Cathay Pacific: New ‘Business’ and ‘Premium Economy’ Seating
Hong Kong based carrier Cathay Pacific has recently announced significant changes to it business class offering and will introduce premium economy cabins on its new Airbus A330s and progressively onto the remainder of its A330 and 777 fleet. Australian travellers were one of the the first to be able to experience the new cabins with Cathay using these aircraft (namely the A330) to fly to its Australian destinations.
The new business class cabin on the A330 is arranged in a 1-2-1 herringbone configuration giving direct aisle access to all passengers. Window seats are angled towards the window and slightly offset from the the middle seats, enhancing the feeling of privacy for solo travellers. In contrast, passengers sitting in the middle seats can choose the level of seclusion that they desire, which is good for those travelling with a partner. The middle seats are set back quite deeply into their compartment, but the airline has configured the new seating to actually allow the entire seat to travel forward up 11 inches to allow conversation with you neighbour.
The seats covert into a fully flat bed, 82 inches long (just over 2 metres) and when in this mode a bed extension pops up giving an extra 16cm of width at the knees allowing for a more hip support and a comfortable sleep for those that like to sleep on their side. There are a number of storage compartments in the module including a shoe locker and a water bottle holder which are all accessible even when in fully reclined mode.
The seats feature Cathay’s StudioCX Audio Visual system containing rotating library of 100 movies, 500 TV shows, 888 music CDs, 22 radio channels, and 70 games viewable on a 15.5 inch screen which pops out from the side wall. If that is not enought to keep you entertained then the system also features iPad/iPhone connectivity to allow passengers to view their own content.
Cathay Pacific will also be launching its new premium economy product on its new A330 and 777 aircraft, although the carrier is expected to retrofit the seating class onto all its long haul fleet. The seat is a modification of a regional business/first class product with Korean Airlines and a number of American operaters using this seat on their short haul aircraft.
On the Airbus A330 (which is used on Australian routes) there will be 28 premium economy seats configured in a 2-3-2 layout. On the larger 777 there are 32 seats arranged 2-4-2. On both aircraft the premium economy cabin will be sandwiched between economy and business and will have its own dedicated flight crew. The major down side is a lack of toilet in the cabin, which will require passengers to head back into the economy cabin to answer any calls of nature.
The seats feature 8 inches of recline and 38 inches of pitch (6Inches more than standard economy seating), the seats are also slightly wider at 19.5 inches. The seats in the front row of the cabin have slightly more legroom and come with a well padded leg rest while seats in the remaining rows offer a slightly less luxurious foot rest. StudioCX is available to be viewed on 10.6 inch screens operated by remote (as opposed to touch screens in economy) again with iPad/iPhone connectivity.
For passengers flying in premium economy the extra touches are not just limited to more spacious seating. Passengers will have access to a dedicated check-in counter at the airport and priority boarding as well as an additional luggage allowance. Champagne, juice and hot towels will welcome guests on board. Guests will also be able to use the same noise cancelling headphones and pillow and blanket as those provided to those in business class. Meals in this cabin are a subset of the business class menu also, with guests able to choose from a smaller selection of meals as those given to business class passengers.
Cathay Pacific is the third airline to offer premium economy on the Sydney – Hong Kong route, competing head on with Oneworld partner Qantas and Virgin Atlantic and has priced the cabin at roughly 50% above regular economy pricing. If premium economy is still out of your budget or work only permits travel in economy class, Cathay will also be replacing its fixed shell seating (which was unloved by a lot of travellers) with a more conventional, and one would assume more comfortable, recliner style seat.