CX712 Singapore to Bangkok in Business

CX712 Singapore Changi T1 SIN – Bangkok Suvarnabhumi BKK
08 December 2010
Scheduled ETD/ETA: 13:55-16:30
Actual Time of Departure/Arrival: 14:17-15:12
Boeing 777-200 B-HNL
Seat No: 15K

Boarding pass and lounge invite for CX712 flight to Bangkok

Having booked an economy class return trip from Singapore to Bangkok, and chosen my seats upon purchase as a benefit for Silver-tier Marco Polo Club members, I was suprised to be asked for seat preference on aisle or window when checking in at Changi Terminal 1. It seems I have scored yet another upgrade with Cathay Pacific, and I asked for a window seat on this flight, similar to my original window seat arrangement. This was totally unexpected having actually checked my online status the day prior to departure when I still saw my original seat at the back of the cabin. It was thus a great choice I made to travel with Cathay on this route when many others budget airlines like JetStar, Tiger Airways and Air Asia flies this routing frequently. I did check prices for JetStar but found their prices to be uncompetitive compared to Cathay.

Air Seychelles and a distant Air Asia in Lotus Racing livery
EVA Air 777-200 at Changi

After the prompt check in, I was issued the Lounge invitation for the Skyview Lounge which Cathay Pacific operates, and serving as lounge for other carriers like Garuda Indonesia. Cathay’s airport and ground services in Singapore seems lacklustre at most, with departures from the antiquated Terminal 1, the small and unimpressive Skyview Lounge with limited food offerings and small space. Lucky for aviation enthusiasts, the Lounge had great views out towards the tarmac offering plenty of plane spotting opportunities. Spotted on the tarmac that day are several interesting airplanes, like an Air Seychelles, lots of Air Asia flights (shouldn’t they be using the Budget Terminal?) and one Air Asia with a Lotus Racing livery

Food at the Skyview Lounge
Additional seating at the corner of the lounge

I helped myself to a cup noodle and browsed through the various offerings of pastries, sandwiches and drinks offered. Overall it was a disappointment as far as airport lounges were concerned. I tried to enquire at the front desk on the ability to visit the British Airways/Qantas Lounge since I was travelling on Business Class. The lounge agent gave a flat ‘no’ as an answer, though I left earlier from the Skyview Lounge and decided to try my luck nonetheless. With no lounge invitation on hand, and just a Business Class Boarding Pass, I made my way to the secluded BA/QF Lounge. The First Class Lounge was closed due to the lack of flights operated by BA and QF and the Business Class Lounge was virtually empty, with only a section of it being lit up. Amazingly, I was allowed entry into the lounge though the lounge agent indicated no boarding call will be made for my flight. Again I wondered why Cathay didn’t just utilize this lounge with its oneworld partners. This lounge is not only spacious but was also impeccably served, though little food options were available. A lounge attendant was helpful enough in offering me snacks and food. I declined and just went for a banana for a small healthy snack. Magazine options in this lounge was also much better with a larger variety of newspapers available.

Entrance to the Skyview Lounge which is the main lounge used by CX at Changi Airport
Buffet Table at the BA/QF Business Class Lounge

After a short while in the lounge, I headed straight to the boarding gate, only to find that most of the passengers had boarded and I was one of the few remaining passengers to board. An Indian/Pakistani man was being caught up within the security screening for the large amounts of liquid and herbal concoctions onboard his carry-on luggage. Obviously, the security personnel had to take a lot of stuff out of his bag and he seemed half-puzzled, half-resigned to all this trouble. I made my way into the empty aerobridge and took my seat in the window seat, noticing the nearly full flight even in Business Class.

CX712 headed to Hong Kong via Bangkok
View of a Kingfisher and Emirates Jet from my seat

It seemed that it was a full load on the B777-200 regional flight to Bangkok and eventually Hong Kong this afternoon. My late boarding of the plane also meant I skipped on the welcome drinks but boarding was completed in no time so there is no need for one either. We were soon taxiing towards the runway on the opposite side, meaning the plane had to cross one of the overhead bridges spreading over the East Coast Parkway. The seats on the Boeing 777-200 seems antiquated and is similar to the seats on the regional Dragonair Business Class seats which I took between Hong Kong and Shanghai earlier this year. With a generous recline and comfortable footrest and adjustable lumbar support, this was adequate for a short regional routes not more than 3-4 hours. For longer regional routings, I doubt Cathay’s business class could hold on its own compared to nicer regional offerings like Garuda’s Executive Class flatbeds that is offered on Jakarta-Tokyo routes. Headphones and the menus for today’s flight were distributed while the plane made its pullback before the flight attendants returned to their seats. The plane soon took off to glorious views of Pulau Tekong in the northern shore of Singapore before the plane took off above the skies over Peninsular Malaysia. Good weather was experienced throughout the flight which meant cabin service was uninterrupted throughout the flight.

Crossing the Overhead Tarmac over East Coast Parkway
Aerial view of Pulau Tekong in Singapore
Table setting at Cathay Pacific Business Class

Shortly after the plane reached cruising altitude, seat belt signs were turned off and meal service was started. The dining tray with a placemat was placed on the foldout tables and the menu of the day was as follow:

Starter 頭盤

Grilled scallops with mesculun salad 烤帶子鮮蔬沙律

Main Courses 主菜

Braised chicken and dried scallops with steamed rice, choy sum and carrots 瑤柱燴雞柳 配白飯,菜芯及胡蘿蔔

Boneless lamb shank in tomato raisin sauce with gnocchi, Kenya beans and carrots 燴羊腱伴番茄葡萄醬汁 配意式粉糰,邊豆及胡蘿蔔

Häagen Dazs Ice Cream 雪糕

Häagen Dazs Ice Cream 雪糕

Tea and Coffee 名茶及咖啡
Praline 精美朱古力

Drinks List 飲料

Juices: Orange, Apple, Tomato 果汁:橙汁,蘋果汁,番茄汁
Soft Drinks: Coke Zero, Coke, Coke Light, Sprite, Perrier water, tonic water, soda water and ginger ale 汽水:零系可口可樂,可口可樂,健怡可樂,雪碧湯力,梳打,薑啤,巴黎礦泉水
Freshly brewed coffee 特級咖啡
Teas 名茶
Hong Kong style milk tea 港式奶茶
Ceylon, Japanese, jasmine 錫蘭紅茶,日本綠茶,香片
Organic selection: camomile, earl grey, peppermint 有機系列:甘菊茶,伯爵茶,薄荷茶
Hot Chocolate 熱朱古力
Wine List
Champagne: Billecart-Salmon Brut Champagne
White wines: P.Ferraud & Fils Viré-Clessé 2008 / Next of Kin Margaret River Chardonnay 2008
Red Wines: RockBare McLaren Vale Shiraz 2008 / Lionel Osmin Haut Capitole Fronton 2007
Port: Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port 2005
Aperitifs and Cocktails: Gin, Rum, Vodka, Martini Rosso, Martini Extra Dry, Campari, Sweet and Dry Sherry, Bloody Mary, Screwdriver
Whiskies: Chivas Regal 12 Years Old, Johnnie Walker Gold Label, Jack Daniel’s, Canadian Club
Cognac: Hine ‘Rare and Delicate’ Fine Champagne
Liqueurs: Drambuie, Cointreau, Bailey’s Irish Cream
Beer: International selection
CX Signature Drinks:
Cathay Delight – A kiwifruit based non-alcoholic drink with coconut juice and a touch of fresh mint
Pacific Sunrise – A refreshing combination of champagne and Drambuie with the zest of orange and lemon

The grilled scallops was great, bringing me back to the excellent scallop appetizer I also had on my Dragonair flight. The salad with the dressing was forgettable though. A veriety of bread was offered with the appetizers and I selected the really crunchy garlic bread. I chose the braised chicken main course which was another excellent choice and one of the best meals I had up above 30,000 feet. The gravy was so savoury I used it to as a dipping sauce for the vegetables. Ice cream was Strawberry flavour and there did not seem to be any choices even for business class passengers, unlike in Dragonair flights. I chose Japanese green tea to end the meal and ordered a glass of Cathay delight as well. The alcoholic cocktail Dragon Sunrise served on Dragonair seemed much better and the Cathay delight was too heavy for my palate. Perhaps the Pacific Sunrise would be nice. The Japanese Green Tea did not come with Praline, unfortunately which was really disappointing, when I usually enjoy this part of a Business Class flight the most. Perhaps it was a full business class cabin or that I was on an upgraded seat, the meal service felt no different to that on a regional economy class on a Dragonair flight. Other than the excellent main course and the glossy menus, it was nothing special to shout about.

Cruising in the front of the cabin
Inflight reading materials with a duty free catalogue
Cathay Pacific’s old regional business class cabin on the 777-200

Flight attendants then went around offering duty free items around the cabin before the captain called for descent shortly afterwards at around 15:54 Singapore time. The descent was quick and before long we landed at Bangkok’s vast international airport at Suvarnabhumi by 15:12 local time which was an hour later than Singapore. Being my first time visiting Bangkok, the array of airlines in the airport was interesting enough to keep me glued to the window. Two new airlines new to me I spotted included an Egyptair 777 with the Star Alliance livery and a Kenya Airways 777.

Kenya Airways 777 at Suvarnabhumi Airport

Our plane docked at the end of the terminal as it allows disembarkation of passengers headed to Bangkok while passengers headed to Hong Kong are requested to remain on board. My seat mate on the aisle seems headed to Hong Kong while most of the Business pax started to retrieve their luggage from the overhead compartments. Our docking area puts passengers at the end of the terminal concourse and it as a really long trek to the immigration, and after the initial good impression of Bangkok’s airport, it has to be said I had a long wait at passport control, even with a lot more counters open than Jakarta. The number of visitors into this country is just phenomenal, and it took me about 45 minutes or so to finally get to the front of the line and collect my luggage. By then, nearly all the luggages have been rotating on the carousel and not just the priority ones.

Overview of the 2-3-2 seating on Cathay Pacific’s old business class cabin

Looking back on the trip, I was not so impressed by the service offered by Cathay Pacific on their Business Class and even found the service on Dragonair to be a notch higher. This is especially when comparing the 2-3-2 abreast Business Class seats on Cathay’s 777 with the 2-2-2 abreast Business Class seats on Dragonair’s A330. For what it’s worth the Dragonair’s seats seems much wider and comfortable, and meal service much more complete with the whole mile including tea with the praline. If I were a paying passenger on the cabin, I would totally have felt cheated of service by a 5-star airline. For a passenger travelling on an upgraded ticket, it beats having to pass 2 person to get to the aisle anytime and the meal service was satisfying with all the bells and whistles. But to ask me to pay for such a Business class offering, I rather spend it elsewhere.

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