Trip Report: Hong Kong to Paris Charles de Gaulle, Cathay flight 261, first class
This was ticketed as part of a One World Multi Carrier award ticket.
This flight is scheduled to leave Hong Kong at five past midnight, which is a convenient time if you want to make it after a full day of work and dinner in town. However, if one wants to enjoy the experience of a long haul flight in first class then it’s not ideal timing, as the dinner service is late and most of the flight is at nighttime.
I arrived at Hong Kong airport an hour or before the scheduled departure. I had left an item on an inbound flight the previous day and the first thing the ground agent did was to inform me that it was being held for me, which I thought was excellent service. I had been pre-assigned seat 2A.
At the airport
Security at that time of night was fast and I waited in the lounge. Boarding was slightly delayed and about twenty minutes later than planned I proceeded to gate 46 where boarding was starting.
The flight was operated by a Boeing 777-300ER.
The seat is large and fully reclining and provided a very comfortable night of sleep.
There were three passengers in the first class cabin. The cabin crew serving first class came and offered champagne on the ground, which was served with a small amuse bouche.
I slept well and was woken up by an announcement that we were half an hour from Paris. At that point the purser asked if I wanted breakfast. I ordered some but as there was little time left, it was a rushed, partial breakfast and I would have appreciated being woken earlier so I could have a proper breakfast.
We had departed just shy of half an hour late but arrived on time at the gate in Charles de Gaulle’s terminal 2A. Charles de Gaulle comes in for a lot of criticism but the queue for immigration upon arrival was short and the wait for baggage also only a few minutes long, although the baggage hall design is unnecessarily chaotic. From the terminal there are good transport connections into Paris city.
The cabin crew were adequate in service but not much more. They were friendly although not overly so. Their service was at times a little hesitant, however. It was almost an hour after takeoff before dinner was served, which struck me as odd in a cabin with so few passengers on a flight with a departure time as late as this one.
There was a squarish Aesop branded toiletry bag provided at the start of the flight. It contained earplugs but no eyemask. When I asked the flight attendant whether I could have an eyemask, she looked slightly alarmed and said, “oh they haven’t taken that out now too have they?” It was only later she realised that the eyemasks are packaged with the pyjama suits, which I had declined, and so opened one and brought me the very comfortable eyemask.
Food and Drink
There was a standard dinner menu and also a promotional menu from a local restaurant. I started with caviar, which was fine, and then had the bean soup which was tasty. I had wanted the ham but the flight attendant at that point asked if I wanted the salad, to which I said no. Only when she then brought the entrée did I realise that the salad was the ham dish. As it was late and the entrée was already there I simply moved on. I asked for the steak to be rare and it was delicious. The cheese course was a pleasing selection although not especially Gallic.
The wine list was a bit uninspiring. It seems reasonable to assume that Cathay’s first class wine list on its Paris route should be its flagship wine list, or at least on a par with those to London or New York City. The German promotional wine list, though currently a standard feature across multiple destinations, was for me irrelevant and I would have preferred a wider choice of French wines. The champagne was Krug, always a reliable choice, but the French red on offer was a 2007 Branaire Ducru. It was an enjoyable wine, well-structured and with a decent body as Branaire Ducru always has, but as is also often the case with Branaire Ducru, it wasn’t a mesmerising wine and for a first class choice seemed to be lacking. Similarly the post (a Ramos Pinto Quinta de Ervamoira ten year old) was pleasant enough but not outstanding.
For breakfast I had the Chinese option of congee and rice rolls which was delicious.
This was an enjoyable flight with a very sound night’s sleep. The food and drinks were good, though not superb.