The best seats in business class on Cathay Pacific's Boeing 747

By John Walton, September 12 2012
The best seats in business class on Cathay Pacific's Boeing 747

Connecting from Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific's Boeing 747-400? You'll want to make sure you pick the best seat on board, because there are some corkers -- and some that are definitely among those to miss.

Cathay's new business class is just fantastic, but its older fully flat version is still found on many flights -- including all Boeing 747-400 aircraft, which won't be refitted.

These are fully flat beds -- no angled lie-flat seats here -- arranged in the somewhat controversial "herringbone" arrangement, which gives that all-important direct aisle access so there's no night-time vaulting over passengers in an aisle seat required.

Criticism of the seats revolves around the high walls and lack of width, with many referring to this as "coffin class".

You'll find business class in the upper deck of the jumbo, and in the cabin behind the nose downstairs. (Always go upstairs if you can -- it's quieter and less busy.)

Note: despite there being some 747s with Cathay's new Premium Economy installed, the business class layout is the same across both.

The best seats on the plane

First class seats: if you're flying on the regional Asian flights from Hong Kong where Cathay doesn't sell first class, you may well be able to persuade lounge staff to swap your seat for one in the luxurious first class found in the nose, where you'll receive business service but in a first class seat.

Rows 80-82: with no lavatories to the front of the upstairs cabin, seats in rows 80-82 are likely to be undisturbed during your flight.

Rows 88-89: since the rear half of a 747's upper deck has less rushing wind noise than the front, you might also consider these seats, although they're closer to the lavatories and galley kitchens to the rear.

Rows 83-87: if you can't snag any of the better seats upstairs, these are better than anything downstairs.

12A 12K 14A 14K 15A 15K: these window seats towards the middle of the downstairs cabin are a good bet if there's nothing decent upstairs, since there are lavatories and galley kitchens to in front of and behind the downstairs cabin.

The worst seats on the plane

92A 91A 91K: right next to the upstairs lavatory and galley, these are seats to avoid.

Rows 11 & 17: at the front and back of the downstairs cabin, these seats are right next to lavatories and galley kitchens.

B and G seats: Since every seat has direct aisle access, you might as well skip the middle pairs, which don't grant any extra "chat with a neighbour" opportunity.

Also in our Best Seats series:

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.

12 Apr 2011

Total posts 72

I think these seats are "Herringbone", not "Reverse Herringbone."

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2213

Seconded - it's the new J that's reverse herringbone.

03 Jan 2011

Total posts 667

Whoops! Quite right -- I'm seeing so much of the new seat style at the moment that it obviously stuck in my head as the new standard.

01 Feb 2012

Total posts 370

Can someone please confirm that none of the 333s on the HKG to SYD still use these old seats?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2012

Total posts 116

Spinoza: I am 99% sure all the 333's from SYD to HKG are sporting the new business seats. More info is available at or perhaps John or David might know?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 May 2012

Total posts 177

Hi John,

Flying MEL - LHR in J with Cathay next week to make the trek back home to Europe for Xmas. On the A330 from mel - hkg with the new business config. then the 747 to lhr. Amy tips for the layover in HKG on what lounge to use etc, also is there much of a difference in terms of quality of service and seat with the 747. Only flown J with Ethihad long haul before to compare with.


Hi Guest, join in the discussion on The best seats in business class on Cathay Pacific's Boeing 747