Delta vs. Cathay Pacific Business Class. Which is better?


In the past few months I’ve had the pleasure of flying both Cathay Pacific and Delta international business class.  Which was better?  The answer may surprise you.  

Cathay Pacific

As I described in the post “So Long Alaska, and Thanks for All the Fish,” my family and I flew Cathay Pacific on an overnight flight from Vancouver to JFK in August.  We spent 25,000 British Avios points each for the one-way trip.

This is a picture of Cathay Pacific’s amazing seats.  To see more, view this interactive page. There, you can play with the seat controls and rotate the seat around for a better view.


My take:

  • Seats: Amazing.  Due to the privacy of the herringbone style seating, as long as I was seated I felt like I was alone in my own mini suite.  This, along with the fully flat-bed, made it possible to get to sleep easily.
  • In Flight Entertainment: Excellent.  Every seat came equipped with comfortable Bose headphones and 15″ screens.  Movie selection was very good.
  • Food: Good, but not great. 
  • Service: Disappointing.  Mostly, service was good, but I had to ask three times for an amenity kit that had been automatically distributed to all other business class passengers.  I really wanted those eyeshades!



Last week, my family flew Delta business class from Detroit to London, and then returned to Detroit a week later.  We spent 100,000 Delta SkyMiles each for the round trip flight.  Delta has several different international business class configurations.  We flew the Boeing 767-400.  Seats are depicted here:

This is a picture of Delta’s 767-400ER flat bed business class seats found on flights to and from London Heathrow.  Watch this video to get a great sense of the experience.  Hat tip to DeltaPoints for digging up the video.


My take:

  • Seats: Very good.  The seats didn’t compare well to Cathay Pacific’s in terms of spaciousness and privacy, but were otherwise excellent.  The seats actually included a built-in massage capability, but sadly it didn’t feel very good at all.  I kept the massage off for the trip.
  • In Flight Entertainment: Excellent. Every seat came equipped with comfortable noise cancelling headphones and 10.6″ screens. Movie selection was excellent.
  • Food: Excellent.  The primary meals were multi-course affairs with appetizers, mains, choice of rolls and bread, and a choice of desserts.  If I were to be picky I’d say that the salad was a bit too cold, and the chicken was a bit on the dry side.  Otherwise, the food was really amazingly good.
  • Service: Excellent.  Service was fast, courteous, and plentiful.


Which is better?

Lucky calls Cathay Pacific’s new business class a “huge winner.”  And, I don’t disagree.  The seats are amazing and have spoiled me for other flights.  That being said, while the Cathay’s food and service was good, Delta’s food and service was excellent.

For the overnight flights, I had no trouble sleeping in the Cathay Pacific seat, but I did have trouble on the Delta flight.  I think the difference was mainly with the privacy.  On the Delta flight, seats were pretty wide open to the rest of the cabin, so I felt like I was trying to sleep in a room full of people (which I don’t do too often).  With Cathay Pacific, on the other hand, the seats were so private that I felt like I was in my own little room, and so was able to sleep well.

I would very happily fly either of these again at any time.  Both were great experiences.  If I could choose, though, I would fly Delta for daytime flights (for the slightly better food and service) and Cathay Pacific for overnight flights so as to get better sleep.  I know that Delta offers herringbone style seating on some flights, so I’m eager to to try those as well.

By the way, I’m not usually a big fan of cannoli’s but I got one on the Delta flight and it was amazing.  I can’t wait to get one again!

2012-11-23 10.44.50

Delta dessert selection


2012-11-23 10.45.45

I made the right choice.  This Delta cannoli was fantastic.

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