Airline review: Cathay Pacific economy, Rome to Hong Kong

THE ROUTE

Rome (Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino) to Hong Kong

THE PLANE

Boeing 777-300ER

THE LOYALTY SCHEME

Marco Polo Club. Passengers can also earn points towards other Oneworld membership programs.

THE CLASS

Economy, seat 40H

DURATION

11 hours 25 minutes

FREQUENCY

CX292 operates four times a week.

SEAT

Pitch is 81.25 centimetres, width is 47 centimetres (32 inches x 18.5 inches), which is above-average roomy for an economy seat. There's a USB port and 110V AC power supply. Pillow is standard size, blanket is plastic wrapped. 

BAGGAGE

Checked luggage for Cathay's economy flyers has recently been boosted by 10 kilograms to 30 kilograms, two bags. Carry-on allowance is one bag with maximum dimensions of 56cm x 36cm x 23cm plus one small item that can fit under the seat in front, maximum dimensions 15cm x 30cm x 40cm.

COMFORT

Seat 40H is in a small economy cabin located behind premium economy and in front of the two main economy cabins. There are just four rows of seats, mine is the right aisle seat of a 3-3-3 configuration, but the row in front is a 2-3-2. This means there's no seat in front of mine, and thus lots of leg room. There's a bulkhead one row ahead, which raises the possibility of an infant, but no bassinet fittings. Departure time looms closer and the two seats between me and the window are unoccupied. I can scarcely contain my fast-beating heart. I'm the sole occupant of three seats. My one regret is this is a day flight, so I'm probably not inclined to sleep, although I do grab a post lunch power nap. Cabin temperature is comfortable throughout the flight.  

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ENTERTAINMENT

Bollywood, Hollywood, China's behemoth Hengdian World Studios and France's StudioCanal are all represented in a collection that aims to please Cathay's multicultural audience. There's nothing too cutting edge in the 50-plus Western Cinema selections but no sign of heavy handed censorship either. 

SERVICE

Brisk but not without smiles. Toilets are serviced regularly and kept tidy. 

FOOD

Lunch comes about 50 minutes after wheels-up. There's a chicken and potato salad followed by a choice of kung po chicken with broccoli and steamed rice, beef casserole with mushrooms and mashed potato or penne with lemon herb crumble and spinach cream sauce. The pasta sounds weird, and I'm homeward bound from Italy. The kung po chicken lacks the spicy bite that the dish is known for. The chefs have gone lite and easy with the chillies, Sichuan peppercorns and ginger and there's no trace of peanuts but as airline food goes it's passable. For once, the Haagen-Dazs ice cream is not a solid brick. By the time I finish my main course it's reached that creamily delicious about-to-melt stage. Breakfast is served 90 minutes before we land, which is bizarre when my body clock is telling me it's late dinner time where I've come from. The seafood congee is good old fashioned comfort food and it hits the spot. The other option is scrambled eggs with a pork sausage, mushrooms and potatoes. 

ONE MORE THING

Arrival in Hong Kong is 40 minutes ahead of schedule. 

THE VERDICT

40H is a great spot for taller flyers on Cathay's Boeing 777-300ER flights. The empty seats in the row beside me were pure luck but even full this would be a premium position. Although my body clock is saying 11pm, dawn is just breaking when I leave Hong Kong Airport but a short midday nap gets me through the day.

Tested by Michael Gebicki, who flew courtesy of Cathay Pacific

Score out of five: 4.5

See also: Airlines with the best economy class legroom revealed

See also: Cathay Pacific A350 arrives in Melbourne for the first time

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