Cathay Pacific Will Cram More Passengers in Coach

Back in January Cathay Pacific told me that they are “a premium, full-service airline” although I guess it depends on what the definition of premium is.

In the fall Cathay Pacific announced that their Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s would be getting high speed internet. It turns out the retrofit of 777s also includes adding seats to coach. Cathay is going 10-abreast with slim seats in economy.

Passengers on some Cathay Pacific Airways flights will face narrower economy class seats from as early as this month as Hong Kong’s biggest carrier squeezes in more people to boost profits.

The move is expected to add HK$700 million (US$89.7 million) to Cathay’s bottom line annually when its refit is completed, helping the airline recover from two years of back-to-back losses.

Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER

They expect 6 retrofits to be completed by end of summer, starting with three-cabin aircraft, and all of their 777s including those that offer a first class cabin are expected to be updated by end of 2019. They’re promoting that the new tighter seating will offer bigger (11.6″) seat back video screens.

Cathay says this “brings us up to the standard of premium carriers in the industry.” And while carriers like American Airlines, Emirates, and Air France offer 10-across seating on Boeing 777s, many around the world still offer nine across seating such as Delta, Singapore, Thai, and Air China.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Picture of your Cathay Pacific 777 airplane, have a nose cone from a different non Cathay Pacific airline.

  2. @compspy it actually looks like a nose cone with the new CX livery on a plane with the old CX livery…but yes, unfortunate that CX is going 10 abreast considering most of their routes are long haul.

  3. You have your directions reversed Cathay. You’re actually heading down to your competitors’ level.

  4. “Back in January Cathay Pacific told me that they are “a premium, full-service airline” although I guess it depends on what the definition of premium is.”

    Airline management consider “premium” to mean charging premium fares, and nothing else

  5. It’s simply smart business. Economy class is commoditized, as evidenced by the rise of the ULCCs. There’s no point in offering a “premium” economy product, if you want that then sit in “premium economy”!

  6. I’m not sure I wouldn’t trade WiFi for the 10 abreast seating . . . even more so if I’m sitting in front and don’t have to sit in it. Its 2018, and CX really can’t expect us all to be willing to be totally incommunicado and cut off from the world for 16 hours.

  7. Ten across in coach on the 777 is probably the biggest tragedy in commercial aviation these days. It’s really too tight, especially for the long haul flying these aircraft are intended for. If passengers realized how narrow the seats where, they’d likely choose a different aircraft or carrier. I find the 3-4-3 configuration on the 777 to be the international equivalent of the tight legroom on Frontier and Spirit: airlines I try to avoid because it’s just too uncomfortable.

    The problem is that customers don’t know and cramming more seats into the tube makes more money. And airlines aren’t in business to be nice, they’re in business to make money.

  8. Ditched my AsiaMiles card today. Got a Finnair Plus instead. Bye, Cathay, it was nice flying with you.

  9. for 10 years CX boasted about its 3-3-3 wider economy seats

    Passengers actively avoided them and gave their money to EK/EVA /Air Canada and CX lost market share

    CX is merely giving customers what they want
    IN fact CX was so hesitant to move to 3-4-3 but economy passengers are willing to pay a higher price on competitor airlines to be stuffed like sardines….

  10. im pi##ED i deliberatly booked cathay for 3/3/3 seatin now i find out it might be 3/4/3 on my hong kong cdg leg and my fco to hong kong leg. they arent very helpful re my particular flights whether they will or wont be. and to top it off my agent wanted 8oo bucks each to cancel tickets as i was going to rebook with thai or singapore
    so it looks like i got to cop it

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