Cathay Pacific Premium Economy: 12 Advantages and Disadvantages

Where to visit is a traveler’s most important question but paying for premium is the biggest question next to it. Hong Kong’s flagship airline, Cathay Pacific, has, for a while, added the Premium Economy feature to virtually all destinations — regional and long haul.

Even though it is no longer a new addition, we continue to hear people asking about the difference offered by paying extra for premium economy. Not quite the elegance business class has, but not too shabby as the economy section, premium economy could easily be tagged as having an identity crisis. But that’s only to the uninformed.

Premium economy class (if available) on most airlines offers more legroom, comfier chairs, better food and better service although some airlines may have very minimal difference.

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There’s a reason promotion photos almost always show front row passengers.

Here are some reasons why Cathay Pacific’s Premium Economy is worth trying — or at least spend extra money:

  1. You’re flying at least 6 hours and have issues with cramped economy seats.
  2. You’re on an overnight flight and need a more comfortable sleep.
  3. You want better seating. The seat pitch (the distance between the back of your seat and the back of the seat in front) is 38 inches or 6 inches more than Economy and the recline is 8 inches as opposed to 6 inches on the new Economy seats. Premium also offers more padding for your bottom, a headrest that you can move around and a foot rest (or leg rest if you are in the bulkhead).
  4. You want a smaller cabin and less people with you on the aircraft. Premium has typically about 30 seats depending on the aircraft configuration.
  5. You want priority boarding. Although you are still lower priority than first/business class, being a Marco Polo member or having kids with you also gives you priority. You might also be guided by the size of your party, especially if you are in a ‘2’ as Premium seat configurations are 2-3-2 (Airbus A330) or 2-4-2 (Boeing 777).
  6. You get more luggage allowance. 5kgs more than economy.
  7. You get a vanity pack which consists of a toothbrush, tiny toothpaste, eye mask, socks and ear plugs and you also get better headphones that have noise cancelling features.
  8. You might be able to get a free upgrade to Business class and you get slightly better flight staff service than in economy.

Here are some reasons why Cathay Pacific’s Premium Economy is not worth it:

  1. The price tag. Cathay Pacific’s Premium Economy tickets approximately costs twice as much as Economy tickets. You spend that much sitting on the aircraft for 10-15 hours travel. Most travelers recommend saving miles and using them to book a premium seat or to pay for economy and upgrade it using miles.
  2. If you’re traveling with family and need space for a bassinet. Cathay Pacific’s Premium Economy only offers bassinets in the side bulkheads where there are 2 seats. If you have more members, you won’t be able to sit together.
  3. Cathay Pacific’s Premium Economy seating all don’t have movable armrests. In Economy, only the bassinet rows have armrests that don’t move.
  4. There will be instances and situations where economy class can be more comfortable. This is especially if there’s not too many passengers on the same flight. You can have two seats to an entire row to yourself if you’re lucky.

A lot of concerns have been focused on the comfort during travel that is why airlines have been trying to accommodate a discriminating passenger’s needs by introducing the premium economy class. However, ease of travel covers long before you find your intended seat inside the cabin and long after the airline lands at your destination.