The Upgrade

Copious Caviar, Designer PJs, and Luxury Gifts: Come Along on My Uber-Elite First-Class Flight

PART 12: Not all first-class cabins are created equal.

Ben Schlappig here again! I'm the blogger behind One Mile at a Time, and the guy who introduced you to my uber-luxury travel lifestyle all made possible by using miles and points. When we last left off I was gallivanting around to some of the best first-class airplane lounges on the planet. (Luxurious bath with top-tier bubbly, anyone?)

Then it was back up in the air.

While our flights from Los Angeles to Taipei to Singapore to Bali to Hong Kong were in business class — which is perfectly comfortable — our next flight would be in first class.

Airlines have really upped their game when it comes to first and business class. Nowadays most business-class products feature fully flat beds, five-course meals, and even often direct aisle access from every seat. Many airlines are having a hard time justifying even offering a first-class cabin — because how much better than that can it really get?

Well, I think Cathay Pacific is the perfect example of just how good flying up front can get.

The first cool thing to know about Cathay Pacific first class is that they have only six first class seats in the cabin. We booked only a couple of days before departure, at which point there were five first-class award seats — there was no one else booked in the cabin!

That’s part of why I always advocate for trying to redeem miles in international first class. While demand for economy and business class is often high during peak season, first class will often stay empty, given how much a paid ticket would cost (for example, a long-haul roundtrip Cathay Pacific first-class ticket would cost somewhere around $25,000 if paying cash).

Cathay Pacific’s first-class cabin is stunning. There are just two rows of first class, and each row has just three seats — there’s one seat on each side of the plane, two aisles, and then a seat in the center section.

Hello, gorgeous.

Within minutes of boarding we were offered Krug champagne (my favorite!), an amenity kit with Aesop toiletries, and designer pajamas. As someone who doesn’t usually care much about material things and insists on getting nothing for Christmas, I can’t help but feel like it’s my version Christmas every time I board a flight in first class, given how many “gifts” I get.

Krug... my favorite!

There were two great flight attendants taking care of us in first class, meaning there was one flight attendant for every two passengers — that’s pretty tough to beat.

Everything on Cathay Pacific is “on demand,” so you can eat when you want, sleep when you want, et cetera. We decided to have dinner shortly after takeoff. Given how spacious the suites are in Cathay Pacific first class, you can actually dine “face-to-face,” which is what Ford and I decided to do. Each seat has a buddy seat, and then there’s a tray table extender so that there’s enough room for the service to be done properly.

Having a delicious meal consisting of caviar and Krug at 35,000 feet in a spacious suite is incredible. Being able to dine face-to-face with someone you love under those circumstances is even better.

Cathay Pacific’s first class meal service always starts out with caviar, which we both ordered. While there are quite a few airlines that serve caviar in first class, I find that Cathay Pacific’s presentation is among the best of any airline.

Luxury with a side of caviar

That was followed by a roasted red pepper soup, pan-fried chicken breast with green beans, pumpkin, capsicum, couscous, and thyme jus. Then there was a cheese course, as well as a plate of fresh berries with whipped cream.

Our feast

A couple of hours later, the meal service was complete, and then it was time for a nap. In addition to Cathay Pacific’s great service, I also love them for their top-notch bedding. Cathay Pacific has among the most comfortable beds in the sky, thanks to the width of the seat, and also thanks to the plush bedding, which includes a couple of pillows, a mattress pad, and a duvet.

I didn’t otherwise get all that much sleep on this trip, so I think the best sleep I got this entire trip was on the flight, as I slept for over six hours. There’s “airplane sleep” and then there’s real sleep, where you wake up feeling refreshed rather than groggy — and this definitely fit in the latter category!

Ford preparing for his beauty sleep with a sheet mask

There was another full meal service before landing, though I instead just opted for afternoon tea. Ford, on the other hand, ordered more caviar. Of course we also had some Krug to go along with that!

As I usually find to be the case in first class, the flight was over far too soon, and I wished it would have lasted longer. While business class is a comfortable way to fly and arrive well rested, first class is an experience that you don’t want to end, between the great food and drinks, amenities, comfortable bed, attentive service, and great entertainment.

While there are a lot of great first-class products in the world, I find that Cathay Pacific is among the most consistent. The flight attendants, food, and drinks, and always top notch. I also love how small the first-class cabin is, which makes it an intimate experience.

Stick around to follow the next leg of our journey, and — somehow — even more luxurious cabins than this one!

FOLLOW MY JOURNEY:

Go with me inside two of the best first-class airplane lounges in the world.

How we spent a fab 24-hour layover in the best place on earth to have one: Hong Kong.

I support my boyfriend's first-class travel life (and in return he lets me pull stunts like this).

See how I booked a $12,000 flight for nearly free.

See Bali's littler-known party side — including a hangover brunch (with a DJ) to end them all!

Glimpse the five-star life I love (and buy with miles!) in Bali.

Here's why I call Bali the ultimate place to recharge.

Check out my epic layover in the world's best airport on the way to Bali.

Read up on my Hello Kitty-themed flight to get this far...

And the Hello Kitty airport experience to match!

And here's where it all began at LAX.

Here I dispell some misconceptions you may have about flying first class:

And here are 8 things you absolutely must do in the first-class cabin if you get to try it some day!

Ben Schlappig, the blogger behind One Mile at a Time, experiences about $1 million worth of travel every year using miles and points — and covers about 400,000 miles annually this way. Ben has teamed up with Bravo’s Jet Set for a series called The Upgrade, in which he shows you how you — yes, you! — can score real-world-ready strategies for upping your travel game. Come along for the adventure!

Jet Set is Bravo's launch pad for the most extravagant, luxurious, and unforgettable travel experiences. Ready for takeoff? Then Like us on Facebook to stay connected to our daily updates.

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