Up close with Cathay Pacific's new Airbus A350 premium economy seat

Up close with Cathay Pacific's new Airbus A350 premium economy seat

Premium economy flyers are in for a treat aboard Cathay Pacific's new Airbus A350s which take to the skies this week.

That's because the aircraft comes with an all-new seat that brings about both subtle and major improvements over the airline's current premium economy offering.

First and foremost: every passenger gets a padded legrest, not just those seated at the bulkhead...

... with the space between each row also improved over the Boeing 777-300ER at an even 40 inches, and a higher nine-degree recline versus the Boeing 777's eight inches.

Also beefed up is the inflight entertainment, both with a new Studio CX system and a larger 12.1-inch screen, against 10.6/11.1 inches on Cathay's other aircraft.

But with the good comes the not-so-good: the seats measure up at just 18.5 inches wide rather than the Boeing 777's 19.3 inches, and come in a 2-4-2 layout rather than the 2-3-2 you'd get aboard today's Airbus A330s.

Part of that difference is instead given over to a much-needed side storage panel for tablets and smaller laptops...

... controls for the seats and the inflight entertainment remote control...

... AC and USB power ports for each premium economy traveller...

... and a central cocktail table, joined by further swing-out trays that can either sit within your seat space (as below) or swivel further outward and in front of the console so you don't lose any room:

Also new is an adjustable and dimmable reading light which you can retrieve from within the headrest and angle toward your book, without illuminating the entire seat from above.

Other nifty touches include aisle-facing armrests which can be completely lowered, so that when the centre or window passenger needs to access the aisle, you can simply swivel around rather than standing up...

... seatback storage for your valuables in a pocket that's semi-transparent so that these aren't left behind...

... a tablet stand in front of the inflight entertainment screen if you'd prefer to watch your own content...

... and more traditionally, a general literature pocket:

Cathay Pacific's first passenger-carrying A350 flight takes wing from Hong Kong to Manila on June 1 2016, joined also by Taipei on a daily basis until Cathay's second A350 arrives in July.

That opens up Bangkok, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City and Kansai as A350 destinations, but which will give way to longer flights to Dusseldorf and London Gatwick in Q4 2016 and Auckland in the second half of the year.

More on Cathay Pacific's new Airbus A350:

Chris Chamberlin is visiting Hong Kong as a guest of Cathay Pacific.

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Chris Chamberlin
Chris Chamberlin is a senior journalist with Australian Business Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!


  • TheRealBabushka


    31 May, 2016 12:43 am

    Love the colour scheme. I have to say it is much nicer than the orange streaks you get with SQ's PY cabin. The key to its success would be the price point, of which CX has been very competitive. We shall see if this remains.

    No member give thanks

  • StudiodeKadent


    31 May, 2016 01:17 pm

    40" pitch? That's better than most Premium Economy products. I presume part of that is to compensate for the slightly underwhelming width improvement over Economy.

    It still looks like a great product overall, however.

    No member give thanks

  • AirAotearoa


    31 May, 2016 04:15 pm

    Looks much better than the current PE!  However - the article states a  higher degree of recline - that 2nd photo suggests that when in full recline, the person in front is literally going to be lying in your lap! 

    No chance of getting out unless you disturb 3 people around you if you're in the window seat. 

    No member give thanks

  • Horizon360


    31 May, 2016 08:57 pm

    Those drop down armrests on one side - are they only for aisle seats?  Would dropping one of those down significantly increase perceived width?  It would be interesting to see how that affects comfort.  

    No member give thanks

  • Andy H

    Andy H

    31 May, 2016 09:02 pm

    I'm glad that CX and listened to pax feedback, this product is definately a step up! I also hated those non-bulkhead row seats as they only had the bar leg rest, but now every seat has the more comfortable extended padded legrest. Looking forward in trying the new product at the end of this year!

    No member give thanks

  • Richard Brown

    Richard Brown

    2 Jun, 2016 10:38 am

    The new seat is not that far different from CX's business class seat in the early to mid 1990s, plus you now get decent entertainment. A major step up, compared to current offering.


    No member give thanks


24 Apr, 2019 04:24 pm


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