Cathay Pacific’s New Coach Seats

Cathay Pacific, Seats

Cathay Pacific has put for a major effort to improve the onboard experience with the introduction of new seats in all three classes of service starting in January of 2007, but it’s the coach seats that really interest me.

These have some great new features that could help make flying economy much more bearable. First, a picture:

This is straight off the Cathay website, and those little numbers correspond to all their selling points. You can get the full list here, but I’m going to focus on the ones that really matter.

First of all, numbers 1 and 3 are closely related. These new seats are what they call “fixed” design. That means that the seat never moves into another person’s “living space.” For example, when you recline the seat, it doesn’t just go back, the seat actually reclines into the shell and the front of the seat slides forward a bit as well. This may reduce legroom a little, but you can fully recline without bothering the person behind you. More importantly, the person in front of you can fully recline without bothering you!

Number 5 is also interesting in that it’s the first economy seat with a three point seat belt. That’s pretty different and might feel constricting, but they say that you can modify it to be only a lap belt during the flight itself.

The last thing that really impresses me is the seat back pocket (#7). You can plainly see that the pocket is no longer in the back of the seat in front of you, it’s underneath your legs. This does several things. If you have a lot of stuff in the pocket, it will not longer stop you from opening the tray table. It also will give you an inch or two of extra legroom. Lastly, if someone sticks their bag under your seat, it won’t poke out the front into the back of your legs.

It’s a pretty sweet design and includes all the other bells and whistles you’d expect like moving headrests and big video screens. It even has a built in coat hook in the seatback. Hopefully others will adopt it as well.

Oh, and the new business class and first class products are nothing to sneeze at either. Click on those links to learn more about them.

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30 comments on “Cathay Pacific’s New Coach Seats

  1. The seat recline bit looks pretty brilliant and the adjustable headrest is a welcome change. But that literature pouch may be a nightmare from a cleaning and maintenance perspective. Looks like they are perfectly placed to be a nice crumb catcher. Being at floor level they are going to take a ton of abuse, even more so that the current standard.

  2. I’m over 6 feet and neither an amputee nor a yoga instructor. The new Cathay “fixed” seat is an abomination. It doesn’t recline – it slides you into the seat in front. Since my knees are touching teh seat in front to start with, this leaves me with nowhere to go – other than the chiropractor when I get off.

    The only benefit is that the pain takes your attention away from the agressive and shitty flight attendants.

    I will not fly on Cathay again.

    1. Me too. I just flew Cathay on coach a 15 hr flight and the seats absolutely killed my neck!
      Never on Cathay’s coach again
      What a bad design. Clearly it wasnt consumer tested

    2. Me too. I just flew Cathay on coach a 15 hr flight and the seats absolutely killed my neck! Never on Cathay’s coach again
      What a bad design. Clearly it wasnt consumer tested.

  3. The seat doesn’t recline. I have to stay in upright position for 10+ hours flight. Never fly on Cathay again.

  4. The new seat is terrible: the seat recline, but not the headset!!!
    So your head stays vertical all along.
    Which means that your head falls forwards when you fall asleep. That gets you to wake up everytime you fall asleep. not the best for 12 hours long flights!
    Do not fly economy with cathay!

  5. I echo the sentiments of the above posters in saying the Cathay Pacific coach seats are dreadful, and the press release is nothing but a ploy to try to sell these as “improvements”. Having no pitch to recline on a hong kong-los angeles flight meant no rest. The fake recline feature just slides your butt 4 or so inches forward, jamming your legs into the seat in front of you and putting your back into a horrible posture. Really ergonomically speaking, it just forces you into a slouch, with your spine bending into itself. This might be bearable for a short flight but is unforgivable for these long hauls. Which makes me question the sanity of installing these into 747’s in the first place. By eliminating any pitch from all coach seats, I’m sure they squeezed a few extra rows into the 747, however they will lose more than a few customers if they don’t make some changes.

    I am a loyal American Airlines customer and was forced over to Cathay as a code share. Never again will I fly Cathay and American will be hearing about this as well.

  6. Used to love this airline.

    Now I hate this airline b/c their seats DO NOT FREAKIN RECLINE.

    It’s been since says since I got back from my HKG to NYC flight and my BACK STILL HURTS.



  7. The only good thing about these new seats is if you never recline (like me) (I just read books and listen to music in an upright position) but now I am spared from the person in front. So for me a real bonus.

  8. I am still a silver club member of cathay pacific.. I fly frequently, and normally HKD – LAX.

    i now fly other airlines as a DIRECT result of the new seating design.

    Everyone below has said it.. shocking.. bad posture.. Its impossible to sleep on them as they do not recline.

    I’ve moved my business elsewhere..

  9. A direct flight from London to Hong Kong, I normally get a minimum of 4-5hrs sleep leaving me rested for the next days business. This time with these badly designed seats I spent the trip in pain. The stupid slouch recline was useless and hurt my back so I had to remain upright. But then as the flight progressed the 10mm of padding on the seats became the real problem and I had very uncomfortable pressure points on my back. I flew with them before they ahd this new seat. I would now rather do the stop over at dubai and fly emirates when virgin are full.

    A terrible design,

  10. I just fly Cathay from Hong Kong to SF and back. It was the worst experience I ever had on a long distance flight due to the non-reclining seats. Sleep was all but impossible since you’re head is vertical the entire time. The seat padding is so thin, portions of the plastic shell stick into your side.

    Simply put, I will never fly Cathay Pacific again. What a dreadful thing to do to your customers.

  11. These “shell seats” are HORRIBLE. I flew from LAX to HKG and back on a Cathay Pacific 777-300ER, which is a wonderful plane, but with THESE seats, made for a DREADFULLY long flight … particularly coming back. I was absolutely tired after the trip to HKG and MNL, and the 12 hour flight back was compounded by these PAINFUL seats … as I could NOT get comfortable at ALL during those hours, and probably caught 2 to 3 hours of sleep intermittently.

    By comparison, I flew a Philippine Airlines 777-300ER from HKG to MNL, and although it was a short flight, those “standard” seats in economy were by FAR and AWAY superior to CX’s. Those even had FOOTRESTS, as opposed to Cathay’s which did NOT.

    I will choose other airlines to fly on besides CX for overseas travel to Asia … these seats SUCK!!!

  12. I like CX, but the the new shell chair leave me with no choice but to use other airline. I flew from SFO to HKG, I think I got some back injury due to the chair.

  13. Just flew Cathay from HKG->SFO two days ago, my back, neck, legs and knees are still hurting from the horrible bucket seats The padding of the seat is too thin, you can feel the plastic bucket on your 3rd hour through the flight. Seat position is the most uncomfortable one, it slides forward and it leaves you with no lumber support. The headrest is the killer, your neck is constantly in the same position regardless you are “reclined” or not. No foot rest, which forces my foot upright against my own seat, worse for my knees. Absolutely the worse seats I have ever had.

  14. Never again! I used to love Cathay Pacific…and then these seats. What were they thinking/smoking? I just wish that the genius who decided on these things would be forced to sit in them for 15-20 hours on a regular basis. They are nothing short of torture. I was on the SFO-HKG-SFO route recently and my back hurt for DAYS after each flight. I will be increasing my travel to Asia (3-4 times per year) and I will NEVER fly Cathay again unless/until these seats are recognized for the huge mistake they are and are removed. This fiasco is worthy of a case study in business school on the same bonehead level as “New Coke”. GOODBYE Cathay.

  15. I flew Hong Kong to Frankfurt, and was the first time on a long haul I never got atleast a few hours sleep. Not only do these seats force bad posture, they also force your weight to push down on a certain area of the buttocks. Within half an hour, I had a numb bottom. This was the most uncomfortable aspect for me. I understand Cathay have removed a cushion layer from the seat to save money.

    The only thing that made the flight bearable were the helpful flight attendants. I fly 4 or five times a year on business, but I am unlikely to fly Cathay long haul again until this is sorted.

    1. Nice to see that they are changing the stupid seats… lucky i have bonus miles to fly business on my next HK trip ^^

      If not, I’d probably go with its partner airlines instead..

  16. just flew CX from Vancouver to Aus via HK and return, total 42 hours fly time, those coach seats are pathetic, virtually no padding on a hard shell and the recline is useless, my back is still sore, they might as well put plastic garden chairs in, if their new seats are fixed back style I will never fly CX again

  17. I am over 170 cm tall and more weigh more than 100 kg. I LOVE the new CX seats! It is BRILLIANT that no one reclines his/her seat into my lap for 15 hours. The extra couple inches of recline do not help my neck or back, but the reduction in space between me and the seat in front of me when someone else reclines is a huge pain on other airlines – makes it hard to see the IFE screen, can’t open the traytable, can’t stand up comfortably, etc!.

  18. I was flying from London to Bangkok the new seats of Cathay Pacific are terrible for long trips You Cannot recline them… can slide it forward the part where you sit but the back you cannot move it so you are more or less in the upright position at all times.
    I like Cathay Pacific in the past but with these new seats I would not reccomend it to anybody.

  19. As stated above these hard shell Y seats are not good! I’m sure they’re fine for short haul but Even on the 9 hr flights to/from Australia the thin seat padding became uncomfortable. The “recline” position forces my knees ino the back of the chair in front.
    Fortunately I’ve seen the new 2012 seats on their website, can somebody please write a review of these new reclining seats that are being installed?

  20. I decided to google to see if I was the only one really, I mean REALLY bugged by the crappy seats. It was awful, miserably uncomfortable. For long haul flights when you need some rest, this is a disaster. My neck and lumbar area was so uncomfortable. No twitching, maneuvering could help. Hated it. Never again Cathy! The “genius” who designed the seat needs to be strapped on the seat of his own design for >10 hours straight. See what he/she thinks then.

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