Let me start by saying Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge is hands down the best airline lounge I have so far experienced.
In January 2020, which today feels like it was multiple years ago, I took a short trip back to Asia. For my return, I booked Cathay Pacific First Class from Hong Kong to Chicago using AA Advantage miles. I had a long overnight layover in Hong Kong having come in from Seoul on a separate ticket. This gave me the opportunity to do some lounge hopping in Hong Kong, but sadly none of the Cathay Pacific Lounges are 24/7 operations. As such, in between there was a nap at a Plaza Premium lounge, which did not take priority pass but did accept American Express Platinum Card.
Given my 10PM arrival into Hong Kong and 11:30AM departure the next morning, but my desire to experience the CX lounges right at opening at 5:30AM, I opted not to book a hotel in Hong Kong as they were pricey for last minute bookings plus I would not have much time there given the to and from airport. Both the Wing and the Pier operate until the last departure which for CX is around 1:30AM, but they close at boarding time not departure time. And reopen at 5:30AM.
Upon my arrival from Seoul on an Asiana flight, I proceeded to the transit desk to check-in for my Cathay Pacific flight and proceed through transit security where there is no separation for premium or special assistance passengers. Upon clearing I headed up to my first lounge of the journey.
The Wing First Class Lounge
I was unaware that the Wing had a separate First Class entrance, so I went via the main/business class entrance on the lower departures level. They checked me in and pointed me to the stairs/elevator to head up to the first class section. Upstairs, I showed my boarding pass to the agent who let me through the roped off area. I was informed that the lounge stays open to the last departure, which looking at the board was around 1:30AM, but I’d later learn that they close the lounge once that last flight begins boarding, so more like 1AM, and they dont account for delays.
I first did a walk through. From the business class entryway you first arrive at the self-serve snack/food and tea/coffee/non-alcoholic drinks buffet with some counter seating in a light wood airy aesthetic. Then to the right is the main a la carte restaurants which leads to the main set of restrooms. Followed by the full-service bar and main seating area in a black, red, beige color scheme, strong but elegant. Then came the smaller seating area which doubled as the welcome Champagne bar, self-serve, which was also the main First Class entryway with a concierge office. Off to the side was the entrance to the showers and famous Cabanas, only available at the Wing.
After a walk through, the first thing I did was put my name down for a Cabana, they said it was quite full and given that it was around 10:30PM by that point, my chances were slim. I got deja vu to my Lufthansa First Class Terminal experience where I never got to take a bubble bath even with a 6 hour layover. I wasnt hungry and the food options at the buffet were mediocre/ didnt want to sit down for an a la carte meal in case my cabana buzzer went off. I had a few glasses of the various champagnes on offer, and multiple rounds of the kiwi based Cathay Delight, Cathay’s signature non-alcoholic beverage offered in lounges and onboard to premium passengers. I kept looking at the departures board to see if any CX flight would be delayed and as such delay lounge closing. Sure enough there were some flights running behind. I went to ask the main entrance agents about closing time, and upon looking at the schedule they informed me it would be 1AM at last departure, even with the delays. Between the transit desk agent and the lounge agents, they all thought I was crazy with my 11AM departure the following morning.
Luckily, at around 12:15AM, my cabana buzzer went off, and the attendant showed me to my cabana. The “maximum stay” is about 90 minutes. The cabanas are awesome. Giant soaking tub, shower area, lounger for relaxing or a nap, vanity, bathroom, and an ironing service (place your wrinkled shirt or pants or both on the hanger in the closet, press the iron button, close the closet, but the time you are ready to get dressed to leave your freshly pressed clothes are back in the closet). I took a nice half hour bath, showered and got dressed. It was approaching 1AM, but I was also tired and began dozing off. I also was curious if anyone would actually come knocking on my cabana door to kick me out of the lounge or to see if something had happened to me, so I sort of purposely stayed passed. No one came knocking until around 1:20AM when the main CX staff were clearing the lounge and I believe noticed one more pax was still somewhere to be found. I apologized and said I had fallen asleep and lost track of time, when really I was milking every last second of peace in the cabanas before my awkward few hours in the airport between CX lounges. Despite my continued apologies as I walked out, they seemed very annoyed at me. I felt a bit bad, but at the same time, if the lounges arent going to be open 24 hours and the last flights are delayed, cant they exercise situational flexibility?
The Wing is nice for a quick break before or in between flights or if it is closest to your gate. If you have time and are able to get it, The Cabanas are what make the Wing lounge so worth it. Otherwise if you have time, the Pier is far superior.
After this. I walked across to the other side of the terminal to see if the sleep pod hotel had any rooms available for a few hours. Unfortunately they have a policy wherein during late night hours only 7+ hour rates are available, as such I could not get a pod for just 3-4 hours and it was not worth paying the rather expensive 7+ hour rate. AmEx Centurion is not 24/7 either. So I headed to a Plaza Premium lounge on this end of the terminal, closest to the Pier entrance by gate 65. The Priority Pass app indicated this particular plaza premium was part of the program, but on my arrival I learned that only the one near the main departures area is part of PP. Luckily when asked if I had any other cards, AmEx Platinum came to the rescue as it often does in situations like this. I proceeded inside, grabbed some water and laid down in the main dining area on the sofa seating for some sleep. The lounge was quiet in these intermediate hours, mostly other pax with overnight layovers who also were sleeping. I was woken up after a shift change to be reminded to look after my belongings. It wasnt a deep or good sleep, but mostly quiet and restful enough.
The Pier First Class Lounge
I left the Plaza Premium lounge at 5AM and proceeded to the entrance of the Pier to ensure I could be one of the first to enter at 5:30AM to secure a day suite. By 5:30 there were a handful of transit and local passengers who also showed up ready to enjoy the lounge. Down the escalator I went and was quickly checked-in and welcomed to the lounge. I was immediately in awe of the entire design aesthetic of the lounge. Cathay Pacific’s goal was to create a home away from home space, the philosophy was to make you feel like you are in your own home or living room. They hit the ball out of the park. Aside from the aesthetics, every small detail was thought of. In the living room/bar area, sliding drawers at the coffee tables revealed charging outlets, including USB. I think I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking. There is this homey art-deco, modernist retro type vibe going on, is my best description I think. But suffice to say, I could easily move into the lounge myself and call it home. After spending almost 5 hours here, I still didnt want to leave. I felt so at home, calm, relaxed, rested and comfortable. I have not felt that way in any other lounge I have been to.
I immediately headed to get a day-suite and settled in (food, beverage and restrooms are all outside of the day suite area). These are also available to each guest for a maximum of 90 minutes to ensure other people can get it. A mistake I made was to not book a massage (complimentary 15 minutes available) and shower suite right as I arrived, so definitely recommend securing all of these things if you arrive early/ even if not do all of these things first. After settling in, I headed out to grab some drinks and also walk around. What a great time to soak in the beauty and tranquility of the lounge with no other passengers around.
After grabbing a champagne at the bar, which was sort of not open but one of the lounge staff happily helped me out, fresh bottled juice and water from the pantry, I headed back to my day suite. Set myself up in my day bed for a nice hour nap, it was very comfortable actually, and nice that there are window shades you can draw down. I woke up at sunrise for a brilliant view of the tarmac and gates right in front of me as a few CX morning arrivals began taxing by/ pulling into the gates. A beautiful A350-900 pulled into the gate right in front of my cabana, was wonderful to watch the action so close.
Rested, I cleaned up and left my day-suite to go have breakfast at the restaurant. There was a rather extensive but not overwhelming selection of both Hong Kong and Asian style and western style breakfast items. Upon being shown to my seat, a wait staff quickly came by to offer me the menu and drink choices. I went with Cathay Delight, double espresso and a rose. They then returned to take my meal order. I ordered the Cantonese set but replaced the stir fry noodles with the famous CX Dan Dan Noodles. Food was not bad, the Dan Dan noodles were just ok, too heavy on the peanuts and not strong enough on the spices. I finished breakfast off with more espresso and a Energizer smoothie: spinach and apple juice. There was never a long wait for food/ drinks and the staff didnt take too long to come to the table if you needed them and always happy to help.
After breakfast I thought it was time for a massage. But when I went to the service desk to make an appointment, the next available slot was at 11AM, by that time I’d have to be at the gate for my flight. They then offered to place me on the waitlist in case of a no-show or cancel and gave me a buzzer, again should have booked it when I first arrived.
As such, I went to the bar/ living room section. At around 7:30AM the lounge was beginning to fill up and get crowded. The crowd was a mix of actual CX first class passengers, One World Emerald, Marco Polo elites and One World first class passengers. As one review I came across described, its quite fascinatingly hilarious to easily distinguish between the American Airlines emerald/ first class passengers and the rest of the folks here (hint: the folks in shorts, sneakers, maybe a polo and on their lenovo are probably your Americans flying on AA).
At the bar I decided to go for a Betsy, CX’s owned special brew beer “crafted for 30,000 feet” and named after their first aircraft, a DC-3. The bottle was cool but what was even cooler was the glass the beer was served with, blueprint drawings of the DC-3 printed on the glass. I had to ask if they were selling these glasses but they said nope, special made and limited quantity, I felt too exposed to secretly stash it into my bag by then. I also went to the pantry to grab some small bites and some delicious dark chocolate granola. Throughout my time chilling at my window side seat, both Cathay and Contracted staff were always nearby to assist. They werent imposing nor exactly imposing, but I did not mind and it appeared no one else did as well. This added to the private, soothing feel of the lounge. Friendly service is there if needed, but they leave you be. I will say, one thing was that dirty plates/ glass that wasnt even mine took a long time to be cleared from my table.
I then decided it was time for a shower. Thankfully there was a shower suite available when I went to ask for one. What is nice is that there is a menu of complimentary amenities you can ask the service desk for, such as toothbrush, razors or slippers. The shower rooms are quite nice and stocked with Aesop amenities, though I imagine with time it’ll transition to Bamford products to align with onboard offerings. Of course as luck would have it, as I was getting dressed and dried off, the massage buzzer went off. I awkwardly opened the door and flagged down an attendant who was very kind and assisted me in telling the massage therapist I’d be out there soon. I quickly dressed and headed out for my 15 minute food massage. The two main complimentary massages are foot or neck and shoulder. It felt longer than 15 minutes and even included a foot bath/scrub. Quite relaxing and a nice offer. I then asked the attendant if I could return to a shower suite to quickly finish up getting ready, they were once again very kind and understanding and let me use one quickly.
By the time I finished my massage and shower, it was around 9:45AM. Given the long walk to the gate, I decided it was time to say goodbye to the Pier as much as I wanted to keep staying.
I arrived at the gate to see the flight was delayed by a few minutes, so I proceeded to shop around and then eventually went back to the Wing (closest to my gate) for a glass of champagne and Cathay Delight before heading back to the gate for boarding.
Cathay Pacific First Class Lounges are fantastic. The Pier is without a doubt the best lounge I have experienced. Between the amenities, design, vibes and food/beverage offerings (yes, the food was nothing amazing, but it was solid and homey) all created a home away from home experience, which ultimately for the road warrior is whats most important than anything glitzy or gimmicky. The Wing is nice too but not as soothing as the Pier, except of course for the Cabanas. Personally, I think a huge reason to fly CX First Class, or if you are a Oneworld Emerald / First Class passenger, is to experience the Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge.
Sadly, during this current uncertain COVID-19 times, the Pier is currently closed and Cathay Pacific is barely flying any flights. The airline has been embattled by the HK Protests and now COVID-19. I do hope they can mostly recover and stay in the skies and keep most of their wonderful premium offerings.
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