Flight & Lounge Review: The Pier Business Class Lounge & Cathay Pacific Airways Regional Business Class, CX418 HKG-ICN [Airbus A330]
Well.. It does pay off to be a mile guru. Something to be proud off, I only paid less than 200sgd for a round trip business class between Hong Kong and Incheon. For this trip to Korea, my holiday started right at Hong Kong before I even reached my final destination. It was my very first time visiting Cathay's lounges in Hong Kong and oh boy, Singapore Airlines silverkris lounge is nothing compared to Cathay Pacific's The Pier lounge. I think I have well utilized my 4 hours transit in Hong Kong, exploring the best areas of Cathay Pacific lounges. At HKIA, CX have 5 different lounges, including an arrival lounge after the immigration.
I know that the cover photo is not quite accurate for this blogpost as it was taken at The Wing's CX Business Class Lounge. Although I did lounge hopping at HKIA, I will just put the main focus on The Pier Business Class Lounge and my business class flight to Incheon. Last but not least, I will also be sharing how I managed to get my round trip ticket to Korea.
Part 1: The Pier Business Class Lounge by Cathay Pacific
If you wanna get out the most out of your transit time in Hong Kong, I would recommend you to spend 3/4 of your time at The Pier lounge before hopping to The Wing lounge for a nice drink at the long bar where you get to enjoy the scenic view of the hill, tarmac and runway [as shown in the blogpost cover photo].
Probably the most fancy business class lounge I have been to thus far, The Pier business class lounge is an elongated lounge located right below the departure gates. From the lounge reception area, the left side would be the "Bureau" while the more fanciful side would be on the right. Each zone of the lounge has its own theme and offers a different kind of experience. For the upcoming photos, I will arrange them according to the lounge layout, starting from the bar all the way down to the Relaxation Room. As the Food Hall was pretty crowded that day, I did not manage to get a decent shot there. Basically, the main difference between the Food Hall and Noodle Bar is that the Food Hall offers handy food like cabana sandwich while the Noodle Bar offers hearty Asian cuisine.
ii. Noodle Bar
v. Relaxation Room
I spent slightly more than 2 hours at The Pier Lounge, mainly hanging out at the noodle bar and the relaxation area. If you aren't hungry for food, I would strongly recommend you to at least try the Dan Dan noodle, have a taste of the Cathay Pacific's Betsy beer and enjoy a nice shower there. Their shower is amazing. It is tastefully furnished, absolutely clean and well stocked with Aseop amenities. If you like to have a nice nap, I would recommend you to have your ear plug with you as the light music can be pretty annoying for light sleeper. As for the betsy beer, it is claimed that the beer offers a light fruity taste. I can't deny the fact that it tastes refreshing, but I find there is a lack of uniqueness as compared to other beers. I guess it would have taste better in the air, since it is specially crafted for drinking in the sky.
If you are doing lounge hopping as well, do not miss out The Wing Business Class Lounge. Definitely one of the highlight during my transit, I was there nearly one hour enjoying the view. If you are ice cream lovers, do ask the bar attendant for Haagen-Daz ice cream. They "hide" them in the fridge at the bar.
Part 2: Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class
Hong Kong to Incheon (Korea)
Seat: 15k (window)
Seat Configuration: 2-2-2
Std Dep: 1425
When flying with Cathay Pacific within Asia, you can never guess the type of aircraft that you will be flying. Different aircraft types offer different seat product. I was expecting mine to be a Boeing 77W with 1-2-1 seat configuration in business class. Sadly, it turned out to be an Airbus A330 with the old livery and regional business class product. When I was checking in online, it appeared that there were a few empty seats left. To my surprise, the business class was full on that flight.
The regional business class offers an angle recline seat, with the seat and screen control on the side. There are also individual usb port, coat hanger and a mini pouch beside the screen. The pouch is kinda useless to me as it can't fit my iPhone 6 and my spects well. An alternative storage is the magazine pouch on the side. I would suggest not to leave any bulky pouch or bag at your seat. If you want to sit comfortably, there is no sufficient space to put your bag at the legroom. I would not suggest you to put bulky items in the side storage as you would want to leave your heavy seatbelt (fitted with airbag) in it.
Shortly after I got to my seat, the flight attendant approached me with a welcome drink and hot towel. If you have not tasted Cathay Delight -their signature mocktail, do give it a try. It is a mixture of coconut milk, mint, kiwi and some other stuff in it.
Welcome drink - Cathay Delight
Pre-flight safety video
Taxi-ing at HKIA
Taking-off at HKIA
Shortly after we have taken-off, the crew started with the first drink service and distributed the menu. If you have a good set of earpiece/headphone, I would suggest you to use yours as I find the one from Cathay too small to comfortably rest on my ears. Talk about noise cancelling, I think Cathay could have provided better headset.
Business Class refreshment and beverage menu:
To start off with, everyone was given a plate of marinated butterfly prawn with peppers and green asparagus, along with a selection of assorted bread and mixed green salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Frankly speaking, the taste was underwhelming. From my experience, I must say that there is room for improvement for their in-flight catering, be it for business or economy class. Sadly, the garlic bread that I picked was soggy and the prawns had a rough texture. However, the service provided by the crew had made up the experience on board.
Probably the best crew I ever had, it was really service from the heart. The service was polished, yet warm and carried personal touch. All the crew (at least those serving my aisle) took an effort to remember everyone's name and never fail to address us properly. Although it was just 3.5 hours flight, the meal service was well-paced and adjusted accordingly to individual passengers. The crew were very observant and made frequent rounds in the cabin. Once the crew noticed that a passenger finished their appetizer, the crew would clear the plate immediately and serve the next dish.
lFollowing the appetizer, the crew pushed a trolley out to display all the main courses for passengers to pick. I had the slow cooked Wu Xi pork ribs, Kailan, carrot and steamed Jasmine rice out of other 2 options. This kind of Asian cuisine can be typically found on almost all flight after breakfast timing. This dish is the safest bet if you do not really trust Cathay Pacific's on board catering. The pork ribs were well braised and flavourful. I wish that the rice could have be more grainy and drier.
Along with the main course, I ordered a glass of iced Hong Kong milk tea. Typically, it is only served as a hot beverage. The in-flight service manager was a little awkward upon hearing my request but he well accepted the challenge and made a really good iced milk tea. Many thumbs up! The level of sweetest was just perfect and I had to compliment him and ordered another glass.
After finishing the main course, the crew came a few more rounds to serve cheese and fruit platter, as well as the Haagen-Daz ice cream (same choice as economy class) before dimming the cabin lights for passenger to rest.
While most of the passengers decided to take a nap after the meal service, I decided to stay up and watch The Fantastic Beast till the end although I was not really paying attention and unaware of what was happening in the movie. For Korean drama fans, they had a whole episodes of Goblin, which I had given up after the first episode and left me wondering what was the hype about.
The amenities in the lavatory were kept to the bare minimum. Nothing fancy to mention. During the time of descent, the crew made their final few rounds in the cabin to offer refreshing hot towels and distribute immigration cards. One of the crew, who is a korean, was surprised that I was not a korean when I gestured that I needed the immigration card. Oh well, to be honest, I was secretly happy about it as many Korean are pretty good looking. (Yeah, I can be shallow at times. HAHA!)
Part III: How did I redeem my Cathay Pacific flight?
For this particular flight, I redeemed using 40k Qatar Airways miles and paid only SGD60 for taxes. It was pretty complicated to book a redemption flight with Qatar Airways (QR) as I have to make my way down to QR town office to pay my tax in order to secure my ticket. In addition, using QR miles is not the best way to redeem Cathay Pacific flight. I decided to use it as I do not have plans to travel to Europe or Middle East in near future. 40K qr miles can be used to upgrade to business class for 7-8hrs flight.
Apart from buying Alaska Mileage Plan miles during their promotion, the best way to redeem CX flight is via British Airways frequent flyer program. It only cost 20k miles and SGD45-60 for tax. In Singapore, the only bank that allows you to credit your miles is Citibank. I am currently holding citibank premiermiles which also allows me to buy 10k miles per year at around SGD190 (as an annual fee). For more information, click here to refer to my 2016 credit card guide. Although it is created in 2016, it is still very applicable as of now.
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