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Flight Review: Cathay Pacific Economy, Auckland to Hong Kong

West Coast, New Zealand

So I have a secret. I don’t always fly Forward of the Wing. Sometimes I fly Economy too. After some absolutely fantastic Cathay Pacific flights last year in Premium Economy and Business Class, I have the opportunity to finally try their Economy Class on this long-haul flight from Auckland to Hong Kong.

Cathay Pacific Check In Lines at Auckland Airport

Check- In

Cathay Pacific check-in at Auckland Airport had 3 check-in lines. One for Business Class, oneworld Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald status holders, Premium Economy, and an Economy self check-in kiosk and bag drop line as well. As there is only one flight per day, this process was super easy and quick for all three classes.

As I was oneworld Sapphire at the time of this flight, I could use the Business Class check in. There was no one else in line, so I was straight though check in and on my way to security.

Auckland Airport Express Lane

Security and Immigration at Auckland Airport

I was warned by Cathay Pacific in advance that Auckland Airport would be extremely busy at the time of my flight, and it was. Reason being, Taylor Swift is performing in Sydney this weekend for two concerts. Taylor Swift alone caused multiple airlines to advise all their passengers in another country to get to the airport early because there will be delays. And yes, the queues were bad.

Luckily, with my oneworld Sapphire elite status through British Airways Silver, Cathay Pacific provided me with Express Path access at Auckland Airport. This meant I had a dedicated immigration line and fast track security at Auckland Airport. There was even dedicated e-gates for Express Path travellers, so I could get through even faster. Usually, this is reserved for Business Class, First Class and oneworld Emerald elite status holders only at most airports, so this is a nice touch by Cathay Pacific. Of all the days I am travelling, this is that day it pays to have elite status. I was through immigration and security in a matter of minutes.

Qantas Lounge Auckland Airport
Air New Zealand Lounge Auckland Airport

Airport Lounge Access

So ordinarily, as expected, Cathay Pacific Economy passengers do not get lounge access at Auckland Airport, or any other airport for that matter.

As I hold British Airways Silver, equivalent to oneworld Sapphire, I do get lounge access to oneworld Sapphire / oneworld Business Class lounges, which in this case at Auckland Airport, means the Qantas Lounge. Check out my review of the Qantas Lounge at Auckland Airport here.

Interestingly enough, because of Cathay Pacific’s codeshare partnership with Air New Zealand, I also got access to the always-great Air New Zealand Koru Lounge at Auckland Airport. I don’t think I was supposed to get access to this lounge, because my boarding pass said denied. But I received the email a few days before confirming I had access, and the check in staff gave me a lounge voucher which let me in, so I guess I was very, very lucky. I think the Qantas Lounge at Auckland Airport is mediocre at best (having not been updated at all in many, many years), however I absolutely love the Qantas Lounges at Hong Kong and Singapore. The refurbishment of the Qantas Lounge this year (finally) should bring the Auckland Airport Lounge into the top-tier amongst those fantastic other international Qantas airport lounges. I am flying back through Hong Kong International Airport this week, so cannot wait to revisit the Qantas Hong Kong Lounge.

Cathay Pacific A350 Boarding Auckland Airport
Cathay Pacific A350-900


Unfortunately, my gate was right down the very end of the new pier at Auckland Airport at Gate 18. From the Air New Zealand Lounge, it did say it was a not-for-the-faint-hearted 23-minute walk, but in fact I managed to do it in about 15 minutes.

Boarding was segmented into two boarding lines. Business Class and oneworld Ruby, Sapphire and Emerald, then Premium Economy and Economy Passengers. As I’m oneworld Sapphire, I could board with Business Class, and in fact, I was the first on the plane. Even though I was flying Economy.

Cathay Pacific A350-900 Business Class Cabin
Cathay Pacific A350-900 Business Class Cabin
Cathay Pacific Economy Cabin Auckland to Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific A350-900 Economy Class Cabin

The Cathay Pacific A350-900 Economy Class Cabin is laid out in a 3-3-3 configuration, which is generous amongst most airlines operation this aircraft.

For this flight, I chose 60A, an exit row seat. I think this is absolutely the perfect Economy seat to snag on a Cathay Pacific A350-900. Fantastic leg room, with more legroom than premium economy, and 2 windows versus the standard one window in economy. The exit row in front (59B and 59C) doesn’t sit next to the wall so it’s more difficult to sleep. Plus, row 59 doesn’t have a window. In addition, the standard approach into Hong Kong International Airport on the left side is incredible, so I always try book the left side of the plane into Hong Kong if possible. On rare occasions due to prevailing wind, another approach is used but more times than not, you pass over the New Territories, Kowloon, and Sha Tin, with a fantastic view to the left over Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Central.

Cathay Pacific Economy Cabin Auckland to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Economy Exit Row Seat 60A
Plenty of legroom in Cathay Pacific A350-900 Economy Exit Row Seats
Cathay Pacific A350 Economy universal power outlets
Underseat universal powerpoints in Economy on the Cathay Pacific A350.

Cathay Pacific Economy Seat

So I will caveat my opinion with the fact that in 2023, I flew Cathay Pacific Economy only once, in contrast to 4 Cathay Pacific Business Class flights and 1 Cathay Pacific Premium Economy flight.

The Economy seat is definitely narrow. But bearable, even on a 12 hour flight. As I have an exit row, I have plenty of legroom. But even in standard Economy seating, legroom is a very comfortable 32”, which is also more than most airlines in Economy. It really is perfectly adequate for long-haul flights such as this 11 hour stretch from Auckland to Hong Kong.

On the seatback on the standard Cathay Pacific Economy seats, a tablet/iPad holder and cup holder is provided as well as a generous sized tray table. A USB-A port is also found under the screen, and a standard headphone jack in the armrest, making it easy to use your own headphones. On my exit row seat, the inflight entertainment screen folds up from under the seat and can’t be used for takeoff and landing (the only downside of this seat) and the tray table is a bit flimsy and small, but it is functional. A tablet rest is also provided on the tray table, if you prefer to watch your own entertainment.

Universal power outlets are also found under the seat, which is a great touch especially on these long-haul flights.

Welcome Service

Welcome Service isn’t usually something you find in Economy. However, on Cathay Pacific, the purser came and introduced himself and gave me a bottle of water. He also confirmed my special meal was loaded. A really, really nice friendly touch. This was probably because of my oneworld status, but a gesture I appreciated, nevertheless.

Bottled water was provided to other passengers after takeoff too, as well as a beverage service.

Cathay Pacific Economy Menu Auckland to Hong Kong

Cathay Pacific Economy Food Menu

For Economy food, I thought the Cathay Pacific was pretty good. Firstly, it’s really nice to see a printed menu in Economy. On today’s day flight from Auckland to Hong Kong, Lunch and a “Refreshment” dinner was served. Here were today’s options:



  • Smoked Salmon with Waldorf Salad


  • Black bean beef brisket, choy sum, carrots and steamed jasmine rice
  • Chicken á la king, pumpkin, green peas and mashed potatoes
  • 3-cheese ravioli in a sundried tomato pesto sauce with cheddar, spinach and cherry tomatoes


  • Black forest cake

Refreshment (Dinner)


  • Fresh Fruit 


  • Braised pork with pickled onions, green beans, capsicum and roasted potato
  • Shrimp stirfried in basil sauce, choy sum and egg noodles


  • Chocolate mousse cake

A really solid Economy menu with three main options for Lunch and two mains for dinner, that looked great and very fresh. In addition, meals are served with a moist towelette and metal cutlery, which is great to see in Economy.

To note, the Refreshment service (or Dinner) on this Auckland to Hong Kong flight was served at Dinner time New Zealand time, which was roughly 5 hours before arrival into Hong Kong. I was pretty hungry by this point so it was fine, but only snacks and drinks were available after this time until landing.

Cathay Pacific Vegetarian Oriental Meal (VOML)

As usual, when flying Cathay Pacific (or other Asian carriers), I opt for the Vegetarian Oriental Meal (VOML) as I find them of a better standard than the VGML (Vegetarian Vegan Meal). Here was what I had:

Cathay Pacific Economy VOML Lunch Meal Service



Garden salad


Mushrooms and Red Pepper in a Chinese Garlic Sauce with rice and pak choy


Fresh Fruit Salad

Cathay Pacific Economy VOML Refreshment / Dinner Meal Service

Refreshment (Dinner)


Walnuts and Raisins


Tofu in Chinese garlic sauce with vermicelli and broccoli


Fresh Fruit

In all, a perfectly fine Economy meal but could have been better. It would have been nice to have some protein with the first meal, proper appetizers and proper desserts, but in all, I cannot complain. It was tasty, fresh and very delicious, bursting with umami. The second meal was definitely better than the first. I’d probably opt for the Vegan Vegetarian Meal (VGML) next time on this route from Auckland.

Cathay Pacific Mid-Flight Snacks

There were also a selection of snacks available on demand as well as a self-service snack bar down the back of the Economy Class cabin in the galley. The crew came around with the snack basket several times throughout the middle of the flight which was a nice service touch.

Cathay Pacific Betsy Pale Ale Beer
Cathay Pacific’s signature Pale Ale, Betsy.

Cathay Pacific Economy Beverage Menu

Again, for Economy Class, I thought the Cathay Pacific Bar Selection was actually really good. Here is what was available on this afternoon flight from Auckland to Hong Kong:

  • Betsy Pale Ale
  • Gweilo Craft Beer (Lager)
  • Heineken
  • Grant Burgess Benchmark Chardonnary
  • Grant Burgess Benchmark Shiraz
  • Finlandia Vodka
  • Bacardi Rum
  • Chivas Regal 12 Years Old Scotch Whisky
  • Courvoisier V.S.O.P. Cognac
  • Gordon’s Gin
  • Selection of juices, soft drinks, tea and coffee

Great to see Betsy (Cathay Pacific’s Pale Ale) and Gweilo (Lager) was available, as well as a very drinkable Chardonnay, Finlandia Vodka and a lot more. A fairly high-quality standard for Economy.

I have to mention that the crew on this flight were absolutely fantastic. There were three bar services in the first hour and a half on the flight, with multiple more throughout the flight. Peanuts were also handed out with the first bar service. Crew also regularly popped through the cabin on this 11 hour flight, offering to top up empty glasses, and offering water too.

Cathay Pacific A350 Economy Class 60A

Cathay Pacific Economy Amenities

Being Economy, there are no pyjamas or amenity kits, but a blanket and pillow is provided at your seat upon boarding. Cathay, the inflight magazine, is also provided, as well as standard headphones.

There were eye masks, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and flight socks available on request from the crew. A really nice touch on long-haul flights, even on day time flights.

Cathay Pacific Wi-fi Pricing

Cathay Pacific In-Flight Wifi

I purchased Wifi on this flight in the hope of getting work done but the Wifi was painfully slow sadly. I did do a Speed Test. Download was 1.8 Mbps and Upload was 2.3 Mbps. Enough only to send messages really. There was no practical functionality for basic browsing or work sadly.

Wifi for this flight was priced at US$9.95 for one hour, or US$19.95 for the full 11 hour flight. As this was a day time flight, I obviously opted for the full 11 hour flight pass, but I sadly found the Wifi unusable at these painfully slow speeds.

A350 nose landing gear camera. Cathay Pacific In-flight Entertainment.
The nose and tail cameras are my favorite entertainment on the A350 for takeoff and landing.

Cathay Pacific In-flight Entertainment

Cathay Pacific In-flight Entertainment is amongst the best of any airline in the world. It truly is great. With an expansive array of options to suit every taste and almost every language, it truly is a great way to pass time on these long haul flights. The thing I love most is there are movies available that are still showing in cinemas. The true definition of “new releases”. Most other airlines aren’t that up to date. I actually avoided the cinemas knowing my upcoming Cathay flight would have the movies I wanted to watch. Check out what in flight entertainment is showing on your next Cathay flight here.

Cathay Pacific Economy Service

Terrance (Purser) and the rest of the crew onboard CX198 were absolutely fantastic. Super attentive, with three bar services and a meal service in the first hour and a half of the flight. Rarely do you find an airline that does that, even in Premium Economy or Business Class. The crew were warm and welcoming, and just made this long-haul journey so much more enjoyable. In my opinion, Cathay Pacific deserves their 5-star Skytrax rating, and credit for so much more.

Central Mid Levels Escalators, Hong Kong
Central Mid-Level Escalators, Hong Kong

Conclusion: My Final Thoughts on Cathay Pacific Economy

An absolutely fantastic flight, with a great crew, perfectly adequate food and plenty of legroom (even in the standard seats). I do also love flying the A350, so the fact that they make up a huge portion of the Cathay Pacific fleet helps. I would not hesitate to fly Cathay Pacific Economy again, especially with the plethora of movies and TV show options. The overall Economy experience with Cathay Pacific is well ahead of most airlines. Plus, I absolutely adore Hong Kong, so any excuse for another stopover in this vibrant and magical city.