Cathay Pacific’s all-new premium economy seats strike a near-perfect balance between economy and business class.
Read our review to find our why, and then use this guide to choosing the very best seats for your journey.
Cathay Pacific is rolling out premium economy on all new Airbus A330-300 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, as well as retrofitting its existing fleet. All of Cathay's flights between Australia and Hong Kong take place on an Airbus A330.
Sydney is the first to see CX premium economy, on the daily CX100/101 Hong Kong service.
Melbourne and Adelaide will get the new premium economy seats from August, with Brisbane and Perth starting in October.
Cathay says that by December 2012, roughly three-quarter of all Australian flights will have the new seats on daily flights.
The premium economy cabin
Cathay Pacific’s premium economy class is sandwiched between business class and economy, from rows 30 through 33.
All four rows have seats in a 2-3-2 layout – the seat lettering is AB-DEG-HK (the photo above shows the 2-4-2 layout of Cathay's Boeing 777).
These premium economy seats can be booked for travel from April 1st 2012, with the price averaging about 50% above full economy fares.
However, through to March 30th, free premium economy upgrades will be offered to 'high-value frequent flyers’ from Cathay's Marco Polo program and oneworld partner airlines (including Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum and Gold members) who happen to be travelling in economy on CX100 or CX101.
The best seats on the plane
Row 30: The front row once again comes up trumps for business travellers.
With around one metre of sheer legroom from the edge of the seat to the bulkhead wall, plus a built-in footrest, you won’t go wrong with seat in row 30 – even the middle seat 30E is bearable.
The only downside to this row is the location of bassinets at 30AB and 30HK.
But choosing a more rearward seat won’t make much different to the noise level of a screaming infant because the cabin is so small.
Rows 31 to 33 are much of a muchness, except that the closer you are to the rear of the cabin the closer you get to the bassinet positions at the start of economy.
If you prefer a window seat for the view then you’ll want 30A, 30K, 33A or 33K. Each of these boasts a window almost perfectly lined up with the seat: the others have their windows offset, so some craning of the neck is required.
The worst seats on the plane
Any of the ‘E’ seats: the centre seats in the middle block of three – is going to rob you of easy access to the aisle.
The least worst is 30E, in the frot row, because with such copious legroom you can easily step around your seatmates.
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.