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A Guide to Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class

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If there’s anything that this blog has been all about, it’s been the argument that Jason and I have been having regards Cathay Pacific regional business class. I’ve tried a few different business class products that I certainly find to be even worse, and I’ll try to keep a neutral stance, but there’s no denying that it’s a crap product. 😉

img_2538Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class

In all honesty, I’ve been giving the product a pretty hard time, and most business travelers don’t have much flexibility on which flight they can take, especially when there’s only one flight a day and it’s operated by a regional cabin. So I’ve decided it would be good to compile a quick guide on how the product is, and the perks you’ll get compared to if you’re seated in economy (apart from not getting cramped into a 3-4-3 configuration).

I’ve written a bit about the product and my views of it before, so here are all the posts we’ve written mentioning the regional business class product, including reviews:

I gotta be honest – there are worse regional products out there. That’s undeniable. All I will say is that the product is mostly operated to upmarket places such as Taipei, Tokyo, Bangkok, Jakarta, Singapore, etc., and most competing airlines either offer purely flat beds or angled lie-flat beds, which have a wider range of seating configurations. These airlines include Thai, Singapore Airlines, and Korean Air. Of course, you’d get to some airlines such as Vietnam and Malaysia which offer recliners on most flights – but the goal is to appeal to all markets, and this seat just doesn’t. However, I promised a neutral stance, so that’s what all of you will get from me.

IMG_1418Thai has a flat bed for their “regional” product, which I’d gladly take over Cathay’s seat (they have recliners that now stick to “true”, mostly domestic shorthauls)

So What Can The Seat Do?

A lot of people think of Cathay Pacific’s regional business class as a “limited angled flat bed”. I can’t even look at it that way – it’s little more than an electronically controlled recliner. Sure, it’s nice to have the shell in front of you, but that’s basically the only difference I can name (aside from reclining into a position that is barely any more comfortable).

DSCF6132Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Business Class Reclined Seat

The configuration is pretty simple – if you’re on an A330, you’ll get a 2-2-2 configuration, and if you’re on a 777, you’ll get a 2-3-2 configuration. It definitely sucks if you’re on a 777 and stuck in a middle seat, which is never cool, especially when seated in business class.

a row of seats with monitors on the backSeated in the middle block of Cathay Pacific 777-200 Business Class

The front row affords a little extra legroom, which you’ll be able to spread out in. I’d say I’d choose the front row for the legroom if I could (though I’d prefer a non-bulkhead window seat to a bulkhead middle seat).

img_2242Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-200 Business Class Front Row

a person's legs in a pocketCathay Pacific Boeing 777-200 Business Class Front Row Legroom

Each seat features a storage compartment where you can put your phone or a tiny point and shoot camera. These compartments are pretty handy, though you can’t store anything there for takeoff and landing.

img_2552Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class Phone Storage

In the front row these compartments are a little more “rigid” and quite a bit bigger, so I’d recommend the front row if you have an iPhone 6+ or something.

a close-up of a pair of speakersCathay Pacific Boeing 777-200 Regional Business Class Phone Storage

If you’re planning to work on the flight, you’re set too, as there’s ample power in the seat. The USB port is right next to the phone storage, and there are 110V power ports as well.

img_2551Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class USB Port

DSCF6157Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Regional Business Class Power Ports

The seat controls are basic. There’s a preset for a fully upright seat, though there isn’t a preset for a fully reclined seat. Reclining your seatback fully doesn’t raise the footrest up fully though, so you have to press both buttons. I’d much prefer a fully reclined preset, which I don’t imagine would be that much of an ask.

img_2602Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Business Class Seat Controls

The TV in front is also touchscreen if that matters much to you, and normally features Cathay Pacific’s StudioCX inflight entertainment system. The only way this would be different in an international configuration is if you were taking the A350. The screen size is fine, but it certainly isn’t anything revolutionary.

a screen on a seatCathay Pacific Boeing 777-200 Business Class TV

Ultimately these are all fine qualities, but all in all, it’s basically a pimped out premium economy seat. I mean, what? 😉

In all honesty, I guess it affords a little bit more recline and working space, though I wouldn’t imagine it’s worth some of the HK$15,000 price premiums that this seat has been given over premium economy. The only notable difference is the slightly increased width, the increased legroom and the recline added by a slight little bit (I’d talk about the legrests too, but the 777s are about to get legrests too, so unless it’s the A330, that’s kind of a moot point).

It’s worth noting that the padding is also crap, so they don’t get points there either.

IMG_0574Cathay Pacific’s A350 premium economy has legrests, better padding, and slightly less legroom and recline – though I wouldn’t find it much worse here than I would in the 777 product

The tray table slides out from under the TV, and is sizeable, good for working (which will be more important when Cathay’s 777-300s get WiFi).

img_2611Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class Tray Table

What do you get before you board?

Of course, Cathay Pacific’s excellent business class product means that you get to visit their excellent lounges when you’re in Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo Haneda, etc. so I really have no complaints there. If you’re stuck flying back from an airport such as Osaka with a crap contract lounge, I sympathize – however, it’s not like you’re any better off if you were flying one of their international configurations.

IMG_0105Visit some of Cathay Pacific’s best lounges before you board your subpar business class flight

You also get priority check-in and, on a case by case situation, priority immigration. That said, it isn’t any different from what you’d get in an international configuration.

What amenities are there?

Believe it or not, the amenities are actually vastly different between the regional and international products.

Let’s start with the similarities. The blankets are similar, as Cathay Pacific doesn’t load actual duvets on any shorthauls. However, that’s about it.

DSCF6040Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Business Class Blanket

However, everything else is at least slightly inferior. Cathay Pacific’s international pillows are also used on regional routes run by international configurations, and they’re made to be suitable for sleeping. I’m not sure what these pillows even are, as they’re small, non-supportive and could basically be economy pillows. Their headphones used to be really crap, but now they’re slightly more padded. The sound quality is still pretty bad, but I guess it isn’t economy quality like it used to be.

img_2561Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 Regional Business Class Pillow and headphones

Meanwhile, if you were seated in an international configuration, you’d get noise cancelling headphones, which furthers the discrepancy between cabins. I took the below picture on a flight from Hong Kong to Osaka. Premium economy on international configurations also features similar headphones, which should say quite a bit about the product discrepancy.

DSCF5013Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 International Business Class Headphones

There aren’t amenity kits either way, and the lavatories are stocked with the same Jurlique amenities in both cases.

a group of white bottles with black labels on a counterCathay Pacific Boeing 777-200 Business Class Lavatory Amenities

How is the food?

The food really isn’t much different between international and regional configurations, though it’s worth noting that my favourite dish on a flight last year was had on a Cathay Pacific regionally configured aircraft. I don’t think it matters, though, as I had what was easily my second favourite dish on a Cathay Pacific internationally configured A330. I guess it’s normally okay – sometimes you get a great dish, sometimes it’s pretty bad.

a bowl of rice and vegetablesCathay Pacific Boeing 777-200 Business Class Meal

Bottom Line

In all honesty, I would still be looking forward to a flight albeit a regional configuration. However, if I were booking my own flight on a high-demand route, I’d try my best to avoid Cathay Pacific’s regional business class in favour of a flight with a fully flat bed. And that’s not hard, as Cathay Pacific flies their internationally configured A330s and 777-300ERs (as well as A350s) all around Asia. However, that’s all that I’d expect if I were flying shorthaul in regional business class – a downgraded seat, downgraded amenities, and hopefully service and food that’s still good.

It’s funny because the 777-200’s economy class product will soon be the product to seek out within Cathay Pacific’s fleet, while the same plane’s business class product is definitely one to avoid.

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