Monday, January 19, 2015

Trip report: Cathay Pacific New York JFK to Vancouver YVR

Jan 2015, seat 20A and 11A. My notes on how I booked are here. Both flights leave around 10pm local time. 

Pros: Internationally-configured plane on a "domestic" transcon. Lots of premium seat availability on points. Amex Transfer partner. Great deals when booking via partner rewards on British Airways' website. Vastly superior service to UA/AA/DL's premium transcons. 
Cons: No Wifi. No air vents. Hot. Redeye 

The business class cabin is split in two: a big section behind the galley and a very small part in front of the galley, adjoining first class. I sat in the big section on the way there and in the small one on the way back... I thought there'd be a big difference between the two but there wasn't, really. The small cabin's potential "intimacy" is sorta disturbed by the galley being so close and the staff having to run back and forth between First and the galley. 

The seats are really nice – nearly identical to the ones BA puts into their international First Class cabins, actually. Fully lie-flat with a nice pillow and thick blanket. As is usually the case, the cabin was so warm that the blanket was altogether unnecessary. (Note to self: find a USB-powered portable fan to bring along!). There were no personal air vent controls so it was a sweaty, boozy nap en route to YVR. It was a bit cooler on the way back, though. 

At JFK you use the BA lounge but you don't get access to the dining room unless you're top-tier on Oneworld. If they don't have champagne out on offer, feel free to ask the lounge staff... They're usually really sweet about bringing out a bottle for you.

At YVR, Cathay has its own lounge. They had some dim sum style food on offer and it was pretty good. Given how small their presence is at YVR, I appreciated that the lounge staff actually announce when the plane is about to open up for boarding. Many of the busier lounges don't do that.

The service was similar to Singapore Airlines: effusively friendly and yet oddly robotic at the same time. I was addressed by name by everyone on staff, which was impressive given the size of their premium cabins. Meal service started right after we hit cruising altitude, and all of the hot mains were brought out on a cart, dim sum style, even though none of them were dim sum :) Cheese, nitecaps, and chocolates were on offer for dessert if you wanted it. It seemed pretty clear the goal was to let you get to sleep ASAP

The only other big thing to note is that the flight doesn't pre-clear US Customs in Vancouver, so you don't actually follow the airport signs for "Flights to the USA". Some could see this as a negative, but because I have Global Entry, I actually found it a plus. 

I want to add a shout out for L'Hermitage hotel. N'espresso in the room with free pods. Year-round salt water pool and hot tub. Steam rooms in the gym locker rooms. Fantastic concierge. Housekeeping noticed that I'd bought a bottle of scotch and proactively left me proper glasses for it. Only $120 a night. Perfect.



The larger of the two Business Class cabins

Another view of the cabin

Seat is very similar to BA First Class. Power and USB port at your seat. 

Exterior camera view on IFE screen

View from 20A



Dinner

Dessert
Spotted an EVA 747 on one of it's final flights ever

YVR lounge food

Cathay Amenity Kit

Air show


L'Hermitage hotel's outdoor, year-round saltwater pool and hot tub

Float planes at coal harbour

Olympic flame

Great Jewish deli

Sushi is to Vancouver what burritos are to San Francisco

BBQ Poutine!

A vancouver specialty: Meat and cream pizza

Skyline view from North Vancouver, a quick trip on the SeaBus

28 Minutes from YVR Airport to downtown on the SkyTrain




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