I had always been jealous of bloggers who fly first class.
From their reports and pictures, the cabin always looks so opulent and comfortable. They always make it seem like so much fun, and such a gigantic improvement over business class.
Of course, they're not paying $20,000 or more for their tickets, and neither do I. Instead, we sit in first class using miles.
I recently cashed in 130,000 American miles to fly Cathay Pacific roundtrip to Hong Kong. This sounds like a lot of miles, and it is, but most bloggers would tell you this was an excellent deal. They say Cathay Pacific is among the nicer first class products . And just after I booked, American changed the number of miles you need for such a trip. It now costs 220,000 miles.
- I liked the experience, but having flown first class on three airlines - British Airways, ANA and Cathay Pacific - over the past 18 months, I have developed some opinions on first class. Among them:
- Coach to business class is a huge jump in comfort and quality. Business to first is less of a jump, unless you're flying on a super luxurious airline like Etihad.
- The caviar that many airlines serve in first class is amusing, but the rest of the food is still airplane food. It's better than business class, yes. But is it as good as fine dining? Not really.
- The flight from L.A. to Hong Kong was 15 and a half hours. Even in first class, it feels ridiculously long.
- The flight attendants call you by name most of the time. It's nice, I guess. But it also is unnecessary.
- You get better bedding than in business class, and the seats tend to be wider.
- I am amazed people pay $20,000 or more for this experience.
But, hey, maybe I shouldn't be such a downer. Here's my report of my Los Angeles to Hong Kong flight in Cathay Pacific First Class.
We boarded on time, and there were only two people in the six seat first class cabin. Waiting for me were an amenity kit and a pair of pajamas.
Cathay Pacific serves an amuse bouche on the ground. It's unnecessary, considering you'll be eating for the next 15 hours. But, hey, it's another thing that makes first class different than business.
The first class cabin is a 1-1-1 configuration. Coach is 3-3-3. So you get lots of room.
Here's the lunch menu.
I never drink champagne, but this is first class, so I figured I should. It was fancy stuff. Krug, I believe.
This is me enjoying the full dog and pony show. I am in my airline-issued PJs.
I think this photo shows first class in all its glory because you have three things you don't really need.
- The personalized note - a little over the top.
- Your own bread basket. In business class, you usually get to choose one bread from a communal basket. But here, you get your own basket!
- The caviar. No one eats caviar on the ground. So why is it a thing in the air?
The salad was fresh and tasty, and I enjoyed the jumbo prawns.
I switched to beer and had the lobster stir fry. The lobster was a bit chewy, but it was good enough.
I went with berries for desert. I liked these a lot.
Since there were only two of us up front, I had both a seat and a separate bed, which was an used seat in the center section. The flight attendant made the bed for me while I was watching a movie in my seat.
I took a quick walk through business class. This is a fine seat, too.
This was the only part of the flight that annoyed me. The flight attendants asked me, in a persistent manner, to fill out a questionnaire on the service. I thought it would be relatively quick. But it was multiple pages and took forever.
I had some soup as a mid-flight snack. It was delicious.
Here's a closeup of the note I received from the flight attendants, who consistently addressed me by name.
I received my own snack basket for the flight. There was more stuff in it than this, but by the time I took the picture, I had eaten some of it. On a flight as long as this, there is not much to do except eat.
At some point before landing , I also had a fruit snack. I skipped the second main meal, though.