Hey, three out of four ain’t bad…
I had wondered if flying Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong on Christmas Day would get my girlfriend and I a free upgrade from Premium Economy to Business Class. For whatever reason, it did—and not only that, but as things turned out, it was the gift that kept giving, and giving…
Dates flown: December 25th, 2014 to January 8th, 2015
Full itinerary: YYZ-HKG-TPE-HKG-YYZ
At around 10pm Eastern on Christmas Eve we arrived with bags in tow at Cathay Pacific’s check-in counter at Toronto’s Pearson Airport, for our annual pilgrimage to Hong Kong. After we handed over our passport we were thrilled to hear just about the best thing any airline representative could ever say to travellers with a 15-plus hour flight ahead of them:
“Merry Christmas! We’ve upgraded you to Business Class!”
And just like that we were moved up front, to seats 21D and G on this B77G. After the mandatory trip through security we made ourselves comfortable in T3’s Plaza Premium Lounge—much better, in my experience, than the AA Admirals Club in the same terminal or Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge in T1, yet merely average in comparison to Cathay’s legendary lounges in Hong Kong. Anyway, the lounge was unusually quiet but the flight was clearly packed—at least at the back, where we no longer had to sit.
My Christmas dinner, served just a bit early at 3:30am Eastern… could do worse!
This little gold box of Christmas cookies was a nice touch. I really must have enjoyed that lie-flat seat, because I didn’t take any more pictures until we landed in Hong Kong, a little more refreshed than usual.
Stewardess! There’s a hair on my seat!
Ok, so this wasn’t actually my seat but the one in front, and by the way also not our flight to Hong Kong but our side trip to Taipei the following week for New Year’s Eve. We were upgraded on that flight too!
Though only in the air for about an hour and a half, we still got to enjoy full meal service; here’s my slow-cooked pork spare ribs, Wu Xi style. The cabin was almost empty, with maybe six passengers total at most; another gentleman across the aisle from us had just reached Marco Polo Gold (I think?), and kept the flight attendants busy with a steady stream of requests for drinks. Good for him.
For our return to Hong Kong, guess what? Yup, another free upgrade! But this time something seemed different. When the pre-boarding announcement was made at the departure gate there seemed to be an awful lot of people lining up for Business Class—too many, in fact. And when we boarded this Boeing 777 I realized why…
… It was Cathay’s new Regional Business Class. New to us, anyway.
We clearly didn’t need lie-flat seats for the 90-minute hop back to Hong Kong. If I could fault CX for anything on this flight it would only be these mobile phone caddies in the seatbacks in front of us. Smartphones are getting bigger every year, yet my relatively tiny late-2013-vintage Nexus 5 clearly wouldn’t fit.
Alas, a fourth upgrade would have spoiled us too much, and wasn’t in the cards for the final flight back home to Toronto. But thanks to my oneworld status we at least got to sample the new Qantas Lounge at HKG. Again, Cathay’s lounges at their home base set an impossibly high standard, but Qantas met that and then some. There was a full hot buffet, fancy coffee service complete with Aussie flat whites, and as an added bonus the joint was virtually empty for the duration of our visit.
Back in Premium Economy for the ride home which, all things considered (like price), wasn’t bad at all. There was a bit of ruckus in the front row before takeoff; someone apparently didn’t appreciate being sat next to a baby and was trying to scam a seat in the cabin ahead. That’s not how you do it, buddy—though I’ve honestly no idea how we managed to do it, either. I can only give a big thumbs-up to my favourite airline for making it happen!