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Flight Review: Cathay HKG-London with 2 kids (Economy)

One of my favourite ways to spend twelve hours is to fly longhaul with my two young kids. I love spending quality time together, cramped in an Economy cabin, racing around after a wayward toddler and apologising constantly to the air stewardess after multiple presses of the call button.  I also love spending an hour settling my baby to sleep in the bassinet, only for the seat belt sign to ping and be told ‘madame, you must move her to your lap immediately’.

Joking aside, I wanted to share with you that my recent solo flight with the munchkins was ok.  Of course it’s never going to be fun but one of the main reasons I set up Jetlag & Mayhem was to offer advice on how to make travel with kids that little bit easier. So don’t stop here… read on for my tips!

Cathay Pacific CX237 Departs HKG 00:20, arrives London Heathrow 06:00 (12 hours)

Me, Daisy (4) and Sky (21 mths) in Economy

Pre-flight routine

I put my 21 mth old to bed as usual at 7pm and then woke her at 10pm. My 4 year old was reluctant to go to bed but ended up sleeping from 9-10pm.

You can find out what I packed in my hand luggage here 

I booked a cheap airport taxi (+852 9481 5053) to pick up at 10:15pm.  The journey from Wanchai to the airport took 35 minutes.

Check-In

Hong Kong Airport was fairly quiet.  I was directed to Cathay’s ‘Special Assistance’ check-in desk for those flying with infants.  Check-in was relatively painless as this was the first time I had booked my toddler her own seat and therefore didn’t need to panic about getting a bassinet.

Airside

Security/Immigration were fairly smooth.  If you have young kids, always bring a baby carrier in your hand luggage.  I find my Ergo indispensable.  I did bring the Trunki this time and it was useful for sitting on in the immigration queue and waiting for our suitcases at the other end.

We popped into the Traveler’s Lounge through my Airport Angel card where I stocked up on water and placated the girls with crisps.

At the Gate

My gate (Gate 1) was next to a carpeted area with little chairs and a TV showing cartoons.  A perfect place to deposit the kids before getting onboard.

Cartoons Gate 1

I could see a long queue forming to board our flight.  Don’t be shy of marching up to the front desk and telling them you’re travelling alone with kids.  I’ve found most airlines to be very supportive and let you have priority boarding.

Onboard

What made this flight more bearable than anticipated was the fact we had EXCELLENT seats.  Yes I am talking Economy.

Cathay Economy 1

We were flying on one of Cathay’s Boeing 777-300 ER, similar to this layout (thanks Seatguru)

We were seated in the first Economy section behind Premium Economy which was small (7 rows deep) and had its own toilet.

The front row configuration was 2-3-2 and I had those middle 3, 39 D-E-G.  Remember those seats, those are the ones you want to book.  However, the middle 3 don’t have a bassinet, if you need one of those, pick 39 A-B or 39 H-J-K.

I didn’t even pay extra for these magic seats.  The trick with Cathay is to phone the Call Centre and speak to a real live person.  I booked all 3 seats using airmiles and helpfully the kind person making the booking, gave me these great seats.

Not only did we have lots of legroom as we were in the bulkhead, the armrest between D-E does lift up (the others in the front row don’t).  Whilst my kids slept in their seats (the toddler occupying two), I made a comfy bed on the floor where I hid under some blankets and wasn’t told off by the Cathay staff!

Cathay Economy 2

One thing to note – if you do buy a child who is under two years a seat, if the fasten seatbelt sign comes on, you will have to move them onto your lap, securing them with an infant seatbelt.  Yes we all know how annoying that is when they are asleep.

I wasn’t given a toiletries pack so bring your own eyemask etc.  You do get a pair of shoddy headphones, not as nice as those Bose ones in Premium.

Despite taking off at midnight, they keep the lights on the first few hours and serve dinner.  My top tip is to always pack a black pashmina that you can drape over a baby’s bassinet to create blackout.

They doled out a few kids packs (this time I didn’t have to ask) which contained stickers, pencils and a notebook.

The food was very average.  In fact we all slept through the dinner thankfully.  If you wake up hungry in the night, head down to the galley where they have sandwiches, crisps, chocolate, biscuits and fruit available.  Cathay staff have always been friendly and helpful in filling up my bottles with milk.

Cathay Children's meal

Don’t forget to pre-order your Kids meals.  I actually think the adults meals are healthier for them (Cathay if you’re reading this, take out some E numbers please!) but the kids meals arrive far quicker.

Cathay’s video on demand system is pretty good.  Lots of choice for young kids including Disney movies and TV shows.  We were given kids headphones which was nice although they are pretty flimsy so you might want to bring your own.

Arrival at London’s Heathrow

You aren’t actually allowed to land at Heathrow before 6am.  So whilst I appreciate our pilots efforts in driving fast and getting there 40 minutes early, we still had to circle and land at 6am.  

It was a looooooong walk to Immigration.  At this point I was regretting my Trunki decision as it is difficult to manage a Trunki and two kids alone.  However, if it’s just you and one child, I highly recommend it.  I’ve mentioned before in my post on beating the Immigration queue, it’s worth looking exhausted and frustrated with your kids (massive acting on my part as I’m sure you can imagine).  I was rushed straight to the front of the queue.

 

10 comments

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  1. Lucy

    You are extremely brave not to take a double buggy i have to say! I never travel without my phil and teds double buggy and my kids are 4.5 and 2.5!

    1. Nicola

      Lucy, you’re about to embark on transporting 3 on longhaul flights!

  2. Katharine Rosenstiel (@fredngingermad)

    I came across your review when looking for non premium flights with children on cathay pacific, i’m flying with them to tokyo (via HKG) in a few weeks time and although we’ve flown TATL several times its been 6 years since we flew on any flight over 11 hours! My daughter was 20 months when we went to Hong Kong she’s 7 now and starting to feel a little nervous, last flights were only to NYC and back from Washington DC so a little different flight time wise, she’s been fine on almost every flight we’ve done to date so hoping these will be no different but good to know there is a good choice of kids entertainment 🙂

    1. Nicola

      Good luck! Yes I really rate the cathay entertainment, it’s actually very good. Much better than Virgin with whom I flew recently

  3. Mandy

    I’ve been researching my flights from HKG to LON & trying to decide between Virgin and Cathay and came across your posts. So helpful!!! Thank you Nicola. (Will probably be going with Cathay).

  4. Anika

    Thank you for your post. I am moving to HK next month and will be flying from LAX to HK on Cathay with my 4 month old daughter. I have booked the bulkhead seats in economy premium yet I am a bit concerned as the bassinet lays right on the bathroom wall. I question if the flushing and/or opening and closing of the bathroom door is bothersome or even noticeable. I have also thought about getting the bulkhead seats in the first row of economy as these seats appear quieter and separated from all the bathrooms and galleys. It looks like this is where you sat on your flight. I would greatly appreciate any feedback!

    1. Nicola

      Hi Anika and welcome to Hong Kong. I would check your aircraft model on seatguru but if you can, get a seat 39 A/B in economy. That section is really nice as it feels smaller and the toilet is a few rows to the back. It will also save you money as it is not premium economy. I know exactly what you mean about having the flush and people queuing by the toilet waking you up – although at that age you should be fine and the noise of the plane usually drowns it out.

  5. Mickey

    Thanks for the pictures and the detailed description because I was unsteady between these seats in the same plane type and seats in premium eco. My flight goes in 3 weeks and hopefully I saved a few hundred Euro without losing to much comfort. 🙂

  6. Anna

    Can you advise as to which 777-300 ER did you fly, was it the 77G or 77H? We will be flying with our 2 year old soon to HK and this would be a great help. Thanks.

    1. Nicola

      Hi Anna, unfortunately it was quite a long time ago so I’m not sure and don’t want to give you the wrong information! I think it would have been the 77H though…

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