Cathay Pacific operates eight nonstop flights a day from Singapore Changi Airport to its main hub in Hong Kong, and one additional flight to Hong Kong via Bangkok, for a total of nine services per day.
On 31 October 2017, along with Korean Air, it became the first airline to move to Changi’s new Terminal 4, having previously operated out of Terminal 1. As part of the transfer to the new facility, Cathay also opened a brand new dedicated Business Lounge, the Cathay Pacific Lounge, in T4 on the same day.
We passed through the newly opened lounge in Changi Airport T4 on its fourth day of operation, to write a full review of one of the most anticipated lounge openings in Asia this year. We also took the opportunity to separately review Terminal 4 itself.
Cathay Pacific originally had their own lounge facility in Terminal 1, the Cathay Skyview Lounge. It was actually a joint Cathay / DNATA operated facility and was also open to other airlines such as Bangkok Airways, Garuda and SriLankan. It also allowed access to Priority Pass members.
That lounge closed however in 2016, replaced by a new DNATA lounge in a slightly different location. Cathay passengers used this lounge instead (or the Qantas Singapore Lounge if it was open, and they had any sense!). The DNATA lounge lacked any Cathay branding as by this stage work was well underway on their own dedicated facility in Terminal 4, the second-largest Cathay Pacific lounge outside Hong Kong (after their Taipei lounge).
Regular Cathay first and business passengers, and oneworld status members, will be familiar with Cathay’s excellent lounge selection at their hub in Hong Kong. One of the most recent to open was a re-designed version of The Pier.
The designer of that lounge, Ilse Crawford, also designed this new Cathay lounge in Changi Terminal 4, which will immediately give many of you a good idea of the design and finish to expect, this lounge is very reminiscent of The Pier in Hong Kong.
We arrived to find the lounge very busy just before midday, with a Cathay departure to Hong Kong coming up at 12:55, before our flight to Bangkok at 14:00. There wasn’t much choice of seating left in the Noodle Bar, almost every table was already taken, and much of the quieter area at the far end of the lounge was also occupied, so we took a stool at the bar-style seating just outside the Noodle Bar, close to the buffet and drinks area.
The lounge staff told us that this was one of the busiest times of the day for the facility, as two departures are timed relatively close together. Similarly the early morning is also busy around 6am to 6.30am, with passengers for the 06:50 flight and many for the 08:00 departure sharing the lounge at that time.
It’s worth bearing in mind that while the business class capacity of each Cathay Pacific aircraft departing for Hong Kong is only around 38 to 42 passengers, depending on the aircraft type used, the SIN-HKG route is frequented by many Cathay and oneworld members travelling in economy and premium economy who also have access to the lounge through their frequent flyer status level. There can apparently be upward of 40 to 50 additional guests per flight in this category.
As it was lunchtime, our first task was to order some food and of course we wanted to try the freshly prepared noodles. There was a small queue at the Noodle Bar, and once you have ordered they provide a buzzer which lets you know when your food is ready to collect.
In the meantime while we waited for the food, the obligatory glass of champagne. Cathay are serving Moët in this lounge, but unlike the more usual experience of requesting a glass from the bartender, this is one area where the Cathay lounge in T4 differs from their recent openings, such as in Bangkok and London Heathrow, because there is no manned bar. We found this unusual, especially as the third-party Blossom lounge in T4, directly opposite and in view of the Cathay lounge, does feature a manned bar.
The champagne situation was a little chaotic, as the fridge was not keeping the champagne cold enough (or perhaps it had not been loaded into the fridge for long enough), and the small single ice bucket alongside had not been replenished and only contained an empty bottle.
The lounge staff did their best to be very helpful, and put a new bottle onto the ice for me, with the expectation that in 10 minutes it would be a better temperature. However while waiting several other lounge guests came and poured themselves glasses of (rather warm) champagne until the bottle was empty again, so the process was re-started!
Eventually I settled for a slightly cold glass, certainly not quite the temperature it should have been. This is where a manned bar would have helped, and in our view would have been a logical addition to this lounge.
While enjoying the champagne, it was time to test the Wi-Fi service provided for lounge guests. We found this one easy to join, and it provided a fast connection throughout our visit.
It only took around 10 minutes for our noodles order to be ready for collection, quite reasonable given the busy state of the lounge at the time. The Laksa, which traditionally would normally contain seafood but in this case was a Curry Chicken variety, had great flavour and was quite spicy. The Wanton Noodle was also excellent, as were the BBQ Pork Bun dim sum.
Exploring the Lounge
Around 12:20, once boarding for the 12:55 departure was called, the lounge emptied out significantly, and as we had another hour to kill before our flight we took the opportunity to take a few photos of the various seating options, the Noodle Bar and the Bureau – an office area with computer workstations.
Make a left turn on entering the lounge then continue to walk down to the end of the corridor, and you’ll emerge into the main area with a wide variety of comfortable seating options. If you’ll spend a while in the lounge, we would recommend getting settled somewhere here first.
At the far end of the lounge the windows provide a good view into the main terminal transit lounge, and on the right hand side – our favourite leather chairs which we first discovered in the Cathay Bangkok lounge. They look down over the gates and airport apron / runway, and are in a nice quiet section.
The Noodle Bar is undoubtedly the main feature point of this lounge, indeed at the expense of some other facilities you might have expected to find in a Cathay lounge, like showers and a manned bar. More on those later.
The menu is presented on the bar and lets you know what options are being freshly prepared today. We checked with the lounge staff and they advised that there is a breakfast menu for the morning departures, followed by an all-day menu. Selections will be rotated every two weeks, so regular visitors to the lounge should hopefully not become bored of the same menu on each visit.
The noodle bar has the option of bar stool seating (at the noodle bar itself), communal dining tables in the middle with low stools, or two and four person booths along the sides.
Buffet and bar
Nestled between the Noodle Bar and the main seating sections of the lounge, there is a general dining and drinks area with a selection of soft drinks, beers, wines and spirits, a coffee machine, and a buffet with some additional food selections for those not partial to noodles and dim sum.
As this is not the main food option for this lounge, the choices were rather limited and consisted of three salad options, three hot dishes, and a selection of cheeses.
On the drinks side, the self-service bar area consisted of the usual selection of beers, wines and soft drinks, while the spirits selection included gin, whiskey, vodka and martini.
The coffee machine options included regular coffee, cappuccino, latte and hot chocolate.
The two red wines on offer were:
- Château le Joyeux Bordeaux (2015). 3.7 stars on Vivino
- Woolshed Shiraz Australia (2016). 3.2 stars on Vivino
The white wine selection was:
- Domaine Les Esquirots Sauvignon (2016). 3.6 stars on Vivino
- Whale’s Tale Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (2016). 3.9 stars on Vivino
The lounge also features the Bureau, a quiet office area with desk space and workstations, for those looking to get some serious work done during their visit. To head straight there, it’s a right turn as you enter the lounge.
There are three workstations in total, and none were being used during our visit. Each desk has ample working space, an iMac, telephone and printing facilities.