Cathay Pacific has officially unveiled its new premium economy cabin that will enable passengers to escape the back of the plane and enjoy some of the perks of business class, without the hefty business class price tag.
The Hong-Kong based airline threw a party at the Boeing factory in Seattle on Saturday to welcome its new 777-300ER jet equipped with the new seats, which aim to make flying a little more civilised than the cramped quarters in economy.
The new mid-tier class is part of a trend that has taken off among international carriers and is blurring the boundaries between economy and business.
Room to kick back
In the cabin, Cathay’s new premium economy offers wider seats with more recline and 38 inches of legroom – six inches more than in economy.
While not offering the cocoon privacy of business class, the cabin is compact with just 32 seats in a 2-4-2 configuration on the 777 jet.
While premium economy seats on the airline’s A330s is arranged in a 2-3-2 configuration, meaning less passengers will be clambering over other people to get out of their seats.
Extra touches in the cabin include a footrest, coat hook on every seat, a small space to stow electronics at the back of the seat, pillows and noise-cancelling headphones offered in business class.
Passengers can also expect in-seat power outlets; a separate meal tray and ‘cocktail’ table that folds out of the armrest and amenity kits – once standard in the economy cabin but have since all but disappeared.
Washrooms, however will be shared with economy passengers at the back of the plane.
As well as more comfortable seating, Cathay says service will also be a notch above economy.
Passengers will be offered priority check-in at a dedicated desk, priority boarding, champagne or juice while settling into their seats and 25kgs of luggage allowance – 5kgs more then in economy.
The new cabin will be available on certain Cathay flights from Hong Kong to Sydney, Vancouver, Toronto and New York from April, followed by London in May and then LA, San Francisco, continental Europe and other long-haul routes.
Half the price
As a general rule, Cathay’s premium economy costs about half the standard business class fare.
At the time of writing, flights from Hong Kong to Sydney for travel in April or May average around £1,220 in premium economy. This is around half the cost of business class (£2,240) but nearly four times the cost of the lowest available economy fare (£340) for the same period.
Cathay’s premium economy service to London will compete directly with Hong Kong Airlines, which aims to make business travel more affordable to the masses and will launch its first Club only service between Gatwick and Hong Kong on March 8.