Tag Archives: business class

Review: Cathay Pacific Business Class HKG to SFO

Although I’d flown Cathay Pacific long-haul multiple times, this was actually my first time flying them long-haul in business class.

My initial impressions of the cabin were not great. The cabin did not seem to be adequately cleaned before the flight, and some things seemed to be falling apart. Part of the armrest was coming off (and you could see wood underneath), there was a napkin left at my seat, there were stains, etc. It seemed like the plane needed a little love.

Business class seat

Business class mini cabin

Foot space and IFE screen

Controls and storage

Tape fixes all

I was seated in the mini-cabin right behind first class. This is just two rows of business class, so it feels pretty intimate and private. The bulkhead also has additional foot space since it’s the bulkhead. There was a pillow, blanket, and headphones already at the seat, and the flight attendants came around offering pre-departure beverages.

View into first class

In spite of my quibbles about the cleanliness of the cabin, it’s still an awesome hard product. There’s space to put things under the ottoman, there’s a shoe compartment, storage on the side, counter space, etc. The seat goes lie flat and has good privacy, and it feels plenty wide.

Business class bathroom amenities

This flight was catered as supper, snack on demand, and then breakfast prior to arrival. I’m not sure why they serve breakfast prior to arrival as the flight lands at 8pm. While the more typical lunch and dinner menus often have one vegetarian option, there was very little vegetarian food on this menu, so make sure to order a special meal if you’re a vegetarian on a supper flight.

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Business class amenity kit

For my supper meal, I had pre-ordered a Jain vegetarian meal. The VJML supper consisted of a cold, spicy chickpea salad, fruit, rice, lentils, okra, and green beans. Pretty decent for a special meal.

VJML supper

After supper, I slept for about five hours. The seat was super comfortable, and the blanket was large and not too hot.

Breakfast was served prior to arrival. I started out with fruit and bread. One thing I noticed was that the VJML fruit plate was different from the fruit plates that other people were getting–not entirely sure why since fruit is obviously vegan.

Fruit plate

After fruit and bread, people were offered cereals and yogurt.

Granola

For my VJML entree, it was a main of Indian breakfast items. I honestly can’t believe it was meant to be served as I received it, since there was very, very little curry in the container. It looked like the curry had spilled out of the container, but there was nothing to replace it, so it was mostly just white carbs.

VJML breakfast

Overall, I was a little bit disappointed by this flight. While Cathay Pacific has a great hard product and can sometimes have amazing service, the service on this flight wasn’t very good. The service felt cold, I wasn’t welcomed on board, I was never addressed by name, etc. Heck, I’ve been addressed by name flying economy class on Qatar (and on Cathay for that matter).

Review: Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class Boeing 777 DPS to HKG

Boarding for this flight was a bit of a mess. The stated boarding time for the flight was 3:25pm, but they didn’t start boarding until around 3:45pm, and there were no announcements about anything being delayed. In addition, the terminal at DPS isn’t super well air conditioned at some of the gates, so some of the passengers were getting pretty testy…

Because of the late boarding, the business class cabin was mobbed quickly. It’s a 2-3-2 configuration for regional business class on this Boeing 777. The seats are perfectly comfortable, but for a flight that can approach 5 hours, it’d be nice to have something lie flat for sleeping.

Business class cabin

Business class seats

IFE screen and foot area

Seat controls and storage

There were pillows and headphones at the seat, and then they came around offering blankets, pre-departure beverages, and hot towels. I’m not really sure who wants hot towels leaving Bali, so I asked for a cold towel, and they offered me a not-hot (but not cold) towel a few minutes later.

The IFE screen for these seats is a little small and blurry. There’s a USB port and electrical outlet for charging devices. There’s limited storage at these seats: there’s not really any underseat storage, but there is a small slim pocket in the center between seats.

Menu

Menu

Menu

After takeoff, they offered drinks and mixed nuts to start. Then came the meal service. For my Jain vegetarian special meal, the starter was some sort of cold bean puree with black eyed peas on top. It reminded me a little bit of hummus, and was a large step up from plain cold vegetables that are usually served as vegetarian special meal appetizers.

VJML appetizer

For my main, I had chickpea curry, rice, spinach, peas, and cabbage. This was pretty delicious.

VJML entree

Finally, I had a fruit plate to finish off the meal.

Fruit plate

Overall, this was a pretty good VJML. The service was not particularly personable, but it was very efficient. There were Jurlique products in the bathroom, but no amenities were offered.

Review: Malaysia Airlines Business Class A330-300 KUL to DPS

At KUL, departing and arriving passengers are mixed together, and there’s security at each gate. For this flight, there was only metal detector going for an entire A330, so we were actually delayed because people were still trying to get through security instead of boarding.

The flight was originally scheduled to be a 737, but there was an aircraft swap, which meant fully flat seats on this relatively short flight to DPS. I sat in 1A this time, which is a single seat closer to the aisle. The foot cutout in the bulkhead is enormous compared to the throne seats, so even though the seat feels a little exposed to the aisle and doesn’t have as much counter space, I think I would prefer 1A to any of the throne seats in the future.

Foot space for 1A

Seat controls and storage compartment

Storage compartment

View across cabin

A pre-departure beverage of juice or water was offered, and they distributed cold towels and newspapers. The IFE selection was the same as on my longer flight from PEK, but the headphones were much worse quality on this flight.

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

The flight was pretty turbulent after takeoff. I was actually a little worried about the flight attendants because they were trying to serve people drinks at the time, and my drink at my seat spilled a bunch. But eventually, the turbulence stopped and they were able to do a meal service. For this flight, the Asian vegetarian meal was a lentil curry with carbs in two forms. It was definitely better than the Asian vegetarian meal I had on the previous sector.

Asian vegetarian meal

Overall, it was a nice little treat to get to fly on an A330-300 on this flight to Bali instead of a Boeing 737-800, and the food was better on this flight than on the flight from PEK to KUL.

Review: Malaysia Airlines Business Class A330-300 PEK to KUL

I’ve flown Malaysia Airlines business class in the past, but this was a renovated business class cabin, so it was a huge improvement over the past hard product that I’ve flown.

Malaysia Airlines A330

Instead of angled-flat seats, these are forward-facing fully-flat seats in an alternating 1-2-1 and 1-2-2 configuration. For this flight, I was seated in 6K, which is one of the throne seats on the side. The cabin skips row 3 for some reason, but the throne seats are 1K, 4K, and 6K, while 2A, 5A, and 7A are the single seats that are closer to the window.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

The throne seats have tons of counter space on both sides. There’s are also storage spaces on both sides of the seat. The seat itself is comfortable, but the foot cubby is super small. I probably would select a non-throne seat in the future. One slight novelty is that the seatbelts had shoulder straps. There were also air vents on this plane.

Bulkhead at 1K

My seat, 6K

Seat controls, IFE controls, and some storage

Tight foothole

There was a pillow, blanket, and headphones already at the seat. The headphones were not noise cancelling. IFE was started on the ground, and the selection was pretty decent, but there were ads played before every movie. Before departure, a flight attendant came around offering juice or water, and then hot towels and newspapers were distributed.

After takeoff, packets of unsalted mixed nuts were distributed, and then they came around with a satay cart. I had pre-ordered an Asian Vegetarian meal, and the AVML satay was just vegetable skewers (one uncooked, one grilled). There was no satay sauce to accompany these skewers. The satay service was the only after takeoff meal. Once they were done distributing the satay, that was it.

On this flight, there weren’t any amenity kits, no pajamas, and there were no menus. They also gave no indication that the satay service was the only meal service after takeoff. They also didn’t turn off the cabin lights even though everyone was sleeping. It was a bit strange.

Vegetable satay

I’m not a large person, but I did feel like the seat was pretty narrow. Just lying down on my back, my arms touched the sides of the seat. I think the throne seats may feel slightly narrower because they are enclosed on both sides.

I was woken up for breakfast two hours prior to landing, even though I wasn’t asked if I wanted to be woken up. For the pre-arrival AVML, I had a fruit plate and pastry to start (the thing in the corner is some sort of jello dessert). The fruit plate was pretty good.

Asian Vegetarian meal

The entree for the Asian Vegetarian meal was some sort of croquette with marinara sauce and paneer and pepper skewers. This was fine.

Asian vegetarian meal

Overall, the hard product on this flight was vastly improved from MH’s previous business class on the A330, but the soft product left a lot to be desired. Like I don’t understand why there weren’t menus, I wish flight attendants had asked if you wanted to be woken up for breakfast, I wish the flight attendants made it easier to sleep (e.g., by turning off the cabin lights), etc.

Review: Japan Airlines (JAL) Business Class Boeing 737-800 NRT to PEK

Regional business class on Japan Airlines usually isn’t too exciting. There were three rows of business class in a 2-2 configuration of large recliner seats. The seats were comfortable with plenty of pitch. The seats themselves looked newly reupholstered, but the rest of the plane seemed a little old. (Apologies for the poor quality photos in this post, but my camera went kaput on this trip)

Business class seat

Plenty of leg room

Seat controls

The IFE system was in the center console, with a tray table in the other armrest. There were slippers, headphones, immigration forms for China, menus, and a blanket at the seat already. The headphones were not great, and the blanket was thin and similar to what you’d get on a domestic US flight. There were also air vents on the plane, which was nice.

IFE screen

Food menu

Drink menu

After takeoff, the flight attendants handed out some packaged snacks and drinks prior to the meals service. Natto can be an… acquired taste, but I found the dry natto snack to be pretty tasty!

Drink and packaged snacks

For my meal, I had pre-ordered a special VJML meal (vegetarian Jain meal). This was not very good. There were some cold vegetables and mushrooms as an appetizer and then rice, cauliflower, and eggplant as a main. It’s particularly disappointing since I think JAL’s typical catering is usually quite good, but their special meal catering seems to be pretty subpar.

VJML

After the meal service, I napped for about 1.5 hours. The recline on these seats is actually quite generous, although I probably wouldn’t want to do a red-eye in them.

Overall, JAL regional business class isn’t too exciting. It’s maybe a step up from domestic US business class.

Review: Japan Airlines (JAL) Business Class Boeing 777-300ER LAX to NRT

I’d flown on JAL’s Boeing 777-300ER a couple of times in first class, but this was my first time flying this plane in business class. Overall, it’s a great product hard product for business class.

My connecting flight to this flight was delayed, so my 1h 40m layover turned into a 40m layover, and I needed to get from Terminal 6 to TBIT at LAX. I was ready to sprint off the plane at LAX, but when I get off the jet bridge, there was a JAL representative waiting for me. We ran together from Terminal 6 to Terminal 5 underground, and then we got a buggy to take us from Terminal 5 to Terminal 4, and then we ran through Terminal 4 to get to the TBIT airside connector, at which point we walked to the gate, all in time for boarding to start. I felt bad for the JAL representative who had to run so far with me.

Business class is in a 2-3-2 configuration, which sounds like it should be a tight squeeze, but the seats are awesome. There’s a ton of privacy for the window seats (and middle seats in the center) once the privacy partitions go up, and you get three windows at the window seats. I also love the fact that your feet/legs aren’t constrained at all, like they are on many forward-facing business class seats (and some reverse herringbone seats).

Business class cabin

Business class seat (headphones and slippers on seat already)

Aisle seat

View across cabin

IFE screen and ottoman

One thing that I appreciate about JAL is their seat guides. They’re helpful in figuring out all of the hidden features of the seat. There isn’t a ton of storage for these seats except under the ottoman, which is probably my only fault of these seats (and, well, maybe the lack of air vents).

Guide explaing the seat

I also appreciate that they give out slippers. Slippers are one of my favorite airplane amenities. The headphones could be more comfortable, but they were at least nominally noise-canceling. The pillow and blanket were decidedly mediocre, though. One design feature that I appreciate is that the dining tray swivels so you can get in and out of your seat during meal service without having to clean everything up.

Amenity kit, slippers, headphones

The IFE screen is quite large at 23 inches and had good picture quality. If you’re disappointed by the selection of American films, I might recommend checking out the subtitled Japanese films and TV shows. I love the show, “Why did you come to Japan”, which I essentially only ever watch when flying JAL.

IFE controller

Menu

Menu

Menu

I had pre-ordered a VJML or a Jain vegetarian meal. The amuse bouche was hummus and vegetables, which was pretty tasty! So much better than just plain cold vegetables.

Hummus and vegetables

The VJML appetizer was a salad of fennel, cucumber, peppers stuffed with mushroom, and asparagus. This was okay if you like these things.

Fennel, cucumber, pepper stuffed with mushroom, asparagus

The main was lentils, okra, and rice. This was spicy, but otherwise had little flavor. I think that JAL generally has some of the best food in the sky, but their special meals aren’t very good.

Lentils, okra, rice

After dinner, I put the seat in bed mode. If the seat were a bit wider and had better bedding, it would be like a first class seat.

Seat in lie-flat position

During the flight, the flight attendants set up some Japanese snacks, chocolates, and wine in the galley.

Snack display

There’s no set second meal service. Everything is on demand, and you can usually order things through the handheld IFE controller. First up, I had the ramen. This was really delicious. Probably the best vegetarian ramen I’ve ever had. Super flavorful, tasty mushrooms, and the noodles weren’t overcooked (impressive on a plane!).

JAL Original Healthy Ramen Noodles from Kyusyu “Kyushu Jangara”

I also had the vegetable curry. This was mostly chickpeas and onions. Also very tasty, but it’s unclear to me if this is actually vegetarian, even though it was described as a vegetable curry.

JAL Original Vegetable Curry

Finally, I had my catered special meal. There was both a snack in the form of a sandwich of cucumber, tomato, and basil, as well as a hot meal of chickpeas, okra, and rice. The ramen and curry were much tastier than this special meal.

More chickpeas, okra, and rice, as well as sandwich of cucumber, tomato, and basil

Overall, this was a good flight. It’s a great hard product, and I think JAL has some of the tastiest food in the sky (albeit the special meals are not great). English proficiency wasn’t great on this flight, but there weren’t any faults to the service.

Lounge Review: Etihad Airways Premium Lounge Abu Dhabi Airport (AUH)

My first stop during my transit of Abu Dhabi airport was the Etihad Premium Lounge. This lounge is open to business class passengers flying on Etihad.

Entrance to Etihad Premium Lounge

The lounge has all of the typical amenities of a business class lounge: plenty of seating, a business center, dining area, and bar. In addition, there are also some more novel amenities like a spa (that you have to pay for). The lounge is quite large, so there are plenty of places to sit.

Business area

Six Senses Spa

Sofa seating

Lounge seating

Dining area

Although the lounge isn’t the fanciest business class lounge I’ve been in (that would probably be Cathay Pacific’s Pier or maybe Emirates’ Business Class lounge), I was pretty impressed by the extensive food options in this lounge. The food options just seemed to go on and on. There’s everything from sushi to pandan jelly, so you’re bound to find something that appeals to you.

Sushi

Olives and pickles

Hot food

Hot food

Salads and mezze

Bakery items

Butter

Cheese, yogurt

Salads

Hot food

Bar

Dessert

Dessert

Dessert

Fruit

Dessert

Dessert

Sandwiches

Overall, it’s a solid business class lounge with quite extensive food options.

Flight Review: Royal Jordanian Crown Class (Business) A330 from BKK to CAN

Royal Jordanian has interesting fifth freedom flights out of Bangkok to HKG, CAN, and KUL. This time, I was flying their route from BKK to CAN in Crown Class (what they call their business class product).

Royal Jordanian A330 at BKK

My first impressions of the cabin were not great. The cabin looked old and tired, and the seats were quite worn down. I was originally assigned seat 2K, but there was something wrong with the arm rest of the seat, so a flight attendant asked me to switch to seat 1K.

Business class cabin

Seat 1K

View across the cabin

Things were not holding together…

Seat controls

In flight entertainment screen

In business class, there ended up being 5 passengers. The cabin had 4 rows of seating in a 2-2-2 configuration.

I was offered a pre-departure beverage of water, orange juice, or apple juice, and then I was given a menu and wine list, headphones (noise-canceling), and offered some Arabic coffee (although no dates). Just based on the way the female flight attendant offered me the menu, I knew that she’d be great.

Wine list

Food menu

There was a pillow and blanket at every seat. The pillow was large and fluffy, and the blanket was light. The seat was actually pretty comfortable for lounging, and there was plenty of legroom, but it just looked a bit old and worn. No real complaints for a short hop to Guangzhou.

The flight time to Guangzhou was 2 hours and 45 minutes. I had pre-ordered a special meal, and the flight attendants noted that it was on the manifest (and on my boarding pass), but for whatever reason, my special meal wasn’t catered. When the flight attendants found out about this mistake, they were super apologetic and tried their best to figure out something that would work. They even offered me things from their crew meals, but I told them it really wasn’t necessary (I was pretty full from grazing in three different lounges at BKK).

I ended up receiving the noodles and stir-fried vegetables that came on the side of the fish entree. The food wasn’t great (the salad appeared to be served without dressing, the bread was bad, the noodles were quite salty, dessert was fine), but I wasn’t very hungry.

Appetizer, dessert, salad, bread

Make-shift entree

After a few bites of the meal, I ended up reclining my seat and taking a short nap. The bed is angled flat, and it was actually pretty comfortable. It reminded me of American Airline’s old “next generation business class” seat, which I’ve slept in just fine. Obviously, there are much better business class seats out there, but this wasn’t bad for a short flight.

Seat fully reclined

Seat fully reclined

Overall, Royal Jordanian wouldn’t be my first choice, but I’d be happy to fly them again. The best part of the flight was the service from the female flight attendants.

Flight Review: Cathay Dragon Business Class HKG to PEN

My final destination for this trip was Penang, Malaysia, so I connected to Dragonair (now called Cathay Dragon) in Hong Kong.

Plane to Penang

The business class cabin was completely full for this flight, and I think the economy class cabin was almost completely full as well. This was a flight with a regional business class configuration, so nothing fancy, but the seat is pretty comfortable with good legroom. This isn’t a good seat for sleeping, though, since it doesn’t recline that much.

Business class cabin

Business class seat

Seat back entertainment and leg room

Business class cabin

They were serving pre-departure beverages of water, fresh orange juice, or a cocktail of passionfruit and gin. There were already headphones at every seat. Instead of a wet towel, they provided antiseptic packaged towels.

Now, it had been a couple of years since I had last flown Dragonair before this flight, and one of the things that I remembered loving about Dragonair was the canned Hong Kong style milk tea that they had. Unfortunately, they no longer carried the drink.

Menu

Menu

Menu

I had pre-ordered a special VJML (Jain vegetarian meal) for this flight. The starter consisted of cold chickpeas, peas, and kidney beans. They were served plain, which was fine, since I was happy that there was at least some protein in the vegetarian meal.

VJML starter

My seat mate had the typical starter of smoked duck breast, and graciously allowed me to photograph his meal.

Smoked duck breast starter

For the VJML entree, it was a pretty tasty combo of lentil curry, rice, and peas and cauliflower.

VJML entree

My seat mate had the angel hair pasta with mixed seafood in a cream sauce and vegetables, and he seemed to enjoy it.

Mixed seafood and pasta

Overall, I think I’ve had better special meal catering on Dragonair than Cathay Pacific, but the regional business class product is largely identical. I think there are small differences like the fact that Cathay Pacific uses hot towels while Cathay Dragon uses the packaged towel wipes, and you unfortunately can’t add Cathay Dragon on an Alaska award, but otherwise, they’re pretty darn similar products.

Flight Review: Finnair Business Class A330-300 KIX to HEL

I’ve flown Finnair before, but this was my first time flying Finnair in business class. Finnair doesn’t fly as much to North America (they used to fly to a number of destinations, but I believe only New York, Miami, and Chicago still have service, with San Francisco coming next year), but they seem to connect many people between Asia and Europe.

Finnair A330 taking me to Helsinki

Finnair A330 taking me to Helsinki

This A330-300 featured flat-bed seats business class in an alternating 1-2-1, 2-2-1 seating pattern. This seat is very similar to the product I’ve flown on Swiss and Austrian.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

I was seated in seat 9L, which is a single window seat closer to the window in the second mini-cabin of business class. In the future, I’d probably try to go for a bulkhead seat, as the foot cutouts are larger for those seats.

My seat

My seat

The IFE screen was also on the smaller side and a bit hard to navigate, but I appreciate that the IFE was started on the ground. I also appreciated that announcements weren’t deafening if you have headphones in. As a trivial aside, there were ads before movies, and even though the movies had swear words dubbed, the ads had audible swear words that were not…

IFE screen and leg room

IFE screen and leg room

At each seat were slippers, an amenity kit, and headphones. I always appreciate slippers, but the slippers were actually pretty small, and I’m not sure if that’s because we were flying out of Japan. The amenity kit was designed by Marimekko, so it was colorful and playful. The contents were basic–ear plugs, eye mask, Clarins lip balm and lotion, toothbrush, and toothpaste–and there was a note saying that you could ask for a shaving kit, mouthwash, hair brush, and makeup remover wipe.

Marimekko amenity kit

Marimekko amenity kit

The menu offered both Western and Japanese options, but I had pre-ordered a special Asian vegetarian meal (AVML).

Menu

Menu

The AVML started off with raw vegetables. This is a major pet peeve of mine. I do not know many people who like eating cold raw vegetables, so I do not understand why they serve them. They could at least serve them with hummus or something.

AVML amuse bouche

AVML amuse bouche

For an appetizer, there was a cold spring/egg roll of sorts with some super hard bread, but I managed to snag some much better bread from the bread basket. The roll would have been tastier if it had been served warm, but it was edible.

AVML appetizer

AVML appetizer

The main course had some cauliflower, chickpeas, mushrooms, and rice. It was passable for an AVML, but nothing special.

AVML entree

AVML entree

For dessert, I had some jello-like substance that came with my meal, as well as some tarts from the dessert menu.

Dessert

Dessert

One thing that I appreciated about the flight was that the cabin was kept quite cool. Too often, I find myself overheating on non-US carriers. The pillow and blanket were also pretty good for business class. I found the seat to be pretty comfortable for sleeping. I don’t think the seat is truly lie flat to the plane floor, but I don’t mind that since being flat to the plane floor would mean that you’re actually leaning back slightly.

Foot area when seat fully reclined

Foot area when seat fully reclined

Partway through the flight, I had a pretty delicious cinnamon roll of sorts. There was a small self-serve snack bar with packaged snacks and other things available.

Delicious pastry

Delicious pastry

Prior to arrival, I again had my AVML. This time, it was some green beans, lentils, and rice pilaf. Again, nothing great, but perfectly passable.

AVML pre-arrival meal

AVML pre-arrival meal

Overall, I thought this was a solid business class flight. The service was great (all of the flight attendants working the cabin appeared to be Japanese–not sure if that had any bearing on anything), the seat was comfortable, and the food was passable. I would happily fly Finnair again, and I’m big fan of transiting the Helsinki airport.