Revealed: Cathay Pacific’s ambitious Boeing 777 first class concepts

These concepts were among those shortlisted for Cathay’s exploration of new Boeing 777-9 first class suites.

By David Flynn, January 21 2021
Revealed: Cathay Pacific’s ambitious Boeing 777 first class concepts

With Cathay Pacific pushing back the arrival of its first Boeing 777-9 jetliner to "beyond 2025", the airline is now overdue for the launch of its all-new first class suites: a launch which, if not for a domino effect of delays from Boeing and the impact of COVID-19, would have been happening this year.

After signing an order for 21 Boeing 777-9s in 2013, Cathay's deliveries were slated to begin in 2021 and stream through to 2024.

The Boeing 777-9 was always intended to become Cathay's new flagship and serve as the launchpad for new first and business class products – and in 2014, a year after placing its order with Boeing, the Hong Kong carrier began exploring fresh first class concepts.

European agency Yellow Window was among the firms shortlisted, and its work provides a tantalising take on the evolution of Cathay's first class.

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

"In the context of the delivery of its new Boeing B777-9X and the refit of the Boeing B777-300ER, Cathay Pacific wanted to rethink the passenger experience and the first-class cabin concept to strengthen its position as leader among the world’s top airlines," Yellow Project explains.

The mention of a Boeing 777-300ER refit is intriguing: Cathay's current Boeing 777 first class debuted in 2007, with subsequent refreshes in 2013 and 2017.

Cathay's Boeing 777-300ER first class will make way for an all-new design on the 777X-9
Cathay's Boeing 777-300ER first class will make way for an all-new design on the 777X-9

In fact, Yellow came up with two designs "inspired by a revisited Asian culture and a subtle quest for balance and harmony."

The first was this elongated suite: a luxury cocoon for Cathay's first class flyers.

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

"The design offers a new experience in the first class,' Yellow suggested at the time.

"The materials and colors are inspired by the current contemporary Asian style and offer standards worthy of the greatest hotels but in the air."

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

According to Yellow "the cabin design is based on a concept of 'metamorphosis' and the first-class suite must be able to offer different spaces for different points in the journey, becoming a lounge, an office, a dining room and a bedroom."

Here is Yellow's proposed Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-9 first class suite in 'work mode', creating a cosy corner office above the clouds.

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

The bottom part of the seating module would fold up to become a legrest, with under-seat stowage for small cabin bags.

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

Another clever touch: the shelving which holds the fold-out dining table also sports an LED lighting feature (presumably with adjustable brightness and colour), a smartphone holder-charger and a recess for your G&T.

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

Those straps along the bench conceal a fold-out surface which extends to the width of the suite and could them be dressed with a mattress to create a long, fully-flat bed.

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

Yellow Window followed Cathay's already-established 1-1-1 first class layout, putting one suite at either side of the cabin and one in the middle.

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

Although this puts the suites in an open configuration by default, a 'window shade' dropped down from the ceiling to provide privacy as needed.

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

It's no accident that this 'apartment' approach mirrored that of Air France's own Boeing 777-300ER La Première first class suites of 2014.

Air France's Boeing 777-300ER first class suite.
Air France's Boeing 777-300ER first class suite.

Yellow also designed that initial concept, which was then shaped by PriestmanGoode to evoke "sophisticated French luxury for international travel", with plush curtains to transform the suite into a boudoir.

Air France's Boeing 777-300ER first class suite.
Air France's Boeing 777-300ER first class suite.

Yellow Project's second exploration for Cathay Pacific used the Boeing 777's cabin cross-section to create two extra-large first class suites "where the bed is located near the seat and gives the space a sense of cocooning."

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

These would be paired to allow four first class berths on the Boeing 777-9.

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

None of Yellow Project's images show how passengers would transition from sitting to sleeping, and the armrest seems too substantial to retract.

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

Directly ahead of each passenger: a large flat-screen video panel and a newspaper and magazine rack.

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

The armrests include a small dock to keep your smartphone at hand, while a mirror sits atop the corner shelf.

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

Curved panels around each suite offered a degree of privacy, similar to Cathay's current Boeing 777-300ER first class without going to the extent of sliding panels or doors.

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

Personalised overhead LED lighting was just part of the package "in order to amaze and delight (passengers) during the flight and ensure well-being and physical regeneration afterwards."

One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.. Yellow Window
One of Cathay Pacific's early Boeing 777-9 first class concepts.
Yellow Window

As for what Cathay Pacific's actual Boeing 777-9 first class suites will look like, we'll probably have to wait several years to find out.

Also read: Revealed - Singapore Airlines' Airbus A380 first class concepts

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.

THR
THR

20 Sep 2012

Total posts 71

In the second example, all four passengers are too close together. Doesn't seem at all practical or private (at least, from a noise perspective, and when being served).

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 61

And you can’t sit by the window for take off ✈️ which is a killer for me. 

Dragonair - The Marco Polo Club

10 May 2015

Total posts 11

Not a fan- the current CX F product is very unique and still competitive in 2021. These 2 concepts are very lacklustre in terms of privacy. 

While it's all good to look at pros and cons of concept designs like these, it's also worth remembering that these were done in 2014, and a lot has changed in the industry since then, as well as that these are just 'concepts'.

That said, I do like the first one, it's a bit of a modernised version of the long-standing CX first class. The 'rollerdoor' for privacy simply woudn't work, the designers should have just used a curtain like Air France did, and also CX has curtains for privacy in The Pier First 'day rooms' so it would have been 'on brand'. But the general idea is really good. I still rate CX and QF as having among the best 'open suites' for first class, followed by QR's A380 although those were a bit too open.

05 Dec 2018

Total posts 153

Agreed a curtain simple, effective and elegant.

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 252

I like the current CX First  on the 777 1-1-1   

New desights  the  1-1-1 seems ok  but too far away from window   -the current First is failrly private, and 1 A   only 2A  and the flight attendants use my aisle.   

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

20 Mar 2020

Total posts 1

1/ Where to set the seatbelt during fully flat-bed position?

2/ the noise elimination effect of the rollardoor is not as good as curtain. And it would be a disaster if the rollardoor out of order during the flight. This could happen when someone accidentally crashed on the door. 

3/ The designer forgot the aircraft operates in the air but just parking on the ground. 

Etihad - Etihad Guest

19 Mar 2018

Total posts 72

I thought Cathay Pacific went for Paperclip Design's Peacock Suite?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Nov 2012

Total posts 98

I think it looks like a dentists waiting room.  

UA *Gold Lifetime

18 Dec 2015

Total posts 6

Super un-inspiring concepts from Cathay. Looks more like Greyhound or Amtrak. 

Who did Ethihad First apartments? Very innovative, private and luxurious. Sad they’re not flying… 


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