Anna King Shahab flies from Auckland to Barcelona via Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific.

The plane:

A350-900. Cathay Pacific introduced these to their Auckland schedule in late 2016, and last year they added Barcelona to their list of European destinations.

Class: Business.


Price: The Auckland-Hong Kong-Barcelona service commences again in mid-April, with return, Business Class fares starting from $5975.

Flight time: Everything ran on time: about 11 hours Auckland to Hong Kong; 13 hours Hong Kong to Barcelona with a three-hour transit in Hong Kong.

My seat: 21D and then 16G. The vabin has a reverse-herringbone configuration with lie-flat beds. You can slide your seat backward or forward, either out of view of the passenger next to you or so that you can pop by and have a chat. An extra bit at the side can be pulled up for a wider bed. Plenty of storage for the things you want with you, with an ottoman (perfect for popping shoes and handbag into), side storage for laptop, space in the footwell and a little cabinet for electronics, complete with charging point. I didn't use the Wi-Fi on board but the rate is especially reasonable if you opt for the unlimited data package.

Fellow passengers: A mix of business travellers, couples, retired folk and some families, all super-considerate and rule-abiding.

How full: Almost full up front.

Entertainment: Slightly smaller selection of films than I'd expected, especially the new releases, but all good picks. There was a nice line-up of quirky short films, which was quite refreshing.

The service: Perfect balance of there-when-you-need-it and unobtrusive. Meals were served with good consistency along left and right.

Food and drink: Go the Chinese options. Among the menu items I picked were wok-fried butterflied prawns, and dim-sum breakfast selection. Veuve Cliquot (or orange juice, if you must) served before takeoff with a follow-up drink and snacks soon after. Snack menu available throughout the flight, in Business this includes very good slow-braised beef noodle soup.


The toilets: Clean, well-stocked with Jurlique products as were the kits (the rosewater face mist was a winner).

Luggage: You get 40kg in the hold, and there's plenty of room in the overhead compartments, so there's no shoving neighbours' bags around.

The airport experience: In Hong Kong there are three Business lounges to choose from. I checked out both The Wing and the newly refurbed The Pier. The latter had a full bar (including Moet and very good Negronis), a teahouse for the teetotal and a relaxation room, while the former had excellent wonton soup made to order at the noodle bar, and spotless shower amenities.

The bottom line: A very comfortable journey to the other side of the world. Lie-flat beds with enough width, well-thought out storage, ergonomic lighting and good quality air on this aircraft made the 7am Barcelona-time landing a bonus.