Cathay to remove first class from 777-300ERs

The familiar ‘open suites’ will be replaced by all-new private business class berths.

By David Flynn, April 8 2024
Cathay to remove first class from 777-300ERs
Executive Traveller exclusive

Cathay Pacific will remove first class across its 777-300ER fleet, replacing the dated suites with its all-new high-privacy business class pods.

The move will make Cathay first class exclusive to its Boeing 777-9 jets, which are due to arrive from 2025 with a luxurious new first class design which could possibly carry the ‘Halo’ brand.

Vivian Lo, Cathay’s General Manager of Customer Experience and Design, confirmed the 777 revamp to Executive Traveller during an interview on the sidelines of the airline’s 2024 premium economy launch.

Going, going, gone: Cathay Pacific's iconic and still much-loved Boeing 777 first class.
Going, going, gone: Cathay Pacific's iconic and still much-loved Boeing 777 first class.

“Eventually the current first class will be replaced by the new first class in the 777-9,” Lo told Executive Traveller, so that the 777-300ERs “will just be three cabins: business, premium economy and economy.” 

This will avoid the obvious complication of trying to justify the higher price of a first class ticket on jets where the business class offering will be markedly superior, at least in practical terms of the ‘hard product’ of the seat and video screen.

Cathay Pacific's new Aria Suites business class will replace first class across the 777-300ER fleet.
Cathay Pacific's new Aria Suites business class will replace first class across the 777-300ER fleet.

Cathay’s current six-berth Boeing 777-300ER first class debuted in 2007, with revamps in 2013 and 2017 – and despite its age, the spacious ‘open suite’ design remains a favourite of travellers, especially when paired with Cathay’s high standards in first class food, drinks and service.

Upgrading the Boeing 777-300ERs with the new Aria Suites business class will begin mid-year and is expected to take as much as three years, through to mid-2027.

However, those 777-300ER first class suites will still be flying for some years to come, as the first-equipped jets won’t go under the knife until towards the end of the refurbishment program.

Going, going, gone: Cathay Pacific's iconic and still much-loved Boeing 777 first class.
Going, going, gone: Cathay Pacific's iconic and still much-loved Boeing 777 first class.

“The transition (to a three-class 300ER fleet) will be a managed process,” the airline says, with the revamp schedule avoiding “an immediate impact on current first class operation.”

"There is no immediate impact on our first class network,” Lo added. “A core network will be maintained and while there would be eventually some reduction in capacity it would only be around the tail end of the transition.”

21 of the 30 Boeing 777-300ERs being upgraded to Aria spec are crowned by first class, with the same number of 777-9s on order.

And despite business class pushing into the pointy end of those 777-300ERs, the number of business class seats offered as a whole isn’t expected to largely change.

Most of the additional overall space will be taken up by premium economy, which is expanding from 32 seats to 48 seats – a 50% increase which speaks to Cathay’s confidence in the growth of the premium economy segment.

David Flynn visited Hong Kong as a guest of Cathay Pacific.

American Airlines - AAdvantage

02 Jun 2019

Total posts 21

This is a huge loss Cathay First Suites are very nice, why would they being doing this.   The product is still competitive so it must be paying customers are few.    The last thing they want or need are too many milage redemption customers.     Other Asian airlines seem to be thriving in First Class, so this one is really hard to understand ?    

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer P1

23 Aug 2014

Total posts 139

Good to hear but It would be great if all airlines that offered two vastly different F (or J) experiences, charged LESS for the (overall) lesser of the two, taking into account "replacement time" in a reasonable way 

1. SQ suites on the A380 vs F on the 777 (vastly different)

2. EK Suites on its A380/777 vs the relatively tiny number of "game changing" 777 Suites

3. The new JL A350 F vs the 777 F (vastly different)

4. And interesting to see what QF does with this dilemma when the new F and old F are flying concurrently (the fares for J on QF transcon 737 and A330 are still the same - appreciate this is comparing J rather than F)

Its ok for the "crossover" to take time

Its not ok to bleed the customer because demand allows it 

23 Oct 2019

Total posts 7

People who want to get one last ride on this before they go - NZ124 between AKL and MEL usually has it flying every other day in the all-white NZ 77W and available at an extra fee for business travellers.

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1529

It is sad - I liked their enormous bed.

American Airlines - AAdvantage

02 Jun 2019

Total posts 21

Surprising they don't keep it for routes like LHR, JFK & LAX.    Even the relatively short Tokyo to HK route had First Class on some flights with 777. 


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