Last week, I flew international First Class on Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines during my Asia trip. I used 67,500 American Airlines miles to book a First Class award from Hong Kong to Narita on Cathay Pacific. I had a short layover which turned into a misconnect and left me stranded in Tokyo where I would continue from Narita to Los Angeles on Japan Airlines.
Last year in August, I wrote a post called Why Flying International First Class Doesn’t Make Sense. Lucky of One Mile at a Time countered the article with Why flying international first class does makes sense. In the conclusion of his post he wrote “Jamison, next time you redeem American miles for travel to Asia I challenge you to burn an extra 12,500 miles and fly first class on Cathay Pacific. If you still feel the same way I’ll send you a bottle of Krug. Actually, make that Korbel, since brands don’t really matter. ;)”
The post is 9 months old and I’ve come to a conclusion that the comment he wrote did make sense. A Business Class redemption would cost 55,000 miles and a First Class redemption would cost 67,500 miles. It’s only a 12,500 mile difference which isn’t that much more and I have tons of American Airlines miles. Originally, I wanted to fly Cathay Pacific from Hong Kong to Los Angeles nonstop since that is one of Lucky’s favorite redemptions. I couldn’t find First Class space available on the nonstop, but there was space available with a connection in Narita. As a result, I would have the chance to try two international First Class products on two different airlines.
I’m a huge fan of Ben and I’ve been reading his trip reports for many years and all he does is fly international first class. In fact, he’s flown over 100 international first class segments. It was my very first time in international First Class and I was excited to try new and exciting food and beverage. I’ve never had free-flowing Dom Perignon or Krug in my life. I’ve also never eaten caviar before and I was curious on how it tasted.
Cathay Pacific: Hong Kong to Narita
When boarding began, I was offered a beverage of my choice. I asked for “Dom Perignon” or “Krug” and was disappointed to hear from my flight attendant that it wasn’t loaded on this flight. She mentioned that it could have been the fact that it was a short haul and did mention they did “switch champagnes” quite often. I believe it was probably due to the short haul. I asked “What is the best champagne you have?” She responded with “Amour de Deutz” which I’ve never heard of so I started Googling it. I found out that it was a pretty expensive champagne and it tasted quite good.
I also noticed that I was the only first class passenger in the First Class cabin. I was sitting in 1A (window) with direct aisle access and was comfortable in my seat. I love how the Cathay Pacific seats have real pillows attached to the headrest.
The flower was also a nice touch and was unexpected. Even Heather Poole was fascinated with the orchids and impressed that any airline would have that.
To tell you the truth, I could care less about the seat. I’m so used to the angled-flat American Airlines Business Class seats. Since this was a short flight, I did not sleep at all and was more worried about charging my iPhone (taking pictures) and enjoying the service.
The meal service actually started on the ground (as I detailed in this post) due to a mechanical delay. I had an amazing view of the Tarmac watching planes land and take off while having lunch.
The service was the highlight of this flight which began with my flight attendant calling me Mr. Ng like 50 times! The other flight attendant working in First Class kept topping off my champagne. My favorite beverage onboard is the Hong Kong Milk tea which is absolutely delicious. I wanted a “cold” version and she said “I’ve never had someone asked me to make a cold one”. She laughed and I laughed as well. I told her, “It could really use some tapioca balls” and we both laughed. I looked over the Western and Japanese menus and noticed that there was no caviar option. I asked the flight attendant and she said “There’s no caviar on this flight”. I was a bit disappointed to find out that I wouldn’t be having caviar, but I realized that this was a short haul flight. I ordered the Japanese menu and the food was pretty standard and nothing WOW’d me. In the end of the meal service, I was handed a personalized hand written card which I thought was over the top. I’ve never had a personalized card handed to me on a flight before.
After the flight took off, I asked the flight attendant if there were any pajamas or amenity kit. She apologized and said that they don’t offer it on the short haul. She did manage to find me a pair of slippers that was probably left from a previous flight. At this point, I just wanted to go to sleep since it was a 3.5 hour flight. There weren’t any mattress pads for the bed or anything, but I slept like a baby for three hours.
Throughout the entire flight and while in the ground, she called me “Mr. Ng” and even knelt down on the floor numerous times to speak to me in eye level. During meal service, she kept updating me on the status of the flight since I was worried about my connection. After I deplaned, she even looked after me for a few minutes and told me that everything will be alright. Even though there was no Dom, Krug, or caviar on this flight, this was the best flight experience that I’ve ever had!