Even on the short routes where service can be a fight for time, the crew of Cathay Pacific show grace under pressure, discoversNick Walton. Check In Having checked in online a full day before my journey, I reached Hong Kong Station’s in-town check-in around 7am for my 9am flight. Despite it being very busy at the in-town check in,staff were efficient and friendly and I was quickly checked into my premium economy seat on the Airbus 777-300ER aircraft and reached the airport less than 30 minutes later. The Lounge Departing from Gate 16 I decided to make the most of Plaza Premium’s Travellers Lounge, located near Gate 1. The lounge serves many airlines as well as certain HSBC credit card holders and members of Priority Pass. While it lacks some of the amenities of other international lounges the space can be calming and comfortable when not too busy and a great way to ease yourself into your journey. Plaza Premium also recently opened a flagship lounge at Gate 40. Boarding As a Marco Polo member I lined up in the business class line for the flight, which looked to be very busy. As I passed through the final ticket inspection I was handed back a boarding pass with a new seat number in biro but didn’t think much of it. It turns out I was lucky enough to join several other passengers who were upgraded from premium economy to the 777’s expansive business class cabin, which boasts the airline’s latest generation business class product. It was a very pleasant surprise and certainly an incentive to fly premium economy regionally. In Flight On the one and a half hour flight to Manila CX crew are against the clock to deliver Cathay’s signature service, especially in business class. Before departure crew dished out hot towels and glasses of water and fruit juice before completing departure formalities. After takeoff a light breakfast was served, including juices and seasonal fruit, as well as a choice of steamed dim sum – pork sui mai with scallop, shrimp fun gor, and a pork dumpling with bean curd – or a cheddar cheese and caramelized onion omelet with pork sausage, back bacon, button mushrooms and tomato. I choose the dim sum which, despite being rather glutinous, was delicious and perfectly proportioned, especially when served with warm croissants and black coffee. After breakfast I made the most of my spacious seat, which boasts truly world class stats: a fully lie flat two meter-long bed (which many passengers who had started their day early were taking advantage of), the seat is wide and comfortable and as sleep-friendly as it is work-friendly. It actually made me wish I was flying somewhere further away than simply Manila. The only short coming on this flight was the entertainment selection. For some reason there were no films available on the flight, perhaps because of the short travel time, but a few episodes of Knight Rider, a childhood favourite, were well suited to the quick trip east and combined with crisp, warm service and a state of the art aircraft – not to mention a much appreciated upgrade – the flight to the Philippines capital couldn’t have been better. www.cathaypacific.com Note: The author travelled without the knowledge of the airline on a fully-paid for premium economy ticket.