[Trip Report] – Taiwan – Cathay Pacific Business Class, Toronto YYZ – Hong Kong HKG – Taipei TPE | Part 1 of 3
Originally, I had planned to go to Turkey on an Aeroplan mistake ticket. However, due to emerging and complicated scheduling constraints, I had to be back in Canada for at least Thursday and Friday of the week when my trip took place. As the award was booked on a mistake, Aeroplan wouldn’t allow changes to the itinerary. Unfortunately, and with great pain, I had to cancel the incredible deal so I could be home when I needed to be. I was still determined to go on a trip, and developed a (crazy) plan that would fit my scheduling requirements.
I decided to cancel my trip to Turkey on a Tuesday morning. Within 20 minutes, I found availability on Cathay Pacific between Toronto YYZ and Taipei TPE via Hong Kong HKG in Business Class. Note that Cathay Pacific no longer operates First Class from Toronto. This required 50,000 Alaska points and $75.60 in taxes and fees. I then cancelled my flight to Turkey, which was booked for 50,000 points per person. I then applied the value of that ticket, plus an additional 25,000 points and $11.60 in taxes and fees for a return on EVA Business Class between Taipei TPE and Toronto YYZ.
One thing I forgot to mention… the flight out to Taipei was leaving at 1:30AM, that night. I literally booked a trip leaving the same day to Asia. I was in Ottawa, and I had to get to Toronto (booked a flight using 7,500 Aeroplan points and $81 in taxes and fees… a last-minute VIA Rail ticket was hovering around $200!). Oh, and my passport, clothing, etc. were located in a different city. It was a complicated task, however, I was able to get to Toronto, with my passport, on time and ready for an adventure.
Check-in went relatively smooth, although the kiosks erred and wouldn’t let me check-in. Cathay Pacific “uses” the Plaza Premium lounge, which is pretty nice and is also accessible for free with an American Express Platinum card [this is a referral], or a fee.
Here’s a little rant. Toronto T3 has a couple lounges, including a British Airways lounge, which is supposed to be nice. As you probably know, British Airways, like Cathay Pacific, are part of the One World alliance. Lounge access rules dictate that access is to be granted to any One World lounge (with some specified exceptions) to any passenger flying in business/first on another One World airline. When I tried to access the BA lounge, I was rejected with my Cathay Business Class boarding pass, because according to the agent, access is only granted if the flight is “a British Airways codeshare.” Even after showing her the One World rules I was rejected, being plainly told that she knew better.
This isn’t an isolated incident. I’ve read a number of other reports with similar experiences. I realize it’s a really insignificant issue, especially considering how pleasant the Plaza Premium lounge is, but it’s a matter of principle that airlines should play-nice with alliance rules. If the lounge was a contract lounge I’d be a little more understanding, but this was a fully BA branded lounge that ignores One World rules.
I even Twittered BA about the incident… read the response below (note that I tried to get access to the lounge a full 3 hours before closing time):
As of right now I can unfortunately say that Cathay Pacific passengers at Toronto cannot access the British Airways lounge. Hopefully someone at One World will realize that BA isn’t following the rules and should be disciplined.
That’s enough on that…
The Plaza Premium lounge is respectable. It’s quite large, has one (okay) shower room, and quality food and beverages. It’s large, open, and feels cozy like a living room. I would definitely recommend spending some time there before a flight.
Cathay Pacific Business Class – Toronto YYZ to Hong Kong HKG
I really do love Cathay Pacific. They’re incredibly consistent, have great food, and provide fantastic service. I’ve only ever flown their First Class product, so I was excited to try their Business Class.
The seats are reverse-herringbone, quite similar to Air Canada’s “pods.” They were very comfortable, with “infinite” legroom and a cozy duvet and pillow (of which I hoarded more from empty seats). I was disappointed that there was no massage function, but the seat turned into a lie-flat bed. There’s an armrest that pops out of the seat that can be stowed away offering more room (sufficient for a travel companion to cuddle up next to you).
The drinks and food were excellent. They offered Duetz champagne, and I had the best (rare) steak I’ve ever had on a plane. The portions were small, but were consistent with the quality of their First Class food.
My one complaint is that the amenity kit kind of sucked. It was a cloth bag with a long string that can’t really be used again. Further, the amenities were of ‘meh’ quality. However, they do offer the essentials: eye shade, earplugs, toothbrush kit, and socks. I wish they offered slippers and PJs, but oh well!
All in all, Cathay’s Business Class product is excellent and I would be happy to take it on a long-haul at any time.
Cathay Pacific Business Class – Hong Kong HKG to Taipei TPE
After landing in Hong Kong I spent a bit of time at the lounge. To be honest, I don’t remember the name of the lounge I used. It was the one connected to the First Class lounge… does a reader know? Anyways, it was pretty nice, and I had a pleasant shower and then some excellent Dim Sum. While at the lounge I had to book my hotels/make an itinerary for the trip, being last-minute and all!
The plane was completely full, both in Business and Economy Class. The seats were quite nice, and although not lie-flat, were far superior to anything Air Canada or any US airline offers for short-haul Business Class cabins.
This flight was about an hour. I don’t know how they did it, but the amazing FAs were able to serve a multi-course meal, with wine, coffee/tea, and a printed menu in that time. At some points the FAs were literally running through the cabin trying to complete the service, and I commend them on being able to serve a full flight with such a lavish meal in the short time they had.
The food was quite good, and they were serving my favourite wine: Spy Valley from New Zealand. I had a fish wrapped in bacon, a cheesecake, and a yummy fruit plate. I topped this off with a coffee (they serve Illy, which although isn’t terribly fresh or good, is a “luxury” brand that consumers appreciate).
Even though I rarely “pay” for flights, and certainly would never pay the premium for North American Business Class, Cathay offers such an excellent product for their short-haul flights that I would be willing to pay more for it. Kudos to them!