San Francisco is one of my favorite airports. I know it has its problems, but it’s the airport I grew up with and will always consider “home.” Last summer I was fortunate to travel first class between SFO and Hong Kong on one of Cathay Pacific’s last flights operating the Boeing 747 to North America, and I literally argued with the gate agent when they tried to take me out of seat 1K (with a forward facing window) in order to move me closer to my sister. Siblings be damned.
I did, however, invite her to dine with me at my seat. 😉
Other West Coast departures on Cathay Pacific are available from Vancouver and Los Angeles, but I will continue to prefer San Francisco as long as I can find award space. Now operated exclusively by the Boeing 777-300ER, Cathay Pacific announced that it will expand service to offer three daily flights beginning June 12. This should make it easier to find first class award space to use your American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, or British Airways miles and points. Though Cathay Pacific has one of the best business class seats in the sky, first class is still pretty good and the only one where I have gotten a full night’s sleep.
Currently, the summer schedule for June 2015 only shows two flights when I check on ExpertFlyer:
- CX873 Departing SFO 1:00 AM Arriving HKG 6:10 AM + 1 day
- CX879 Departing SFO 1:40 PM Arriving HKG 6:55 PM + 1 day
Assuming these schedules remain unaffected, there will be two flights leaving very close to each other. The new, third departure is below:
- CX893 Departing SFO 1:40 AM Arriving HKG 6:40 AM + 1 day
The current problem is that the 777 has only six first class seats whereas the 747 had nine
, so removing it from the North American fleet resulted in a 33% decrease in seat availability. Although the new flight only operates three days a week (the existing two are daily), adding a third flight will mean a return to 18 first class seats on those days between SFO and HKG. More seats for sale means — hopefully — more left over for award tickets.
UPDATE: Thanks to two readers below for pointing out an error in my research. I must have been looking in the wrong place because I thought both current 777-300ERs had first class cabins. In fact, only one of them does and the other only goes as far as business class. So currently there are only 6 first class seats departing daily — much worse than I had thought. And the third flight is also a bit of a disappointment. Only one of the three weekly services will have a first class cabin. So on a weekly basis, we’re going from 42 first class seats to 48. Not a huge change. The four-cabin configuration (including premium economy) will depart Hong Kong on Saturday and return from San Francisco on Sunday, so those would be the best dates to search if you really want to fly first class on this route. Alternatively, settle for business class or look at another North American gateway.
More information on the new addition is available from Cathay Pacific.