My flight from Chicago to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific first class was probably my most anticipated flight to date.
For weeks and months leading up to my flight from Chicago to Hong Kong, I stalked pictures on blogs, Instagram, and videos on YouTube of Cathay Pacific’s first class cabin, just to give myself a preview of what I was about to experience.
From the hundreds of pictures that I saw, and hours of videos that I watched (no exaggeration), I knew that this might be my fanciest flight to date.
Cathay Pacific was the first airline I flew on my first ever international trip from Manila to Hong Kong at age seven. Apart from that sentimental reason, this airline has always been known for its world-class hospitality and service. There’s a reason why Cathay Pacific consistently ranks on the top 3 of SkyTrax’s prestigious list of World’s Best Airlines in the world for years.
The idea of experiencing one of the longest flights in the world in first class, and on my favorite airline on the most modern aircraft, made the anticipation for this trip so much more.
The First Class lounge is part of the experience for any traveler flying first or business class.
For many first class passengers, the perks of flying first class start way before boarding. The amenities included when flying first class typically include seamless check-in to gate experience, a spectacular selection of lounge food, access to a spa, fancy resting facilities, over the top shower rooms, and for some, access to a gym.
Unfortunately, the experience above does not exist in Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
The Cathay Pacific first class lounge at Chicago O’Hare International Airport pales in comparison to other first class lounges in major airports in the world.
However, it is not Cathay Pacific’s shortcoming.
Despite one of the busiest airports in the world and a major hub in America, Chicago O’Hare is an outdated airport without state-of-the-art terminals. For such a high-profile airport, Chicago O’Hare feels very pedestrian compared to award-winning airports such as Singapore Changi, Seoul Incheon, or even LAX’s Tom Bradley (international terminal).
When flying first or business class, I generally arrive at least three hours before departure to take advantage of the amenities in the lounge. But considering I knew what to expect, I opted to arrive at the airport two hours prior to departure.
After checking my luggage, I went straight to security that includes a lane specifically for first class passengers.
Thankfully, the line was a breeze, and the security check was rather fast.
It was straight to the “lounge” shortly after!
Cathay Pacific Lounge at Chicago O’Hare
Cathay Pacific passengers flying first and business class can use the British Airways First Lounge at terminal 5.
For those who are frequent flyers in business and first class, I’m sure you are accustomed to what to expect when you get to a lounge. With that said, don’t expect too much once you arrive at the lounge.
The British Airways First Lounge at ORD is uncomfortably cramped. Not just tiny, but feels as confined as a Greyhound bus. The chairs are unfortunately organized in a way that you could potentially bump knees with other passengers if the lounge reaches at least 75% in full capacity. In all, waiting in that lounged felt almost very uncomfortable.
Apart from the lack of space, the lounge offers very few food selections. There was a small selection of fresh-cut veggies (carrots, celery, cucumbers), and other basic snacks like mini sandwiches, a bag of chips and popcorn, and Milano cookies.
The lounge also has a limited restroom, one for males and one for females. Considering the passenger capacity inside the lounge, they would need to install restrooms that could accommodate more people to avoid the hassle of having to wait for your turn.
Overall, the lounge itself is really nothing special to write about, certainly not at the same level as the Royal Orchid lounge in Bangkok. However, they had enough decent selection of snacks to keep us occupied before boarding.
Cathay Pacific first class passengers enjoy an array of food & beverage selections the moment you are seated.
I was greeted with an amuse-bouche and a glass of Krug champagne and grapefruit juice by request.
Considering there wasn’t much to choose from at the lounge, I really made up for it the moment I boarded.
The fun started the moment I took my seat and got served all of these:
While Cathay Pacific’s first class cabin doesn’t feature a private suite, like other 5-star carriers like Emirates and Singapore Airlines, the seats (or pods) itself can easily accommodate three people.
You really can’t emphasize enough on the width and size of the seat. The moment I boarded Cathay Pacific’s first class cabin, my initial thought upon boarding was something along the lines of, “You can sit an entire village in there.”
Additionally, Cathay Pacific’s first class cabin only has six seats, spread on a 1-1-1 seating configuration, giving extra privacy for its passengers.
But to get even more extra privacy, I recommend selecting seats 1A and 2A.
As you can see from the seat above, seats 1D, 2D, faces 1K and 2K – which means they share the same aisle. In contrast, 1A and 2A are left alone with the other aisle.
Given the size and space of the seat, the suite comes with a sizable closet space behind the TV that can fit your carry-ons and jacket.
Other features of the seat include an LCD touchscreen for lighting and back massage controls, a sizeable personal TV, pajamas, a private closet, and transforms into a bed when you ready to get some sleep. Each seat offers 81 inches of pitch and is 36 inches wide.
Inside the suite are two seating areas and a footrest. The footrest can be converted into a seat for dining companions, equipped with a seatbelt whenever somebody dines with you. The tray is also large enough to accommodate two passengers sharing the same surface.
Finally, the footrest also serves as the foot of the bed when the seat turns into a lie-flat position.
It didn’t take long after takeoff for me to change into the super comfy pajamas that are offered in Cathay Pacific first class cabin.
I requested turndown service just after lunch, which was immediately attended by the flight purser. Cathay Pacific’s bedding is so soft that it can immediately knock-you sleeping in no time.
When it’s time to sleep, the flight attendants will turn your three-foot-wide seat into one of the softest beds in the sky, complete with a mattress pad, comforter, and several pillows. This was, without a doubt, the best sleep I’ve ever gotten on a flight.
FOOD & BEVERAGE
Cathay Pacific’s first class menu offers a wide range of selection of Western and traditional Asian cuisine. Just like many five-star airlines, the items on the menu are served on-demand throughout the flight.
So don’t worry if you really enjoyed the delicious prawns for lunch – you can order it later on as you please (provided its availability, of course.)
Each of the six seats in the first class has a flower decoration, which is arranged shortly after take-off. In most countries, the flower would already be up and ready before boarding. But due to US customs policies, the flight attendants have to collect them before landing, and can only distribute them after takeoff.
Cathay Pacific first class in-flight entertainment selection certainly won’t keep you bored for the duration of the 16-hour flight.
StudioCX has one of the most comprehensive on-demand entertainment of any airline.
I found that most of the movie choices were current, with plenty of recently released Hollywood blockbusters. I watched The Martian for the first during this flight!
With that said, I have a few comments with the touchscreen itself.
The IFE system could be controlled by a touchscreen remote control, which was stored in easy reach. The retractable remote was responsive.
But one the inconvenience was the challenge in sorting movies within the hundreds of selections (first world problem, am I right?!) because the IFE was rather disorganized. For example, the selection of the hundreds of films are not alphabetically organized. In the western category, there were about 200 films, ranging from new releases to Hollywood classics. For TV, there were 218 selections with American and international programming.
Another inconvenience was the requirement to watch about five minutes of advertisements for every movie. It’s not very evident, but you can actually skip over the ads once the movie starts.
The IFE also offers an option for a wake-up call. You may select if you wish to wake up for a certain meal, or simply to be put on the “Do Not Disturb” mode.
Unfortunately, Cathay Pacific’s 777-300ER aircraft are not yet fully equipped with Wi-Fi. In 2017, the airline announced that all wide-body aircraft would have Wi-Fi by 2020.
One thing I appreciate about the Cathay Pacific’s cabin crew is their ability to make you feel like you are the only passenger on-board.
The crew will have your name memorized the moment you board the aircraft. They will then escort you directly to your seat, where a personal hand-written note is waiting for you.
In all, it’s hard to say anything bad about the onboard service from this flight. I was escorted to my seat the moment I stepped foot in the cabin. The other members of the crew assigned were equally as friendly and attentive. In tandem, the flight attendants offer their service with a smile and tried to offer me the best experience possible
Overall, the service on board was exceptional. The flight services manager came around to each seat, introducing herself and offering a Fast Track pass for Hong Kong. Prior to deplaning, the Purser came around to personally thank me for flying with Cathay.