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Cathay Pacific - Premium Economy - is it worth it?

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JPHK1878 - 29/08/2012 04:40 BST

Has anyone flown CX's new Premium Economy? How does it compare with Air NZ, Virgin, BA and Qantas Pre Eco?

I can't seem to find any reviews for it. It's more expensive than the others generally and I've heard one report where they didn't have a Premium Economy section on a flight booked from New York to HK so simply dumped people back in economy with a US$696 refund/apology.

Gin&Tonic - 29/08/2012 07:03 BST

Jane take a look at


JPHK1878 - 29/08/2012 07:12 BST

Hi G&T

Thanks I've seen those but I was wondering if anyone has actually travelled on CX and the other airlines as a normal paying customer in Premium Economy and what they thought.

I know one person who traveled CX and they really didn't rate it. In fact they were quite scathing.....but... they haven't traveled premium economy before.

Tinp0tTaipan - 30/08/2012 11:38 BST

This might only be partially helpful (I've not travelled in Cathay PE) but I have done a lot in some of the others.

BA - almost always the cheapest and not great. Better in new planes.
Virgin - gone right downhill in terms of food and service
Qantas - brilliant; comfy seats, great food & wine and service.

Air NZ is meant to be good too. Am giving them a go in December...

There's a bit of a debate about whether PE is worth it. As I am tall, broad-shouldered AND a fat barsteward running a fledgling company then it's worth it for a less awful long-haul experience. There is still a substantial gap between PE and even the cheapest business class.

If you're petite and can sleep sitting up I'm not sure it's worth it.

BeckyBoop - 30/08/2012 12:00 BST

Premium economy is definitely worth it. Lots of firms are cutting back on first/business class travel due to the cost. So a premium economy seat is worth it to some business travellers especially as these seats offer you more space to relax. I remember Vintage krug telling us that even Willie Walsh flew himself and his family in WTP.

Jane, I don’t think there is that much difference in when it comes to premium economy or below especially if you fly on newer models of any airlines fleet. AZ certainly looks pretty funky!! Also have a look at the link below for a current offer by BA. In the past some Club World tickets have proved to be cheaper than WTP x,-from-A-pound-634?page=2#last_post

sparkyflyer - 30/08/2012 12:28 BST

On the NZ Premium Y, you need to know there are two very different products. On the 777-200, they have a 3-3-3 seating, which for a premium y is pretty poor (compared with BA at 8 abreast for example), and infact the same as their 777-200 economy, wirth a bit more legroom. This aircraft serves the LHR-HKG-AUK route. It does have the same catering as business however.

On the LHR-LAX-AUK route, they use the 777-300, which is far superior I believe, at 2-2-2! Much better than the awful 3-4-3 in Y.

So if you are travelling to/from HK, the CX seating will be far better than NZ.

QF does not ply the LHR HKG any more, but looks good to me.

What premium Y gives you as enough space that you are not fighting the wall, seat in front, or your neighbour, and can exist comfortably. I do not think the BA premium Y seat is that comfy in itself, but the space does make a difference.
From the seat pics posted on this site, I would consider the CX product attractive.

KSHaggag - 30/08/2012 20:41 BST

Ladies & Gentlemen ,

Let me share my previous experiences with various airlines in premium Economy ..I have not tried them all but at first sight when I read that the seat pitch on Cathay s Premium Eco seating is 38inch I understood the product was average in terms of space ....People pay that extra money seeking extra space /legroom ..the other amenities are not crucial ...AF,BA,VS offer the same seat pitch which is not really much ..I tried AF and BA ....not really BRIGHT but okkkeyyy...The best ever Premium Eco in the sky in terms of space is the Turkish Airlines Comfort Class on the 777-300ER exclusively optg to HKG,SHA,NRT,BJS,CAN,LAX,JFK,SAO,YYZ .....46 inch of seat pitch is indeed generous feels like the business class of the early nineties .....For some ppl ,other amenities than space do count so it is purely personal whether to go for that cabin or not .....

IanFromHKG - 07/09/2012 04:28 BST

JanePhillips, I have now posted a review of the seat - although it isn't as detailed as I would like, because I wasn't the one flying!!

FivestarFred - 07/09/2012 05:37 BST

Hi Jane,

I flew on a Cathay A330 from HKG to SYD earlier this week and the aircraft had the new interior for all cabins including premuim economy. Whilst I was in another class I tried out the seat for a little while during the flight as the premuim economy cabin had only three passengers on that flight.

I am over six feet tall but the legroom (both in the first row and middle rows) was ample and I could stretch out my legs all the way without either touching the dividing wall or the front of the seat ahead. The seat seemed quite comfortable for the litle time I sat in it. My only disappointment (which is unjustified really) is that the dividing armrests are fixed and on an empty flight I wouldn't be able to lift them up and spread across the seats. Even though the layout is 2-3-2 it's still better than sitting almost upright.

The recline is generous but if you're used to lie-flat or fully flat then on a long flight this might not be adequate.

It definitely feels a lot better than economy and the private cain makes it feel special.

I have flown NZ on their old PE (upstairs on 744) and seatwise they definitely are comparable though I think NZ pips it slightly. Haven't flown QF, VS or BA PE but walking through those cabins, BA will be the worst of the five. BA seems more economy extra. VS seats look good but the legroom appeared quite restricted. Service on VS probably makes up for that. The CX seat looks more comfortable than QF and the cabin feels more special being in in the middle of the plane rather than at the back (QF A380) and the configuration of 2-3-2 better than QF/BA 2-4-2.

Sorry I can't be of more help.

ChrisSmith - 07/09/2012 06:47 BST

Hi Jane,

I have only flown CX and BA in premium economy, so can't compare to QF, NZ or the others. However, here's my take:

The seats seem reasonably similar, with similar (limited) recline and legroom. For either one, I would invest in a good neck pillow, as the adjustable headrests don't really stop your head from flopping about - you are pretty much sitting up, after all. The CX seat is supposedly slightly wider, and it did seem a bit roomier. Overall, the seats on both carriers are more similar to the old business class seats from 15 years ago than to current economy seats.

I felt CX dropped the ball in two places:
First, there is no dedicated toilet for the premium economy cabin; you have to queue for the economy toilets. And since they're located behind you, and behind the privacy curtain, if you're trying to go pre-emptively when there's little or no queue, you can't. You have no idea what the line up is like until you actually get there.

Second, and more surprising for CX, is the meal service. I had read that they were going to use the same catering as J class, but minus the appetizer course and with 3 meal choices instead of 4. Boy was I in for a shock! The service was pretty much exactly like economy: plastic tray, foil covering, plastic cups, plastic bag for cutlery and salt, etc. The food was reasonably good, but it generally is in CX economy anyway. I think you would only consider it an upgrade if you are inclined to argue that Burger King is an upgrade over McDonald’s. I did not find that it was a level of service somewhere between their reasonably good economy service and superb business class service. That was a surprise, and I would think that with the small size of the cabin, they could easily do a better job of the meal and service without additional crew resourcing. My memory of the BA flight is that I was fairly impressed by their service and catering, although I don't specifically remember what was served.

That being said, you ask "is it worth it?" If your choice is between CX economy and CX premium economy, the answer is a resounding yes. First, the cabin is quiet. There tend to be very few children in PE, and your fellow passengers tend to be more seasoned travellers who are (theoretically) more aware of airplane etiquette - lowering window shades, not hoisting themselves up using the back of your seat, etc. But most of all, you will be avoiding CX's hideous ‘space shell’ economy class seats that slouch rather than recline. I actually arrived at my destination reasonably well-rested, having been able to catch a few hours sleep even in a recumbent seated position.

If your choice is between CX and other carriers' premium economy, I would say shop around. Even as a CX loyalist (and Diamond Marco Polo member), I don't see where they have distinguished themselves from other carriers in this regard, and wouldn't pay a premium to travel them over other carriers. I would rather spend the extra money on an upgraded hotel, great meal, or fine bottle of wine at the destination.

Enjoy your trip, and do let us know what you decide, and how the experience was!

JPHK1878 - 07/09/2012 08:31 BST

Dear All,

Thanks very much for the feedback.

Chris thanks about the heads up re:service and food. That is a shocker that they haven't looked after PE better. On NZ they do. Business class food, service and shared amenities.

Fred, thanks for the info regarding legroom. I'd heard from someone else that it really wasn't that substantial, but it sounds like its not bad.

I think Chris could be right about more seasoned travellers and being aware of etiquette.

Thanks again everyone for the feedback, much appreciated.

All the best

IanFromHKG - 07/09/2012 09:00 BST

About the toilet issue - I haven't been in the CX PE cabin, but I would be very surprised if there isn't an illuminated sign on the bulkhead indicating where the toilets are (eg "TOILETS AFT") and whether or not they are occupied. It won't tell you how long a queue is, of course, and by the time you get there someone may have gone in, but if it is just "TOILETS AFT" rather than "TOILETS AFT OCCUPIED" then that would be the time to go!

To ChrisSmith's other point about the dreadful economy - about which he is completely correct, by the way - you should check to see which aircraft configuration it is, as CX are rolling out a new economy product with proper recline rather than the dreadful old shellback .seats

KSHaggag - 07/09/2012 09:41 BST

Definitely CX PE should be better than BA World Traveller Plus ...the BA product is all bout 6 inches extra ...that s it ....all other fetures are Economy it is not really worth the money extra...I felt squeezed ...pretty much squeezed on BA in WTP ....AF is a bit better ....

BeckyBoop - 07/09/2012 12:42 BST

The old BA premium Economy (WTP) is not that great and very uncomfortable compared to the super new WTP which is very good! This has much more elegant new interior, luxurious seating, and a new IFE You will get two USB ports and an RCA port, enabling you to use your own personal electronic devices with the in-flight entertainment system and an in-seat power socket compatible with a range of international plug types to power your devices throughout the flight. You will also get a complimentary bar service, juices, teas and coffees, snacks and meals throughout your journey and a Club World meal for your main meal.

However please be aware that the new WTP are only on selected aircraft. Mostly 777's (all 777-300 is guaranteed but the 777-200 is still being updated), some 767's but not the 747's so pick your flights wisely. I know for instance the BA28 from LHR tends to run a 777-300 Also try to avoid middle row seats apparently these seats are estricted because of the electric box under the seat.

Also have a look at the link below for current offer by BA for WTP and WT.,-from-A-pound-634


Also by flying BA to HKG you can also transit through LHR and experience the award wininng Terminal 5 designed by Foster + Partners and experince the array of exclusive shops and fine dining at Plane Food by Gordon Ramsay.

KSHaggag - 07/09/2012 13:08 BST

An advice to all PE fellow travellers seekers want a decent PE for a small surcharge ,go for TK ( Turkish Airlines ) challenges ANY PREMIUM ECO product in the sky !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!...the only drawback is that it is limited to only the B777-300ER serving 10 destinations from IST ...HKG,NRT,PVG,BJS,SAO,JFK,LAX,YYZ,ICN.....It is indeed the business class of the early nineties ..46 inches of legroom ...find me another carrier offering 46in seat pitch in PE ...the average is 38inch ....they all claim it is spacious but it is not !!!!..46 is indeed ...the catering is very much upgraded over Eco ....the comfort top notch for a PE product..IFE easy to use and surfe and big screen ,,..amenity kit ,slippers ,etc..................i was impressed and will always seek it when I need to indulge but cannot afford J ...........The feeder /defeeder connection to/from IST is of course in Eco ,but frankly very often TK is deploying the longhaul a/c A333,332,773-ER on many main european points e.g. LHR,CDG,FRA,AMS ,BCN.............go for it !!....if u are a Star Alliance Gold u are sure to secure some generous status miles and gain lounge access too while flying Premium Eco ........a real treat ...isn t this a deal ???? not syphooning off CX passengers to TK but just highlighting the good PE s around ....i wanna try CX PE product ....I am a CX lover ....

BeckyBoop - 07/09/2012 13:20 BST

Yes the TK does sound and look good however as others on this forum have testified in the past there are some questionable safety concerns when flying Turkish.

Also if you're a BA Executive Club member, you can ear Tier Points and a 25% Avios bonus every time you fly World Traveller Plus.


On board with BA WTP you will get a complimentary newspaper, cushion, blanket and amenity kit including earplugs, toothbrush, toothpaste, flight socks, and eye mask.

KSHaggag - 07/09/2012 13:33 BST

It is purely up to your loyalty concerns ..if u are an exec Club member and building loyalty with OW ,then stick to BA however their PE product is not as good and value for money as the TKs ...this is a very specific point where TK surpasses and beats its rivals head and shoulders above the pack ,however its competitors do better on other features beyond the scope of this thread ..I do agree fully !!!...

FlyingChinaman - 07/09/2012 14:04 BST

I tried the PE once from SYD-HKG for a couple of hours at meal-time when I bumped into a business associate who was travelling in this cabin and the chief purser (one of my regulars) knew I was investigating this new product.

True you will not find a dedicated toilet, however I found it very good WHEN comparing it as an enhanced ECONOMY CLASS product against regular Economy Class travels.

Given the CALMER cabin, better leg-room and seating, more amenities and less crowded environment in general PLUS a promise of a very extensive long-haul network coverage from CX. One can't fault this new travel product especially the ticket price is quite affordable.

We should compare apple with apple (non-stop long-haul flights with convenient schedules in a premium airline) instead of comparing this CX PE product with some discounted BIZ products via some second/third tier airlines.

Speed and reliability IS very important to BIZ travellers. Leisure travellers are more likely to benefit better fare pricing with longer travelling times.

CX has reported a very favourable customer response from many of their travellers and is getting more bookings in this new class.

In essence it is a good choice for self-finance travellers to get increased comfort without straining their wallets!

Enjoy your travels!!

andystock - 08/09/2012 09:36 BST

I booked into BA PE on a return leg from Dubai to London as it was only £80 plus I earned extra 1000 avios points. Then playing around on manage my booking I upgraded to club world for £43 + 10000 avios points. So BA PE was worth it for the cheap upgrade to club world.

JPHK1878 - 10/10/2012 03:04 BST

Dear All,

Just thought I'd update you on my experience and those of colleagues who have flown CX Premium Economy.

Yes it is slightly wider than economy. It does recline, rather than the current slide forward of the economy bucket/shell seats. The cushioning of the seat is comfortable and I found the headrest to be very good. However if you're taller you may struggle with this.
There is no leg rest! That is only for the front row. All you get is a foot rest. Again worked okay for me as I'm only 5' 4" but was hated by taller travellers.

There is more space between seats than in Economy. However it isn't enough to allow the person on the inside seat to get out without moving the person on the aisle.

There is a dedicated washroom on the 77W and on the 747 when traveling to and from London. On the flights to the US both colleagues on separate flights also had dedicated washrooms.

Is poor. You may as well be in Economy.
You're meant to have priority baggage - waste of time. On my journey my bag was one of the last to come off. Same experience for colleague and spouse on separate journeys.
The website claims you'll be welcomed with a glass of champagne when you get on board - never happened.
The food is economy food, economy service, plastic glasses.

Yes you're in a dedicated area, supposedly. On my return from London we had people walking through PE to use the facilities. The area is right over the wings so is very noisy on the 747 and same on the 77W.

The ONLY thing you are paying for when you pay double the price of economy is to get a slightly wider seat with some recline (rather than slide forward) and a tiny bit more leg room. That is it.

There is no additional service, the priority baggage doesn't work, the food is economy only.

Cathay NEED to improve the food and service because the seat alone just isn't worth double the price of economy. Other colleagues have also commented that having tried it to the US they will NOT travel PE again. Simply not worth it.

That's the update.

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