Despite the fuel-hedging troubles that have dogged Cathay Pacific’s management, the airline hasn’t stopped trying to improve service on the aircraft. Here’s our quick take on the A350-900 experience!
The A350 is Airbus’s wide-body aircraft answer to the Dreamliner. The A350 composites enable the plane to support higher cabin pressure and humidity: the equivalent to standing 6000 feet, about 2000 feet lower than conventional aircraft. This results in greater comfort for long-haul passengers. Why? It’s a more natural environment for your body. You get sick because your mucus membranes get dried out during a long-haul flight. It is the reason why frequent fliers are continually hydrating. On the A350 there is a noticeable difference even from the Dreamliner.
The other nice thing about the A350 is that the aircraft is MUCH quieter. Like its big brother the A380, you don’t need to raise your voice to hold a conversation. It was nice to be able to speak to the crew in a whisper instead of having to shout on a 747.
The windows are large. You can enjoy a cup of coffee and enjoying the passing clouds. You used to have to hunch down to look out the window. Unlike the 787, there is a window shade that allows full blackout in the cabin. It makes it much easier to sleep.
Cathay Pacific A350-900 has stuck to their herringbone 1-2-1 seating arrangement. If you are flying solo, you want a window seat. If you are flying with your significant other, the center rows make it convenient for relaxed and intimate conversation.
Stowage space on the aircraft is improved, plenty of space to put away my laptop and headphones during meals. The bed is flat and is slightly wider than before.
Having a touchscreen TV makes it easier to skip commercials and get right to where I want to be in a TV program. The wired touchscreen remote doubles as a second screen. You don't have to interrupt your main viewing experience to check the moving map or exterior cameras. There are two exterior cameras one behind the front wheel well and the other on the tail giving you a birds-eye view of your aircraft. If you don't want to watch TV and need to work or chat with friends and family, Cathay finally has satellite Wi-Fi. Not fast enough to watch Netflix but enough to keep up with family and the news.
Overall Impression? This is a good step up from the previous generation. A whole level up from the original herringbone on the 777 & 747 which was more akin to sleeping in a coffin. Cathay Pacific A350-900 experience provides value for money when you want to fly across the region or to the US and Europe. When you are flying 8000 miles, the cabin pressure and humidity make a difference in keeping happy and healthy. Today I’m flying short-haul, and it still makes a difference because I’m on the last leg of a multi-city journey.
Service on the flight is impeccable. Can you Book the Chef? No. Are the amenities as luxurious as Singapore Airlines, Qatar or Emirates? No, but the overall service is good enough for me. A Cathay Pacific meal in economy class is always better than a business class meal on an American carrier. If you are on a long-haul, there is always cheese and fruit on aircraft, as well as chocolates, noodles, and burgers. Sorry no photos. I enjoyed myself so much that I forgot to take any!
Kent is a management consultant who has spent years traveling for work. His refuge is looking for the perfect meal so that he can reproduce it at home with his wife and friends.