Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
A very long flight, especially those with a lot of connecting flights in different countries, can be quite taxing even if you’re so used to flying or worse, a nervous flyer. On board Cathay Pacific for a flight from Manila to Hong Kong to New York City was a great decision as the airline exceeded my expectations.
I had an early morning flight at 7am so my family brought me to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to bid me goodbye as they won’t see me for a couple of months because I was coming back the following year to live in Colombia. I was transiting from Manila to Hong Kong to New York then on board a different airplane, Avianca, which will bring me to Bogota and Medellin, Colombia.
Photo courtesy of Aspire Aviation
After much goodbyes (or rather see you laters) exchanged with my family, I boarded the huge Cathay Pacific aircraft with hundreds of passengers from Asia, I carried my hand luggage and sleepiness as I went inside the aircraft and found my seat.
It was a window seat of the three-seater side of the plane. I prepared for the 16-hour flight with a brief two-hour stopover in Hong Kong before continuing to New York and landing at the John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK).
Like other airlines, we were given peanuts and a choice between coffee, juice, tea or water. It was simply to kill time during the entire ride and they had their airline magazine for reading. I had a book also with me which was One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez–a Colombian author which I chose because I was going to live in his country. It seemed to be a good introduction to his culture and a good choice to keep me company during the entire flight.
The two-hour Manila-Hong Kong flight was easy and before I knew it, we already arrived at the Hong Kong International Airport. It was a huge airport that was more like a mall than an airport and you can easily get lost. Good thing there were a lot of airport guides who directed all passengers to the right gate.
There wasn’t much time to go around the airport though as the stopover wasn’t that long. No need for immigration since it was a connecting flight. My luggage were on an automatic transfer as well so it was convenient that I didn’t had to take them from the conveyor belt to transfer to the new plane.
Finally, the ground steward called all passengers bound to New York City and soon we were on board again Cathay Pacific. Once again I had the window seat of the three-seater side of the plane and luckily the middle seat was vacant but the aisle seat was occupied by a nice Chinese man. We were able to put some of our personal belongings on the vacant seat which made our our own seats more comfortable as we had extra room.
The seats were comfortable thank goodness as we had to endure a long flight. They handed us each a small pillow, a blanket and a headset. The menu was given to us so we can already tell them the food we wanted to eat during the entire flight.
Hands down the food and drinks Cathay Pacific served were really good which made purchasing a ticket from them really worth it. Their menu varied from red or white sauce pastas, savory meat rice dishes, bread, vegetables, fresh fruits, chocolates, pastries, coffee, wine, juice–you name it, they have it.
For someone who loves taking photos of food, I don’t know what happened, whether I was too happy with the scrumptious food or I was too preoccupied with the movie or TV marathons and reading a good book in between that I actually didn’t took my own photos of food.
But I annoyingly did took photos of food I ate while I was waiting at the airport in between transits. Imagine I even got Menu photos inside the plane! Disappointing as it is I had to get food photos that were the same or similar from other websites.
Well enough about regretting not doing it. I ate their Roasted Chicken, Buttered Vegetables, Fussili Pasta, Braised Chicken, Croissant with butter and jam, fruits, chocolates, cakes, coffee and juice. All were very delicious, the portions were enough for one person and certainly they didn’t scrimped on the ingredients.
The best part was they served unlimited drinks of coffee, juice, soda and wine. I got a tip from my Czech roommate in Colombia who also travels a lot. She said you should drink wine if you can’t sleep properly as long flights cause interrupted sleep so yes I had some white wine as I preferred it over red wine though I think I had a glass of the latter as well.
If you’re already bored, anxious or restless after all the eating, sleeping (or trying to sleep), watching and reading you did, one of the best way to kill time is to watch the gorgeous view outside the airplane window. You’ll spot so many amazing views of the moon, a nearby plane flying, the icy view of perhaps Canada or Russia, the gorgeous sunrise and sunset among other once in a lifetime moments you shouldn’t miss.
A great story during my flight was when I met a fellow AIESEC member who was a flight steward of Cathay Pacific. The international organization sends people abroad for cultural immersion. It was so random because I only asked for a tissue after going to the rest room. While waiting, we simply began chatting about random things. Wow, the world is so small, we found out we came from the same organization. He went to Russia while I went to Colombia for cultural immersion. It was really awesome to randomly meet people in different parts of the world and turned out, you have a lot of common ground!
For tips I learned during my travels, always drink lots of water and apply lotion as well as moisturizer to hydrate your skin. Long flights can dehydrate your body so better to bring your own pocket-sized lotion and moisturizer. Moreover, have a pair of clothes if you need to change at the airport during a layover to freshen up. Walk around to exercise your cramp legs and stretch those arms. There are some seat exercises you can also do so you don’t get painful cramps like tipping the toes of your feet to stretch, moving your feet and hands around or stretching your arms up or in front of you.
Finally we arrived at JFK and this was the very long line at the immigration. We arrived at the same time another flight from London’s Heathrow Airport landed in New York–which explained the longer lines. I had another connecting flight to Colombia but on board a different plane which was Avianca, a Latin American airline.
After several months, it was time to go back to Asia so I took a flight from Colombia to New York to take another connecting flight on board Cathay Pacific once again which would take me to Hong Kong. From there, I took a ferry to Macau to visit my sister before coming home finally to my home country, the Philippines.
While waiting for my flight, I read and opened the letters and gifts (a hardbound book of Medellin, a box containing red seeds from the Amazon, German coin, Colombian candies, letters, bracelets, etc. from my friends in Colombia while having breakfast at McDonald’s.
Another story worth telling (or writing for this matter) was I was very lucky because the kind old American ground steward from Cathay Pacific told me to wait at the Business Lounge of the airline which was a surprise as I had an economy plane ticket. What happened was a series of unfortunate events upon landing in New York.
I exceeded my luggage by having an excess of six kilos which would supposedly cost me so much money. I also had to pay another $100 for cancelling the original last leg of my Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Manila as I replaced it with a flight from Macau straight to Manila via Cebu Pacific. Imagine the horror I felt! Stupidity or some say it was a complete hindsight, I prayed hard and yes I cried too because I was travelling alone with not enough dollars to pay for everything since I paid tax at Jose Maria Cordova International Airport in Colombia. Plus the fact that I was so hungry as we arrived early morning and I haven’t had any breakfast. He and another colleague (who turned out she had Filipino friends in the US) took sympathy on me and I was very lucky I was able to board the plane without having to pay any fees and he even gave me a Cathay Pacific bag so that I can put the excess luggage there.
They were indeed angels sent from above! Oh I definitely learned a lot from this flight and it was one hell of an adventure for sure! I don’t regret it as it was quite an experience that was worth remembering and sharing.
So yes going back to the Cathay Pacific flight, these were two photos of New York City taken after take off from the airport. These are the moments you’ll always remember and say to yourself, you’re happy to be alive and experience them.
It was another 16-hour flight and I was happy to know that my choice of airline will make my long flight easier because of their great food, good service and entertainment. On another note, some of the flight stewardess or steward were friendly but don’t expect all of them as probably they’re also exhausted serving so many people all at once.
This breath taking sunrise view from the airplane took my breath away and it was definitely one of my favorite photos taken from the adventure I had around the world!
For more info on Cathay Pacific, please visit the following websites:
Facebook: Cathay Pacific
Website: Cathay Pacific