Cathay Pacific will embark on a refresh of the high-walled herringbone business class seats across its Airbus A340-300 fleet, along with the introduction of a new premium economy cabin.
All 11 of the long-range A340s – which fly from Cathay's Hong Kong hub to several cities including Auckland, Amsterdam and Paris – are set for the refit, with Paris flights CX279/278 first on the list from mid-July.
The upgraded A340s will add Amsterdam and Auckland to their roster in October.
The first-generation flatbed seats, which Cathay codenamed FB1 or Hercules – although less kind travellers have dubbed 'cubicle class' (or, less charitably, 'coffin class') – will be refreshed "with new colour and trim as per the 747s" Toby Smith, Cathay’s General Manager of Product, confirmed to Australian Business Traveller earlier today.
"The refresh lightens up the cabin and has a much calmer, more relaxing feel and gives the herringbone seat a new lease of life. We will be progressively retiring the A340s as we take on more Boeing 777s and the Airbus 350."
The A350's early 2016 arrival into the CX fleet could also see the debut of Cathay's third-generation or FB3 business class seat, Smith says – although he admits that topping today's highly-regarded design will be a hard task.
“I think that’s the challenge for us, what do you do next? I mean, you can’t get flatter than flat!” Smith laughs. “You might make it a little bit wider or a little bit longer, but if you’ve got a bed that takes someone who’s 6’ 2”, 6’ 3”, that’s probably going to be good enough.”
However, while the upgraded Airbus A340s will boast a refresh at the pointy end plus new premium economy seating just behind, the bulk of the plane will still sport the older and infamously uncomfortable 'fixed shell' design seats which declare a jihad on your lower back.
Cathay Pacific confirmed to Australian Business Traveller that the airline's new long-haul economy seat would not be included in the refit.
Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that the A340 upgrade would see the current business class seats replaced by Cathay's newest business class product. This was based on incorrect information supplied by a Cathay Pacific spokesperson. Cathay Pacific has since advised that the existing business class cabin will be refreshed rather than replaced, and we've updated this article to reflect that.
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