I’m not actively in search of the best business class to Asia, though it might seem that way perusing my latest reviews, which have included Japan Airlines and Korean Air, among others. I have been aching to review Cathay Pacific business class for a long time, however, so when it an opportunity presented itself I didn’t hesitate.
As has been the case with many of my past write-ups, this one will focus less on minutia than most Cathay business class review posts, and instead try to paint a more experiential picture, perhaps even an esoteric one. Care to come aboard Cathay’s brand-new Airbus A350 with me?
Is Cathay Pacific Business Class Worth It?
Cathay Pacific business class has long been considered one of the most competitive products in the world. While some travelers from the US aren’t fans of relatively long flight times, the exquisite onboard service and comfortable seats mean that the time flies fast. Of course, you pay for this privilege, both with high cash prices and relatively limited award availability.
The value proposition somewhat worsened after covid-19, travel restrictions for which saw Cathay all but grounded for the better part of three years. Many long-haul flights have not returned, and even those that have are seeing reduced frequencies. If you’re reading this in early 2023, it may be a couple of years before the Cathay business class experience returns to something approaching normal.
Breaking Down Cathay Pacific Business Class
Cathay business class seat and entertainment
The seed that sparked my desire to write a Cathay business class review was an economy class flight a couple years back, on a brand-new A350 painted in the airline’s flawless new color scheme. Seeing the gigantic reverse herringbone seat, which was impeccable coordinated with the plane’s minimalistic cabin, made me practically thirsty to review it for myself. (Though I must say, for the record, I didn’t intend to match the plane so perfectly on my flight!)
My Cathay Pacific business class flight from Vancouver to Hong Kong was particularly enjoyable, since I had the “mini cabin” (Rows 20 and 21 on this seat map) all to myself. One of the friendly flight attendants (who asked me if I was a blogger, and got super excited when I told her I was) invited me to move up to the front cabin, but quickly agreed with me that I’d lucked out and should stay.
I took full advantage of the entertainment system on Cathay Pacific (for the record, it’s probably the best I’ve ever seen on an Asian carrier), watching the films Lady Bird and Red Sparrow and listening to an hour long Japanese lesson before settling in for one of my best sleeps in the sky ever. I was curious about Cathay’s inflight WiFi, but since I’ve come to view the sky as a sanctuary away from the internet, I didn’t end up taking advantage of it.
Cathay business class food and service
I’ve never been a huge nut person—and I’ve never understood their ubiquity on planes. Thankfully, by the time my Cathay Pacific business class meal service began, I had a fruity glass of the airline’s own “Pacific Sunrise” cocktail in my hand, and was flipping through a menu that was thoughtfully designed, both in terms of the delicious-sounding items contained in it, and the red stitching along its spine.
The meal service was surprising throughout. Cathay’s famous garlic bread, for example, was forgettable; while the Cod with Saffron Cream sounded like it would be the most delicious lunch item (to say nothing of how familiar its description rang), the seemingly pedestrian Sweet Chili Pork was the most appealing item on the cart that rolled by. (Yes Cathay serves from a cart—and no, I’m not sure how I feel about it.)
Other highlights of my meal included a raspberry mouse topped with white chocolate shavings, a burger served halfway through the flight that was better than what you find at most restaurants in Asia and a cheese plate that didn’t only include pungent European varieties I can’t stomach. Moreover, the cod dish served just before landing proved immensely more satisfying than the one at the beginning of the flight.
I felt satisfied (and full) as the plane landed, but also apprehensive: Barring an aircraft substitution, the next leg of my Cathay Pacific business class was going to pale in comparison to this one.