Review: Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge, Vancouver, Canada


This post is one chapter in our trip to New York City via Cathay Pacific First Class. This trip was booked using American Airlines AAdvantage miles and Starwood Preferred Guest points. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Review: The Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge, Vancouver International Airport, Vancouver, Canada

We took separate cars to the airport today since the flight left late in the evening. The late timing of the flight allowed us each to complete a day of work and minimized the amount of vacation time needed.

Tonight’s report started with dinner at the Flying Beaver Pub. It’s located a 5 minute walk from the Vancouver South Terminal (home for the provincial flights- to get here, take the free shuttle from the Vancouver Domestic Terminal to the South Terminal and walk). The Flying Beaver is also contained in the same facility as the float plane terminal for Harbour Air where you can catch a float plane to Vancouver Island. For those of you that are stuck at YVR on a longer layover, it’s a neat place to visit since most of the Aerospace Engineers that work at YVR frequent this bar as the nearest watering hole.

Checking In:

Our outbound flight CX 888 is a continuation of services from Hong Kong. The flight stops in Vancouver for a one hour technical stop, prior to continuing onto New York. This means that the flight to New York is usually prone to all sorts of delays given the long haul nature of the first leg.

Although Vancouver has a United States check in, departure and Customs Pre-Clearance facility, check in for Cathay Pacific was completed at the Cathay Pacific stands in the International departure area. Unlike most other flights departing Vancouver for the United States, this Cathay Pacific flight is not pre-cleared by US Customs and Border Services. The flight departs from the Vancouver International Terminal and arrives at the John Fitzgerald Kennedy International Terminal where all passengers would have to pass through immigration.

Check in was handled promptly and respectfully with no waits for boarding passes. We were given a lounge invitation to access the Cathay First Class Lounge after security.

Accessing the Lounge:

After check in at a deserted concourse, we proceeded to one of only two First Class Lounges in Vancouver. The Cathay First Class lounge is immediately after security. It’s so hidden, I’ve missed a few times passing through here headed to other lounges. The only other First Lounge is the British Airways Terraces Lounge near gate, which has very limited operating hours aligned with the British Airways flights and closed at 8:30 PM (the Cathay flight departs at 10:50 PM). Access was granted courtesy of the One World First Class Service on our boarding card.

The only sign is a small card by the elevator door. The lounge elevator is immediately adjacent to the Air Canada International Maple Leaf Lounge.

Inside the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge:

Our invitations were accepted inside the lounge. The lounge itself is split up about 60% business seating and 40% first class seating. When designing the lounge, Cathay must have thought that a lot of One World Emeralds would be accessing the First Class side as there were seats for almost 20 people on the First Class side. It is worth noting that there are only 6 seats in Cathay First Class. The space allotted to First Class came at the expense of Business Class lounge seating. It got quite full on the Business Class side during our visit and I’ve read a few complaints about the size of the business lounge on FourSquare.

“The (old) Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge offered the best lounge space One World had to offer in Vancouver, Canada with a peaceful and tranquil setting accompanied by personal bottles of Moët”

The business class side offered several lounge chairs, a sit up bar, a small computer area with iMac computers and newspapers and magazines. Some business lounge photos on our arrival 3 hours before the flight.

Inside the Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge:

We headed straight over to the First Class side and found a terrific First Class lounge space with seating for about 20 passengers. During our visit here, we were the only passengers in here, making it a very peaceful and relaxing environment.

There were pleasant windows all through the lounge, with a nice west facing sunset view of airside operations.

Food and Beverage:

The food and drink offerings were of the snack variety. I wouldn’t arrive expecting to have a full meal. Indeed we saw some Business Class visitors forego the lounge food in favor of better food in the terminal.

On offer on the First Class Side were dim sum, instant noodles, soup, crackers and small plates of sandwiches.

There was an ample selection of wine and spirits available. Of note were the small 375 ml bottles of Moet and Chandon champagne available. There was also one white wine and one red wine on offer. We were pretty much left to our own devices in the First Class lounge, although the reception addressed me by name each time I went up to request another bottle of Moet (that’s something that only happened twice!). I can’t say that I’ve been often been addressed by name while a guest in any of the world’s airline lounges.

I had a post dinner snack of Dim Sum and Moet de Chandon.

“The (old) Cathay Pacific Lounge was a terrific space to relax in before a trip – a neat experience as the only Cathay Pacific Lounge in Canada”

Boarding a USA bound flight from the International Gates:

At about T-45, we opted to head down to the gates. The lounge dragon (who were anything but) indicated that they would personally notify us when the flight was ready to board. However, we opted to go down a bit early to be first on board to take photographs. We passed through the deserted Vancouver Airport and the famous and beautiful aquarium in the departure hall. I’m biased, but I still find my home airport of Vancouver a pleasant place to spend time in.

The flight uses the swing gates on the USA departures wing, today using gate D73. When we arrived, there was a stack of people waiting outside the gate area. The gate was not open as it contained all the transit passengers continuing onto JFK from Hong Kong. The continuing passengers are kept within the holding area while the plane undergoes additional security checks for aircraft bound for the United States.

Inside the holding pen, CATSA (the Canadian Equivalent of the TSA) was conducting a manual search of all the cabin baggage being carried by onward passengers.

After about 15 minutes, the transit passengers were re-boarded. It went quite quickly as they did not verify ID’s or re-scan boarding cards, rather they collected Cathay Pacific Transit cards.
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In Summary:

The Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge in Vancouver International Airport was a nice peaceful place to spend a little time before a flight. While it offered a restful place to relax, it didn’t have much in the way of substantial food. Instead, it offered a few small bites. It was a nice place to stop by for a short stay.


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