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Old 4th December 2018, 02:35 PM   #1
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Default Trip Report on Cathay Pacific (SFO-HKG-DEL and MAA-HKG-SFO)

Hi Everyone,

Those who may or may not know, I recently took a trip to India in mid November and returned on Sunday morning. I am well aware this is an SQ forum, but I am sure many posters have had the opportunity to put a TR of different airlines, even if it's the rival of SQ or a non-Star Alliance carrier.

This trip, I actually had the opportunity to take Cathay Pacific, because the price was $1000 less than SQ and plus I haven't had the opportunity to fly them for 9 years, last time being when CX operated 744's twice daily to SFO - I used to take the night flight of CX873 from SFO, and came back by the late afternoon flight out of HKG, CX872, which at that time was spaced just 2 hours apart. The timings were just convenient for connecting to and from Indian flights.

My father actually flew this airline in Summer 2017 when there was a death in the family, and at that time, he got the 9-across 77W (AKA 77G, which is a 3-class aircraft with Business, Premium Economy, and Economy Class). Well, unfortunately many of you know that CX is retrofitting its 77W to have 10-across seating, which I had ridden on my SFO flights. More thoughts of it will occur when a part of my TR is finished.

On this trip, I did NOT visit Delhi, but actually took a local flight to Varanasi as my parents had to do some religious rituals during the trip. I visited Allahabad for one portion of a day, then flew over to Trivandrum, and spent the last 3 days in Chennai before heading back on Cathay Pacific.

The TR will come shortly. Thanks for your patience.
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Old 5th December 2018, 01:31 AM   #2
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Flight: Cathay Pacific Airways Flight CX879
Route: San Francisco - Hong Kong
Aircraft: B-KQX (Boeing 777-300ER, 3.5 years old)
Livery: Old (Sports the 50th 77W livery)
Date of Departure: November 18 (11:20AM), Arrival November 19 (6:45PM)
Seat: 64A (Economy Class)
Configuration: 3-class (Business, Premium Economy, Economy) AKA 77K

As many of you know, the San Francisco Bay Area got hit hard with a lot of smoky weather because of the Butte County fire. It was chilly though. On the morning of my departure, it was a foggy and chilly day. However, upon departure, the fog cleared up and smoke continued to persist.

Check-in for CX879:



B-KQX at Gate A9:





Departure signs at Gate A9 - The flight was actually delayed half an hour because the inbound flight, CX870 arrived 40 minutes late from HKG. Two weeks later (this past Sunday), I was on CX870 which actually arrived 40 minutes behind schedule as well.



The aircraft was a 10-across Boeing 777-300ER, which was recently converted from a 9-across (77G). Business and Premium Economy were unchanged, but Economy Class featured the Slimline seats, which are featured on CX's A350's, and they actually surprisingly look similar to the pics I see on this forum on the SQ 787-10 and A380's.

Boarding commenced at 11:20AM and we pushed back around 11:50AM once the fog cleared up and smoky skies continued to persist. Engines started up and we taxied to the runway and took off around 12:15PM. Pilot made an announcement that the flight would be a good 13 and a half hours and even though we pushed back late, we still managed to arrive 20 minutes ahead of our scheduled arrival. The route would take us through the Northwest, Alaska, Northern Russia and Northern China then descending into Hong Kong itself. I suspect the flight did not go through Japan because of the headwinds. Surprisingly, there was no turbulence at all on this leg.

Picture of smoky skies over the San Francisco Bay Area during take off:



About 15 minutes later, the seatbelt sign switched off and our view slowly transitioned into clear skies over the Pacific (not smoky weather):



We were given a menu, and in about 30 minutes time, lunch service commenced. Here's an idea of how CX's menu is like:



My meal was a Vegetarian-Lacto Ovo Meal, which rice, tofu, broccoli and carrots. I ate everything except the carrots and fruits, but I did enjoy the salad a whole lot:





My meal was overall very good. I would rate it a 10/10 since it was healthy and I had some very good protein. The catering out of SFO is generally good.

My parents had the Indian vegetarian meal, which consisted of chana masala and beans. I had the beans which were really good, but I think could be better if some salt was added.

Cabin during meal service:



Meal service wrapped up in about 3 hours (4PM Pacific Time) and we were given Haagen Daz Ice cream (not shown) and it was a vanilla flavor. Many people had a hard time trying to take ice cream with the spoon so we just ended up waiting until it thawed out a bit.

Last edited by SQfanatic; 5th December 2018 at 04:18 PM..
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Old 5th December 2018, 02:00 AM   #3
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We were treated to a beautiful sunset, which did not transition to darkness, but rather into more light over Alaska:



Later on, about 6 hours later, we were given a second meal, which was a dinner. For me, I had the pasta with celery and similar salad to the lunch service. Overall, it was pretty good, rating was a 10/10 for me:





Afternoon sunshine over Northern Russia:



Since CX decided to make their 77W 10-across, the IFE is the same as what you get on the A350 according to many sources and videos. Their 3D maps were okay to be honest. Not as good as SQ's. It actually reminds me of Virgin America's 3D maps. Here are a few pictures for an idea anyway:

















One thing I like about CX's 3D maps are that you can pause like you would in SQ and actually swipe down to see the flight information in either Imperial or Metric. Additionally, I like how they give information about your arriving city on what it has for tourists or anyone just interested in what is there to see in Hong Kong. You can generally also zoom on your own and have a look at different cities for more information too.

Last edited by SQfanatic; 5th December 2018 at 04:23 PM..
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Old 5th December 2018, 02:35 AM   #4
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I got a good 6 hours of sleep combined on this flight (minus the fact I was woken up to a second meal sooner). Soon we were treated to a beautiful sunset over Southern China on our way to Hong Kong:





Another thing I wanted to point out was while flying over Northern Russia, our ETA to HKG changed from 5:55PM to 6:15PM, probably because of headwinds, but we ended up arriving at 6:25PM, still ahead of schedule.

Picture of the 10-across 77W on Cathay Pacific:





Some arrival information for HKG from the new Studio CX UI, note the difference between this one and the 9-across Cradle Seats UI (Blue Screen):



Around 5:45PM, our pilot made an announcement that we were soon going to descend into Hong Kong at 6:25PM and arrive at the gate a few minutes after. Picture just after dusk upon descending into Hong Kong at night:





We descended into HKG around 6:25PM and got to the gate around 6:40PM. Our gate was gate 43. Our next flight to Delhi would be around 8:15PM, departing from gate 49. Upon arrival at Hong Kong, we did not know where to exactly go for security, as many people who had connecting flights to India kept asking where to go as the queue was long. Shortly, a staff redirected us to a much shorter line if we had a connecting flight and we finished within 10 minutes and proceeded to our gate. We still had about 30-40 minutes left to spare so we used the restroom, brushed our teeth and by the time we knew it, we started boarding.

Impressions of the flight - The service was okay on this sector. Most crew were really friendly. I thought the food was good for the meal I had. My parents found their food to be average, not as good as Singapore Airlines.

Impressions on the new 10-across cabin: To be honest, I found the seat to be reasonably comfortable and I was able to sleep really well. One thing I got very lucky was that nobody reclined their seat. My mom found that to be very uncomfortable. The good thing was the flight is shorter than SQ31's nonstop, so it's still bearable by all means. When walking around the cabin, the left side is noticeably roomier, but the right side is a little more cramped so you can bump into people at times.

I hope the 777X's 10 across cabin will be just as roomier as the 9-across 777 aircraft we currently have.

Last edited by SQfanatic; 8th December 2018 at 03:14 AM..
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Old 5th December 2018, 05:23 AM   #5
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A few pictures of Hong Kong International Airport:






Flight: Cathay Pacific Airways Flight CX679
Route: Hong Kong - New Delhi
Aircraft: B-LAX (Airbus A330-300, 5.9 years old)
Livery: New
Date of Departure: November 19 (8:15PM), Arrival November 20 (12:20AM)
Seat: 67A (Economy Class)
Configuration: 2-class (Business, Economy)

Flight on CX679 to New Delhi, departing from Gate 49:



The Airbus A330-300 that will take me to New Delhi. It sports the new livery. This is B-LAX



Boarding commenced on schedule at 7:45PM despite everyone lining up in the queue. One negative thing about HKG is that they do preliminary boarding, but they do not even call by row numbers, so boarding the aircraft to some level can be chaotic (at least on Cathay Pacific). On Singapore Airlines, during the transit stops, you still are called by class of travel and row numbers. I hope that hasn't changed.

The Business Class seats were just like the ones already on the 77Ws. However, coming into Economy Class, it was great to see the Cradle Seats, which were introduced in 2012 according to some FlyerTalk posts. Upon boarding, and arriving at your seat, you are greeted by flight maps rather than a Welcome screen which came on much later. The maps have been around since the first 77W have been delivered to CX. They were really cool to see and watch, just with the updated plane with the new livery.

A few pictures of the 3D map information before departing:







View from the A330 before departure:



Picture of the Studio CX welcome screen:



About 10 minutes, the pilot made an announcement welcoming us on the flight to Delhi, and that we were just waiting for a few more passengers and baggage to be loaded onto the flight. The flight to Delhi would be 5.5 hours with the weather en-route fine for most of the way. There was no turbulence on this flight at all, surprisingly. You'd normally think there would be over the Indian Ocean. After sometime the IFSM also made an announcement once all passengers were seated and the safety video and pushback occurred.

We had a short taxi to the runway and took off close to 9PM. After about an hour, meals were served. Here's a picture of my meal:




Last edited by SQfanatic; 5th December 2018 at 04:28 PM..
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Old 5th December 2018, 05:44 AM   #6
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Some more pictures of CX's 3D maps:











View of the A330 Y class cabin - Very roomy from both aisles:





Sleep on this sector was possible to achieve. The only negative thing that occurred during the flight was there was a belligerent passenger who drank too much and kept kicking my mother's seat as well as mine. I got so mad that we had to call the F/A. Apparently, when we did, he physically touched her and she said 'Don't touch me'. He kept making noises and it disturbed most of the cabin. For future calls, the F/A came with another male F/A and tried to aid the situation. Unfortunately, this came to a point where many pax wanted the cops to be called upon arrival into DEL, because he was disturbing other passengers. Upon arrival, he and his father were held but eventually nothing happened and he actually just got out of DEL just fine. I'm not sure what happened there.

Anyway, besides that part, sleep and the seat was very comfortable. I would have been happy if they kept these kind of seats on the SFO sector (CX879/870) but it's still good to have got it at some point than not. Pilot made an announcement around 11:40PM about our descent into DEL and we touched down on time.

A few pics of the after-landing screens on the IFE:







After disembarking, we cleared customs, and proceeded onto T1 for our Indigo flight to VNS.

Last edited by SQfanatic; 6th December 2018 at 05:34 AM..
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Old 5th December 2018, 01:30 PM   #7
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Enjoyed reading the 1st instalment, SQfanatic. Minor thing, but would be nice for the menu on the 1st flight to be flipped so its not on its side. An easier read for those interested! Another suggestion: unless you don't mind people knowing your real name, might be a good idea to blur it out on your meal photos

Looking forward to the subsequent updates!
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Old 5th December 2018, 02:37 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loldude333 View Post
Enjoyed reading the 1st instalment, SQfanatic. Minor thing, but would be nice for the menu on the 1st flight to be flipped so its not on its side. An easier read for those interested! Another suggestion: unless you don't mind people knowing your real name, might be a good idea to blur it out on your meal photos

Looking forward to the subsequent updates!
Thanks loldude333 for your comment and oversight. I will definitely look at that and blur out my name. I was still jetlagged and kind of posted these in a rush.

As far as the menu goes, how would I flip this on tinypic? I can do this from my own machine but let me see how it comes out.

Stay tuned for more pictures.
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Old 5th December 2018, 04:32 PM   #9
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A few pictures of Delhi Airport Terminal 1 after a transfer between terminal to terminal. We checked in around 3AM despite our flight being at 8AM as DEL was bustling with a lot of people even at that late hour.







A Starbucks which I've seen for the second time in India at the time. Coincidentally at T. Nagar there is also a Starbucks in Chennai as well as the Express Ave Mall. I have gone to neither of those Starbucks's but it's good to have seen its presence in India.







And here's a Krispy Kreme, popular in America that is also in New Delhi Airport. Because of time and different reasons I did not try to eat here. While not shown, we ate a food court at a South Indian fast food joint called Vaango (In Tamil that means telling someone to come). We had dosai and coffee and it was really delicious.



General impressions of Delhi Airport - Very nice in both terminals. I really like the shops they have and the food choices. However, in terms of appearance, Bangalore Airport is a lot better. The reason I said this is because we took an IndiGo flight from Varanasi to Trivandrum with a 3 hour stop in Bangalore so I'm giving my opinion of how these two airports compare.

Around 7:30AM we started boarding our IndiGo Airlines flight to Varanasi. This was all done by the bus bridge. However, in Varanasi, we exited through the aerobridge. IndiGo flights domestically are very decent. While they do not serve you free food similar to US domestic airlines, their service is always great, F/As are friendly and cheerful and seats are comfortable.

The flight to Varanasi took 1 hour as per scheduled. Upon arrival, we collected our bags and proceeded to the counter to reserve a pre-paid taxi. We would go to our hotel which we stayed at.

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Old 6th December 2018, 01:08 AM   #10
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Going through the streets of Varanasi was pretty smooth for the most part until we hit the main part of it where you are close to hotels, temples, and other shopping points close to the Ganges River. The weather was hazy/smoky similar to California when we had a wildfire north of us which caused smoke to form. Temperature wise, very pleasant and comfortable.

Months ago while doing a booking, many nice hotels were completely booked and this was possibly due to the post Diwali celebrations. It is true, because when we hit the main part of Varanasi, it was bustling with people which made it extremely difficult for vehicles to get around. Motorcyclists also went but of course many foreigners can find this very inconsiderate.

We stayed at the Palace of the Steps hotel, which was fairly decent. The room was probably the smallest I've stayed at but it was very clean and decent. The staff really cared and took care of us. The negative thing about this place is the maze you have to take to even find the hotel itself. The rooms would be entered from the outside. The positive side of all this was that our room faced a beautiful view of the Ganges River, which you could see the sunrise daily.

Palace of Steps Hotel room (The bed was very large and could accommodate me and my parents without any issues):



Hazy afternoon around the Ganges River:



Around the Ganges are river banks (ghats) and in those ghats at night, you can see priests perform mini Aartis.



Varanasi is very famous for selling street dairy made from milk such as curd, lassi, rasmalai, and ramdi. Additionally, in the North, they are very famous for tea, and you can also get tea in a clay cup. While tea was not shown, it was very delicious. Curd however is shown here, which I really savored and enjoyed:



Streets of Varanasi:












Nighttime view of the Ganges River from the room:




A few pictures of one of the ghats where a mini Aarti was performed:



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Old 6th December 2018, 01:23 AM   #11
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The next day morning around 6:45AM, we went to Allahabad for religious purposes. The part we went to in Allahabad is a temple town and we went to a priest's house for doing some rituals. Here are a few pictures of the town itself, very similar to Varanasi:













Around noon, we went to the Ganges to do rituals, too, but this involved taking a boat ride. Some landmarks like the Yamuna Bridge are hard to see because it was hazy but here are some pictures of this part anyway:







Separation between Ganges River and Yamuna River (transition between light and dark green colors):



Fun fact here is that you can buy murukku (Indian crunchy snack) and feed pelicans and say 'Ah Ah Ah Ah' while boating on the Ganges. It was honestly an unique experience.

Late in the afternoon, around 3:45PM, we left Allahabad back for Varanasi. If you thought California's sunsets were pretty bad and smoky when we had the wildfire up North, here's a similar picture shot when our driver drove us back to Varanasi:


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Old 6th December 2018, 04:32 PM   #12
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A few pictures of MG Road in Trivandrum. This road is a pretty major intersection in Trivandrum and has multiple shops where you can buy household items, clothes, appliances, mobile phones, etc. Shot on a hot and humid morning when my dad went to the bank around MG Road:







East Fort and Pazvangadu (Ganapathy Temple):

Notice the green cover? The temple is basically open, but a large portion of it is being renovated.






Maha Chips, where you can get fresh banana chips, popular in tropical climates.






A couple of pictures around Sree Varaham, closer to where my maternal grandmother lives:







Margin Free Market where you can get food, drinks, and household items, right adjacent to my grandmother's apartment complex. We came here a lot mostly to buy drinks as the weather was humid and we felt dehydrated at times:




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Old 6th December 2018, 05:00 PM   #13
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More pictures of Sree Varaham:

Sastas Sweets, where we usually go to buy sweets and other snacks and food.



A temple around Sree Varaham, a small shrine. During the Ayyappa season in December it is beautifully lit at night. Last trip I was there in December.



Some afternoon shots around the Sree Varaham temple pond:





Here's a few pictures around East Fort itself:

Padmanabha Swamy Temple, a very famous temple in Trivandrum:









After spending 5 days, we left for Chennai, which was basically the final stop for my mom and I during the trip. My dad also came, but as of now, while my mom and I have returned back to SFO, my dad has covered Chidabaram for religious purposes, Kolkata (currently), and returning to Chennai for religious purposes too. He'll be taking the same flights as my mom and I had taken.

It was a Thursday morning and we had an IndiGo flight around 10:40AM. We called the same driver who picked us up from the airport to come around 8:30AM. Apparently, he ran late and came at 8:45AM, but we still managed to check in and go through security quick. We did have about 40 minutes to spare which was not bad.

Some pictures of Trivandrum Domestic Airport terminal. I think it's good, but it really needs a facelift in my opinion. The international terminal is still a lot better:





This was the only side of the departure airside of the gates. The only good thing was we boarded through the aerobridge. Boarding commenced around 10AM and we pushed back about 10 minutes on schedule and took off to the east. 1 hour later we landed in Chennai's Kamraj Domestic Airport. Flight was pretty good as always with IndiGo. We collected our baggages, but it took longer than with other flights, and we ended up leaving in almost 45 minutes and got a prepaid taxi for our hotel in T. Nagar.

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Old 7th December 2018, 01:32 AM   #14
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The trip took about 35-40 minutes and we arrived at the hotel close to 1PM. The security guard welcomed us and opened the door with his smile and hospitality. Because the hotel looked like a 4-5 star place, you have security metal detectors but you need not have to put your bag in any of them.

Check in actually took longer than we expected, about 15 minutes, they wanted everything such as passports, flight information, etc. But staff was very courteous and friendly. We were given a room on the 7th floor.

For reference, we stayed at The Residency in Chennai, T. Nagar (Everyone gets confused between The Residency and The Residency Towers lol)

Here's a picture of the room:



View of Chennai (T. Nagar from the room):






Shortly that afternoon, we had lunch at a restaurant at the hotel called 'The Right Place'. We pretty much had curd rice, dosai, lassi, and a butterscotch milkshake. While I do not have any pictures of it, the food overall was very decent and I recommend it.

After that, we went back to the room to take some rest. That evening, we called an Uber and went to Mylapore Tank, which is where the Kapaleeshwarar Temple is, world famous Hotel Saravana Bhavan (there's several in Chennai and we happened to go to two of them), and a bookstore. We primarily went to the Tank because my dad wanted to inquire about something at another temple around it. This is something he's going to do in a few days from now.

A couple of pictures of the Tank:





We went to Saravana Bhavan that evening to start off with having a coffee. In Chennai, coffee is very popular like the entire Southern part of India, analogous to the way tea is popular. You must have their coffee if you visit Chennai:






Kaapaleeswarar Temple (both daytime and nighttime versions):





Giri Bookstore around the Tank. Basically here you can buy anything ranging from religious items to religious books and any books in general (Both daytime and nighttime shots):



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Old 7th December 2018, 01:42 AM   #15
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Later that evening, we went to T. Nagar as my parents wanted to stop around Nalli and do some shopping. Both daytime and nighttime shots are shown:

















Later that evening, we went to Saravana Bhavan for dinner, and I had their dosai. Unlike most Saravana Bhavans I've been to, they serve it in a plantain leaf:






At this Saravana Bhavan and the Mylapore Saravana Bhavan, service was very friendly and quick. The T. Nagar one took care of us really well and made sure they had what we needed. We also came here for breakfast. Another one in T. Nagar was not so friendly, the waiter was hesitant to adhere to our specific needs and this was the next day we went with my niece. However, at that one I had the Indo-Chinese, gobi manchurian, and it was really delicious.
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