People sometimes have mixed feelings about the service on Cathay Pacific. Honestly, I think it’s a difference in culture and how good service is defined and perceived in the US vs. Asia. In the US, we tend to think service is exceptional when our needs are met before we ask. Drink glasses filled before being empty, help given before asked, recommendations provided just in case, etc. We value proactive vs. reactionary service and by the time we have to ask, we feel that service has already let us down because we had to ask. Well if that’s your definition of exceptional service, you will never enjoy Cathay Pacific.
Here’s their view of exceptional service. It’s to be invisible, unobtrusive, and vigilant. But they won’t proactively walk through the cabin to see if you need anything. Why? Because they don’t want to disturb you while you’re watching a movie, snacking, working, etc. To do that would be rude. To avoid that, they have a call button and expect you to use it. Unlike the US where we’re told to hit the call button only in cases of emergency, here, they expect you to use it for anything and everything. Expect the cabin attendants to refer to you by name, take pride in the food and hospitality they provide, and try to do everything possible to exceed your expectations.
This isn’t to say they won’t proactively tidy up your seat if you get up to use the restroom or stretch your legs. You won’t see them come out, but when you get back, you’ll notice everything is neatly arranged. Also, if they see you walking around, they’ll certainly ask if they can get you anything.
Of course, I will admit that I’m biased because I’ve flown Cathay first and business class before and genuinely love the product and the service. For me, it’s one of the top 5 First cabins in the sky.
As with most flights to Asia from the US, this was a really late/extremely early departure. My seat was 1A and I love the A seats because 1A and 2A basically have their “own” row. The four other suits open toward the right aisle so you get more privacy on the left side of the plane. The cabin had the old seat (first world problem I know…) and I was a little disappointed. The newer cabin has a little more storage and some extra seat functions but I admit this is nit picky and doesn’t detract from the overall comfort of the seat.
The seat is huge and if you’re travelling with someone, the footrest/jump seat has a seatbelt so you have the option of dining together. I was immediately greeted by the cabin crew servicing the first class cabin and was presented with an Aesop amenity kit along with PJs (which are beyond comfortable).
For dinner, you can start with their caviar course. It’s delightful…plain and simple. Then you can order your main course from either the Western or Eastern menu but you can also mix and match your dinner from both menus. After dinner service, the lights are dimmed as most try to get some sleep (sadly even with an opportunity to sleep, I’m rarely able to get any sleep on planes).
The rest of the flight was uneventful with the occasional request for water or a milk tea. As expected, the cabin attendant was there within seconds of me hitting the call button.
I love flying Cathay Pacific First class and I think it’s a fantastic use of Alaska Miles for a reward seat. Although space may be difficult to find, as long as you’re willing to be flexible with your departure city and/or date, you might be pleasantly surprised. Also, if you can hold off until about 2 weeks prior to departure, Cathay tends to open up more award space.