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Cathay Pacific's New Economy Seats: The End of Numb Butt Syndrome?

February 28, 2012 at 11:38 AM | by | ()

Every once in a great while, an airline decides it's finally time to do something for the flyers in the back of the plane. Yep, we're talking about Economy Class. For 2012, the big Economy seat news comes from Cathay Pacific, who've just taken delivery of a shiny Boeing 777-300ER outfitted not only with the new Premium Economy class, but with totally redesigned seats for Economy.

The differences between old and new Economy are huge. Old Cathay econ meant shell seats, which had the upside of not reclining back onto the person behind you, but the downside that, instead, you reclined in a slide down and forward, which limited knee space and quickly made your butt go numb. We say this from experience as frequent Cathay economy flyers who've experienced the economy class Numb Butt Syndrome far too many times.

The new seats, however, return to the classic cradle design, where you will be reclining back. The configuration of the economy cabin and seat pitch will remain the same, but personal space will improve as well as seat width. Where the old seats could be as slim as 17.45", the new ones will be from 18.1" - 18.5". Sure, it's not a massive difference, but when you're stuck in that seat for an 18-hour direct flight, every millimeter matters. Additionally, the recline will now be a solid 6" (from 4-6" previously) and the seatback TV a solid 9" (from 6-9" previously).

Speaking of that seatback TV, the new Economy is ditching the remote control for touchscreen, plus adding an "iPhone/iPod connector and a USB port, which allows passengers to connect their own devices and watch video through the Personal TV." The one power outlet per passenger will remain, which is something we've come to love about Cathay Economy [check out a photo of it here].

So, how much will it cost? Well, this is the really great news. So long as you're on one of the Cathay routes below (until all long-haul planes are retrofitted with the new seats), the fresh seats are what you get with a basic Economy airfare.

Old Economy (above) versus New Economy (below)

Wondering what flights will have the fancy new seats first? Here's the routes for this spring:

Hong Kong to New York: CX840, CX830, CX888
New York to Hong Kong: CX841, CX831, CX889

Hong Kong to Sydney: CX101
Sydney to Hong Kong: CX100

Hong Kong to Toronto: CX826, CX828
Toronto to Hong Kong: CX825, CX829

Hong Kong to Vancouver: CX888
Vancouver to Hong Kong: CX889

All of this couldn't happen at a better time, as we've got another 18-hour direct in Cathay Economy coming up. No more numb butt!

[Photos: Cathay Pacific]

Archived Comments:

Shell Seats are great!

I love their 'shell' seats. I'm more than 6 feet tall and not having someone recline into my knees matters most! I've flown Cathay four times this year and their shell seats are great!