Air Travel Gets A Glow-Up: How Cathay Pacific Is Reimagining Wellness


With travelers increasingly seeking wellness when they travel, the journey itself presents an opportunity to start a vacation on the right foot. Airlines are meeting the demand with wellness-minded innovations that elevate the flying experience, even for the economy flyer. Cathay Pacific is one such airline leading the charge with several new offerings that include plant-based dining, shower suites and personalized massage treatments.

Amidst the rising popularity of airport lounges, Cathay Pacific’s The Pier First-Class Lounge at their flagship airport Hong Kong International is setting a new standard for what it means to be a ‘luxury’ lounge. Upon arrival, guests are immediately greeted with the airline’s signature scent, a soothing blend of jasmine, lavender, bamboo and green tea. Next they can take their pick of eight day suites, each with their own day bed and privacy curtains, in the dedicated ‘Retreat’ wellness area. Here they’ll also find fourteen private shower suites furnished with natural limestone and stocked with A─ôsop toiletries. For the full spa experience, guests can select one of several massage treatments (think: foot and shoulder massages) or a massage chair to unwind.

In the same lounge, the Wing section boasts five temperature-controlled cabanas with everything one needs for a restorative layover: a full-sized bath, shower, day bed, workspace with outlets and connectivity. The cabanas come with toiletries, bath robes, towels, and first-class servicing, including ironing upon request. For those with less time to relax, The Pier Business-Class Lounge offers wellness on-the-run. Here, the relaxation room has low loungers with footstools while at the Tea House, tea specialists help guests pick a tea variety from the extensive menu.

Next to the tea house are multiple culinary options, including a made-to-order noodle bar from which guests mindfully escort their steaming bowls of ramen to the comfortable seats spread across the quiet expansive lounge. Beyond the flagship locations at Hong Kong airport, Cathay has premium lounges at airports around the world, such as London, Vancouver and Tokyo.

While there are countless culinary options to sample at Cathay’s lounges on the ground, the food served in the sky is no less impressive. Typically the luxury of choice is only available to the business class flyer, but with a new plant-based menu available in premium economy and economy cabins on select long-haul flights, Cathay is making healthier food accessible to all.

Keeping in line with their larger sustainability objectives — including a goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 — the airline hopes to encourage travelers to use their flight as an opportunity to try a more eco-conscious lifestyle. Created in collaboration with Hong Kong-based vegetarian restaurant VEDA by Ovolo, the plant-based menu expands beyond the traditional vegetarian in-flight option of pasta to offer colorful dishes like a tofu kimchi bowl made with barley and purple rice. Premium economy flyers departing from Hong Kong can also experience menu items from Italian restaurant Pirata while business and first-class flyers can experience Hong Kong specialties like wok-fried lobster or Iberico pork belly created in collaboration with Michelin-starred restaurant Duddell’s, both Hong Kong-based restaurants.

Cathay’s partnerships extend beyond the food to include wellness brands like NOOCI — a supplement brand inspired by Traditional Chinese Medicine that gets you Cathay miles and rewards with each purchase — and sustainable skincare line Bamford, which provides the lip balm, body lotion and face mist in Cathay’s in-flight toiletry kits for first class and business class flyers. Turndown service comes with a choice of soft or firm pillows, plus a spritz of Bamford’s pillow mist, infused with frankincense, lavender and marjoram to relax the mind.

First class flyers can experience new 600 thread-count cotton sheets made with sustainably sourced cotton while Business class passengers rest well with plush mattresses, large pillows and a lay-flat bed. Business pods also include adjustable lighting and privacy partitions and, on A350 aircrafts, reduced noise and improved levels of cabin pressure for ultimate comfort. By the end of this year, Cathay will launch a new business class seat — the Aria Suite — which will have improved storage, wireless charging and a sliding privacy door.

In an effort to expand service to the U.S., Cathay now has a new three-times-weekly flight from Hong Kong to Chicago and their first-class service from New York’s JFK airport will commence on March 31, 2024. Whether you’re in the bustling airport, a private business pod or a basic economy seat, Cathay’s new offerings demonstrate that it is possible to find wellness while flying and to land feeling better than when you departed.