Bali trip in Cathay Pacific First Class: CX807 Chicago to Hong Kong, via ANC and HND


After confirming that we were the only passengers for the long flight to Hong Kong, just before leaving the Swiss First Class lounge, the agents insisted on giving us new boarding passes, since apparently one of the seats we were originally assigned to was inoperable. 

One of the Cathay Pacific agents escorted us to the nearby boarding gate.  My wife boarded first, then the flight attendants welcomed me by name, and brought me to my seat.   My wife was seated in 2K and I was assigned 2D. 

cx807_pre-departure_krugsome Krug champagne pre-departure

We were offered a cocktail and a hot towel before departure, and why not, we went with Krug.  I’m not a big champagne drinker, but I enjoyed what Cathay poured.  They also offered us amenity kits and pajamas.  The Shanghai Tang cotton pajamas were very comfortable, and were sized somewhat large compared to others I’ve experienced.  I took large, which were plenty long for my 6’3” frame.


Ermenegildo Zegna men's amenity kit


Shanghai Tang pajamas

Just before push back, I moved to 1K (United nostalgia, haha) so I could have a better view for taxi and take off.  The 777-300ER is one of my favorite planes, despite the full fuel load, take off was still pretty powerful.  We began a northerly route, heading over Wisconsin and towards the polar route to HKG. 


There were 2 flight attendants serving first class.  The purser was Pat, Cantonese speaking from Hong Kong who spoke good English.  The other attendant serving us was Veronica, who is Malaysian, and spoke excellent English.  After takeoff, they brought us menus and suggested we dine together.  They add a table extension to the standard large table to make a nice table for two. 



Belvedere Vodka and soda with mixed nuts served after leveling off

We decided to wait a little while before eating, after a snack in the Swiss Lounge, we weren't that hungry, especially since our departure was mid-afternoon central time.  After leveling off, they brought out drinks and some hot mixed nuts.  I also started to adjust the seat into a more comfortable position.  The Cathay Pacific First Class seat is excellent, its very wide, and I found various comfortable positions for seating.  The flat position is quite good, with generous length and width for sleeping.  There is baggage storage below the ottoman, and a closet behind the monitor.  Monitor is on an arm which can move in front of leg rest for easier viewing.  Ottoman is also an optional seat in flight, primarily used while passengers are dining together. 



Cathay Pacific First Suite.  The left side moves down for an armrest if desired


View of opposite side of the suite

The in flight entertainment system called Studio CX, is excellent, with many options.  One complaint about this system is that there are ads before each program.  Its easy enough to fast forward through the ads, but its still annoying.  In addition to many TV shows and movies, there is a good in flight map I watched a few TV shows.   The 777 also has a camera below the nose.  Its kind of fun, especially on takeoff and landing.


Cathay's noise cancelling headsets.  Decent, but I ultimately switched to my Bose.  

Finally, after a few hours, we decided to dine.  I was having trouble deciding on what to eat, so Veronica suggested I try both Chinese and Western options.  Oh, the things I do for the benefit of this blog.  I did not finish all of the food put in front of me, but I did try a bunch of different items.  Due to the size of this post, I have split out the discussion of the meals we were served on flight CX807 into another blog, which I will link to as soon as I post it.

As the flight progressed, the lighting changed to a darker color, before eventually lights were off to more easily allow sleep.


After dinner,  I changed into my pajamas and asked the flight attendants to make the seat into a bed.  I didn't sleep right away, but spent some more time on Studio CX


Some view of the large first class lavatory and the lotions available there.


Seat in Bed mode.  Very wide and comfortable spot for sleeping.


I napped for a while, then awoke and eventually noticed that our route had changed, and our scheduled arrival was only a few hours away, which didn't seem right.  The map quickly showed a drastically changed route, and I guessed we were heading to Anchorage.  Maybe there was an announcement in Economy, but I didn't hear anything about our changed route until we were about 30 minutes out from Anchorage.  I appreciate the non-obtrusive (lack of) use of the PA, but I would have appreciated a little more information about what was going on.  After talking to the flight attendants, they told me there was a medical emergency requiring our diversion.






Dumping fuel before our unplanned landing in ANC 

At some point the pilot announced that due to crew limits, we have a very limited time on the ground in Anchorage or we might have to divert to Vancouver, which was the nearest airport where Cathay Pacific has scheduled flights.  Once on the ground at ANC, the sick passenger walked off the plane, and we quickly began refueling.  



I later found out that we were within 5 minutes of being forced to stay in Anchorage, but thankfully, we got refueled and out in time.   No one got off the plane, and I took the time while still in the US to call Hyatt to let them know I was unlikely to make it to the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong for the our planned first night.  They noted my record, and eventually allowed us to cancel the first night of the stay, so I got those points redeposited.

So we were off again, now headed to Tokyo Haneda to pick up a new crew since that is as far as our current crew could go before timing out.   Haneda sees regular Cathay service, and it seems they flew a crew from Hong Kong to take our flight on the final leg. 


cx807_hnd  Sorry, a little bumpy on the tarmac

At the time, I was considering changing plans and spending the day in Tokyo rather than Hong Kong, since I have spent more time in HK, and would really like to explore more of Tokyo.  Unfortunately, this would have given us only a few hours in Tokyo, so we decided to stick with our plans for a stopover in Hong Kong.  There was really a minimal amount of information provided to passengers during this delay, although the Flight Attendants were very forthcoming with the information they had.


Once at Haneda, we parked at a remote stand, and no one was able to get off the plane anyway.  It was very early morning at Haneda, but it was interesting to see the variety of planes parked there, including several 787s.  The new crew came on, and the 4 person Canadian cockpit crew that flew us from Chicago then took the 4 open seats in First Class.  The flight attendants seemed to mostly occupy extra seats in Business class.  I had some interesting conversations with the captain and some of the other co-pilots while on the ground in Tokyo.  They let me know how close we were to not leaving Anchorage in time (4 minutes).  They also told me that the original plan was to divert to Beijing, but the sick passenger was a Taiwanese national, so this would have been quite problematic.  All things considered, the ANC stop probably was the best option given the circumstances. 

The new crew came on and we were offered yet another meal, since the flight was partially recatered at Haneda.  I did have a bit more food, and I will share details of this additional food on the last leg in my separate post about meals.

I slept most of the way from Haneda to Hong Kong, but around 4:30am Hong Kong time, we were finally ready to land.  I changed back to my street clothes, and despite being very confused about what time my body thought it was, about 24 hours after departing Chicago, we were to our destination.


HKG, finally!

At that hour, there was a minimal wait to clear immigration, and due to our long transit time, and the fact that the Airport Express was not yet running, we headed to The Arrival lounge to freshen up before heading to the Grand Hyatt. 

Please also see my review of meals on the flight between Chicago and Hong Kong.  


Great report! I'm glad you were in F, as the CX Y seats are not my idea of fun, especially when you have two diversions!

Great post! I look forward to the meals post.

azm April 29, 2012 at 01:57 am

Wonder what the medical emergency actually was since the passenger just walked off. Hope you got to enjoy some good movies on Studio CX with the extra time. The ads before the movies sound annoying, haven't seen that on any other AVOD. Sounds like you had some good meals; looking forward to the next post on those.

Lawrence April 30, 2012 at 01:41 pm

How are those seats in first for conversing with your spouse? Can you even look at each other? Or are they angled in such a way that you can't see anyone else?

Brad April 30, 2012 at 04:57 pm

@azm, Good question, I don't know if it was a heart issue? I later heard from the flight crew that they were given a 6 hour window that this passenger required care, and since we were more than 9 hours from HKG at that time, we had to divert. I'm hoping to get the meals post up soon, although I haven't had much free time.

@Lawrence: The First Class seats are not good for conversing with fellow passengers, since they all are very private. On the 777-300ER, seats D and F can see the other if both passengers lean forward. The seat angle is away from the aisle, so its not good for sustained conversations. If you wanted to talk to someone more easily, that person could sit on the ottoman which faces the seat directly.

azm April 30, 2012 at 09:01 pm

Lawrence brings up a good point. I have first class award travel coming up with my wife on a UA 777 from IAD to NRT and wonder if it'll be hard to converse in F vs. C. On UA, the incremental difference between F and C isn't that much, and I would have gladly saved some points and been more social but there was no C availability. I feel like most F-classes are still designed with the solo passenger in mind.

@azm: but you won't get soup in United Business! ;)

azm May 1, 2012 at 01:32 am

Ah, soup! I knew I was paying for something extra. Thanks, Matthew.

Brad May 1, 2012 at 08:59 am

@azm Soup is a big deal, haha. Regarding seating, conversing between seats in First class would be difficult in most modern seating configurations. On long flights, other than when dining, I'm reading or watching the IFE, so I don't need to be able to face my travel partner. In Cathay (and United) First, you don't see other flyers from the seat, but by leaning forward, you could chat if needed

Mikey July 19, 2012 at 03:37 pm


whats your take on seat 2D,

I got on the Cathay web site first day seat selection was open for my trip in sept/oct and found 2D was all that was shown as still open.


Brad July 19, 2012 at 03:51 pm

Mike, Are you on the 777? There really are no bad seats in First class. I prefer the window seats just to have the option of a view, but all of the seats are quite similar. Cathay blocks several seats until the day of departure, presumably for bassinet. I had a hard time getting advanced seat assignments, and really didn't know our seating until just before departure.

On the flight in this post, there weren't many available seats when I looked online, but ultimately my wife and I were the only passengers in the cabin.

Mikey July 19, 2012 at 06:14 pm


Thanks for the encouraging words, I will be checking right up to getting on the plane, I prefer a window seat also, last time ( 2 years ago, we 1a and 2a ( myself and my daughter ). It was their 777 also.

Like you say, no bad seats in first, but the window is nice ( or just what I am used to)

Also, from Hkg to Bkk they show first on the 773 I am on., but its iffy if there are first or only business on regional planes now.