Cathay Pacific A350.
Class: Premium Economy.
Price: From $1669 in Economy Class, $4119 in Premium Economy and $6879 in Business Class.
Luggage: A maximum of two pieces with a combined weight of up to 35kg.
Check-in: This was a connecting flight from an earlier Auckland to Hong Kong route, so after online check-in and bag drop at Auckland, I had nothing further to do at Hong Kong ... other than wait (see below).
Airport experience: HKIA seemed to be having a bad night, with a number of delays to departing flights which appeared to have been going on throughout the day.
I had a lounge pass so went to the sanctuary of The Pier, probably the best lounge I've ever been in. I was able to have a shower, food, free Wi-Fi and peace and quiet while I waited. My flight finally boarded at 2.10am — close to two hours later than scheduled — and departed about 30 minutes later. After leaving Auckland 18 hours earlier, I was exhausted.
Passengers to Tel Aviv should also note they may be randomly selected for a secondary security check at the gate. I was selected, my bags were searched and I was patted down, but it was a fast, no-fuss process.
Flight time: 11 hours 10 minutes.
On time: Not even close (see above).
Seat: 30C. Premium economy is configured in a 2-4-2 arrangement. If you're travelling alone, make sure you request a window or aisle seat to avoid being sandwiched between two other passengers. The seat was 18.5in wide and had a good pitch, with a padded footrest so it felt relatively comfortable, even for an 11-hour flight.
The new A350 seats have a lot of nifty features, like an adjustable reading light built into the headrest, storage within the armrest for tablets and small laptops, in-seat USB ports and AC sockets, and a tablet stand in front of the screen.
How full? Almost entirely, which is great to see as Cathay launched the service only in March.
Entertainment: I was beyond tired by this point, so I put on my amenity kit-provided eyemask and earplugs as soon as we'd taken off, and slept on and off for the next nine hours. For those who stayed awake, the Studio CX system is excellent, with an extensive range of movies and TV shows to watch, plus live sports and news available, on a 12.1 inch screen.
Food and drink: I slept through dinner, but enjoyed the breakfast of omelette, chicken sausage, mushrooms and tomato, with fruit salad, yoghurt, croissant and jam, served two and a half hours before landing. Snacks were available throughout the flight, had I been awake.
Service: Polite and impeccably turned out. Things went off track after breakfast however, with the crew not clearing trays away until an hour before landing. At the exact point they were halfway through the clearing process, the captain announced over the PA that Israeli law states all passengers must be seated 30 minutes before landing, therefore we only had half an hour to use the restrooms. This meant there was then a mad scramble for everyone who wanted to brush their teeth, use the toilet, and freshen up before landing. It seemed most passengers had finished eating well in advance of this point, so the delay was a little frustrating.
Fellow passengers: Israelis, Aussies and Kiwis from connecting flights, plus a large contingent of Asian tour groups all heading to the Holy Land. Apparently Israel is quite big for the affluent Asian market.
Toilets: Clean and well-stocked, but with big queues at times (see above).
Would I fly again? Yes. But I would be prepared for potential delays at Hong Kong, and be first in line for the post-breakfast bathroom queue.
Further information: See cathaypacific.com