This journey was a result of an original goal to fly British Airways 787 in First Class without paying BA’s ridiculous surcharges. You can find some flights to the Middle East that have more reasonable surcharges than to Europe, about 50% less as an estimate. I was looking to fly over the July 4th holiday and found a flight from Chicago to London, then on to Bombay that satisfied my goals of flying BA’s A380 and B787. So I booked it with AS points.
Now, how to get back from Bombay? On a whim I searched Singapore Airlines from BOM-ORD for the return date I wanted. I can’t give a reason why I searched Singapore, maybe thinking a route via SIN would get me back to the west coast. Instead, a routing of BOM-ZRH-ORD on Swiss Airlines in FIRST Class appeared. Hmmm, that can’t be right, Singapore rules, as all Star Alliance award rules, state First Class on Swiss is not available. But there it was, 145,000 points. I clicked on redeem. Accepted. Ticketed. Wow.
A couple weeks later I got an aircraft change notice from Expert Flyer. British Airways had switched the 787 to a 777. Nope, not flying around the world for the cramped outdated 777. So I cancelled the BA flight and now had to find a way to BOM. It gets better.
Miraculously Cathay Pacific had a First Class seat available on the day I needed to go, but not to Bombay. So I went back to SQ and found a seat on the new 787-10 from Bangkok to Singapore and a First Class seat from SIN-BOM. It was 70K points I believe. So I called Krisflyer and asked if it was a valid connection in Bombay. The agent said yes, do you want me to change your reservation for $50. Sure, I said. Then he proceeded to give me BACK 10,000 points. Go figure.
So First Class around the world.
ORD-HKG Cathay Pacific
SIN-BOM Singapore Airlines
BOM-ZRH Swiss Airlines
ZRH-ORD Swiss Airlines
Throw in The Private Room and Swiss First Class lounge in Zurich, plus SQ’s 787-10 and I was feeling pretty impressed with this redemption. The only miss was CX A350-1K which I could have done for a $125 change fee but decided against.
Wait, AF-KLM lounge, again?
Potentially one of the worst international lounges that I have every seen. It’s doesn’t even have it’s own washroom!
ORD Terminal 5 at least allows for great views from the gate, and even from the AF-KLM lounge.
Six seats in a Cathay Pacific First Class cabin, one passenger today.
Sitting seat 1A
Sleeping seat 2A.
This pod seemed to be either new or just re-upholstered as it were immaculate.
Well, maybe not the carpet.
Smartly designed locker under the monitor fit my carry on perfectly.
Cost cutting I assume.
Typical 777 lavatory which had a few amenities, such as cloth towels.
PYE pajamas with the 500HK coupon that caused me to spend way to much at their store in Hong Kong upon arrival.
Ready to fly.
BA BOAC 747 seems to follow me around at ORD.
The refreshed IFE system has a route map visible on the handset. The route showing on the display at this point however is incorrect.
Time to go.
While I was busy taking photos, my two awesome FAs Doris and Annea were busy serving me the best prior to departure.
And post departure.
A review of First Class Dining for the month of July,
Caviar and Champagne is the first, and only first choice on the menu. And why not?
Venice, yes Venice Italy.
A very nice traditional setting.
The salad came with lobster which I so badly wanted to have, but my last encounter with lobster many years ago didn’t end so well, and with 13 hours to go I didn’t want to chance relinquishing my private cabin seat for the privacy of the lavatory.
Still, without the lobster, it was fantastic. Fresh, mango sweet and pomegranate seed crunchy.
Mushroom soup, one word, OMG.
Chive oil as the dollop.
For those who have read my prior reports you know where I go next. Too predictable eh?
In pursuit of a good hunk of beef on a plane. (Also predictable.)
Add a little French mustard.
Perfectly executed and wildly delicious!
Choices of cheese, not a fan of the blue veins.
And served with that quince jelly, as I had on British Airways. Much preferred to a dried apricot.
Two chocolates in the box.
As an Avgeek I’ve had a travel goal of flying over the North Pole. Typically this happens from flights originating from the east coast to Asia year round and often from the central US like Chicago to Asia in the winter because of the prevailing jet stream. I’ve had 2 other flights from the east coast to Asia, but neither made it over the North Pole.
During the Captain’s greeting, while I was busy taking pictures and not paying attention, I thought I heard something about the Polar Route. Have to keep my eye on the air show was my mental note. (Even though the airshow was always showing on the handset.)
Sure enough, when I should have been sleeping we arrived.
Doris saw me in the galley area peaking out the open window (not that there was anyone to wake up in the first class cabin), and asked if I was looking out at the North Pole. She’s an AvGeek too! We talked about for a bit then I returned to my seat. In no time she returned and had the pilots navigational map of the North Pole to show me! How thoughtful from the CX crew.
And here it is, looking much like any other view out the window at 36,000 feet.
Doris prepared my bed in 2A. I had a good sleep. But who want’s to sleep when you’re having so much fun.
So it was time to eat. I ordered a burger.
It was pretty darn good. Only complaint is the meat was slightly dry, but the bun was fresh and the fries we really amazing for on an airplane.
Then I ordered the desert from dinner. The frosting was white chocolate and coconut. Excellent.
Over the top, split Russia, right turn at Mongolia, headed to Hong Kong.
Prior to landing it was time to eat again. First the obligatory fresh fruits when flying an Asian carrier.
I chose the stir fried beef which was excellent as well. The food on this flight was outstanding from start to finish.
As mentioned, the two flight attendants Doris and Annea really made this trip special. I would happily fly with them anytime!
This redemption is possibly the best first class redemption in terms of value you can get. I used 70,000 Alaska points to fly to Hong Kong then on to Bangkok the following day. Retail flights in first on Cathay typical are $10,000 and up. Do the math. Awesome value.
Carrier: Cathay Pacific
Date: July, 2019
Route: Chicago - Hong Kong
Flight #: 807
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300 B-KQU
Configuration: F6 / C53 / W34 / Y201
On Time: Yes
Reward Flying Rating: 8.4 out of 10 ✈
Cabin: ✔︎Cathay Pacific has an exclusive 6 seat cabin in First Class as it is, but when you are the only occupant it’s like having your own hotel room in the air. With the extra wide seats and super comfortable bed it’s like having your own hotel suite in the air.
Cabin/Seats Rating: 9 out of 10 ✈
Food/Amenities: ✔︎Everything was delicious on this flight, from a perfectly cooked steak and of course Champagne and Caviar to set the tone.
Amenity/Food rating: 9 out of 10 ✈
IFE: ✔︎ I believe this was the refreshed IFE system as the monitor was much clearer and crisp compared to my last flight on CX in first. Plus the airshow on the handset seems to indicate the new system. However from the the long haul 777’s I got the only one that didn’t have wi-fi, which was fine with me.
IFE rating: 7 out of 10 ✈
✔︎The crew Doris and Annea where awesome as I said earlier.
Flight Attendant rating: 9 out of 10 ✈
Aircraft: ✔︎Boeing 777-30. Delivered to Cathay in late 2014 this was one of their newer triple sevens. It was also without the new livery paint.
Aircraft rating: 7 out of 10 ✈