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Cathay Pacific Unveils New Aria Suite Business Class, Premium Economy

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This post has been updated with more accurate information about Cathay’s upcoming Premium Economy seats. 

Cathay Pacific has released a video of its new Aria Suite Business Class and refreshed Premium Economy, which will enter into service in Q2 of 2024. More details of the seat will likely be available at Cathay Pacific’s 2023 Annual Results briefing on the 13th of March. However, we wanted to take a quick look at some of the new features on these seats.

a large airplane on the runway
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER

Cathay Pacific Reveals their New Boeing 777-300ER Cabins

Yesterday, Cathay Pacific released a video across its social media channels of its new Boeing 777-300ER interiors. The reconfigured aircraft will have brand new seats in Business Class and Premium Economy and a refreshed Economy cabin. According to an email sent to Cathay’s frequent fliers, the new seats will “take flight later this year”. More information has also been unveiled on Cathay Pacific’s website. 

Cathay Pacific’s New Aria Suite Business Class

Cathay Pacific’s new Aria Suite Business Class maintains the airline’s current reverse herringbone configuration, which consists of seats angled away from one another in a 1-2-1 configuration. While the base “format” of the seats are similar, this should be a drastically different product from Cathay’s existing seats.

a seat in a plane
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Aria Suite

While there was some speculation that the Aria Suite would be based on JPA Design’s AIRTEK seat platform, I’m not entirely convinced that this is the case. The AIRTEK seat appears to have a significant amount of under-seat storage – which isn’t apparent in these renderings. Based on the overall seat design, it’s more likely that the Aria Suite is a customised version of Collins Aerospace’s Elements seat. In particular, the location of the storage compartments and the shoulder strap are tell-tale signs.

Furthermore, Collins Aerospace and Cathay Pacific announced in 2022 that they would be “expanding” their partnership. As the Premium Economy and Economy seats shown in the video are manufactured by Safran and Recaro respectively (more on that later), it’s likely that Collins Aerospace will be supplying these new Business Class seats.

seat in a plane with seat belt
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER 

Based on the information supplied by Cathay Pacific in the video and on its website, the new seats will have a now-obligatory sliding door – a first for Cathay Pacific in any cabin. Additionally, each seat will have a 24-inch 4K television, wireless charging, a mirror, fully enclosed storage compartments, and “customisable lighting”.

Speaking of customisation, it’s clear that Cathay Pacific has included several additional elements (pun not intended) to the “base” seat platform from Collins Aerospace.

  • As you can see in the photo above, it appears that the aisle-side armrest of the seat will fold down to create a larger sleeping surface.
  • It also appears that – much like with Cathay’s A350 long-haul Business seat – the seat will include an additional enclosed storage compartment in the seat near the footwell area. The compartment should also double up to offer additional sleeping space.
  • The storage shelf on the side-table opens differently, and the power ports have been moved to a more convenient location.

a screen on the side of a plane
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER 

One major difference between the new Aria Suite and Cathay Pacific’s old “Cirrus” reverse herringbone seats is that the footwell appears to be more constricted due to the fixed position of the television screen.

Cathay Pacific’s New Premium Economy Seat

Cathay Pacific will also introduce a new Premium Economy seat aboard its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

a row of seats in an airplane
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Premium Economy

These seats appear to be a highly modified version of the Recaro PL3530 seat, which is widely used by competitors such as Starlux Airlines, Emirates, and British Airways. The product will include a privacy divider between seats. Additionally, each seat includes a 15.6-inch 4K television monitor, a tablet holder, and storage compartments under the television screen and in the armrest.

a screen with a screen on it
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Premium Economy

The recline on these seats looks fantastic (perhaps a little too fantastic?). Each seat also comes with a calf or foot-rest, which should help to create a comfortable, “lazy-z” position for passengers to rest.

a row of seats in an airplane
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Premium Economy

It also appears in the video that Cathay will increase its Premium Economy cabin from the current four-row configuration to six rows. This decision makes sense, considering the growing popularity and profitability of Premium Economy. Additionally, Cathay Pacific will add two dedicated lavatories for Premium Economy passengers.

Cathay Pacific’s “Refreshed” Economy Seat

While Premium Economy and Business Class are getting brand new seats, Economy is only getting a limited refresh – which is reasonable considering that these seats were only very recently installed. Limited seat width aside, this is a very solid Economy Class seat, with excellent padding and solid in-seat storage.

a row of seats in an airplane
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Economy Class

As part of the refresh, Cathay Pacific will install new seat covers and add bluetooth pairing technology. However – unlike in Business and Premium Economy – it looks like the Economy seat won’t be updated with 4K screens. It appears that Cathay Pacific will remove several rows of Economy seats on its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to make room for a larger Premium Economy cabin.

Inflight Entertainment Updates

Cathay Pacific will also refresh the entertainment system on its Boeing 777-300ER fleet. Some new features across all cabin classes include:

  • Bluetooth audio pairing with the entertainment system.
  • A “syncing” feature to allow multiple passengers to start and end movies at the same time.
  • At-seat information on washroom availability.

The current entertainment system across the Boeing 777-300ER fleet is a little slow and unresponsive, so I hope that these issues will be addressed.

a screen with a screen on it
Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER Old Entertainment System 

My Thoughts on Cathay Pacific’s New Business and Premium Economy Seats

Overall, I’m quite impressed by these new products. Cathay Pacific’s existing Business Class and Premium Economy cabin launched over a decade ago, so it’s about time for a refresh.

a seat in a plane
Cathay Pacific’s Old Boeing 777-300ER Business Class Seat

In general, I feel like very few airlines have introduced new cabin products that are highly customised or unique. Instead, most airlines tend to customise a pre-existing, “off-the-shelf” seat option for their aircraft. With these new cabins, Cathay Pacific generally played it safe – but went much further than most competitors in terms of seat customisation.

The New Aria Suite looks like a good replacement for Cathay Pacific’s existing reverse herringbone seats.

  • The new cabin finishes are excellent. Specifically, the design almost reminds me a little bit of Cathay Pacific’s excellent lounges.
  • I appreciate that Cathay Pacific has heavily customised the Elements seat with its own design touches. The storage compartments and location of power outlets look like they’ve been customised to be more intuitive. Additionally, Cathay appears to have put a lot of effort into making the bed wider.
  • The technology on these seats look excellent.
  • My only concern with the Aria Suite is that it looks a little more cramped than the existing seat. Specifically, the footwell area looks a little tighter, and the size of the door makes the seat look a little restrictive. That being said, I haven’t actually experienced these seats in person, so I’m not going to make any sort of final judgement.

a row of seats in an airplane
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Business Class

Meanwhile, the new Premium Economy seats also look solid.

  • The privacy shields are a nice step-up from the existing product.
  • It also looks like Cathay has added additional in-seat storage compartments on top of the base seat model.
  • Otherwise, these seats feel like a very minor evolution from Cathay’s already-excellent Premium Economy seats.

a group of seats in a plane
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Premium Economy

Bottom Line

Cathay Pacific will refit its Boeing 777-300ER fleet with brand new Business Class and Premium Economy seats, as well as a slightly updated Economy seat. The new Business Class seats are outfitted with 4K television screens, sliding doors, and wireless charging. The new Premium Economy seat also comes with a 4K television screen, a new privacy “wing”, and improved stowage. Bluetooth audio connectivity and a new entertainment system will also be installed across the entire aircraft. The new products look like very nice improvements for Cathay’s comfortable but outdated Boeing 777-300ER fleet. I hope to be able to try these seats in the near future!

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