Cathay Pacific is gearing up for its next-generation of cabin products, including a brand new seat in Premium Economy. It’ll debut on the Boeing 777-300ER later in 2024, along with the carrier’s new Aria Suite in Business Class.

An exact launch date is yet to be announced, so you’ll have to wait a little longer to experience these seats and suites for yourself. But the designs are all locked in – and here in Hong Kong, I have an early chance to take Premium Economy for a spin. Here’s a look at what Premium Economy will soon look like aboard Cathay Pacific.

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Cathay Pacific offers a private glimpse into the future of its Premium Economy experience.
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Cathay Pacific’s new Premium Economy: an overview

Much like Cathay Pacific’s existing Premium Economy cabin, the new seat will also follow a 2-4-2 layout on the Boeing 777. This means passengers are never more than one seat away from an aisle. This configuration also keeps those cosy side pairs, perfect when flying with a companion.

So what makes the new seat different? Most noticeably, it’s privacy. Sit back, relax, and you won’t be able to see your neighbour’s face. That’s thanks to customised wings on the sides of each headrest. They’re large enough to really notice the difference. But of course, a slight lean forward makes it easier to see your seatmate – conversation isn’t difficult.

The wings also house an adjustable reading light for each passenger. It’s handy because, unlike the light overhead, the beam of this lamp follows you as you recline.

There’s a central cocktail table that’s fixed in place. Your own tray table is retrieved from within the armrest. Actually, it pops out at the press of a button – you don’t have to fiddle or go hunting for the right lever.

Each seat also comes with a 15.6-inch 4K entertainment screen. There’s Bluetooth connectivity, so you can easily pair your headphones to the main screen, cable-free. Naturally, Cathay Pacific’s new Premium Economy seat also offers easy access to AC and USB-A power. with a USB-C outlet also pleasingly making an appearance.

Getting comfortable in the new seat

We’ve shown what Cathay Pacific’s new Premium Economy seat looks like. But what does it feel like to sit in? No doubt, that’s best answered after a long flight – but this preview on the ground is a good place to start.

In short, it’s comfortable. There’s enough forward space that your legs don’t feel squished in. Enough shoulder room so that you’re not bumping elbows. And of course, the privacy provided by the headrest wings also helps you settle in and make the space your own.

I get to experience the seat in both of its configurations: bulkhead and ‘normal row’. At the bulkhead, a swing-up leg rest provides the main source of leg support. A foot bar folds out for extra support. It’s handy, although you’ll want to keep the bar stowed when using the tray table as it elevates your knees.

In the ‘normal’ rows, the leg rest and footrest are separate.

The leg rest retains the same design – minus the inbuilt foot bar. Instead, a separate bar can be lowered in front of you. I’ve experienced a similar setup on other airlines, and quite like the way this design improves comfort. You can get the seat exactly as you like it, for both your legs and your feet.

Of course, it’s also a big step forward for Cathay Pacific. Older versions of the airline’s Premium Economy cabins had either a foot bar or a leg rest, not both. Now, every passenger can choose what works for them. With a 40-inch pitch, there’s still room to keep those legs elevated even when the passenger in front reclines.

There’s one noticeable trade-off. Those who aren’t flying right next to the aisle will likely need to ask their seatmate to stand when they wish to hop up and sit back down. Because of the elevation of the leg rest and the tilt of the TV screen in front, it’d be tricky to get out with that neighbour remaining seated. To be fair though, this isn’t a design flaw: it’s quite common in Premium Economy cabins in general. It’s just something to be aware of if you plan to sleep, as the window seats will be highly desirable for this.

Cathay Pacific is rounding out the new Premium Economy experience with mood lighting to match Business Class. Travellers back in Economy will benefit, too, as that mood lighting will run the entire length of the aircraft.

We’ll update you once we know more about Cathay Pacific’s rollout of the new Premium Economy – and Aria Suite.

Also read: Cathay Pacific reveals new Boeing 777 Business Class Aria Suite

Photography by Chris Chamberlin, who travelled to Hong Kong as a guest of Cathay Pacific.

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Up close with Cathay Pacific’s new Premium Economy seat was last modified: May 1st, 2024 by Chris Chamberlin