I just flew Cathay First from Hong Kong to New York City a couple days back and heck the 17 hours flight was simply too short! I am so looking forward to the return flight that is coming up next week. This is definitely one of the moments where I wish time would stop still and the flight got delayed. While the memory is still fresh in me, I would like to do a comparison between Cathay and my all time favourite Singapore Airlines. I will definitely be doing up a full review of the Cathay First Class soon. But for now, it is Cathay First Class vs Singapore Airlines Suites. Let’s go with a side by side comparison on the different areas, Service, Seat, Food and Beverages and Lounges!
First up, service, something that is extremely intangible! I believe that both the airlines are a mixed bag. They are not the most consistent bunch of crew ever, on each and every flight it can be good or spectacular! At the very least all crew are polished. Both have the same standards though with only senior crews working the first class or suites section, together with the inflight manager. I was pretty unfamiliar with the ranking of their crew. Only Pursers work the first class as is only leading on SQ. Both crew were extremely polished, from the little action to showing the bottle before pouring drinks to offers and suggestions.
However I still have to go with Singapore Airlines crews, they just have a slight notch above their peers, with the interaction, human touch, polished details. CX does not lack far behind too, with the personal written note on service being a point. I believe that the main issue comes from the lack of an identity, CX having different crews from different bases. Just a close win.
Now the hard product, probably the most important aspect of the whole experience since this is the place where you spend the most time in. I will be comparing the 6 first class seats on CX 777 with the 12 suites in SQ 380. I will be comparing to the old suites, since that is the product that I have been on. Cathay seats are one of the largest in the industry, although old but it is a gem. In a 1-1-1 configuration, the space is super huge as is the bed which is wide. Followed by the encouragement of buddy dining, a nice mattress pad, it is a room in the sky. Although some work is needed on the IFE. I hate the screen!
Both airlines offer pajamas and amenity kits in first class. I like both airlines products, both their pajamas were awesome, although Cathay amenity kits are rather sparse. You really could not beat SQ amenity kits in the past where they provide a full bottle of Cologne!
SQ on the other hand are are up for the challenge. Seat is wide, finishing is grand. the tv is also awesome. The bedding is not as good though. Although it is super private since it is a suites. On a side note, SQ first class is pretty exclusive as well with only 4 seats. I am going to give it a draw!
F&B! Michelin Experience? SQ offers a awesome selection on a leather menu, with the ability to “Book The Cook” for your main course as well. Famous for their garlic bread and satays, along with the dilemma between Krug and Dom Perignon, life choices are hard. However meals can be underwhelming on certain flights with weird timings leading to a waterdown experience.
On the other hand, Cathay dining is one of the most boring selection ever, their dishes stays rather similar, heck even the berries dessert have been on forever. On the bright side, even on late night departures, you still get the full menu. However they still do a nice 6 course meals, starting with the most gorgeous caviar presentation, soup, salad, main, cheese and dessert. Along with fancy champagne on offer, which is on rotation. I had the Krug 2004 vintage. I can’t believe this, but I do actually think Cathay is the winner since Book The Cook can be rather boring sometimes as well.
Lounges. This is the part where Cathay have a huge margin over SQ. I will be referring to their lounges in the home base, Hong Kong and Singapore. SQ, the legendary lounge within lounge within lounge, The Private Room, SQ most exclusive lounge in Changi Airport, only for their own first class passengers! Where there is that exclusivity, it is a quiet space with awesome dining experience. Lounge staff are awesome, Krug or Dom on offer. But I heard recently that the offerings have been scaled back and there is no other special amenities.
In the meanwhile, Cathay have two awesome first class lounges in Hong Kong, The Pier and The Wing! In between them they offer, restaurant style dining, fancy champagne, bar, massages, day suites and the nicest shower room ever. However there is that exclusivity issue since Oneworld customers get access as well. Thus it is significantly more crowded that The Private Room. My suggestion is to actually designate one exclusively for their own premium customers. Cathay Win!
In conclusion, Cathay has the slight edge. I am actually still a fan of SQ, perhaps I have to try the new suites for a brand new experience. SQ have to improve their ground experience and I think they will be the clear winner. On the other side, Cathay need a refresh of their hard product pretty soon.