Friday, August 8, 2008

Cathay Pacific Business Class + Marco Polo Lounge = Very Happy Doctor and Future Mrs. Logistics

Over the past 10 years that I've worked in the travel industry I've been lucky enough to fly business class on several airlines all over the world. Thus I can state with confidence that Cathay Pacific may take the cake.

We had opted to fly Cathay with the possibility of getting upgraded in one direction over flying with confirmed business class seats in both directions on Indian carrier Jet Airways for a few reasons. For one we liked the Cathay schedules better, and more importantly because Jet would have been through Mumbai, which I was pleased to avoid altogether on this trip. In general it's advisable to avoid domestic transfers in India at all costs.

Flying with Cathay also meant that we had the option to stop off in Kuala Lumpur for a day and a half on our way over to India, a city that both the Doctor and Future Mrs. Logistics are both quite fond of. We would've been satisifed with Bangkok or Singapore as well, but we were just in Bangkok last year and Singapore was more expensive, so KL it was.

The other disadvantage of Jet is that the SFO-BOM flight is via Shanghai, yet the business class industry discount they offered me didn't allow for the option of stopping in Shanghai, which we both would have enjoyed. However that also would've meant applying for a Chinese visa, which from what I hear hasn't been the easiest process with all of the Olympic security. Just my luck I probably signed some Free Tibet petition 10 years ago and am on their blacklist anyway. We were also

But I digress...

We were stoked to learn upon checking in at SFO that are upgrades for our SFO-HKG flight had been confirmed, although they couldn't seat us next to each other. This proved to be no problem as we were able to switch seats upon boarding, but it didn't really matter much since Cathay's business class mini-suites are so private that there's no option to socialize anyway.

And when I say mini-suite, I mean maxi-sweet. With the possible exception of limited elbow room, the seats were comfy, private, and had private video screens that were bigger than my monitor at work (from back in the day when I used to work). Jukebox junkies such as myself will also appreciate the create-your-own-playlist functionality in their audio programming, plus dozens of video options...including several episdoes of "Da Ali G Show" which is enough to kill hours of time on a long flight. Throw in some high-tech noise cancellation headphones (an exceptionally nice touch) and you've got yourself one hell of a business class cabin. It was easily the most enjoyable 14 hour flight of my life. Plus I finally got to see Blood Diamond so I can knock that off of my Netflix queue. The Doctor is currently in negotiations with Leo DiCaprio to play him in the upcoming big-screen biopic.

Upon arrival in Hong Kong at around 6:00 am we were a little bit disappointed that none of the shops or restaurants were open yet. While we'd expect that at smaller airports, it was a suprise at a major international airport such as Hong Kong (one of the tops in the world in the Doctor's not so humble opinion) where there were several flights arriving from all over the globe at that hour (London, Sydney, LA, etc.) The first bank of connecting flights leaves around 7-9 am, so they're definitely losing out on some easy revenue there.

Although we hadn't been upgraded to business class for our HK-Kuala Lumpur flight my man Terry had authorized us access to Cathay's Marco Polo lounge. Again my previous high marks for HK's airport deteriorated slightly as the signage for the lounge is extremely poor and we had some trouble finding it. Bad signage is one of my complaints about the new international termainal at SFO (and justifiably so), but I can't say that HK was much better, at least in this case.

We did eventually find the lounge and man was it worth it. We didn't even notice the game room with all the Play Stations until we were leaving, which was probably a good thing. What impressed me most was that the lounge was open-air overlooking the terminal rather than a totally contained cocoon like most business/first class lounges are. It was still quiet and peaceful but also bright and airy. And of course we got lots of free snacks (but no shortbread). The Doctor recommends the beef sew mai, but the Future Mrs. Logistics prefers the pork and shrimp.

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