Is Cathay Pacific Premium Economy The Right Class For You?

As competition in the aviation industry increases, Cathay Pacific Airways is raising the bar as it makes significant investments in improving the customer experience. Recently declared the 'World's Best Airline' at the 2014 Skytrax World Airline Awards, Cathay Pacific has further distinguished itself as a premium international carrier with the introduction of its Premium Economy Class, which it promotes with a dedicated website entitled, "My Premium Economy Experience."

Cathay Pacific's Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 747-400, and selected Airbus A330-300 and Airbus A340-300 aircraft have been reconfigured with the new Premium Economy class, which made its debut late last year. The new cabin class is very popular with travellers particularly on long-haul journeys as it allows them to experience additional space and comfort, while enjoying the same traditional Asian hospitality throughout the journey that Cathay Pacific has become known for.

Copyright Photo: Cathay Pacific


Cathay Pacific's new fleet has been redesigned to include a three-class configuration that features Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy Class. First Class is being phased out as the carrier attempts to match demand for the other classes of service. The development of Premium Economy Class took two years from design to production as the airline focused heavily on the comfort and space used by passengers. According to Ivan Chu, Chief Operations Officer, the carrier wanted passengers to feel like they are receiving a "Premium" experience, rather than an "Economy" experience.

The Premium Economy cabin is equipped with 26 to 34 seats depending on the aircraft, providing passengers with comfort and privacy in a dedicated section of the aircraft that is separated from Economy Class. The section also features a dedicated cabin crew to serve and assist passengers. The Premium Economy cabin is priced higher than regular Economy Class but much lower than Business Class. The goal of the Premium Economy section is to bridge the gap between the prices of the Business and Economy cabins. Although Premium Economy fares are priced 50 to 80 percent higher than regular economy, Cathay Pacific Director of Sales and Marketing Rupert Hogg says, "We will never be the cheapest because we believe people will pay for the value if you get the product right."


Copyright Photo: Chris McGinnis, Travel Advisor
Although the introduction of Premium Economy cabins is a growing trend in the airline industry, Cathay Pacific took it one step further improving not only the aircraft cabin but the entire end-to-end experience for passengers. Cathay Pacific's Premium Economy passengers are served at dedicated check-in counters and provided with an increased baggage allowance of 25 kilograms. Passengers are also provided with priority boarding after Business Class passengers. Once on board, cocktails and champagne are provided to passengers as they settle into their seats, along with personal amenity kits designed by G.O.D that are stylish and versatile.

The Premium Economy section is designed in a 2-4-2 configuration with eight seats abreast featuring the signature emerald green colour scheme of the carrier. Each seat was created for passengers to enjoy a 19.5-inch seat width, a 38-inch seat pitch, and an 8-inch recline. The seat features a soft cushion and includes a headrest that can be adjusted for taller passengers. The same pillows used in Business Class can also be found in the Premium Economy cabin. In comparison, Philippine Airlines, which also operates between Manila and Hong Kong, only offers a 34 inch seat pitch in Premium Economy aboard its Airbus A330-300 fleet.

A number of other amenities have been installed in the Premium Economy cabin to better reflect the experience of travelling on board a premium international carrier. A footstep can be found just below the premium economy seats to allow passengers easier access when reaching for the overhead bins. A coat hook can also be found next to the 10.6-inch personal touch screen monitor, along with a small space to stow your personal belongings just below it. In addition to larger meal tables, the centre console now incorporates a cocktail table, where passengers can enjoy drinks and snacks.

For in-flight entertainment, streaming content on personal electronic devices has never been easier with the multi-port connection situated beside the personal touch screen monitor. Complimentary noise cancelling headsets are also distributed. They are the same headsets used in Business Class. The in-flight dining menu has also been enhanced with selections reminiscent to the food being served in Business Class. Meals are also accompanied by a selection of fresh fruits, which many passengers enjoy on long haul flights.


Copyright Photo: Cathay Pacific
To better inform travellers about the benefits and features of flying Premium Economy on Cathay Pacific, the company developed a website entitled, “My Premium Economy Experience.” The website is designed to showcase the features, benefits and details of Premium Economy Class not only from the perspective of the carrier, but most importantly from the actual first-hand experiences of passengers flying in Premium Economy Class.

The website features actual passenger reviews and photographs of their experience flying in Premium Economy. It also incorporates Twitter and Instagram feeds to highlight live comments and photographs from passengers of their on board experience. Passengers are also given an opportunity to respond to survey questions and to post their own reviews. All reviews are categorized by each stage of the travel experience from check-in to baggage collection and by the perspectives of various travellers from business people to tourists.

Launching a website to solicit and showcase passenger feedback is an industry leading move that puts the carrier one step ahead of other competitors in the airline industry. Not only has Cathay Pacific set the bar high for Premium Economy passengers, but it is also setting a new standard in customer engagement, demonstrating why it is indeed worthy of its recent designation as the World's Best Airline.


Copyright Photo: Philippine Airlines
Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines rolled out its own Premium Economy cabin earlier this year on board its new Airbus A330-300 aircraft. When compared with the identical aircraft used by Cathay Pacific, Philippine Airlines falls short on a number of amenities for Premium Economy passengers. Cathay Pacific offers a 38 inch seat pitch, while Philippine Airlines offers a 34 inch seat pitch. The seat width aboard Cathay Pacific is also wider at 19.5 inches compared to 18 inches offered by PAL.

In terms of in-flight entertainment, Cathay Pacific offers a 10.6 inch personal screen for video on demand with the ability to stream content from your own personal devices, while Philippine Airlines offers a wireless entertainment system with the need for passengers to bring their own personal devices or to rent a tablet from the carrier as there is no built in screen. Overall, the Cathay Pacific Premium Economy experience focuses on the entire end to end experience, while the enhancements aboard Philippine Airlines are primarily limited to on-board features. Although the airfares for Premium Economy offered by Philippine Airlines are likely to be lower, the on-board product certainly reflects why PAL was rated 93 out of 100 carriers around the world and Cathay Pacific was rated number one.

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  1. If youre a premium ecy on phil airlines, insead of a ptv, ipads are provided for free.

  2. Another thing worth noting is that PAL's 'premium' economy only goes as far as extra legroom. The seat configuration is the same as regular/standard economy.

  3. In other words, PAL's premium economy is but economy accommodation on CX. Who are they kidding!

    1. economy on cx?? No personal IFE system. bring your own tablet plus minimum charge for using inlfight avod. its not even gonna pass any premium airline economy class. philippine airlines is a joke peroid!

  4. How to save on Cathay premium economy. Fly PAL long haul before, then just buy a CX economy ticket as the step up in service will already feel 'premium'...

  5. PAL just packs passengers in like sardines are they have been roasted in terminal 2

  6. service levels in cx economy are better than pals business class


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