On a recent BA flight connecting to London, I checked out the new Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge in Paris Charles de Gaulle airport's Terminal 2, between the 2A and 2C sections of the terminal.
With the Qantas-Air France codeshare deal coming to an end before the Qantas-Emirates deal begins in April, Cathay Pacific's flights are likely to become a firm favourite of business travellers since only two out of the three Emirates onward daily flights from Dubai to Paris use only angled lie-flat seats in business class, rather than the fully flat seats Cathay uses on both legs of its flights to France via Hong Kong. (If you want the A380 seats, you're looking for EK73/74.)
Location & Impressions
The Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge (direction signs call it "Salon Cathay Pacific") sits in the connecting hallway between T2A and T2C in Paris, meaning it's accessible if you're flying from either the A or C terminals.
(That includes most oneworld flights, with the exception of Finnair, which uses T2D -- which is not connected to T2C.)
It's on the other side of the T2A from the other oneworld alliance lounge, the American Airlines Admirals Club. Signage could be better, but just keep walking over the bridge, down past the gates, past the red piano on your left, into the next shopping corridor and you'll find it.
Note that the lounge is just past an outlet of Ladurée, the famous French bakery renowned for its macarons. I highly recommend stopping in to take a couple of the salted caramel variety on your flight.
The lounge sits on top of the general terminal area, accessible via a lift. A very friendly and welcoming staffer offered a brief tour of the lounge.
To the right as you walk in is the dining area with the signature Cathay noodle bar. Place your order on arrival and take the buzzing red "noodles ready" gizmo with you to wherever you're sitting.
On the left is the small business centre with its mix of Macs and PCs.
Ahead and to the left is a section of grey chairs with French-style power points between them, while at the far end by the windows you'll find both Cathay's wonderful Solus chairs and some more traditional loungers.
The lounge is brand-new, so everything's chic, sparkling and modern -- a really pleasant space to spend some time.
Business and first class passengers on oneworld flights can use the lounge, as can Qantas Gold/Platinum or oneworld Sapphire/Emerald cardholders travelling on oneworld flights from T2A and T2C.
That's American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Royal Jordanian, if you were wondering.
The BA Paris staffer who checked me in didn't tell me about the Cathay lounge, directing me instead to the American Airlines Admirals Club, which is much less pleasant.
The real feature in the lounge is the Cathay Pacific signature noodle bar, offering three types of cooked-to-order noodles. I keep trying to decide whether I prefer the dan dan mian or the wonton noodle soup -- both are superb.
Also on offer are a set of "things in sauces with carbs on the side". A Chinese-influenced prawn dish, stirfried vegetables, and two French meat dishes (chicken and beef) were offered with rice or sautéed potatoes.
Down the other end of the counter, a nice French touch are the macarons -- though they don't hold a patch on the Ladurée salted caramel ones downstairs.
The lounge's wine is also fantastic, with the very moreish Charles Heidsieck champagne, two French whites, two French reds and an NZ Marlborough Pinot.
A decent selection of top-shelf liquor and mixers (or "soft drinks" if you must) are also available. If you're looking for something soft, try the Schweppes Agrum', which is a very French four-citrus fizzy drink.
Cathay is to be congratulated for putting together business lounges that really let you get some work done.
If you need to borrow a computer or prefer a private desk, there's a small business centre with both Macs and PCs, and plenty of space to plug in your stuff.
Another great option are the pairs of square grey chairs, which each come with a pair of power points between them and are ideal for laptop-on-knees, glass-next-to-you working.
But my favourite spot is always by a window, and here Cathay offers both its Solus chair -- created by the airline for solo travellers, with a privacy screen, a small table and power point underneath -- and a row of low loungers by the window (which also passed the laptop-on-knees test, but which are trickier if you need a power point.
The lounge's wifi runs at a decent if not lightning-fast speed: 4.4 Mbps down, 0.4 Mbps up, and a ping time of 39 ms.
There's no quiet area or relaxation zone as such, but I for one can't beat sitting in the low loungers by the windows and watching the slow-moving fishbowl of one of the world's busiest airports going by -- especially with a glass of decent champagne in hand.
Business class travellers -- and Gold-level frequent flyers -- will be pleased with this top-notch lounge, and especially with its numerous options to get some work done.
However, as is often the case with a combined business/first offering, first class passengers and Platinum frequent flyers could well feel shortchanged. The only noticeable difference between the business class lounge at, say, Heathrow and this lounge is the rather good Charles Heidsieck champagne.
Keep your expectations to "brilliant business class lounge" and you won't be disappointed.