There are several airlines from Hong Kong to the City of Lots of Sushi, and the two most competitive airlines to these places are Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines. Here we compare the best of these two airlines.
So which is better? Look at our comparison below.
This was not a close call as airlines normally have. While Japan Airlines came in with a price of HK$9713 (US$1253), Cathay Pacific came with a rather expensive HK$16329 (US$2106), a couple thousand Hong Kong Dollars short of twice the price.
Conclusion: Japan Airlines is in the lead for budget travellers, but Cathay may be worth the extra money. Read on.
There are four Cathay Pacific flights to Tokyo Narita, but only two of them are internationally configured: the red-eye CX 524 (01:05 – 06:15) and the daytime CX 520 (10:20 – 15:15). They come back as CX 509 (09:10 – 13:25) and CX 521 (16:15 – 20:35). The other two run on aircraft with the new regional business class.
That still beats Japan Airlines’ lone JL 736 (10:30 – 15:25) and JL 735 (18:10 – 22:30), but the time there is good as well.
Conclusion: There is a wider variety on Cathay Pacific, but since both airlines cover the hot spot for Hong Kong travellers, the conclusion to this lies on a draw.
You can’t compare Hong Kong’s CX lounges to the lone JL Plaza Premium lounge: the Cathay Pacific lounges are more chic, let in more light, and feature the brand new Solus chair. The Bridge Lounge gives an example.
The noodle bars are splendid. JAL’s Plaza Premium doesn’t really compare.
Cathay’s Tokyo Narita lounge has better views, but we’re assuming that JAL’s is better because it’s the home city of the airline. We have yet to try them out.
Conclusion: In the Hong Kong Market Cathay totally wins, but in the Japan market we can’t be sure. Overall, by the pictures, Cathay’s HK lounge kind of pushes the JAL Tokyo lounge out of the water.
The cabin of Cathay’s A330 is split into two, with eight at the front and three at the back. It’s quite small, especially the back cabin, and is quite comfortable.
Of course, even smaller is JAL’s business class cabin of 6 rows, even though they have 2-2-2 as opposed to Cathay’s 1-2-1.
Conclusion: It’s a draw – Cathay’s seems quite massive, but holds less people (8 x 4 < 6 x 6 but Japan Airlines has more people abreast).
Japan Airlines’ recliner seat is okay for a short hop into Japan – the recliners aren’t the best thing in the world but it’s not a long flight.
Of course this beats not the award winning Cathay new business class which somehow is internationally configured on these two flights.
Conclusion: Until Japan Airlines ups its game, Cathay wins by a long streak.
We’ve tried Cathay’s long-lasting but still hot AVOD system StudioCX – it’s one of the best IFE systems in the world, falling only behind Emirates. However JAL’s MAGIC III can’t be faulted too – it’s also one of the leading entertainment systems, and one way to prove this is the so advanced technology that Japan holds these days.
Conclusion: This conclusion may be MAGIC, but it’s a draw.
Cathay’s food isn’t really the best when it comes to these domestic flights – although they’re not bad, they can’t beat the international .
Japan Airlines doesn’t lack its sushi on these flights, so you can still smack your lips on this four hour flight.
Conclusion: Japan Airlines takes the trophy this round.
Both airlines are really stable with their inflight service – on one Skytrax review on Japan Airlines, in the ratings bar all categories were marked with one star only (really bad) except staff service which still appeared to have three stars (that doesn’t normally happen to someone who is completely in the downs). Cathay struggles, especially in long haul 747 or A340 economy, in seat comfort, but not service.
Conclusion: It’s a draw between the two airlines – some may prefer one or the other.
Conclusion of Conclusions
Cathay Pacific should take the win for the long haul seats – but otherwise it is a draw today and always will be. Will it ever change? Not unless one goes bankrupt. These two airlines are competitive, but are still “allied enemies” of the oneworld alliance, and hopefully they will always be.