Why Is Cathay Pacific First Class So Expensive?

Let’s say you’re looking to book a round-trip flight with Cathay Pacific from New York to Hong Kong at the end of August 2020. A ticket in economy would cost a mere $1,130. Alternatively, in first class, that ticket skyrockets to about $34,000. So what is included in that first class ticket to make it so expensive? Let’s find out.

Cathay Pacific first class
Unlike Emirates, Cathay’s first class suite is not fully-enclosed. Travels Photo: Cathay Pacific

Before we begin, we’ve already done a similar article covering Emirates’ first class. We’ll make some references and comparisons to that product in this article.

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Before the flight

While flying with Emirates first class will include chauffeur service to take you to and from the airport, this is missing with Cathay Pacific. In that sense, your first class experience will begin at the airport, rather than at your front door.

First class ticket holders will have dedicated check-in desks at Hong Kong International Airport, with agents ready to assist with the start of the journey. Cathay Pacific’s first class tickets allow for fast-track security access at Hong Kong as well as other major airports around the world.

The Wing cabana
“The Wing” first class lounge features private cabanas complete with shower and day bed. Photo: Cathay Pacific

While dedicated check-in and speedy-security are appreciated, the first class lounges would be the peak of Cathay Pacific’s pre-flight treatment. Here are some of the features at the airline’s “The Wing” lounge at Hong Kong airport:

  • Access to a temperature-controlled Cabana with a large bath and rain shower, and comfortable day bed. Attendants will provide guests with discreet ironing service, and pillows and duvet upon request. Each Cabana also has luxury amenities, bathrobes, and towels.
  • A full restaurant with à la carte dining with specially sourced fine wine pairings for each main course. The restaurant also has a buffet that includes traditional Hong Kong dim sum, fine cheeses, cold cuts, and premium desserts.
  • And an exclusive champagne bar.

Cathay Pacific does not offer direct access to the boarding gate, unlike Emirates’ first class lounges at Dubai International.

Inflight space and seating

“Once onboard, you’ll experience the tasteful luxury of your First Class suite, padded with soft leather and comfortable fabrics. Easily adjust your seat with your touchscreen controller – you can even enjoy in-chair massages.”

While not as private as a fully-enclosed suite with floor-to-ceiling doors and walls, Cathay Pacific’s first class suite is indeed spacious. As would be expected of a first class booking, the seat converts into a bed – “one of the widest fully flat beds in the sky” the airline claims.

The bedding used for sleeping includes a thick mattress as well as 600-thread-count linen and soft pillows. For long-haul flights, you’ll be given your own set of high-quality pajamas.

As is typical with almost any seat in a full-service carrier these days, in-seat power outlets are available to charge devices.

The one benefit over Emirates (at the moment) is that Cathay’s WiFi in first class is complimentary.

Cathay first class
Flight attendants can be requested to prepare your bed once you are ready for sleep. Photo: Cathay Pacific

Entertainment and dining

The airline says that it is progressively rolling out “state-of-the-art, personal high definition TV screens.” These new television screens will be 18.5 inches and can be controlled using a new video handset. This handset will also allow you to browse entertainment, order duty-free items, and see the interactive map. Entertainment can be enjoyed using BOSE® noise-canceling headsets.

The airline claims to occasionally partner with Michelin-starred chefs from renowned hotels and restaurants around the world to develop First Class menus featured on selected routes. Whether or not you’ll have a famous chef’s name attached to your meal, you’ll definitely be getting the freshest and highest-quality food on the plane.

Accompanying your meal if you so wish, is alcohol from the airline’s onboard cellar. Available is a “selection of top Champagne cuveés, prestigious vintages, spirits, and Betsy beer – our pale ale specially brewed for 35,000 feet.”

Cathay first class dining
Cathay Pacific’s Asian cuisine will be some of the best and most authentic. Photo: Cathay Pacific

Is it worth it?

At about 16 hours each way, you’ll have about 32 hours of inflight time in first class as well as roughly three hours at the airport departing and returning. Therefore, with 38 hours of ‘first class time,’ you’re looking at just under $900 per hour.

What do you think of Cathay Pacific’s first class offering? Is it worth it? Would you prefer this cabin over a first class experience with Emirates? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.