On any flight bigger than a Cessna, boarding an airplane creates a parting of tides. Passengers who veer left account for about 8 per cent of each flight, and are destined for ample leg room (if not a full, lie-flat bed) and a flute of pre-flight bubbly; those funnelling to the right account for, well, the other 92 per cent. But for those lucky lefties and travellers who opt for pre-flight lounge access, the pampering begins before the plane takes off—and not all lounges are created equal.
Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong’s flag carrier airline, has upped its game during the past few years. “[We have] recently undergone a brand refresh, and a new design ethos is being integrated across all brand touch points,” explains Jennifer Pearson, Cathay Pacific’s manager of communication for Canada. “Through feedback and our research, it’s clear that lounges are consistently regarded as one of the most anticipated elements in the customer journey.” (This week, Cathay Pacific’s First Class Lounge in Hong Kong took home gold at the Skytrax 2016 World Airline Awards, beating out other top-rated competitors like Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airlines.) In Canada, the most recent rebuild took place at Vancouver’s YVR airport—a major Cathay Pacific hub for outbound flights to New York, Hong Kong, and China—when the airline scrapped its 11-year-old Business Class Lounge for a brand new space, enlisting London-based design firm Studioilse to flesh out the aesthetics.
Open since May, the West Coast haven blends classic Canadiana with Cathay Pacific’s Asian roots. B.C. artwork hangs upon the cherry wood walls and the North Shore mountains are framed by floor-to-ceiling windows. Craving dim sum and made-to-order har gow (shrimp dumplings) before that red-eye to New York? “The main signature element [of the lounge] is the Noodle Bar, with bronze and brass highlights, green ceramic tiles, and dishes like dan dan noodles and wonton noodle soup,” says Pearson. “With Cathay’s natural ties to its home, Hong Kong, dishes served at the Noodle Bar are reflective of Asian cuisines with some Canadian additions—including poutine.”