Cathay Pacific is offering free upgrades to its new premium economy class throughout March on flights between Hong Kong and Sydney, New York and Toronto.
The 'surprise and delight' campaign will target high-value frequent flyers travelling in economy class for the four weeks between the debut of premium economy on March 1st and those seats actually going on sale for flights commencing April 1st.
"In March, premium economy seats will be offered as an upgrade to selected passengers such as our Marco Polo members" a Cathay Pacific spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller.
That means four weeks of potential bump-ups so that Cathay customers can sample the premium economy seats and service.
Update: Cathay Pacific has now revealed prices for its premium economy class and they sit about 50% over economy. Read our report for full pricing and more details.
The seat is 19.3 inches wide with a 38 inch pitch (six inches more than economy class, so it's close to par with Qantas' premium economy) with a large meal table plus side cocktail table, 10.6-inch video screen and noise-cancelling headphones.
[Read our full report for more on Cathay Pacific's premium economy class]
Those fortunate upgraded flyers will also find themselves ensconced in a separate and more spacious cabin sandwiched between business and economy, with between 26 and 34 seats (depending on the type of aircraft).
The first flights with Cathay Pacific's premium economy class will commence on March 1st, out of Hong Kong.
According to the global distribution system (GDS) used by travel agents and reported by the Airline Route website, these will be (subject to change, of course)
- Sydney: CX101/100 (daily except Thursday)
- New York: CX830/831 (daily except Monday) and CX840/841 (daily except Thursday)
- Vancouver: CX888/889 (Wednesday only)
- Toronto: CX826/829 (Monday, Thursday, Saturday) and CX828/827 (Wednesday, Friday, Sunday)
In the case of Sydney and Toronto flights, even if you don't score the free upgrade, life in economy should be a bit more comfortable as you'll be flying in Cathay's new international economy seats, which swap the much-maligned 'fixed shell' seat for a more conventional recliner design.
The premium economy roll-out will extend to other cities, as well as higher weekly frequency and additional flights to the first four cities listed above, as Cathay Pacific fits the cabin to more aircraft.
Who will qualify?
Cathay Pacific will naturally prioritise its most loyal Marco Polo Club members from the top tier Diamond Plus elites to Diamond and possibly Gold.
If there's a shortfall of eligible Marco Polo members on board, the upgrade offer would cascade down to other Emerald-grade frequent flyers with oneworld partner airlines, such as Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum, then to Sapphire-class (such as Qantas Frequent Flyer Gold) and Ruby (Qantas and Cathay Silver).