I’ve just experienced the business class seat that changes the game…

As I outlined in this post a couple of weeks ago, I always redeem miles for first class when possible, since it’s usually only marginally more expensive than business class. While some business class seats have gotten mighty impressive, it’s mainly the food, service, and improved bedding that makes first class worth the premium.

As a result I often end up not trying new business class products, even when they look mighty fine. Cathay Pacific’s new business class is an example, though I finally had the opportunity to experience it today on an Airbus 330 from Bangkok to Hong Kong. While a majority of the flights on the route are operated by aircraft with “regional” configurations, they do run a couple of longhaul configured aircraft on the route, and I was sure to book one of them.

I don’t even know what to say about the product, other than WOW. The seats were amazing. I hate to say this because I’m a big proponent of first class, but the seat itself is more comfortable than a majority of the first class products I’ve tried. The amount of personal space and privacy is amazing. And the bed was longer than those found in most first class cabins, as even my 6″4′ travel companion could lay in the flat bed with inches to spare.

This is by far the most comfortable business class product I’ve experienced, and that includes Singapore’s new business class, which I flew from Los Angeles to Singapore last year.

Here are a few pictures (I’ll post more with the trip report in a few days):

I’ll continue to try and redeem my miles for first class, for the reasons stated above. While Cathay Pacific’s hard product is great in business class, the service, food, and bedding in first class are still much better. But this is a seat that really eliminates the fundamental hard product difference previously found between business and first class. This product is a “suite,” something that was previously only found in first class.

More than anything else I’m excited about the fact that this is what American chose for their new business class, so we’ll see a product similar to this once their 777-300ERs go into service.

Comments

  1. @Lucky,question…how are the seats in the middle?thinking of flying it with wifey and we don’t want to be too isolated.would be fun to have a “wall” between us so cant have a normal conversation…

  2. Lucky,

    So you liked this seat more than the SQ business class seat?

    Also, isn’t Qatar airways also getting a seat like this? I think we might have to start calling it the Oneworld seat…

  3. Surely you are not saying this is better then the United 4 across in the middle business class. How do you get to rub elbows and fight over where the drinks go?

  4. In regards my last comment, I flew back via FRA yesterday and decided not to upgrade to a UA business class middle seat. I had an open seat next to me in E+, was not worth the miles and $ to be stuck in the middle.

  5. Any idea if this config is on all of Cathay Pacific’s A330s, or are there some planes with new and some with old configurations?

  6. My wife and I really loved these seats when we went to HKG for New Year’s last year, and we thought that they were the most comfortable seats that we’ve ever had. I also slept longer than I ever have on any plane. We flew HKG-JFK on a 777, grabbing two of the seats in the forward “mini-cabin” section on one side by the windows. It was like flying a private jet!

  7. I flew Cathay business a couple of months ago from LA to HK — 777 with the new business class. It was simply amazing…the seat almost felt like its own little suite. For business class it felt quite private. I can never sleep on planes, but I got a full 8 hours on this one. And of course Cathay’s service was absolutely exceptional.

  8. @Spa Cover Guy — it is essentially the US Airways seat (which was introduced first, and US Airways doesn’t get nearly enough credit for this) but with improvements.

    Get this seat in the 777 mini-cabin behind first class and I think it’s a real winner.

  9. Lucky,
    You helped us this year with CX to Bali. We flew a mix of F and Bus. Dont get me wrong, the F seat and experience was great. But the Bus class JFK to HK on the 777 was top notch. Great service and realy just a small fraction below in comfort of the F product.

    Sam

  10. How can you check whether the airplane route has these new configuration or the old one? I am planning either SFO/LAX-HKG but not sure. Usually SFO has more space.

  11. I had a chance to experience this seat in the mini-cabin 11A back in March… and it was awesome. Not only that, I felt like the service I got in CX J was also better than CX F… though I think it was probably just an off day in F I experienced.

  12. We flew this product HKG-LAX in October – it is fantastic; dare I say we liked the seat (and the service) better than SQ 1st!

  13. My wife and I just flew CX F in Sept & Oct as part of our “Adios to Avios” trip. In the middle of one of the aircraft swaps on the BKK-HKG run, we had the opportunity to snag a new J seat… until another swap put a 74A on the route, so we were stuck with old J.

    On the way home, I asked the FA if J was full, as I wanted to check out the new product. She said no. In the middle of the flight, I snuck back and sat in the seat. If you’re actually coming from F, J feels small and cramped ­čÖé

    But it is a nice product, and I’d have no qualms flying it if miles (our seat availability in F) are an issue.

  14. Are these only on 777-300ER & A330-300? I have a flight booked in J on a SFO-HKG 744 and I don’t think it has these… ­čÖü

  15. Yup, tried the new seat a few weeks ago after flying the old product many times. It is indeed a vast improvement over the old product, which is similar to Delta’s herringbone lie-flat. And this was on a crew companion fare no less!

  16. @Ben (not lucky), SFO-HKG on 744 is surely equipped with the new product, I just flew HKG-SFO on 744, loved those “mini cabin” seats right behind the first class.

  17. @Tao @Ben (Not Lucky)

    The 744 does *not* have the new Business Class, and Cathay is not planning to add it as those aircraft will not be in passenger service for much longer. If you actually flew the 744 you would know it has the herringbone “coffin” seats in J.

  18. @omp

    I flew with my family in the mini-cabin with these seats from JFK-HKG and HKG-ORD in October. On our flight out, we selected the middle seats. However, I didn’t think it was optimal for us because if you’re both sitting back in your seats, you cannot really see the other person. To have a face to face conversion you have to lean forward, which is not a huge deal but something to note.

    My seatmate was my son, and it was sometimes difficult to reach over and help him with his seat or other things. On the flight back, I would have preferred a middle seat+window seat combination. I was able to switch it to that for my wife and daughter but not for me and my son. I prefer that setup, although you do end up sharing a partitioned table with a strange in the other middle seat.

  19. Similar seat on DL 744s already and ultimately on their A330s as well.

    Basically the only US airlines not already using a variant of this seat are the ones you fly, Ben.

  20. I flew on the new business class product YVR-HKG in December of last year and while I thought the seats were great in general, I was very uncomfortable when trying to sleep. The pad is really thin and for a bigger, tall guy like myself I was feeling a bar or something right in my hip. I tried stacking blankets under me, but it was still too uncomfortable to sleep at all. My wife slept fine, so they just must not have made the pads thick enough for big guys.

  21. Slightly off topic, but has anyone been on Thai airbus A380-800 BKK-NRT in business? I will be flying in March and would like to see the comparison to this flight. Thanks

  22. @Tao

    My reply with pictures is awaiting moderation as it includes links, but I assure you that you did not fly the new business class on a 744. Either you were on a 747-400 (has an upper-deck) with the herringbone seats where in all J seats your feet point toward the aisle, or you were on a 777-300ER (no upper-deck) with the new J seats which are reverse herringbone so your feet are always pointed away from the asile.

  23. @BrewerSEA´╝î my bad, I was originally booked on a 744 but missed the flight and the next flight was on a 77w, which had the new J seats. That’s why I was thrown off and had the memory of my flight being on a 744. You are right, the new J seats are on the 773ER.

  24. @ omp — The middle seats were great if traveling together. Lots of privacy but also easy to have a conversation, so I’d highly recommend them.

    @ wwk5d — I believe Qatar Airways is getting the same seat. Yes, I found this seat much more comfortable than Singapore’s seat for lounging. With Singapore you have to flip the seat back in order to turn it into a bed which is quite annoying. This is just an all around more comfortable and more private seat, in my opinion.

    @ Tao — I’m always careful to choose my Cathay Pacific flights intra-Asia, as they do operate quite a few longhaul configuration aircraft on short hops.

    @ Levy Flight — LOL!

  25. @ Spa Cover Guy — Yes, same “shell” of the seat, with slightly different features.

    @ Jason — Well Cathay Pacific has several Airbus 330s in a regional configuration, though I believe all their longhaul aircraft now feature the new business class.

    @ Sam — Happy to hear the service was good. It’s always the service/food/duvet that’s my concern in Cathay Pacific business class.

    @ Jorge — I believe with the exception of the 747s, virtually all of Cathay Pacific’s longhaul 777s have the new business class by now.

  26. @ andy — Look at the business class seatmap. If it shows a 1-2-1 configuration, it’s the new business class. If it shows a 2-2-2 configuration, it’s the regional business class.

    @ Ben (not lucky) — Yep, Cathay Pacific is retiring their 747s, so not reconfiguring them with the new business class.

    @ beachfan — Yes, it’s *much* narrower. Dare I say it, I think Singapore’s business class seats are uncomfortably wide, because it’s very difficult to get comfortable in the seats.

    @ caveman — Don’t think the Thai A380 has started service on the Narita route quite yet.

  27. @ lucky – Yes I can confirm that Thai A380 has a service to BKK-NRT as I am booked on it on March 22nd flight TG 676

  28. @ caveman — It *will* operate the route, yes, but it hasn’t started yet. So I doubt anyone can report firsthand what it’s like from BKK to NRT, since the A380 hasn’t flown the route yet for Thai.

  29. Maybe for Sheldon Cooper, the seats are too wide. For my widebody model, there is no such thing.

    Do you like the CX business seat better than the SQ F seat?

  30. On my way to Hong Kong tomorrow on CX, but in first. It seems like I’m stalking you Lucky (we were in Redmond on the same night a few months ago), but I assure you I’m not.

    I’m returning to SFO on Singapore. It will be interesting to compare the two.

  31. Having just flown CX LAX-HKG in J and HKG-JFK in F, I really do not think I can justify the extra miles for the F experience.

    The seat is slightly bigger (wider and felt slightly longer) in F, but I am 6’2″ and could easily lie flat with tons of room to spare in either seat. The bed was marginally more comfortable in F.

    Except for the caviar and the champagne, the food in F did not strike me as being any better than J.

    And maybe it was just a fluke, but the service in J was impeccable whereas I actually felt like the F cabin was ignored for hours on end. Either way, the service in J is close to as good as it gets.

    Unless you have tons of miles or really want to be in F for some special reason, I don’t think it is worth the extra miles. The F amenity kit is better, you get pj’s, caviar and great champagne…not worth 12,500 miles to me…but compared to most I’m miles poor. F also gives you a little more “exclusive” feeling, especially since you board with 60 other J passengers on the 777-300er.

    The mini cabin is the place to be in J. It almost has the same feeling as the F cabin to me.

    And for anyone who is interested, the CX F lounge remodel opening in HKG has been delayed until February 2013 according to CX agents in HKG. Last I had heard was maybe November and I hoped I might see it on my F return.

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