Australian Business Traveller has already spent some time with Cathay Pacific’s all-new business class cabin, which is now being rolled out across the CX fleet to replace the ‘cubicle’ seats on Boeing 777-300ERs and Airbus A330-300s (Cathay’s 747-400s will retain the current seating until those aircraft themselves are replaced by the 777-300s).
There’s plenty to soak up when it comes to these news seats, and indeed the new cabin as a whole – but if you want a snap summary, here are the five things we liked most about Cathay Pacific’s new business class seats.
Solitude, not solitary confinement
Cathay’s previous ‘cubicle class’ was not an outright hit with travellers. Many appreciated the privacy – it’s perhaps the most private seat you can get apart from a suite – while others felt the enclosed space created by the high dividing walls was too tight a fit or just too confining, both physically and psychologically.
The new business class seats seem to strike a perfect balance. The outer seats which angle towards the window are the most private, especially at the front row of the two business class cabins, but even the middle seats retain a high degree of personal space.
Another strike against ‘cubicle class‘ was that the seats weren’t not the easiest to get into and out of – mainly out of – during a flight, especially if seat was reclined. You’d grasp the sides diving walls and bodily haul oneself up, while steering clear of cables from laptop power adaptor and noise-cancelling headphones.
Now it’s much more civilised, with enough space so that odds and ends don’t get in the way – and if you need a hand to steady yourself, grasp the rear of the seat shell in front of you. It’s solidly built and won’t bother the occupant, unlike grabbing their actual seat.
Nooks and crannies
Today’s travellers need plenty of space to keep some of their carry-on kit close at hand.
Gone are the days when all you had was a book and maybe a pair of reading glasses.
Now it’s a laptop and possibly the power adaptor; a smartphone/MP3 player; a tablet or ebook reader; noise-cancelling headphones (even though Cathay supplies its own) and sometimes a small toiletries pack containing your own favourite brands and items.
Cathay’s new business class seats will win a tick from business travellers for providing storage for your odds and ends.
There’s a wide and deep side pocket that’ll take your laptop, tablet, in-flight reading and even a pair of noise-cancelling headphones – and this remains within fairly easy reach even when the seat is reclined or in lie-flat mode.
Adjacent to the cocktail table (another neat feature we welcome in any business class cabin) is a compartment containing Cathay’s supplied headphones but with room for reading glasses, in-flight toiletries or small gadgets.
Finally, once you slip off your shoes you can stow them out of the way in a shoe locker. We also liked seeing the emergency instruction card ticked away in its own recess close to the floor.
Got some movies and TV shows stored on your iPhone or iPad, laptop or even a camcorder?
You'll be able to settle back and watch your videos on the 15 inch screen.
Next to the laptop power socket you'll find a pair of ports for hooking up a range of devices.
The top-most one (outlined in blue) uses standard RCA jacks which you can connect to any device that has an RCA cable (an accessory available for most brands of smartphone, camcorder, and portable DVD player).
The bottom one (outlined in yellow) uses a special iPod Connection Cable which you can borrow from the cabin crew to plug in your iDevice.
There's also a USB port which can keep your tablet or smartphone charged up during the flight.
Anyone who’s ever stretched and strained a little to reach the overhead luggage bins will appreciate the tiny step recessed into the base of each aisle. It provides just enough of a boost to help with loading bags in or hauling them out.
And because not everyone is aware of these little helpers you’ll come off looking like the savvy seasoned traveller you are.
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.