I had the pleasure of trying out Cathay Pacific (CX)'s A350-900 Economy Class product on my recent trip (Singapore to Bangkok to Singapore). This will document my experience of the Economy Class from Singapore to Bangkok (flight CX712).
Cathay Pacific Airways
Routing: Singapore (SIN) to Bangkok (BKK)
Departure from Singapore: 1.35pm / 1.49pm* (UTC +8)
Arrival in Bangkok: 3.00pm / 2.55pm* (UTC +7)
Flight Time: 2 hours and 25 minutes / 2 hours and 6 minutes*
Operating aircraft: Airbus 350-941
(* denotes actual timings)
Cathay Pacific Airways utilizes Terminal 1 of Singapore Changi Airport (Row 1), and it seemed that they have done away with counter check-in, and instead, have stationed their own staff to assist passengers in using the new self-check-in kiosks and baggage drop machines. Even though it was a relatively easy process, the Cathay Pacific ground staff cheerfully assisted me through the entire process of printing my boarding pass, tagging my luggage and checking it in at the baggage drop machine. Definitely a
5 star service from the Cathay Pacific ground staff!
After it was done, I passed through immigration and went to a pay-in lounge, Plaza Premium Lounge to grab some light bites and plane-watch before my flight's boarding.
Enjoying a bowl of Singapore Laksa
A sister A350-900 aircraft in "local" livery.
The operating aircraft arrived from Hong Kong as flight CX759, arriving at its gate at 12.38pm, with a quick turnaround of less than 1 hour before departure to Hong Kong, via Bangkok as flight CX712.
At the holding room, the staff have cordoned off part of the seating area for Marco Polo Club and Business Class/Premium Economy Class passengers, allowing them plenty of seating space before their priority boarding, which is indeed, a service notch above the usual priority boarding by other carriers.
Boarding was done by row numbers and seated near the rear of the cabin, I soon followed a large Chinese tour group into the aircraft, and settled myself right into my seat. I was rather bemused as members of the tour group were squabbling over their seats (atypical of Chinese tour groups) even though it was going to be a rather light passenger load on this flight, with plenty of empty seats for them to easily spread themselves out.
I found the seat cushioning comfortable and legroom was good (32 inches seat pitch). There was a big gap between adjacent seats, which was somewhat awkward as you could peer through to spy on what the passenger in the row in front (on the adjacent seat) is doing/watching.
Interestingly, aside from the foldable tray table, there's a tablet holder that comes with a glass holder - perfect for today's modern travelers who have a tendency to use their own personal devices than the inflight entertainment. I thought it was really awesome that Cathay Pacific was quick to catch this growing trend and design their product accordingly.
Seats also feature a USB port and a shared AC power port below the seat to keep those devices and their owners happily charged up.
With the light load, boarding was quickly completed. The cabin crew made a cursory pass through the cabin with the immigration forms (I observed they had both Thailand and Hong Kong immigration forms in their hands). In their haste, they skipped me. After take off, I went to the aft galley to get a form from a cabin crew in the galley - who was not most sure where the forms were stored.
Announcements were made in English and Cantonese, and it was only mentioned that this flight is bound for Bangkok. I am guessing there weren't any passengers continuing on to Hong Kong from Singapore.
Take off from Singapore was smooth and gentle, though, throughout the short flight, it remained rather bumpy.
Service commenced a short while after take off, and started from the Forward Economy Class cabin towards to the rear, with a cabin crew serving meals, and another serving drinks on each row. I didn't find the cabin crew (though they were immaculately groomed) particularly warm except for one flight steward serving meals who was very upbeat and cheerful about serving his passengers.
When serving a couple from the Chinese tour group seated in front of me,
like a salesman, he was very enthusiastic in promoting the "fish with rice" option. To convince them, he cooed to them that the fish came with rice, making it a more filling choice.
With me, this flight steward first asked me if I speak "Mandarin or English", before informing me the available options are "chicken with vegetables or fish with rice, and the fish with rice option is the popular choice". I wasn't truly convinced, but seeing how he was trying so hard to sell the "fish with rice", I decided to humor him by taking up his recommendation. He thanked me sincerely, and even gave me an extra bread roll in gratitude. How nice of him!
Well, his recommendation turned out to be really good, and I thoroughly enjoyed the nicely battered fish pieces, paired with bitter zucchini fried in just a splash of Hoisin sauce, which went perfectly with the steaming hot and moist white rice. Trust an Asian airline to heat rice perfectly! It was a thoroughly enjoyable meal!
The delectable main dish was accompanied with fresh cut fruits - they were rather pale looking but surprisingly sweet.
There were a pair of buns, courtesy of the nice flight steward (warm ones, I must highlight).
There was also a cup of drinking water on the meal tray.
Häagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream (a little melted at the edges but nevertheless awesome!) was served with the drink.
When the cabin crew asked for my drink, I decided to ask for two glasses of white wine, so as not to trouble them later for a second glass, however, the flight stewardess informed me that she could only serve me one drink at one time and that she would give me the second drink later. Actually, I would be quite happy with that, if you are! Thank you!
The cabin crew quickly started their collection of meal trays as soon as the meals have all been served. I noted they actively offer coffee and tea, with a full range of beverages available on their clearing carts. I had my second glass of white wine to enjoy with my movie.
As a self-titled #avgeek, I have a tendency to pay attention to the distinct branding details of airlines - particularly of flag carriers, in their inflight product and services. In flying on Cathay Pacific Airways' A350-900, its product branding seems to be somewhat underwhelming in this aspect. An example is the lacking of branding identification in its generic-looking meal tray presentation (plastic utensils and an ambiguous glass design doesn't help either).
The cabin also look rather uninspired with seats in a uniform teal colour (also, note the wide gap between seats).
The strongest (and one of the limited) symbols of the Cathay Pacific Airways brand was the logo on its sleek blended wingtip, which can be prominently observed from the large A350 windows.
The airline's Hong Kong heritage, for me, is only noticed in the Cantonese announcements made, a couple of Cantonese movies embedded in StudioCX entertainment, and the delectable Chinese-style meal option I had.
Further, I was actually quite surprised that the on-screen messages, such as those which appear when the seatbelt sign is switched on are only in English. A Mandarin translation would be helpful as I understand there's a large Mandarin/Cantonese-speaking passenger base for Cathay Pacific Airways - who may not always be literate in English. Aside from disadvantaging Mandarin/Cantonese speakers, this lacking of Mandarin-translated text also sublimely dilutes the Cathay Pacific Airways branding as a Hong Kong flag carrier.
Navigation on StudioCX inflight entertainment is easy, being tablet-like (again, catering to today's sophisticated travelers) and responsive at the touch of the fingertips. While the content-rich interface is attractive, I found the never-ending images in the movie selection somewhat overwhelming. Headsets were set in the seat pockets and passengers could enjoy the entertainment from boarding until arrival at gate.
I watched "Moonlight", a coming-of-age drama film set in Miami, which kept me entertained for most of the flight.
The lavatories were stocked with facial moisturizer and hand cream - part of the little service details that create a more pampering experience onboard. Thumbs up to Cathay Pacific Airways!
Inflight sales commenced after the meal service, and passengers could place orders from their seats (how awesome!) for items to be delivered to their seats.
The rest of the flight was pretty relaxed all the way to landing at Suvarnabhumi Airport on a rather cloudy day.
Aside from the perpetual bumpiness brought about by the weather during this time of the year, Cathay Pacific Airways' A350-900 has provided a comfortable experience with good legroom and little modern-traveler-oriented details (such as tablet holders, charging points, and lavatory amenities). While the cabin crew are generally task-oriented, professional, they are rather reserved. One or two of the crew, with their upbeat attitude and polite demeanor, did try to create a positive difference towards the passengers' journey and it was noticeable and greatly welcomed. The delicious fish with rice option, thanks to the helpful recommendation from the flight steward, and Häagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream was an enjoyable treat. Overall, it was an enjoyable experience with Cathay Pacific Airways A350-900.
Thank you for reading this Cathay Pacific Airways A350-900 flight report on FlightTravels.
For the full video review of my CX712 flight experience, please see below: