After a wholesome week in Beijing spent with my friends and family, it was time to resume the First Class adventures with another one of Asia’s great airlines, Cathay Pacific. Unfortunately, a combination of limited flight availability and the inflexibility of my schedule meant that I began the trip with an unceremonious economy class flight from Beijing to Hong Kong.
I didn’t mind the flight itself at all, but I was quite annoyed when heavy tarmac traffic at Hong Kong International Airport meant that we had to circle for about an hour before landing.
That’s because the added flight time was eating into the four hours or so that I had on the ground in Hong Kong, which I had intended to spend luxuriating in Cathay Pacific’s two flagship First Class Lounges – beginning with The Wing, located opposite Gate 2 on the eastern end of the terminal.
It was just my luck that the flight from Beijing dropped me off near the western end, so I quickly shuffled through the in-transit security checkpoint and began walking to The Wing. The terminal is quite large and takes a good 10 minutes or so to traverse even if walking at a brisk pace, so keep that in mind if, like me, you intend to lounge-hop prior to your First Class flight.
I finally arrived at The Wing, its exterior adorned with an impressive marble facade.
A staff member was on hand to greet guests and inspect boarding passes; upon seeing the “F” label on mine, he directed me upstairs towards the First Class section of the lounge. I later discovered that there’s a separate entrance to The Wing’s First Class section via the airport’s second-floor concourse level; as the entrance sign suggests, the downstairs entrance is primarily meant for guests using the business class section of the lounge.
Aside from travelling in the corresponding class of service, one can also access these lounges by virtue of Oneworld elite status – Emerald members can access the First Class section while Sapphire members can use the business class section.
Arriving at the top of the stairway, I was directed to the First Class section to my right.
The area immediately in front of the entrance is known as The Atrium, and features a spacious seating arrangement with a modest food spread consisting of light bites. However, I opted to fully explore The Wing a little later on – for now, I made a beeline for what is undeniably the most outstanding feature of the lounge: the Cabanas.
You see, while shower rooms ought to be a basic requirement of First Class lounges, and especially luxurious ones – such as what you’ll find at the Lufthansa First Class Terminal – are a real treat indeed, Cathay Pacific takes pre-flight pampering to the next level.
In addition to standard shower rooms, The Wing has four Cabanas – huge private suites complete with a shower, a bathtub, a daybed, and a dressing table complete with a full-height mirror.
The Cabanas are a truly extraordinary space, and are definitely up there with the most luxurious First Class ground experiences one can possibly attain. Among my own travels, I’d say that it’s second only to the in-lounge hotel rooms at the Swiss First Class Lounge Zurich.
Upon entering the Cabana, you see the dressing table and vanity mirror along the wall in front of you, the sink and mirror setup off to one side, and the shower features at the far end of the room. Everything about the decor in here screams elegance, from the high ceilings to the wooden aesthetic tones. Even though I was travelling solo, my first reaction was an audible series of "WOW"s.
The toilet is located to the side immediately in front of the entrance, as is the closet, which has plenty of space to store your items and hang your garments as you get settled into the Cabana.
The sink and mirror are mounted onto a partition that splits this part of the Cabana in half. Enjoy Jurlique-branded skincare products to help you freshen up.
The dressing table and mirror is simply stunning in its size, dominating a large stretch of the wall of the Cabana. It’s probably a feature that women would enjoy more than men, but even just styling my hair in a mirror of this size made me feel like an absolute boss.
The central features of the Cabana are the shower, the bathtub, and the daybed. The shower comes with three modes of water output; you can choose from enjoying a rain shower, a spray of water from the shower head, and having water poured upon you in a single unbroken stream like a mini-waterfall.
The fact that the shower is open-air, allowing water to splash about within the room, adds to the sense of communion with nature that’s already engendered by the Cabana’s wooden aesthetic tones.
Run your bath as you take a quick rinse in the shower to freshen up; by the time you’re done, your bath is ready for you to enjoy. The bathtub is incredibly spacious and would be more than comfortable for two people as well.
After revelling in a nice warm soak, I spent some time relaxing on the daybed. While the daybed isn’t quite large or comfortable enough for proper good-quality sleep, it could certainly do the job for a quick nap, or just for lounging.
In fact, there’s a small note on the dressing table reminding guests not to spend too much time here, in the interest of allowing other guests to try out the Cabanas as well.
No doubt, if you find yourself in The Wing, it's well worth securing a Cabana even if you don’t want to shower or bathe and were just looking for the private space to relax in a quiet and luxurious setting.
After about an hour in the Cabana, I packed up my stuff and headed back into the main lounge area of The Wing. As far as First Class lounges go, The Wing doesn’t do much to differentiate itself aside from its incredible Cabanas. It basically consists of three or four sections of seating, arranged along this partitioned-off stretch of the airport’s upper concourse level.
The seating areas are divided by the lounge’s other features, including a bar offering a plentiful selection of fancy alcohol...
...and a reading area with more muted decor and a newspaper rack.
Some of the seating areas also have self-serve food and drink stations within them, such as this champagne bar located towards the back of the lounge.
The benefit of being an open-air lounge is that you enjoy a sweeping view over the rest of the airport terminal from the balcony. The stretch of the lounge that runs alongside the balcony plays host to a few computer workstations as well.
Lastly, The Wing also has an à la carte dining area, known as The Haven. I briefly perused the menu but decided against enjoying a meal here, since I knew that the food selection over at The Pier, Cathay Pacific’s other lounge for First Class passengers, was much more plentiful.
If you’d rather eat something lighter rather than sitting down for a full meal, you can also make use of the light buffet spread located in The Atrium near the entrance.
A varied selection of Asian and Western delicacies, both sweet and savour, was on offer at the buffet.
I had also heard great things about the Noodle Bar over in the business class section of this lounge, and as an avid noodle lover I would’ve loved to try it out. However, my delayed arrival in Hong Kong meant that time was of the essence, as I really wanted to enjoy my time in The Pier as well since by all accounts it was supposed to be spectacular.
And so, having taken it slow and savoured every minute of my time in the Cabana, my experience in the rest of The Wing was a little more hurried. Before long, I was back in the terminal making the long trek over to The Pier over on the airport's western end.
While The Wing’s open-air design doesn’t lend itself particularly well to making the lounge feel exclusive or private – both hallmarks of the world’s top First Class lounges – the lounge’s shortcomings are more than offset by the truly stunning Cabanas. These one-of-a-kind shower suites deliver quite possibly the world’s most complete experience for pampering yourself before your flight, and are certainly not to be missed if you’re booked on a First Class flight out of Hong Kong.
I, for one, will definitely be making every effort to arrive at the airport much earlier for my next time on Cathay First, given the incredible luxuries that The Wing – as well as The Pier, the subject of the next installment in this series – bestow upon First Class passengers.