Tag Archives: flight review

Flight Review: American Airlines Business Class on A321T Transcontinental JFK to SFO

As I’m preparing to embark on a trip to Southeast Asia that I’m super excited about, I went through some past photos and realized that I have several trips that I never wrote up. This one is from the end of 2014. I took a quick trip to Boston and flew back to SFO through JFK. Luckily for me, I got an upgrade to business class on one of American’s 3-class A320s that they use for transcontinental service for JFK-LAX and JFK-SFO.

I found the business class seat to be extremely comfortable. There was good cushioning, and the seat goes lie flat. The cabin itself felt spacious, and it feels relatively intimate because there just aren’t that many seats total on these flights (I feel like even economy class on these planes is more bearable because the cabin is so small).

Business class seat in 2x2 seating arrangement

Business class seat in 2×2 seating arrangement

I’m a big fan of the blanket and pillow that American has on their business class flights. The pillow is large and fluffy, and the blanket doesn’t make me run too hot or get staticky. There were also noise-canceling headphones and a bottle of water at the seat, and I was offered a pre-departure beverage.

Foothole cubby and IFE screen

Foothole cubby and IFE screen

AA’s in-flight entertainment on updated planes is quite good for a domestic carrier. Or perhaps I’m just used to the old US Airways planes that have no IFE to speak of. The screen was a good size, there was a touch screen controller, and I found the selection of movies to be good. It’s essentially the same selection they have on international flights (although again, AA actually still flies some old US Airways flights across the Atlantic that have no built-in IFE…). One thing that I didn’t like was that there were ads before movies.

Seat controls

Seat controls

Power ports

Power ports

View of business class cabin

View of business class cabin

For the meal service, there were three options, and I went with the gnocchi. The salad was fine; I didn’t eat the starter since I don’t usually eat meat. There was a choice of white bread and cheese bread to accompany the meal.

Food menu

Food menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Business class starter

Business class starter

The gnocchi was fine. Given that this flight happened in November, I felt that the entree was appropriately fall tasting, if that makes sense. I skipped the sundae and cheese, which I know is blasphemous in some circles.

Gnocchi entree

Gnocchi entree

After the meal service, I tried to get some sleep. These seats go lie flat, which is great. They might feel a little narrow, but you can lower the arm rest to get more space. Length wise, there was plenty of space for me (I’m 5’9″). I also like that you can adjust it so it’s not completely lie-flat so you don’t feel like you’re sloping backward when you’re lying down.

My main complaint about the flight (which has been well documented elsewhere) is that the cabin got extremely warm. I’m not sure what it is about the design of these planes, but I woke up sweating.

Overall, these are a huge planes are a huge improvement over the old 767s that AA used to fly on these routes, and it’s a solid product for a transcontinental flight.

Trip Report: AA/US Business Class PHL to MAN A330-200

I normally wouldn’t review American Airlines business class, but I thought it’d be fun to review a flight in business class on one of the US Airways A330s. My first international business class flight was actually in US Airways Envoy class, so it was fun to see how the product has changed now that it’s technically American Airlines.

I got put on this flight relatively last minute, so I was seated in one of the middle seats, but the seats are pretty private, so I didn’t feel a huge difference by being in the center. I don’t have a ton of pictures because the captain made a specific announcement that taking pictures or video of the crew, passengers, or processes was not allowed, so I felt a little self-conscious. This was the first time I’ve heard such an announcement.

Cabin shot

Cabin shot

Former US Airways Envoy seat

Former US Airways Envoy seat

Foot space

Foot space

IFE and seat controls, outlet, reading light

IFE and seat controls, outlet, reading light

Here are some improvements over the old US Airways Envoy class product:
1) They now have the AA business class pillow and blanket. This is a huge upgrade over the crappy pillow and blanket US Airways used to use. The AA pillow is larger and fluffier, and the blanket is both more substantial and doesn’t make me run hot.
2) They have Bose noise-cancelling headphones. Another huge upgrade.
3) The IFE is the same as AA business class, which I also like better than the old US Envoy.
4) The food is standardized to AA’s menus. I don’t have tons of thoughts on this, although it’s probably better.

All in all, the fact that this is now American is a huge upgrade. The US Airways Envoy seat was/is a pretty good business class seat, but everything else that AA has brought is so much better.

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Since I was a late-minute addition on this flight, they didn’t have my special meal requests, so I had the salmon. I don’t eat much fish/meat on planes any more, but I thought that this meal was pretty solid. The salmon was maybe a little dry, but it was pretty decent overall, and the meal service was finished pretty quickly, which is good for sleeping on these relatively short transatlantic flights.

Salmon

Salmon

Raspberry tart

Raspberry tart

Breakfast was served a little over an hour prior to arrival. You probably don’t need to partake in both meals since it’s a relatively short flight (~6 hours).

As a bonus, here are pics of some recent VGMLs on AA on legacy US Envoy planes. This first meal was just lacking in flavor, but it was pretty inoffensive. A rice pilaf with bok choy and carrots.

VGML

VGML out of PHL

This VGML starter was cold potatoes and cucumber. I kinda liked it?

VGML

VGML out of FCO

This entree was confusing, but there were some red beans in sauce, eggplant stuff, a vaguely curry-like thing, broccoli, and rice.

VGML

VGML out of FCO

This pre-arrival meal included a chickpea salad (with no dressing), some fruit, and a “sandwich” that was just some tomato and lettuce in bread.

VGML snack

VGML snack

Overall, the fact that these flights now have things like the AA pillow and blanket and Bose headphones are huge improvements over the old US Airways product.

Review: JAL First Class Boeing 777-300ER NRT to LAX

Oh, JAL. I love JAL. I love Cathay too, but JAL invests so much in their food, and their first class catering is a step above any other airline’s in my opinion. JAL definitely has its shortcomings (and their special meals are terrible from my limited experience), but food is definitely the way into my heart.

My Cathay flight from HKG was delayed a bit, so my connection ended up being quite short. Luckily, there was a JAL representative waiting for me as I got off my Cathay flight, and she escorted me to my next flight. It was a bit comical as she kinda jogged in front of me while I walked as quickly as I could without running, and I couldn’t tell if she wanted me to run with her or not. She then helped me cut to the front of the transit security line, saving me about 20 minutes. Funnily enough, boarding was delayed 20 minutes for the JAL flight, so the flight hadn’t even started boarding by the time that I arrived at the gate, and I probably could’ve stopped by the JAL first class lounge, which is one of my favorite lounges.

JAL Boeing 777-300ER

JAL Boeing 777-300ER

The gate agents were actually enforcing priority boarding lines, which was pretty funny because one passenger in business class just couldn’t believe that he had to wait behind other people and kept trying to get into the first class line. One of the first class passengers also had a small entourage and a JAL agent personally carry a small shopping bag of his and escort him onto the plane.

When I boarded the plane, I was shown to my seat and welcomed warmly. I’d previously read of issues with English proficiency on JAL, but all of the flight attendants had super high English proficiency (although one was clearly more confident in speaking English than the other).

My first impressions of the cabin were positive. I liked the dark color palette, and the suite is large with a super wide seat. There were slippers already at the seat, and I love me some airplane slippers. I wear a size 9, and the slippers fit me well, so you might be out of luck if you have larger feet.

First class seat

First class seat

Lots of space

Lots of space

There’s both underseat storage that fits a normal carry on and overhead bins. There are also lots of side compartments for smaller items (or even larger items–I could fit my laptop with lots of room to spare in one of the side compartments). The only strange thing about the cabin was that there’s a large dead space between the suite and the window with an open grate, and I definitely saw some items had fallen through the grate.

So many compartments

So many compartments

Electrical outlet

Electrical outlet

Privacy divider

Privacy divider

First class cabin

First class cabin

One strange thing–open grate between seat and window

One strange thing–open grate between seat and window

I was offered a hot towel and a pre-departure beverage of champagne or orange juice. The bathroom had a standard Japanese toilet as well as cloth towels instead of normal paper towels.

Hot towel and pre-departure beverage

Hot towel and pre-departure beverage

I also took a moment to check out the business class cabin. JAL has a fully-flat business class product on their B777-300ERs in a 2-3-2 seating configuration. Even though it’s 2-3-2, each seat technically has direct aisle access. The seats looked perfectly comfortable (if a bit narrow).

Business class seat

Business class seat

More business class seat

More business class seat

Business class mini-cabin

Business class mini-cabin

The pillow and blanket already at my seat were pretty serious business–nice and sturdy. There was wifi and an extensive seat instructions guide available. I also enjoyed a number of smaller design elements–the reading light doubled as a headphone hook, and there was a small cutout under the ottoman storage for shoes. The ottoman can also be used for guest seating given that it has a seat belt, and it’s probably one of the nicer guest seats in the sky (e.g. Cathay’s guest seat is pretty tiny comparatively).

Lots of privacy

Lots of privacy

Pillow and blanket for sitting

Pillow and blanket for sitting

Details on JAL wifi

Details on JAL wifi

Seat and suite guide

Seat and suite guide

The IFE screen is 23 inches diagonally. Not as ridiculously large as Asiana’s first class IFE screen, but still a good size. I didn’t really use the IFE at all during the flight, but the movie selection looked decent. The non-movie selection, however, looked pretty bad for people who don’t speak Japanese.

IFE controller

IFE controller

I also liked the tray table design. First, the tray table is massive, so there’s plenty of space to spread out. Second, the tray table is adjustable so it moves back and forth. This means that it’s easy to get out of your seat even if the tray table is out, and you can move it super close to yourself so you don’t have to bend over while eating.

Another thing that I like about JAL is that they post their food and drink menus online prior to the flights. So if you’re obsessive like I can be, you can see what’s on offer and figure out exactly what you want to try before you’re even in the air.

Classy wine and drink menus

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Food menu

Food menu

Food menu

Food menu

First up was an amuse bouche. There was shrimp with roe, a ball of pate, and a vegetable rice roll with some seafood inside. These were probably the worst things I ate on the flight, and that was just because they were just fine and forgettable.

Amuse bouche

Amuse bouche

I decided to go the Japanese route for my main meal service. I started with the five seasonal delicacies. I don’t think I’d ever had soft cod roe, and it looked a bit like shirako to me. I really enjoyed the tofu preparation, and it had actual truffles on top! The egg cake was good, as was the kobashira (I believe this is a type of clam). The only one I didn’t finish was the deep-simmered conger eel, but that’s because I didn’t feel like eating the bones.

First course

First course

Love the chopsticks and holder

Love the chopsticks and holder

I skipped the soup course, but I indulged in the Salon 2002 champagne. This was the cleanest and clearest tasting champagne that I’ve had. I think I prefer it to the Dom Perignon and Krug that other airlines cater.

Salon 2002

Salon 2002

Up next was some squid and spiny lobster with caviar and a seafood egg custard. I really enjoyed the spiny lobster, and it was a novel way to eat caviar for me. The seafood custard had uni, shrimp, mushrooms, and something else on it. I’m normally a huge fan of uni, but this uni did not have the same uni goodness that I love.

Caviar and seafood custard

Caviar and seafood custard

Next was the sukiyaki of wagyu beef filet, served with tofu, an egg, miso soup, Japanese pickles, and rice. The beef was super tasty and tender, and the tofu was delicious. This was a great way to finish the savory foods. I also switched my beverage to the royal blue tea, and I don’t think I’ve ever had anything quite like it. The taste was very complex for tea, with multiple undertones and aftertastes.

Beef, tofu

Beef, tofu

For dessert, there was a yogurt ice cream with mandarin jelly, a pudding, and a black bean cake. The yogurt ice cream had something like pop rocks on it, and it reminded me of eating froyo. The pudding was Ryugin’s signature Roppongi pudding, and that was ridiculously good. The black bean cake was fine and made better with some wine.

I asked for a glass of Riesling to drink with dessert, and the flight attendant spilled a bit of wine when she poured me a taste. She was absolutely horrified at herself and acted as if she had kicked my puppy and insisted that she bring me a new glass and change my tablecloth. I told her that it was unnecessary, but they definitely care about presentation.

Trio of desserts

Trio of desserts

And since I’m a fatty, I tried the dessert off of the western menu as well. This was a Japanese inspired Mont Blanc. To me, it tasted extremely Asian, if that makes sense.

More dessert

More dessert

Overall, this was definitely the most ambitious meal I’ve eaten on a plane. It’s hard to serve seafood on a plane because it’s not going to be nearly as fresh as it can be on the ground, and it’s hard to heat properly given their limited equipment, but I appreciated the effort.

After dinner, I got ready for sleep. The pajamas are a bit on the thick side. The quality isn’t as nice as pajamas on Cathay or Singapore, but they have pockets. I normally wear a small in the US, and small was the appropriate size for me for the pajamas, even though the flight attendant recommended that I get a medium.

Amenity kits and pajamas

Amenity kits and pajamas

You can choose either a soft or hard mattress (really, they’re just two sides to the same mattress pad), and I went with soft. The cabin wasn’t that warm, but with the thick pajamas and blanket, I definitely overheated. They also handed out macarons at this point, and they were really quite good.

Bed mode

Bed mode

More bed

More bed

Hevin macarons

Hevin macarons

I was woken up exactly 90 minutes prior to landing. There’s not preset second meal service per se, so you’re not going to get fed unless you actively order something. I asked for the Japanese curry, the ruibe salmon, some fruit, and another Roppongi pudding.

The curry was super flavorful–it was like getting punched in the tongue with every bite. I’m still debating whether that’s good or bad. The ruibe salmon is a bit like eating salmon marinated in soy sauce. The texture is similar to balk salmon. The fruit plate was solid with ripe fruit. And the Roppongi pudding was again ridiculously delicious.

Japanese curry

Japanese curry

Straight shot across the Pacific

Straight shot across the Pacific

Fruit and more Roppongi pudding

Fruit and more Roppongi pudding

Overall, I really enjoyed my flight on JAL. The food was good and ambitious, the service was eager and friendly, and the hard product is solid with lots of small design touches that I appreciate. The service wasn’t as confident or as polished as I’ve experienced on other carriers, but I’m not complaining.

Review: Dragonair Business Class A330-300 PEN to HKG

This flight was served by a three-class plane (i.e. with first class, business class, and economy class cabins), but it was sold as a two-class flight. I was able to select seats in the “first class” cabin, presumably because of my oneworld emerald status. There was only one other passenger seated in the first class cabin with me, even though business class was quite full.

The first class cabin has reverse herringbone seats. These are super comfortable seats and are roughly the same product as US Airways Envoy class (aka American Airlines A330s now) and American Airlines business class on their 777-300ERs. It’s also essentially the same product that Cathay Pacific has in business class on many of their planes. On this flight, the business class cabin has a regional business class configuration that’s essentially the same as the business class product that I flew from HKG to DPS.

First class seat

First class seat

View of the first class cabin

View of the first class cabin

Seat controls

Seat controls

IFE screen and foot area

IFE screen and foot area

Storage space for shoes

Storage space for shoes

Side storage

Side storage

These seats are great. They’re large and spacious. The cabin is only 8 seats on these planes, so it  feels extra private. The foot areas are slightly larger on the window seats than the center seats. There’s plenty of storage with overhead bins, under the footrest storage, side compartments, and shoe storage. The armrest is also adjustable to give you extra width when you’re lying flat.

When I boarded the plane, I was escorted to my seat in 1K. The flight crew was on their game and made sure to take care of the little things like unwrapping my blanket for me rather than just giving it to me in plastic. I was offered a pre-departure beverage of water or juices, but I definitely heard a champagne bottle pop, so other passengers were partaking in more festive drinks. Again, no hot towels on this flight, but they instead used packaged moist towelettes.

I was offered a newspaper from a cart, and I asked for a copy of the International New York Times, even though I didn’t see it on the cart. Magically, though, they produced a copy.

Food menu

Food menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

On this flight, I decided to pre-order a vegetarian Jain meal (VJML). This is similar to an AVML, but there’s no dairy, root or bulbous vegetables, or mushrooms. The first course of fruit was super tasty with nicely ripe fruit. The main course was similarly delicious with flavorful and spicy vegetables served with some bread. It was small portion, but it was a great and tasty meal.

Fresh fruit

Fresh fruit

Jain meal (VJML)

Jain meal (VJML)

Given how much I enjoyed the chilled Hong Kong style milk tea on my previous Dragonair flight, I had to have another on this flight. Seriously, order it! It’s delicious.

Chilled Hong Kong milk tea–my new favorite airplane drink

Chilled Hong Kong milk tea–my new favorite airplane drink

And even though it was completely unnecessary on this relatively short flight, I did try using the seat in lie-flat mode. Not only can you lower the armrest, but there’s also an additional flap that comes up to give you even more surface area to lie on.

Seat in lie-flat position

Seat in lie-flat position

Foot area while lie-flat

Foot area while lie-flat

Overall, I was super impressed by Dragonair. Great service, great food, and great hard product. What more could you ask for?

Review: Malaysia Airlines Economy Class B737-800 KUL to PEN

To board this flight, you first had to scan your boarding pass to be let into the holding area. After that, it was essentially a free-for-all, even though they made boarding announcements to let families with small children, business class, and oneworld elites to board first. In the US, I can understand why people jockey for boarding position given the fight for overhead bin space, but I generally haven’t seen the same fights happen in other countries until this flight. Even though passengers are supposed to be limited to 7 kgs of carry-on baggage, there was definitely a scramble for overhead bin space on this short flight. And in comparison to my nearly-empty Malaysia Airlines flight from DPS to KUL, this flight was nearly full.

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-800

Business class seats

Business class seats

The interior of this plane looked really new. Lots of dark leather. The seats in economy class and individual IFE screens (controllable via touch screen and remote), in-seat power outlets, and a USB port. The IFE selection was on-demand and pretty sizable for a domestic route, and there were personal air vents. Overall, this was a super nice plane for a domestic flight.

Economy class cabin

Economy class cabin

Economy class seat

Economy class seat

Exit row

Exit row

Power ports in economy class

Power ports in economy class

Seatback IFE and controller

Seatback IFE and controller

I managed to snag an exit row seat for this flight, which meant that I had lots of leg room. The seat did not appear to recline, though.

Since this was such a short flight (~201 miles), there was no meal service, but they did do a full drink service with peanuts. Rather than use a cart, they did the entire service via trays.

Yet again, this was a positive experience on Malaysia Airlines. This plane was great: new interior, personal IFE, air nozzles, and in-seat power. Can’t ask for much more on a domestic flight!

Review: Malaysia Airlines Economy Class B777-200 DPS to KUL

On this trip, I needed to fly from DPS to PEN. I had a number of different options, but I ended up choosing to fly Malaysia Airlines through KUL. I’d flown MH before in business class, but this was my first time flying them in economy class.

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200

Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200

Boarding started only 20 minutes before the scheduled departure time, but that may have been because it was such a light load. For some reason, I was assigned a seat essentially at the very back of the plane, but I didn’t complain because I essentially had a couple of rows to myself at the back of the plane.

Business class seats

Business class seats

Economy class

Economy class

There are two large economy class sections, and I enjoyed the bright colors of the seats. The seats are generally in a 2-5-2 seating configuration, and the seats are fined for a <3 hour flight. There are personal IFE screens at each seat, and there are individual air nozzles! The side seats in row 29 have unlimited leg room because of the emergency exits. At row 39, it switches to a 2-4-2 seating configuration, but the center seats in that row have immovable armrests.

View from the back

View from the back

Economy class seats

Economy class seats

The IFE screen quality wasn’t great, but at least there was personal IFE. It took me a long time to figure out that in addition to looped movies, there was also some on-demand content.

Seat-back IFE

Seat-back IFE

IFE controller

IFE controller

Prayer

Journey prayer before the flight

Even though the flight had a super light load (there were maybe 20 seats taken in the section of economy that I saw), there were tons of people who had ordered special meals (myself included), and the flight attendant brought out multiple trays of special meals. I ordered an AVML for this flight, and it had lentils, rice, and paneer. The lentils were quite delicious (the paneer not so much), and I would definitely order this special meal again. The lentils were really good for airplane food. The flight attendant serving me drinks did address me by name several times, and I wasn’t sure if this was due to my oneworld status or just because there were so few passengers.

VGML

VGML

Overall, I’m a big fan of Malaysia Airlines, and I’m still sad that they’ve had so many bad things happen to them. There’s no reason to avoid flying this airline, and I’ve only had positive experiences with them.

Review: Dragonair A330 Business Class HKG to DPS

From Hong Kong, I made my way to Bali flying Dragonair, the regional subsidiary of Cathay Pacific. This flight was operated by an A330 with a regional business class configuration.

A330 to Bali!

A330 to Bali!

Because this was a regional configuration, the seats were not lie-flat, but the cabin looked great, and it was perfectly comfortable for the 4.5 hour flight from HKG to DPS. Given that this is largely a leisure route, I wasn’t surprised that the load was pretty light in business class. There were only 13 seats taken (out of 42).

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Regional business class seat

Regional business class seat

Seat-back IFE

Seat-back IFE

Seat controls and side storage

Seat controls and side storage

Seat fully reclined

Seat fully reclined

Seat guide

Seat guide

They didn’t offer any amenity kits on this flight, but they did go around offering a pre-departure beverage of water, juice, or a guava cocktail. They also handed out wet towels, but they were essentially packaged towelettes and not hot towels.

Food menu

Food menu

Drink menu

Drink menu

Given that I was pretty stuffed from eating in the awesome Cathay Pacific lounges during my layover, I asked that they hold my meal for a bit. The IFE selection was identical to the selection on my long-haul flight from the US.

One thing that I haven’t heard many people talking about is the canned Hong Kong style milk tea available on Dragonair. As far as I know, it’s only offered on Dragonair and not on Cathay Pacific, and HOLY MOLY is this stuff good. It was soooo delicious, but also super caloric and sugary and probably terrible for your health. But it’s something that I’ll look forward to whenever I fly Dragonair.

Ridiculously delicious canned milk tea

Ridiculously delicious canned milk tea

When I eventually did get my meal, it was a VGML, as requested. Up first was a pretty gross appetizer of cold mushrooms and vegetables.

VGML appetizer

VGML appetizer

The main course was pretty good. Just some basic vegetables with tomato sauce and rice, but perfectly edible.

VGML entree

VGML entree

One thing that I found a bit odd was that there appeared to be only one bathroom for business class. I can’t imagine that this would be very pleasant with a full business class cabin on a 4.5 hour flight.

Overall, this was an enjoyable flight, and Dragonair has a solid, reliable experience, just like Cathay Pacific. For regional flights, I might actually choose Dragonair over Cathay in the future just for the canned milk tea…

Review: Cathay Pacific First Class ORD to HKG

I know that Cathay Pacific First Class has been reviewed to death, but this flight was one of the best flights I’ve ever had. The flight attendant was absolutely incredible, and I ordered a VGML for this flight, so that will at least be novel. I’ll skip the pictures of the hard product.

The 77W taking us to Hong Kong

The 77W taking us to Hong Kong

On this flight, I was pretty sure that the first class cabin was just people who had used miles. There were two youngish American couples in first class plus me. I booked my ticket at the last moment, so unless these couples were rolling in it, I imagine that they had booked their tickets pretty far in advance for their honeymoons or something.

Cathay’s seat is one of my favorite first class hard products. It’s giant and comfortable. It’s not an enclosed seat, but I’ve never felt that privacy was an issue with these seats.

One of the most comfortable seats in the sky

One of the most comfortable seats in the sky

I’m also in love with Cathay’s amenities. When I took this flight (a very long time ago), they had just switched amenity kit providers, so the first class amenity kit was made by Aesop. They still have the PYE pajamas, which I love.

PYE pajamas and the new(ish) Aesop amenity kit

PYE pajamas and the new(ish) Aesop amenity kit

I asked for a Hong Kong style milk tea, but for some reason, they couldn’t serve that prior to departure (I’m really not sure why since they just make it from a powder). And they also couldn’t serve me sparkling water. So I ended up with some green tea to go with my VGML pre-flight appetizer. At first, I thought it was fruit in a mousse, but it was in fact hummus and vegetables. I enjoy both of those things, so I thought that it was tasty.

VGML appetizer of hummus with vegetables and some tea

VGML appetizer of hummus with vegetables and some tea

I could immediately tell that Carrie, the flight attendant serving the first class cabin, was awesome. In most cases, I think you can tell very quickly if the flight is going to be remarkable or not. She was fun and gracious at the same time. She also offered to let me try the non-VGML appetizer of crab, after she confirmed that I was okay with eating something not vegetarian. If you like crab, you’d probably like the appetizer, but I preferred the hummus.

Normal crab appetizer with avocado and citrus

Normal crab appetizer with avocado and citrus

Menu for the flight

Menu for the flight

Non-alcoholic drinks

Non-alcoholic drinks

Drink menu

Drink menu

I think that Cathay’s caviar service is great. They have blinis, all the fixings, and a Cathay Pacific-branded caviar spoon. You might notice a glass of Krug in the photo, which was poured because Carrie insisted that I drink some champagne.

Caviar service

Caviar service

No metal spoons here

No metal spoons here

For the main course, the VGML was an Indian-inspired dish of chickpeas, rice, and eggplant. It’s essentially a business class meal plated as a first class dish. But the food was tasty, which is what matters. I would order and eat it again, and I’d be happy to eat this at an Indian restaurant.

VGML entree of chickpeas, rice, and eggplant

VGML entree of chickpeas, rice, and eggplant

For dessert, I took advantage of the red bean soup. They’ll serve it hot or cold (I chose hot). This is a super Asian dessert and super comforting to me.

Red bean soup for dessert

Red bean soup for dessert

Berries and cream

Berries and cream

They lowered the cabin temperature after the meal service, so the cabin was nice and cool for sleeping. No overheating this time. After sleeping for a couple of hours, I woke up and decided to have a snack given the length of the flight. First up was the fruit plate and berry smoothie.

Fruit plate and smoothie

Fruit plate and smoothie

I then asked for the wonton noodles with two fried eggs on the side. Cathay offers made-to-order eggs for their breakfast service, so I wondered if they’d bat an eyelash if I asked for some fried eggs to accompany my noodles. I think the flight attendant was a little confused at first by exactly what I wanted, but I did get the noodles and eggs so I could add the eggs to the noodles.

Asked for the noodles with two fried eggs

Asked for the wonton noodles with two fried eggs

Right before landing, we had breakfast. The VGML breakfast consisted of a cheeseless omelet with peppers and onions and an assortment of sides (spinach, potatoes, tomato, and mushrooms). I’m not sure why they include an omelet in a VGML since a VGML is supposed to be free of eggs and dairy products, but the omelet was pretty tasty. The sides were less tasty. In general, I think the mid-flight snacks are tastier than the second meal service items, so I wouldn’t hesitate to order those instead of breakfast.

VGML breakfast of a cheeses omelet with peppers, onions, and sides of spinach, tomato, potatoes, and mushrooms

VGML breakfast

Given that Carrie noticed how excited I was about the flight, she brought me one of the new (at the time) business class amenity kits. The business class kit contains Jurlique products, and the bag is a little nifty.

Contents of the business class amenity kit

Contents of the business class amenity kit

Overall, this was one of the best flights I’ve ever taken. So what makes service good? For me, it’s the small touches: always being addressed by name, making sure not to interrupt when you’re in the middle of something, being gracious, attending to small details like the position of items on the table, reading the passenger to know how to interact with them, noticing when you need things before you know you need them. This was the most proactive Cathay crew I’ve had, and they were one of the best crews I’ve ever had on a flight.

Trip Report: Cathay Pacific Business Class A330-300 KUL to HKG

CX 724
KUL to HKG (Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong)
Depart: 5:40pm
Arrive: 9:35pm
Duration: 3h 55m
Aircraft: A330-300
Seat: 15K

The boarding time was stated as 4:40pm, but that’s just when the gate opens and you can start going through the additional security check at the gate. Boarding didn’t actually start until 5:20pm.

A333 to take me to HKG

A333 to take me to HKG

Business class was a 2-2-2 configuration on this plane for a total of 42 seats. The cabin was relatively full with only 6 empty seats. I was offered a pre-departure beverage of water, champagne, orange juice, or guava juice.

My seat, 15K

My seat, 15K

2-2-2 business class seating

2-2-2 business class seating

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

IFE screen

IFE screen and leg room

I’m a big fan of Cathay Pacific. The seats looked new and stylish, although they’re just basic recliners, so they probably wouldn’t be too comfortable on a long flight. But for a 3.5 hour flight, the seats are fine.

They served dinner on this flight, and I had pre-ordered an AVML.

Business class menu

Business class menu

Menu continued

Menu continued

Drink menu

Drink menu

For my AVML starter, I received a plate of chickpeas, beans, peas, raisins, and onions mixed together with a small side of asparagus. It was a bit odd, but it was reasonably tasty and healthy.

AVML starter

AVML starter

My entree consisted of rice, dal, and paneer. Like most Indian food on planes, it was decently flavorful and spicy.

AVML main course

AVML main course

Ice cream for dessert

Ice cream for dessert

The seats don’t recline that much, and the leg rest doesn’t have a foot rest, but again, for a non-longhaul flight, I think these seats are perfectly fine. The IFE is the same as it is on longhaul flights, so there’s a great selection, and the screen was quick and responsive.

Seat fully reclined

Seat fully reclined

Cathay Pacific is known as one of the best carriers in the world and for good reason: they offer a great, consistent product. Even on a regional business class flight, you know you’re going to get a good, solid experience with great service, and this flight was no different.

Trip Report: Qantas Domestic Business Class MEL to SYD Boeing 767-300

QF 426
MEL to SYD
Depart: 11:00am
Arrive: 12:25pm
Duration: 1h 25m
Aircraft: Boeing 767-300
Seat: 4A

After being impressed by the Qantas Domestic Business Class Lounge, I headed to my short flight from Melbourne to Sydney to check out Qantas’s domestic business class in-flight offerings.

The plane to Sydney

The plane to Sydney

I was immediately impressed by the cabin. 2-2-2 seating in business class with pretty comfortable seats, although the pitch was pretty tight. The cabin was completely full.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

2-2-2 seating

2-2-2 seating

Better upholstered seats than in US domestic business class

Better upholstered seats than in US domestic business class

Bulkhead seats

Bulkhead seats

Seat controls

Seat controls

Pretty tight pitch for business class (I'm not that tall!)

Pretty tight pitch for business class (I’m not that tall!)

I was offered a pre-departure beverage of water or a cranberry drink, but it was offered so late that I had less than a minute to down it before they collected the cups. There were iPads located in the seat back pockets for in-flight entertainment, but I didn’t understand how to operate it, so I got a flight attendant to reset it (I am potentially incompetent, but my seatmate also could not get hers to work). Once it was working, however, the system was responsive and had a pretty good selection for a domestic flight.

iPad for in flight entertainment

iPad for in flight entertainment

Unlike US-based airlines (but similar to most airlines everywhere else), there was a meal service in business class on this very short flight. There was a choice between sweet corn chowder, something like a Waldorf salad, and a ham and cheese sandwich. I selected the chowder, which was pretty tasty for airline food. And the sourdough bread accompaniment was better than most airplane bread, even in first class (main exception off the top of my head: JAL first class bread), and it was given out generously. The dessert cake was also good. Overall, this meal was tastier than any meal I’ve ever had on a domestic US flight.

Sweet corn chowder

Sweet corn chowder

Pretty soon, we were flying into Sydney, and we got to enjoy some awesome views of the city prior to landing.

View flying into Sydney

View flying into Sydney

Overall, I was very impressed by Qantas domestic business class: comfortable seats, good in-flight entertainment, a genuinely tasty meal, and courteous service. Not sure what else I would ask for on a short hop like Melbourne to Sydney.