a row of seats in an airplane

Review: Cathay Pacific A350-900 Premium Economy (LHR-HKG)… One Year On

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Review Overview

Cathay Pacific offers an excellent Premium Economy product. While the product itself isn't industry-leading in one particular area, it is quite well-rounded. The seats are comfortable, the inflight entertainment is excellent, and the service is friendly. The only let-down of this flight was the sub-par food, which doesn't match my past experiences with Cathay Pacific.


I recently flew from London to Hong Kong (once again) in Cathay Pacific’s A350 Premium Economy cabin. While I actually reviewed a flight exact same route and aircraft type one year ago, Cathay has made some changes to its inflight product in the past year. Therefore, I wanted to write a mini review on my inflight experience to go over what passengers flying this route in 2024 should expect. Overall, I found the experience to be a significant improvement over my flight last year. 

Cathay Pacific Flight CX256
Thursday, May 30th, 2024
Origin: London Heathrow Airport (LHR) Dep: 20:10
Destination: Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) Arr: 15:45
Duration: 12 hours 30 minutes
Aircraft: Airbus A350-900XWB Reg: B-LRJ
Seat: 30D (Premium Economy Class) 

Cathay Pacific A350 Premium Economy Cabin

As a refresher, Cathay Pacific’s A350-900 aircraft are equipped with 28 Premium Economy seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. The seats are a slightly modified version of Collins Aerospace’s MiQ Premium Economy product.

a row of seats in an airplane
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Premium Economy Cabin

While this particular aircraft is almost 8 years old, the cabin still looked fresh and very modern. This product has certainly stood the test of time. However, I did notice some small signs of wear and tear across the cabin (e.g., scratches on the tray table).

Overall, Cathay Pacific offers an excellent Premium Economy seat.

  • Each seat has 40 inches of seat pitch and 19 inches of seat width, which is quite generous (even in non-bulkhead seats).
  • The seat is very well-padded and reclines to a very comfortable position.
  • I appreciate that Cathay customised the seat beyond the “base” version to include some additional storage compartments.
  • Each seat has a leg and foot-rest which is quite comfortable.
  • The adjustable headrests are sturdy and provide a decent amount of neck support.

This seat is one of the best offered by any airline in Premium Economy. For a more in-depth review of the seat, be sure to check out one of our older reviews!

a plane with seats and windows
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Premium Economy Cabin

Cathay Pacific A350 Premium Economy Amenities

As is standard on any Cathay Pacific long-haul flight, all amenities were pre-set at each seat during boarding. These included a pillow, a duvet a bottle of water, an amenity kit, and the inflight menu, and a set of headphones. I really like Cathay Pacific’s Premium Economy bedding: the pillow is fluffy and comfortable, and the duvet is cozy but not overly thick or heavy.

a row of seats in an airplane
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Premium Economy Cabin

Cathay’s Premium Economy kit has been relatively consistent over the years. The bag contained a plush eye-mask, a flimsy pair of socks, a dental kit, and some earplugs. Unlike some other competitors, the kit doesn’t include any skin-care products (e.g., hand cream or lip balm).

a hand holding a small bag with a picture of a beach and a swimming pool
Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Amenity Kit

Meanwhile, the noise-cancelling headphones on offer weren’t great. First, the headphones don’t work well; I had to constantly re-adjust the headphone “plug” constantly during the flight to get some audio streaming. Next – I’m not convinced that they’re actually noise cancelling, since I still heard a lot of background noise while wearing the headphones.

a hand holding a pair of headphones
Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Headphones

Cathay Pacific A350 Premium Economy Pre-Departure Service

A friendly flight attendant came through the cabin offering a choice of champagne (pinched from the Business Class cabin), orange juice, or water. I went with a glass of the champagne, which was dry and refreshing.

a glass of wine on a tray
Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Welcome Drink

Next, a flight attendant came through the cabin with hot towels. I was happy to see that hot towels have returned to Premium Economy, as they were cut during the COVID-19 pandemic.

a white towel on a rail
Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Hot Towel

The Senior Purser – the lead flight attendant in Economy and Premium Economy – came through the cabin to welcome all Cathay Diamond and Gold members. I’ve consistently noticed that elite recognition has improved significantly on Cathay Pacific across the past year – especially when travelling in Economy or Premium Economy. I’m not sure if this is due to changes in service procedures, or if there’s just been more of an emphasis on elite recognition with crew training.

As boarding wrapped up, our captain welcomed us onboard and gave us some information on our flight time.

a screen on a wall

Cathay Pacific A350 New Entertainment System

On this flight, I had the chance to try out Cathay Pacific’s new entertainment system, which will shortly be introduced on the airline’s refurbished Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

a screen on a wall
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 New Entertainment System

I appreciated the use of darker colours on the entertainment system – which made the screen easier on my eyes while the cabin lights were off. Additionally, the interface was intuitive and reminded me a lot of a streaming service (which, to my understanding, is intentional). Cathay also introduced a “journey planner” on the home screen with information about WiFi availability and meal service timings. Unfortunately – it wasn’t quite accurate on my flight, as the second meal service was missing from the flight timeline!

a screen on a wall
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Entertainment System

There was a massive selection of recently released movies and television shows, to the point where I wish Cathay would add a search function to make it easier to find specific content. Cathay also offers a ton of content from Disney+ and HBO Max, which I really enjoyed.

a screen on a wall
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Entertainment System

Live TV (including BBC News, CNN, and Sports 24) is also available on Cathay Pacific’s A350 fleet.

Recently, Cathay appears to have put more effort into its music selection. In particular, it was nice to see Cathay Pacific showcasing Troye Sivan’s new-ish album. I might be biased, but someone at Cathay City has definitely got good taste ;).

a screen on a wall
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Entertainment System

Full disclosure – I actually used the new entertainment interface when it was first rolled out in late 2023. At the time, I found the interface to be unresponsive and laggy. However, I didn’t find that to be the case on this flight. It appears that some elements of the entertainment system have been simplified, which might explain the faster loading speeds.

Without a doubt, my new favourite feature of the entertainment system is that you can now skip ads! After years and years of having to fast forward past an absurd number of advertisements while flying with Cathay, this is a game-changing enhancement!

a screen with text on it
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Advertisement

Cathay Pacific A350 Departure

On our flight, the Business and Premium Economy cabins were mostly full, while the Economy cabin was only about half-filled. After a brief announcement from the Inflight Service Manager, the safety video was played throughout the cabin. I feel like I should be concerned that I know the entire video by heart…

a screen on a wall
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Safety Video

I then turned on the tail camera – which is my favourite feature on the Airbus A350 – and watched as we took off.

a screen on a wall
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Tail Camera

It was a busy time of night at Heathrow, and we waited for a while before we made it to the runway for take-off.

a room with a curtain and a tv
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Cabin on Departure

The captain switched off the seat-belt sign shortly after take-off. The crew then started the inflight service by closing the curtains between the Business and Premium Economy.

a screen on a wall
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Tail Camera

Cathay Pacific A350 Premium Economy Drink Service

The meal service started with a drink service – which I haven’t had on a Cathay Pacific flight since before the COVID-19 pandemic. I initially asked for a cup of Prosecco, but was informed that the bottle wasn’t stocked on the drinks cart. Instead, I went with a white wine, which was served with a pack of almonds (rather than the peanuts you’ll get in Economy). I appreciated that the flight attendant was very generous with the wine pour ;).

a cup of juice and a bag of almonds on a table Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Premium Economy Drink Service

Cathay Pacific is now serving a 2023 Grant Burge Benchmark Chardonnay from South Australia in Premium Economy and Economy, which you can actually buy for HKD 128 on Cathay’s online shop. I really enjoyed the wine, which was fruity with low acidity. That being said, I wish Cathay would offer Premium Economy passengers an upgraded selection of red and white wines.

Shortly after the drink service in Premium Economy wrapped up, the flight attendant serving my aisle came back with a cup of prosecco for me. I’m not sure why the prosecco wasn’t available on the drinks cart in the first place – especially since Cathay Pacific is aggressively marketing the fact that it offers “free-flow Prosecco” in Premium Economy.

two cups on a table
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Premium Economy Drink Service

Cathay Pacific is currently serving Astoria Lounge Prosecco from the Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG in Italy, which you can also buy on the Cathay Store for HKD 188. I enjoyed the prosecco and found it to be nice differentiator between Cathay’s Premium Economy and Economy cabins. While some will no doubt complain that – unlike some competitors – Cathay doesn’t serve champagne in Premium Economy, I’d rather Cathay serve a good prosecco rather than a bad champagne. Anyways… I digress.

Cathay Pacific A350 Premium Economy Dinner Service

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the menu for our flight. Thankfully, the menu was literally identical to what I was served on my flight last year, so here’s a picture pinched from that review. To my understanding, Cathay Pacific hasn’t changed its Premium Economy and Economy menus for its flights from Europe to Asia in almost two years.

a hand holding a menu
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Premium Economy Menu

I went with the steamed cod with muy choy and rice. I also ordered another cup of Chardonnay to go with the meal.

a tray of food on a tableCathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Premium Economy Meal

The meal tray came with a piece of garlic bread, a shrimp and corn salad, and some cheese. The starter was refreshing – but I was a bit disappointed that there was only one tiny piece of shrimp. Meanwhile, the main dish was pretty bad. While the muy choy sauce was flavourful, the fish was rubbery and the vegetables were overcooked. The rice was also quite mushy.

For dessert, there was a full-sized Haagen-Dazs ice cream tub, a chocolate, and a small fruit bowl. The fruit and ice cream were probably the best part of the meal.

Frankly, the meal service was disappointing. The main course was – for the most part – bad. It’s one thing for the inflight menu to stay the same for almost two years if the food was good. However, considering the quality of the food, a refresh of the meal options is long overdue.

Cathay Pacific A350 Premium Economy Mid-Flight

I fell asleep immediately after the meal service and woke up around 6 hours before our arrival in Hong Kong. The crew mostly stayed in the galley, but came through the Premium Economy cabin to offer snacks and fresh fruit once every few hours. I love that Cathay has added Palmier cookies (also known in Hong Kong as butterfly cookies) to its snack rotation!

a cup of tea and a packet on a table
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Premium Economy Snack

Several hours later, I was delighted to find that Sport24 was showing the Stanley Cup Playoffs game between the Rangers and the Panthers live. While I’m not sure turning the game on was a good idea for my mental health, it was pretty cool to watch live sports at 35,000 feet in the air somewhere over Western China.

a screen shot of a televisionCathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Live TV

Cathay Pacific A350 Premium Economy Breakfast Service

The crew turned the lights just under two hours before our arrival in Hong Kong for the breakfast service. I went with a noodle dish, which the flight attendant proactively served with a pack of chilli sauce. The meal also came with some yogurt, a fancy jar of jam, a croissant, and some fruit.

I was pretty excited for breakfast, right until I lifted the cover of the main dish.

food on a tray
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Premium Economy Breakfast

The main meal was without a doubt the worst thing I’ve ever been served on a Cathay Pacific flight – in any cabin. I mean – it tasted pretty much exactly how it looks. The noodles and vegetables were basically mush, and the pork was chewy and tasted like it had been cooked 3-4 days ago.

Cathay Pacific has – as of last year – started extensively marketing its “memorable dining experience” onboard. While catering on flights from Hong Kong has definitely gotten better, I really wish they’d give the same attention to the food being catered from their European out-stations.

Cathay Pacific A350 Premium Economy Service

The service on my flight was quite good. Cathay Pacific has taken on a significant number of new-hire cabin crew as part of its post-pandemic rebuild, which was apparent on my flight. In fact, one of the flight attendants serving my section told me that it was one of her first ever flights. I also noticed a few occasions where more experienced crew members were guiding the newer crew on how to conduct the service.

That being said, the service was efficient and friendly – which is all you can really ask for in Economy and Premium Economy. While the service didn’t feel like a flawlessly executed performance, all the crew members I interacted with were warm. In fact, I feel like Cathay’s “service from the heart” philosophy is making a post-pandemic comeback.

I also wanted to note that Cathay Pacific treats Premium Economy and Economy as the same cabin when it comes to the way service is conducted. While this is aligned with the industry current standard, some competitors appear to be moving in a more premium direction.

Cathay Pacific A350 Premium Economy Descent and Arrival

After the meal service, the Senior Purser came by to thank some elite members for flying with Cathay Pacific. Shortly after, the Captain made an announcement with some details of our arrival into Hong Kong. The crew prepared the cabin for landing afterwards.

a screen on a wall
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Descent Tail Camera

The rest of our flight was uneventful, and we landed on Hong Kong Airport’s new runway. Unfortunately, this meant that our taxi to Shenzhen the main terminal took nearly 25 minutes.

a screen on a wall
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 Descent Landing

On a personal note, this flight was the last leg of my journey back to Hong Kong after my college graduation. Rather poetically, we arrived at gate 9, which is the exact same gate that I departed from when I left home to start attending college. It’s funny how life works sometimes…

I took the chance to snap a picture of our Airbus A350-900 while walking off the jet-bridge.

a plane on the tarmac
Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900 at Hong Kong Airport

Bottom Line

When I flew a similar flight in June of last year, I walked away feeling slightly disappointed. One year later, I was impressed by how Cathay Pacific has made concrete improvements to its inflight service offerings. Cathay’s inflight entertainment offering is truly industry-leading, and its seat on the A350 fleet is one of the best in the market.

My flight wasn’t perfect (see above for pictures of the meals on this flight). However, all things considered, Cathay Pacific’s A350 is an excellent way to travel between London and Hong Kong. I just hope that Cathay continues this positive momentum in the coming years.


  1. Ugh! Those food items look dreadful. I am surprised by the poor quality of catering from the European outstations as it seems the Asian ones are perfectly fine.

    1. @Steven – I actually did a bit of digging after the flight and it looks like Cathay’s ex-Europe flights are all catered by DO & CO. While that explains why the meal options are pretty much identical on all Europe to Hong Kong flights, I’m quite surprised at how bad the quality is – especially considering DO & CO’s stellar reputation in the industry.

  2. Congratulations on graduating from university! I didn’t realise I have been following your blog for so long…! What does your graduation mean for the future direction of this blog?

    1. @ TC _ thanks a lot! It means to Alvin and myself that you’ve been following YTHK for a long time. I’m moving to Canada to start full-time work in the fall of this year and – time permitting – intend to continue contributing to the blog. However, since my travel patterns will change a bit, expect to see some a little more North America and Canada-focussed content.

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