Cathay Pacific Economy: seats = fail

My trek to the USA this time around, was mired with issues.

First up, I was flying a new airline – Cathay Pacific. I had generally flown United or Singapore Airlines to the States, because it just seems to work better — plus they’re Star Alliance, and I like keeping my status there.

So, I now register for their Asia Miles. My travel agent (the venerable AMEX travel) tell me that the flight they booked me, the seats can’t be pre-booked, so I’ll have to wing it at the airport. Nifty. Thankfully, I get an aisle seat.

Now, as soon as I get on the plane from Hong Kong to San Francisco (delayed, might I add, by a few hours — where’s my compensation, oh wait, AMEX booked the flight, I can’t ask my credit card company for money now), I get a tad shocked. I have an aisle seat towards the back of the plane. The seats don’t recline. OK, they do, but they are a new design, and they recline inwards. This means that if you carry any height, you’re screwed. Sure this means no one ever gets towards your laptop screen, as they can’t recline backwards, but is this really what I want on a long haul flight?

OK, the seats have in-flight power. There are nice screens, and the in-flight entertainment is great. All this reminds me of Singapore Airlines (in fact, SIA’s flights to SFO via HKG/ICN still sometimes tend to not have power, unless you fly the new Airbus). Heck, the whiskey they serve on-board is great – Chivas Regal 12yo, and Johnnie Walker Black Label (not the Red Label crap you tend to get) — pity I don’t drink in-flight. But the seats not reclining?

Apparently, I’m not the only one who has encountered this: Cathay Pacific’s New Coach Seats (I’d focus on the comments, if I were you – and yes, I too am 180cm tall, just shy of 6-feet), Economy class seat comfort review (hardest seat, bad for lower back, “seats were the worst”), and the list goes on.

No one seems to want to fly Cathay on a repeated basis, on long haul flights. Don’t believe their marketing hype. SeatGuru doesn’t have much info on the best seat to snag either — because there is no best seat.

So, I have to fly Cathay back again from the US soon. But let it be known that this is the last time I will fly them on a long haul flight. I don’t care if you can shave a couple hundred bucks off, I was useless and not at my optimum for two days since arriving, and I’m sure the productivity lost, outweighs the cost of the savings in the ticket.


  1. Carolyn Chan says:

    I hate seats in the last aisle on any airline. Long haul flights should just leave those seats empty instead of subjecting poor passengers to the discomfort of sitting upright all the way.

    My last trip to HK on CX was ok though, didn’t get the last row, just a wing view seat (second worse seats). Thankfully I was tired enough to sleep through most of the way.

    I like leg room too and sometimes I’m lucky enough to get the first row with a bit more space to stretch out. This depends on your luck or how nice the check-in counter person wants to be.

    • byte says:

      Going to Hong Kong from KL was an OK experience. I had a front row seat, normally reserved for parents with kids. It was also a different plane, entirely (the HKG->SFO leg was on a 747).

      Besides, I didn’t even check if the seats in those (KUL->KHG) reclined… such a short flight, I got work done.

      So make no mistake that only the last row (right before the toilets) can’t recline on a long haul flight.. this happens no matter what row you’re on, as long as you fly coach.

  2. May says:

    New Cathay Pacific economy seats are TERRIBLE. No true recline and the seat padding is very thin. The seat design does not support your back properly leaving you with aches and pains after any considerable time. Perhaps for a short haul flight this can be tolerated. But for long haul trips this is a terrible design blunder by Cathay.

    These new seats have totally put me off flying Cathay Pacific ever again!