Cathay Pacific regional business class first for Singapore, Tokyo

By David Flynn, October 19 2012
Cathay Pacific regional business class first for Singapore, Tokyo

Singapore and Tokyo are on the cards for the launch of Cathay Pacific’s new regional business class in January next year.

The seat, which we profiled on its launch in Hong Kong earlier this month, represents a new approach to regional business class.

Its hybrid design borrows some elements from an angled lie-flat or ‘sloping sleeper’ seat and weaves them into the more conventional form of a recliner.

Toby Smith, Cathay’s General Manager, Product, tells Australian Business Traveller that the airline gearing up for a super-fast rollout of the new seat which will be retrofitted across Cathay’s regional Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 fleet.

“That will come into service starting in January 2013, and there’s just under a two-year roll out program, completing in late 2014” Smith says, with the seat slated for “short-haul flights – such as Singapore, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur and Tokyo."

It will also appear on some flights to India and the Middle East which route via Bangkok, although direct flights to India and the Middle East will get Cathay's new business class, with the rollout of that due by April 2013.

A Cathay Pacific spokesperson subsequently confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that Singapore, Tokyo and Osaka would be among the first to see flights with the new regional business class seats on upgraded Boeing 777s.

The refit of the Boeing 777s will continue throughout 2013, with the focus shifting to upgrading the Airbus A330s towards the tail end of the year. This will be followed in 2014 by delivery of new Airbus A330s with the seats factory-installed.

"Flatbed no, features yes" say travellers

“The average flying time of our regional flights is around three hours and the longest is five”, Smith explains, “and a flatbed is not required for that.”

In fact, Smith says that feedback from passengers was that a lie-flat bed was not a priority for regional business class.

“We followed a similar process with our long-haul business class in terms of intensive and extensive passenger research and trialling of mock-ups, including input from Marco Polo Club members” Smith says.

The overwhelming response, he recalls, was clear: travellers “told us they didn’t want a flatbed.”

“What they wanted was a bit more personal space in a more comfortable seat, a good working space, better AV, more personal storage and iPod-iPad connectivity.”

The Recarro Comfort Line 5510 seat chosen by and customised for Cathay Pacific certainly ticks all those boxes.

The fixed shell design protects your space from the recline of the passenger in front, with a moulded shell providing 45-47” of pitch or for keeping your laptop bag handy during the flight.

The fold-down tray table is quite wide (at just over 20 inches) and  deep (14.5 inches), with a CX premium economy-style cocktail table for both passengers in the centre armrest.

Adjacent to the 12.1 inch video screen is a USB port to keep your travel tech charged up plus a multi-pin video plug which can pipe video from your iPhone or iPod onto the seatback screen.

(This requires a special adaptor cable which the Cathay cabin crew will have on hand, although we suggest frequent flyers buy their own and add it to their carry-on travel kit – Griffin's eXport will do the trick.)

Every passenger also gets their own laptop power supply courtesy of a universal AC port.

The seat itself swings into uber-relaxation ‘lazy-Z’ mode by combining the 36 degree recline with the extendable legrest’s 60 degree upswing, with both settings able to be fine-tuned using independent electronic controls.

At 21” wide from edge to edge of the cushion, with a little extra wiggle-room under each armrest, travellers shouldn’t feel squashed on even the longest short-haul trek.

The deep literature pocket in the centre console will help get magazines, books and even smaller tablets out of the way – especially if you dump all of the CX-supplied bumpf into the overhead bin.


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 May 2012

Total posts 580

Interesting given that CX also services SIN & NRT on triangle routes such as HKG-SIN-BKK, HKG-SIN-CMB & HKG-NRT-TPE. Will these 5th freedom routes see the initial refits too, or just the direct return flights?

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 543

What does CX 450 turn and run on?

20 Feb 2012

Total posts 125

Umm I though Hyderabad/Delhi/Bombay  and the middleast are all getting the Longhaul business class!

Even some of the schedules for next year show this.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

Hi Kash: although our transcript of the interview with Toby read as though India and the Middle East were geting regional business  class, we checked back with CX and yes, they will be getting the 'full' flat-bed business class for all direct flights, however flights which tag via Bangkok will have regional business class. Article amended to refect this, thanks!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1378

Will the 9-pin adapter work with the new Apple Lightning ports.

I think a better solution would have been USB or HDMI/miniHDMI

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2551

The 9-pin adapter will work with whatever's at the other end of the adaptor cable – at the moment the only one CX has, and indeed Griffin has, is for the original iPhone/iPoad plug.

And as it seems that Apple is the only company which can produce Lightning plugs, at least for the moment, then the best bet for frequent CX travellers would be to grab one of Apple's Lightning-30pin adaptors (plugs or cable) and add that in your carry-on pack.


20 Oct 2012

Total posts 4

Unfortuantely, Apple have designed the adaptor so that video output won't work through it (iPod control functions, but not audio, won't function either). They are releasing a native Lightening-HDMI adaptor soon. 

Best course of action is probably to wait until Griffin release an eXport cable compatible with the new Lightening dock. 

27 Jul 2011

Total posts 42

How can these compare to SQ's regional business!?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2207

By being used on short-haul rather than medium-haul?

27 Jul 2011

Total posts 42

Fair enough, I guess SQ has the short-haul upper hand then.

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 543

They can't, but they're still good.

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