I was pretty happy when I managed to book five tickets from San Francisco to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific Business Class, all departing on the same day. My parents and sister would travel on the 12:30 AM flight. Meanwhile, my brother and I would depart 30 minutes later. Eason helped us check-in and he couldn’t have been more friendly and accommodating. My dad asked if it would be possible to put us all on the same flight. After a lot of typing and phone calls, Eason managed to make it happen. We’d still have to split up on the Hong Kong to Singapore segment, but that was fine by us.
I had insisted on everyone bringing just one bag and by some miracle we all managed it. We traveled to three countries for 4-6 days each and I had packed 5 outfits, which I successfully recycled. It helped that we had access to laundry service for most of our trip. All of our bags would be sent to Singapore on the first flight our group was taking that day. This ended up working well, because my brother and I arrived in Singapore several hours before my parents did, collected all of the bags, then went to the hotel before finding out my parents and sister had missed their flight. This situation was stressful enough, but at least they didn’t have to worry about reuniting with their luggage.
We headed off to the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge, which was just past security to the left. In my experience, the TSA agents at SFO tend to be civilized professionals. On this particular night, they were doing their jobs with the finesse of San Quentin prison guards (down to the frequent flyer comment at 2:35). I’m used to that type of behavior at most airports, but damn it don’t leave the tourists departing this country with such a bad impression!
After a TSA grope fest, we headed to the Cathay Pacific Business and First Class Lounge, where the attendant greeted us with the warmth of a mortician. She was warm and chipper when we left, so either her dosage kicked in or she was really happy to see us leave. I’d always heard that the Cathay Pacific ground staff wasn’t quite as polished as the flight crew and this experience fell in line with that assessment.
Despite the fact that this is Cathay Pacific’s First and Business Class Lounge, there is no separate area for First Class passengers. In order words, you’re not going to get a ritzier experience for flying further up front. This is fine for people like me, who don’t care for strangers rubbing their feet or giving them a haircut before the completely unrelated activity of sitting on a plane for 12 hours. Don’t get me wrong – these things are nice and all, but extras I can live without.
The lounge was pretty cramped, despite consisting of two sitting rooms, a dining area, and a sectioned-off office space, bathroom and shower room. There were lots of families with kids, but everyone was well behaved. We managed to get seats together, thanks to inexplicably high turnover.
The seats were fairly comfortable, though cramped a bit too close together. I liked how each seat had multiple power outlets, which made it convenient to power up while waiting for boarding. For those looking for a bit more space to get work done, there is a computer station, separated by a glass wall. There are six stations, equipped with Mac desktops and a printer.
After a while, the large table in the dining area opened up, so we moved there. I don’t recommend it, since the seats are super stiff and uncomfortable. The nearby buffet had some of the worst food I’ve ever had outside of an elementary school cafeteria.
The standout feature of the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge is the noodle bar. It was infinitely better than the terrible buffet selection. When I walked up to place my order, the employee was having some sort of dispute with her supervisor. This came to an abrupt halt, with both of them pasting on their best smiles when they noticed me. I ordered the vegetarian noodles, which were very good.
We had less than three hours in the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge. Our travel date fell on Eid, so my parents spent most of the time calling as many friends and relatives as possible before we boarded the 12-hour flight. I, on the other hand, spent the time photographing the place and annoying people with my social media updates.
The trip was off to a great start and the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge was a good place to pass the time before the flight. Stick to the noodle bar, avoid the large dining table with the stools and you’ll be very comfortable.
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