Cathay Pacific 735, HKG – SIN

CX 735

HKG – SIN

Airbus A330-300

Economy Class, Seat 65A

 

Prologue

Cathay Pacific needs no introduction, having built a reputation over the years as one of the world’s best airlines. The distinctive brushwing logo is recognised throughout Asia and further afield – a representation of oriental hospitality, a quality product and the can-do spirit of Hong Kong.

 

It had been several years since our last flight on Cathay Pacific and we recently had the opportunity to be reacquainted with the airline on a regional hop from Hong Kong to Singapore. With a refreshed brand identity, can the Oneworld member stay ahead amid increasingly crowded skies?

 

Check-In

Our journey begins at the MTR Airport Express Kowloon Station, where Cathay Pacific and most major airlines offer in-town check-in services. The idea is a winner in our opinion as it not only allows passengers to bypass the airport check-in desks (avoiding long lines and time wasted), but also seamlessly clear security and proceed airside. Alternatively, there is also the opportunity to do some last-minute shopping at the large Elements shopping mall above the station.

   

Being a Sunday afternoon, there were no lines and we were quickly attended to by one of the airline’s ground agents. While not the friendliest agent we have encountered in Hong Kong, she quickly processed our check-in and we were soon free of our bags with boarding passes in-hand.

chkin5_cx735   chkin6_cx735

With our flight due to depart in under 2 hours, we headed down to the platform to catch the next train to the airport. Safe, clean and fast, the Airport Express is our preferred way of travelling to the airport on Lantau Island with its quiet, comfortable trains equipped with spacious seating, luggage racks and onboard Wi-Fi. The 35.3 kilometre journey is covered in just 22 minutes (crossing the massive Tsing Ma Bridge) to arrive at the airport’s ground transportation centre.

 

Boarding & Departure

   

Gate 69 at the far end of terminal 1 was our assigned gate this afternoon and can be reached via the underground automated people mover or a slow trek down the spine of the terminal building. Running late from last minute shopping, boarding was already in the final stages with most passengers already onboard the aircraft, a regional-configuration Airbus A330-300.

boarding4_cx735   boarding5_cx735

Joining the last few passengers, our documents were quickly verified by the gate agents and we headed down the jetway, where flight attendants waited to greet and direct passengers. Being seated in the rear economy class cabin of the jet, it took us some time to reach our seats with the narrow aisles and passengers stowing their carry-on bags in the overhead bins, while the cabin crew took care to avoid delaying the departure by keeping out of the way.

 

Seat

   

Introduced in 2012 as a replacement for Cathay Pacific’s controversial fixed-shell international economy class seat (read our review of a flight in that seat here), the current generation product is a more conventional recliner that promises better comfort for the long-haul routes it is designed for. Laid out 2-4-2 across as is standard for Airbus widebodies, the seats’ thicker cushioning and slightly wider base immediately stands out, although as we settled in the seat pitch felt tighter than the advertised 32 inches.

   

   

To aid passenger comfort, the seat back components have been designed to save space and minimise any intrusion into legroom. The bi-folding tray table can be deployed in 2 different positions and felt sturdy despite its lightweight construction. When folded up, a separate cup holder is available to hold drinks. One innovation we particularly like and hope to see adopted by more airlines is the small storage shelf above the tray table in every seat, good for small items such as mobile phones and glasses.

   

seat10_cx735

Every seat also has its own coat hook, fitted to the seat back and next to the personal monitor. In-seat power is provided by an individual electrical outlet below the seat and a USB port positioned above the storage shelf.

 

Crew

Cathay Pacific maintains several cabin crew bases outside of Hong Kong and our flight this afternoon was operated by a mix of Hong Kong- and Singapore-based flight attendants. The aft Economy cabin where we were seated was taken care of by 4 crew who were all-smiles and friendly, making for a very pleasant flight experience. Service was efficient yet natural and we particularly appreciated their effort in trying to rectify our malfunctioning inflight entertainment system (more on that below).

 

Meal

meal1_cx735

   

meal4_cx735

Meal service began with a beverage run shortly after the aircraft had levelled off, with a choice of water, juices, soft drinks and beer together with peanuts. Lunch followed soon after with 2 choices (chicken with rice or a vegetarian cheese gnocchi) as is standard on Cathay Pacific’s regional flights, although no paper menus were handed out. We opted for the pasta and unfortunately, the airline’s cost cutting measures were immediately apparent when the meal trays were set down.

 

Not only was the tray physically downsized, it was also conspicuously empty with just a bread roll, butter, a bottle of mineral water and cut fruits accompanying the main casserole. While the main was tasty, we felt the meal portions were not substantial and not befitting a five-star airline. Rounding out the meal was dessert in the form of Haagen-Daz ice cream and a round of coffee/tea.

 

Entertainment

   

We have always found Discovery, Cathay Pacific’s inflight magazine, an interesting read for its feature articles on lifestyle topics, travel and Hong Kong. The November issue on our flight covered the rebranding of sister airline Dragonair into Cathay Dragon, a move intended to better integrate and herald a new era for both carriers.

   

ife6_cx735   ife7_cx735

Complementing the literature is the StudioCX inflight entertainment system, regarded as one of the industry’s best for its variety and quality of content. The touchscreen-operated system was relatively intuitive to use and offered plenty of movies, short programmes, music and games across multiple genres to keep passengers occupied on our short flight. We had wanted to watch a recently-released Cantonese blockbuster, but our experience was unfortunately dampened by the lack of audio that the crew could not rectify, forcing us to abandon the movie.

 

Arrival & Deboarding

arrival1_cx735

Flight CX 735 landed in Singapore on-time at 1820 hrs, with the skilful pilots making one of the smoothest landings we have experienced on Changi International Airport’s runway 20R. Parked at our gate in Terminal 1’s C pier, business class passengers were deboarded first as the crew held back the rest of us seated in economy class. Being one of the last passengers to leave the aircraft, it was a smooth stroll down the aisle to the jetway to conclude our short journey with Cathay Pacific.

%d bloggers like this: