Let’s get the obvious out of the way. If you’re sitting north of Economy, there’s not many situations where you’re going to come out unhappy.
Everything in the pointy end of a passenger jet is designed to be an oblong of comfort on what is an otherwise physically unnatural situation (340 humans locked into a metal cylinder cruising some 36,000 feet in the air).
Commercial flying has been so refined upon over the past few decades that if you took Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and remodelled it into a flat-bed seat and a couple of smartly dressed and uber polite flight attendants then you’d call it Business Class and it would equal one extremely happy human.
Here we’re going to delve into the Cathay Pacific (CX) Boeing 777 Business Class approach to Maslow and his illustrious pyramid. Get comfy.
Hong Kong to Vancouver (approximately 13 hours 16 minutes)
21D & 21G in a 1-2-1 cabin configuration, meaning that even in the middle you’re never stuck.
All Cathay Pacific First and Business Class passengers are automatically allowed access to their respective lounges (as well as selected members of the Marco Polo Club and oneworld partner program).
This means getting to take advantage of The Pier, the recently refurbished Business lounge designed by the renowned Ilse Crawford. Famous for her work with Aesop and Soho House New York, Crawford brings plenty of her trademark use of natural materials.
Think, lots of dark green ficus leaves meeting luxe brass fixtures and plenty of low-light.
More on this later but ‘The Pier: Business’ is styled like the cosy apartment of your dreams and with a built-in Teahouse and hand-pulled Noodle Bar, it makes for one of the best pre-flight first impressions an airline can provide.
This particular flight is full which means staff are pushed to their limits. Not that it’s noticeable. At a 01:00 departure time everything runs with the slick coordination of a formula one pit team to tick off the essentials before people pass out. Champagne is served, hot towels are distributed and you’re tapping on your complimentary tube of Jurlique Eye Serum before you can say ‘let them eat cake’.
We’ve spoken before about how Cathay Pacific excels when it comes to food. It’s the kind of airline where you can feel safe skipping a snack at the airport knowing that, even in Economy, you’re going to enjoy crowd-pleasing chicken curry that’s spiced just right.
In Business everything is obviously up ten notches so even at 01:00am you want to stay awake for the meal serve, which at this hour is supper rather than the full dinner offering.
Savoury dips and grissini act as a small entree, followed by 2 choices of meals; slow cooked Wu Xi pork ribs or a seared beef tenderloin that’s melt-in-your-mouth soft.
A Fourme d’Ambert and Arenberger cheese platter follows. However those who aren’t awake enough for a full feeding can opt for cream of chicken soup served with a seared scallop and marinated red pepper salad.
At the equivalent of the early hours of 04:00 we awoke and with almost psychic instincts an attendant arrived to ask if we wanted a hot chocolate or a snack.
Now the snacks in CX Business are actually one of the best parts.
For instance, if the lure of the fully flat bed proves too strong to resist and you’ve slept through dinner, your options are a grilled Australian grain fed beef burger with swiss cheese and fries, or a hearty Tom Yan Kung noodle soup.
Topped off with a Haagen-Dazs ice cream.
That’s pretty much all the Physiological needs a human could ever want in under 6 hours.
Now for the spare time in between…
The 18-inch CX Business Class entertainment system is all about diversity. You’ve got over 100 different Cantonese, Mandarin and English movies to choose from but the beauty is it’s not just the usual blockbuster suspects.
Cathay has obviously clocked that everyone has Netflix these days and if you want to shake people out of in-flight entertainment apathy you’ve got to offer a few special selects from the indie-film section (for this flight we laughed and cried to ‘Captain Fantastic’ and balled our eyes out to Leonardo DiCaprio’s climate change documentary ‘Before The Flood’).
There’s also audiobooks and a nifty rear-view camera looking out onto the tail of the plane if you’re the kind of devil-may-care traveller that likes peering into the abyss below.
It says a lot that we aren’t ashamed to admit that even the dulcet tones of the main menu theme song is incredibly soothing to fall asleep to with the included set of noise-cancelling headphones (found in the storage compartment next to your seat).
Let’s cut the Self-Actualisation portion of Maslow’s triangle; Acceptance of facts.
You’re 36,000ft in the air with all the movies and near-restaurant quality food at your fingertips. You’ve got a cushiony chair that electronically flips into a flat bed and you’ve got the attention of 4 dedicated cabin attendants keeping an eye on your every whim.
If you don’t walk out of a CX Business Class experience feeling like all your basic human needs have been reached (and then some) you’re either living life too large… or you fly First Class, which is a whole other universe that we can’t get into now.