After our final day in Hong Kong drew to a close, we fetched our bags at the Hilton Garden Inn Hong Kong Mongkok (SEE: Hilton Garden Inn Hong Kong Mongkok Review) and headed to Chep Lap Kok airport for our flight home. I’d booked our return flight in Cathay Pacific 777-300ER business class using 50,000 Alaska airlines miles per person for the award. It also included the segment from Beijing to Hong Kong in premium economy (SEE: Cathay Pacific 777 Premium Economy Review: Beijing to Hong Kong), taking advantage of the free stopover on a one-way ticket offered by the Alaska MileagePlan program (which also let us utilize the China transit without visa program for our visit to Beijing).
The “value” of our flights was exceptional, from a cents per mile perspective. I’m not someone who can afford paying cash for a Cathay Pacific business class ticket, unless it is a crazy mistake fare. Even then, the jury is out, as I better be able to use flexible points to do so (SEE: Booking my first business class error fare!). But if you want to know, we were getting over 5 cents per mile, as these tickets generally go for more than $5,000 round-trip (and I just use half of that amount for the value of a one-way).
Having not flown international business or first class since my trip to Australia in early 2017, I can say I was quite excited for our flights home. We’d braved economy on our way to China (SEE: Delta 767 economy class review: Seattle to Beijing), so a long-haul in business class was heartily welcomed.
Transit to HKG and time in the lounge
We hopped on a bus to Kowloon station and then took the Airport Express back to Chep Lap Kok airport. The Airport Express was the same way we had gotten ourselves from HKG airport originally to Kowloon, a fast and convenient option for getting to and from the airport. Our flight didn’t leave until nearly 1:00 a.m., so even though we wrapped up our day in Hong Kong at 6:00 p.m., we still had plenty of time to get to the airport and spend in the lounge prior to our flight.
We’d had trouble checking in early at Beijing Capital Airport for our premium economy flight a few days prior. The counter wasn’t even open when we’d arrived! I figured since HKG is Cathay’s hub, the counter should be open all hours. This proved completely correct, as we checked in at 7:55 p.m. without issue.
Security and immigration were a ghost town. There were only a couple people in the immigration line and maybe a half dozen in security. I had to guess that we’d missed a block of Cathay flights, as I cannot imagine the airport is always like this. The check-in agent suggested we head to The Wing business class lounge, which ended being a nice choice and convenient to our gate. I won’t go into details here since I wrote up a separate post already (SEE: Cathay Pacific The Wing Business Class Lounge Review). Even though we didn’t see all of the lounge (read the post to see my mistake!), it was great to enjoy the space for as long as we did before boarding our flight.
Boarding our Cathay Pacific flight to SFO
The kids were absolutely exhausted by the time we left the lounge to board. The fact we were flying business class was still a surprise for them, although a couple hints had been dropped. They wanted to sleep more than anything. I kept trying to tell them they could sleep on the flight, but this didn’t seem to help. Their assumption was still that we would be in economy!
We lined up right when we arrived at the gate, as boarding was just about to start. Cathay Pacific did one final security verification (along with again asking to make sure we knew this was the business class line) at the gate and then we were headed down the jet bridge!
We managed to board among the earliest passengers, which gave us this fairly empty view of the business class cabin. The kids were quite excited to be traveling in business class, especially my son. My daughter just wanted to sleep, which I promised could happen soon (she actually passed out in the seat prior to takeoff!).
The Cathay Pacific 777-300ER business class cabin was fairly full on our flight. Not every seat was occupied, but the majority were. We were in the larger business class section. Ahead of the galley is the business class “mini cabin”, and forward of that is Cathay’s amazing first class cabin in a 1-1-1 configuration. Not all Cathay Pacific 777-300ERs operate this four-class configuration that includes first class, but this one did.
Arranging a party of three in reverse herringbone business class doesn’t have a cut-and-dry solution. Should we book two of us in the middle with the other child across the aisle from me? And should my daughter be the one in the paired seat? Or my son?
I thought about going with that option, but I would have been facing away from my child at the window seat. My second idea was to book us in three consecutive window seats on the same side, which is what I ended up choosing. We occupied seats 17A, 18A and 19A for our trip home. I sat in 19A so the kids would be in front of me and I could (hopefully) see if they got up or needed anything.
Definitely tired, but definitely smiling! It’d be a comfortable thirteen hours back to California.
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER business class seat
Very little compares to stepping onto a plane after midnight and being welcomed by your own private lie-flat seat. As I mentioned, Cathay Pacific 777-300ER business class has a reverse herringbone configuration. Every seat has direct aisles access and substantial privacy in a 1-2-1 layout. It is ideal for solo travelers (but not so ideal for a family with younger kids).
The Cathay Pacific 777-300ER business class seat is a solid product. The seat is spacious and private, with high dividers and angled toward either the window or center, away from the aisles. This was my first time flying in a product of this type, although I have to say that my business class window seat on an Asiana A380 was about equally as private (SEE: Asiana business class review: Seoul to Sydney). At each seat was a pillow, along with a blanket in the foot cubby.
Each seat has a triangular side table, in addition to the tray table that slides out from underneath it. My only complaint about the seat regards the tray table, which doesn’t lock into place and it easily jostled. Simultaneously, I did like how the tray table doesn’t extend so far over you that it made slipping out of the seat impossible. I was able to get up and check on the kids (mostly) without moving my tray.
In the panel to the side are several seat features, including the in-flight entertainment controller, the seat controls, a reading light, and both universal power and USB outlets.
The in-flight entertainment screen itself is very large and stows away into the wall behind the seat in front of you. You can use the button to its side to swing it out whenever desired. My son got settled in quite quickly with a movie. My daughter would have done the same, except she was on a media fast for a few weeks which was a bummer for such a long flight. Behavior has consequences, and parenting doesn’t change just because you’re heading to China.
The headphones are located in the cabinet to the side, above the table, which offers some storage space as well.
The final touches are a divider that slides up and down at the aisle and a small storage compartment under the triangular table which just barely fit my laptop. The in-flight magazine and safety card are in a slot at the aisle.
Overall, the Cathay Pacific 777-300ER business class hard product is as solid as I’ve heard it to be. It is still the most comfortable business class seat I’ve ever enjoyed.
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER business class service
Just like the hard product, I found the service to be excellent during our flight from Hong Kong to San Francisco. The flight attendants were exceptional. They engaged with my kids well and were extremely polite and attentive. Besides maybe the first class flight attendant who staffed my United flight from San Francisco to Seoul back in 2017, I haven’t had such excellent service.
Service began before the door closed with a hot towel and pre-departure beverages. I’d had two glasses of wine, twice my normal allotment (although spaced out over 4 hours), during our stay in the lounge, so I opted for orange juice.
Because I couldn’t easily discuss meal choices and other things with my kids, the flight attendant made it easy by asking what my plans were for them. My daughter actually fell asleep before meal service began, and the attendant kindly helped lay the seat down into a bed so she could get some real rest. She was also fantastic at engaging with my son during the meal service. I explained that I wanted him to get to sleep following dinner service.
The main meal service began very shortly into the flight. The attendants came through with water and menus.
The choice of main course was between chili prawns and lamb stew. You could also order the mushroom soup and salad option if you aren’t all that hungry.
The drink menu featured two red wines, two white wines, a champagne and a dessert wine.
While I perused the menu, the flight attendants came by again with amenity kits. I’d honestly completely forgotten about this aspect of flying in the front of the plane. The kit included moisturizers, oral care supplies, and items for sleep, including a mask, socks and ear plugs.
I’d just finished looking through the amenity kit when dinner started to make its way toward us. I’d already asked the flight attendant to serve my son the stew, knowing he likely wouldn’t care for the prawns. This was way easier than her trying to ask him, him wanting to talk with me (mostly because he is shy), and all of us awkwardly trying to have this conversation in seats that don’t easily allow for it. Silly struggles most people don’t face.
The starter was a berry bowl and both bread and mini breadsticks (grissini) with dips. I honestly had no clue what grissini are until this flight.
Following that was the main. Now that sufficient time had passed from our enjoyment of The Wing business class lounge, I requested a glass of red wine as well.
Dinner was decent, but I wouldn’t call it especially good. I know you can’t do a whole lot with airplane food. The starters were better than the main, and even they weren’t all that excellent. I’ll leave it at that. I may have been a victim of high expectations for Cathay Pacific business class catering.
Meal service was followed with coffee, tea and chocolates. Very soon after, the cabin was dimmed for sleeping. It was clear that the flight attendants were on a mission to get everyone fed and then clear out so people could sleep, which I really appreciated.
In-flight entertainment and sleeping
I did not browse the in-flight entertainment as much as I probably should have. There were a good number of western films, including some Marvel flicks and a few Star Wars picks, but plenty of Chinese options as well. I didn’t end up watching anything early on in the flight, contenting myself with enjoying dinner and then getting to sleep. My son, on the other hand, watched Kung Fu Panda and then played games for most of the rest of the trip.
Our 777-300ER did not feature WiFi, which really surprised me, given how popular Cathay Pacific has to be with business travelers trekking between the U.S. and Hong Kong. I didn’t miss it, but I did want to note it. Now I know that Cathay Pacific is actively installing WiFi on their 777 aircraft.
During the period I laid down and napped, I found the Cathay Pacific 777-300ER business class seat to be comfortable in lie-flat mode as well. It is not especially wide, and I had some trouble getting my arm situated comfortably on the aisle side. But the foot cubby had plenty of room. My feet did not feel constrained at all.
At ages 8 and 11, my kids obviously had plenty of room in lie-flat seats. My daughter slept quite well for the first six hours, and woke up quite hungry.
I was literally about to push the flight attendant call button to order her the burger from the snack menu when an attendant stopped at my seat to ask what she’d like. It’s like they knew.
Overall, the kids and I each got 5-6 hours of sleep. The flight eastward from San Francisco to Hong Kong is 12 hours of flying. Considering the block time from Seattle to Beijing is the same, the difference due to favorable winds heading east is substantial. Once I did wake up, I watched The Greatest Showman, which I had not yet viewed.
Cathay Pacific breakfast service
Breakfast service started right around 2 hours before arrival. It started with fruit and bread option, immediately followed by coffee, tea and juice service. I opted for the cold press juice medley and also requested a latte.
The attendants then brought a cart by and offered cereal and yogurt. The hot breakfast options followed five minutes later, and you could choose between an omelet and sausage or a dim sum selection.
Even though I was sure I’d had far, far better in Hong Kong, I opted for the dim sum selection. It is hard to say whether the omelet option would have been a better choice. I did enjoy it, but it was nothing like the couple places at which we ate while enjoying Hong Kong.
I also asked for the Oriental Breeze, the one “signature drink” offered that is non-alcoholic. This was the moment I felt a bit over-the-top, but gotta try it all, right?
The Oriental Breeze is honestly excellent. I wish I would have ordered one with dinner. The delicious beverage consists of sour plum tea, cranberry juice, honey and lemon. Had I tried this early on in the flight, I’m sure I would have asked for a few more before our Cathay Pacific 777-300ER business class experience was over.
As the flight wound down and we began our descent into San Francisco, I listened to an hour long podcast of the history of Hong Kong and the British East India Company, which was quite interesting. It wrapped up just as we touched down at SFO.
Cathay Pacific 777-300ER business class is a winner
My first time flying business class with the kids was amazing. I mean, we are a pretty average middle class family, and I feel like this is living it up for us. There is no way I could (or would) shell out cash for this excellent product. And this becomes even more true when it is times three. Or five. Miles make so many things possible, and spending 150,000 Alaska miles for two sectors this trip, the first in premium economy and then this long leg in business class, seemed totally worth it to me.
Overall, the Cathay Pacific 777-300ER business class seats are great. It is definitely the nicest business class hard product I’ve flown (out of a laughably small sample of five products). The service was also exceptional; the flight attendants made traveling with the kids, even seated in the arrangement we were, a total breeze. The one lackluster point might be the food. I may have been a victim of overly high expectations in this regard, although it simply did not compare to what I was served in Asiana business class.
Flying Cathay Pacific 777-300ER business class was an absolute treat, and one I would repeat again. I’m not sure how often we will be able to fly in a premium cabin, but I plan to make it happen at least once in a while.
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