Cathay Pacific to add Premium Economy seats from Q1 2012

Cathay is quite easily a very likeable airline, and I love them for all the shorthauls I do when travelling around Hong Kong on work trips. However, now they are giving me a reason to try out their long haul product, with the launch of the Premium Economy Class in March 2012. These will be introduced first on the routes to Sydney, Toronto, Vancouver and New York, followed by London, LA, San Francisco and continental Europe.

The announcement made to members of the Marco Polo Club loyalty program detail the added benefits of the Premium Economy class which is, much more than just the seat! According to Cathay, there will be a separate priority check-in and priority boarding over Economy passengers, and an increased baggage allowance of 2 baggage pieces/5 kgs extra luggage.

In the air, these seats will have a separate cabin of their own, which will be not more than 34 seats at any time. So, privacy is assured, unlike some other Premium Eco products where you only get a better seat but in the front of the same cabin. Welcome drinks, including Champagne, will be offered, and the meals will be better than Y. Top it off with a big amenity kit, and noise cancelling headphones and the only thing I miss are the sleeping suits to compare with Biz class. Actually, this does compare well with a Regional Business Class seat

In terms of the hard product, the seat pitch would be 38 inches, better off than the Economy product by 6 inches, and will have an extended recline. Additionally, all the regular bells and whistles are thrown in like a large meal table, cocktail table, footrest, in-seat power and extra stowage space.

Cathay plans to put 83 planes with this new configuration, including their A330s and B777s. The older fleet of B747s and A340s will not get this product. The airline is also planning to overhaul its Economy seating.

Cathay last underwent a makeover on the Long Haul routes in 2006, so with this plan, its playing its cards out to state that it is posturing for the market which wants to travel comfortably, but not at very high prices, in the economy of the day. Early 2010, in fact, Cathay Pacific had solicited the views of its Marco Polo Club members to see the demand and what kind of a product the travellers would like to see. CX competes with other airlines such as Qantas and British Airways on some of its long haul routes who already offer a Premium Eco product, so this move was going to be a default case, except for the timing.

I think that is a good plan! Now to wait and watch for the pricing, and then plan a trip on this one…

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