Cathay Pacific has revealed the fares for its highly-anticipated premium economy service, and as tipped by Australian Business Traveller they're about 50% above economy prices.
The cost of a Sydney-Hong Kong return flight in mid-April averages $2,300 for premium economy, compared to economy rates hovering around the $1,500 mark for the same period.
(However, depending on the dates of travel, the lowest premium economy return fare is $2,176 while economy sits just shy of $1,200.)
Those premium economy rates are also one-third the price of Cathay's $7,750 rack rate for business class.
This near-economy positioning is consistent with comments by Cathay exec Alex McGowan, who described the airline's premium economy to Australian Business Traveller as "an economy plus product, not a ‘business class minus’ product... trading down from business class into premium economy is not the game we’re in."
Cathay's premium economy service will be introduced on flights between Hong Kong and Sydney, New York, Toronto and Vancouver from March 1st, although bookings are available only from April 1st onwards.
As Australian Business Traveller revealed last week, throughout March Cathay Pacific will offer free premium economy upgrades to top-tier frequent flyers travelling in economy class.
Cathay Pacific will naturally prioritise its most loyal Marco Polo Club members first, starting at the top tier Diamond Plus elites to Diamond and possibly Gold.
Also in line for a bump-up are Emerald-grade frequent flyers with oneworld partner airlines, such as Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum.
Premium economy pricing
Here's the average cost of a premium economy return flight in mid-April for Cathay Pacific's first four destinations, as listed in the global distribution system (GDS) used by travel agents.
- Sydney: CX101/100 (daily except Thursday) – A$2,300
- New York: CX830/831 (daily except Monday) and CX840/841 (daily except Thursday) – HK$45,000 (US$5,800)
- Vancouver: CX888/889 (Wednesday only) – HK$27,700 (C$3,580)
- Toronto: CX826/825 (Monday, Thursday, Saturday) and CX828/829 (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday) – HK$32,800 (C$4,240)
Cathay Pacific vs Qantas vs Virgin Atlantic
How does Cathay's average $2,300 rate for Sydney to Hong Kong stack up against Qantas and Virgin Atlantic, both of whom also offer premium economy on the same route?
For the same mid-April period Qantas is listing premium economy prices averaging $2,450 for a return flight – the actual prices are $2,300 and $2,600 depending on which specific dates you travel.
Virgin Atlantic's premium economy return fare is a flat $2,200 throughout that week.
Once Cathay Pacific releases photographs and other details of its premium economy seat, Australian Business Traveller will publish a detailed comparison of the full premium economy experience for Cathay Pacific, Qantas and Virgin Atlantic.
Cathay's premium economy offering
The premium economy seat is 19.3 inches wide with a 38 inch pitch (six inches more than CX economy class, so it's close to par with Qantas' premium economy) and an 8 inch recline.
Fittings include a large meal table, cocktail table, footrest, 10.6-inch personal television, in-seat power outlet, a multi-port connector for iDevices and extra personal stowage space.
Creature comforts for passengers will include a wider choice of onboard meals and snacks, noise-cancelling headphones and a large pillow.
The premium economy ticket will also entitle you to an increase in baggage allowance from 20kg to 25kg (for luggage allowances measured according to weight) or two pieces of baggage from 23 kg to 25kg each (for allowances measured by the number of pieces), priority check-in at dedicated counters and priority boarding ahead of economy class passengers.