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Cathay Pacific Business Class Review: Hong Kong to Chicago

Champers ✔   Flat Bed  ✔   Delicious garlic bread ✔   Linen tablecloth ✔   No need for valium ✔

Let me tell you, longhaul Cathay Pacific Business class is awesome.

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Now regular readers will know that I am 99% found at the very back of the plane.  Which is absolutely fine but once a year we splurge all our hard-earned airmiles and upgrade from Premium Economy to Business Class. This year was well worth the splurge as it was a long long 15 hour flight from Hong Kong to Chicago. How do I manage to get 4 upgrade seats? By booking at least 10 months in advance.  Whilst Cathay are making it more difficult for you to earn miles, it is a relatively ok 30,000 miles per roundtrip upgrade.

Booking the flights is a bit of a game. Check you have enough miles banked up and then call the Marco Polo club (Cathay’s frequent flyer club) with your proposed flight details and have them check upgrade availability. Once you’ve established where there is seats, you then go back online and book your flights. Always make sure you book the ‘upgradeable fare’ (basically a con into having you part with even more money).  Then you call the Marco Polo club again and have them upgrade your flights.

I do appreciate that kids in business class can be annoying. Equally loud obnoxious passengers getting drunk in business class can also be annoying (sorry).  I make sure my kids are on their best behaviour (bribery) and also inform neighbouring passengers ‘please don’t worry, they are usually very well behaved’.  Of course kids have as much of a right to be in business class as adults but a touch of courtesy to fellow passengers doesn’t hurt anyone.

The Check-In Experience

Although we were flying Business Class, my husband is a Diamond member which means we get to use the First Class check-in.  This is very cool, some standalone desks and then a porter whisks away your luggage (Top Tip – Always photograph your luggage, in case you lose it and need to describe what you had)

The Lounge Experience

Hong Kong Airport is the home of Cathay’s flagship lounge and it is fabulous.  But don’t assume they are fabulous elsewhere. In fact Chicago’s lounge was downright diabolical, with nowhere to sit and terrible food.

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If you do get lounge access, make sure you get all your bang for your buck.  I nick a few magazines, pocket snacks for the kids and of course, guzzle down as much booze as I can.

Onboard

We flew on Cathay’s 777-300 which has four classes.  The Business class cabin is split in two and I highly recommend pre-booking a seat in the initial section, rows 11 and 12 (although be aware that wheelchair passengers get priority here).  It’s almost like its own mini cabin and you have access to the larger disabled toilet if you are on the right hand side of the plane, which is very handy with kids.

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Amenities

I’m not such a big fan of the Cathay business class pack, I yearn for the old British Airways Anya Hindmarch bag.  First Class passengers get Aesop but Business get:

  • Seventy Eight Percent wash bag
  • Jurlique Natural Lip Care Balm
  • Jurlique Balancing Day Care Cream
  • Jurlique Citrus Hand Cream
  • Anti-skid socks, eyeshade, toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Earplugs and monitor-cleaning cloth

Our kids also got an entertainment pack (distributed throughout all the cabins). It’s pretty rubbish, don’t bank on it entertaining your kids for long.

The Seat

The Cathay Pacific Business Class seat is a work of wonder. Loads of storage, a chair that converts to a bed, a massive TV and Bose headphones.

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Onboard Entertainment

Cathay Pacific has the most onboard entertainment around.  You can start watching the moment you step onboard and there’s a huge amount of choice for kids.  

We had a 15 hour day flight (yes total nightmare) and the kids probably slept only for a few hours of it. Luckily they are older now and happy to read, colour, play in addition to hours of TV.  It is impossible to try to get yourself on local time once you are onboard (e.g. start sleeping despite it being midday). My husband and I did try to get some sleep so we wouldn’t be totally useless once we landed but surprisingly the kids powered through with very little. The Chicago flight departs around midday and lands 2pm on the same day. It took us about 4 days to finally get over the jetlag and stop waking up at 5am!

The Food

In general the food is pretty good.  You get a lovely menu and they like to serve lots of courses.  The garlic bread is an absolute must.  If you miss a meal or you’re greedy, there are also some excellent snack options from a burger to the soup noodles.  You can also access chocolates, sweets, biscuits and fruit at any time.  I didn’t request kids meals as I thought my two would appreciate the proper business class food. In retrospect they probably would have been happier with spag bol and chicken nuggets.

The booze selection is outstanding and so decadent to nurse a glass of port with your cheese platter!

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Arrival

Sadly Business doesn’t come with ruby slippers that whisk you through security. The immigration queues at Chicago O’Hare were a nightmare. If you have young kids I would highly recommend you bring a stroller, snacks and water.

 

For more flying tips…

FAQ: How to get kids to sleep on a plane

Top 10 Ways To Entertain Baby On A Plane

Toys On A Plane: The Under 5 Roundup

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