a view of a city from a plane window
The Final Verdict
The Lounge
The Seat
The Food
The Drinks
The Service

What defines a great business class experience? The answer: pretty much everything. The seat, the service, the food, the entertainment and the overall cabin vibe must play together in perfect harmony to leave a customer satisfied. Is Cathay Pacific satisfying? You bet.

Business class aboard the Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER is far from new, but its true refinement exudes sophistication, precision and comfort. Just over a week before the flight I flew the same exact seat on American Airlines and found the experience to be a complete shambles, yet effectively the same seat on a different airline and I was in heaven. Here’s what it’s like to fly on a long haul journey…

a room with a lamp and chairsPre Flight

Cathay Pacific operates some of the most well renowned lounges around the world, with clever design elements from the likes of Ilse Crawford. In Hong Kong, where your flight will inevitably depart or terminate, there’s nothing more enjoyable than lounge hopping between The Pier, The Wing, The Bridge, all scattered across Hong Kong International Terminal 1.

a room with chairs and a plantIn London Heathrow, where this particular flight departed, the Cathay Pacific London Heathrow T3 Lounge is also fantastic, offering both a business and first class section, with the latter accessible by Oneworld Emerald and First Class passengers.

The business class lounge offers made to order cocktails, great views and shower facilities which rival any first class options anywhere. Think: Aesop toiletries and all the handy amenities you’d hope for in a hotel, including towels ; )

a room with two chairs and a tableExcited for departure, I made my way to the far end of Heathrow Terminal 3, where all Cathay Pacific flights depart. Do allow a solid 5-10 mins to get there from the lounge. The airline does a fantastic job organizing the boarding process, with ropes separating each group very clearly. Within minutes I was on board, and making my way through the always enviable first class section into business class.

a seat in an airplaneOn Board

The Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER was one of the first reverse herringbone style seats created, and has been the benchmark for over 10 years. It may not be new, but it’s brilliant. The padding is on point, the screen is well sized and the seat storage is very good, particularly at eye level .

a tv in an airplaneWindow seats naturally face toward the window, and if you can snag a seat in rows 11 or 12, you’ll be treated to the coveted “mini cabin” of business class. This cabin offers just two rows, similar to first class and always effectively guarantees very personal service and easy access to the facilities.

Unlike my dreadful American Airlines flight where I didn’t receive so much as a hello before take off, I received two welcome greetings within 5 minutes of boarding. The fantastic crew member working the mini cabin personally introduced herself to each guest and made charming small talk.

a seat and a monitor in an airplaneCathay Pacific goes to great lengths to recognise all Oneworld Emerald members, and as such, the cabin service director (the big boss on any given flight) came over to also ensure my comfort and satisfaction throughout the flight and make equally kind and well natured small talk. This gesture from Cathay Pacific is the scourge of many other airlines, who fail to recognize even their own elite guests.

I felt the love and we weren’t even yet in the air. Positive feelings, tick.

a small open door with a bottle and a bag insideThe seat offered a personal water bottle, wired headphones, a vanity mirror and personal amenity kit from Seventy Eight Percent, a brand which brings together Japanese fabrics and Italian leather.

a seat in a planeAn added benefit of this particular seat in Row 11 is the bulkhead, which offers a wider foot well than many seats and perhaps even an extra couple of inches as well. At somewhere around 6’3” I slept for nearly 8 hours without any fuss.

a seat in an airplaneWhen it comes to sleep quality, Cathay Pacific does so much right, but there are a few areas which could definitely improve. There’s no obvious mattress topper, so you’re effectively sleeping directly on the seat. Fortunately, it’s quite a comfy one.

a seat in an airplane with a monitor and a pillowIn terms of pillows and blankets, Cathay plays both hero and zero. On the pillow side, it’s basically a zero. The pillow is mostly useless and hardly near the top of the business class pillow rankings. You can of course request additional pillows, but that’s not really the point.

On the duvet end of the game, Cathay is a hero. I’ve adored the new British Airways White Company, United Polaris and Qatar duvets, but this Cathay duvet which doubles as sheet and duvet may take the cake. I may need to update those rankings actually. You’ll love it.

a view of a city from an airplane windowFood

News flash: it’s always better to eat on the ground than in an airplane. With that said, you get hungry on a long flight. I found the catering on board to be very good and I love the new newspaper style dining concept being offered. I enjoyed a chicken roulade starter with mushrooms before nap time and the portion was more than enough to be a main course.

a tray with food and drinks on itThe Drinks

While I avoid airplane food, even when it’s of the quality level Cathay offers, I do love a good drink to help pass the time. Cathay Pacific currently serves Deutz Brut champagne, which I’d argue is a really phenomenal house to serve in business class. It’s one of the more refreshing yet refined options out there in the non vintage world and the crisp apple and chamomile notes just seem to work in the air.

As for reds and whites, Cathay Pacific was all over the place, at least on this flight. The Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand is extremely good stuff, especially in business class and is a treat in the air. On the reds spectrum… sadly The Islander Shiraz or Chateau Macard were barely enjoyable, and I can’t imagine that anyone who actually wants customers to enjoy wine would have selected them.

If you like a little something sweet, warm and comforting, the Hong Kong style “milk tea” is an item you simply cannot miss. It’s everything great about a good cup of black tea, with a little inimitable sweetness.

a monitor on a table in an airplaneEntertainment

Cathay’s 777 business class seat features a refreshed entertainment system which is super solid. The screen is above average in the speed department and the system controller works fairly logically with good scroll speeds.

There’s a steady mix of box sets, including virtually all of Game Of Thrones, as well as both classic films and new Hollywood blockbusters. Well, as close as Hollywood comes to making a decent film these days. They may need to change the term “blockbuster” at some point, to “movie worth not watching Netflix tonight for”. Anyway…

I tucked into some classic Frasier, then Raiders Of the Lost Ark and then finished up with some newer HBO hits. On a 12 hour flight, this level of entertainment cannot be under appreciated and Cathay has done a phenomenal job.

a window of an airplaneOverall Cathay Pacific Business Class Experience

What a great way to travel! Excellent sleep quality, crisp Champagne, refined service and enough entertainment to keep you busy for days made for such a pleasant impression. There’s no privacy door anywhere to be found in Cathay Pacific business class, but in the mini cabin of the Boeing 777 I felt first class seclusion and a business class experience still firmly planted in the top 10.

I’ll definitely be back. Next week in fact…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. don’t you think it’s ironic that AA charges more for flying on its own metal and poor service while partners cost less and better service. any idiot would choose the later, don’t you think?

  2. I just came back from a SFO to South East Asia trip on CX Business Class round trip (have done this multiple times) and the experience was excellent as usual. Not the shameless, garbage class service that AA frequently dishes out to its customers. I do everything I can to avoid flying AA and UA.

  3. Gilbert, thank you for writing such a thoughtful and insightful review, which gives me, the reader, a very good indication of what to expect on this product.
    I would especially like to commend you for writing about the beverages without once feeling the pointless need of quoting the price. Instead, you did what others whether in the field of blogging or elsewhere should do, and that is describe the qualities of the beverage and how they tasted in the conditions of being on a plane. Bravo!

  4. Yes Cathy trumps AA. Some of most memorable in the air were on CX. But I flew in business recently with my wife from lax to Auckland. Service was kind at every turn. The mattress paid they give makes a huge difference. That said as long time AA flyer I wish there was more consistent good service. A lot of that lies with management. Let’s all remember how blessed we are to sit in business and first.

  5. Yes i love Chathay all the surveys are true! Liers go to hell so for me Cathay is Excellent!

  6. @Jacob how unamerican. We should be supporting our carriers where possible a lot of jobs depend on them.

    Buy American.
    Fly American.

  7. In the case of AA And UA you’re paying premium price to support their union and their benefits, and CX charges fairy decent price but in a over competitive environment hence makes losses with its over the top services and hardware. Good review.

  8. We are booked in the last row of the main biz class section and were debating on the mini section but were concerned about potential noise from main cabin (bassinets in bulkhead). Any input on the last row of main or should we consider the smaller cabin? Tia

  9. I’m currently booked on a CX 777 (with F cabin) from LHR. Seat 11A is showing as free and selectable (though it is a priority seat and you are warned you could be moved), but I’m having a dilemma about selecting it. Lots of reviews rave about it, but some say it’s not the amazing seat it’s cracked up to be. Plus I’d be worried if I did select it, how likely is it I’d be moved to a rubbish seat?

  10. Did you have a look at their disgusting economy class with their retrofitted 343 seating 60 extra pax with no increase in staff on the fco hk leg the plane looked like feeding time at the zoo

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