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Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Seats - Beware!

Hong Kong, China
posts: 1
reviews: 10
Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Seats - Beware!

Having seen Cathay Pacific’s advertising for their premium economy seats I decided, in February, to purchase return tickets to London for July 4th 2012.

One week before my travel date I received an email advising of a flight schedule change – the change was that they have moved me from premium economy to economy for my return leg. No explanation, no mention of a refund, nothing.

I called the reservations number from the Cathay website, and was told they were not able to help me and that I needed to speak to Customer Relations so I asked to be put through. They told me that was not possible because they do not have phone numbers?!!? Great customer service if your customers can never contact you!

Eventually I was told that someone from Customer Services would call me back immediately….. two hours later I get a call. The gentleman tells me that yes the seats have been changed as Cathay have decided to change the plane for fuel purposes (obviously to save money) and there is no premium economy section on that plane. I asked him what possible solutions he had for this problem and how much of a refund I would get. He told me that he would check with his finance department to see if I ‘could have’ a refund!!! As to solutions, his sole response was that I could cancel the tickets. Clearly this was not acceptable to me and so I asked to speak to his manager. He told me that was not possible but he would look into the possible solutions and get back to me by 2pm the next day.

I was still waiting at 3.45 and so I called a number in customer relations and eventually, after speaking to three people, I got back to the man I spoke with yesterday. His response was that I could have a refund of $2430. That was all he offered. No offer of an upgrade, no offer of a premium economy seat on another flight on the same day, nothing. After more discussion he promised that someone in Customer Relations would look into it and call back before 5pm so I hung up. At 9.45pm I called again and was told Customer Relations went home at 5pm and as it was a holiday weekend they would not be back until Tuesday, the day of my flight, too late to do anything.

So a word to the wise, never book premium economy seats because Cathay Pacific can and will cancel your seats at the last minute. They are happy to take your money and hold onto it for months for seats that do not exist. They also seem to delay and delay with dealing with complaints until the flight has passed or the customer has cancelled because as I was told by Vicky Wong, Duty Manager in Charge “the best option Cathay Pacific can give you is for you to cancel your flight and have a refund”.

People. They make an airline…..but only as long as you have passengers flying with you.

43 replies to this topic
Llandudno North...
posts: 2,583
reviews: 17
1. Re: Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Seats - Beware!

Oh another 1st post ranter.

ALL airlines make changes to their equipment used depending on sales and other variables.

This is not limited to Cathay, some airlines are more prone to this than others but in such a competitive market with such small profit margins airlines have to do what needs to be done to maximise profit. Otherwise they go under, and you end up with less choice and higher costs.

In summary aircraft change happen, deal with it get over it. They offered you a full refund a lot of airlines wouldn't have even done that.


Edinburgh, United...
posts: 8,991
reviews: 17
2. Re: Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Seats - Beware!

Are PE seats considered a different travel class on Cathay? If so, you should be entitled to partial eimbursement for being downgraded as outlined by the EU 261 regulations. I wouldn't be happy with a refund either a week before travel.

Edited: 10:51 am, June 29, 2012
Llandudno North...
posts: 2,583
reviews: 17
3. Re: Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Seats - Beware!

I'm not sure of the exact "in s and outs" of EU 261 but wouldn't it only apply to a EU based carrier?


Edinburgh, United...
posts: 8,991
reviews: 17
4. Re: Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Seats - Beware!

It also applies to non-EU carriers departing from the EU. Since the OP said he was downgraded on his return leg, I take it this means a flight from London.

Seattle, Washington
posts: 9,114
reviews: 91
5. Re: Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Seats - Beware!

Equipment swaps happen with all airlines, and we all hate it when this happens. When I have questions about an airline's policies, I usually go directly to their webpage. You are entitled to a refund of the fee you paid for these seats:

In the following exceptions, Cathay Pacific Airways will refund you if the Extra-legroom Seat is not utilised: the flight is disrupted

the flight is cancelled by Cathay Pacific Airways/Dragonair

the connecting flight is missed because of flight re-timing of an inbound/outbound Cathay Pacific Airways/Dragonair-operated flight

if Extra-legroom Seat is not available when you move to a different flight.

The refund will be USD100 or USD25 or equivalent in local currency, as full and final compensation. Refund will be in the original form of payment and within 20 calendar days


London, UK
posts: 1,255
reviews: 128
6. Re: Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Seats - Beware!

I agree with Lex; assuming PE is a distinct class (and not just some kind of 'better' seat like a prebooked exit row seat in economy) then Cathay were quite correct to offer a full refund. That would allow the OP to make alternative arrangements with another airline, if they absolutely didn't want to put up with an economy seat on one leg. But they should also have offered cash compensation for the downgraded leg if the OP's preference was to keep the booking and travel anyway. That's what I would expect - and demand, in fact. But of course Cathay have the right to change their aircraft if they want to. Or indeed cancel the flight altogether.

Edinburgh, United...
posts: 8,991
reviews: 17
7. Re: Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Seats - Beware!

Gracie-boo: The OP mentions Premium Economy which is a different travel class as far as I can tell from Cathay's website. You're talking about extra legroom seats which are just seats in economy with, well, extra legroom.

The price difference between economy and PE is fairly substantial, close to 100% on the couple of random dates I checked. Clearly the OP is entitled to some form of compensation for the downgrade.

Edited: 11:17 am, June 29, 2012
Perth, Australia
posts: 4,966
reviews: 27
8. Re: Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Seats - Beware!

Premium economy is used in several airlines ... it's a better and bigger seat than economy ... more leg room and better meals. But not as expensive as business class.

Qantas and Virgin Australia use these classes on their Pacific routes between Australia and the USA, and it's becoming very popular on those long flights.

Portland, Oregon
Destination Expert
for Air Travel
posts: 19,400
reviews: 5
9. Re: Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Seats - Beware!

Lex is correct,

Assuming the OP purchased a (true) Premium Economy ticket, and is involuntarily downgraded by the airline, then under Article 10 of EU261/2004, the airline will owe compensation, in cash. For flights greater than 3500km the compensation is 75% of the price of the ticket for that flight.

Obviously, you can't claim the compensation until you have taken the flight, in case the airline re-accommodates you in the premium cabin. But it's worth pointing that out to them, and that that will be your claim should you not be restored to your original cabin.

Edited: 2:09 pm, June 29, 2012
Llandudno North...
posts: 2,583
reviews: 17
10. Re: Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Seats - Beware!

There doesnt seem to be any mention of downgrading before arriving at the airportin Eu 261

I mean as Cathay has advised the OP over a week before she flies does this still count as a involuntary downgrade with respect to EU 261 after being offered a refund and notified before arriving at the airport?

Just seems a grey area in my opinion.


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