Aboard Cathay Pacific Flight #893


“I’d love to get you on a slow boat to China.” — Bing Crosby

Hello from aboard Cathay Pacific Flight #893 from SFO to Hong Kong.

Contrary to being on a “slow boat to China,” we’re jetting to Hong Kong aboard a new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft (“all jet, no lag.”) Our plane still has that “new car smell.”

The wireless internet up here is a little sluggish but decent. I like to track our progress on Flight Aware, and it shows we’re flying at 447 mph, at 40,000 feet, on our 14-hour, 47-minute journey. You also can track the flight on the touch screen, seat-back entertainment system — albeit with less detail.

I love airplane travel. One memorable trip was being invited on the delivery flight of a Pacific Southwest Airlines BAE-146 from England to SFO (via stops in Iceland and Green Bay, Wisc.) in the mid-’80s when I was the airline writer for The San Francisco Chronicle. The plane had not even been painted (we nicknamed it the “green weenie”), we played board games on the floor, and slept on the floor too in our sleeping bags. A few seats had been installed to meet requirements.

On this flight the airplane cabin is minty green, or more of an emerald green — Cathay Pacific’s famous colors — and it is a bit more fashionable than the “green weenie.”

This was a semi-spontaneous trip. Cathay Pacific’s  “CyberMonday” offer in November was too good to refuse: less than $700 roundtrip in “premium economy,” a savings of about $500.

We celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary this spring — or that was the excuse. Our dog is in good hands with our housesitter and dog sitter, and our son is in good hands with his anut and uncle in Nevada City. We cut the trip down to less than a week, partly out of guilt.

The “premium economy” cabin is full, but it is roomy and semi-private — a   “cabin within a cabin” with just 32 seats out of 334. “Padding is substantial, legroom is exceptionally good, entertainment screens are large and remotes are easy to use,” as one reviewer notes, adding “The seats control offers multiple pre set flight positions, with both foot and calf-rest support. Most importantly, there’s a USB and separate universal power port for each traveler. No fighting required. ”

We didn’t figure we’d be too hungry when our flight took off at 12:15 a.m., so we ordered fruit plates, but the menu for hot items looked good too.

Time goes fast. I watched Bohemian Rhapsody, listened to some classical music, read and slept about 6 hours. Now we’re traveling down the coast of mainland China toward Hong Kong. Our arrival is set at 6:46 a.m.

The Peninsula Hotel has promised us a “day room” if our room isn’t ready, and the hotel has a spectacular-looking indoor pool to “kill some time,” if you could call it that. Happy Hump Day (though it’s Thursday here)!

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website SierraCulture.com. Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

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