I am invited to celebrate Cathay Pacific Airline’s non-stop service from JFK to Hong Kong, and to experience the Peninsula Hotel’s Royal Treatment. My wide reclining Business Class seat promises a comfortable and reassuring flight.  I begin my fifteen and a half-hour journey-with a glass of champagne, smoked salmon, duck soup and crab dumplings; the thick lamb chops are succulent and tender.

Cathay Pacific City is a huge complex near the airport. Its flight kitchens prepare meals for 85 % of all the airlines that fly out of Hong Kong. I don a white lab coat, paper shower cap, booties, and a mask for a fascinating tour.  Room after room separates dietary restrictions. I watch a washing machine as it spins clean a hundred pounds of lettuce, and a mechanical robot that cracks, cooks and drops one egg at a time into cardboard boxes.  Getting an inside glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes leaves me with a more appreciative respect for the effort that goes into preparing airplane meals.

Cathay Pacific’s Business and First Class Lounges are “ havens for relaxation”. With a three hour layover, there’s time to retreat into a private spa cabin for a soak in yes, an enormous bathtub; have a drink at the 89 feet long bar; slurp noodles cooked to order at the appetizing noodle bar, and still have time to browse the airport shops.

Thank goodness for big favors and generous treats, I settle into my first class seat which reclines into a flat bed. The partition that separates me from other passengers offers the privacy of a cozy cocoon. I am served what has been acclaimed as “the best Chinese food in the air” and some excellent wines; watch a movie; then drift off into a delicious deep sleep wrapped in a down comforter. Twelve hours later we land in Vancouver; get a chance to stretch our legs, then re-board for an equally luxurious four and a half hour flight home.

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