Skipping an inaugural: Cathay Pacific’s first flight from Dulles

The inaugural Cathay Pacific flight from Washington-Dulles to Hong Kong is just a couple hours away from its arrival back in Asia. It is running late, owing to Typhoon Mangkhut closing down the Hong Kong airport for part of the day. And I am very, very happy I decided to skip the trip. I love inaugurals. I love new aircraft types (the flight is operated by the A350-1000). And I love dim sum and wandering through Hong Kong and the adventures of travel. But sometimes an “adventure” is far too stupid to be worthwhile.

I booked my seat on board as an award; fortunately that can be easily refunded. My flight back to the USA was a United Airlines round trip ticket starting in Hong Kong. I wasn’t really sure how to handle that refund as recently as Saturday morning. I considered the trip cancellation insurance that comes with the Chase credit card products given the clause where trips are covered when, “Severe weather, which prevents a reasonable and prudent person from beginning or continuing on a Covered Trip.” Sure, I’m not always reasonable and prudent, but I’m also not the barometer being measured against.

Ultimately the departure from Hong Kong was delayed 8+ hours as the airline needs to get crew positioned back into Hong Kong after evacuating everyone (and all their planes) from the area prior to the storm. Given that delay and the forced overnight it created on the return it was trivial to request a refund to the original form of payment.

I’m sad to have missed the inaugural festivities. Except there were no festivities. The airport and the airline smartly canceled those plans a few days out, when both Florence and Mangkhut presented threats. Instead passengers were treated to a 4+ hour delay in the middle of the night, awaiting clearance from the airline and assurances from airport authorities that HKG would be ready to welcome the aircraft when it completed the 16 hour journey.

And I’m sad to miss the dim sum. But it will still be there next time I get to Hong Kong, and I can avoid being part of the disaster tourism crowd. Nothing good comes from a tourist showing up the day after a storm. Showing up before there is a chance for a clean up. I’d just be in the way. Even spending a few dollars in the local economy doesn’t really make up for that.

There will be more inaugurals, more adventures, more fun to discover. But flying into the wake of a typhoon was a terrible idea. Fortunately I had the opportunity to make good choices on that one.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I just came off of the IAD-HKG flight. Fortunately CX kept the BA lounge open until 4:30am so we had somewhere to wait. I felt bad for the lounge staff who had to stay until dawn. But you didn’t miss much. There wasn’t much fanfare, although it was interesting to watch how an airline starts up service at a new airport for the first time. The massive 42-seat J cabin was about 60% full, which is interesting since pre-departure it was showing a pretty full cabin.

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