This all came about because of the Cathay Pacific free ticket promotion back in early March 2023. With economy tickets booked ready in hand and another cash ticket to bring my mum along, here I go to experience as far as I remember my first CX experience.
I decided to combine my depart + return experience in one post as both were similar.
- Flight Timing – CX658 Depart SIN 10:00 arrive HKG 14:10 / CS 657 Depart HKG 16:00 arrive SIN 08:10
- Duration – 4hrs and 10mins (each way)
- Aircraft – A350-900
- Seat – 41G (depart) / 45G (return)
- Cost – While the ‘base’ of my ticket was free, I had to pay $180 for the taxes for my return economy essential ticket which includes seat selection for free. Mum’s ticket was $542.08 for an economy lite which does not include seat selection. I later paid another $605 to upgrade to her return sector to business class but more on this later.
Experience with Cathay flight changes – I wanted to share a little about my experience dealing with Cathay Pacific’s customer service due for flight changes.
First up, the airline has a WhatsApp function which is by default managed by a bot, or if you like, connect you to a live agent. But be warned that being connected to a human being can take anywhere from 8mins to 4 hours based on experience – perhaps depends on your luck in this case? In any case this channel is probably not the most suitable for urgent requests but instead for queries that you want to get sent out and happy to get a response when they can. Apparently being a CX member also accords priority to be connected but if priority means up to 4 hours I shudder to think what non priority means.
You don’t have to be staring at the chat as well and instead any response from a live agent will alert you like any other WhatsApp notification which I thought was pretty useful! The WhatsApp number they use is +852 274 2747.
My flights were booked in April. In July, I received the dreaded email informing of a flight change and we have been moved to a later flight on the same day. But the weird thing is that they didn’t move us to the next available flight but instead moved us to 2 flights later which meant a loss of one whole day in Hong Kong which was quite a bummer.
So I reached out on the whatsapp to request to change my flight to an earlier one I saw available on their website and it was granted with no issues. I later reached out again to ask to change my return sector to another later one as well and they agreed to do so at no cost. My final itenary looked like this:
Pre-boarding – Cathay Pacific uses Changi Airport Terminal 4 so I used my Priority Pass to access Blossom Lounge which is the only option in this terminal. But the food quality was sadly quite dire so we skipped out quickly enough and headed to the only restaurant experience listed – Crystal Jade Go – and had a great pre-flight meal.
Boarding – nothing special on boarding really for economy passengers and it was thankfully orderly though also a never ending queue of passengers since it was somewhat the beginning of along weekend. First impression was not too bad as the dark green hues was kind of soothing as I prepped myself for a full flight ahead. On my return, the seats were a darker shade and felt older, but functions were the same.
Seat(s) – Both my seat on depart (41G) and return (45G) was in the middle section, aisle seat, and away from the lavatories which was my favorite permutation. The seat actually felt wider than SQ’s economy, and when seated, with the back of the seat in front a comfortable distance away too.
Under the IFE screen on which there is a USB charging port which I didn’t make use of, there is a sma tray which opens up to be a small ledge good enough to place small items + cup holder. The in-flight dining tray itself is located below and opens up to be a sturdy wide square which can fit the meal tray properly. Both trays can be independently used. I later also realized that the headrest wings are malleable so you can contour them a little to your comfort.
In-flight Entertainment – I played around with the IFE a little and found some fun options, especially the ability to get a frontal view of the aircraft’s wheels.
In terms of movie selection, it was quite extensive and had an impressive range of non-English titles too, definitely more than enough for a 4hr flight.
Other stuff – the headphones were wrapped in a plastic and placed in the seat pocket in front. They are different from SQ’s ear plug style and I actually can’t decide if I like them better as while they are more comfy for the ears, they don’t sit super well on my ears but it worked as it should be so no complaints.
I also liked very much the fact that the headphones plugged into the side arm rest instead of the IFE screen itself as this means no messy crossover cables during the flight.
In-flight Meal – lunch was served about 1 hour+ into the flight and appeared after the drink trolley did. What I found strange was there is no printed material on the in-flight meal nor options and the cew had to explain what the options were multiple times. I thought even if individual menus (seat by seat) were not ideal they could have a printed copy to show to passengers at the point of asking for choices? Or did they mean you can access the menu via the CX app?
Anyways, on depart, it was a choice of either chicken or beef and I picked the former – it tasted decent and came along with a small portion of barley salad and fruits which were nice. On my return, they apparently ran out of chicken options by the time it came to row 45 so I took the pork chop rice which was not nice so thank god for the accompanying salad and fruits.
Lavatories – On both my flights, the lavatories were in less than desired conditions – Ugh. While cosy as expected, I found clogged sinks, messy toiletries, very wet floors, and very dirty toilet seats. SQ wins hands-down for sure in this aspect!
Service – I found the service decent and nothing to complain about – with the only gripe being that the crew can be more sensitive to bumping into passengers as they make their way along the aisle. I was already sitting very much within my seat’s space and yet was brushed on multiples times as crew bent and moved along running the cabin. Not a big deal but I’ve never had a similar problem on SQ. Or have I grown wider? Haha.
CX business Class Joyride Attempt – So I did mention earlier that I upgraded my mum’s return sector to business lite with a SGD605 top up -which means her entire ticket cost $1,147. It was meant to be a surprise and I prepped myself to wave her goodbye at The Pier while I plodded over to a Priority Pass Lounge in sadness. I had even selected a seat for her in advance – 15K.
She was of course delighted when I told her the truth while swinging up to the business class check in counter……until the staff told us they had oversold the cabin for the flight.
We were asked if we were willing to be downgraded to either Premium Economy or Economy and the offer was a full refund of the entire ticket cost in the local currency, HKD6,780 (if Economy), HKD5,780 (if Premium Econ), plus a goodwill compensation of HKD1,000. We deliberated for a while and agreed to be downgraded to Economy since the entire compensation amount covered our cost of ticket + extra. It was kind of a weird situation to be in – should we be happy or sad? Cash was passed to us at the boarding gate.
The staff then accorded us courtesy access to the The Pier Business Lounge – yays! – but because we spent way too much time setting the issue, we had only a window of 20mins before we needed to board. So while I would have loved to fit in a more thorough review of this highly rated lounge, I can only say the lounge is a huge space divided into different seating areas, with different F&B offerings in each: western, drinks / bar, the noodle bar, and dessert/snacks area. We cobbled a few items hurriedly just so we can say we’ve tried. Pictures below!
Decent flight experience on CX and a decent ending despite the bumped-off encounter. I guess I can try CX J the next time?