Not quite business, but better than economy.
Premium Economy on Cathay Pacific offers a dedicated check-in, priority boarding at the gate, wider seats and a private cabin, and overall a more comfortable flight experience.
Are these factors enough for you to end your days in ‘coach class’ and upgrade? Read on 🙂
Cathay Pacific Premium Economy
Hong Kong to Rome
Flight number: CX 293
Seat number: 31C
Aircraft: Airbus 340
Departure time from Hong Kong: 0015 / Arrival time in Rome: 0730
Flight time: 12 hours 50 minutes
With only 28 seats on the Premium Economy cabin, it was pretty quiet. Seating configuration was 2 – 3- 2.
Not all seats were taken, so it was with great pleasure that I found out I had 2 seats all to myself!
To give a comparison how the Premium Economy seat fare against Business and Economy seats on the CX Airbus 340 Aircraft:
Here’s the legroom on my seat. (note: I am 5’5) The most noticeable feature is the footrest, which offers 3 positions.
As the most important comfort feature in every flight is getting your feet up (for your body to be in as flat a position as possible), I found the footrest really helpful (coupled with the seat’s 8 inch recline), in kind of tricking your body into feeling that it is ‘about’ to get into a lie-flat position, which was helpful in sleeping up to 3 hours max, until your back numbs and your body decides it really needs to seriously lie flat.
Worth noting too are the presence of a USB charger (yay!) and also a compartment just below the monitor, with clever peep through holes so you can easily see what you had stored in there. Perfect for: reading glasses, phones, snacks, makeup, etc.
As mentioned, I had 2 seats to myself but should you find yourself next to a fellow passenger on a Cathay Pacific Premium Economy flight, here’s the wide armrest that separates you. The small notches in front an also extend to individual cup holders.
I took a peek behind me and saw that the 2 seats behind were also unoccupied. I also accidentally saw this:
My pet peeve on flights. Good thing that a.) the foot was in a sock and b.) I am quite far away from it!
Back to the seats, my tip would be to go for the bulkhead seats as it looks as though they get a better recline factor out of all the seats in the Premium Economy cabin. Here’s a bulkhead seat in it’s full recline:
Every passenger was given a full sized Evian mineral water. This is a big deal to me as I chug down a lot of water on flights, especially on long-haul ones. Mid-flight when I asked for a second bottle, there was no problem at all. I like that it’s also a full-sized bottle, none of those gone-in-one-gulp mini bottles.
These noise-cancelling headphones were really helpful in me enjoying the in-flight entertainment. They fit really well and are undeniably an upgrade from the usual economy class foam+plastic headphones.
This part, I was rather annoyed at myself for not knowing beforehand that Cathay Pacific does give out amenity kits on Premium Economy. As nothing was given to me at all, I assumed there was none. But towards the end of the flight, I saw the 2 passengers on the bulkhead row sifting through a black and white tote and applying lotion on their hands. I looked around and it seemed that not everyone on the Premium Economy cabin were given the amenity kit.
By the time I realised this, we were already landing and it was too late to ask for one.
But for the purpose of this blog, here’s what the Premium Economy amenity kit looks like , from Cathay Pacific’s website:
Wasn’t too impressed about the inconsistency of the amenity kit’s distribution to passengers.
Thank goodness that the meals more than made up for it:
With the flight departing just after midnight from Hong Kong and arriving at 0730 in Rome, the 2 meals served on board were supper and breakfast.
Supper was a no-brainer for this seafood loving passenger. I chose the Steamed Halibut with Garlic, Bean Paste Sauce and Onion, Steamed Jasmine Rice and Kailan.
The chicken coronation salad that came as an entree was good. But the Halibut was really tender and fresh! I know a good fish when I eat it and this definitely tasted like it was just caught that afternoon, and also just freshly cooked. The jasmine rice were firm, chewy and pillowy, none of those ‘broken’ or hardened rice effect normally associated with plane food. The Kailan (greens) were also crisp and made a good accompaniment to the fish.
This meal could have been transferred on a proper china plate and it would definitely feel and taste like business class grub.
10 stars for this seafood meal!
Dessert was served later, a Haagen-Dazs banana flavoured ice cream. Again it was rock-hard (as all in-flight ice creams are) and I love it!
With this being an almost 13-hour red-eye flight, there was a long stretch between meals. If you walk to the Galley, there’s a generous basket of chips, crackers, biscuits and fruit. Juice and water are available too.
Movies I watched
With snacks in tow, I settled comfortably to watch 2 movies (in between naps)
I took the chance to see Diana, the biographical movie focusing on the last 2 years of Diana, Princess of Wales’ life. Prior to watching, I already knew this movie had bad reviews. I love both Naomi Watts and Diana Princess of Wales, but this was just too painful to watch.
Slightly better was another biographical movie, Grace of Monaco. Though Nicole Kidman was stiff as usual (perhaps due to character as well) , I appreciated the focus on the political history of Monaco of the movie.
A choice between spinach omelette with beans or beef congee, I chose the lighter option of congee. This was one of the best in-flight breakfasts I’ve had. The congee had the right thickness and texture, and the beef slices were really tender. The congee also had perfect seasoning, (no need to add any more). My only ‘complaint’ is that I wish it was in a bigger container as it was really good.
Yogurt, fruits and croissant were served on the side for both western and oriental breakfasts.
13 hours seems excruciatingly long. That’s two nights’ worth of sleep for me! Surprisingly though in this flight, it didn’t feel that long.
The journey of my flight consisted of: Eat-Sleep-Watch movie/snack-Sleep-Watch Movie/Snack – Breakfast – Land.
Given the factors above, most particularly the extra space and recline on seats, I would recommend Premium Economy to those wishing extra comfort.
The price point (up to AUD 2,000 – 4,000 less than Business Class fare) is also a plus.
The excellent food alone is enough for me to want this upgrade from Economy. Also, the Premium Economy cabin seems to be the most quiet in all 3 zones.
With Premium Economy, I didn’t need that much ‘recovery time’. Recovery time when flying in Economy for me usually meant a full day’s sleep when I reach my destination. On this flight, I was able to go out for lunch and walk the streets, take a 2 hour nap, work out, then did an evening tour from 7PM to 10PM.
Other benefits of flying Premium Economy:
As a Premium Economy Class passenger, your check-in baggage allowance is 25kg. On flights to, from or via the US, Canada and some countries in South America, you may check in up to 2 bags – each with dimensions measuring up to 158 cm (62”) and weighing 25kg (55 lbs).
Premium Economy is available on most mid – long haul Cathay Pacific flights. Click here to read more information and to book your flight.
I flew with the assistance of Cathay Pacific, but this has not swayed my thoughts or opinions of this review.