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Sunday 24 May 2015

Comfort and courtesy on Cathay Pacific

Flying long-haul is not as much fun as it used to be. There is much less room to move, security is all pervasive and many planes are full to capacity. 

Both Cathay Pacific flights I took to and from Melbourne en route to Macau last week were jam-packed, but after a few years of not having flown with the Hong Kong airline I immediately felt at home. Cathay's cabin service feels as comfortable as a favourite pair of slippers.

Travelling on a discount economy ticket, I had two contrasting experiences; the luxury of being upgraded to business class on the way out (fresh orchids in the cabin are a nice touch), and a seat at the crowded back on the plane - 60D - on the way back.

Outbound, I took full advantage of the lay-flat bed - I love sleeping on planes - but on both legs I was taken by the fact the crew seemed to be both proactive and proud of what they were doing. This was a contrast to several other carriers I have flown with recently, including Singapore and LAN. 

I had dozed off and missed the meal service on the economy leg but the crew were happy enough to offer to get me a meal and provided water immediately every time I requested it. 

It wasn't perfect (my wine failed to make an appearance in business), but there was a general feel-good factor that is often missing nowadays. It is easy to see why Cathay's current slogan is #LifeWellTravelled. 

Even in economy on the A330 I managed to grab a few hours of sleep.   

Of course, Australia has had a long relationship with Cathay Pacific since it was founded in 1946 by the Australian Sydney de Kantzow and American Roy Farrell, who each put up HK$1 to register the airline. 

The pair bought a war surplus DC3, affectionately named Betsy, which they operated out of Shanghai, and flew cargo flights between China and Australia. 

They subsequently moved to Hong Kong and started operating passenger and cargo charter flights primarily around South-East Asia.  

In 1959, flights began on a new route between Hong Kong and Sydney and today Cathay Pacific operates over 70 non-stop flights a week from Australia to Hong Kong. 

One of the highlights, as it was in the past if my memory serves me well, is the food. 

Even in economy class guests are offered a choice of Asian and European dishes (on my flight sauteed beef with black bean sauce, braised chicken or penne pasta with a tomato/mushroom sauce), with light salad starters, and main course followed by cheese and dessert and, a post-dinner ice cream. 

Breakfast featured fruit, yogurt and a choice between omelette with veal sausage and Hong Kong favourite congee with dried bonito fish, peanuts and chicken. 

Cathay Pacific’s larder is also stocked with snacks, including sweet treats and noodle soups. 

In business class there is a selection of four entrĂ©es on long haul flights. I opted for Serrano ham with a tomato salad, then a delicious stir-fry of prawns and scallops in a shallot and ginger sauce. That was followed by a cheese platter and a choice of Maggie Beer ice creams.

Breakfast featured one of the best dishes I have had in the air; stir-fried egg noodles with barbecued pork and kailin. Spot on, and restaurant quality.   

The wine list featured offerings from France, Australia (d'Arenberg and Fox Creek), Austria and Portugal while the Dow's Late-Bottled Vintage Port 2009 was a lovely way to finish dinner. 

Cathay Pacific has over 70 flights a week to Hong Kong from six major Australian cities, offering a choice of flying in economy, premium economy or business class. Cathay has at least three flights daily from Sydney, three flights daily from Melbourne, daily flights from Brisbane, seven flights weekly from Cairns and Adelaide, and ten flights weekly from Perth. 

For details see and for fares visit 

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