Day 2 (13 September): CX635 HKG-SIN

Today we continued our journey to Singapore.

HANG ON...  WHY DIDN'T YOU FLY DIRECT TO SINGAPORE?

That is a good question, seeing as I asked it myself.

Even 300 days in advance I could not get business class redemption seats direct from Sydney to Singapore.  Having said that, since we booked Qantas has put the A380 back onto the SYD-SIN route so now there are more redemption opportunities.

OVERNIGHT IN HONG KONG

We stayed at the Marriott SkyCity, which is in the airport precinct and just a short five minute ride away on the hotel's own shuttle bus.  We landed, cleared customs, found the bus and were checked into the hotel within a hour.  Perfect.

The Marriott is a beautiful, modern hotel.  We have stayed here previously and so knew exactly what to expect.  This time around there was a gemstone convention in the adjacent AsiaWorld expo building, so the hotel was full and buzzing with jewellers of all nationalities.  Unfortunately we did not get upgraded to the 75m2 1 bedroom suite as we were last time . We had  access to the Executive Lounge where much needed drinks and food were gratefully received.

 A lovely view from our window of a busy harbour with lots of traffic preparing for the large typhoon due on the weekend.

Breakfast the next morning (which we got at 67% off - love that Marriott Rewards Gold status) was an expansive affair.  The buffet caters for three different types: a Western style breakfast of cereal, toast, bacon and a pancake and omelette station; a more European style of cold meat, salmon, cheeses and breads; then an Asian style with Congee soup, dumplings, steamed buns, noodles and so-on.  Between the two of us we tried all three.  Delicious.

There was even enough time to just laze around in the hotel room.  Although for a little while we did feel we should be out doing something.

We highly recommend the Marriott for a short stopover.  Although only 25 minutes away from town on the Airport Express MRT, it is probably too far way from town for a longer stay.  An English man checking out complained about "having nothing to complain about" - the poor Asian receptionist did not understand the sarcasm.     

Now to our flight down to Singapore.

THE PLANE

A330-300, the medium haul workhorse of most airlines.

CLASS

Business – 14D & 14G, the two middle seats.  

Business class also provides free access to any of the seven Cathay Pacific lounges in Hong Kong Airport.  We went back to The Pier, which is still the best business class lounge we have experienced anywhere in the world.  Let's see if somewhere else can beat it.  With three different food areas serving a mix of ready made and made-to-order food there is nothing to fault.  For the plane-spotters there is also an unhindered view of the tarmac.  For tea lovers a bespoke tea house area, with blends to die for and brewed to perfection.

We have written before about The Pier - see http://www.marinus.com.au/iceland-trip/2017/8/16/day-48-1-august-hong-kong-then-hkg-syd Even in the middle of the day it was still largely empty, although it did start to get busier as the afternoon progressed.

LOYALTY SCHEME

Qantas Frequent Flyer (oneworld).  This is a continuation of our oneworld Classic Flight redemption.  We are still on our first leg because staying less than 24 hours in Hong Kong turned it into a transfer rather than a stopover.

DURATION

3.5 hours flying time.  We push back on time and take off without delay.

The flight is smooth, apart from some minor bumps as we dodge the ever present tropical storms.  The seat belt sign was switched on once.

There is a lot of freaking out in Hong Kong at the moment with the approach of a "super typhoon" from the South China Sea.  An English woman in the hotel lift seemed particularly concerned and was not satisfied by our assuring comments.  We were lucky -  the typhoon is not expected in Hong Kong until the weekend.

FREQUENCY

Cathay Pacific has six flights a day between Hong Kong and Singapore, so there are plenty of opportunities to find the perfect flight for your itinerary.

THE SEAT

Business class on just about all Cathay Pacific flights employs the increasingly industry standard 'reverse herringbone' configuration of 1+2+1 (question: why reverse herringbone?).  There are 40 business class seats, with 7 rows in the main cabin and 3 rows in a smaller cabin past the first bulkhead.

The seat is a semi enclosed suite which makes it very secluded - so secluded that one is almost separated from their neighbour.  It certainly inhibits conversation.  However the layout does mean that every business class passenger has direct access to the aisle.  No more climbing over your travel partner!

It seems like there are more storage spaces compared to the Qantas seat.  Every available corner or angle has a pocket or cupboard.  There is even a vanity mirror in the cupboard which contains the headset.

The seats lie flat and as usual are infinitely customisable.  This seat configuration has a fixed footrest which comes into play when the seat is fully reclined. The bulkhead narrows at this point so it is easy for the feet to bang against the partition.  However on a short flight such as this it was not a problem. The Navigatrix feels the seats are not quite as comfortable as Qantas - they are certainly not as wide.

ENTERTAINMENT

An 14 inch touch screen swings out from the partition at the touch of a button and seems more responsive than the Qantas screen. There is content in English, Chinese, Japanese, French and German and spans movies, TV shows, documentaries, music and more.  I did not ty to count the volume of available content - rest assured there is something to suit everyone's taste.  If you cannot find something to watch then you are not trying hard enough.

BAGGAGE

We have re-packed and now have all bags under 23kgs.  Phew!

COMFORT

There are no amenity packs on what Cathay Pacific considers a short haul flight.  Hot hand towels are handed out before take-off and landing. 

After lunch the lights are dimmed to a soft red and this certainly promotes drowsiness.

SERVICE

Outstanding. The crew is a diverse mix of South African captain, Philippine crew chief with Asian and Indian flight attendants.  They are all totally polite and efficient.

FOOD

On this short haul flight we get straight into service.  The Navigatrix thoroughly enjoyed an Oriental Breeze - a mix of cranberry juice, plum tea, honey and rose water.  The Navigator has a martini cocktail.

Lunch is a beautifully prepared entrée of fresh fruit.  The Navigator follows this with an amazing roasted duck in a lai fun noodle soup and The Navigatrix has beef stroganoff.  All of this was finished with Haagden Daaz ice cream. Yum.

The Navigator asked for a recommendation of wine.  The Vistamonti Dolcetto red "...displays a perfumed nose of cherry and plum fruit.  The palate is fresh with crunchy red and black berries."  Really?  All he knew was that it tasted delicious.

The food was certainly a cut above what we had on Qantas yesterday.

THE VERDICT

There is nothing to complain about with Cathay Pacific.  From check in to lounge to disembarkation the service and facilities are impeccable. 

Cathay Pacific should be your go-to airline when booking a mutli-leg itinerary.  Notwithstanding everything we have spoken about above, fees and taxes are lower as well.  We cannot recommend Cathay more highly.

RATING

We might have set the bar high with our score for Qantas.  It's not say we would not recommend Qantas but we have left ourselves little wiggle room.

10 out of 10.

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