Cathay Pacific First Class: 747 or 777?

Reader Will emailed me and said he has a choice between a 747 or 777 on an upcoming flight in Cathay Pacific first class, and asked which I’d choose, all else being equal. I’ve done a ton of travel on Cathay Pacific lately, though mostly on the 777. In the past I thought I preferred the 747, but the 777 is certainly growing on me. I figured I’d cover a few aspects of the “experience,” and how they differ on the 747 and 777:

Cabin Size and Service

Cathay Pacific has nine seats in first class on the 747, and six seats in first class on the 777. Both aircraft types have two flight attendants assigned to work first class, so the crew to passenger ratio is better on the 777 than 747. While service is generally quite good on both aircraft types, I do find there’s a noticeable difference in service speed.


747 first class


777 first class

Privacy

The 747 cabin is simply more private than the 777 cabin. On the 747 first class is in the nose, so there’s absolutely no foot traffic through the cabin. Meanwhile on the 777 there is a fair bit of foot traffic from flight attendants walking through the cabin. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not really disruptive, but it is worth noting that the 747 first class cabin is really quiet. It’s also worth noting that if they’re using two jet bridges for boarding on the 777, business class passengers board through the first class cabin, while that’s not the case on the 747.

Air Circulation

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed lately, which actually makes a pretty big difference to me. I’ve found the air circulation to be much better on the 777 than the 747. That’s to say that it’s not usually quite as steamy in the 777 as it is up front on the 747. I flew 747 first class on Cathay Pacific a couple of days ago in row one, and it was boiling hot up there. I asked them to turn the air conditioning up, and while they did, it was still hot. While there aren’t individual air nozzles on either aircraft, I haven’t had as many temperature issues on the 777.

Bathrooms

While it’s admittedly a minor point, it’s worth noting the bathrooms on the 747 are much more spacious than on the 777.


777 lavatory


747 lavatory

Seating

Aside from a single center seat in the 747, each first class seat is at the window. The 777, on the other hand, has two rows in a 1-1-1 configuration, so there are two center seats. It’s worth noting that the center seats face the right aisle, while towards the left is just a wall. That means seats 1A and 2A are extremely private on the 777, as they have the left aisle all to themselves.

Verdict

All things considered you really can’t go wrong with either aircraft. I’d say that if I’m traveling with a companion my first choice would be seats 1A & 1K on the 747. These are right in the nose, and are the only Cathay Pacific first class seats where you can actually “talk” to your seatmate without yelling too much. My second choice with a traveling companion would be 1A and 2A on the 777, as it’s extremely private with the aisle all to yourself. Meanwhile I wouldn’t generally recommend snagging a center and window seat (like 1D & 1K or 2D & 2K). This is because the seats are far enough apart that you won’t really be able to talk, so you might as well both have windows and instead choose to dine together, which is possible at all seats.


747 first class, seats 1A & 1K


777 first class, seats 1D & 1K

If I’m traveling alone I’d also have to say I prefer the 777, assuming I can get a window seat. My preference would be for 1A or 2A, followed by 1K or 2K. If only center seats are available on the 777 I’d choose seats 2A or 2K on the 747.

Anyway, that’s the really long answer. The short answer is to take the most convenient flight as you’ll have an amazing flight either way. But you asked, and I answered.

If you’ve flown both the Cathay Pacific 747 and 777 in first class, which do you prefer?

Comments

  1. My wife and I had 1A/K HND-HKG last year – perfect for couples as we could chat during the flight (well, for the first 10-15 mins until she burnt me in favor of the IFE!).

    I have an upcoming HGK-SFO (747) in Sept, and have pre-selected 2A. I was going to see if I could somewhere snare 1A, but after this post, I think I’ll settle with 2A.

  2. I have to say i really enjoyed this post as I ponder this question almost daily as I dream about a 15 hour flight crossing the pacific on cathay. Though this is still probably one of the most #FirstWorldProblems posts out there.

    As always, keep doing what you do best and please never change šŸ™‚

  3. It’s all because of Lucky’s influence that I have planned a long haul trip in November on CX F (777), SQ Suites, SQ F (777) and BA F (747). Seats already confirmed 1A, 3A, 2A and 2A respectively – all picked because of comments in Lucky’s trip reports.

    I second the keep doing what you do!

  4. Another factor is comfort during turbulence. For equivalent, but turbulent conditions, I find the 777 more comfortable. That’s because in the 747 nose you are farther from the center of gravity than on the 777, and have more deflection in all axes. The 747 tends to “nose” laterally quite a bit in choppy air.

  5. I’ve flown CX F only on the 777, not the 747. Because there are 50% more seats on the 747, besides the service speed do you find the FAs more stressed/hurried on the 747 and more relaxed on the 777?

  6. Awesome post! Just booked CX F in both 777 and 747 so will get to experience both (might as well if it’s possible!) Enjoy Bali!

  7. @ Carberrie — Definitely! Fine the FAs on 777 to usually be more relaxed/detail oriented.

  8. There’s just something about the sitting in the nose of a 747 for me, so I’d always pick it given a choice (and I’ve flown CX in F on both). I didn’t suffer any temperature issues as you did, however.

  9. Great post Lucky. I too have a similar choice coming up this fall. I noticed you didnt comment no the bathroom differences as pointed out by some other bloggers. Apparently there is a big difference. The idea that the 747 is warmer def turns me off.

  10. 747 because it is much quieter and I don’t have to look both ways to see if the FAs caught me taking pictures. they’re really nice about it, but I feel slightly embarassed when I am caught. need to fly more flights in F to get used to it, i guess.

  11. The 744 F cabin on long haul flights is staffed with three dedicated crew, not two (1 Senior Purser plus 2 Flight Pursers) so the staff:pax ratio is the same as on the 77W – actually better since on the 77W the crew also have to serve the cockpit and with only two crew and one on galley duty, there is effectively only one serving/roving crew member on the 77W than on the 744.

    It used to be two crew on the 744 but CX upped it back to three in mid 2011. Regional flights with the 744 where F is sold (BKK SIN TYO KIX MNL TPE being the main ones) still operate with two crew in F but on long hauls it is three.

  12. If on the 747-400 row 3 only, row 1 is to close together. 777-300 Prefer 1K. Service on both planes is fine. Are we really complaining about F on Cathay, where 99% of the world will never fly?

  13. I flew both last year and preferred the service on the 77W but preferred the cabin and lav on the 744. The 744 felt more exclusive to me and there is just a great feeling you get being in the nose of a 747. My 77W flight was better overall and it looks like that is what I will fly this year to HKG but I really want to experience a CX 744 again before they are all gone!

  14. Personally I prefer 747/A340 over 777 due to no restrictions on air routes. If there is a massive storm in the middle of the pacific, the 747 has more room to deviate from said route than a 777. These twin engines fly routes that keep them too far from land, too far for my comfort. Not to mention, they are slower than the 4 engine counterparts.

    TATL I have no issues, but TPAC, specially to Australia, I say, no way Jose.

  15. 2A or 2K on the 777, personally. 1A is closest to the bathroom (though only foot traffic is 2A) and on the other side the galley.

  16. I flew CX HKG-LHR recently on the 2pm departure, which is a 777,
    Seat 1A. It was my best flight experience in more than 40 years of flying. Arriving 8pm is good too. Having flown on 747s a lot, a definitely prefer the 777.

  17. I’ve flown the new configuration on both planes, and I have to say I prefer the 747 slightly more due to better lavatories (slightly) but otherwise they are quite similar.

    777-300ER is a newer plane in general but both have the same product and in my opinion have been all well kept. My last experience showed mainly normal wear and tear on the remotes, but some seats are getting a bit weird in the seatback- I can move it with my hands. I do agree with Sammyfloyd in that the 777 overhead bins are nicer, in addition it makes the cabin feel more open and more modern.

    SFO is usually cheaper from what I see on CX’s website so you might want to consider that. I always fly out of LAX since I live in the LA area and just want a non-stop flight- might consider SFO for saving some money though.

  18. Just booked 2 CX F Award tix for my fiance and me: BOM-HKG-LAX. 747 from BOM and 777 from LAX! Might as well experience both on one trip, eh?

    Lucky – do you know if the 777 will have the new CX F in March 2014?

  19. @ Hitesh — Certainly a lot more planes will have it by then though the process won’t be complete and there’s no way to know in advance. For what it’s worth the difference between the old and new product is so minor that I don’t think it will make a big difference.

  20. Hi Ben

    1) On a previous flight I had 2A but at the last minute a few days prior they moved me to 2D and gave the seat to an older gentlemen, has that ever happened to you?

    2) I am traveling with my wife on another award trip on a 777. If we can’t snag 1A and 2A- what other pair of seats would you recommend? would it be 1k and 2k?

  21. @ danny — Hasn’t ever happened to me, that’s odd if it wasn’t a baby with a bassinet. As far as seats go, otherwise I’d recommend 1K and 2K or otherwise 1D and 1K or 2D and 2K.

  22. So if I’m booking on what they say is a 744 in early 2015, I should expect an equipment change?

  23. @ Jarrod — Hmm, I believe all the 747s should be retired then, though Cathay Pacific is usually good about updating equipment. What route are you looking at?

  24. @Lucky– having just returned from HKG-SFO on a 747 and flown out on the 777, I *vastly* preferred the 777 despite business class boarding through the F cabin.

    You weren’t kidding about the steamy 747 cabin. It’s hard to get a good night’s sleep when all you’re dreaming about is an air vent. (There are worse things, of course, but I slept WAY better on the 777.)

    And one of the bathrooms on the 747 was out of service – so all 9 passengers had to use one lav (I know, I know… so sad). Whereas on the 777 the lavs may be smaller, but there were plenty to choose from!

    #champagnecomplaints, I know…

  25. To all the complaints about the 747-400 being ‘steamy’, the new 747-8 has much more powerful air conditioning and is one of the many improved parts of the environmental Control system (ECS). The ECS on the new -8i dericves from the 767-400, but with much more power. Many think the 747-8 is just a rewinged -400 facelift, but there’s hardly anything left on it from the -400. Most things are new.

  26. @lucky

    I’m looking at CX543 HND-HKG, still showing as a 744 in January. Seems to have better saver availability than CX549 on the 77W.

  27. I’m looking forward to being a part of the 1% who will enjoy such first class cabins. I don’t mind making that choice; they’re both beautiful! BTW I’m following you on Twitter. Let’s connect. Dariahloy@http://www.mightytravels.com

  28. @Lucky – do Cathay Pacific fly A380 to the US? If they do, all the cities they fly to or only a select few?

  29. Hey Ben,

    So I have 2 F seats booked on CX897 this November with a connection to DPS the following day and was just checking up on changing the seat selection. Now it appears we have been moved to CX881 redeye with the same DPS connection the next day, making it a 27 hour layover. Have you experienced a change like this before without any notice (booked with AA miles) and if having a 27 hour layover have any consequence since it’s 24+..

    Thanks

  30. @ E — If they made the change then it shouldn’t be an issue. So if you’re okay with it you can definitely stick to it.

  31. Ok thanks. Also one of the hkg-dps legs is still in Coach and was planning to cabin upgrade it when it opens up. Do you think they’ll give me am issue now since the system would probably recognize it as 2 separate tickets becusse of the 24+ connection now?

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