Ah, finally. After so many speculative posts, the time had come for me to try out Cathay Pacific’s 10-abreast economy class configuration. Boeing 777s were created so they could fit 9 economy seats across one row, though the norm for airline gradually shifted to cramming in an extra seat in order to maximise capacity. Cathay Pacific decided to jump onto the bandwagon in 2017, while the first aircraft with narrower seats started flying in April 2018.
I’ve been very critical of Cathay Pacific’s decision to switch their comfortable economy seats, which I found one of the world’s best, to these seats. I was convinced that even disregarding width, they wouldn’t be as comfortable. So I was intentional to book myself a flight in these seats on a recent trip to Tokyo, so I could personally see what the seats were like.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777 Tokyo Narita Airport
Generally I consider myself to predict the quality of a hard product very accurately. I’ve been blogging in the aviation industry for 6+ years, and I’m also an aspiring engineer. The least I could do is accurately predict how comfortable a seat will be, right?
(Un?) Fortunately I had three seats to myself in this configuration, so even though I put the armrests down to check out the seat width, I sure didn’t get the full experience on this flight. I hate to admit it, but my flight in Cathay Pacific’s narrower economy seat was very, very good.
Cathay Pacific’s 10-Abreast 777 Economy Class Seat
Cathay Pacific’s 10-abreast economy class seats on the 777 lose out on one thing: width. There is absolutely no denying that this seat is narrower than the old seats that the 777 originally featured. I can’t say that the reduction in space was very evident on this four-hour flight, but on a longer flight, every inch of extra space counts.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Economy Class
That being said, I was impressed by how well-padded the seats were. These seats don’t feature double padding, which is an extra dedicated layer of cushioning on top of the seat; however, the single layer of cushioning that they used must’ve been made of some magical material, because it was much plusher than it looked. Being the stupid person that I am, I dropped my SIM drawer in between two seats, so had to take apart my entire seat to (unsuccessfully) fish it out. I was able to realise how thick and durable the seat’s padding was.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Economy Class
In addition, one of my favourite things about Cathay Pacific’s old seat was the storage nook that could hold a pen or a phone. Cathay Pacific only built upon this feature in their new seat. The new storage compartment is versatile – it folds out to create a platform as a tablet holder, a cupholder or a pen holder (or something like that), but when the storage nook is closed, the space is large enough to easily house a passport or boarding pass. Thumbs up (obviously the exit row seats lack this, which is why my friend Jason may have been so underwhelmed on his flight in this configuration earlier this year).
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Economy Class Storage Nook
One of my biggest complaints about the seat would be my dysfunctional screen. Firstly, many parts of the touchscreen were “dead”, so I couldn’t click on those parts. While that’s shocking for such a new seat, it’s my understanding that Cathay Pacific’s longhaul 777-300ERs with these seats feature better IFE hardware and this might not be as big of a problem. This was less of a problem for me as I had three seats to myself, and the middle seat had perfectly functional IFE hardware (the aisle seat in my row also had a wonky screen, which is pretty problematic, as we’re 2/3 on dysfunctional TV screens).
The biggest problem I had was that the screen wouldn’t turn itself off – when I pressed the “power” button to turn the screen off, it’d only turn itself back on within a minute. Considering our flight was delayed to the point where we had a 9 PM departure and a 12 AM arrival, this certainly wasn’t appreciated. I still managed to conk out as I’d barely slept the night prior, though I wouldn’t wish this screen upon anybody on a redeye flight.
Me, trying to make friends with my naughty screen on my flight
The recline in this new seat matched that of the old – no complaints from me (this is why I like selecting an economy or premium economy seat in the last row of the cabin, since I can recline during meal services without having to worry about anyone behind me).
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Economy Class Reclined
If Cathay Pacific installed these seats 9-abreast and the entertainment screens were working, I’d call these seats industry leading. The padding rivaled that of the old seats (which I wasn’t expecting, given the lack of double padding), whereas the storage options were a step up. As a seat in a 10-abreast configuration, this seat was quite good.
I’m curious to try out Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 economy seat, since it seems to be a step up from this one. (I actually booked myself on an economy flight on the A350-1000, though we got swapped to an A330 last minute.)
Cathay Pacific’s 10-Abreast 777 Economy Class Amenities
Cathay Pacific’s pillows in economy are smaller, though otherwise similar to those offered in business class – they’re rough on one end, and smooth on the other. I actually didn’t know that Cathay Pacific upgraded their pillows from the flimsy, cotton-y ones they used to have – and it’s sure a massive improvement, even though I didn’t end up using the pillow on this flight.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Economy Class Pillow
The blankets are similar to the regional business class blankets, and the headphones are standard economy class headphones. Of course, no amenity kit was offered on this flight, as is the norm in regional economy class. Other than that – I hate to say this given how much I dump on Cathay Pacific – I gotta say that Cathay Pacific’s economy class amenities are…industry leading?
Cathay Pacific’s 10-Abreast 777 Economy Food
Cathay Pacific’s Tokyo flights don’t feature menus, though their Japanese options are often pretty tasty. This meal didn’t rank too high, though it wasn’t bad. I had the choice between a Western beef option and a Japanese chicken option, and I went for the Japanese chicken. Miss me with the bastardisation of a Japanese omurice, though otherwise the chicken was tender enough.
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 Economy Class Meal
Cathay Pacific’s 10-Abreast 777 Economy Service
After hearing so many accounts of dwindling Cathay Pacific service, I was wondering if service would be especially hectic on Cathay Pacific’s densest aircraft. And this wasn’t an empty flight, either – it’s just that the last few rows of economy happened to be much emptier than the rest of the plane. There are 396 economy seats on this flight – while the plane wasn’t full, there were still well over 300 people on the plane.
Well, especially by economy class standards, service on this flight was amazing. In regards to my SIM card tray fiasco, I mentioned if the crew could ask ground staff to take apart my seat after landing. Instead of just saying “yes” or even a “no”, the crewmember I asked moped around my seat for a while as I stood there feeling quite ashamed of myself, insisting that she wanted to find it for me. (As you’d expect, the SIM tray had fallen deep into the IFE box by now, so she wasn’t successful.)
Apart from that, the flight attendants were so attentive. I was making thank you cards, as I was flying home to attend the last day of school. While serving my meal, the flight attendant serving my aisle noticed my cards and beamed “aww, that’s so cute!” (and this was after she moped around my seat, so I’m surprised she wasn’t annoyed at this point).
My tray did sit around by my seat around 25-30 minutes after I finished, though I have to factor in that some rather rough chop occurred throughout the meal service. In order to be fair, I have to stress that I wouldn’t have appreciated this had I not had three seats to myself. That being said, disregarding the rough chop that sustained throughout the flight, I have confidence that my particular crew would have no problem serving a cabin where all 396 seats were filled.
You used to hear a lot on Cathay Pacific that “it’s the little things that matter”. Unfortunately genuine and attentive service on Cathay Pacific is more a fluke rather than the norm these days.
Bottom Line: Cathay Pacific’s 10-Abreast Economy Class
On a flight where I had three seats to myself, Cathay Pacific’s 10-abreast economy class provided an excellent experience. But even if all seats were filled, I have to say that the seat is not bad.
Yes, the seat is narrow, and you’ll notice it on a longhaul flight. However, I was surprised that Cathay Pacific got the padding right, considering the seats didn’t look all that comfortable from photos. In addition, I really liked the versatile storage nook (though they better fix those damn screens soon).
If Cathay Pacific is reading this, my compliments to the crew serving economy class on flight CX 505, June 13th, 2019. They were just that good. While I was taking footage on this flight, I reviewed it undercover, and my outbound flight was mediocre at best – so it’s not like I received special treatment or anything. (I did reach out to ask for pre-boarding, though my email was ignored, so I won’t factor that in as potential special treatment.)
One thing’s for sure – due to how much better the seat is, I’d take it over their older regional 777-300 shell seat configuration any day. The seat itself is just that much better that I can forget about the reduced width on a short flight. That being said, I’d still try to go out of my way to fly a non-reconfigured 777 or an A350 on a longhaul flight, as the seat is wider.
Have you flown Cathay Pacific’s new 777 economy class? How was it?