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Cathay pacific premium economy

Hong Kong, China
posts: 2,247
reviews: 129
Cathay pacific premium economy

Hi everyone,

I'm wondering if anyone could give me some feedback about CX's premium economy. My days of travelling long haul in economy are at an end and my company is paying for an economy ticket but I plan to upgrade myself. Problem is, it's only on Cathay, and their business class is very expensive (double MH and other excellent competitors)... wondering if premium economy would be an OK compromise.

I've flown Cathay's new regional business and the seats look a little similar to the premium economy... but overall, would you recommend it?

Thanks!

107 replies to this topic
Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney
posts: 14,132
reviews: 31
1. Re: Cathay pacific premium economy

I'm a great fan of CX as an airline but...

My brother just returned from HKG, and said that whilst the service was friendly and the amenities brilliant, the whole package seemed a little 'hotch potch' - like it was planned poorly.

He felt the seats were wide and comfortable but nothing spectacular, IFE was very very ordinary, and food was not much better than he had previously experienced on CX 'Y'.

His view is that it doesn't come within a cooee of QF, and there's better bang for your buck. He finished with "go all or nothing"...

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
posts: 33,150
reviews: 76
2. Re: Cathay pacific premium economy

Having flown on QF, BA and CX PE, I don't think they are that different. CX actually has the best IFE of the three in terms of content (BA and QF really lag behind CX in this area) so I am surprised by the assessment above. I would give QF the edge in meals. Service depends on your particular crew. BA probably has a slight edge there overall, with CX being the worst but not noticeably poor.

The seats are similar overall--there isn't much between all three.

Hong Kong, China
posts: 2,247
reviews: 129
3. Re: Cathay pacific premium economy

Thank you both for your advice.

I very much agree with the "all or nothing" idea, but CX business is astronomically expensive. It's US$2300 more than excellent competitors than Malaysia (also Oneworld) or even Singapore. I'm happy to pay more to actually enjoy rather than endure the flight, but those CX fares are going into ridiculous territory.

I've always dismissed Qantas and only flown them when it's been absolutely necessary, but from the sounds of it their premium economy is quite good?

I just wish I wasn't restricted to a direct route (which is CX) because I would happily fly MH, TG or SQ business and pay extra. It doesn't sound like Cathay's premium economy is anything to write home about........

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
posts: 33,150
reviews: 76
4. Re: Cathay pacific premium economy

My take on PE is that it's always a glorified PE product (regardless of airline used), while business class is an entirely separate product.

The two biggest advantages of PE are more legroom and space, and also the smaller, quieter cabin.

Adelaide, South...
posts: 24
reviews: 70
5. Re: Cathay pacific premium economy

Is Cathay's Premium Economy worth it?

Let's talk benefits first. What's touted on the website is Priority Check-in, Priority Boarding, plus better seats than in regular economy.

It's certainly true the seats are much more comfortable than in Economy - they're wider, with more legroom and greater reclining capability. And for many people, that would probably be enough to convince them that Premium Economy is for them, and certainly it was for the couple sitting behind me. My poor old back certainly appreciated it. And if you can score the front row of Premium Economy on an A330, you've got some serious leg room. I couldn't reach the bulkhead, but just pray you don't get the Mum with screaming baby in the bassinet! The noise cancelling headphones were a real plus too. (On a 747 there's a loo in the Premium Economy section, not so on an A330. That might be important to you!)

But there are plenty of buts. For starters, there's no Priority Baggage, which means that though you might get off the plane ahead of the pack, you could still be the last man/woman/family standing at the carousel, as I was at Heathrow. That certainly took the gloss off getting off ahead of the bunch. There's not much point in having Priority check-in and Priority Boarding without Priority Baggage as well. You're paying to avoid the luck of the draw.

But even Priority Boarding doesn't work, or didn't in my case in Hong Kong. When I saw there was no separate roped-off corridor I went to the service desk and asked about it, to be told that 'management' had decided that there would be no more Priority Boarding after May 1. I showed them the website, where it was clearly still being spruiked as a selling point. I received an apology, a complaints form to fill in, but no apparent acceptance that Priority Boarding was still on offer. I was given priority boarding as a special favour. No other Premium Economy passenger was accorded the same.

Trying to complain to Cathay is like confronting the bureaucracies of Communist East Germany, China and Whitehall all rolled into one. On top of that, their complaints web page is so poorly designed that it is impossible to use. The cynic in me says that's obviously deliberate. Of course you can only complain via the complaints website. Catch22.

Now with a bee firmly ensconced in my bonnet, I ended up sending emails to various Cathay Sales teams around the world. First of all I received the standard automated reply - always infuriatingly impersonal, and guaranteed to increase feelings of frustration. I was told I'd get a proper response within 20 business days - not much good as I was flying home in just 2 weeks.

But then I did get two personalised emails - though each basically denied that any such ruling about Priority Boarding existed at HK airport. It must have been my imagination then, or some face-saving on their part. Of course I also received the stock standard company line about the importance of customer service to the airline. Yeah, yeah, yeah. (At this point, I would upload the responses, if only I knew how.)

Having Priority Check-in was a waste of time on the return trip from Heathrow, as I was there so early it was just me and the check-in staff. But when it came to getting through the gate into the Departure Lounge, First and Business had their separate queue - not so Premium Economy customers. At this point you're probably saying, get over it, stop whingeing etc etc, but if you'd paid virtually double the economy fare, how would you feel? Did I want special treatment? Absolutely.

At Hong Kong, (and, by the way, if there's a more confusing and less passenger friendly airport in the world, then I haven't seen it, and I've seen a few - OK, maybe La Guardia and LAX), there ended up being just two queues to board: First and Business, plus those few of us in Premium Economy who by that stage were saying blow it! And a few Economy passengers also joined our lineup, as they were actually urged to do by the ground staff! Another total shambles, made worse by the fact that there was then yet another security check of our cabin baggage, virtually right at the entrance to the plane. That was certainly a new one on me!

The saving grace was that out of the 28 seats in Premium Economy, only 9 were taken, though that doesn't bode well for the future of the service to Adelaide.

Having booked 4 days before the flight, I paid $3270 for this emergency return trip to the UK. I could have gone Economy on Qantas for $2400, and got there 5 hours quicker ( because of the necessity to go through Melbourne with Cathay). But I'd long wanted to try Premium Economy. I also wanted to punish Qantas for giving up on flying overseas out of Adelaide, and this was the perfect opportunity.

I return to my original question - would I go Premium with Cathay again? To be honest, I don't know. Like the curate's egg, it was good in parts, but could be so much better, a) with Priority Baggage, and b) with a little more organisation and consistency in the ground. Neither of which should cost Cathay very much, and it would surely lead to happier passengers, including this one!

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
posts: 33,150
reviews: 76
6. Re: Cathay pacific premium economy

As I mentioned, PE is a glorified economy (not "glorified PE" as I wrote mistakenly in my previous post) so one shouldn't expect First or Business class services.

I am surprised they canceled the Priority check-in at HKG since it is the CX hub. Perhaps they aren't getting enough passengers on the route.

HKG is voted one of the top airports every year, and I (along with many other travelers) agree on that.

Adelaide, South...
posts: 24
reviews: 70
7. Re: Cathay pacific premium economy

Not getting enough passengers on HK-LHR? I don't think so.

And my point on HK being confusing was borne out by other passengers on my flight, who were also wandering around aimlessly, trying to find out where to go next.

I'm sure HK is a great airport if you know where you're going, but for first-timers, it's a shocker.

Sydney, Australia
Destination Expert
for Sydney
posts: 14,132
reviews: 31
8. Re: Cathay pacific premium economy

Umm that is the weirdest thing.

Madpom, have you noticed our two posts on a different thread? I could have sworn we posted the reply on this thread.

Hong Kong, China
Destination Expert
for Hong Kong, Osaka
posts: 33,150
reviews: 76
9. Re: Cathay pacific premium economy

If you think HKG is a shocker, then I wonder how one might handle LHR, JFK, or LAX.

It's not hard if you follow the signs, and there are plenty of them around.

Your complaint appears to center around just one issue which is the lack of priority check-in at HKG itself. Whether that makes or breaks the PE product is of course your call. QF, BA and CX all have their pluses and minuses. They are more similar than different. Of course, if you felt you had overpaid for the CX PE service, a lot of it is because you bought tickets at the very last minute which usually results in higher fares for any airline.

Hong Kong, China
posts: 2,247
reviews: 129
10. Re: Cathay pacific premium economy

HKG is not mt favourite airport in the Asian region (that honour goes to SIN & ICN) but it's certainly not a shocker!

Thanks everyone for your replies.

I don't really care about priority boarding. I'm more interested in the on-board experience and so far it sounds like a real mixed bag. I know premium economy isn't a business-like product, but it really doesn't seem like Cathay is passionate about it and not having its own toilet in the A330... hmm. I'm sad that for just a little bit more than the cost of upgrading to CX premium economy, I could upgrade to business on MH and get all the bells and whistles that come with it, including lounge access, priority immigration and a whopping 40kg of luggage. I might see if I can get around the direct flight rule somehow...

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