When Boyfriend and I decided to head to Australia for a month, we had the chance to work with Cathay Pacific to try out their Premium Economy class. It was a great opportunity as Cathay Pacific has direct flights from Brussels to Hong Kong and, from there, to different cities in Australia.
Now while I love to travel, I don't generally enjoy the “getting there” part. Having flown regular economy long-distance before, I was curious to see if the upgrade would make the experience that much more enjoyable.
Spoiler alert: it did.
Below you can find my Cathay Pacific Premium Economy review based on four different flights.
- My Cathay Pacific Premium Economy review
- Cathay Pacific baggage allowance
- Cathay Pacific check-in and bag drop
- Cathay Pacific Hong Kong lounges
- Cathay Pacific boarding process
- Cathay Pacific seats
- Cathay Pacific meals
- Is Cathay Pacific Premium Economy worth it?
My Cathay Pacific Premium Economy review
Cathay Pacific baggage allowance
In Cathay Pacific Premium Economy class, you get to take the following items at the following weight:
- 1 piece of cabin baggage measuring 23cm / 9” (H) x 36cm / 14” (W) x 56cm / 22” (L) at 7 kg / 15 lbs
- 1 small personal item of cabin baggage measuring 15cm x 30cm x 40cm (6″ x 12″ x 16″)
- 2 pieces of checked baggage at a total weight of 35 kg
This goes for most Cathay Pacific flights, including the ones we took. Other rules apply for direct flights between Hong Kong and Auckland or Christchurch and flights to, from, or via the Americas.
Members of Cathay Pacific's loyalty program Marco Polo Club get extra allowance.
The Cathay Pacific Premium Economy baggage allowance is more generous for what concerns checked baggage than the regular Economy one. You get 5 kg extra in Premium Economy. Cathay Pacific carry on rules, however, are the same in Economy and in Premium Economy.
We didn't need those extra checked kilos, though, as we only brought about 11 kg each in our checked bags when we left, and about 13 kg each when we came back. As carry-on luggage, we both had a laptop backpack and a small tote bag.
Cathay Pacific check-in and bag drop
The Cathay Pacific check-in time is 48 hours until 90 minutes before departure. Cathay Pacific sends you an email reminder when the online check-in option opens. One passenger can check in all passengers booked on the same reservation.
There's no need to print your Cathay Pacific boarding pass. Cathay Pacific accepts electronic boarding passes but if you want, they'll print a paper copy for you at the airport when you drop off your luggage.
If you haven't selected your seats beforehand, you can do so during the online check-in process
It's highly encouraged that you check in online beforehand. That way, you can check all your flight details, make sure you have the seat you want, and it'll also speed up the baggage drop-off at the airport.
When you're flying Premium Economy, there's a separate drop-off lane for you at the check-in counters, which means you won't have to get in line with all the people flying regular economy.
Cathay Pacific Hong Kong lounges
There is no specific Cathay Pacific Premium Economy lounge and a Premium Economy ticket alone doesn't grant you lounge access. However, you can buy a pass if you're Marco Polo Club member.
Cathay Pacific has no less than four lounges at Hong Kong International Airport, of which two have a BusinessClass part and a First Class part. The biggest one is The Pier. It's not only the biggest Cathay lounge at HK International – it's the biggest in the world.
So we could show you what it's like, Cathay granted us lounge access on our trip. If you have more than a 2-hour layover, I'd say it's worth buying a pass to get in there.
First of all, The Pier is massive. It has a deli-style food hall with barista stand, a lounge bar, a noodle bar, and a teahouse. You can freshen up in the showers using premium toiletries, get some rest in the relaxation room or refresh your mind in the dedicated yoga and meditation space. And then there's also the large lounge area overlooking the tarmac.
We had a 3-hour layover on the way to Australia and 4-hour layover on the way back, during which we used The Pier to get some food, sleep a bit, and get some work done.
We tried food from the food hall, noodles from the noodle bar and cakes from the teahouse. At the food hall, everything is laid out in buffet form but behind a window, so you need to ask for what you want.
I would have preferred if it had been self-serve, as now you needed to wait sometimes and I felt as if the staff expected you to take a bit of everything instead of just one large piece of, for example, the lasagna.
I do have to say that you could go back as often as you wanted too and the food was yummy.
Drinks in the food hall are self-serve, except when you order coffee from the barista stand. There's a large selection of soft drinks, beers, and even fresh juices. You can also get tea and coffee from a machine here.
Drinks are self-serve too in the noodle hall, where you can also get a selection of noodles and dumplings yourself. Aside from that, it's also possible to order some dishes freshly made from the bar. We tried the noodle soup which we thought was good.
At the teahouse, you can choose from a selection of fine teas which are prepared freshly for you. There's also a good choice of small cakes and cookies.
Whatever your fancy, you won't leave The Pier hungry.
When it comes to getting work done, there's free WiFi throughout the lounge and if you haven't brought your own laptop, you can use one of the available MACs.
Cathay Pacific boarding process
Ah, the boarding process. People who line up as far as the next gate to get in the plane even though they have numbered seats just to make sure their carryon luggage can be placed right above their heads. Or at least, that's why I think they do it.
None of that for you if you're traveling in Premium Economy. You'll get to board right after the First and Business Class passengers have boarded, leaving you ample time to get comfortable in your seat before takeoff.
The stewards and stewardesses help you do that by offering you a drink (bubbles are an option!) and a warm hand towel. No need to flip open your table. There's a separate drink holder built right into your seat.
But more on the Premium Economy Cathay seats below.
Cathay Pacific seats
Over the course of our four flights, we flew in two different types of planes of the Cathay Pacific fleet. They had the following seating arrangements in Premium Economy:
- from Brussels to Hong Kong: A350-900 with seat arrangement 2-4-2
- from Hong Kong to Brisbane: A350-900 with seat arrangement 2-4-2
- from Cairns to Hong Kong: A330-300 with seat arrangement 2-3-2
- from Hong Kong to Brussels: A350-900with seat arrangement 2-4-2
On three of those flights, we had two seats next to each other on the right side of the plane. From Cairns to Hong Kong, we had two of the three middle seats.
Obviously, the seats-per-two are great if you're traveling as a couple but having the middle seat (I did on that one flight) wasn't bad either because of the space you have.
In terms of the cabin, the A350 felt just a tad newer than the A330. The only big difference we noticed was that in the A350, the people sitting behind a division wall had their entertainment screens against the wall while in the A330, you had to pull your screen out of your chair, which meant that you couldn't use it during landing or takeoff.
None of the two planes had a dedicated bathroom for Premium Economy but there were toilets available in the Economy compartment right behind us.
Here you can see the Cathay Pacific A350-900 Premium Economy seating plan:
And here's the Cathay Pacific seating plan for the A330-300:
You can check out the Cathay Pacific seating chart well before your flight when you choose your seats.
Cathay Pacific seat selection
When you've purchased your flights, you can manage your Cathay Pacific booking online. One of the most important things that includes is that you can select your seats at no extra cost.
The Cathay Pacific seat reservation tool is easy to work with, indicating the seat you got assigned at the moment of your booking, the seats that are already taken, and the seats that are still available for you to choose from in different colors. If you want to change your seat, all you need to do is click the seat of your choice and save those changes.
If there are several people on your booking, you can choose and change their seats too, making sure you all sit together. Or not, depending on who you're traveling with ;-)
Cathay Pacific Premium Economy seats review: features and comfort
The most important thing about the Cathay Pacific seats in Premium Economy is that everything about them is more spacious than with the regular Cathay Pacific Economy Class seats. You get way more legroom, wider arm rests, a bigger entertainment screen, lower reclining seats, a bigger pillow and so on.
When you get to your chair, that pillow lies ready together with a comfy blanket and an amenity kit. The kit includes socks, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a sleeping mask, and ear plugs.
If you don't need it, you can stow it away in the standard seat pocket in front of you or the extra fold-out pocket underneath the entertainment screen.
Your table folds out of your left armrest. It has a fold in the middle so you can open it entirely or choose to only use half of it for more space.
Your right armrest has a small area where you can stow away things such as your phone, paper tissues, and a lip balm (only in the A350, not in the A330). It's also where you plug in the big Cathay Pacific headphones that are provided and where you can find the remote for the entertainment screen, which includes the buttons to call the steward(ess) and to turn on the light.
Lastly, this side of your chair also has the seat control buttons, a USB charger, and a pull-out drinks holder. The latter was the only part of the chair I would've made differently. The drinks holder is just like a tiny flat shelf which felt a bit risky to me to leave your drink on. I would've preferred if it had had a holder – but that's really nitpicking now, especially as the armrest has a communal drinks holder on top of it as well.
Oh, and I almost forgot: each seat has a personal reading light tucked away in the headrest. I think I almost forgot to mention it because I didn't discover it until late into our last flight. Now that you've read this, at least you'll know it's there :-)
In terms of comfort, I found the seats on both planes to be comfortably padded. They could recline significantly and also had legrests. The seats on the A350 also had extendable footrests.
Both planes also had enough overhead storage space. I didn't see anyone struggling to put their things away.
Cathay Pacific inflight entertainment
An important feature of the Cathay Premium Economy seats, is the entertainment system. You get a wider screen than you do in regular Economy, as well as better over-the-ear noise-canceling headphones. On top of that, you can adjust the screen so that it's always clear regardless of how much you recline your seat, or the passenger in front of you does.
The Cathay Pacific inflight entertainment system offers magazines, television series, games, and a large choice of international movies. It also gives information on how far along you are on your flight and – the coolest part – allows you to actually look outside the airplane.
Yup, the planes we flew had cameras attached at their tops and bottoms that broadcasted the view outside live as we flew for the entire duration of our flight. You could choose between the top and the bottom view to see the plane take off and land, or to gaze at the passing landscape beneath you.
It was the first time I saw this and I thought it was really cool.
You can choose your Cathay Pacific movies and do everything else on the inflight entertainment system by using the touchscreen or the remote included in your seat.
Cathay Pacific WiFi
I can't report on the Cathay Pacific WiFi because we didn't use it. While WiFi is available in Premium Economy on Cathay Pacific A350 flights, you do have to pay for it.
As there were plenty of other things we could do during the flight, we didn't feel the need to get online but if you would like to clear your inbox while in the air, the packages cost:
- for flights of 6 hours or less: USD12.95
- or flights of more than 6 hours: USD19.95
- for just one hour of WiFi on all flights: USD9.95
There is no data cap on the WiFi.
Cathay Pacific meals
So how's the Cathay Pacific food?
On all of the flights we took, two meals were included. If you didn't pre-select a specific type of meal, you could choose from several options on the Cathay Pacific Premium Economy menu. There was always a meat, a fish or chicken, and a vegetarian option.
On the three flights we took in the A350 plane, we were offered a paper menu at the start of the flight. On the A330 flight from Cairns to Hong Kong, the stewardesses just shared the options as they were handing out the meals.
If you're following a specific diet for whatever reason, you could choose the fitting meal type beforehand through the Cathay Pacific online booking management system. I don't need to follow a specific diet but to try this, I opted for low-fat meals while Boyfriend went with the regular option.
All meals were served on proper porcelain and with stainless steel cutlery.
Aside from the two main meals, it was also possible to get snacks throughout the flight.
In terms of drinks, we were given bottles of water to keep with us, got drinks with every meal and could always ask for more.
I was very happy with my meals. The low-fat meals were light and flavorful. Boyfriend thought his regular meals were okay.
The Cathay Pacific cabin crew was some of the friendliest I've experienced on my travels and that goes especially for the crew we had on our first two flights. They warmly welcomed us when we got on board and you could tell they genuinely wanted to give us the best possible experience.
They were always friendly, never bothered by a question, and frequently came around with fresh drinks and snacks.
Maybe because the service of the Cathay Pacific crew on our first two flights was truly exceptional, I was a bit disappointed by the crew on our flights back.
In all fairness, the service was still excellent and if it had been like it was on the last two flights on all of our flights, I probably wouldn't have anything negative to say about it. It's just that the service on our first two flights was perfect and on the last two flights, the crew seemed just a little less motivated.
Drinks and snacks were handed out a little less often. Garbage was collected a little less often. And when I asked for noodles about an hour before breakfast (yup, you can get unlimited noodles!), the stewardess I asked seemed reluctant to make me a cup.
Now, again, the service on all flights was nothing less than good. The crew on the first two flights was just better than the crew on the second two flights.
Lastly, one thing I found a bit weird on our flight from Cairns to Hong Kong, was that the cabin was made dark and passengers were asked to close their window blinds while this was a daytime flight. I just spent the entire flight reading with my light on but if you were someone who easily falls asleep and wanted to avoid jet lag, this wasn't ideal.
Is Cathay Pacific Premium Economy worth it?
In short: I think so. Of course, it all depends on your budget and how important it is to you to fly comfortably. If you're someone who easily sleeps through whatever flight, then it may not be worth it paying more for the extra space and features but if you're someone like me, who rarely sleeps on a plane and who likes to take on 10 different positions in the course of a few hours, it certainly is.
I had expected Cathay's Premium Economy to be better than regular Economy but I hadn't expected as positive of an experience as we've had. Not once during any of our flights did I get that annoying “Are we there yet?” feeling. I didn't even dread having to fly back home as I knew we'd be comfortable.
Lastly, if you compare the extra cost of flying Premium to the extra cost of flying Business, going Premium is a no-brainer if you want more comfort and have that bit of extra budget available.
At the time of writing, a return flight Brussels – Hong Kong in Premium Economy with Cathay Pacific is available from 1,602.74 USD / 1,427 EUR all included (vs. 632.34 USD/ 563 EUR in regular Economy).
Return flights from Hong Kong to Australia in Premium Economy start at 1936.32 USD/ 1,724 EUR (vs 1,116.41 USD / 994 EUR in regular Economy).
There is no set price that you pay extra for a Cathay Pacific upgrade to Premium Economy so it's always best to check the website for the most current prices for your route.
That's it! I hope this Cathay Pacific Premium Economy class review has given you a good idea of what to expect when you book Premium Economy. Don't hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.
PIN FOR LATER
We were invited by Cathay Pacific to try their Premium Economy class so I could share an honest review about it.