This was the first leg of a Bangkok to Tokyo Narita return ticket. I purchased it on the Cathay website the week before for THB 27,990 (HKD 6,028). It booked into V class on all legs and would accrue 5,778 Asia Miles. This may seem like a good price, but it was higher because I was travelling during the festive period. If I had travelled a couple of days later I could have got a lower price on one of Cathay’s cheap fares out of Bangkok.
The electronic ticket format was e-mailed in Cathay’s new format, as part of their rebranding. This is unwieldy and the key information is not immediately visible. As well as an e-mail body text, the accompanying pdf was seven pages long, for a total size of 345 KB in my inbox. I would prefer a simple, more user friendly and less data heavy format.
At the airport
The Cathay desk was almost devoid of passengers, and I checked in immediately. The friendly ground agent was swift. She told me that departure would be at 1.20 p.m. not the scheduled 1.10 p.m. The updated time was already printed on my ticket. This was my first time to see the new Cathay boarding pass, also updated as part of their new branding. I picture it here by an old one for comparison – the demarcation between the classes has been diminished, which makes it look a bit sparse alas.
Clearing immigration took nigh on three quarters of an hour because of the long queue, so my planned stop in the Cathay lounge was curtailed and as there was no boarding announcement I headed to the gate to arrive at 1.05 p.m., which I thought was cutting it fine. However, upon arrival, everyone was sitting at the gate and the plane was still being loaded. I was told it would be ten to fifteen minutes before we boarded but as the gate (G6) is some distance from the lounge I felt that I may as well stay. I do think that the lounge staff should have informed waiting passengers of when the plane was ready for boarding.
This was a B777-300ER and in economy class was about two thirds full. The two seats next to me were empty.
We left around half an hour late and arrived at the gate in Hong Kong at 5.17 p.m., slightly over half an hour late. The captain explained that the delay was due to a delay on the inbound aircraft and air traffic congestion in Hong Kong. The flight was smooth but for a small bit of turbulence on the initial descent into Hong Kong. We landed at gate 18, conveniently placed for immigration.
I noticed inflight that the magazine has also been resdesigned and read it – it was a pretty good read. I did notice an article by Cathay’s customer services director in which he outlined plans to improve from the current performance of 70% of flights arriving within fifteen minutes of schedule to 85%, which is still not a very demanding target. Cathay’s delays are becoming a real issue and I hope that they do have a proper plan to get a grip on this issue.
The cabin crew were efficient and visible for most of the flight. I didn’t get a Marco Polo greeting and didn’t see the purser once. They carried a South China Morning Post but hadn’t loaded the local Thai newspaper I wanted.
Food and Drink
This was a relatively smooth experience. The delay while not terrible was annoying as it has been a recurring feature of my recent Cathay flights. Versus Thai on the reverse route, the food is a distant second.
Guest Blogger: Christopher R.