Cathay Pacific 777 Business Class Review (With Tips)
— Updated on 11 April 2024

Cathay Pacific 777 Business Class Review (With Tips)

— Updated on 11 April 2024
Randy Lai
WORDS BY
Randy Lai

A few years prior, James Want, Boss Hunting’s illustrious co-founder, penned a pretty exhaustive review of the business class offering for Cathay Dragon — the Cathay Pacific subsidiary mainly focused on affordable cross-border flights between Mainland China and the Hong Kong SAR.

In light of that, it seemed high time we add another arrow to our flight review quiver in the form of an equally thorough assessment of Cathay Pacific’s business class offering — more specifically the service which runs, multiple times daily, between Sydney and Hong Kong.

RELATED: Cathay Pacific Will Re-Open All Of Its Hong Kong Airport Lounges By Mid-2023

Once considered the doyenne of East Asian commercial airlines (by both popular vote and critical rankings like Skytrax) it’s no secret that Cathay Pacific has had a couple of extremely beleaguered years.

In no particular order: there was the grounding of 70% of the airline’s passenger fleet during the pandemic; a high-profile restructuring that eventually led to the redundancy of 6,000 staff; and, most recently, an incident involving the carrier’s Chengdu-to-Hong Kong service that has been going viral on Chinese social media.

Pictured: A cheeky pre-pushback snap of the long-serving (yet well-maintained) Cirrus reverse herringbone seat you’ll find on the Boeing 777s that Cathay operates on its SYD-HKG service. (Image Credit: @styleternity / Instagram)

Ultimately, despite these phantom pains from the COVID era, it was a genuine pleasure (especially on the inbound daytime leg) to get reacquainted with Cathay Pacific’s tried and true business class offering.

To be sure, the hard product isn’t quite the class leader that it used to be 10 years ago; but after adopting a more holistic approach to this review, I hope it’ll be apparent to BH readers that a number of other attendant factors (the Hong Kong lounges are a big one!) go a good way toward remedying this.


Cathay Pacific Business Class (777) – Table Of Contents


On The Ground

Checking In

Much akin to my colleague Garry’s review of the United Airlines Polaris offering, a few quick words about the pre-check-in phase of this Cathay Pacific business class review are warranted.

As with the vast majority of commercial airlines that operate under the Oneworld umbrella, Cathay offers a dedicated travel app (for iOS/Android) from which you can book, manage, and ultimately check in to your flights.

Not exactly groundbreaking stuff, we know: but the ability to preselect a seat and download your boarding pass (directly to one’s smartphone) is crucial — especially for time-poor globetrotters who abhor small talk at the service counter — or the phrase “check-in baggage”.

Pro Tip: When flying out of Hong Kong on a Cathay/CX-operated flight, do make use of the carrier’s “in-town check-in” facility. This allows you to drop your bags off, up to 24 hours before flying, at Hong Kong MTR station (between 6am-3pm daily).

I recommend using the resulting free time you have on-hand to put our Hong Kong Insider’s Travel Guide to good use.

The Lounge(s)

‘The Pier’ at HKIA (Terminal 1, Gate 65) remains an absolute showstopper – easily the best business (and first) class lounge in Southeast Asia, if not globally.

Far and away the biggest appeal of arriving at HKIA early is so you can make use of Cathay Pacific’s uniformly excellent business class lounges (or first if you hold the coveted Oneworld Emerald status).

Frequent flyers differ on which one of the airline’s business class lounges at home base is best overall; although I’d wager the vast majority will namedrop The Pier as their preferred option.

Cathay’s largest business class lounge by far — designed by British architect Ilse Crawford and inspired by “seminal Hong Kong experiences” — The Pier has essentially everything you’ll need to unwind prior to departure: including a trio of F&B destinations; generously sized shower suites; locker storage; views onto the jetway; and even a dedicated yoga studio.

The latest in Cathay’s stable of award-winning business class lounges, ‘The Deck’ offers a balance of stylish views and substantial dining options.

Needless to say, whenever I’m flying out of HKIA with Cathay, I make it a priority to clock a few hours of R&R at The Pier. Depending on the number of your boarding gate, we also thoroughly recommend a visit to the following:

  • The Wing, Business Class — Terminal 1, Gate 2 [Best view]
  • The Deck, Business Class — Terminal 1, Gate 6 [Newest opening]
  • The Wing, First Class — Terminal 1, Gate 1-4 [Most relaxing]
  • The Pier, First Class — Terminal 1, Gate 63 [Best F&B]

Up In The Air

The Seat

Cathay Pacific business class review
The signature ‘Cirrus’ reverse herringbone seat that you’ll see aboard Boeing 777 and Airbus A350 aircraft operated by Cathay Pacific.

For the purposes of this review, I flew both the inbound and outbound legs of my journey aboard one of Cathay’s Boeing widebody 777-300ER aircraft. Among the longest-serving flagships in the entire passenger fleet, there are 53 business class seats to choose from — all capable of going completely lie-flat — staggered in a 1-2-1 ‘reverse herringbone’ configuration.

Pro Tip: When flying solo, shoot for selected window seating in either of the lanes marked ‘A’ or ‘K’ (row 11 for quiet; row 17 if you enjoy sitting over the wing). The angle and peripheral design of Cathay Pacific’s business class seat ensure you have a great view; with minimal compromises as to personal privacy.

Despite the absence of certain cutting-edge bells & whistles fielded by regional competitors (ANA’s room-like sliding door comes to mind) this configuration of the Cirrus seat is still the high watermark for reverse herringbone business class cabins everywhere.

The angled orientation and fixed ottoman footrest provide ample space to recline in; whereas the cumulative effect of small details (e.g. the height-adjustable armrest and ‘winged’ exterior shell) is to provide plenty of privacy. Even seated upright in the take-off position, you really have to lean into the aisle for a good sticky-beak at other passengers.

The angular and integrated nature of the Cirrus seat also means there are storage solutions aplenty; with two underfoot compartments (ideal for footwear or a small day bag) and a cubby at eye-level, which is also where you’ll find headphones and your complimentary amenities kit.

Pre-2020, Cathay had been supplied with “natural skincare” products by premium British label Bamford; and it’s great to see this association continued through a range of lip balm, hand cream and facial mists.

Sleep

Aside from in-flight amenities, Bamford also supplies Cathay Pacific with all of its business class linen and bedding. On long-haul services, this consists of a large pillow, blanket, and 400-thread-count mattress topper — sadly, no pyjamas — all of which I was able to put to good use for a solid 4.5 hours of this review.

In conjunction with the 777-300ER’s spacious cabin ceilings, the pitch and layout of the Cirrus seat make sleep an easy (frankly even inviting) proposition — something I was especially grateful for on my red-eye back to Sydney.

RELATED: A Hong Kong Mezcal Den Has Been Crowned ‘Best Bar In Asia’ For The 3rd Year In A Row

Food & Drink

Long one of the most critiqued elements in Cathay’s soft product offering, the quality of in-flight dining varied between the inbound and outbound legs of my journey.

Flying out of Sydney; things got off to a rocky start. Pre-takeoff Champers came out tepid; the lunch service felt positively frenetic — to the extent that my attendant forgot to inquire which of two provided starters I actually preferred — while an inordinate delay seemed to go by between the arrival of mains and our dessert.

Pictured: Duddell’s beef ribs braised in port wine one of the signature mains available aboard Cathay Pacific business class flights in 2024.

Blessedly, my confidence was substantially restored during the outbound journey: precisely because Cathay has a good deal more control over catering supplies whenever operating services out of its home turf of HKIA.

On this particular flight, the various dinnertime offerings, such as beef ribs braised in red wine or “mouthwatering” chicken, had been designed for the airline by Duddell’s JIA Group’s swanky Chinese fine diner in Central and there was a marked improvement in how punctually and meticulously these dishes were served.

Cathay began working with Duddell’s on its in-flight food menus in early 2023, and judging by broad reception to the latter’s offering (which is focused around authentic ‘Hong Kong flavours’) it’s unsurprising to me that this partnership has been extended.

Pictured: Obsiblue prawns in consommé, from the ‘French Classics’ menu being served on a number of select Cathay Pacific first class flights.

The success of ‘Hong Kong flavours’ has even compelled Cathay’s customer experience team to tap Louise (another Michelin-starred eatery in the JIA Group portfolio) for a run of 16 classic French dishes to be rolled out across selected first & business class cabins throughout 2024.

Pro Tip: On, overnight flights, Cathay continues to offer the “room service-style” breakfast card they introduced as part of their business class-wide dining overhaul back in 2019.

Looking to maximise your shut eye? Simply fill in the card — there are three styles of brekky available — and hang it on the coat hook in front of your seat.

Entertainment

Cathay Pacific’s IFE programming comes fully loaded with the latest in Hollywood and Hong Kong cinema, in addition to a selection of thematically curated content from the likes of HBO and A24. (Image Credit: @styleternity / Instagram)

In comparison to the uneven in-flight dining experience, Cathay remains a top-shelf carrier when it comes to the matter of in-flight entertainment.

Since the airline began reopening the majority of its service corridors at the start of 2023, it has quadrupled the size/variety of its IFE offering onboard long-range 777 and A350 aircraft. As such, there’s a really generous spread of content to watch, play, and stream into your headphones; with everything from new Hollywood blockbusters to the latest in Hong Kong/Chinese cinema at your fingertips.

One aspect of the IFE experience I’ve always thought Cathay does especially well is its thematic programming: rather than just wedging all entertainment into broad-brush categories (e.g. ‘Western’; ‘new releases; ‘global cinema’) much of the in-flight film & tv is more thoughtfully organised.

That means you can quickly cycle through to a comprehensive library of new HBO Max boxsets or take a run at the catalogue of a specific movie studio à la A24.

Service

Prior to embarking on the inbound leg of this review, I’d had a lot of trepidation about the quality of service aboard Cathay’s medium-haul business class product. That is largely attributed to negative one-off anecdotes from friends and colleagues (including a number of veteran lifestyle journos who spend most of their time writing and thinking about the aviation industry).

All things considered, my experience proved more or less consistent with previous sojourns into CX-badged business class cabins. In the best tradition of Hongkongers, the crew assigned to look after us were polite and efficient; though the cliché criticism that they’re lacking in the warmth/easy charm of Singapore Airlines (Cathay’s biggest source of regional competition) remains valid.

An important caveat to bear in mind is that the airline is currently still operating at below 70% of its pre-pandemic capacity. Considering the welcome news Cathay’s management team delivered to shareholders earlier this month they just posted their best H1 profits in over a decade my money is on a return to form for cabin service quality in the new year.


Verdict

When one stops to acknowledge that Cathay Pacific has essentially been fielding multiple iterations of the same business class product for over a decade; this puts its longevity and robust fundamental appeal into perspective.

The Cirrus seat you’ll find aboard the Hong Kong flag carrier’s 777 and A350 metal certainly isn’t the swankiest in the skies; but even in years gone by, the Cathay Pacific business class offering was very much a “sum of all parts” type affair.

To wit: the lounges at HKIA (all now officially reopened) remain as swish as ever; the amenities and bedding ensure you a good night’s rest up in the air; and if you’re intent on getting the best spread of flight availability in and out of the +852, this remains your most convenient option.

RELATED: New Cathay Pacific Aria Business Class Embraces ‘Quiet Luxury’ Trend

In light of the exciting announcement that Cathay will begin phasing in its new ‘Aria’ business class seats starting in Q2, 2024 this review may well be among the last you read about a product that’s due for retirement. And a well-earned one, we’d say.


Cathay Pacific flies daily, from Sydney and Melbourne, to Hong Kong. Flights from Perth and Brisbane operate three to four times per week. For a full, up-to-date flight schedule, visit the Cathay website below.


Now that you’re all sorted for flights, consider checking out some of our other Hong Kong centric travel stories — to help you make the most of your time on the ground:

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Randy Lai
WORDS by
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].