Tag Archives: vjml

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: 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.

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: Cathay Pacific First Class BOS to HKG (CX 811)

On most flights, I typically like to sit on the right-hand side of the aircraft, but in Cathay Pacific first class, the seats on the left (1A and 2A) are more private since the center seats open up to the right-hand aisle. So on this flight, I had selected seat 1A. I will say that it seems like the flight crew defaults to using the left-hand aisle to pass through the cabin so as to disturb fewer passengers, so there is slightly more foot traffic on the left-hand side.

Cathay Pacific doesn’t have overhead bins in the first class cabin, so it feels more spacious. Instead of overhead bins, there are lockers at every seat for you to store your belongings.

My seat, 1A

Footrest and IFE screen

Seat and IFE controls

Storage closet

I was soon offered a pre-departure beverage of water, juice or champagne. I was also offered an amuse bouche of prosciutto and cauliflower, but I asked if they had a vegetarian option instead since I had requested a vegetarian meal. The flight attendant scrounged around for a bit and brought me a flaky pastry filled with hummus, an olive, and marinated sun-dried tomato instead. I was then given Bose headphones, PYE pajamas, and an amenity kit (I requested the female one to give to my sister since I already had several of the male amenity kits).

Headphones, amenity kit, pajamas

Vegetarian amuse bouche

For this flight, I had pre-ordered a special VJML (Jain vegetarian meal). I was still provided a menu and wine list for the flight, and I was told that I could order off the menu after the flight attendant asked the other passengers for their selections.

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

Menu

After takeoff, I was given warm cashews and almonds to start. I ordered a Cathay delight to drink.

Nuts to start with Cathay Delight

I started my meal service off with the caviar service. I prefer blinis to toast, and I like the spoon that Cathay uses, which makes Cathay’s caviar service one of my favorites. I was also offered an entire warmed breadbasket, although there was no handwritten card.

Caviar service

I next had a soup of white asparagus with some freshly ground black pepper. If you like soup and asparagus, then it was pretty tasty.

White asparagus soup

The salad that I was served was the salad off the menu without the lobster. It was a little odd to eat without the lobster, since the salad was mostly just frisee otherwise, but I could imagine that it would be good with lobster.

Salad

My VJML entree was not very good. There were cut green beans and cauliflower in a brown sauce. I wish there had been lentils or chickpeas or something with more protein.

Pretty bad VJML

The fresh berries in rose syrup, though, made up for my sub-par entree.

Berries in rose syrup

And since I’m a glutton, I also tried the pistachio cake with ice cream. A little too sweet for my tastes, but still good.

Pistachio cake and ice cream

After dinner chocolates

After dinner, I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth, and when I got back to my seat, the bed had already been made. In general, I found the service on this flight to be good and proficient, but maybe not quite as personable or memorable as crews I’ve had on the past on Cathay Pacific.

One benefit of the departure time of this flight is that I found it easy to sleep. I slept soundly for about 9 hours, and I find the Cathay Pacific seat and bed to be one of my favorite hard products. It’s nice and wide, and the bedding is comfortable.

Bed

For breakfast, I started with a fruit plate that was pretty delicious. I also ordered some earl grey tea which came pre-steeped.

Fruit plate

The VJML pre-arrival meal was way better than dinner. It consisted of okra, cauliflower, potatoes, and peas in a spicy and flavorful sauce.

Much tastier VJML pre-arrival meal

Overall, this was a solid flight on Cathay Pacific. It’s one of my favorite hard products for sleeping, and I felt that the service was pretty good.

Flight Review: Qatar Airways Business Class Boeing 77W Doha (DOH) to Bangkok (BKK)

My flight from Doha to Bangkok was on a Boeing 77W on Qatar Airways. Qatar now flies an A380 on this route, but it can be hit or miss on whether your flight is actually operated by an A380 (Qatar likes to swap aircraft). On the plus side, in business class, the seats are fully flat, unlike on the A330.

Plane to take me to BKK

Plane to take me to BKK

This was a 2-class plane. The business class cabin was very similar to the A330–still a 2x2x2 configuration–but this time, the seats are fully flat. In general, the plane felt a bit newer than the A330 that I had flown to get to Doha.

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Business class seat

Business class seat

IFE screen

IFE screen

Business class cabin

Business class cabin

Hidden beverage compartment

Hidden beverage compartment

Reclined seat

Reclined seat

Waiting at my seat were an amenity kit and noise-canceling headphones. There was also a water bottle hidden in the armrest. I was then offered a choice of pre-departure beverage, a cold or hot towel, and a newspaper. From this first interaction, I could tell that the flight attendant was on her game.

Male amenity kit contents

Male amenity kit contents

Female amenity kit contents

Female amenity kit contents

Beyond the seats and the in-flight entertainment, the bathrooms also felt nicer than they did on the A330. They had an automatic sensor faucet, which is a small but helpful amenity.

Menu

Menu

On this flight, for some reason, they had catered two special meals for me. Perhaps because I had changed my meal preferences relatively close to departure. But they had both an AVML (usually an Indian meal that’s vegetarian and includes dairy) and a JVML (Jain vegetarian meal which is vegan and doesn’t include items like garlic or onions). The AVML features rice with a curry sauce, carrots, asparagus, and paneer. The sauce reminded me of tikka masala, and it was pretty delicious.

AVML of rice, curry sauce, carrots, asparagus, and paneer

AVML of rice, curry sauce, carrots, asparagus, and paneer

The Jain vegetarian meal was peas and cauliflower served with rice and a potato curry. Also delicious.

Jain vegetarian meal of peas and cauliflower, rice, and potato sauce

Jain vegetarian meal of peas and cauliflower, rice, and potato sauce

Below is a picture of how the seats go lie flat. It’s not the best business class seat out there, but it’s fully flat, and I slept pretty well on the flight.

Seat fully reclined

Seat fully reclined

Prior to landing, they handed out immigration cards, but they did not hand out fast track cards.

Overall, it was a good flight. The seat was comfortable, I had plenty of space (partly because the cabin was again only half full), the food was great, and the service was on point.