Let's start with the best news about these seats: they may be far fresher and spacious than Cathay's current biz class, but the update won't cost passengers any more than what they'd pay now for a Cathay biz class ticket. If you're due to fly on a Cathay long-haul route, using either the Airbus A330 or Boeing 777, then after February 2011, you should cross your fingers that your plane is one to have the seats installed. But more specifically, in chronological order, these will be the first airports to experience the new seats:: Sydney, New York, Los Angeles, London, Toronto, assorted European capitals.
The new biz seats, by the numbers: Are you tall? Are you wide? Are you perhaps neither of those but desirous of as much extra airplane seat space as possible? Listen up then, because here's the hard facts on the new seats:
· In-seat width: 20.2" on the A330; 21" on the 777
· Bed length: 82"
· Bed width: 27.6" on the A330; 29.5" on the 777 (with armrest retracted)
· Number of storage nooks: 3 (shoe cubby, side storage for handbag/laptop/briefcase, digital accessories cabinet)
· Number of plug outlets: 4 (headphones, AC plug, 9-pin special hookup for iPod/iPad/iPhone, USB)
· Number of hours you'll be able to sleep while lying flat on the JFK-HKG direct: almost all 14.
While economy class is certain to be super jealous, what about First Class? Will they see the shiny new seats and downgrade themselves to try them out? Cathay's COO John Slosar addressed this by simply saying nopeFirst Class flyers are First Class flyers, but if they are curious enough to fly biz, then that's a mighty nice compliment indeed for the new design.
Economy seems pretty stanky now that this biz class includes fresh-cut orchids, the hook-ups to connect your own devices and stream media to the widescreen TV at your seat, a vanity mirror inside a digital accessories cabinet, cocktail tables to allow passengers to dine and work with enough table area for both, and direct aisle access from every seat.
But wait! There's more! It's not just the seats that are new; business class is getting both updated tableware and bed linens to polish off the remodel. Duvets, pillows, blankets and ergonomic foam cushions will roll out with Narumi of Japan porcelain in-flight service, including a move to stemless wine glasses. Look up from your dinner to see an original art piece by Maria Lobo at the front of the cabin as well.
To tell you the truth, the line between First and Business Class on Cathay is blurred, especially considering how First Class seats on some American carriers (not naming any names) are just a hair better than Cathay's economy. We should know; we just endured a 14-hour flight in such conditions a few months ago (still not naming any names).
So, what do you think? Is it worth paying into the medium-to-high 4 digits for a super long-haul flight in these new biz class conditions? If your company is paying...duh, but what about the average traveler? We guess we'll just have to wait for the firsthand reviews to start streaming in when these babies hit the blue skies in February/March of 2011.
And now, for a photo gallery of the also-just-unveiled flight attendant uniforms, featuring plenty of pretty, smiling girls (and guys) all ready to help you stow your hand luggage.
Disclosure: Flights and some accommodations provided by Cathay Pacific, but rest assured that all opinions and photos are our own]
[Photos: Cynthia Drescher for Jaunted]