PREVIOUS | Cathay Pacific has revealed the first details of its new Premium Economy class as well as a replacement for the airline's much-criticised international economy seat, both of which will debut in March 2012 on flights between Hong Kong and Sydney.
While no pictures have been made available to the media, details of both the Premium Economy Class and the new long-haul Economy Class seat are listed below:
Update: Cathay Pacific has now revealed prices for its premium economy class and they sit about 50% over economy. Read our report for full pricing and more details.
The Hong Kong flag-carrier's new Premium Economy cabin will be introduced on long-haul flights from March 2012, with Sydney among the first cities to see the new seat, along with Singapore, New York, Toronto and Vancouver.
Cathay says that other North American, European and Middle East destinations will follow, including London, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The new Premium Economy product will feature a quieter, more spacious cabin than the existing Economy Class, with between 26 and 34 seats (depending on the aircaft type) in a separate cabin sandwiched between business and economy.
Seat pitch will be 38 inches – six inches more than Economy Class – while the seat itself will be 19.3 inches wide, with an 8 inch recline.
(By comparison, Qantas' A380 premium economy seat – which is now also being retrofitted to its remaining Boeing 747s – has 38-42 inches of pitch and is 19.5 inches wide.)
Front-row seats will be fitted with a legrest, with other seats sporting a three-position footrest.
Each seat will have a large meal table, cocktail table, 10.6-inch personal television, an in-seat power outlet, a multi-port connector for personal devices, and extra personal stowage space, plus noise-cancelling headphones and a large pillow.
“The key with something like premium economy is to understand that it’s an economy plus product, not a ‘business class minus’ product – at least from a philosophical perspective, but not as a product definition” says Alex McGowan, Cathay's General Manager for Product.
“Trading down from business class into premium economy is not the game we’re in" McGowan told Australian Business Traveller.
"It’s for people in economy who want more space, more exclusivity, and a few details like better catering and wine. It’s also about capturing people who may want not to travel in economy but can’t afford to travel in business class.”
Premium economy "is not seeking to capture people who want to trade down from business class. Realistically if you’re a frequent business traveller who has important deals to do when you get to your destination, you need that flat bed and you need an environment that’s conducive to sleep and work so you can be at your peak when you arrive.”
Sweetening the experience for Premium Economy passengers, Cathay will provide priority check-in at dedicated counters and priority boarding ahead of Economy Class passengers.
There will also be an increase in baggage allowance from 20kg to 25kg (for luggage allowances measured according to weight) or two pieces of baggage from 23 kg to 25kg each (for allowances measured by the number of pieces).
Premium Economy passengers will be welcomed aboard with juice and champagne, and enjoy an enhanced onboard meal selection. Each passenger will also receive a bottle of water and additional snack choices to include more fresh fruit, energy bar and dessert.
The new Premium Economy cabin will be installed on all Cathay Pacific long-haul aircraft including Boeing 777-300ERs, Boeing 747-400s, Airbus A330-300s and Airbus A340-300s.
The first 777-300ER and Airbus A330-300 featuring Premium Economy Class will enter into service in March. Cathay plans to have 87 aircraft fitted with the product by the end of 2013.
However, in order to add the Premium Economy cabin inside its Boeing 777-300ERs, Cathay Pacific will axe the first class cabin in some 777s and also reduce the number of business class seats.
"We can confirm that the aircraft to be deployed on our Toronto service starting March 2012 will consist (only) of Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy Class” a spokeswoman for the airline told Australian Business Traveller.
Cathay Pacific will offer free premium economy upgrades to top-tier frequent flyers travelling in economy class throughout March, ahead of commercial bookings commencing from April 1st.
Cathay will ditch its current 'long-haul' fixed-shell economy seat (below) in both Airbus A330-300s and Boeing 777-300ERs, although it will remain on the older Boeing 747s and Airbus A340s.
In its place will be a new recliner Economy Class seat – yes, that torturous fixed shell is no more! – with a 'cradle mechanism' for a comfortable 6 inch recline (two inches over the current long-haul economy seat). Pitch will remain the same, at 32 inches.
Each seat will include extra storage space for personal items, a touch-screen video panel, an iPod/iPhone outlet to pipe your own music or videos through the in-flight entertainment system and a USB socket for powering and recharging devices.
The first aircraft featuring the seats will enter service in March on flights from Hong Kong to Sydney and Toronto. A total of 36 Boeing 777-300ERs and 26 Airbus 330-300s will be fitted with the seats by December 2013.
"As always, the comfort of our customers was front and centre of our design process and we believe the results represent a very significant upgrade in the product we offer" says Cathay Pacific Chief Executive John Slosar. "Our new long-haul Economy Class seat will also provide more space and comfort, particularly in the enhanced recline position."
In addition to the Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus 330-300s, Cathay will also upgrade selected Boeing 747-400s with both the premium economy and new economy class seats – see our report for full details.
About David Flynn
David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.