My Next Travel Goal: Finding The Best Premium Economy Product Between Hong Kong and London

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While I love flying to new destinations, a place I see myself going to often is London. I am an aspiring student in the United Kingdom, I’ve been to the UK for educational purposes a few times, and most of my future aspirational university courses take place in the UK, so I’m probably going to be commuting between Hong Kong and London quite a bit in my lifetime.

While I enjoy flight reviewing and all, I do prefer having a “goal” for everything that I do. Ultimately the goal thus far has been to document all my travels and help people make the best travel choices, but that’s intrinsically a pretty broad goal. I’m also aspiring to reach KrisFlyer Gold status by the end of 2017, which is coming along well, and I’m currently ~1,500 miles short of planned travel.

In terms of what I’ve already flown between Hong Kong and London, I’ve reviewed Cathay Pacific’s business class and Virgin Atlantic’s premium economy, both of which I’ve enjoyed. In 2014 Jason also reviewed Cathay Pacific premium economy between Hong Kong and London, but I’d like to be able to revisit that route and try longhaul Cathay Pacific premium economy for myself.

DSCF9224Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Premium Economy

There are many premium economy fares that aren’t too far from economy prices, and if I save up, my mother will hopefully give me more opportunities to fly premium economy between Hong Kong and London at least one-way each time. I’d like to set a goal to be able to review all premium economy products between Hong Kong and London, which I plan to reach by the end of 2019 at the latest. If I have university interviews I’ll attempt to add to my research with either Cathay Pacific or British Airways premium economy, and will aspire to trial British Airways’ premium economy product on both the A380 and the 777-300ER.

a large airplane at an airportBritish Airways Boeing 777-300ER Hong Kong Airport

Research Question: What is the best way to fly in premium economy between Hong Kong and London?

I love the idea of premium economy. It doesn’t give as many perks as business class, but ultimately what 99% of the flying population cares about is the seat. Premium economy gives you a better seat without the added price tag required for a lie-flat bed, and there’s also better food to keep you filled up as well. It doesn’t make a flight special by any means, but is practical for most frequent flyers, given that it’s usually only marginally more expensive than economy, but gives you so much more added comfort and working space.

While people usually book economy based on price, people do consider the best premium economy product before booking it, so I think this market would be interesting to quite a number of you. I ultimately would also like to find the best business class between Hong Kong and London, but will hold that off until I find a good way to fund my own travels.

a row of seats with monitors on the backI recently flew Singapore Airlines’ premium economy, which is substantially better than economy at a usually affordable price

Hong Kong and London has some stiff premium economy price competition, with advance purchase prices usually near HK$13,000-15,000 (around the budget that my mom will pay for my flights). Ultimately HK$2,000-7,000 definitely isn’t a small amount of money (economy prices are usually around HK$8,000-11,000), but under the right conditions my parents are willing to pay for it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely grateful I get to do this comparison in the first place and my parents are willing to splurge for my comfort, but I’d like to take this opportunity and help people in a similar position make the right choices. Ultimately, that is the biggest goal of this site.

What travel do I have booked that will help me with this goal?

On my upcoming flights to London, I originally wanted to book British Airways premium economy, though their prices shot up right before I decided to book. I was stuck between a comparable Cathay Pacific mixed cabin fare and a Virgin Atlantic premium economy fare, and decided to go with Virgin Atlantic for KrisFlyer Gold status. Ultimately there are a shortage of Virgin Atlantic premium economy 787 reviews out there, so I don’t exactly regret my decision. So I have:

  • Virgin Atlantic premium economy from Hong Kong to London
  • Virgin Atlantic premium economy from London to Hong Kong

I will be reviewing these flights just to see if my perspective on Virgin Atlantic premium economy changes, especially since I didn’t have the average flight last time, as I ate at the Upper Class bar instead of at my seat due to a table malfunction.

DSCF9269Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 Upper Class Bar

How will I plan my travels?

I plan to grab one of British Airways’ cheaper premium economy fares earlier the next time I’m headed to London, and eventually grab a Cathay Pacific mixed-cabin fare. I’ll probably do British Airways first and wait until Cathay Pacific introduces 3-4-3 economy seating so I can review it, both of which should cost around HK$14,000-HK$15,000 maximum.

My parents have promised to fund me the amount of money that I’d have to pay for the airline offering the most expensive basic economy fare (so around HK$9,000 for Cathay Pacific economy), unless I get a special award or credit that “earns” me the extra ~HK$4,000 needed for premium economy. This year I worked hard first-term, which earned me my Virgin Atlantic premium economy ticket, and I hope to have similar grades second-term. This teaches me to work for my ticket without it being inaccessible to me, and ultimately I get that flying is based on hard-earned money, so I’m gradually learning the concept that good experiences sprout from hard work. I don’t plan to abuse my parents’ generosity and will find ways to fund my travel as efficiently as possible.

Who do I think will win out?

Currently, based on what I’ve heard and what I’ve experienced, I believe that Cathay Pacific probably offers the best premium economy product between Hong Kong and London. Their seats are more plushly padded than Virgin Atlantic’s, and their newer seats also feature 40″ of seat pitch and a legrest at each seat, compared to 38″ and no legrest on Virgin Atlantic and British Airways. They’re the only airline out of the three to feature “double padding” on their premium economy seats (an extra layer of cushioning on top of each seatback), and I found it to be more practical than what I experienced on Virgin Atlantic when I flew the seat in 2014.

IMG_7103.jpgCathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Premium Economy

My last experience with Cathay Pacific premium economy was in 2014, though in the meantime you can check out Jason’s tips, as he regularly commutes between Hong Kong and Newark in Cathay Pacific premium economy:

Also feel free to check out some of my 12-year-old lower quality reviews of Cathay Pacific premium economy:

While I named a Virgin Atlantic premium economy dish the best premium economy food of 2016, Cathay Pacific consistently has good shorthaul economy catering, which I believe would extend to longhaul premium economy as well. Some of Jason’s best dishes in the sky have come from Cathay Pacific premium economy, so I’d assume they win on that front as well, especially since I haven’t heard much about the food on British Airways.

I also assume that British Airways will lose out, as they don’t seem to feature very well-padded seats, don’t allow free seat selection until check-in and seem to have the worst food and service of the three. However, I definitely won’t judge until I’ve tried the product myself.

IMG_0181British Airways Airbus A380 Hong Kong Airport

Bottom Line

I’m excited to be comparing premium economy products between Cathay Pacific, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. I definitely will work hard to get opportunities to fly between Hong Kong and London in premium economy, and will be striving to meet the due date for this comparison by 2019. I’m also sure that you’ll find similar guides elsewhere, but I like to think that I offer pretty detailed reviews and comparisons compared to most other bloggers out there on the Internet (I could be wrong, as my writing skills aren’t that great either).

Is anyone interested in this comparison as well? Has anyone already flown all three premium economy products? Feel free to share your own opinions about these products, and don’t hesitate to comment if this research question shows that I’ve missed the mark, I’m weird, spoilt, or all of them combined. Nonetheless, I love doing what I do, and thanks for reading!

1 comment

  1. Not sure if it works for PEY….Try to start your journey from Tokyo/Kansai and see if you can get a great deal on CX PEY to LON.

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