Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cathay Pacific Economy (SFO - HKG - ICN)

Back in May, I had applied for a Chase British Airways Visa card with a 100k point bonus and was lucky enough to be able to use some of the points for my trip to Seoul in September.  Based on the British Airways partner chart at the time (ie. before the transition over to their new 'Adios' points), I was able to snag an 'almost' free flight from San Francisco to Seoul for just 50k points, passing through Hong Kong both outbound and inbound.  This Oneworld award redemption was awesome as flights to Asia on almost all airline alliances require 65k - 75k points for a US-Asia flight, not to mention that this was on Cathay Pacific, one of the few Skytrax-rated 5-star airlines in the world.

As this was my first time flying Cathay, I was pleasantly surprised soon after boarding to receive a menu for the trans-Pacific flight:

I've flown mostly US Airways in the past on flights to Europe and Asiana and Japan Airlines previously to Asia along with a number of the US carriers but the Cathay Economy product was certainly a pleasant experience, at least on par with my previous experiences on Asiana and Japan Airlines.  Lunch was soon served (I had ordered the curry chicken) and the food was not bad as far as airline food goes.

In fact, the shrimp appetizer was particularly good, being quite plump and fresh.  Having downed the 'first' course, I asked the flight attendants for a possible second if there were extras and was provided the beef and mixed vegetables:

The chicken was undisputedly better as the beef sauce seemed to contain even higher sodium content but it was sufficient to fill my stomach.  Being rather full, I got ready for an afternoon nap.  Fortunately for me, the flight was pretty empty and I had the entire middle row to myself - which came in particularly useful when trying to get some shut-eye on a 14 hour flight =)

After napping reasonably comfortably for several hours, my stomach started complaining once again.  The answer?

That's right!  Instant noodles =) Appetizing as it looked, the sodium really didn't work out great since flying already makes you really dehydrated, and the noodles simply exacerbated it.  To make it worse, one of these bad boys contained so little food that my hunger was only satisfied after downing 3 of these =(  After napping a bit more and trying to watch some random movies, dinner could not come soon enough: seemed I had spoken too soon.  The stir-fried beef, while quite tasty, likely pushed my sodium levels to atmospheric heights and led to more dehydration.  Fortunately, the veggies and fruit contained enough liquid to console my poor, dry mouth.  One piece of advice for next time, buy a HUGE bottle of water before an long international flight!  The rest of the flight was rather uneventful and we eventually touched down in HKG airport.  A picture of my ride:

I wandered around HKG airport for a bit and had some fun looking at various information booths they had put up around the terminal:

The flight from HKG to ICN was much fuller than the cross-Pacific flight, staffed mainly with Cathay's Korea-based flight attendants.  As it was already well past 2 am local time and I was already rather exhausted, I quickly downed the fish meal (which was fortunately less dry than the previous meals I had)

and slept soundly until my arrival in Incheon International Airport.

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