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Review: Cathay Pacific First Class Hong Kong to San Francisco

My trip ended on a high note, with a First Class seat on the Cathay Pacific flight to San Francisco. It was even more fun because my brother and sister, both of whom had so far *only* traveled in business class, got to experience it with me. I was constantly checking on them, asking them what they thought so far, how they liked the food, if they had dessert, reminding them to ask the FA’s to turn down the beds, etc. Basically, I was being a flight attendant. Except way more annoying because there were a bunch of them onboard doing all of that already.

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Cathay Pacific First Class Cabin HKG to SFO

Upon boarding, I was immediately impressed by the cabin. I’d read tons of reports about Cathay Pacific First Class, but it’s obviously different when you’re experiencing it for yourself. The cabin had a 1-1-1 configuration. I had seat 1A, while my siblings were seated right across the aisle from me. I think this was the one time both of my siblings were visibly impressed – especially my sister, who is usually unfazed by everything.

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Cathay Pacific first class seat flight 872 from Hong Kong to San Francisco

Cathay Pacific First Class Seat

With the seats being so private (and most passengers choosing to sleep during most of the flight), it almost felt like we were the only people on the plane.

Cathay Pacific First Class Seat HKG to SFO

Someone on Instagram referred to Cathay Pacific’s First Class seat as “more of a throne than a seat.” I’d say that’s about as accurate a description as I’ve ever read. The seat is very well padded and big enough to fit two people. Despite the fact that the seat is leather, it’s still very comfortable. There’s also plenty of storage space for personal items, plus all the stuff they give you for the flight: Blankets, noise cancelling headphones, pillows, amenity kits, etc.. 

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The flight attendant, Belle, came around and introduced herself shortly after we boarded. She asked me how to pronounce my last name. I told her to just call me by my first name, which I’m sure she appreciated. 

Cathay Pacific First Class pre-flight amuse-bouche: salmon tartare

Cathay Pacific First Class pre-flight amuse-bouche: salmon tartare

After the introduction, she took my drink order, then returned shortly after with a glass of water and salmon tartare.

Cathay Pacific First Class Amenity Kit 

This was followed by an amenity kit and pajamas. The pajamas were anything but small (the size I picked), but still very comfortable. The amenity kit was filled with some really great Aesop products: Night cream, day cream, lip balm, toothbrush/paste, hairbrush, and ear plugs. I especially loved the night cream and will be buying more of it once I run out.

Cathay Pacific First Class Amenity Kit

Cathay Pacific First Class Amenity Kit

After take-off, Belle returned with peanuts and the in-flight menu. She explained that dinner would be served on-demand, at any time I preferred. I wanted to get dinner out of the way so I could get some sleep, so I decided to skip the caviar and salad and go straight for the steak.

Cathay Pacific First Class peanuts served shortly after take-off

Cathay Pacific First Class peanuts served shortly after take-off

Cathay Pacific First Class Supper Menu

Cathay Pacific First Class Supper Menu

She returned a short while later to set the table, leaving one of those hand-written, personalized cards wishing passengers a nice flight and thanking them for flying Cathay Pacific. Mine actually read, “It is a pleasure to have you and your family onboard,” which was a nice touch. A bread basket was delivered shortly after, with way more bread than any single person can or should eat. I always wonder what they do with the leftovers – just toss them out or recycle them? Ignorance is bliss.

Dinner on Cathay Pacific First Class HKG to SFO

I was finishing up the last few episodes of How to Get Away with Murder, when the steak was served. And by steak I mean cow, because that slab of meat was literally the size of a small calf. I was expecting a small steak the size of baby carrots like they served on the in-bound flight in business class, but this was massive in comparison.

Cathay Pacific First Class Steak

Cathay Pacific First Class Steak

I ended up eating just half of it and while it was good enough, it really didn’t measure up to the tiny steak served in Business Class. I topped things off with black forest pudding and ice cream for dessert, which were served with pralines.

Dessert in Cathay Pacific First Class HKG to SFO

When the FA came around to clear the table, I asked if she could check whether my siblingswanted anything. She informed me they had each just eaten dinner but that she’d see if they wanted anything else, which was really appreciated because I was too comfortable to get up at that point.

Cathay Pacific First Class Black Forest Pudding

Cathay Pacific First Class Black Forest Pudding

Cathay Pacific First Class Turndown Service HKG to SFO

After watching some more tv, I got up to go change into my pajamas and the flight attendant walked by and asked if I wanted my bed turned down. By the time I got back from the bathroom, the bed was made and I managed to sleep very well.

Cathay Pacific First Class seat turned down

Cathay Pacific First Class seat turned down

I woke up five hours later and checked on my brother and sister. My brother, who can eat his weight in food, said the steak was too big and he couldn’t finish it but that he thought it was decent. My sister was watching tv and enjoying her dessert. Both of them had their beds made but were just watching tv. A few hours later I got hungry again and ordered the fish ball soup from the snack menu, which was pretty good. I topped it off with Cathay Pacific’s famous Hong Kong milk tea, which was slightly underwhelming. Not at all terrible, but also not deserving of all the fanfare.

Cathay Pacific First Class Snack HKG to SFO

Cathay Pacific First Class Fish Ball Soup

Cathay Pacific First Class Fish Ball Soup

After getting some more sleep, I woke up with about three hours to go before landing. I decided to skip breakfast since I’d eaten way too much on this flight, but in case you’re curious, here’s the menu: 

Cathay Pacific First Class Breakfast Menu

Cathay Pacific First Class Breakfast Menu

I changed out of my pajamas and checked in on my siblings before heading back to my seat. I spent the rest of the flight wrapping up a few writing assignments. The crew soon came around to distribute bottled water and thank us for flying Cathay Pacific.

Cathay Pacific First Class HKG - SFO: Approaching San Francisco

Cathay Pacific First Class HKG – SFO: Approaching San Francisco

Landing at SFO

We landed in SanFrancisco around 10:30 PM and it was great because there were no lines at immigration. I thought for sure they were going to have a million questions for us and search our bags like that time I flew home from Istanbul with more luggage than Kim and Kanye and got profiled as a drug mule. To my surprise, that wasn’t the case. The agent asked if we brought back any food and when I said, “Coffee from Bali” he let us go. No questions about my job or who I visited – just “welcome home” and we were off retrieving our bags. 

We were out in record time and headed outside, where Belle, our flight attendant, was waiting for her ride and waiving at us enthusiastically. As we were driving away, I got a delayed text from my mom saying she and my dad were on the plane and how grateful she was to be able to spend the next 14 hours sleeping comfortably. That right there, was the highlight of the entire trip for me.

Final Thoughts on Cathay Pacific First Class HKG to SFO

I had a great experience flying Cathay Pacific First Class to San Francisco and appreciate it even more following the AAdvantage devaluation announcement. Hopefully, it will continue to be possible to fly Cathay Pacific First Class to/from Asia at a reasonable redemption level by using Alaska miles. As of this writing, first class tickets to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific require 70,000 miles one-way.

Next time, I would fly business class if I had a choice. It requires fewer miles and the experience isn’t all that different. You still get a spacious flatbed seat in business class and the food is great (IMO better than first class). The service is pretty much on-demand in both cabins. Unless you can’t go without caviar and absolutely must have an oversized seat in a smaller cabin, Cathay Pacific’s business class is totally sufficient. Try it at least once if you’re curious, but don’t beat yourself up if business class is all you can manage post-AAdvantage devaluation.

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Ariana Arghandewal

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