Monday, 10 June 2019

Heading To The Land Of Smiles with Cathay Pacific (Part 1)

Welcome to my trip report on Cathay Pacific! 




Introduction

My partner and I decided to do a quick getaway from working life. The month of May has always been a busy period for both of us, so we decided to travel somewhere nearby for a well-deserved break. After discussing where to go, the list of places narrowed down to two: Bangkok and Denpasar. I was in charge of booking our flight while she handled the accommodation. The choice, in the end, was Bangkok because we felt we could do more over there (like shopping) than in Bali, besides I could fly on either Thai or Cathay's A350. Cathay Pacific wins in the end because of the cheaper airfare and also the chance of flying on the A350-1000 (new aircraft type for me) on the return flight. A thank you to my partner for this wonderful trip.

Booking with Cathay Pacific

I decided to use the mobile application to book the air ticket. I waited until a month before the departure date as I wanted to check out other options before doing my booking. 

The mobile application was easy to use but there were some issues such as a slight delay in checking in using the mobile application. For example, I tried checking in exactly 48 hours before the flight, but it wasn't opened so I checked in using the website, without issue. In addition, when I tried to choose my seat days before checking in, somehow the application doesn't connect me to the website to do so. I had to use the web browser to select my seat (if I choose to pay for it). Other than these issues, no problem with it. Not the best airline's app, that's for sure.



Cathay Pacific's SIN-BKK flight is a 3rd freedom flight which the airline has been operating this route for many years, more than 20 years. 

This route currently is operated by both Airbus A330-300 and Airbus A350-900 depending on the day. As my partner chose the dates of her travel, I am fortunate to have one of the sectors operated by the new A350-1000 aircraft. 

This is how the routing is like 

CX759 HKG-SIN
CX712 SIN-BKK
CX712 BKK-HKG

So for those who wish to find out which aircraft they would be flying from Singapore, CX712 flight, you can check out the CX759 flight from Hong Kong. 




S$308 per person for this route is more expensive than flying on Low-Cost Carriers, but to travel in comfort, I think that is worth the $$. 


This is the itinerary of my trip! Timing on the return flight wasn't ideal, but it is the aircraft type that matters. 


2-4-2 configuration of the Airbus A330-300. I was hoping for an aircraft changed to the A350-900 at that time. 



About Cathay Pacific in 2019 

Cathay Pacific at this time operates a fleet of Airbus A330-300, Airbus A350-900/-1000 and Boeing 777-200/-300ER. The airline is currently phasing out the old Airbus A330-300 and Boeing 777-200 and newer aircraft A350-900 and -1000 joining the fleet. The airline has also ordered a fleet of Boeing 777-9, 21 on order and that would join the fleet to supplement the long haul fleet and also to replace the older Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. This airline has also acquired Hong Kong Airlines Express and the deal would be completed by end of 2019, this airline would become a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific, along with Cathay Dragon. 


The fleet: 

This is Airbus A330-300 in the airline's old livery



Photo: Luo Chan Hui

Airbus A350-900 in the new livery



Photo: Chen Wanping

Airbus A350-1000



Photo: Tokyo Spotter

Boeing 777-200 (Phasing out) 



Photo: K.H Yim

Boeing 777-300 



Photo: Luo Chun Hui

Boeing 777-300ER in (Spirit of HK special livery), unfortunately, this aircraft and livery are no longer around.



Photo: Levine Yip 

Changi Airport Terminal 4 

The terminal 4 started construction in 2014 and was completed 3 years later. As it was built with the latest technology such as self-check-in kiosk and automated check-in baggage machines, the official opening of the terminal took about 10 months before opening up to the public. This terminal was built at the former Budget Terminal which lasted for a few years. As this terminal is small, you will notice the number of airlines using this terminal is lesser than the others. This terminal holds 17 stands for narrow-body aircraft and 4 stands for wide-body aircraft. 

Currently, the airlines operating this terminal are Air Asia, Cebu Pacific, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air, Vietnam Airlines, Spring Airlines, Vietjet Air, GX Airlines, Juneyao Airlines, West Air, Regent Airways and Hainan Airlines.

This terminal connects to terminal 2 by complimentary shuttle bus and there are some bus services stopping by at the bus stop near the entrance of the terminal. The bus services that go there are service 24, 27, 34, 36 and 110. Bus service 53 and 858 are skipped because of the long route. 

A dedicated bus interchange at the airport would have been much better instead. 

To connect to terminal 4, you can either one of the bus services mentioned above or take the sky train to terminal 2 and transfer to terminal 4 by taking the free shuttle service located at the 1st level, there will be signboards to guide you.

Meanwhile, here are some photos of the newest terminal of Changi Airport. 


From my place, I took bus 53 to the airport. I stopped at terminal 3 and change for service 36. However, service 36 had to do a brief stop at terminal 2 for a while, and to make matters worse, the bus driver told us to wait and he switched off the engine, leaving a few of us on the bus in the dark. Instead, I saw service 110 and decided to take it. The trouble of switching buses just to get to terminal 4. 

If you are planning to take a bus from any of the terminals to terminal 4, avoid service 36. 



The walk to the departure hall takes around 5 minutes. 


Underpass leading to terminal 4 


The interior of the departure hall looks small and pretty basic. Not as nice as the other terminals. 



Dominated by Air Asia, the low-cost carrier gets to use the aero-bridges of the terminal. If I am not wrong, there are no remote parking lots for passengers to worry about. Every flight would be assigned to a gate, so time slots are needed to ensure that no one has to wait for an empty gate. 


I photographed the entire departure hall (landside) So, you can have a look at the difference between this and the other terminals. 


Every check-in counter is now replaced by automated check-in baggage kiosk, with one or two supervisors ensure the passengers had no difficulty with the check-in process.


There are a few restaurants and shops located in this section of the departure hall.



Are you a fan of this terminal? 

Free WiFi is available at this terminal. No log-in is required. 




You can see how small this terminal is 



Food Court level


ATM machines are located at this level 


Few more photos of the departure hall



Some benches offer sockets for you to charge your electronic devices 



This is the shuttle bus service that takes you from this terminal to terminal 2.


Checking Flightradar24, Cathay Pacific assigned it's newest Airbus A330-300 in the fleet. It is about 4 years old at this time




Monitoring the flight's progress is something I enjoy doing


My flight landed at BKK Airport


Detailed information about B-LBJ


Flight history of this aircraft 


Early arrival for this Airbus A330


My flight to Bangkok arrived 4 minutes early



 Time to check-in! I miss the good old boarding passes, now we have to settle for the paper ones. 



User-friendly check-in kiosk, shouldn't be a problem for anyone


Boarding pass received! Time to fly 


At the baggage check-in kiosk (Forgot to take photos), had issues with the machine, one of the helpful staff came to my rescue. So you don't have to worry when doing these yourself. Once you get the hang of it, everything will go smoothly.

Air Side of Terminal 4

Duty-free shops welcome you as you make your way to the gate. 





A good number of shops to tempt travellers before flying off. Remember to keep track of your flight and always be at the gate early. 




What I am pleased about this terminal is that security check takes place before entering the air side, so that means more time for us to explore before heading to our gate. Well done to Changi Airport for listening. Hopefully, Terminal 5 follows this. 



Pleasant looking terminal, it's difficult to get lost with a good number of signboards helping you to get around.

This is the second level, the premium lounges are located on this level.



A nice and quiet place to chill out 


The international food court is available here, don't expect much from the quality, only the price that is more likely to raise an eyebrow.







Pretty street shophouses look-alike 



Love shopping? You have a good variety of shops to explore. 


Aircraft photography is possible at this terminal, the only thing is traffic at this terminal is limited. 



Walking with my partner to the gate, we had time to spare which allowed us to explore this part of the terminal. 



This was where my aircraft was parked, at gate G20. 


 Flight route: SIN-BKK

Miles: 875


My ride: B-LBJ



Photo: Guo Qi 


Photo: Eeter Chen 

Aircraft type: Airbus A330-343
Engine: 2 X Roll Royce Trent 772B-60
Delivered on 30 April 2015 
Configuration: C39 W21 Y191
MSN: 1618

Date of departure: 31 May 2019
Airline: Cathay Pacific 
Aircraft: Airbus A330-300
Registration: B-LBJ 
Route: SIN-BKK
Seat: 62C 
Gate: G20
Scheduled departure: 1325
Boarding time: 1255
Push back: 1322
Take off: 1344
Scheduled arrival: 1500
Actual arrival: 1454
Flight duration: 2 hours 1 min (Actual: 2 hours 19 mins) 
Departure runway: 20C
Arrival runway: 19R 
Load factor for Y class: 90% 

About the flight 

Boarding the aircraft was according to different sections but it was not enforced after the business class passengers and families with children boarded the aircraft first. As I like to board the aircraft early, I joined the queue just after 10 minutes of waiting. The queue was in order and no ugly behaviour at least from my eyes was seen. I love the Airbus A330 but the excitement of flying one isn't as whelming as before, however, this aircraft featured the new regional products, it's great to experience it for myself. 

Greeted by the flight purser and her partner, I made my way to the seat, with my partner enjoying the window view. Service from the crew seemed better than my flight experience with Singapore Airlines. It was proven to be the case throughout the flight. 

These are the photos of the cabin, starting with the Business Class.

Some other well-known airlines also use this product for their business class. EVA Air is one of them. 














Premium Economy 

Dark Green seats in 2-3-2 configuration


This product has better seat width and legroom space compared to the Economy Class





Economy Class 

Turquoise colour seats in 2-4-2 configuration


Cabin shot of the airline's Economy Class during flight 



Legroom space at the bulkhead row 


I prefer the screen on the partition than the ones having to be stored at the seat rest area


The photo below shows our seats 



Tight legroom space 





The colour of the emergency row seats is different






My in-flight experience 

What I love flying with Cathay Pacific are the friendly pilots that keep you well updated of your journey. This Caucasian pilot didn't disappoint. His details are top class and even my partner was impressed. The Captain also came on near the end of our flight to apologise to us that we would be parking at the remote parking lot and there was nothing he could do as the decision was made by the Bangkok Airport Authorities. Which pilots would bother to do so? Nicely done, to this particular Captain.  From the start of the flight and to the end, the cabin crew was professional and friendly, in fact, a better experience with this airline than last few flights with Singapore Airlines. Hardware comparing to SQ's A330, this product is better. it is newer and easier to use. However, the better comparison would be for both airline's new In-flight system which would be on my part.

In-Flight Entertainment System 


Each seat was issued with a headset


For the IFE system, it is good enough for regional flights. It features the basic entertainment needs of a passenger and I feel this system is adequate for short-medium haul flights. With newer In-Flight Entertainment System, passengers who booked the flights may watch out for the aircraft type deployed on the routes. 

Legroom space is tight for me, but my partner (around 170 cm) is satisfied.


Drink holder - convenient


What's inside the seat pocket? 

Safety card


In-flight magazines 



In-flight meal 

We had a choice between pork and chicken, we decided to go for both. 



She had the pork while I had the chicken, I prefer the chicken

After a short while, ice cream was distributed. Only this flavour (below) was available. 


Other photos 

My first departure from terminal 4


At Bangkok Airport, we were ferried to the terminal by bus. 

The Roll Royce Trent 700 engine 


Unimpressed with the interior of BKK Airport. Looks unfinished to me


The night scenery of Bangkok 


My flight report 



My thoughts on terminal 4 

Location of this new terminal is not ideal and inconvenient in terms of connecting this terminal with the other 3. Sometimes the queue for the bus is long and if you are unlucky, you either have to squeeze on the bus with your baggage or wait for the next bus.  My preference is still using one of the other 3 terminals, especially with heavy luggage. My recommendation is if you are flying out of terminal 4, either get a lift from someone or take a cab, saves you time and inconvenience. 

Do remember that the only way to get to terminal 4 from the airport is to go to terminal 2 arrival hall and look for a sign which will lead you to the shuttle bus waiting area. You can sit around until the bus turns up.

What pleases me is able to roam around freely while waiting for boarding to commerce. The new airport may be small but is quite pleasant to walk around, plus the free WiFi available to the public. Design of the airport is a "so-so", I have certainly been to better design airports, that's for sure. I hope the management of Changi Airport listens to the public feedback and build a better terminal to match not only being one of the best airports in the world but also bring convenience to the public and airport staff. Lastly, we need a viewing mall on the land side, a good spot where plane spotters can enjoy taking photos and the general public enjoying the view. I am disappointed that Terminal 4, along with terminal 3, has no proper viewing mall. Terminal 3 has an aviation gallery, but that's it. Can't take photos of aeroplanes unless you are at the air side.


My rating: 

Changi Airport Terminal 4 Experience: 7/10 (-3 for the poor transport) 
Check-in Experience: 8/10
Cabin interior: 8/10
Cabin cleanliness: 10/10
Aircraft condition: 10/10
Punctuality: 10/10
In-flight service: 8/10 
In-flight meal: 7/10
Seat comfort: 7/10 
IFE system: 6/10
Overall rating: 81/100

Conclusion

Flying out of terminal 4 requires more time when choosing public transport to get there. Taking a cab or using grab saves a lot of time but if you prefer to be on saving mode, the train or bus is doable. The former is more convenient. Even other airports with many terminals have sky trains connected from one to the other, how come Singapore can't do the same? That's the thought of many. With the opening of Jewel, you would expect the public transport to the airport to get worse, not to mention the opening of a new terminal and the future terminal 5. 

As for my flight, Cathay Pacific offers many flights to Singapore with this 5th freedom route (SIN-BKK-SIN) being one of them. It gives options for passengers to fly to Europe or the U.S, being one of the founders of the Oneworld Alliance. This is one of the top airlines offering great deals and good in-flight experience. I will give an overview of my flight experience in my part 2. 

Hope you enjoy this trip report! 

You can check out my Jewel Changi Airport short review over here.

For part 2, click here.

Have a good one!
Charles  

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