The current Cathay long-haul economy seat is what you see pictured above. It's got a fixed shell back, so the 4" recline is more of a sliding down, and the in-flight entertainment system is controlled by a remote tethered to just below the screen. Seats each have one outlet for charging your devices. Even though they're pretty nice for economy, your butt will go numb after all those hours of travel.
The new Cathay long-haul economy seat will be a real reclining seat, going back 6" and with a "cradling function." We're betting this takes the pressure off your butt for less possible numbness. There's also to be more storage space and updated tech: "the latest high-resolution touch-screen personal televisions, a USB outlet and an iPod/iPhone outlet that allows passengers to connect their own mobile devices to view content through the personal televisions."
It's important to understand that Premium Economy is a completely new class for Cathay Pacific. Previously, it's just been the usual Economy, Business and First, but with such a gaping distance between the prices and what you get in economy and business, their long-haul fleet is ripe for something in between.
Coming with the new class are wider seats that recline 8" and have more legroom. Even the traytable will be larger, for all the extra meal and snack choices you'll get, plus larger pillows, an amenity kit, noise-canceling headphones, a welcome cocktail, cocktail table to put them on, a footrest, a "10.6-inch personal television, an in-seat power outlet, a multi-port connector for personal devices, and extra personal stowage space." Oh yeah. That's the stuff.
Outside of the seat itself, flyers in Premium Economy are going to sashay up to their own Premium Economy check-in desk, and be welcomed onboard the plane before the rest of Economy. Let's not forget a small increase in checked baggage allowance as well.
So when can you snuggle up for a long flight in these new seats? Well, the Hong Kong-Sydney route will be the first to break them in, beginning as early as April 2012. Following that, it's the Hong Kong to Toronto/Vancouver/New York routes and then Hong Kong to London/Los Angeles/San Francisco/Europe and more through December 2013.
If you just can't wait to sink into some new cushion, the updated business class cabin has been flying Cathay's skies since earlier this year. Here are the details and many photos on that, but do keep in mind that not all long-haul planes are equipped (as we found out just this week, sliding into an old biz class seat on SFO-HKG). They will be, though. They will be.
For the really curious, the full press release on the new seats is here. Rest assured we'll let you know when there are some pictures to show, but for now...it's still all good news.
The new Business Class seats, revealed a year ago