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FLIGHT REVIEW: Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class, Singapore – Bangkok

Many people associate Cathay Pacific with its home base of Hong Kong, which isn’t surprising given that there are over 50 flights a week from Singapore to Hong Kong. While Cathay Pacific is one of the preferred choice when travelling to Hong Kong, what some people may not know is that Cathay Pacific also offers a daily service to Bangkok from Singapore.

The Cathay Pacific Singapore-Bangkok daily service is one of Cathay’s unique fifth freedom flights around the world, and the only one operating between the two Southeast Asian cities.

I decided to take a slight detour to Bangkok today while on my way to Hong Kong, to check out if this option is indeed a much better choice than other full service carriers.

The schedule

Cathay Pacific runs a return flight between Singapore and Bangkok daily, in addition to its eight daily services to Hong Kong.

At the time of writing, the daily schedule is as follow:

CX712SIN-BKK13201500DailyA330-300 / A350-900
CX717BKK-SIN11551525DailyA330-300 / A350-900/1000

*Aircraft types are always subject to change

While Cathay has an issue of aircraft consistency, they don’t really have an issue with cabin product consistency. Unlike Singapore Airlines, Cathay essentially only have two business class seat types – the regional business class and the long-haul business class product, both of them are used on services to Singapore.

The lounge

All business and first class passengers will be able to access the Cathay Pacific lounge at Terminal 4 before their flight. The lounge is pretty new, having opened back in November 2017 when Cathay Pacific moved to Terminal 4.

Cathay Pacific Changi Airport Terminal 4 lounge

Of course, if you are holding a oneworld Emerald equivalent status (including British Airways Executive Club Silver, Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold), you will also be able to access the lounge as well.

The aircraft

On my A330 aircraft today, there are three classes: Business, Premium Economy and Economy. In business, there are 39 seats over 10 rows. There’s a small premium economy section consisting of 21 seats over three rows, while in economy there are a total of 191 seats. It’s a fairly loose configuration, given that an A330 can carry over 300 people at max.

Pre-departure drinks

Note that there are three versions of the A330 that Cathay Pacific operates. Two of them have the long-haul Cirrus business class seats, while the last one uses the regional recliner business seats, which unfortunately is used on the Singapore-Hong Kong services at times. If you are not sure, just check up the seat map of the flight before you book.

The seat

Fortunately for me today, the cabin product on the Singapore-Bangkok sector was the long-haul business product. The cabin is laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration in a reverse herringbone format, with all seats having direct aisle access. Seats are Cirrus seats, designed by Zodiac Aerospace, and can be found on several other carriers including Air France, American Airlines, and Delta.

The beauty of such 1-2-1 configuration is that it works for both couples and solo travellers. If you are travelling solo, the window seats work best, but if you are travelling as a pair, the middle pair seats will be your ideal positions.

Given it’s a long-haul business class product, the seat can be converted into a lie-flat bed at a touch of the automatic controls, with the seat flushed with the ottoman in front of the seat.

Ottoman that can be used as a footrest too

Every seat has a in-flight entertainment screen that folds out from the seat in front of you. When stowed in the original position, the screen will be at a 90 degree angle from you, so that means that you don’t get any entertainment during take-off, landing and taxiing. If you ask me, this is about the only weakness of the seat design.

Seat controls, power sockets are conveniently located next to you

The seat controls are conveniently located at the side of the seat. The entertainment control handset is stowed next to you, with the power socket and audio inputs right next to it. This makes it very convenient to access and use, particularly with the side table right next to all the sockets.

The service

The flight time today is under two hours, making it a very short flight for a meal service. Given it’s a mid-day flight, lunch was served.

For those who are familiar with Cathay Pacific’s services to Hong Kong, you will know that it usually does a three course meal in business class, with each course served separately.

Given the short length of today’s flight, the meal service is therefore similar to what Singapore Airlines offer on its short haul services, where everything is served on a single tray.

For starters, there was a bowl of fresh fruit, with no other options available.

There was three choices of main course:

  • Stir fried beef, sha cha sauce, kailan, oyster mushroom and egg fried rice
  • Pan fried salmon fillet with sumac spice, carrot potato mash, quinoa with zucchini, peas, sun blushed tomato and dill mustard sauce
  • Grilled chicken with Bali sauce, fried noodles with vegetables and chilli sauce

Apart from the menu that was already placed on my seat, what’s good about the Cathay Pacific business class meal service was that the cabin crew will wheel out a trolley with all the mains available, so you can visually take a look at the options before deciding what you want. I always thought this was a much better option, because words can only conjure an image of what the dish might look like, which more often than not turns out to be different from what is plated.

I went with the salmon with quinoa. Shortly after the main was served, another cabin crew trailing behind came around with a basket of bread, and I gladly chose garlic bread to go with my meal.

What differentiates Cathay Pacific from Singapore Airlines was their dessert service. Singapore Airlines typically does a cake or a room temperature dessert service.

Loyalists will know that Cathay Pacific dishes out Haagen-Dazs ice cream for its passengers, and this is no different even for this short-haul service and definitely a plus for me.

For those who are interested in the beverage list, here are the wines and champagne on offer today:

Cathay Pacific ex-Singapore wine list

The Entertainment

I am a huge fan of Cathay Pacific’s in-flight entertainment system. As earlier mentioned, the only draw back was the design of the screen, which flips away from the seat during take-off and landing, so that means that you won’t be able to watch your shows from gate to gate.

Cathay Pacific in-flight entertainment system

Back to the content. Cathay Pacific boasts a wide variety of entertainment options on its IFE, and what I personally enjoyed the most was the huge range of Chinese and Asian content. I find that particularly lacking on other carriers, including Singapore Airlines.

Beyond Hong Kong produced shows, they also carry a healthy amount of China, Taiwan, Japan and Korean content, including some more obscure options that may be hard to find. Some of the best shows I’ve watched are on Cathay flights. Having said that, they are also pretty strong in their Hollywood offerings – you will be able to find some of the hottest films on their system.

Noise-cancelling earphones

Final thoughts

The Cathay Pacific fifth freedom service between Singapore and Bangkok is a very much welcomed competition if you are looking beyond the Star Alliance carriers (i.e. Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways).

While it’s pretty much a very short flight, coupled with its brand-new lounge at Changi Airport, this is a product that works and is a very worthy alternative to what Singapore Airlines can offer. Schedule wise, while it only offer one flight a day, the middle-of-day timing also works pretty while for both business and leisure traveller – I could still head to work in the morning and still make it on the flight, while the return flight affords me some time in the morning in Bangkok before coming back to Singapore in time for dinner.

For those with Asia Miles, the redemption on this flight is however slightly more pricey than Krisflyer. You will need 25,000 Asia Miles each way in business class on Cathay, as compared to 21,500 Krisflyer miles each way on Singapore Airlines.

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