The Cathay Pacific Inflight Experience

The Cathay Pacific Inflight Experience

Cathay Pacific is known as one of the world’s great airlines. Its unending list of awards prove that, and it is a highly sought after travel brand that people are often willing to pay a premium for when traveling long-haul.

Clearly, first class is the crème de la crème, but it is only offered on a handful of routes as the carrier (like so many others) is diminishing its offering in the top-level market. Still, the business class offering aboard (and on the ground) from Cathay Pacific is a culinary treat. Cathay is unique in that it serves its main course on a tiered trolley allowing diners to see all of the options.

Economy class passengers are not forgotten either, and they are pleasantly surprised by the offering once the cart comes around. In addition to a choice of meals, economy passengers can visit the galleys between meals for fresh fruit, noodle bowls, cookies, and beverages (alcoholic drinks are always free even in the back of the plane).

Before liftoff

Cathay Pacific’s lounges have always been a favorite among travelers, not only for their design and culinary presentation, but also for their famous noodle bars where made-to-order dishes include Dan Dan noodles and spicy Udon bowls. Ask anyone that flies Cathay regularly, and the noodle bar will surely come up!

cathay lounge
The noodle bar is popular in Cathay Pacific lounges

Beyond the noodle bar, premium cabin travelers (including oneworld Emerald fliers) will find a vast spread in Cathay lounges including salads, soups, and a range of hot dishes. Coffee, tea, wine, champagne, and cocktail bars are part of the top-shelf experience.

First class passengers have access to a select range of upgraded amenities especially in the airline’s gateway cities. Hong Kong has an exquisite lounge known as The Pier where travelers are treated to a la carte restaurant dishes plus a buffet of choices. The staffed bar is stocked with top-shelf liqueur and three types of Champagne, and there are spa treatments, showers, and private cabins to nap or relax in view of the planes.

The same goes for Cathay’s fine business class lounges where travelers are treated to a wide range of drinks and snacks including hot meals and ice cream. It is not uncommon to find other oneworld premium cabin travelers with status heading for the Cathay lounge in many airports thanks to its top-end food offering. In Hong Kong, its newest lounge, The Pier, offers an original teahouse concept with authentic Chinese brews.

On regional flights

While many of Cathay Pacific’s regional flights are offered by its partner Cathay Dragon, there are several premium destinations that bring in Cathay Pacific mainline including Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, and Singapore among others.

The impressive thing is that even if travelers find themselves aboard Cathay Dragon (formerly known as Dragonair), the service delivery and amenities are similar. Printed menus and an impressive menu of drinks (unlike other carriers in the area like Malaysia Airlines) are highlights of the service.

Many flights feature noodle bowl dishes that are specific to the departure region, which is a particular favorite of repeat passengers.

Transoceanic flavors

Since most of Cathay’s flights are long-haul, it is not a surprise that the airline would invest a lot in its long-haul premium cabin menu. Flights begin with a toast with Champagne or the airline’s signature cocktail the “Cathay Delight,” made of coconut milk, kiwi juice and fresh milk.

Most recently, the airline has formed a partnership with Chef Daniel Green who is known for lighter, greener cuisine. Who wants to eat heavy meals on a plane anyway? Green is a specialist in high-quality, low-carbohydrate cuisine, which is drawing a lot of attention internationally for Cathay Pacific. One of his targets is lowering the caloric fat in meals for passengers.

cathay meal
Healthy food is on the menu on Cathay Pacific flights

Cathay also partners with numerous brands like Illy espresso and Haagen-Daaz ice cream for its business class passengers. The airline’s wine cellar is wide-ranging, and it says it serves more than 1.5 million bottles a year on flights.

A new partnership with fine dining restaurant Mott 32 is bringing contemporary Chinese dishes to infight menus in all classes of service. Dishes include triple-cooked US Angus beef short ribs marinated overnight and modeled after a Hangzhou specialty, a salted lemon chicken breast, and slow-cooked sticky Iberico pork white turnip cake using white radish, rice flour, dried shrimps, minced pork or pork sausage and shitake mushrooms.

Cathay also launched a partnership with Mandarin Oriental to coordinate its dining for long-haul first class flyers where meals begin with caviar and tall flutes of Champagne. The special menu was originally an exclusive perk for first class flights from London, but was later expanded to include flights to Milan, New York, Paris and Tokyo and highlights dishes from the Michelin-starred chefs of many of properties around the world. This type of coordination between airlines and luxury hotel brands is often quite popular with high-paying passengers.

Another unique feature of its first class product is that flight attendants prepare eggs to order on skillets in the galley served with freshly toasted bread.