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  • MEL-HKG (CX)

    Cathay Pacific
    Boeing 747-467
    CX 104
    February 19, 2003

    Related photographs:

    I arrived at Melbourne International Airport to check-in just after 13:00. The airport is usually very quiet around this time on a Wednesday, and today was no exception. There were only a few people checking-in for economy class, but I took the first class and business class check-in line as there was nobody in it. I was asked by the Cathay Pacific check-in agent at counter 68 whether I wanted a window or aisle seat, and of course I wanted a window. He handed me the ticket which indicated I would be in seat 51K. I knew a window seat around row 50 offered a good view from just behind the wing so I did not complain.

    I then headed to the viewing deck just in time to see the Cathay Pacific 747-467, that I would fly on, arrive from Hong Kong and Adelaide early at 13:22. I was hoping that it would be B-HOX or B-HOY, but of course it turned out to be B-HOS wearing the normal Cathay Pacific colour scheme. B-HOS is the fourth oldest Boeing 747-467 in Cathay Pacific's fleet as it was delivered to the airline on May 11, 1990. I then filled in some time on the viewing deck and caught another glimpse of one of the nice new Qantas A330-201's in action. There was bearly a cloud in the sky, but it was a too hazy to take good photographs.

    The final call for CX 104 to Hong Kong was at about 14:15, so it was then that I headed through passport and security control. Cathay Pacific fly the Boeing 747-476 into Melbourne only on a Wednesday and Sunday, and they usually use Gate 7 at the International Terminal. But, they were using Gate 11 today, which is basically the furthest gate out from the passport and security control area. While I was waiting around for transitting passengers from Adelaide to board the aircraft first, I was asked by some Taiwanese girls if they could have their picture taken with me, so I must be fairly well known over in Taiwan.

    The Cathay Pacific 747-467 was very well maintained inside. I sat in 51K and was indeed pleased with the window view. I was even more pleased to have the row of three seats to myself, in a plane that was around two thirds full in economy class. The gentlemen across from me had the row of four to himself, the gentleman on the other side of the plane also had the row of three to himself and the family of three in front of me were sharing seven seats between them. A procession of female flight attentands came through the cabin handing out printed menus, arrival cards, Cathay Pacific flight kits and Change for Good bags.

    We were pushed back three minutes early from Gate 11 and informed that we would arrive to fine weather in Hong Kong at 20:16, well ahead of schedule. Maybe I could make it to the night horse racing at Happy Valley Racecousre then. The safety demostration aired on the personnel televisions in Cantonese and English. The demonstrators and flight attendants were very serious about the safety, which was good. We then taxied across Runway 9/27 and out to Runway 16. The taxi was incredibly rough, it felt like the plane had a dodgey tyre or two. We began our roll and were off the ground probably not long after the tower.

    There is nothing like taking off in a Boeing 747-400. Even though B-HOS was only two thirds full in economy class, it was loaded with plenty of fuel for this long flight, and felt heavy enough as it laboured into a slow climb. A right turn then offered one last look of Melbourne International Airport before a round of drinks and peanuts were served. The weather outside was fine, although a bit hazy, due to the bushfires experienced in rural Victoria recently. The weather would basically stay this way until just short of Darwin, when we entered some thick cloud and experienced mild turbulence. In between lunch was served.

    From the printed menus handed out, lunch was a choice of: (1) grilled fish with pepperonatta, risoni pasta and broccoli (2) stir-fried pork, with tomato and onion sauce, steamed rice and mixed vegetables (3) penne pasta with mushroom cream sauce. All meals included chicken caesar salad, chocolate cake with seasonal fruits and bread roll and butter. I opted for the penne pasta with mushroom cream sauce and felt that the meal was satisfactory, considering it was made in Melbourne. Hot towels and regular offerings of water followed. I do think that food is one area in which Cathay Pacific could improve a bit in though.

    Yan and Michelle were the flight attendants on my side of the cabin. Yan was very nice and offered a smile and "please enjoy" when handing out the meals. There was also another younger flight attendant who was most helpful, but I didn't catch her name. The inflight entertainment included an audio, video and info mode. The video mode, also known as Studio CX, was playing Kylie Fever 2002 and some lame movies, so I went to the info mode, also known as CX Interactive, which included CX's World and Games. To kill a bit of time I entered the Games and unsuccessfully had a go at Pyramid, Four in a Row and Hangman.

    I had the sky show playing on the personnel television next to me, and noted that the route taken by CX 104 included the airspace of Melbourne, Lara, Mount Lofty, Salisbury, Flinders Range, Coober Pedy, Alice Springs, Auvergne, Port Keats Mission, Leca, Manado, Jolo, Zamboanga, Cebu, Taal Lake, Corregidor Island, Hundred Island Park, Laoas and Chek Lap Kok. The seat belt sign was turned on twice in the Northern Territory, and the cabin crew were eventually asked to take their seats. The seat belt sign was eventually turned off as CX 104 climbed to 39 000 ft east of Brunei and gained a tail wind of upto 63 mph.

    The sun was setting as we flew just west of the Philippines coast line and through the South China Sea. Hot towels, drinks and then a refreshment came around. The refreshment was a choice of: (1) udon noodles with pork and mushrooms (2) lamb and pumpkin strudelce. All meals included seasonal fruits and a tropical fruit and ice cream bar. It was a tough choice, but I went for the udon noodles with pork and mushrooms, which I really enjoyed. As part of the sky show, arrival and connection information then appeared on the personnal televisions and large screens, stating that we would be arriving at Gate 1.

    By 20:00 destination time the seatbelt sign was turned on as we began our final descent for Hong Kong International Airport. The cabin lights were kept on after the refreshent and the flight attendants came around and asked passengers to push their window shades up for the night landing. The lights of another plane following us in and a few boats down below were all to be seen on the approach. The captain then made a right bank to line the plane up with the runway, before the Aircraft Maintenance Base became visible and we either landed with a thud or were shot down on Runway 7L at 20:19.

    The brakes were applied hard and then a long taxi all the way into Gate 1 followed. Again B-HOS taxied very roughly. On the way, we taxied past the new Airbus A340-600's of Virgin Atlantic, South African Airways and Cathay Pacific, which were all parked out on remote stands. We then disembarked at Gate 1 at 20:28, which was 32 minutes ahead of schedule, and had a short walk to immigration. I'm not sure whether we were so early because of favourable winds, or the schedule being based on the Airbus A330-343X flying the route for Cathay Pacific, as it does on eleven of the thirteen scheduled weekly flights.

    This was probably the best flight I have ever had, and not just because I had three seats to myself, but because all aspects were excellent. The entertainment and food was good, the cabin crew were all young, cheerful, helpful, polite and well spoken and the aircraft was comfortable and very clean, except for maybe my window which had a few spots on it that I had to try and photograph around. In fact the cabin crew spoke English so well, that I was under the impression that most others in Hong Kong would to. But, that is not the case as most Hong Kongers seem relucatant to use English, even if they can speak it.

    There was nobody in the foregin visitors line at Immigration by the time I got there, so I was able to get through to the baggage collection quickly, where I had about a fifteen minute wait for my suitcase. Our baggage came out on Baggage Reclaim 9, after the bags of CX 776 from Jakarta. It looked as though Customs were ready to change shifts at 21:00, as the men and dogs couldn't care less about what just got off the plane from Melbourne. After exiting through Arrivals Hall B I spotted the counter for my Hotelink transfer and was soon on a bus, which had me at the Empire Hotel, on Hong Kong Island, by about 22:15.

    Hong Kong is a very busy, but enjoyable place. I recommend staying on Hong Kong Island, where there is more to do, and you can reach Kowloon easily by the MTR. I also went to Shenzhen, in Mainland China, for a day but wouldn't recommend that to my worst enemy. The Hong Kong International Airport has some decent areas to spot planes from. Even during winter the weather is great, particulary from 12:00 to 18:00, usually with passenger arrivals on Runway 25R and cargo arrivals on Runway 25L during this time. The local plane-spotters are very friendly, most speak good English, and are happy to show you around.

    I will post the HKG-MEL flight later.....

    Trent Wallace

  • #2

    Nice trip report. The food sounded pretty good.

    Howcome you decided to come to HK, with all this SARS thing about?

    Nice pictures.
    "The Director also sets the record straight on what would happen if oxygen masks were to drop from the ceiling: The passengers freak out with abandon, instead of continuing to chat amiably, as though lunch were being served, like they do on those in-flight safety videos."

    -- The LA Times, in a review of 'Flightplan'


    • #3
      Hi indian airlines,

      I was in HK from 19-24 of February (sorry I was a bit late with the trip report though) so I just made it home before SARS hit your great territory.....well, i'm still alive two months later and feeling alright, so I think I did anyway .

      Trent Wallace


      • #4
        Oh, I overlooked the date.
        "The Director also sets the record straight on what would happen if oxygen masks were to drop from the ceiling: The passengers freak out with abandon, instead of continuing to chat amiably, as though lunch were being served, like they do on those in-flight safety videos."

        -- The LA Times, in a review of 'Flightplan'


        • #5
          Great report. Very informative. It's been 4 years since I last flew one of Cathay's 747s. I miss the ride. Hangman is always fun! Do they still go by the names of countries?


          • #6
            Great report Trent!!

            Keep up th great work and I'm looking forward to the return trip!!!

            Take Care,
            Pete at PIT.....KPIT Rocks!


            • #7

              Yep, Hangman still goes by the names of countries.

              Do CX only have the CX Interactive feature, with the games and other stuff, on their 744's???

              Trent Wallace


              • #8
                Trent, I'm pretty sure CX have Interactive on all their planes. I remember playing them on their Airbuses.


                • #9
                  Great report Trent! I enjoy reading it! CX Service is warm and personal!

                  The Interactive feature has been installed across the fleet. The games are fun. But one thing I don't like is the armrest-mounted IFE control. Sometimes it's quite embarassing to play with the control while a lady is sitting next to you. You get my point?



                  • #10

                    Awesome report Trent! Nice detail!
                    "Ok, I'm gonna get as many as I can on that SW pad there, uh... ok, Amarillo, you're #1, Houston-#2, Albuquerque #3, Phoenix-#4, Chicago-#5, Seattle-#6...

                    Congratulations, Seattle!"