Flying Cathay Pacific Business? Bring the Kids!
A Review of Cathay Pacific CX883 at 11:55pm Lax-HKG…with Kids in Tow
I have to tell you…before this, my experiences with Cathay Pacific had been First Class, literally. My husband and I have flown the LAX-HKG route and the SFO-HKG route once each, and the HKG-LAX route twice. Needless to say, we enjoy visiting Asia, and Cathay Pacific tends to be our go-to airline for getting there. In August of 2017, we took our first family vacation to Bali, Indonesia, so naturally we looked to Cathay Pacific for our flights. We traveled in business class with our three kids, a 4 year old, a 2.5 year old and a 10 month old.
Booking Our Flight
Booking the flights, was easy! The key is to book early, like 331 days in advance early. Each airline has its own policy as to how far in advance they allow you to book, and we used our American Airlines’ Aadvantage miles. American Airlines releases seats 331 days in advance, regardless of when seats are released by their partner airlines. We used 70,000 miles a piece (one way), so a total of 280k miles for four of us and our 10 month old flew as a lap child. The agent at American Airlines offered to reserve our seats, which is not always possible when booking on partner airlines. Many times you have to call the partner airline directly to secure your seats. Anyway, we were stoked because we were able to book the bulkhead seat, which allows you to request a bassinet! I was really excited about the bassinet! I imagined my son sleeping comfortably for the majority of that 14 hour flight, while I sipped a cocktail and watched a movie. I know, wishful thinking, but I was determined to test the darn thing out.
The business class cabin was in a 1-2-1 configuration with reverse herringbone seats, so we sat the girls in window seats one behind the other, and Josh and I had middle seats across from them. This way we could easily reach across the aisle to help the girls if we had to or hold their hands during takeoff- a family tradition.
Booking the infant award ticket was definitely much trickier, as the rules are different per airline and many times even the agents are confused about the regulations. Cathay Pacific normally charges 25% of the adult ticket price plus taxes and fees for flight to/from the US and 10% of the adult ticket plus taxes and fees for non-US flights. However, American Airlines charge 10% of the adult fare plus taxes and fees. In most cases, the rules applied to your ticket are those of the airline mileage program that you’re using to book your ticket, so you can save quite a bit depending on which program you book through. In this case, we booked American Airlines and paid 10% of the adult fare.
By the time we boarded, it was way past the kids’ bedtimes, so I carried our son Tristan onto the airplane asleep in his Ergobaby 360. I thought he would be asleep for hours to come and was already thinking about how I was going to transfer him to the bassinet, when the stewardesses asked me to take him out of the carrier and put him in the baby safety belt they provide. Apparently Cathay Pacific regulations require lap children to be buckled in a miniature version of a regular airplane safety belt that loops into the parent’s safety belt. We encoutered the same regulations with Singapore Airlines later that trip. I was not thrilled to, well you know, “wake a sleeping baby,” but I was glad to see they had safety measures in place that you don’t find on domestic air travel. Once in the air, I couldn’t wait to try out the bassinet, but go figure. My son Tristan did not share my excitement. In the end, the bassinet only worked for us for maybe a total of 1.5hrs of the 14 hour flight. Actually, I discovered that it’s important to think beyond the dimensions of the bassinet before you decide whether or not it’s good for your baby. For Cathay Pacific, the bassinet dimensions are 30in/76cm x 15in/38cm x 8in/20cm, and it has a weight capacity of up to 26lb/12kg. Tristan was well below the weight capacity but he was just under the height limits. Regardless of the fact that he “fit the requirements”, I found the bassinet setup to be slighty unnerving since my son could sit up at the time. Not only did he not like being confined in the bassinet, but he kept sitting up every time he would wake up. I was afraid he would fall right out of it, so I couldn’t relax. I ended up putting the bassinet on my seat, which was a tight squeeze, but it worked. Another thing to consider is the fact that the baby cannot remain in the bassinet during any type of turbulence, so if the “fasten seat belt” sign turns on, you have to get your baby out of the bassinet and secure him with the safety belt.
The on-board amenities were very nice- A luxurious toiletry bag for the adults and a sweet amenity kit for the baby, which included Mustela products and diapers. They also provided Mickey Mouse backpacks for the girls with a Mickey passport or a “mouse port”, which was a hit with our girls.
The seats are not the most spacious business class seats in the air, but they are comfortable. My husband is 6’1”, and he had no problems stretching out and sleeping. There was a small pillow and comforter, but sadly, there were no cozy pajamas like one would get in Cathay’s first class.
In terms of the entertainment, I have to be honest, I have no idea. I was tending to Tristan the entire time (and he only slept for 4 out of the 14 hours) or trying to catch a few winks while he was sleeping. Josh watched a movie using the noise-canceling headphones provided at each seat. He was happy to report that movie selection was up to date and adequate and the headphones worked perfectly. There was also a good variety of children’s movies and games.
Cathay Pacific has long been known for its outstanding service, and we were lucky to experience some of their award-winning hospitality during our flight. The service was different from what we have experienced in First Class, less personal and it lacked some of the attention to detail we had encountered in the past. Nevertheless, the stewardesses helped make a trans-pacific flight with three children under 5 bearable, and dare I say almost easy, as they catered to our requests for warm milk and meals at odd hours.
I declined kids’ meals, and we chose to skip dinner since the flight departed close to midnight. The menu had both Asian and Western options, and you could request snacks during non-meal-service times. I had two snacks: shrimp and pork wonton noodle soup, which was tasty but a little salty for me, and imperial noodles and dim sum selection, which was absolutely delicious. There are also nuts, chips and other such snacks available to grab easily in the galley area, which is a huge plus when you’re traveling with little ones.
All in all, our experience with children in Cathay Pacific business class was good. We arrived safely and somewhat rested (all except Tristan and me, but so it goes with momlife). The seats were comfortable, the food was good, the amenities were wonderful, and the service was on the better side of OK. There was a noticeable difference between the service in First class and that in Business class. However, that’s almost to be expected given the significant difference in the number of seats-to-stewardess ratio in one verus the other. All in all, flying Cathay Pacific business class with little ones is a very pleasant experience, especially when taking into account the simplicity of the booking process and the value one gets for the mileage used.