Just a few weeks ago I arrived back home in Germany all the way from New Zealand. It was a long journey, 34 hours in total, most of which I spent on board of Cathay Pacific airplanes. Up until that point I had only flown with Cathay once, from Dusseldorf to Hong Kong, and was pleased with the experience. Having two flights this time, however, provided me with a very different perspective.
After a short domestic flight and a five hour layover in Auckland I boarded my first Cathay flight of the journey. Immediately my high expectations from that first flight were smashed. Having flown with Ryanair once, I can’t say the interior was ugly, however it was not pretty for sure. I was a little confused about the 2-4-2 setup but I had known about that during online check in already. I came to Auckland half a year ago with a brand new Air New Zealand codeshare aircraft and this plane was anything else but new.
Worst seats ever?
About 15 minutes after I sat down (I was one of the last people to board) the plane started moving. Something was wrong. I had a screen in front of me – quite an old one so making it touch screen was a bad decision – but I had the screen I was expecting. Except… that it was off. Looking around I noticed that I wasn’t the only one panically pressing the on and menu buttons so after a minute I gave up and put my headphones on. In the end the on-board entertainment wasn’t available until the seatbelt signs got turned off the first time. Another bad surprise were the seats themselves. I was surprised why the person in front of me didn’t put their seats back but then I found out: they can’t. Instead, the ”seat shell“ sort of slides down leaving the back of the seat as straight as before. My body was in a similar position you would place a bag of potatoes in the corner so it can’t fall over – very enjoyable for your back.
The meals were pretty much the only thing that was the same on both flights. On my first Cathay flight I was surprised by how delicious they were but seems like the standard has dropped significantly in the past six months. The staff was super friendly but that didn’t really help when I felt terrible after nibbling on the third meal. It’s edible, yes, but after 12 hours and two of those meals you just can’t stand it anymore.
Another three hours of layover, this time in Hong Kong, it was time for the second Cathay flight. I have to say, it was a lot better. The seats were brand new and you had a lot of space thanks to a 3-3-3 setup in a 777 model that usually carries 3-4-3. The entertainment was brand new and, although not containing many movies, had enough diversity to get me through the flight without getting bored.
But why the big difference? I still can’t understand why airlines can charge the same amount of money for two flights – one of which the passenger leaves refreshed while he needs an appointment at the physiotherapy after the other one. Why do passengers flying on the ”show-off“ line from DUS to HKG experience a significantly higher standard than others?
Overall it wasn’t a bad experience, I just can’t think of a way to justify such a terrible interior when flying with one of the worlds best airlines.
Quick note to surfers: Yes you can take your surfboards. With Cathay you can have as many bags as you want to as long as they are within the baggage allowance. The surfboard bag being oversize, you just have to make sure to inform them about the measurements a couple weeks prior to departure.