Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong

I’ve read lots of trip reports on Cathay Pacific First Class, but not too many in Business Class on the SFO – HKG route. I was looking forward to 12 hours of relaxing, watching movies, maybe doing some work, and sleeping…basically, what I normally do at home. After leaving the club lounge, we got to the gate right as boarding began. The woman at the gate scanned our boarding passes and handed them back as if they were delicate flowers. 

I was happy to see that despite changing our travel plans, we were all seated close to each other. Everyone had a window seat, with the exception of my dad. I offered to switch with him but he was looking forward to sleeping and wouldn’t find use for the window.

The Cabin: Cathay Pacific Business Class SFO - HKG
The Cabin: Cathay Pacific Business Class SFO – HKG

As I sat down, a flight attendant dressed like Sarah Palin during the 2008 election offered me a drink, returning shortly after with a glass of water. Judging by the smell, I was pretty sure it was laced with alcohol.

She made another haphazard round with hot towels and without asking me if I wanted one, dropped it on my lap! Before I had a chance to say anything, she took off. But what are you supposed to say when someone drops a scorching hot towel on your lap? This incident was kind of a metaphor for the service throughout the flight – hot and cold. The flight attendants largely whizzed by, putting everyone on edge.

After this incident, another FA began passing out menus and asked me, “Ms Arghandewal may I ask, are you under 19?” I told her I was not and she laughed and explained, “I’m asking because you look so young!” before handing me a menu containing an alcoholic drink section. In 10 years, when I’m having a mid-life crisis, I will take comfort in this moment…

Amenity Kit: Cathay Pacific Business Class SFO - HKG
Amenity Kit: Cathay Pacific Business Class SFO – HKG

Next came arrival cards, coupons for in-flight purchases and a UNICEF donation card, which I thought was really nice. Get selfish, entitled travelers to think about something other than their own misery for once. At this point, amenity kits were distributed, which contained your basic toothbrush, paste, socks, mask, ear plugs (why would you need these if you have noise canceling headphones?) and Jurlique skincare products. The bag was kind of cheap and of course I ended up forgetting it on the plane, but I doubt I would have re-used it anyway.

Cathay Pacific Business Class Seat SFO to HKG

The Cathay Pacific Business Class seat is incredibly comfortable. It kind of reminded me of British Airways’ Business Class seat, but with better padding and more space – especially in terms of width. I fell asleep before the FA had a chance to make my bed, but I had no problems getting 7 hours of sleep despite lacking a mattress pad. I also had no idea who was sitting next to me, thanks to the privacy afforded by these seats – a stark contrast to the British Airways Business Class seat, which felt much more exposed.

Cathay Pacific Business Class Seat San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Business Class Seat San Francisco to Hong Kong

The seat offered lots of storage space: A compartment underneath the footrest, another one on the bottom right side of the seat, and a place to store small items where the noise-canceling headphones were stored. There were also power outlets and a USB port, which is always convenient when you’re traveling with lots of electronics.

Storage compartment
Storage compartment
Lots of storage space by the footrest
Lots of storage space by the footrest

Dining in Cathay Pacific Business Class Seat SFO to HKG

A while after we got off the ground and the seatbelt sign was turned off (something most passengers ignored anyway), an FA came around with a huge stack of table cloths and asked if I cared for a meal. When I said yes, he pulled out my table, dropped two cloths and ran off before I could call him back! I swear, these FA’s could sub for Usain Bolt and nobody would notice…

Business Class Drink Menu
Business Class Drink Menu
Cathay Pacific Business Class Dinner and Snack Menu
Cathay Pacific Business Class Dinner and Snack Menu

Business Class Dinner

I have to admit, I enjoyed the food on this flight more than what was served in the First Class cabin on our flight home. I had what was probably the world’s smallest steak (the carrots were bigger than the steak!), but it actually made up in quality. On the First Class segment, I was served the largest steak ever and I would have gladly picked this smaller one as it was superior in quality and taste. I especially enjoyed the steak sauce.

The world's smallest steak
The world’s smallest steak

Business Class Coffee

After this, I ordered a latte while watching Terminus get overrun on The Walking Dead. It wasn’t served with pralines, like it was supposed to be, but the world didn’t end like it did in rural Georgia, so all was well.

Enjoying a latte while watching The Walking Dead
Enjoying a latte while watching The Walking Dead

Cathay Pacific Business Class Snacks

Nine hours into the flight the FA’s brought around a snack tray, which wasn’t too appealing. I instead opted for a cup of soup. The FA offered me a choice between the wonton noodle soup or creme of mushroom, even though it wasn’t on the menu. I ordered the mushroom and was kind of amused by the fact that it was served in a coffee mug rather than a bowl. I guess “cup of soup” is taken literally around here… 

Inflight Snack: Cream of Mushroom Soup
Inflight Snack: Cream of Mushroom Soup

Business Class Breakfast

After this, I slept for several hours before waking up in time for breakfast. The FA preparing my tray dropped four table cloths before running off again. This time, not wanting other passengers to go without their tablecloths, I managed to call him back and he rushed over, took the extra tablecloths, and rushed off.

The table was set shortly after and I noticed the napkins and silverware were extremely cold. Like they’d been sitting in a freezer all day. I guess that’s a good thing if the food is really hot, so it can help cool it off? Risking frost bite, I used it anyway. First came a plate of fruit. While we’re all familiar with what that particular dish looks like, here it is anyway…

Fruit plate served during breakfast
Fruit plate served during breakfast

I’m not sure whether these were hard, cold fruits or frozen desserts shaped like fruits. The strawberries were so thoroughly frozen, I thought I was eating ice cream. 

Business Class Breakfast Part 2

Next came the orange juice, served fresh out of an Odwalla bottle, followed by the cereal cart. I skipped it and waited for my omelette. Despite the fact that it sat on a bed of grease, the cream cheese omelette was delicious. Seriously, why doesn’t everyone make omelettes with cream cheese? I’m officially protesting cheddar…

Cream cheese omelette
Cream cheese omelette

The breakfast service ended about an hour after it started. That’s when the FA’s distributed hot towels reeking of bleach. I really don’t like this hot towel business – even when they’re placed before me rather than dropped on my lap. I’ll wash my hands in the bathroom like I do at home. There’s really no need to get wet fabric involved.

Special Meals

During the meal service, I checked on my dad, who has a lot of dietary restrictions and a few food allergies that make meal selection a real hassle sometimes. I had considered ordering him a special meal, but those can be tricky because of the wide range of foods he has to avoid. Like the rest of us, he doesn’t eat pork. However, beef, mushrooms, dairy, spicy foods, excessively greasy/salty foods, and gluten are also off the table.When I saw beef and stir-fried pork listed under the main course options for dinner, I was worried.

However, the FA’s took great care of him after he explained his dietary restrictions. They brought out a chicken salad along with a main course of chicken curry with rice. After this, they checked on him during meal times and suggested alternative items he might want to choose from that weren’t on the menu. 

IFE in Cathay Pacific Business Class Seat SFO to HKG

The one disappointing aspect of this flight was probably the entertainment system. Maybe it’s a question of taste or Hollywood is just putting out terrible movies these days, but I couldn’t find one decent movie to watch. I did give Get Hard a shot, mostly fast forwarding through it because I can’t not finish a movie once it starts – no matter how bad it is. I’d like to think I have a good sense of humor but the movie starred two of the most annoying actors. Plus, Will Ferrell, you are not Jamie Dornan. Nobody wants to see you in any state of undress on the big screen. Ever.

Cathay Pacific Business Class In-flight Entertainment
Cathay Pacific Business Class In-flight Entertainment

It would have been nice to watch a movie that wasn’t completely revolting. However, I found something to keep me entertained: Season 5 re-runs of The Walking Dead, which can do no wrong in my opinion.

Final Thoughts on Cathay Pacific Business Class

My family and I enjoyed our flight on Cathay Pacific Business Class. After concluding my trip on Cathay Pacific’s First Class, I’ve decided if given the choice, I will stick to their Business Class product in the future. The seat is very comfortable for sleeping or lounging, the food is great and the service, while rushed, is efficient. 

If you want to fly Cathay Pacific Business Class to Hong Kong like I did, you’re just a couple of credit card sign-up bonus away: All you need are 50,000 Alaska miles or 55,000 American AAdvantage miles each way. Booking through Alaska isn’t just cheaper – it gets you a free stopover on each one-way award.

Somewhere over the Pacific
Somewhere over the Pacific

Have you flown Cathay Pacific Business Class? What did you like/dislike about the experience?

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  1. Thanks for writing a review on the Cathay business class! It’s usually about first class and I’ve been curious of the business class as I’ll be flying on it in a few months. It seemed like your dad didn’t even have to order special meal and was still accommodated just fine. I’m vegetarian, wondering if it’s better for me to go special meal route or see what the FA can offer me? Do you happen to know if I picked a special meal beforehand, does that mean I can’t order anything from the standard menu?

    • Just to be safe, I would order the special meal. This way, if you don’t like it they may have something else they can offer you. However, if you don’t order a special meal and they have nothing else onboard for you, then you’ll be out of luck. You can certainly order off the standard menu if you don’t like your special meal – they often carry extra food. Plus, there’s also the snack menu to choose from.

  2. Nice review. I’ll be going on my first trip via Cathay business class from LAX to Hong Kong in the spring. I need to have a window seat, so I think it’s kind of a weird setup that my wife will have to sit behind me instead of next me for that whole flight. I’m hoping we have a better entertainment option by that point since I can’t load up my iPad with 30 hours of entertainment. However, we really enjoyed “Get Hard” on one of our recent trips!

  3. I’m confused. Don’t you need 140k AAmiles to redeem round-trip from Cali to HK? That’s what it’s saying for me. How were you able to get it for 55k?

    Please let me know as I’m currently MSing to get the 75,000 AAdvantage Miles, but the website says I need 140k to redeem business class round trip.

  4. James Ferguson

    This whole report is nothing but your bitching and moaning about petty things. Towels on your lap, on the table, the smell of chlorine…….. You’re one of those people that just can’t be pleased no matter what.

    • Lol! No need to get upset. All of those things were written in jest. I will take a chlorine scented towel on my lap any day if it means I get to sit up front.

      • Not jest Ariana. I was thinking that really happened, in which case i would have thought the FAs were racist bastards. Dropping a towel in the lap is never acceptable. I think you have hang ups about being an outsider or non-white. It comes through again and again in your posts.

        • They were jumpy and scatter brained, not racist. If I were a man with a beard and interesting theories about mother-son relationships, I would say you’re projecting your own racial hangups on me.

        • I misread your comment and realize it wasn’t mean spirited, so apologies for the snark. 🙂 But seriously, the crew was friendly but just excessively jumpy. When the FA did that, it was clearly out of nervousness. If I felt she was just rude or malicious, I would not have been so cool about it.

  5. where are some pics of you enjoying the flight and the scenes?

    • I’m not a big selfie person, so I don’t have pics of me on the flight. I think my sister might have one of me, so I’ll post it if I can dig it up. Too many folks have complained about the lack of personal pics on this site, so it might be time to change that…

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