UPDATE | Cathay Pacific has now revealed the first details of its new Premium Economy class as well as a replacement for the airline's much-criticised international economy seat, both of which will debut in March 2012 on flights between Hong Kong and Sydney – see our full report for details.
PREVIOUS | Having unveiled its all-new business class seating at an event in Hong Kong overnight, and perhaps to avoid stealing the new seat’s thunder, Cathay Pacific is still keeping quiet on plans for a similar overhaul for the rest of the cabin on its Airbus A330 and Boeing 777 fleet.
These cover the bulk of Cathay’s medium haul, long haul and ultra-long haul routes (respectively the likes of Singapore, Sydney and London) – and while business class brings in the dollars, there’s also room to park plenty of bums in economy class.
But those bums, and the lower backs attached to them, are aching more and more due to the fixed-shell design of Cathay Pacific’s most recent economy seating.
The fixed-back seats are intended to preserve each passenger’s space because the seat’s don’t physically recline.
Instead, the cushions at the back and under the upper leg slide down and forward to change the passenger’s position within the seat’s shell. That may be good in theory but it's a recipe for severe post-flight aches.
The rumour is that Cathay Pacific has taken passenger feedback and criticism to heart and will announce new economy seating closer to the debut of the first aircraft to roll out of the factory with the new business class cabin in March 2011.
It’s tipped that the fixed-back seats, which were designed specifically for Cathay, could be retrofitted into aircraft which make relatively short-haul flights.
The Hong Kong flag-carrier is also said to be introducing a premium economy cabin – the first of its kind in the airline’s history.
Earlier this year Cathay Pacific sought the opinion of high-mileage members of its Marco Polo frequent flyer program on premium economy seating, which according to rumours will be added to new Airbus 330 and Boeing 7777-ER deliveries (of the later, Cathay Pacific has 18 on order) for long-haul and ultra long-haul services where the additional comfort will be most valued.
There’s no word on how many rows will be dedicated to this space or the amount of added legroom and seat width over the standard economy seats.