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Cathay Pacific's new Economy Class

It's hard to avoid the adverts from Singapore Airlines for their new First Class suites and ultra-wide Business Class.  Over the last few years, airlines have come up with countless upgrades to the front part of the plane, and these improvements have been accompanied by significant increases in fares, particularly in Long-Haul.  Meanwhile the economy cabin (and fares) have stayed pretty much the same.

So it's interesting to see that Cathay are introducing a new Economy Class.  The seat isn't any wider and the "pitch" stays at 32", but it certainly is different.  The most revolutionary change is that the seat is enclosed in its own "hard shell" (like many long-haul Business Class seats) so that you don't suffer when the person in front reclines their seat.  Instead the seat cushion moves forward, and they have tried to create more legroom by shifting the seat pocket to under your knees rather than in front of them.

It also has a bigger (more solid) tray table, and a larger TV screen with a wide selection of video-on demand (VOD), so you can watch whenever you want and pause and rewind at will - something that Virgin have been offering in all classes for some time.

In concept it owes something to the old Business Class on Virgin (subsequently copied by other airlines), which was also ingenious but not universally loved by passengers (OK, so some people hated it).  Subsequently, Virgin and most other airlines have increased the seat pitch and put in totally flat beds, but clearly that's never going to happen at the back of the place.  

I've never found sleeping in Economy very easy, and I doubt that this new seat is going to help much.  However, it is more comfortable when you are awake.  If you have a laptop, the new table should be a big improvement, and the VOD is excellent.  But the best part is that you don't have to worry about the person in front reclining their seat.

After a flight in Business Class I always think that it probably wasn't worth the extra cost, and that maybe cattle class would have been OK.  On the other hand, when I'm in Economy I wish I was in Business.  The new seat probably isn't going to change the way I feel, but somehow the thought of flying in the back of the plane doesn't seem quite so horrible.   


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Part of the problem of flying in the Economy class is more people can now afford to fly. There are always a few individuals who don't care about other fellow passengers. I remember one particular trip from Toronto to Hong Kong via Anchorage where someone broke 2 toilets before we got to Anchorage. So, we had to live with 2 toilets for all passengers in the back for the rest of the trip, and the flight was full. I am under 5 ft tall but that doesn't mean I don't need leg room. One time, the fellow in front of me pushed the back of the seat all the way down while I was sitting upright trying to write something. The back of his seat just banged right on my head. I wouldn't mind that much if I were sleeping at the moment but I wasn't. Did he care what the person behind him was doing before invading my space? Obviously not.

I flew in the Business class last time by using up my Asia Miles. I admit that I am now very tempted to fly again in Business class even if it means I have to give up buying shoes and many other things when I am in HK.

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