Cathay Pacific finally opens proper airline lounge in Mainland China

After years of sub-par lounges in Mainland China, Cathay Pacific has finally opened a space that rivals its premium lounges in other world cities.
Cam MacMurchy

I use the word “finally” because Cathay Pacific has done an excellent job with signature lounges in several cities worldwide, with Bangkok, London and Vancouver coming to mind as some of the best. Yet one of the company’s biggest markets — probably the biggest market — has notoriously been left underserved.

I had a good friend of mine, who covers the aviation industry in Hong Kong, explain to me a while ago that cities in Mainland China have strict control over the operational and catering contracts for companies operating inside airports, which naturally restricted what Cathay could do. He told me a couple of years ago, informally, that those contracts would expire around 2020 and Cathay had plans to overhaul their lounges then — and it looks like the first shoe has dropped.

Cathay has unveiled a gorgeous lounge inside Pudong Airport in Shanghai, one that takes its design cues from its other premium lounges in Hong Kong and elsewhere. Cathay might even be on a roll — the perception within Hong Kong is the airline has slipped over the years, but the worldwide survey conducted by Skytraxx had Cathay moving up two spots to fourth best airline in the world globally in 2019. Its lounges are commensurate with that standing, and maybe even better.

The new lounge at Pudong has what you would expect: large, spacious seating, hot and cold food options, some baked goods, and plenty of room to get some work done with Wifi and power outlets. Of course, I’m not really doing the place justice — here’s Cathay’s marketing speak for one section of the lounge in particular:

A particular highlight of the lounge is the Terrace, an L-shaped, open-ceiling verandah that allows guests to take in panoramic views of the apron and runway while seated at one of the dining tables or bespoke Solo Chairs, which come with a built-in reading lamp and individual side table.

The design of the Terrace is similarly reflected in the open-ceiling food hall, where passengers wanting a pre-flight refreshment can enjoy the convenience of self-serve international hot and cold dishes, freshly baked treats, cheeses and cold cuts that can be picked up from the Servery counter. A variety of wines and spirits are also available at the self-service bar, giving guests the ability to mix their favourite pre-flight cocktails.

I eagerly await my first experience with the “bespoke Solo Chairs”.

The lounge officially opened on July 18, and is operational from 5:45am to 9pm daily. You can find it near gate D69 in terminal two. I hope to pop in there within the next few weeks and see how it measures up against The Pier, the reigning champ (IMHO).

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Images from Cathay Pacific

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