Boarding was already underway as I made it to our designated departure gate. There's a dedicated lane, as always, for premium passengers including members of Cathay Pacific's Marco Polo Club. As I entered the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, the purser was there by the door to greet passengers. Somehow I missed my assigned seat and an eagle-eyed male flight attendant directed me to 16A - how he knew I was to sit there was a mystery to me.
The new seating is configured 1-2-1 per row with 53 seats in all. There's a mini-cabin just behind First Class with only two rows offering more privacy while the main cabin is certainly more spacious. Those traveling together could opt for the middle seats as they angle towards each other. If a crying baby is an ordeal, avoid Seats 16A and 16K as these are the closest to bassinets (luckily, no baby with a big trust fund was onboard in this flight).
What's so great about this new seat is that it's less claustrophobic compared to the old herringbone style. Seat width is even better at 21 inches. Like the old one, it converts completely flat into a bed using a toggle. A multi-port connector allows use of iPod/iPhone. There are plenty of storage within arm's length for little things like shoes, eyeglasses or bottle of water. Noise-cancelling headseats are also stored in its own cabinet that opens up with a little vanity mirror. A 15.4 inch TV screen with AVOD (audio-video on demand) offers enough entertainment for insomniacs on a night flight.
|Nuts and juice|
A female flight attendant took my jacket away for storage while another one offered me a selection of drinks. I chose champagne. The captain's voice came on the PA advising us of a flight time of 15 hours and 36 minutes via the polar region. Rain was falling incessantly as our plane was pushed back from the gate on time. I got worried that the weather would delay us. There were no delays taxiing as well and in no time, we were airborne.
Right after the seatbelt sign was turned off, the Cathay show resumed. Flight attendants - always with that smiling 'thank you' even if it was them doing some kind of favor - sprang into action distributing amenity kits that contained Murad products, toothbrush, toothpaste, shoehorn, socks, eyeshade. The inflight manager came up to me to give me the menu while addressing me by my last name (she must have the passenger's manifest somewhere to help her identify all 53 of us in this cabin).
|My bed at 35,000 feet|
Drinks and nuts were offered next. I played with the AVOD system and was really impressed with the plethora of movies, TV shows, music and games. I watched "The Descendants" while dinner service began about an hour after we left New York. The main course was delightful, served by the flight attendants using a cart. When it came to dessert, I was prepared to just gobble-up the fresh fruit but the stewardess insisted I take the chocolate truffle cake as well. Oh dear me, how can I sleep with such a full stomach?
I must have slept more than 6 hours after dinner when the cabin lights came out. I was surprised that brekkie was being served so soon. Usually, it's around 2 hours before descent. I decided to watch the ever fanciful Downton Abbey (Season 2) with their over-the-top dinner scenes while there I was munching on breakfast some 35,000 feet up in the air. Yet again, the meal was a winner, served not by footmen but by smiling flight attendants.
It was back to sleeping mode once again after watching 2 episodes of the hit British show. I woke up with just an hour before landing. There was still time for a snack so I pressed the button and in less than a minute, a flight attendant came, getting me an ice cream. Alas, it was hard as rock so I requested for the alternative which was terrific. By the time I finished it, the ice cream had softened enough that I ate it too! So much for dieting.
We landed at Hong Kong International Airport at 5:01 AM, or 29 minutes earlier than scheduled. It was still dark outside and even the massive terminal was still getting up to its feet for another long day of departures and arrivals. In my case, I have another flight to catch. But first, I need a shower.