Here is Cathay Pacific's new Airbus A321neo business class seat

No surprises as Cathay locks in a regional recliner rather than fully lie-flat bed.

By David Flynn, December 29 2020
Here is Cathay Pacific's new Airbus A321neo business class seat

Cathay Pacific's Airbus A321neo business class seat has broken cover, months before the jet itself is expected to take wing from early-mid 2021.

Snapped on a factory-fresh A321neo with protective plastic still lining the aisles, this next-generation regional business class is – as the airline itself had tipped – a deep recliner rather a flatbed.

Cathay Pacific's Airbus A321neo business class.
Cathay Pacific's Airbus A321neo business class.

12 of these seats crown the pointy end of the A321neo, arranged in three rows of two-across, with sliding panels between the paired seats for a bit of extra privacy.

In common with Cathay's previous regional business class, shown below, this model is mounted into a fixed shell: the seat reclines within its own space, rather than pushing into the space of the passenger behind.

Cathay Dragon's regional business class is designed to suit short-range flights across Asia.
Cathay Dragon's regional business class is designed to suit short-range flights across Asia.

(And while allowances must be made for cabin lighting, Cathay's A321neo has clearly adopted more subdued tones than the traditional Cathay green.)

The seat itself is Collins Aerospace' Air Rest, which made its debut on Oman Air's Boeing 737 MAX in 2018, so until Cathay Pacific shares some officially-sanctioned PR photos, these images from Oman Air will show more of the seat's features.

Oman Air's version of the Cathay A321neo business class seat.
Oman Air's version of the Cathay A321neo business class seat.

This side view shows the 'space' assigned to each passenger, with the seat already pre-reclined.

Keep your finger on the recline button and the seat begins to move into a sundeck-style 'lazy Z': the rear slides down, the seat pan angles up a bit and the legrest swings into place.

Oman Air's version of the Cathay A321neo business class seat.
Oman Air's version of the Cathay A321neo business class seat.

All this is done within the seat's shell and dedicated passenger space, rather than impinging on the traveller behind.

In replacing its current regional business class, which debuted in January 2013, Cathay deliberately chose to avoid fully lie-flat beds which typically require more cabin space and result in fewer premium seats.

Vivian Lo, Cathay Pacific’s Head of Customer Experience & Design, has previously told Executive Traveller that with "the majority of the flights are below two hours, stretched to four and at most six", those flight durations did not require the lie-flat luxury of a business class bed.

Cathay Pacific's Vivian Lo says regional flights don't require lie-flat luxury.
Cathay Pacific's Vivian Lo says regional flights don't require lie-flat luxury.

What routes will Cathay's A321neo jets fly?

16 A321neo jets were previously slated for regional airline Cathay Dragon, which has since been shut down: Cathay Pacific will add those A321neos, along with other Cathay Dragon single-aisle Airbus jets, to its fleet.

Two A321neo aircraft have already been delivered to Cathay Pacific this month, with four more headed for the Hong Kong hangars in 2021 and 10 to follow in 2022 "and beyond," the airlines says.

However, which cities will be visited by these fuel-efficient jets will depend on the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and its effect on border restrictions and overall travel demand.

"The entry into service and the routes onto which those aircraft will be deployed really depends on the recovery," Cathay Pacific COO Greg Hughes remarked in August, "and how that develops over the coming months, so we don’t yet have a firm plan on that."

A second tranche of 16 A321neos was slated for low-cost sibling HK Express – which Cathay acquired in 2019 for $915 million – from 2022 "and beyond".

Meanwhile, Cathay Dragon's network – which encompasses some 50 destinations across Asia, with around half of those being in mainland China – will be split between Cathay Pacific, which will take over the more popular and premium-heavy routes, and HK Express, for predominately leisure routes frequented by more price-sensitive passengers.

Also read: Cathay Pacific delays Boeing 777-9, new first & business class

David

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.

Yep, no surprises here, CX said it wouldn't be lie-flat, but it looks like a good seat all the same. I've flown in the current regional business class with both Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, the way the seat of the person in front of me doesn't enter my space is certainly good, especially on a late-night flight when you're trying to nap. I really like the smartphone holder in the current business class although it was designed back when the largest phone was something like an iPhone 4.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 231

They look very good indeed.

This is something that VA should look into when they prepare for the entry of their B737 Max aircraft

There certainly is no need for a full flat seat on the East- West service and this recliner could be just what is needed.

05 Mar 2015

Total posts 339

Glad to see that garish CX Green is gone, the new colour scheme seems more grey and charcoal, although that could be affected by the cabin lighting,  but this is definitely a bit classier. Looks like the headrests are leather or 'pleather' while the seat cover is fabric.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

07 Aug 2013

Total posts 238

This looks like a good long haul premium economy product also. I'm liking how the seat in front won't encroach in the space when reclined.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 227

6 hrs?  this reminds me  of  SQ A330 wit hslant beds = not acceptable     for 3hrs + flight  - the option to fully recline and doze  is essential    you either pay or use points  for a reasonable flat bed not a sub-standard product 

I have flown extensively on Cathay Dragon and I'd say that a most flights are 2-3-4 hours, some but not many are 5-6. But unless you are doing an overnight leg on a 5-6 hour flight you don't need lie-flat. There are very few overnights of 5-6 and not enough to warrant the cost and space sacrifice of fully-flat beds across the fleet or running a sub-fleet and having the hassles that come with that such as equipment swaps and lack of product consistency. My Australian colleagues admit to having been pretty spoiled with what Qantas and Virgin have flown on their east-west A330s, but in Asia for regional flights of the same duration, lie-flats are a rare exception to the rule.

11 Dec 2020

Total posts 1

So many reasons not to fly CX on their regional business class and they have just added another one. I really wonder what kind of study  Vivian Lo did before saying that flat bed is not a requirement for regional flight. 

Read my comment above, aqua, I do a lot of travel on Cathay regional business class and as nice as it is to fantasize about a lie-flat bed it really is an expensive indulgence for an airline when its flights are pretty short, exactly as Lo has mentioned in the interview. If most Cathay regional flights were 6 hours and overnights then a flatbed would make sense, but most are 2-4 hours and most are in the day or the evening.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 227

Like comparing SIN-NRT   on ANA  Great when you get a 789 with 1-2-1 config  for the flight  or  crap when their is a swap  to a 788  with 2-2-2 slantbeds    A just over 6 hour flight transcon USA  (NYC-EWR/JFK-LAX/SFO)can be done in AA First in fulll flatbed on A32 with First Dining room privileges, on UA 787-10 or 789 with full flatbeds with UA  Chalk and cheese  - this is fine for 3 hours but not for 5 or 6+ hours -but then you cater to the non-discerning market    -airlines ain't stupid   

What shame. Remember the times when Cathay led the pack with SQ. Like Qantas they have passed the baton to Qatar Airways.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 227

Hey that why  we fly LX aka Swiss  from ZRH-TLV v.v   for 3 hrs 45   A330   or sometimes 777    with First, Business and Economy  -LH stopped their wide bodies for slightly longer flights MUC/FRA-TLV vv then  we quickly swapped to LX    - airlines again cater to their markets! It like flying CX  to TLV  on an A350 with substandard C  and no F!!!   Happy holidays! Froehe Weinachten ! Καλα Χριστουγεννα !  חנוכה שםח!!!!!!!

JKH
JKH

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

23 Sep 2017

Total posts 150

It looks rather OK for less than 3 or 4 hours. Beyond that it’s a good PE only.


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