Overpriced and poor experience: Cathay Pacific Economy Class Review

Cathay Pacific (CX) is a SkyTrax 5-Star Airline and has been in the Top 10 for the last 8 years. But customer reviews are mixed and Asian 5-star competitors Singapore Airlines, Asiana and ANA all outscore Cathay Pacific. My recent CX Economy flights confirm the story of middling reviews: the seat, service and food all contributed to a disappointing flight! Read my Cathay Pacific Economy class review to see if it is worth your money!

Pre-Departure: Cathay Pacific allows up to a total of 350g (2 pieces) of checked luggage in Economy Class, with Marco Polo and OneWorld elite members getting up to 20kg extra. On flights to/from the US it’s 2 pieces of up to 23kg each for regular passengers and 1 extra piece for top-level elites. You also get 1 carry-on of up to 7kg and a personal item. That’s more than enough luggage for me and competitive with other airlines.
At Manila’s airport there was no clear signage for check-in, and with an onward ticket in Premium Economy Class, I used the Business Class check-in without issues. The line for economy class wasn’t very long either and the wait was short.
The Boarding Experience for both flight from Manila to Hong Kong and return was ok, with premium cabins and elite members being allowed to board first and economy following.

Onboard Service: The service on the short 2h flight was minimal with little attention and few smiles for Economy passengers. Flight attendants came through shortly after departure and handed out snack boxes, including a boxed drink and offered additional coffee, tea or water. No other service requests were entertained after this.

Food: The snack box contained a juice drink, cookie and a ham & egg pastry. The pastry was hard and tasted odd and so did the cookie. This was the worst meal I’ve received on any Asian full-service carrier in a long time and very disappointing. I’d rather pay on a low-cost carrier for better food than this!

Seat Boeing B777 (2 class): The Economy Class is located behind the Business Class cabin and has a 3-3-3 layout, one seat less per row than many other airlines flying B777. The seats are 17.5in wide, have a 32in pitch and a 6in recline. Unfortunately, the seats slide forward when reclining, making it impossible for me (at 6ft3) to recline at all.

Cathay Pacific Economy Class Seats

While some passengers appreciate this seat design, as the recline doesn’t intrude into the space of the person behind, it’s unworkable for me and I wouldn’t want to be in it for more than the 2h I spent!

The seat padding is decent and there is a small, personal video screen in the seatback in front of you. The screen was ok, colors and brightness could be better for day flights.

Entertainment: The entertainment system offers a good selection of TV and 100s of movies from around the world, so everybody should be able to find something. I like the ability to see what will be playing on the Cathay Pacific website, giving you a chance to pick something you like ahead of time or bring your own entertainment if you don’t like it! I’d consider the inflight entertainment top notch, both in quality and selection.

Bottomline: Cathay Pacific’s Economy Class offers a seat that’s uncomfortable for tall people, shockingly bad food, mediocre service and very good entertainment. It’s hard to see how Cathay Pacific has managed to maintain their 5-star rating with such a poor product. If appears that they have been riding their once stellar reputation without keeping up the product and I have no intention of flying Cathay Pacific again any time soon. You can get a comparable experience for a lot less by flying any of the Asian low-cost carriers – or a better flight experience by flying with regional competitors like Singapore Airlines!


Overpriced and poor experience: Cathay Pacific Economy Class Review — 4 Comments

  1. Ok please try United airline for 2 hours flight, you will have nothing at all, the seat is 3 inches recline, cost more than CX 2 hours flight.

    • I’m comparing CX to other 5-star airlines, like ANA or Singapore Airlines – and both offer a lot more than CX, with regards to seats, food and service.
      And even United’s Economy seats are better, at least for tall people, as they DO have recline, while CX seats have hard shells which won’t allow tall people to recline at all without breaking their knees…

  2. You must have been unlucky as CX is phasing out the hard shell seat. It’s also phasing in 10 abreast on the 777s. The A350s are pretty comfortable, even for the tallies who don’t want to pay more for extra leg room.

    I’ve found CX catering to be quite good, comparable to SIA and JAL and better than Emirates on the Kangaroo route.

    Pricing will depend if you manage to get one of their regular sales. Don’t book at full Y prices unless you want the flexibility of changing your ticket.

    • Thanks for sharing your experience.
      CX is phasing out the old seats that have a physical plastic shell, but the new seats on B777 have the same mechanism where the seat bottom slides forward, pulling the seatback into an angle. While that protects the space of the person behind you, even on the newest Economy Seats, it still reduces your legroom, making the available legroom comparable to a LCC.
      The new seats on Airbus A350 should indeed offer more space – they are wider than on the Boeing and also have a regular recline of 6in, so even tall people will be able to slide their feet under the seat in front! There is hope…
      Because of the old seats, I won’t fly Cathay in Economy on long-haul flights and can’t judge the food offered on those flights. On the short-haul flight I reviewed, it was awful – a rock-hard pastry wrap with mystery filling. SQ, TG, NH and even PAL all serve full meals in Economy on short-haul flights, consisting of an appetizer, hot entree and “dessert”.
      Obviously, prices will depend on the timing and occasion of the purchase. I compare their pricing based on everything else being equal: Cathay charges a premium compared to other airlines, based on my research: Sales prices during a CX sale are still higher than say Thai Air prices during a TG sale or PAL prices during their sale. 20 years ago, that premium was justified based on superior service. In my opinion, CX has reduced the hard product and service so much, yet still charges premium prices that are no longer justified by the product or service. Obviously, that price-value judgement differs for all of us, so I appreciate your input as a counterpoint!

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