Inside Cathay Pacific's all-new Airbus A350

By David Flynn, May 30 2016
Inside Cathay Pacific's all-new Airbus A350

Cathay Pacific is now the proud owner of its first Airbus A350, which comes complete with newly-designed seats fitted from tip to tail.

Each of the airline's twenty A350-900 jets will carry 280 passengers split between business class, premium economy and economy.

(That's up to 45 more seats than the three-class Airbus A330-300s which the A350 will gradually replace, with all of those additional seats allocated to the economy cabin.)

38 business class seats take pride of place at the pointy end of Cathay's A350.

They're based on the airline's current highly-regarded business class and in the same 1-2-1 layout – but with an updated design which CX is carefully positioning as a 'refresh' to improve the existing seat, based on extensive passenger surveys and in-person workshops.

Travellers will find improvements in storage space, the ability to slide the meal table closer towards you, a degree of tilt for the large HD video screen and more room for your knees, whichever side you lean towards.

Read: Cathay Pacific's new Airbus A350 business class seat

There's also a compact premium economy cabin of 28 seats in a 2-4-2 arrangement.

(That's the same layout as on Cathay's Boeing 777-300ERs, but a little tighter in the middle compared to the 2-3-2 of the Airbus A330s.)

This sports an all-new design with a padded swing-up legrest built into every seat...

... unlike the airline's first premium economy offering (below), which has a proper legrest only in the first row of seats and a less comfortable swing-down 'T-bar' footrest for all other rows.

There's also two inches of extra legroom compared to Cathay's Boeing 777 jets due to a slightly greater distance between each row of seats.

The airline has also added a handy 'tablet tray' beneath each seat's inbuilt screen onto which passengers can perch a tablet or even a large-screen smartphone for watching BYO inflight video.

Read: Up close with Cathay's new A350 premium economy seat

The rest of Cathay Pacific's A350 will be given over to 214 new economy seats ranked in a 3-3-3 grid...

...which also boast a similar tablet/smartphone ledge below their larger video screens:

The Airbus A350 is too fitted with inflight Internet: a first for Cathay Pacific's international fleet and an overdue catch-up to competitors such as Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Etihad.

Cathay Pacific's first commercial A350 service runs from Hong Kong to Manila on June 1 2016, joined on a daily basis by Taipei until the second aircraft arrives in July.

That's when fights will also commence to Bangkok, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City and Kansai, before swinging the fuel-efficient jet onto longer-range international routes to Europe from Q4, beginning with Dusseldorf and London Gatwick.

A350 flights between Hong Kong and Auckland will commence in the second half of the year.

More on Cathay Pacific's new Airbus A350:

Additional reporting by Chris Chamberlin.

Australian Business Traveller is visiting Hong Kong as a guest of Cathay Pacific.

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


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

28 Dec 2011

Total posts 95

Photos of the rumoured new premium economy seats do show some changes. They are not shelled. But are like the existing Y+ seats, so the person behind will still have to have the back of the seat in there lap. The aisle seat side, drops down to allow easy access. The seats also look like they have the same single padding as economy. The other problem is the toilet in Y+ is shared with the Y passengers, this is one of the bugs in the Y+. It not a problem in QF A380, they share the J toilets, and yes I know some of the CX 777's have their own toilets, but the majority of CX Y+ cabins don't. So if you are like me a male baby boomer it's a big deal??

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Apr 2011

Total posts 106

Not sure if I'm reading your comments correctly but how does an 8" recline into a 38+" seat pitch result in "...the person ...[having] the back of the seat in there lap"?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Dec 2011

Total posts 95

One of the issues as I see it with Y+ is that the recline does reduce the space you have, you may have 38+inches of pitch. But the recline reduces the access and egress for passengers in the middle seats. I have used CX Y+ a number of times and will be flying to LGW in December this year.

31 May 2016

Total posts 10

Ausbt's other article suggested the pitch in PE is around 40 inches.  If true that's certainly quite generous and might go some way to offsetting the reduced space when the seat in front is fully reclined.  Waiting for some updated trip reports in PE to confirm the situation.


10 Dec 2015

Total posts 177

<<They are not shelled.  But are like the existing Y+ seats, so the person behind will still have to have the back of the seat in there lap.>>

But if it is <<shelled>> and given the same seat pitch, your seat cushion will only slide forward when U recline thus reducing usable leg room.  So when everyone recline their seats, either A) your knees bang the seat in front of U fm a <<shelled>> design or B) the seat back in front of U in your lap fm a non-shelled design as U said.  I'm sure U recall CX did tried the  shelled seat design concept in Y a few yrs ago and in fact deployed on nearly all of its Australian routes.  Despite huge investment already made in those seats, CX quickly abandoned them in favor of the conventional design(i.e. have the back of the seat in pax's lap instead) due to backlash fm too many Y pax(NH experienced the same failure in shelled Y seat design and also reverted).... .no doubt more pax consider the non-shell in your lap design as the lesser of the 2 evils.

Personally by my own definition, CX has never have Y+(Economy Plus or similar) which is commonly defined as a seat design spec that's exactly the same as Y only installed with settings to provide more pitch and possibly more recline.  KL, DL, UA, AA, CA, etc. hv Y+.  What CX has is PY(Premium Economy) where seat design spec is completely diff fm Y such as seat width, cocktail table+wide armrest between seats, leg/foot rest, larger AVOD screen, etc.  QF, VA, NZ, AC, SQ, NH, JL, BR, CI, BA, LH, AF, etc. also hv PY.....but no Y+.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

31 Jan 2012

Total posts 107

I assume Dale you are a fan of Cathy. If you dont like the new PE seats then dont book em and your as for your rant. Well i just solved it for you

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Dec 2011

Total posts 95

I like CX, and will fly with them in December and maybe before. I was pointing out the the recline issue still exists. But I do agree FLX in that CX is PY and not P+. Whether the new PE seats will be hugely different, we will  have to wait and see. But CX have said they will not be upgrading the seats on the existing fleet.

18 Apr 2015

Total posts 67

Article headline terribly misleading. I was looking at the photos and I couldn't see any difference to the existing seats. Then I realise that they are the 'old' seats.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2553

The article makes it very clear these are photos of the current seats. Right now all we can share are some early details on the how the new seats will differ, plus seat count etc.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Sep 2013

Total posts 1248

I agree superflyer.  More clickbait "articles". 

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 543

Not the case anymore!!

21 Nov 2014

Total posts 3

I flew a number of sectors recently in PE with Cathay from Australia to Europe and back

I have to say the seats were just uncomfortable fullstop

I think the seat swab/lumbar support is flat and non-forgiving

Hopefully they might have addressed that in the 350

No-one is expecting business lite, but I don't think it's too much to ask for a commfy seat when virtually every business class product has progressed to lie-flat

Great looking seats but regretably as a veteran traveller no dedicated toilet in PY is a deal breaker for me.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Mar 2013

Total posts 170

Hi David. Thanks for the article, much appreciated.

Two questions.

I'm burning some points and flying CX 252 LHR/HKG and then CX139 HKG/SYD in AUG 2017. Currently the 777. Is the plan for this route to go A350?

As a QFF P1 can I access the First Lounge while travelling Bus on a CX ticket?

Many Thanks for words of wisdom forthcoming....

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2482

Hi Bevan, David is currently on leave.

Cathay Pacific has confirmed that selected flights on the Melbourne-Hong Kong route will get A350s from February 2017. No other Australian route has been confirmed at this stage for the A350.

Re: lounge access, yes, you can visit the Qantas First Lounge whenever travelling on Qantas, China Eastern, Emirates, Jetstar or indeed any Oneworld airline (including Cathay Pacific) in any class of service, even economy.

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