Between the two of us, we’ve had our fair share of business class and premium economy travel on long hauls over the years. Most of my upgraded travel was when I was younger, so a lot has changed when it comes to J class travel, and I couldn’t wait to check out the much discussed new flatbeds on Cathay Pacific’s Business Class A 330. And what better way to do it than to fly overnight from Mumbai into their home city – Hong Kong and back!
Onward Journey – Mumbai to Hong Kong
Mumbai Airport Check-in and Lounge
I had a late flight out of Mumbai (0125 hrs departure) and the airport seemed rather crowded when I arrived. But as soon as I entered, I had a couple of staff come up to me and point me towards the dedicated Business Class and Marco Polo Club Members’ check in counters at the very end of the terminal. There was no line or waiting, and the staff came forward to whisk me and my luggage through a very quick check in, that was done even before we finished with the pleasantries.
Security check is perhaps among the most painful of airport procedures, and I absolutely dread the lines that are certain to await. The priority security screening however is practically empty, and even though there was only one scanner available, we slipped through in a couple of minutes. The immigration counter beyond that was just as quick, and we had no waiting at all.
While there are no private airline lounges at Mumbai’s CSAI Terminal 2, Business Class flyers of all airlines have access to the GVK Business Lounge at the International Departures Level 4, next to the Heaven on Earth Spa. It’s split into multiple sections for First, Premium and Business classes, allowing for further services and offerings as per tier. Some of us proceeded to relax with a 15 minute foot or back massage (there’s usually a half hour wait, so book a slot as soon as you enter) while I made a beeline for the smoking zone. I then walked through the buffet and helped myself to a couple of delicious cold sandwiches. It wasn’t long before we had to walk over to our gate, and enjoy a special treat.
Cabin and Seating
It isn’t often that one gets to pre-board an aircraft, and I was literally the first person to set foot inside the spacious cabin of the A330 that was to be my home for the next 5 hours. Having the entire first cabin to myself for a while, I enjoyed strolling about and having a good look, behaving as if I were the only one flying that night. The Cathay Pacific Business Class is spread across two cabins, and I was glad to be enjoying myself in the first one.
We were flying the A330-300, which features a reverse herringbone configuration; 1-2-1, which means every single seat has aisle access. While seat 11K isn’t the most desirable because of its proximity to the galley and lavatories, I really wanted a window seat from which to lookout onto Hong Kong as we landed, so I didn’t mind. Turns out, its no problem at all, especially on an overnighter since the lavatory is super-clean and most of the passengers are asleep. In fact, it almost gives you the feeling that you’re flying private, since you don’t really see anyone else and the bassinet in front of you makes it see all the more spacious. It’s great for people flying solo.
The Cathay Pacific Business Class seats on the A330-300 are flatbed. They’ve got these really tall shells around them, are angled and have aisle access. So it really is possible to completely cut yourself off from the world while you fly. This is certainly a rather wide seat, with a stow-able armrest, and an extendable side flap. The seat recliner knobs on the control panel are really easy to use, and you can adjust it to just the perfect angle when you’re watching a movie or working on your laptop. There was a decent amount of storage space both over and under the ottoman, but since we were to have a packed day from the moment we landed, I decided to lay down the flatbed and tuck myself in. Charles complains that I toss and turn too much in my sleep through the night, and I did manage to toss and turn to my heart’s content thanks to the wide bed! (Now that’s a pretty serious claim). I didn’t really get down to watching a movie, but I did flip through the collection and it seemed pretty interesting. The inflight amenity kit was a pretty grey zip pouch (that certainly appealed to my minimalist-loving sensibilities, stocked with my biggest inflight essentials – a sleep mask and a facial mist as well as a few other products by Jurlique like a serum and lip balm, a toothbrush, toothpaste and mouthwash for the morning and ear plugs (that I didn’t need to use since the cabin was pretty quiet). The anti-skid socks were a relief when it came to popping into the lavatory without having to wear my shoes again.
Breakfast and Service
I woke up just in time for breakfast about an hour before we were to land, and perhaps it was because most of the cabin was asleep, but the breakfast service was incredibly prompt. Some cold fresh cut fruit and juice with a croissant and an omlette as well a freshly brewed Illy coffee.
Hong Kong Airport Fast Track Arrivals, Immigration and Baggage
Stepping off the flight after a very smooth landing, we were greeted by the fast track staff that sat us on a buggy and zipped us across the terminal to the immigrations desk. They collected our luggage once we identified it on the carousel and had it place in our vehicles for us.
Return Journey – Hong Kong to Mumbai
Hong Kong Airport Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge at the Pier
I was most excited about using the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge because we were flying out of the airline’s home country. Naturally this was going to be a rather special business class lounge. I’d read about the new interior design by Ilse Crawford in Wallpaper Magazine and couldn’t wait to see them for myself. From the spacious lockers to the fabulous Illy coffee and buffet menu, delicious noodle bar, plush tea bar and showers and relaxation rooms as well as office desks we worked our way from the livelier areas to the quieter ones. There was so much to do here, that I’m definitely going to need an entirely different post to talk about all of it. Stay tuned for that!
Cabin and Seating
For the return journey, I was in the second cabin, but still in the first seat at 19D. This time around we had the companion seats in the middle (both with aisle access). Since we were to be landing at midnight, I didn’t want to sleep and end up staying up through the night (especially since I had to get into work the next morning). So I fought off the urge to recline my flat bed completely and just semi reclined it, staying cozy and cuddled while watching a bunch of movies from their rather varied collection.
Dinner and Service
We boarded this flight at 7:30 pm. After a quick snack at the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge. But the welcome drink as soon as we boarded looked too delicious to decline. It was garnished with a couple of dried rosebuds. Very, very pretty. Shortly after take off, the stewardess arrived with the drinks cart. I looked at the menu, and decided to try out the famous signature cocktail – Cloud Nine. A blend of Cointreau, Vodka, Sprite and Lemon it was served in a salt and sugar rimmed glass with plenty of ice. Light and refreshing. The first course for dinner was divine. A light seasonal salad with a balsamic-olive oil vinaigrette accompanied the piece de la resistance – a fresh and cold marinated prawn and pan fried scallop with French bean, tomato and capsicum appetiser. For mains, I’d been looking forward to the Wok fried prawns with Jasmine rice, but as one expects of every single flight of every single airline landing into Mumbai, only the vegetarian and non-vegetarian curry meals were available. I sighed and got on with the Chicken saag curry and basmati rice with pea masala, which actually turned out to be quite nice. For dessert I was torn. The fresh fruit looked fantastic. But then so did the mulberry and raspberry tart, oh wait, so did the cheese platter. May I have one of each please? Eventually I settled for the cheese platter, because I’m such a sucker for a pretty cheese platter. I enjoyed the Camembert, Port l’eveque, Shropshire Blue with crackers, a slice of green apple and rosemary paste. While I really do love my fresh brewed coffee, I’m always wary of having any in the second half of the day, lest I stay up through the night. So I was thrilled to discover that their Illy coffee menu also featured decaf! It was expertly brewed and coming from me, that means something.
Mumbai Airport Fast Track Arrivals, Immigration and Baggage
Getting into Mumbai Airport is mildly easier with a Business Class Boarding Pass. But you can’t avoid the long walk to immigration, the barely-palpable air conditioning and long lines (even at the business and first class immigration counter). The only upside to this is the priority baggage delivery, so I made the most of it and zipped out of the airport as soon as I could. Leaving behind a beautiful flying experience onboard the Cathay Pacific Business Class.
At Different Doors, we’re all about living life well travelled, and we have to say Cathay Pacific does indeed have this philosophy at the core of their offering. The well-heeled traveller is sure to appreciate all the finer details across their flight experience as well as the lounges, and we can’t wait to experience this again!
This post was made possible by Cathay Pacific. Opinions as always, are our own.