Review: To London and Paris – Cathay Pacific 260 Paris Charles de Gaulle to Hong Kong Boeing 777-300ER Business Class

You’ll see more of trip reports today, as Jason and I are pushing out what we’ve slacked on for the last year.

Introduction
The Qantas Lounge Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific The Wing Business Class Lounge Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific The Bridge Lounge Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific 239 777-300ER Business Class Hong Kong to London Heathrow
Hotel Indigo London Kensington
Eurostar 9018 E300/British Rail Class 373 Standard Premier London St. Pancras to Paris Gares du Nord
L’Empire Paris
Cathay Pacific Lounge Paris Charles de Gaulle
Cathay Pacific 260 777-300ER Business Class Paris Charles de Gaulle to Hong Kong


It was a short walk from the turning doors at Charles de Gaulle to the gate. While I’d definitely want to visit France more extensively in the future, we did get good enough of a taste of France for me to go home feeling fine.

Cathay Pacific Flight 260
Saturday, August 8, 2015
Origin: Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Gate: A50 Dep: 13:15 (13:25)
Destination: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 16 Arr: 06:45
+1 (07:05+1)
Duration: 11 hr 30 min (11 hr 40 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 11D (Business Class)

Straight through the doors was Cathay Pacific’s refreshed first class cabin. While it’s been around, I’ve just started my first streak in business class since 2009, and it’s presently my second time in business class on a Boeing 777-300ER (after the outbound), so it was my first time actually seeing the Cathay Pacific first class cabin – my second time seeing any first class cabin after Korean Air’s in April.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER First Class

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER First Class

Before heading into the business class mini-cabin, I asked a flight attendant if I could take a few pictures of the first class cabin given no one was there and I was one of the first few aboard. The purser said “I’m not looking”.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER First Class Suite 2A

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER First Class Suite 2A Ottoman

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER First Class Suite 2D

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER First Class Cabin

I’d say that red carpeting wasn’t the most luxurious thing to tad the floors with, but overall it was a cabin I definitely wouldn’t mind spending eleven hours in. Not being a miles and points game player yet, though, having studies to tend to, business class wasn’t that far behind, and technically is something I should be happy with, especially since my parents pay for the trip (fine, they paid in miles, but technically they paid for the miles by earning them through flights).

Cathay Pacific’s 777-300ER business class is set up into two cabins – a big aft cabin with 45 seats, and a smaller front cabin with eight seats. We were able to secure four out of eight seats in the cabin, so it was a 1:1 passengers in the cabin I knew to passengers in the cabin I didn’t know ratio. Also, we weren’t behind the toilets, so there really wasn’t a better position for us to be in. Not having any “first-class jealousy”, looking into first class during takeoff and landing didn’t suck either.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seatmap

Alone in the cabin (my love for flying completely contradicts the family’s, so they sent me on first aboard and decided to get onboard last minute), I set up for the flight in my center seat, as I was happy to let my mom and my sister try the side seats for the flight.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat 11A

This seat has been reviewed extensively in the past, but I’ll recap it a bit for the time being, though extensive reviews can be found by Jason (1, 2) and by me.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat 11D

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Side View from Seat 11D

While most airlines have a flip-down board view of first class, Cathay Pacific has sufficient first class crew not to do that, so there’s a piece of artwork up there instead. Also, I don’t have a picture of that specifically, but these seats are the only seats with a flat surface in front, which means a place to put your legs during takeoff and landing (I propped it against the wall).

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Artwork

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Flat Surface and Artwork

11A and 11K would be kind of the primo positions, given you get a “corner seat” – a window seat at the front, so it’s at a “corner” – and a quieter cabin. My mother took it happily, and my sister with no gratitudes. 😕

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat 11A

The intuitive seat controls were featured to my right, as was the case with my outbound seat. The bones of the seats are identical (in which they’re not facing the other way), except that mine was a middle seat. A reading light, a remote (which I didn’t need on my touchscreen), power ports and the S-video-like connector thingy that I have no idea why is existent, though the power ports the aircraft offers all fit into that plug.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat Controls

The cupboard has headphone plugs and a personal vanity mirror.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Personal Vanity Mirror

As mentioned several times, the headphones aren’t top quality, but aren’t bad either. They fit nicely around the ear.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Headphones

I was thrilled to see that this flight also featured the tail camera, which helped with viewing ascent and descent for the flight.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Tail Camera

That said, the window wasn’t that far from the seat.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class View of Window from Center Section

After the safety video played, StudioCX, the IFE, turned on. While it features the most channels out of any airline I’ve flown apart from Singapore, I didn’t use it much, and focused on MasterChef Junior, which makes any IFE a good IFE. 😉

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class StudioCX launch screen

Menus were also passed out at this time by the friendly Thai flight attendant serving our aisle. I was kind of unhappy that dinner wasn’t served, as usually it’s the course that’s a notch above on airlines.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Menu

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Menu

The menus were brought with drinks, in which I chose orange juice.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Orange Juice

We pushed back a few minutes behind schedule, and made our way to the runway. Takeoff was pretty nice, definitely not as nice as I would have seen out the window, but for center seats it was a good enough option.

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Takeoff Roll Paris Charles de Gaulle

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Takeoff Roll Paris Charles de Gaulle

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Takeoff Roll Paris Charles de Gaulle

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Takeoff Roll Paris Charles de Gaulle

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Takeoff Roll Paris Charles de Gaulle

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Takeoff Roll Paris Charles de Gaulle

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Takeoff Roll Paris Charles de Gaulle

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Takeoff Roll Paris Charles de Gaulle

To test out how bed mode was in a center seat, I reclined my seat full way after takeoff. Technically, there’s no difference, except that the seatbelt sign doesn’t glare into my soul (technically one of the problems with a corner seat).

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat in Bed Position

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat in Bed Position

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat in Bed Position

The amenity kit was the same as the one on the outbound. I’m glad they’re being replaced, as they’re kind of lackluster, and aren’t durable.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Amenity Kit

Meal service kicked off almost immediately, when we were served drinks and nuts.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Lunch Drink Service

The purser asked my sister if she’d be eating, in which my sister shook her head. First she asked me if I was okay with that, when I hesitated and said yes, she went and asked my parents. Really?

The appetiser was a fig infused foie gras with spiced gingerbread. While the combination worked and the foie gras was pretty melt in your mouth, it was pretty much more like a melting brick than anything else. I like foie gras and I like melt-in-your-mouth things, but my family didn’t, so they passed. The salad was okay.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Lunch Fig Infused Foie Gras with Spiced Gingerbread

For the main I ordered the chicken breast. Now, having spent three weeks at Hong Kong University as a visitor student, I had mistakenly high hopes that they’d serve a cheap cut that was decently moist. I couldn’t be any more wrong. The chicken was so tough and dry, I could see the stringiness from the photo, and the polenta didn’t do the chicken any favours, being rather dry itself. The plate was also pretty dirty, as seen, which was acceptable given how it would be mass handled, but just added to the fact that none of the components of the dish were perfect – or were edible, in that matter. The flight attendant didn’t show any surprise, but just took it back with a grim look, so she probably knew how bad the dish was herself.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Lunch Pan-roasted Chicken Breast, Asparagus, Polenta and Tomato Mushroom Sauce

After that I really needed the craps, so I used the washroom at the back, which was big – there’s a smaller washroom that I used, but I used the bigger one when given a choice.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Toilet

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Toilet

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Toilet

All bathrooms feature Jurlique amenities.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Toiletries

The smaller bathroom was smaller, but not by much.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Toilet

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Toilet

The dessert was a salted caramel tart. With the raspberry coulis, the tart was sublime, but it felt like more of a chocolate tart than anything else. The coulis was plated “tableside”, which was great.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Lunch Salted Caramel Tart with Raspberry Coulis

Pralines were given to finish off the meal. I chose a raspberry one.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Lunch Pralines

The meal service was finished over Lipetsk, Russia.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Airshow After Lunch

Service, as you can see, was pretty good. However, apart from the purser, I felt like the service was more going with the motions – they were nice, they were very caring (including to my sister), but the language was more formal than ever.

Mood lighting kicked in. I saw three guys from school boarding the aircraft, so I went and said hi. Unfortunately, they weren’t interested in talking.

I went through economy on the way back. Premium economy and economy were both lights-off, sleeping.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Economy Class

I slept for an hour, woke up, then couldn’t sleep – it was late afternoon in Europe and I didn’t feel like sleeping, and the padding of the seat didn’t help much. I had a wonton noodle soup, which my parents and my sister all ordered. It was a hit.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Snack Wontons and Fish Balls in Noodle Soup

It was great that the mood lighting didn’t stay on and the cabin lights stayed off. Flying from Singapore, late night, in premium economy in April 2014 the mood lighting stayed on, and I commented on how I liked the premium economy cabin all dark instead of filled with mood lighting. However, the mood lighting stayed off between meal services, and only were there to transition between meal services and sleeptime.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat 11D

I watched a few movies and attempted to sleep, but it was just a few hours too early.

When breakfast was served, I was starting to get slightly tired, though the mood lighting started turning on, and I didn’t want to miss meal service.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Breakfast Hot Towel

As I had really high hopes for the smoothies given their morale, I was disappointed to see it being poured out of a bottle. It tasted weird and artificial.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Breakfast Smoothie

The tray setup was good, and the other items were good.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Muesli and Fruit

Playing it safe, I decided to choose the pancakes, but that was also a miss. The pancakes were bitter and burnt, and the blueberry mascarpone infusion was almost nowhere to be found. Catering out of Paris isn’t meh given how good Air France’s dishes seem to be, so it’s clearly Cathay Pacific’s fault out here.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Breakfast Blueberry Pancake, Vanilla Mascarpone and Maple Syrup

It was served with a glazed croissant.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Breakfast Glazed Croissant

Breakfast was finished over Guiyang.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Airshow After Breakfast

Being almost midnight in Europe, I dropped off to sleep an hour before landing.

The captain came on the speaker, walking me up,and announced our quick descent to Hong Kong. Trying to put my seat back upright, I tried to, except that the seat wouldn’t get upright. I quickly figured that the seatbelt was stuck in the seat baseplate’s way, but I couldn’t dislodge it. The purser, quickly noticing, helped me in my struggle to remove the seatbelt from the seat bottom, and by the time I managed to take it out, we were well past the “safety time” of descent – thankfully, descent was smooth, and I thank the purser here. The purser remarked that I was sleeping way too soundly at the end of the flight, which I guess I’ll improve on next time. 😉

While I didn’t have views, the tail camera did the trick in panging the nostalgia on arriving in Hong Kong again. It would be a mere few months before I’d be arriving in the morning again, but I hadn’t in a long time, so it was great to.

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Views upon Descent Hong Kong

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Views upon Descent Hong Kong

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Views upon Descent Hong Kong

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Views upon Descent Hong Kong

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Views upon Descent Hong Kong

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Views upon Descent Hong Kong

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Views upon Descent Hong Kong

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Views upon Final Descent Hong Kong

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Views upon Final Descent Hong Kong

We touched down at around 7 in the morning, behind schedule. Rather groggy, especially after the seatbelt incident, I was kind of happy to see that our route was kind of curved, extending my time in the top notch business class product (not for the last time, though).

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Airshow After Landing

We parked next to a Scoot 787, something I want to fly in the future.

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Scoot Boeing 787-9 Hong Kong Airport

Damn, was I happy to have spent 23 hours in what was, for a few years, the best business class seat in the world.

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Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Hong Kong Airport

BOTTOM LINE ON CATHAY PACIFIC BOEING 777-300ER BUSINESS CLASS

Cathay Pacific’s business class is fine. The hard product is rather geared towards the top of the pack, with a few improvements that I’ve pointed out, and the soft product is okay. Overall, I wouldn’t hesitate to choose to fly it again, and definitely found the ~HK$13,000 price difference between premium economy and business worth.

I do think the food could be extensively looked upon and the seat could be improved just a bit more especially on the padding front, but while the former is a hit or miss on the airline, the latter is definitely peering towards the better on the new Airbus A350.

BOTTOM LINE ON MY TRIP TO LONDON AND PARIS

Being my first time in Europe, I was shocked at the cultural differences. While WiFi was widely available (more widely than expected, generally), it was definitely eye-opening to see how the two key cities in Europe that people tend to visit first were so different.

If I manage to play the game well growing up (or if it still exists), I’m definitely flying extensively around Europe, but I do thank my parents, as always, for setting the trip up for me. Flying in business class was just the cherry on the cake.

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