In August 2019 I journeyed to South Korea for a one-week business trip. Cathay Pacific was my airline of choice for this destination mainly because of its reliability as a carrier in the Asia region, but also to a lesser extent due to its full service offering and Qantas Frequent Flyer points earn through the Oneworld alliance, all at a mid-price point. I booked an Economy class connecting service departing Sydney on a Sunday morning to arrive in Seoul that evening for an early Monday morning start to the week. Unbeknownst to me at the time of booking, civil unrest at my transit port of Hong Kong would unexpectedly disrupt my schedule.
Boarding gate in Sydney
After web-checking on Sunday morning and carrying only cabin baggage, I was able to proceed direct to the boarding gate at Sydney International Airport, conveniently saving me time standing in a check-in queue. However, arriving at the boarding gate I was promptly paged over the intercom to meet Cathay Pacific staff, where I was informed that I would misconnect in Hong Kong with my onward flight to Seoul due to a delayed departure from Sydney. Although I was re-accommodated onto the very next available flight from Hong Kong to Seoul, my transit time in Hong Kong unfortunately increased to around 9 hours. This meant that instead of checking into my hotel that night in Seoul and catching group transport to my corporate event on Monday morning, I would spend the evening in Hong Kong with no accommodation and after reaching Seoul make my own way direct to the event from the airport. What could have been a bad experience was quickly turned around by the service recovery efforts of airline staff, who proactively offered me complimentary departure lounge access for my unplanned stay in Hong Kong.
Flight from Sydney to Hong Kong
Despite the obvious pressures faced by staff due to the delay, the service on my flight across to Hong Kong was still typical of what you would expect from a 5-star airline. Wandering through the aerobridge, an array of complimentary newspapers from around the world greeted me – bringing to my attention the fact I wasn’t home anymore. Though, at my seat I found myself welcomed by a headset for the on-demand in-flight entertainment system, a pillow and a blanket. Unlike other major airlines, Cathay Pacific doesn’t offer amenity kits to their Economy guests, but as a nice touch the lavatories were stocked with fragrant hand lotion, which is generally typical of higher cabin classes. A seatback USB charger gave me assurance I would be able to use my personal electronic devices flight-long and hearing the pilot’s opening address to the passengers, I was comforted by a familiar Australian accent – something Cathay Pacific prides itself on. Meanwhile, the cabin crew service could only be described as polished and professional. Menus boasting a selection of western and regional meal choices were handed out by the multi-lingual crew, who spoke perfect English. Meals served were generous in size and fresh, always including tropical fruit. Mid-way through the flight, I was personally approached by cabin crew with a reminder that my onward flight had changed, which made it clear to me that I was seen by Cathay Pacific as a valued individual, regardless of cabin class booked.
Service desk in Hong Kong
After touching down at Hong Kong International Airport, the Cathay Pacific service desk efficiently printed an invitation for me to present at my choice of lounges: The Wing, The Pier, The Bridge or The Deck. Staff recommended The Wing to me, which I quickly decided on and I was not disappointed.
Departure lounge in Hong Kong
Usually reserved for First and Business class passengers or frequent flyers, The Wing is undoubtedly designed with the corporate traveller’s absolute comfort in mind. Walking in, I was provided with a high-speed Wi-Fi password and meandered my way upstairs to find a picturesque open space overlooking the airport’s floor to ceiling glass, out to the tarmac. Businesspeople working from laptops sat on leather couches, while baristas made coffee and bartenders served alcohol. Accompanying them was light music to set the mood and a buffet style selection of self-serve food, such as freshly baked pastries. Being a coffee connoisseur myself, you’ll be hard pressed to hear me say this often, but the coffee served in The Wing lounge is amongst the best I’ve ever tasted. Buzzing from my coffee high, I ventured to the workstation where I spent the night catching up on emails in a quiet space from one of the available desktop computers. Then, I took to the shower rooms where an attendant greeted me with fluffy towels and premium amenities, so that I could freshen up for my onward journey.
Flight from Hong Kong to Seoul
That flight onwards was also delayed on departure unfortunately, meaning that I would be unable to meet my colleagues for Monday’s agenda. However in typical Cathay Pacific fashion, the service was again recovered when the pilots took it upon themselves to apologise and make up time in the air so that I would arrive at my destination on schedule. At this point it seemed to me that Cathay Pacific had perfected the art of schedule disruption management. While it’s inevitable that circumstances outside an airline’s control may disrupt your schedule, the way it is handled will determine when and how you arrive at your destination. That’s why it’s important, especially for those with limited time, to make an informed decision about the airline you choose to fly with.
For more information
Find out more about Cathay Pacific’s Economy Class cabin and The Wing lounge online or by getting in touch with me. Did you know Cathay Pacific has a tier-based corporate travel program called Business Plus that rewards small businesses for flying, with benefits including cabin upgrades, lounge passes and Marco Polo Club membership?