Flight Report : CX 903 Hong Kong - Manila

Manila isn't the most appetizing to visit in this part of the world, so I wasn't in a hurry to head over there until well into the afternoon. Grab a dinner there, and rest early. The SMS came at lunch time notifying a 40-minute delay. At the airport, there was no line at the Marco Polo counter, although staff weren't so proactive to wave me over initially. The agent mentioned about the delay again and the revised boarding time.

Security was quick just like most of my other visits and soon, I emerged by the windows for plane spotting with the sky clearing out. There were more new livery Cathay planes although still a lot of the old Dragonair ones around.

Some of the new gate signage is starting to flush through the terminal.

My gate was still using the old type of display.

The revised boarding time came and went and nothing. The schedule and at online check-in noted it is supposed to be an A350 flight, my first on this new aircraft, so I was utterly disappointed when an old Cathay livery jet pulled into the gate. It must be a mistake. Are we changing gates?

Boarding went quickly and we were pretty much all settled in by 5:15pm, the revised departure time. The flight attendants were running around making sure all the hand luggage were safely stowed overhead. For these short flights, the workload is quite intense. The flight deck came on to apologize for the delay as the aircraft had arrived late from Seoul. We eventually pushed back at 5:25pm for the long taxi to the other side of the airport island.

Unfortunately, no A350 for me today.

Emirates runs multiple flights to Dubai from Hong Kong daily, most of which are on their A380s.

We took off fairly smoothly and by now, clouds had covered much of the city, obscuring my skyline view. We turned southeast and flying conditions were quite good.

Soon after the seat belt sign was turned off, we were served hot sandwiches with a cookie and mango juice in small bags. This is a remarkable improvement from the pizza sandwich-like substance I got on my last flight to Manila in 2009. The sandwich was not bad at all.

Did you know there are sand dunes in Japan? This would get on my to-go list.

Lithium batteries catching fire on the plane has become a well-documented nuisance. Cathay forbids any litium batteries, including power banks, in checked bags. It wouldn't be nice to have a fire in the cargo hold.

It's not easy to reach Silver status with Cathay. It is harder than American Airlines to reach their Gold level.

Unfortunately, the airline made headline news in the papers today. A cabin crew did at the hotel in Zurich.

I guess by the time we reach Manila, it would be too dark to capture some aerials over the city.

After a few shows, we were ready to descend. About 40 minutes from arrival, the flight deck announced they are putting on the seat belt sign early as there was a line of weather up ahead they are trying to avoid. Sure enough, there was a lot of lightning in the distance.

The descent was long and we looped around a few towns to get into position for touchdown. We parked into the new T3, a big improvement from the ugly T1 from my 2009 visit. Immigration was quick as I was at the front of the Economy cabin, and my luggage came out fairly quickly. Seems Manila's airport now offers a much better arrival experience.

On these short flights of less than 2 hours, the crew are really stressed out to settle the cabin, stow luggage, pass the meals, cleanup, and by then, it's almost time to land.

CX 903 arrived 30 minutes late at 7:40pm even though it was almsot an hour late to depart.

My 2009 Flight Report

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