CATHAY PACIFIC, Airline of the Year 2014: Onboard Premium Economy Inflight Cuisine
They say things don’t happen the same way twice, but for Cathay Pacific Airways, winning Airline of the Year Awards in 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2014 is no easy feat to repeat. It must be the biggest surprise of 2014 for Cathay Pacific Airways to be on top of the food chain once again, nabbing Skytrax’s Airline of the Year Award. Skytrax ratings are decided by customers, something that doesn’t spell bias for most travellers who are constantly on the watch for the best airlines. After being stomped continuously by Middle East heavyweights Qatar Airways, Emirates, and even Singapore Airlines and Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific once regained the respect and admiration of travellers worldwide.
It’s probably after all the disappointment passengers experienced in inflight meals during short haul flights, where serving sandwiches in Ciabatta bread hardly made a dent in one’s stomach.
Inflight meals for long haul flights proved to be worthy of the award, with Penne Pasta in feta cheese and Beef Stew in Roasted Celery Thyme Sauce being satisfactory to most passengers.
Three Cup Chicken with Steamed Jasmine Rice was highly commendable, a dish that’s ingrained in the Asian roots of the 68 year old Airline.
However two meals onboard a 16 hour flight isn’t always enough. You’ll find yourself hungry ever so often after taking an hour or two slumber 30,000 feet in the air. Flight attendants make themselves scarce during wee hours of the flight, day or night, so you’ll have to get your lazy bums up and look for peanuts and dried fruits instead. Cup noodles are served throughout the flight, the warm broth inviting when the blankets aren’t enough.
And wine. Monte Blanco Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 plus Eaglewood Falls Californian Chardonnay 2012. It isn’t the best, but it will do.
Perhaps the biggest transformation in the entire Cathay Pacific experience was their breakthrough in Premium Economy class, a quasi Business Class experience, just a little above Economy Class. It offers extra legroom without the pains of doubling your airfare. But is their inflight cuisine worth the extra buck?
Premium Economy class isn’t recommended for short haul flights. The same Monty’s Chicken Fajita served in Economy Class is conveniently tossed inside the cutesy CX branded paper bag along with the same mango juice pack. There wasn’t anything premium about this.
For those well below the forties, the Premium Economy class is inviting to indulge in surprising meal choices onboard. Chicken and Ginger Congee or Ham Frittata for breakfast? Interesting.
Marinated Prawns with Orzo Pasta Salad coupled with Pan-seared USDA choice beef tenderloin with truffle hollandaise sauce? Killer. It must have been the best airline food I have ever eaten. The medallion sized thick beef was surprisingly tender and when dipped in hollandaise sauce, there’s that creamy goodness and rustic taste coming from the beef. The creamy polenta serves as a smart substitute over the usual risotto or mashed potato.
And then the ice cream doesn’t hurt for dessert.
Inflight entertainment and USB charging station is provided in every seat as well, although it’s also available on Economy Class.
The usual toothbrush pack is only available from Premium Economy and above classes so you won’t need to pack your own.
I recommend the Premium Economy class for those travelling with infants and children on long haul flights, who may find the Business Class rates too high for a youngster to remember. However, for the businessman, it is more appropriate to be seated on Business Class or First Class cabin.