I have just returned from a (too) brief trip to Bali. My wife and I flew in Cathay Pacific First Class, which I booked with 150,000 British Airways miles (each) before the Avios devaluation.
Cathay Pacific before departure at Chicago O’Hare
The journey began in Chicago, where we checked in at Terminal 5, the international terminal. I’ve arrived there many times, but I’ve never taken an outbound flight from there. There was no line for first class check in so we walked right up and had our boarding passed quickly.
This was my first experience with the very diverse Cathay Pacific staff. I noticed that their name tags show their name in English, and also list their second language. I was surprised to see that the check in agent in Chicago spoke Urdu. Not sure how useful that language is checking in passengers for Hong Kong flights, but who knows. Throughout the trip I was interested to see what languages were spoken by the various staff I interacted with. What can I say, I’m easily entertained.
There was a minimal security line in the early afternoon at T5, so within a few minutes of arrival we were cleared. Cathay uses the Swiss lounge at O’Hare, which I was surprised by. I would have expected them to share space with another Oneworld Alliance partner, maybe the British Airways or JAL lounges. The Cathay departure from ORD is mid-afternoon, so maybe this allows for less crowding.
Note: Cathay Pacific now uses the British Airways Lounges at O’Hare Terminal 5. In addition Swiss renovated and consolidated their lounge into a combined first/business lounge.
Swiss Lounge at Terminal 5
The first class side of the Swiss Lounge is quite small, consisting of a few dining tables, and a few sets of comfortable leather seats. There is also a self-serve bar and a food buffet with various options. Due to its small size, it didn’t get any photos of the lounge itself since I didn’t want to disturb the other guests. There are some lounge photos on Ben’s blog, but thankfully, the lounge has been renovated since then, with windows on the opposite wall making it much brighter and rearranging seating areas.
Once we were settled in in the lounge, I went to the desk to ask the Cathay Pacific agent if we could change our seats so we were seated closer together for the long flight. Our originally assigned seats were 1A and 1K, window seats, and I was unable to change any seats before hand either online or by calling. The 77W on Cathay has 6 seats in First Class, 2 rows of 1-1-1. This is when I discovered that my wife and I were the only passengers in the cabin for the flight from O’Hare to Hong Kong. This was quite exciting. The eventually reseated us in 2D and 2K, since apparently 1A was shown as inoperable. There were several others in the First class lounge, but they were Cathay Pacific or One World elites who I saw sit in Business class for the flight.
The Swiss lounge is located directly across from the security screening area, and Cathay Pacific flight boarded nearby from gate M12. After some snacks and drinks in the lounge we headed to our gate for boarding, and were quite excited to experience Cathay Pacific First Class service for this long flight from ORD to HKG.
A few photos of the wide variety of planes parked at ORD T5. Special mention to BA, whose miles funded this trip. Maybe I should be thanking Chase…
Next stop Hong Kong. And as it would turn out, Anchorage and Haneda…
Coming soon: a review of flight 807, or more accurately, flights. As scheduled, our flight was planned for 15 or so hours. Due to diversions it ended up taking about 24 hours to get to Hong Kong. First, we ended up diverting to Anchorage due to a medical emergency. We were within minutes of the crew timing out, but managed to get out. Unfortunately only as far as Tokyo Haneda to change crew. I had a brief preview post discussing this unplanned extra adventure. Thank goodness we were seated in First Class!