With five daily flights between Melbourne and Hong Kong, this Asian corridor is one of Australia's busiest regional routes – and among the most competitive, with Cathay Pacific, Qantas and Virgin Australia in a three-cornered race.
Here's how the Melbourne-Hong Kong offerings of each airline stack up for the business traveller.
Cathay Pacific trumps Qantas and Virgin Australia with three daily flights between Melbourne and Hong Kong, compared to one each for the Aussie airlines.
With Melbourne departures at 7.35am, 2.20pm and 11.40pm (plus one daytime return flight and two overnights) this provides maximum flexibility for business travellers.
Want to start early, fly to Hong Kong during the day and have plenty of time to check into your hotel, freshen up and meet a colleague or client or colleague for pre-dinner drinks at one of the city's amazing whisky bars? Done.
Prefer to put in a full day at the office and have dinner with the family, fly overnight and hit the ground running (after popping into Cathay Pacific's Hong Kong Arrivals lounge) or catch a connecting flight to China? No sweat.
By comparison, the single daily flight of Qantas (departing 9.35am) and Virgin Australia (departing 11am as of October 28, until then it's five days a week at 12.30am) requires that high flyers shape their schedule to that of the airline, not the other way around.
Getting down to work
With 9½ hours of flying time between Melbourne and Hong Kong, business travellers can chalk up a productive day in the best business class seat that each airline has to offer.
We're talking wide and comfortable seats with direct aisle access, AC/USB power at hand, and ample personal space around the seat for your laptop and any related documents.
All of the seats are good, and as a result the issue of ‘which seat is best?’ comes down to preference.
Note however that two of Cathay Pacific's three daily Melbourne-Hong Kong flights are on the Airbus A350 – those being the daytime CX104 and CX134 services – which has Cathay's very latest business class seat as well as inflight WiFi, so those flights will have the edge for corporate travellers.
How do things stand before your flights from Melbourne and Hong Kong?
Virgin Australia is the only airline of this trio without its own lounges: business class passengers and top-tier Velocity frequent flyers in Melbourne use the Etihad Airways lounge, while in Hong Kong they enjoy access to the Club Autus business class lounge (below) of Hong Kong Airlines.
In Melbourne, Qantas maintains its own international business class lounge – although it's a somewhat unimpressive bunker – and for Platinum-grade frequent flyers, a superb first class lounge, with the Hong Kong leg anchored by an impressive 'premium' lounge (below).
Cathay Pacific has a small and rather underwhelming Melbourne lounge, but thankfully the airline's membership of the Oneworld alliance means that business class passengers and high-ranking frequent flyers (in the airline's own Marco Polo Club as well as Qantas Frequent Flyer members) are entitled to skip the Cathay lounge for the better Qantas lounges.
(Qantas business class passengers and Gold and Platinum frequent flyers can also use the Cathay Pacific lounges, again because both airlines belong to Oneworld.)
There's also the Cathay Pacific Arrivals lounge at Hong Kong airport where you can freshen up with a shower, grab breakfast and get on top of your inbox before heading to your hotel or first meeting.
Which airline gets your vote for the best business class experience on the Melbourne-Hong Kong route?