Airpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 934 posts, RR: 38 Posted (5 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Having only yesterday got off a Cathay Pacific A330-300 flight equipped with its new (and not very well received) Business Class, I thought I'd share a short trip report (well, my first actually) and pics, together with some quick comments.
Flight Cathay Pacific Airways CX 722
Kuala Lumpur - Hong Kong
9 October 2007
Dep 1355 Arr 1745 (on time)
Cathay's latest A330-300 was delivered in July 2007 fitted with its new Business Class cabins. Flying mainly on the Sydney and Melbourne runs, it does occasional regional hops like this from HK to KL.
Check in and Boarding
The Malaysia Airlines check-in agent helpfully tells me while handing out my boading pass that "this is a new plane, and a new cabin." Yes I know, I say, that's why I'm flying today!
The cabin is configured 1-1-1 and I am reserved at 21K, the last row in the front cabin. At the gate, my name is called and my seat changed to 22K behind door no.2 because "the PTV at 21K is inoperable." Already? If you follow the conversations going on at Cathay talk and others, you'll know that the new Business Class has been subjected to a lot of flak - from CX friends and foe alike - since it was introduced a couple of months back.
Ten rows of Business Class are squeezed in between doors 1 and 2, and another 3 rows are situated in a mini cabin behind door 2. That's where I m seated. With the partition walls and narrow aisles, it strangely feels more like a overnight train than a plane that I am boarding.
The crew is more hassled than usual, and this makes for a slightly chaotic boarding situation. The almost full flight in both J and Y classes doesn't help matters. The normally warm and serene Cathay Pacific Business Class welcome does not materialise: the crew stand awkwardly in corners looking very uncomfortable indeed. Not a good start on what should be an upgraded product offering.
The boarding: rather chaotic at the start
Bulkhead seats have the advantage of having flat surfaces close by; handy for overflowing newspapers and the like. Passengers in other seats may have to contend with having them strewn around their feet.
Seat and Service
I plonk myself down at my allocated 22K and first impressions: cramped! The seat is actually not narrow, but the close walls allow for no elbow room whatsoever. My view is of a wall too - but I guess that is marginally better than someone else's feet which is the view from the 'A' side seats. With the angle of the seat and a pillow velcro-ed to the headrest, I am quite confident I'd get a sore neck trying to look out the window, so I give the tarmac a cursory glance and lower the window shades. There are no window seats in Cathay's new Business Class, that I am absolutely certain.
We are 10 minutes late leaving the gate which is not bad considering the late boarding and on our way. Menus, hot towels, juices, champagne are dispensed: the usual CX stuff - only it's not CX as usual. The crew continue to be edgy: they smile but it is an uncertain one. There is none of the friendly confidence that senior crews usually exude on CX. The warmth is not there either. And they forget to address passengers by name - well, at least for this passenger... not that it is such a big deal, but having flown CX more times than I can remember, I can say this is quite rare.
The main Business Class cabin between doors 1 and 2.
The new AVOD is easy to use and quite responsive. The PTVs are huge. Only problem: they are starting to detach from their mountings. I try to be as gentle as possble, but I don't think the PTV attached to seat 22K will remain attached for very many flights after this. Many have criticised the quality of the fittings on CX's new Business Class, and I can understand why.
The route map displays are real cool.
Time to enjoy a movie. The view of this pax from the aisle however can't be very flattering though.
The service is sloooow.. so much slower than I have ever experienced it. The flight time is 3 hours 20 minutes. It takes all of 3 hours - almost the entire flight - for the meal to be served. Just after coffee and as inflight sales are about to start, captain comes on to say we are starting our descent into Chep Lap Kok. The crew must be still finding their feet with the new arrangements. And the cost cutting measures (CX put one less crew member on their newly configured A330s) is having a toll on the service!
It sounds like all complaints, but it isn't all bad actually.
I get used to the space eventually and the recline is seamless, which is better than say NZ, where the transformation from seat to bed has to be deliberate.
The seat - as a seat - is rather comfy (if only they could get in more elbow room) and is definitely more comfortable to sit in than SQ's highly acclaimed new Business Class, imo, of course.
As a bed, it fits me fine but I am of average Asian build and height. If you're taller than 180cm, I suspect you'd have an overhang in the aisle.
And we land on time.
The PTV controls, laptop power supply are also sensibly located within reach.
AirEcosse From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2007, 53 posts, RR: 0 Reply 4, posted (5 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Nice report and pictures. Very informative and impartial. I can't work out whether I like the layout or not. Seems like the "K" seats have the best deal for privacy. It looks like one of those Japanese "capsual" type hotels.
Ronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1541 posts, RR: 54 Reply 6, posted (5 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Great TR, thank you for sharing it with us.
It is evident from your and others' TR's that the crew still need to familiarize themselves with the new configurations/changes. Not sure if CX is at fault for this or not, but i would assume this to be normal at this stage; as long as it doesnt go on for much longer.
As for the seat, your TR and your pirctures gave me a different perspective, and maybe it doesn't seem as bad as i thought it was at first?
Thanks again. Your pictures are GREAT!
A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
Airpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 934 posts, RR: 38 Reply 7, posted (5 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Thanks for all your kind comments - they are very much appreciated!
Quoting Thai744 (Reply 1): I think you've just made up my mind about my trip to HKG later this year - definitely *NOT* using CX J class after reading this. VS it will be!
I am assuming you're flying to HKG from the UK or Australia - either way, you do realise that VS have the same style herringbone design in its Upper Class cabins... they seem to be a bit more spacious than CX's though.
Quoting AirEcosse (Reply 4): Seems like the "K" seats have the best deal for privacy. It looks like one of those Japanese "capsual" type hotels.
Yes, the "K" side seats without a doubt. Even if you are travelling as a couple, it's better to sit side-by-side than across the aisle. You know, some uncharitable souls have called the new CX seats "flying coffins"... but that's a bit harsh!
Quoting Ronerone (Reply 6): As for the seat, your TR and your pirctures gave me a different perspective, and maybe it doesn't seem as bad as i thought it was at first?
I had read so many negative reports on the new Business Class; maybe it's all about managing expectations.. people expected a lot from CX with the new product especially after SQ introduced its benches (sorry, I mean massive seats haha) in J but what emerged from CX was ok but not ground-breaking. I wanted first hand experience, and got it. Thought I'd hate it, but it was actually ok. Thought I'd avoid it like the plague on long haul, but can now contemplate an overnight flight in one. I guess my views did change. Try it, that's the only way of knowing, I guess.
Quoting Ronerone (Reply 6): It is evident from your and others' TR's that the crew still need to familiarize themselves with the new configurations/changes. Not sure if CX is at fault for this or not, but i would assume this to be normal at this stage; as long as it doesnt go on for much longer.
Took another CX flight the very next day to BKK in "traditional" Business Class on the upper deck of a 744. What a difference in the quality of service! Let's hope the lapses in service can be sorted out on the new planes.
B-HXB From New Zealand, joined Jan 2001, 744 posts, RR: 0 Reply 11, posted (5 years 7 months 1 week 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Thanks for the report.
I personally hate the herringbone layout so really dislike the fact that CX went with it.
Having said that - I am not one of those people who have been clamouring for CX to put flat beds in Business Class. Now that they have - those same people are complaining. I would be perfectly happy to pay the surcharge for First - if only they had kept First on all of their long-haul routes! If people are not happy to pay for F even where it's available (and I agree that's becoming harder and harder to find on a CX aircraft) - then don't complain if you don't get a flat bed, or at least don't complain if you get a flat bed but it comes at a cost (here the angled layout).
Of course that doesn't excuse the apparently poor materials used for the PTVs etc., and the poor pod design (elbow space etc.) but perhaps this will be rectified as the seats are rolled out more and more. Re comparisons with the SQ seat: there's a 20% surcharge for flying the 77W - the price you pay for the decreased number of seats in the cabin on that aircraft.
CXtra From Hong Kong, joined Jan 2006, 263 posts, RR: 0 Reply 14, posted (5 years 7 months 1 week 2 days ago) and read 32767 times:
Thanks for the report - insightful photos and concise comments.
Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter): With the partition walls and narrow aisles, it strangely feels more like a overnight train than a plane that I am boarding.
Hmm.. apart from the flat beds, I think pax appreciate the exclusive feel of J - and this is/was particularly apparent in the mini-cabin of the 3-class 333. I should try it firsthand for sure, but from pictures, it seems you now have the 'mass feeling' of economy with possibly, but maybe not, better seats.
Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter): The normally warm and serene Cathay Pacific Business Class welcome does not materialise: the crew stand awkwardly in corners looking very uncomfortable indeed
I quite agree with the 'warm and serene' idea - and this was not just something the crew evoked, but also the calming cabin atmosphere. It seems the new one is more claustrophobic and possibly less relaxing.
From cathaytalk, it seems the problem is that CX did not properly train its crew before rolling them out on the product. Certainly, I don't think ppl will tolerate it much longer.
Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter): There are no window seats in Cathay's new Business Class, that I am absolutely certain.
Yes, I hate this and it seems hard to believe that the majority of their customer feedback was of a mind that windows didn't matter to them.
A340600 From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2003, 4103 posts, RR: 53 Reply 15, posted (5 years 7 months 1 week 2 days ago) and read 32767 times:
Nice trip report . I really fail to understand peoples liking of the Herringbone J products, it's peas in their pods lined up with a view of the aisle or someone opposite them and no outside view. Oh and if you're travelling with anyone forget being social,
Despite the name I am a Boeing man through and through!
Caspritz78 From Germany, joined Aug 2007, 518 posts, RR: 0 Reply 18, posted (5 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Thanks for the great report.
The cabin layout looks weird to me. It looks cramped and you can't look out of a window. How did the seating affect the way the f/a did the food and rink service. I think it must a weird feeling having the f/a standing in front of you and put your drinks and food on the tray. The from the side serving is much more "restaurant like" and I think more comfortable for the passengers.
Albird87 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 19, posted (5 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Quoting Thai744 (Reply 1): I wish airlines would stop moving to this sort of layout on J class - BA, CX etc. It really is unattractive. I like to face forward when I sit in an aircraft.
True it is unatractive unless you are a simple buisness man who just wants to sleep. I do beleive that maybe this style of seat will actually be very short lived and most airlines soon may have to rethink their biz classs layout. It also seems to me that this style of layout they are going to lose a lot more seats as a normal A330 layout would be 2-2-2? and now its just 1-1-1 you have to wonder why the airlines would do this!
I do beleive these seats would still work well if they were lined up normally and and maybe then offest to allow every passenger access to the isle (this wont be needed for the middle 2 seats)
Also BA dont have this kind of product but they do have seats that face backwards and forwards. Club world to me still looks the most atractive biz class out there!!
Airpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 934 posts, RR: 38 Reply 20, posted (5 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Thanks again all, very glad you liked the report.
However, there seems to be a general concensus on the dislike for the herringbone layout used by Cathay. It is not the best, but it isn't awful: it just takes some getting used to - I have flown on NZ's Business Class in a similar layout but don't remember being so confined. So maybe it is just Cathay squeezing in too many rows. On NZ, I could look out the window; on CX, it was almost impossible without a sore neck.
Despite the less than ideal flight, and assuming the lapses in service are just teething problems, I would be game to give this another try sometime down the line (but on a flight I know I just need to sleep straight thru!) As I said in the TR, the seat was rather comfy; and in bed mode, it really wasn't bad at all.
Quoting CXtra (Reply 14): It seems the new one is more claustrophobic and possibly less relaxing.
This is particularly awkward in the 2nd Business class cabin during boarding when all the Economy passengers snake past you in a queue. Because of the way the seats are arranged, you actually sit facing them! To feel less like an animal at a zoo, you can choose to immerse yourself in a newspaper - but make sure it's a tabloid, the space is too small to unfold a broadsheet...
Quoting Caspritz78 (Reply 18): How did the seating affect the way the f/a did the food and rink service. I think it must a weird feeling having the f/a standing in front of you and put your drinks and food on the tray.
Sometimes with a little difficulty, especially when the PTV is also "deployed". With everything being still new to them, the crew were very cautious, probably the reason why service took so long.
Quoting Albird87 (Reply 19): It also seems to me that this style of layout they are going to lose a lot more seats as a normal A330 layout would be 2-2-2? and now its just 1-1-1 you have to wonder why the airlines would do this!
That's the 'beauty' of Cathay's design - on this long haul A330 with 1-1-1 config, they fit in 30 flat bed seats in 10 rows between doors 1 and 2. On a similar sized A340 fitted with the older non-flat bed seats in a 2-2-2 config, they still fit only 30 seats in 5 rows in the same space. That's something which must have pleased the bean counters (and there are many of those at CX), but not necessarily the passengers!
MotorHussy From New Zealand, joined Mar 2000, 2747 posts, RR: 10 Reply 22, posted (5 years 7 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 31825 times:
Looks like the new AC business class rather than the Herringbone design of VS and NZ. So a little more cramped somehow - less shoulder width methinks.
Presumably the seat extends forward when converting to a bed unlike the NZ and VS ones which fold right over with the seat-back equipped with a mattress. Also, doesn't look like you could have anyone dining with you sitting at your Ottoman.
Doesn't really cut-it though compared to the new SQ business!
Ryanair!!! From Singapore, joined Mar 2002, 4652 posts, RR: 27 Reply 24, posted (5 years 7 months 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 31645 times:
Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter): The normally warm and serene Cathay Pacific Business Class welcome does not materialise: the crew stand awkwardly in corners looking very uncomfortable indeed.
I guess it is because wherever they stand along the aisle, their butt would be facing the passenger seated behind them.
Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter): I am quite confident I'd get a sore neck trying to look out the window, so I give the tarmac a cursory glance and lower the window shades. There are no window seats in Cathay's new Business Class, that I am absolutely certain.
Then that is really sad. Some of us prize these window seats with our lives (actually I do). I can imagine trying to take a video out of the window during the landing won't be an easy feat.
Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter): The flight time is 3 hours 20 minutes. It takes all of 3 hours - almost the entire flight - for the meal to be served.
I was wondering, how is the crew going to serve the meal to you while you are watching TV? There does not seem to be a lot of extra space as the PTV almost occupies the entire width.
Looking at general consensus, I do not envy CX at the moment. I am sure the person who went ahead and spearheaded this herringbone project is receiving a lot of flak now. Claustrophobia, minimal moving space while seated... This sounds more like a glorifed YCL, doesn't it?
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
25 B747forever: Really great TR. The new Biz seats looks nice but they lay out is not the best one. Thank you for sharing B747forever.
26 DavidkunzVIE: Nice TR, but the seating layout is the biggest crap ever. No window seats??? Give me eco over this any day.
27 Avianca: totally agree, these kind of new seats are looking very strange...
28 Jyatlantic: I myself am NOT a fan of these herringbone-configuration second-class (J) seats, which are found on more and more airlines. Like you said, CRAMPED! Yo