TRAVELS WITH NINA

is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

FLIGHT TEST, CATHAY PACIFIC BUSINESS CLASS: SMH TRAVELLER
The image is property of Fairfax Media

THE ROUTE
Sydney to Hong Kong.

 

THE PLANE
Airbus A330-300.

 

THE LOYALTY SCHEME
The Marco Polo Club. Members are automatically enrolled as Asia Miles members, too.

 

CLASS
Business class. I’m in aisle seat 18G.

 

DURATION
Nine hours and 20 minutes. We take off 20 minutes late but make it up in the air.

 

FREQUENCY
Cathay Pacific flies four times daily from Sydney to Hong Kong.

 

THE SEAT
There are 39 seats in business class spread out in a 2-2 configuration over 10 rows, with a width of 20.2 inches (51 centimetres), which recline to a luxurious 82-inch (two metre)  flat bed. Each seat has a 15.4-inch (39 centimetres) touch-screen TV, a 110V AC power port and USB port, plus a side cabinet for storing your headset and valuables that doubles as a privacy screen.

 

BAGGAGE
30 kilograms for business class passengers; 10 kilograms for hand luggage.

 

ENTERTAINMENT
100 movies, 500 TV shows, 70 games, over 800 CDs and 22 radio channels are offered. There are also audiobooks, but I go for Maleficent and The Fault in Our Stars. The latter has me blubbering, so much so that the kind man across the aisle offers me tissues. Perhaps he should have been using the cushioned noise cancelling headsets on offer.

 

COMFORT
With quilted doonas, the conversion of seat to bed, and an Agnes B kit including sleep mask, socks and Jurlique products (also in the bathrooms), I sleep for a few hours despite trying not too. I don’t dare ask but … can an airline seat be too comfortable?

 

SERVICE
The service is professional and friendly, although sometimes a little too friendly. I’m engrossed in a film when the attendant stops to ask me where I’m from. I remove my headphones to answer, smile politely and put them back on so I don’t miss too much of the film, but she continues to talk. Sigh.

 

FOOD
Meals are a rather posh affair, served with warm scented hand towels and white cloth napkins, Evian water, Deutz sparkling as well as a selection of international wines. This all helps to make it feel like an occasion rather than the usual feeding time at the zoo. For this vegetarian, the two-course breakfast includes fresh fruit and tiny croissants with jam, followed by baked beans, braised spinach and tomatoes. For lunch it’s dolmades with salad and beans, fettuccine with vegetables in passata sauce and a bread roll, finished off with a selection of cheeses and fruits, and a chocolate mousse cake with raspberry coulis. None of it is a revelation. My travelling companions, however, tell me the temptingly fragrant “signature Chinese” dishes they were served, including prawn wontons in noodle soup and dim sum with chilli sauce, were delectable.

 

ONE MORE THING
If you’re using Hong Kong as a stepping stone to get to China, Cathay is a good choice since its sister airline, Dragonair, has extensive coverage in mainland China. Cathay was named the world’s best airline at the 2014 Skytrax World Airline Awards.

 

THE VERDICT
For the first time in my life, I don’t want to get off the plane. Good food and entertainment under a doona in bed? Like an indulgent Sunday, but with service thrown in.

Tested by Nina Karnikowski, who flew courtesy of Cathay Pacific.

 

READ MY GUIDE TO WHAT’S NEW IN HONG KONG HERE

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