DANG: Cathay Pacific’s New Economy Class Seats

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Cathay Pacific is about to fly their A350-1000 to Hong Kong, which will arrive Hong Kong tomorrow and will run test flights around Hong Kong the next few days. Surrounding that they had a media event in Toulouse, France, which was where the first A350-1000 would be delivered from.

They made a few announcements, which Young Travelers of Hong Kong is planning on reporting over the coming days. Among those announcements were a new dining service, and that a new economy class seat would be coming to the A350-1000, and would soon appear on the A330 as well (more on that over the next couple of days).

a large white airplane parked at an airportCathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Hong Kong Airport

Cathay Pacific is currently in the midst of refurbishing their 777s to add an extra seat per row in hopes of maximising profit. I’ve written about those seats before, and I didn’t have high hopes for them in terms of comfort and passenger experience. However, I’d imagined they got a good deal out of those seats, so I wasn’t about to complain that operating profits would increase.

The main reason I was ticked off about the new 777 seats was that Cathay Pacific was promising that they’d compromise the missing inch of width with increased ergonomics in legroom and padding. My beef with the new seats was that they looked no different from other 777 3-4-3 economy seats on the market, so I thought Cathay Pacific had overpromised. However, I’ve heard positive things about the seat so far, with some saying that it was the first economy seat they’d sat in for which their butt didn’t feel numb after a long flight. I’m willing to take the word of people who have tried and tested a product before, but I’d have to see for myself.

Anyway, David Flynn (yes, the AusBT travel guru) is at the Cathay Pacific media event right now, and he was kind enough to post a picture of a particular slide of one of the media event’s PowerPoints on FlyerTalk. Specifically, this slide details the new economy seats that Cathay Pacific would install on their A350s. I imagined they’d just use the new 777 seats since they’d just introduced that product a couple of months ago, but no…

a paper with text and images of seats

Wow, wow, wow.

I’m not going to say that Cathay Pacific’s knocked it out of the park with this seat (yet), since I haven’t tried it for myself. However, this is the kind of innovation I was expecting when Cathay Pacific first advertised their new 777 seat to the public.

How exactly does this differ from Cathay Pacific’s current A350 seats?

  • The HD monitor will be a bit bigger, at 11.1″ (no surprises there)
  • A tablet holder will be featured at front row seats (Cathay Pacific introduced a storage nook with their “old” A330 and 777 seats, and upgraded it to a tablet holder that could also serve as a storage nook on their current A350 seats; they’ve always had that right)
  • The headrest seems like something I haven’t seen much on a plane before, as it seems to have four separate adjustable joints. This means that you can angle the headrest over four separate points to keep your head in place. I can’t say with confidence that it’ll be a massive improvement, though it’s something I have high hopes for.
  • The padding has been visibly improved, as Cathay Pacific has brought back the dedicated layer of padding that was present on their “old” A330 and 777 seats, but not their new A350 and 777 seats. A dedicated layer of padding is always a plus, as you’re actually providing hardware to ensure that the seat will be plush, instead of relying on “physics” to “engineer” the seat to a “comfortable” position that won’t be for everybody

On the padding front alone I can comfortably say that this seat will definitely be better than what Cathay Pacific currently has in economy on their A350s, as the one main complaint is how hard the seat is.

IMG_4804Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 Economy Class 

Bottom Line

It seems like the Cathay Pacific seat design team has their heads back in the game with this new product. What I loved most about the old A330/777 seat was how well-padded it was, and that just seems to have been forgotten with their latest products. I’m also impressed to see that they’ve given their headrests additional gear, and hope that they’ll be comfortable.

While I have no plans to fly Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 in the near future, I can’t wait to see the photos of their new economy class product. I hope that this new seat will also make its way onto their A330s, since they’ve announced that they’ll be refurbishing the economy class product on those planes as well.

What do you think about Cathay Pacific’s new A350 seat?


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