Whether it’s in the air or on the ground, Cathay Pacific knows how to cater for business passengers when it comes to a life well-traveled.
On the ground
The airline has just opened its newest lounge, The Deck, at Hong Kong International Airport and like the airline’s other lounges it pays detailed attention to design and fittings in a bid to offer an oasis of calm amid the airport frenzy.
This extends from the design of the furniture to the acoustics and even the wavelength of the light.
Dining at The Deck includes Cathay’s signature The Noodle Bar offering local classics such as wonton noodles in broth, fish ball noodles and a variety of dim sum.
The Main Lounge provides a range of self-service international offerings and passengers can relax in The Terrace and take in view of the airport’s apron, taxiways, and northern runway.
The 823 sq. m lounge offers seating for 180 passengers, joins Cathay Pacific’s other lounges at HKIA, including The Bridge, The Pier Business and First Class lounges, The Wing Business and First Class lounges and The Arrival.
The Pier, Business
The biggest of these is The Pier, Business Class, at 3,306 square meters with seating for about 550 people.
The lounge was designed by London-based Studioilse and aims to emulate a Hong Kong street with fast and slow lanes that allow passengers to use it at their own pace.
The airline’s push to get passengers into the right mindset begins as they walk through the door and smell a signature scent that includes ingredients such as jasmine and bamboo.
The idea is to get customers to recognize Cathay spaces through smell and sight, as well as to help them relax. The Business lounge is designed in such a way that it moves from a higher-energy zone through a series of themed spaces to a low-energy relaxation area.
It begins with a food hall aimed at travelers with the least amount of transit time and gives them options such as a barista-staffed coffee cart, self-service kiosks and fresh food such as sandwiches, cold cuts, and salads.
The “Life Well Travelled” philosophy extends to all Cathay’s lounges worldwide and major refresh saw new lounges opened in London, Singapore, Bangkok, Tokyo, Haneda, Manila, Taipei and Vancouver in 2016-17.
In the air – Cathay Pacific’s new A350
The attention to detail extends into the sky and is typified by the airline’s state-of-the-art A350 fleet. This is a plane that’s 25 percent more efficient than other leading aircraft and its graceful wings are designed to change shape to boost aerodynamic efficiency.
It is also capable of smoother and quieter take-offs and landings.
Cathay will have 22 A350-900s in service by the end this year. The first of 20 bigger A350-1000s will be delivered mid-2018 with Washington, DC, the first announced route.
The overwhelming initial impression when walking on to a Cathay A350 is one of space as the vertical walls and larger windows make the 280-seat plane, already touted as the widest in its class, seem even bigger than it is.
The outsize luggage bins lining the side of the cabin are big enough to take roller bags on their side, meaning plenty of overhead storage, and the 1-2-1 configuration in Business Class means everyone gets aisle access from the 38 thoughtfully-designed Business Class seats.
The Studio F.A. Porsche-designed seats are based on the airline’s existing offering but offer a slew of refinements. There’s more padding, more in-seat storage, redesigned controls and a stunning 18.5-inch high definition touchscreen that uses the latest software to emulate a tablet.
Shoes can be happily stowed under the ottoman and there’s a compartment to one side that can take a laptop and documents while the cabinet in which the noise-canceling headphones are stored now also contains power and USB ports and also has room for spectacles and a phone.
The water bottle is out of the way in a “hidden’’ compartment in the retractable armrest while the easy-to-use seat controls and dimmable reading light are on the side of the seat with a touchscreen video handset that can play content independently from the entertainment system.
Privacy is a big factor in this design and you are not really aware of your fellow travelers. The other thing of which you’re not really aware is noise: there isn’t much.
Airbus says the cabin is 50 percent quieter than older aircraft in terms of perceived noise — think top deck of an Airbus A380 — and this is one space where you can hear yourself think. The lower cabin altitude of 6,000ft, compared to as much as 8000ft in some other planes, helps fight jetlag and is a nice plus on long-range routes to Europe.
The seat is comfortable and a great design for people who sleep on their sides which, according to airline’s research, is more than half of us. The 75 -inch (190cm) long lie-flat bed slots snugly in with the padded area on top of the laptop stowage to provide a swathe of space at knee level and allow side sleepers to curl up comfortably. Simple, intuitive controls make setting up the bed a breeze.
The responsive touch screen is razor sharp and Panasonic’s user-friendly interface makes it easy to navigate. In addition to a good choice of films and music, the A350’s system included 3-D maps, views outside the plane, e-zines, and live satellite news feeds from the likes of CNN and the BBC.
There’s also broadband Wi-Fi for those who want to stay connected and this will also be available on the airline’s A330 and B77 fleets from mid-2018.
Added to this Cathay’s award-winning wines and beverages, renowned service and an in-flight catering experience that includes healthy options.
Premium Economy Class is more like a regional Business Class and offers a generous recline extended legroom, a pop-up footrest, in-seat-power, a bigger in-flight entertainment screen and a supported headrest
The cabin is in a 2-3-2 configuration as opposed to the 2-4-2 arrangement employed by many airlines.
There are dedicated check-in counters at selected airports and an increased baggage allowance of 35kgs (77lbs.) for most flights.
A Premium Class cabin service includes a welcome drink on long-haul flights and regular snacks and drinks throughout the flight as well as an environmentally-friendly amenities kit.
A larger meal table makes working and dining easier and there’s storage space for personal items.
On the A350, new seats have a full-length leg rest, a retractable armrest and a personal reading light.
This story is sponsored content