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Saturday, June 29, 2013

Cathay Pacific Business and Premium Economy review



Business class seating (file image)
Publisher Ian McIntosh recently experienced Cathay Pacific’s award winning business class and premium economy on a trip to Bangkok via Hong Kong. He reports:

While an increasing number of airlines believe big is better, at least one premium carrier is working hard at upgrading standards of comfort and service on its existing fleet, particularly for economy passengers.
Cathay Pacific for instance is progressively overhauling cabins in its fleet of mostly A330 and Boeing 777 aircraft and introduced its award winning new business class plus premium economy to the Australian market as a priority. The Adelaide-Hong Kong leg is operated by a completely refurbished A330 – it felt like I was walking into a brand new plane with its soft blue and green colour schemes.


Premium economy seats (file image)
The first leg of my trip was in premium economy and I would have to say I was quite intrigued by this new class. Firstly, the seats. I had visions that they might have been refurbished business seats – but no, they are a new design. Initially you wonder what all the song and dance is about - it takes a while to realise just how much better this cabin is than economy. However I digress. The first plus of flying aboard an A330 is the configuration. In economy it is 2,4,2 – much preferable for a couple to the 3,4,3 configuration used on say Emirates 777. In premium it is 2,3,2 – lots more space.

Premium economy meal offering (file image)
Premium pax were offered a drink and hot towel before CX105 departed Adelaide on time at 11.30am. The captain’s announcements were loud and clear and the animated safety demo video excellent. The entertainment system offers a reasonable selection of first run movies and is simple enough to use if you are an experienced traveller – but the lady across from me was not. Pity there is not a quick video to point out the basics. There were delicious petits four served on the first leg to Melbourne.

After reboarding (I used the business line) we were offered drinks with champagne in the mix. Great! Newspapers are at the front door – there is no delivery on-board. At 2pm economy style menus were delivered – offering a mains choice of curry prawns or mushroom and ricotta cannelloni. Lunch arrived on an economy tray - I always hold out little hope for airline food – but the prawn dish was visually appealing and delicious - even the rice was still soft and fluffy. Top marks to the Melbourne kitchen. It was about this time that I really began to appreciate the premium experience – not for the food, or the wine which is rather sadly served in plastic cups, -or even the excellent service - but the cabin itself. Closed off from economy and business, you are in a quiet, relaxing little section that only accommodates 28 people. Considering it only costs about 50 per cent more than a regulation economy fare I think it is value for that reason alone.

Refreshments before landing included a Panini which arrived in a foil pack you needed the jaws of death to open. Mostly thick bread with a smear of sauce it proved the only dining disappointment.
The only other slight hitch was the lack of immigration cards on board.
We arrived in Hong Kong 10 minutes early refreshed and ready to go.

Veteran travel and business reporter, Ian McIntosh, publishes Travel Agent Update


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