HKG – JFK, CX 830, January 2016
This was ticketed as the third leg of a Tokyo to New York return ticket which in total booked into V class, costing 95,390 yen (HKD 6,326) and accrued 19,717 Asia Miles. In terms both of price and of the mileage accruing, I find this to be excellent value by Cathay’s standards.
This is the first Cathay service of the day to New York and many hours before the later ones. I prefer to fly overnight as a rule. However, the advantage of this service to me was that it had me arriving in New York City in the mid-afternoon rather than at nighttime.
I did not need to queue to checkin. The checkin agent offered to move me to seat 40C which had extra legroom, which I accepted. It’s not an exit row seat, but the second row in economy and for some reason has no seat in front of it, so there is indeed a lot of legroom.
The boarding started later than I expected, as the scheduled departure was 9.10 a.m. and boarding didn’t actually start till around nine. Boarding was at gate 18 and we pushed back at about twenty five past nine.
This was operated by a Boeing 777-300ER. The seats were properly reclining ones, not the clamshell ones.
The economy cabin looked more or less full. We followed a transpacific route then flew over Canada, moving into American space over Detroit roughly. The cabin crew asked for window blinds to be down for most of the journey so anyway there would be little chance to see the landscape if one had a window seat.
This was a fairly smooth flight but there were pockets of turbulence along the way. Rather annoyingly, every time the seatbelt light was turned on (along with the check to wake passengers who weren’t wearing a seatbelt), there was a loud multilingual announcement to the same effect. This woke me up in the middle of a deep sleep.
We reached the gate in Kennedy at about 12.45, thirty five minutes behind schedule. Kennedy’s plethora of terminals means that a given one receives a relatively small number of international flights per day, which creates a bit of a surge. So, dependent on how soon one reaches the immigration queue, the wait can vary dramatically. On this occasion, everyone with a U.S. passport was processed first – not a warm welcome for visitors. Then, the visitors’ queue was served. Seat 40C, as well as having endless legroom, had the benefit of being near the front of the economy cabin and so I was quite near the front of the queue, which is a real benefit. It took me twenty minutes to clear immigration, but there was still a large queue behind me who I presume, on past experience, may have had to wait up to another half an hour or more.
I received a Marco Polo greeting. After that I found the crew to be very mixed. The flight attendant serving my aisle twice forgot a request from me and I then ended up going and asking another flight attendant, which I thought was poor.
Food and Drink
Meal timing on flights between Hong Kong and the East Coast or even the Midwest or Toronto is always a key question. What is the most natural timing of the meals? As the meal time service generally involves a lot of clanging and the lights going on, it is hard not to be awakened by it unless one is a determined sleeper.
On this flight the first meal was served shortly after takeoff and the second meal was served at around six o’clock Hong Kong time. This has the advantage that it roughly equates to a dinner time in our departure port. The downside is that it is halfway through the flight, and there is no breakfast served before landing. However, those meal times suited me well and I was able to sleep again after the dinner service, not missing a breakfast before arrival which in Hong Kong time would have been the middle of the night.
The lunch service commenced almost immediately after the seatbelt signs were switched off after takeoff. There was no preceding drinks service. There was an Asian dish, a western dish and a pasta dish. I chose the beef and potatoes – a sort of beef Stroganoff with mashed potato and vegetables, with a sweetcorn salad starter and an ice cream offered as dessert. The meal was fine but nothing remarkable.
For the second meal there were two options. I chose fish. The fish was a white fish fillet with very little taste, in a tomato sauce. It came with roasted potatoes and peas which were fine.
The timing of this flight is quite attractive and the extra legroom seat made a big difference to me, for which I am grateful. Overall the service and inflight catering was middling.
Guest Blogger: Christopher R.