Review: Cathay Pacific 899 777-300ER Business Class Newark to Hong Kong

I headed to board my flight 10 minutes before boarding was scheduled to begin. Boarding began right at 12:30 AM with Business Class, Marco Polo and oneworld Elite passengers. I was the first person to board, which gave me a lot of time to take cabin pictures.

IMG_6354.jpgNewark Airport Jetbridge

Cathay Pacific Flight 899
Saturday, December 17, 2016
Origin: Newark (EWR) Gate: B55 Dep: 01:10 (01:10)
Destination: Hong Kong (HKG) Gate: 2 Arr: 06:00 (05:25)
Duration: 15 hr 50 min (15 hr 5 min)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Seat: 21K (Business Class)

I was welcomed aboard by the slightly unenthusiastic in-flight services manager, who directed me to my seat. At Newark, all passengers are herded through the first door which sucks for Business Class passengers, as there’s a lot of foot traffic during boarding. I passed through the front Business Class cabin and was greeted by another flight attendant, who I’ll call Miss Angry for the purposes of this review. More on her later.

IMG_6358.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Mini Cabin

The cabin was decorated with wreaths, which I thought was a really cute Christmasy touch.

IMG_6356.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin

While I’ve flown Cathay Pacific’s 777-300ER in Business Class before, I’ve never actually sat in the mini-cabin. The cabin only has fourteen seats and is extremely private, quiet and exclusive. However, I didn’t think that it was as good as it’s all cracked up to be. First, there’s a lavatory that’s right next to seat 20D which means that there’s constantly going to be light flowing into the cabin. Mini-cabin passengers are also served last, as cabin crews will normally serve the front cabin, before going back into the galley to stock up on whatever they’re serving prior to serving the cabin, resulting in a delay in meal services

IMG_6357.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin

Given the late departure of the flight, I thought it was smart that duvets and pillows were placed at each seat prior to boarding. While I still think Cathay could avoid this on non-late night departures and avoid having passengers sit amongst a pile of plastic wrap, it’s perfect for these types of flights and allows passengers to get comfy as soon as possible.

IMG_6360.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Duvet

We’ve extensively reviewed Cathay’s Business Class seat, and we’ve constantly rated it as the world’s best Business Class product. It’s worth noting that even as times have changed and airlines have evolved their Business Class seats, Cathay’s Business Class seat is still amongst the most well-designed seats out there. The seat features a wealth of conveniently placed and spacious storage options. There’s also a reasonable amount of personal space and privacy.

As this was a bulkhead seat, there was some space underneath the ottoman, which fit my gigantic backpack. Unfortunately, no storage in this area is allowed during taxi, takeoff and landing.

IMG_6366.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Ottoman Storage

Miss Angry came through the cabin offering welcome drinks at this time. Not only was she scowling, she spoke in a really harsh and borderline rude tone, which really took me aback. While I understand that cabin crew are people, but I don’t think it’s particularly appropriate for anyone in a customer service role to be so harsh. Fortunately, I didn’t see her for the rest of the flight.

IMG_6368.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Apple Juice 

I ordered an apple juice, which was a little too sour for my taste. At this time, the senior purser walked through the cabin welcoming passengers aboard. While she wasn’t exactly friendly – and was rather indifferent. While far from the worst flight attendant I’ve ever had, she wasn’t exactly the best either. Oh well…

Just when I was thinking that the cabin crew weren’t going to be very pleasant, the flight purser started handing out hot towels. She was incredibly friendly and a joy to talk to. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the hot towels. However, it’s worth noting that they were very hot. I know it’s in the name, but hey – don’t scald us!

Shortly afterwards, the cabin doors were closed, and the safety video was played.

IMG_6372.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Safety Video

We started taxiing while the safety video was played. The flight attendants then came through the aisles to prepare the cabin for take-off. I couldn’t help but notice that they hadn’t picked up on the duvet on the ottoman of the passenger across the aisle from me. I don’t know if it’s just me, but that could become a projectile in the event of an emergency and end up in the aisle – blocking evacuation. I’m curious if this is Cathay’s standard policy – as this has happened on past flights.

IMG_6376.jpgTaxiing Newark Airport

The mood lighting was switched on shortly before our take-off roll.

IMG_6384.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Mood Lighting

We took off, and got some really awesome views of New York at night, which may or may not have ended up on my Instagram.

IMG_6392.jpgTakeoff Newark Airport

IMG_6401.jpgTakeoff Newark Airport

During our climb, I took the chance to test out Cathay’s noise-cancelling headphones. While they don’t scream high quality, they’re not actively uncomfortable and do a reasonably good job at blocking out noises.

IMG_6404.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Headphones

The cabin crew started the in-flight service by handing out menus, which are so aesthetically boring it makes me want to yawn. Seriously? While the design was simple, and fit in with the whole “considered simplicity” brand ethos of Cathay, is it honestly that hard to design more visually interesting menus?

IMG_6405.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Menu

Given that the flight departed at 1:10 AM, Business Class passengers are treated to an abbreviated “supper” meal service, unlike in First Class where passengers still receive a full meal. The supper concept involves watering down the meal service and eliminating a five-course meal in favour of an express meal all served on one tray, with the salads and desserts eliminated in favour of breadsticks and berries respectively. Passengers can also choose a light meal with a soup, salad and dessert.

img_6406Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Supper Menu 

Shortly afterwards, the cabin crew rolled a cart down the aisle and passed out amenity kits designed by Hong Kong-based Seventy Eight Percent. While the kits much more traditional when compared to the previous “washbag” kit, the overall design is also much more practical. Cathay has also recently introduced some brand Jurlique amenities – most notably an incredible Rosewater Mist that very refreshing.

IMG_6408.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Amenity Kit

Immediately afterwards, the cabin crew passed out tablecloths to those who would be dining which I thought was unnecessary. If the point of an abbreviated meal service is to get the food out as fast as possible, then why are flight attendants distributing tablecloths which serve no actual purpose aside from providing a layer of separation between the tray and the table.

IMG_6409.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Tablecloth

The main trays were then passed out. I opted for the main service, which started with a bowl of dips, breadsticks and berries, alongside a glass of water and some garlic bread. While the dips and breadsticks were tasty and a nice starter, they were hardly a substantial meal starter. I mean, is it that hard to offer passengers a salad with protein? The berries were very fresh, although I wish management would actually do something with the berries – like adding syrup to the berries – instead of simply dumping them in a bowl.

IMG_6411.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Tray 

A tray of mains was then rolled down the aisle. I picked the Hong Kong-style chicken curry. It was easily one of the best things that I’ve eaten on a plane in a very long time. Although the rice was undercooked, the chicken was tender, the curry sauce was incredible and the vegetables were crisp. Overall, it was a very satisfying taste of home after a couple of weeks abroad.

IMG_6413.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Main Dish 

As I was halfway through eating my main dish, the flight attendants came through the cabin to take drink orders. I ordered a Cathay Delight, which was served just as I was finishing up the main dish. While I understand that the meal service is supposed to be rushed and as quick as possible, is it really that hard to do a drink run before the mains are served?

IMG_6415.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cathay Delight

Shortly after I was finished with my meal, the cabin crew came around the cabin offering hot drinks. I had a cup of powdered Hong Kong-style Milk Tea which was fine, although hardly anything extraordinary.

IMG_6417.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Milk Tea! 

It’s worth noting that throughout the service, the crew was extraordinarily rushed. While the flight purser and the flight attendant serving my aisle were friendly enough, the senior purser looked tired and wasn’t the friendliest at the end of the meal service.

As soon as the meal service was finished, the lights were dimmed.

On a whole, I think the concept of a supper meal service is ultimately very smart, although very poorly executed. There’s definitely a lot of work that Cathay’s catering team can do to create a supper meal service that’s fast-paced but also substantial. For example, by offering a “flexible dining” option to allow passengers to dine any time during the flight up until a certain point, and offering a more substantial meal service for those wishing to dine before sleeping.

IMG_6419.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Dimmed Lights

The cabin crew then passed through the cabins with a hot towel and Cathay Pacific branded pralines, which are incredible. The crew then distributed water bottles, which were Crystal Geyser. Interestingly, Cathay technically doesn’t distribute Crystal Geyser water to passengers. However, I’ve seen unopened bottles of Evian lying in galleys for passengers to take…

IMG_6420.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Hot Towel

The cabin lights were then completely shut down. To avoid being jetlagged, I decided to stay up for another 7 hours before sleeping. I spent this time working on my laptop and binge-watching Brooklyn Nine-Nine, as you do.

After a couple of hours, I headed to the galley and picked up some JoeSephs Sweet and Salty Popcorn, which was perfectly fine, although the flavour kind of tasted weird at times.

IMG_6421.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Popcorn

Later on in the flight, I also had some JING Jasmine Tea, which was very good.

IMG_6424.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Tea

After a couple of episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, I decided to order some Wonton Noodles. At this point, the friendly flight purser and the awesome flight attendant were in the galley. Interestingly, another flight purser and the senior purser were at the other end of the galley in a totally different conversation. I found this really interesting and the complete opposite of my flight from Hong Kong to Newark, where all on-duty Business Class cabin crew along with the in-flight services manager were hanging out together in the middle of the flight. It’s also worth noting that the Inflight Services Manager on my flight didn’t do much but walk around the cabin and staying in the front of the aircraft.

Anyways… My noodles were delivered 10 minutes after I ordered them and was served with a packet of Guilin Chilli Sauce.

IMG_6428.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Wonton Noodles

The dish was phenomenal. The noodles weren’t too soft, the wontons were well seasoned and tasty and the broth was tasty. The Guilin Chill Sauce added a nice spicy kick to the dish. Overall, another solid showing from Cathay Pacific Catering.

I ordered a cup of hot chocolate just before I went to bed, just because I wanted to feel like a toddler again.

IMG_6429.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Hot Chocolate

As we passed the North Pole, I decided to sleep and reclined my seat into a flat bed.

IMG_6432.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Duvet and Pillow

As you can see in the image above, each Business Class passenger is provided with a duvet and a large pillow. The pillow is nicely padded and has a textured and smooth side to suit individual tastes, which I thought was a really smart touch. On the other hand, the duvet was way too warm and made sleeping very uncomfortable, especially given that Cathay seems to keep it’s cabins at very warm temperatures.

On this flight, I picked a bulkhead seat, which had a larger ottoman. This means that the bed is a wee bit longer. While I didn’t really need the extra space, I’d imagine that taller people might want to pick this seat to take advantage of the increased space.

IMG_6423.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Bulkhead Ottoman

While the seat is padded nicely for lounging, it’s not nearly as adequate for sleeping and is actually quite firm for sleeping. Additionally, the seat covers are textured which creates a very rough sleeping surface. While that’s something that I’m perfectly fine with, I can see why people would think that it’s uncomfortable.

IMG_6434.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat

I slept for 5 hours, which is a reasonable amount of time. As I have the tendency to snore quite loudly, I hope no one heard my snorting over the noise coming from the engines. Oh well…

Shortly after I woke up, the cabin lights were turned up for the breakfast service, which is something I’ve never seen before on Cathay Pacific. Typically, the mood lighting will be switched on. Oh well…

IMG_6440.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin 

At this time, the friendly flight attendant came around the cabin distributing tablecloths.

IMG_6442.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Tablecloths

The friendly flight purser then came around with the drinks cart. I had the berry smoothie which was served from a bottle. Nevertheless, it was very tasty.

IMG_6444.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Smoothie

Then, trays including a fruit platter and a croissant were distributed. The fruit was crisp, fresh and chilled, while the croissant was one of the best I’ve had on a plane.

IMG_6445.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Starter and Croissant

I ordered a cappuccino with my meal, which was developed in partnership with illy coffee. While it certainly wasn’t bad, it wasn’t the best cappuccino I’ve had.

IMG_6446.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cappuccino

The crew then rolled a cart with cereals, muesli and yoghurt down the aisle. I picked a tub of plain yoghurt, which was quite tasty.

IMG_6448.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Yoghurt 

Finally, a cart with all of the main meal options was rolled down the aisle. Having been away from home for so long, I picked the stir fried beef noodles, which was a fantastic choice. The noodles were incredibly flavorful, while the beef was tender and perfectly cooked. The choy sum on the side was also extremely crispy. Easily the best thing I’ve eaten on a plane in a very long time.

IMG_6449.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Fried Noodles

After all the trays were cleared, the flight purser came around the cabin to offer one last hot towel prior to landing.

IMG_6450.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Hot Towel

As the meal service wrapped up, we had one more hour left of our 16-hour long flight.

IMG_6452.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin 

At this time, the airshow started displaying arrival information.

IMG_6453.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class

I guess I’ll talk about the service here. I thought that the service on my flight was fine. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever received on Cathay Pacific, nor was it the worst. While the flight attendant and the flight pursers were very friendly, the senior purser and the in-flight services manager were quite indifferent. While not a great showing, the service wasn’t actively unpleasant.

At this time, the captain announced our descent into Hong Kong. Shortly afterwards, the cabin crew started preparing the cabin for landing and completed their pre-landing checks.

IMG_6455.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Airshow

Eventually, the lights were dimmed in preparation for landing.

IMG_6466.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Cabin

I fell asleep for the rest of the descent and woke up as the aircraft was about to touch down. Unfortunately, as it was dark outside, I couldn’t get a good picture of the aircraft touching down.

IMG_6478.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Thank You Screen

We taxied to arrival gate number 2 and parked next to another Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER.

IMG_6480.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER in Hong Kong 

I deplaned, bid farewell to the crew and headed off to immigration and reunited with my parents.

Bottom Line

Cathay Pacific’s Business Class is a fantastic way to fly. Although I was disappointed with the supper meal service, I thought the food itself tasted great. I also thought the service aboard my flight wasn’t quite as good as some of the service that I’ve received in the past aboard Cathay. The seat itself is phenomenal and incredibly well designed.

While Cathay doesn’t offer a Business Class product with many frills, it’s still a fantastic product that’s comfortable enough for a 16-hour trek across the Pacific Ocean.

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