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Cathay Pacific review: Sydney-Hong Kong

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Taking off to Asia over Easter, I found Cathay Pacific offered the cheapest fares – but luckily, that didn't come at a price.

Travelling to Southeast Asia and meeting family travelling from Canada, I found that Hong Kong was the easiest meeting point for all of us. When arranging the trip, we managed to find Cathay Pacific flights from both countries that arrived within minutes of each other and, at the end of the trip, departed within an hour of each other.

Not only were these Cathay Pacific flights the most conveniently timed option (with an after-work departure from Sydney and an early-morning arrival allowing me to make the most of the next day), they were also the cheapest. Travelling over Easter and Anzac Day, I was shocked to see that these flights were at least $100 less than budget carriers like AirAsia and Scoot.

Cathay Pacific flight details

  • Route: Sydney to Hong Kong (and returning from Siem Reap)
  • Duration: 9h 20m
  • Flight number(s): CX138
  • Aircraft type: Boeing 777-300
  • Dates travelled: 10 April 2019
  • Class: Economy
  • Frequent flyer program: Marco Polo Club or Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Points earned: 0

Alex's Cathay Pacific review:

★★★★☆

  • Full service flights
  • Cheaper than budget carriers
  • Convenient flight times
  • Food and entertainment
  • Expensive seat selection
  • Unable to earn frequent flyer points

What did I like?

  • Food: Compared to some of my recent long-haul journeys with airlines like Air Canada and Etihad, I'd rank Cathay's food as better than both. There's something nice about getting an actual menu on a plane and I found it difficult to choose between the options as there were a few that actually sounded good – a rarity on an airline.
  • Entertainment: I found Cathay's entertainment options to be plentiful, including new movies I'd yet to see to fill time on the nine-hour flight.
  • Schedule: As mentioned above, the Cathay Pacific flights I was catching from Sydney and that my parents were catching from Toronto couldn't have been more perfectly timed with each other. However, a long layover on the return wasn't ideal.
  • Everything's included: Being a full-service carrier, checked baggage, in-flight meals and entertainment were included in the fare, even on the two-hour journey from Siem Reap to Hong Kong which was operated by Cathay Dragon.

Cathay Pacific flight during take off from Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific legroom

What didn't I like?

  • Long layover: On the return journey, I was flying from Siem Reap, Cambodia to connect to a flight from Hong Kong to Sydney. Unfortunately the timing of the Siem Reap flight (operated by Cathay Dragon) wasn't ideally timed. It only arrived in Hong Kong at 11:30pm (which turned into 12:30am due to a delay) and my departing flight from Hong Kong wasn't scheduled until 9am. The arrival was too late to catch the MTR into the city and airport hotels are very expensive ($400+ per night) for the little time we'd be spending at it. We opted to spend the night in the 24-hour airport (as many other travellers were) and just sleep on our flights home.
  • Different quality of plane: While the first plane was not run-down or out-of-date by any means, the aircraft used on the return journey was noticeably more modern and had a better entertainment system, including a small fold-down tray that was perfect for holding a device like a phone or tablet.
  • Price of seat selection: I'm a stickler for a window seat on flights, especially if it's one I want to get some sleep on, so I always pre-select my seats. I was pretty shocked to see that reserving my seats for the return journey from Sydney to Hong Kong was going to set me back $110.
  • No frequent flyer points earned: I tried to claim Qantas Points for these flights, but was declined. Not all Cathay Pacific fares and booking classes qualify for Qantas Points, which I was disappointed to discover after the fact.
Cathay Pacific in-flight menu
Cathay Pacific in-flight meal

Would I use Cathay Pacific again?

If I'm flying to Hong Kong or somewhere I'm unable to book a direct flight from Sydney, yes. I couldn't fault the airline and liked that meals, bags and entertainment were included on all legs including the short journey from Siem Reap to Hong Kong.

Bonus tip: If you have a long layover in Hong Kong like I did and aren't able to leave the airport and don't have access to a lounge, try and find the reclining chairs that are tucked away by the windows throughout the terminal's halls. They all have privacy screens and a few plants to give you some seclusion if you want to try and rest.

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