Old Cathay, New Pacific: An Airline As Cultural Reflector
Back in the days when each country had only one airline flying its flag, these national carriers were the ambassadors of their nations, showcasing their lands in various ways. Today, that tradition continues, albeit in a less obvious way. In a much more competitive business environment where the bottom line can erase some of the niceties of the past, it is refreshing to know that a few airlines still think their uniqueness is worth preserving.
One of these airlines is Cathay Pacific, the airline of Hong Kong SAR. Frequent travellers lucky enough to enjoy Cathay Pacific on a regular basis know that reliability, hospitality, and an interest in new ways to do things are three historic traits of Chinese culture maintained on board and on the ground by the airline’s staff. Add to these the importance placed on being at the forefront of technology and aircraft interior design in what has been called the Pacific Century and passengers will find Cathay Pacific satisfies the needs of passengers who seek old-time personal attention and modern comfort in the air and on the ground.
Cathay Pacific takes particular pride in the quality of its airport lounges around the world, not least in its home airport in Hong Kong where several lounges are available to Business and First Class passengers. Occupying an airy open space above the international departure area, The Wing is Cathay Pacific’s lounge for First Class travellers. More a club than a lounge, the discreet environment allows for relaxation in close proximity to the departure gate. Business Class passengers can enjoy the same luxury in a separate section of The Wing. Business and First Class comfort is also found in The Pier, which is just about to reopen its Business Class section after an upgrade to improve facilities. For an airline to be successful in a world with so many travel choices, it must continually make the customer experience better; Cathay Pacific is always coming up with new ways to impress a demanding clientele, especially at the front of the plane. With this in mind, Cathay Pacific offers The Arrival, a lounge for arriving passengers where refreshments and shower facilities can start the day right following an overnight flight and morning arrival at HKG (though The Arrival welcomes travellers all day from 5AM to midnight).
True to its Chinese origins, Cathay Pacific places great emphasis on the food experience whether in its lounges or on board its aircraft. Inflight dining is a gourmet experience, often prefaced by signature cocktails or special-label champagnes and followed by fine port, brandy or other digestif.
Anyone who has read the page toward the back of Cathay Pacific’s inflight magazine knows that one of the airline’s founders was Australian Sydney de Kantzow, who envisioned an airline connecting Hong Kong with countries across the Pacific. Today, de Kantzow’s vision is a reality, though Cathay Pacific’s reach extends to the north, west, and south as well eastward to North America. In this, the 70th anniversary year of the airline’s founding, Cathay Pacific retains its preeminent position as one of Asia’s―and the world’s―leading airlines.