Cathay Pacific will fit an all-new economy seat across its Boeing 777-300 fleet as the airline moves to a tighter but more profitable 10-across layout instead of the current 3-3-3 seating.
All 17 of the Oneworld airline's regional Boeing 777-300 jets along with 48 of its 53 long-range Boeing 777-300ER jets will be upgraded – or should that be downgraded? – from mid-2018 to 2020, gaining as many as 40 extra seats, with the five oldest members of the 777-300ER fleet being retired.
While economy class legroom will remain at 32 inches, the new seats will be as much as 1.3 inches (3.3cm) narrower in order to achieve the necessary 3-4-3 layout... not good new for "passengers of size", or even those who put away an extra meal at Cathay Pacific's airport lounges.
This will see the seat width reduced to 17.2 inches, Cathay says, down from current widths of 18.2 inches on the Boeing 777-300 and 18.5 inches on the Boeing 777-300ER respectively.
However, Cathay Pacific’s General Manager of Product James Evans is keen to talk down concerns over the dreaded '10 abreast' and talk up Cathay's new-but-narrower Boeing 777 economy seat which will deliver that extra higher capacity.
"I think 10 abreast is probably a little bit of a distraction from the experience," Evans tells Australian Business Traveller. "People get fixated on that '10' number, but it's very much an industry standard, and customers have not yet expected our 10 abreast product."
Evans says the "ergonomically-designed" seat – which will come from Recaro – "with seat cushioning technology and all the details you'd expect from Cathay Pacific."
This will include a "slightly newer version" of the winged headrest on the airline's Airbus A350 economy seat (below)...
...and likely the same a small tablet/smartphone ledge below the HD personal video screen, which Evans says will be "11.6 inches to 12 inches."
The Boeing 777-300ER fleet will also be fitted with inflight Internet to help distract passengers from the squeeze.