowed 30 kilograms, plus 10 kilograms of carry-on luggage and a personal item such as handbag or briefcase.
Abundant choices and an easy-to-navigate screen make this system a standout. The magazine guide has a useful Movie Mood Guide that suggests comedies and thrillers for the tired, movies with great plots for the alert. Interesting Chinese-language selections include latest movie The Assassin from acclaimed Taiwanese martial-arts innovator Hou Hsiao-Hsien. I settle in to flying swordplay before moving on to Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation.
The cabin is coolish and the cutlery so cold it practically sticks to my skin, but a very toasty, soft blanket keeps me snug. Everything is well-maintained throughout the flight and, for a pleasant change, the loos have space decent enough to move about. Jurlique lip balm and moisturiser from my amenities kit keep me from drying out.
Service is unobtrusive, attentive and professionally polite rather than chatty. Flight attendants are quick to help passengers stow their bags and are efficient over meals without ever appearing hurried. Remarkably, when call buttons are pushed, attendants appear almost instantly, like genies from a lamp.
I start lunch with a good salad and accompanying Parma ham, too cold to fully appreciate, then choose grilled pork from amongst four mains. The two large pieces of meat are succulent and accompaniments (chanterelle mushrooms, savoy cabbage and pureed potato) very good. Pleasingly, the cheese plate presents an all-Swiss selection. My Argentine malbec is excellent. Breakfast towards the flight's end is equally good, especially the muesli with berries, Illy coffee and moist, fluffy scrambled eggs.
ONE MORE THING
The sub-contracted Zurich business-class lounge is dismal (motel-like decor, bickering staff, location distant from gate), but The Wing in Hong Kong during my transit to Sydney makes up for it with its noodle bar, long marble-topped drinks bar, great seating and luxurious shower suites.
Efficient, no-fuss service, great entertainment system and seat that manoeuvres to any desired position make this a very comfortable and seemingly quick flight. The Hong Kong business-class lounge is one of the best anywhere.
Cathay Pacific flies daily between Hong Kong and Zurich. There are over 70 flights a week between Australia and Hong Kong, including four daily flights from Sydney and three from Melbourne.
Tested by Brian Johnston, who flew as a guest of Cathay Pacific.