airpearl
Topic Author
Posts: 859
Joined: Tue May 01, 2001 7:42 pm

Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Sat Aug 22, 2009 8:19 am




celebrating “intelligent misuse”


Some years back, a then top Cathay Pacific executive coined the phrase intelligent misuse to explain why the airline schedules its long-haul planes on short hops. Instead of investing in a fleet of narrow-bodies, the executive argued, it makes economic sense to use – or rather misuse – its larger planes, squeezing in a quick regional roundtrip between the longer hauls to London or Australia.

That was said in the groovier days of pre-1997 Hong Kong, when Cathay was based at congested, single-runway Kai Tak that imposed a midnight-to-6 a.m. curfew. In those early-China boom days, the airline was primarily a regional carrier in Asia with no flights into China, and just a few choice long haul sectors: intelligent misuse made a lot of sense.

Today, Cathay is a different animal altogether. China is now the carrier’s most important market and – together with unit Dragonair – serves 17 cities on the mainland, most of which are around two flying hours from Hong Kong. With Dragonair too comes a family of single-aisle A32X planes used mainly for flights to secondary Chinese cities from Hong Kong.

The drastically changed landscape notwithstanding, some things have stayed pat. Among them, intelligent misuse remains a prominent feature on Cathay’s regional routes (including its shortest between Hong Kong and Taipei) which are scheduled with B744s or B77Ws, the same planes flying the longest hauls. Cathay is not alone of course; arch-rival Singapore Airlines is another keen proponent of intelligent misuse – presumably because it still makes sense for them today.

But whether or not it will do so in the future, with LCCs fast encroaching on the business and market share of Asian legacy carriers, remains to be seen. Could intra-Asia travel eventually (perhaps sooner rather than later) resemble the U.S. and Europe with BOB on packed narrow bodies with minimal frills? Alas, a few airlines are already going down this path and others – faced with poor yields and weaker balance sheets – may be forced to follow suit. Fearing the inevitable, this enthusiast will try to enjoy the privilege while it still lasts…


manila to hong kong
Cathay Pacific Airways flight CX 906 in Business Class
Dept 1121 Arrv 1327 (arrives 17 minutes late)
B747-412 B-HKD


airport


Ageing Terminal One of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport is a hive of activity this Sunday morning. There may just be a handful of departures but the check-in area is already swamped. The fact that everyone in this congested hall is a ticketed passenger (senders and greeters are barred from entering the building) underlies the urgent need for more space, but legal wrangling continues to ensure the (now not so) new Terminal 3 stays largely devoid of passengers and planes.

I am catching the late morning flight to Hong Kong – one of six daily rotations operated by Cathay to its hub: remarkably, three of these are operated by B744! At 617nm, the route is also one of the shortest in the network, with a block time of some 120 minutes. Judging from the queues for check-in, this flight looks totally packed out.





The ten CX check-in desks for CX906 can barely cope; while the single line for economy class snakes around so many bends, I really wouldn’t know where it ends: I feel almost relieved to be flying J class. But even here, the queue is long, and it takes me a good 20 minutes or more to reach the desk. Perhaps not surprisingly, some edgy passengers get aggressive but it’s the first time I’m seeing a scuffle break out at the premium counters when a J class passenger is told in no uncertain terms to “f***ing move out” of the F class line… it’s a bit like the fights at school, only here the bullies are three times larger and carry Blackberries.  biggrin 

The little excitement over (with nobody getting a black eye or arrested), I finally get my boarding pass and walk the short distance to join another line to pay my airport tax and then, a longer line to get the passport stamped. Somehow everything’s just moving slower today. By the time I reach Cathay’s lounge, it’s an hour and a half since I was dropped off at the airport entrance – it’s taken far longer than usual. Giving the crowded, tired-looking lounge a cursory glance, I decide to push on.





gate


Kilo Delta operating CX906 to Hong Kong is already at the stand when I get there. She’s a notoriously familiar machine: I was a passenger on B-HKD back in July 2005 when she went tech at Bangkok’s Don Muang just before push-back for Singapore. So even though I have boarded this plane before, I’ve not flown with her. (I was later put on a scheduled Singapore Airlines 744 – yes, those days when SQ put a turnaround 744 on the SIN-BKK run; now alas no more.) This 1992 machine was also formerly SQ’s (9V-SMN that was sold to CX in 2004). Hopefully I am luckier this round.





As a legacy of the 1970s concrete-heavy architectural style, Terminal One is not an airport that engenders a lot of affection. What I do like about it though is how close the parked planes are to the terminal: a B744 at gate level simply looks imposing and, well, just like a jumbo should! Many of the new hub airports are so huge they make even the A380 look tiny. Half the excitement of flying is the anticipation of it all, and MNL lets you enjoy this increasingly rare feeling today.





The gate area is more packed than it needs to be. Although the holding lounge is common to a couple of departure gates (not all of which are occupied), each operating airline ropes off its passengers, confining them to the seats in front of the gate and making it feel very snug and congested. Many of my fellow passengers seem to be headed for Dubai, Bahrain or Riyadh via Hong Kong on CX, while some are catching the mid-afternoon connections to the States and Canada. No wonder Cathay is packing in the B744s on this route!





cabin


Boarding is pretty civilized for a full flight; priority is accorded to the usual F, J classes as well as for Cathay’s Marco Polo Club and oneworld status passengers. A friendly greeting at door 1L and I am quickly through the lower deck Business cabin – looking a little cramped for my liking – and headed upstairs. The airline’s entire B744 fleet has now been refitted with new configurations in all three classes. First class with nine plush new “suites”, instead of 12 flat beds previously, has received almost universal acclaim. The new economy class featuring fixed-back, “virtual-recline” seats had pretty mixed reviews, with some fans liking them but seemingly more detractors who say they’ll never come back. And the herringbone business class? If the many strongly-worded reviews are any indication of public opinion, the jury seems to be unanimously in saying: we hate it!





I am one of the first to get to the upper deck. From where I am standing aft, the empty single-aisle cabin doesn’t look half bad. The main deck equivalent looks far more crowded, as does the herringbone arrangement on CX’s A333s, as I recall from the only other time I’ve traveled in the airline’s new J configuration. This one looks rather okay, actually.





There are no major differences among the seats. They’re all individualized, unsociable units, with high walls and backs to the window. I am seated in the second last row of the cabin on the “A” side, but as my fellow passengers have not yet arrived, I take the opportunity to take a few pics. Above are the last of the starboard “K” side seats behind which are the two J class washrooms, while the aft “A” seats (below) are positioned ahead of a magazine rack cum storage unit.







When I get seated, I realize why CX got so much flak from its frequent flyers for this latest innovation. I can’t imagine anyone sitting here for the first time, and not immediately disliking it. I usually don’t mind cozy spaces, but seat 91A has the knack of making you notice, and being annoyed at, its nastiest points. For a start, the high partitions on either side of one’s seat enhance privacy less than create an environment that feels intensely claustrophobic. The seat itself is not narrow by any means, but it feels narrow. Forget about picking up a broadsheet prior to departure; even reading a tabloid can be tricky. Extend your elbows a little more and they’ll hit the walls. Look ahead of you and it’s someone’s feet you’re staring at, or the side profile of someone’s head: instinctively it feels all wrong. Maybe, it’s just the feng shui, I can’t really be sure. Of course, all that is even before you consider the fact that looking out the window while seated upright is almost impossible – unless you happen to be a contortionist.





I am not anti-herringbone designs per se (the ones I’ve been on 9W and NZ, for instance, are rather nice) but this one seems to bring out the worst in me. The problem, I think, lies in the way the reconfigured cabins squeeze in far too many seats – it’s likely to delight CX’s bean counters but infuriate everyone else. On the B744 upper deck for instance, the change from the previous angled-flat 2-2 seating to the flat-bed seat in 1-1 configuration entailed sacrificing only 4 seats, from 26 then to 22 now. (As a comparison, VS which also has the herringbone configuration on the upper deck of selected B744s has 20 flat-bed seats, as does BA.) On the main deck, the CX transformation is even more amazing: the new configuration actually squeezes in 3 more passengers (from 21 to 24) than before!





Space is at a premium here. Apart from a slim magazine pocket at the side of the seat, there’s not a whole lot of storage room. The space under the leg rest seems to be designed to fit a pair of shoes; everything else has to be strewn on the floor, or out-of-sight behind the seat.

The passengers trickle in slowly, making it apparent quite early on that push back will most likely be delayed, but it doesn’t seem to bother a lot of passengers this Sunday. The unusual configuration gets the cameras out too, and I am photographer for my first-time flyer neighbors for a while. As I’d expected, CX had over-booked Y class and a lucky few get promoted to fill up the upper deck.





The service aboard is classic Cathay in J class. Considering the short flight time, not a lot of chit-chat from the crew but otherwise, the three stewardesses serving upstairs are friendly and efficient. Nice also to see that, unlike on some airlines, there is no service discrimination between op-ups and J class paying passengers. (The herringbone design gives you a grandstand view, whether you like it or not, of the service your fellow passengers receive!) Hot towels and pre-take off drinks are served, safety video screened as we push back. And not forgetting the shoulder belts, which must be secured for take-offs and landings in these seats.





lunch


Once we’re leveled off, Inflight Service Manager Alice comes round to say hello, greeting each passenger (including op-ups) by name. This is common enough on the long hauls, but I am pleasantly surprised to see it happening for a short flight such as this. The meal service then swiftly swings into action.







I’ve been on this flight before when CX served lunch at midday. Now, in the new cost-light diet regime, it’s just “Refreshment” – the key differences being the absence of a proper starter, one less main course option and no cheese plate, while bread rolls are no longer on the menu. Still, what is served here is a lot more lavish than the foil-wrapped sandwich offered in Y class…

The wood-effect tray table slides out from the side wall easily and folds out into a surprisingly sturdy flat surface.







If taste is the gauge, this meal is really not so bad. The chocolate cake desert, which comes with the tray, is delicious while the juicy baked chicken is fully devoured.





And to finish off, a mug of coffee, but not the selection of chocolates which used to be offered at this time.





seat


What? The seat again? Okay, I think some perspective is in order. I realize a lot has been said that’s not exactly complimentary. So to be fair to Cathay, here’s what I do like about the configuration. One of the major triumphs of the design I feel – and one of the key weaknesses of many others – is the accessibility of the controls. Here, all controls from seat recline and massage to PTV, lights and power supply are located in one place, and visible at eye-level.  thumbsup  No more second guessing where the light switch is, or fiddling around in dark, dank corners (unless you specifically want to, of course  Wink ) to find a hole to plug your socket…





There is also very little to complain about with Cathay’s StudioCX AVOD IFE system. The benchmark appears to have been set by EK, and more progressive airlines like Cathay are now trending towards providing more choice on ever huger screens, together with idiot-proof, easy-to-use controls. StudioCX was recently upgraded to offer a wider selection in the premium classes: 100 movies, 350 TV programs, 888 CDs, 70 interactive games; more than enough to be getting on with for this short flight! Totally subjective I know, but the CX selection – good as it is – ranks only number two among the airlines I have flown: QF’s more unorthodox offerings are still tops in my books.





It must be said too that the seat – as a seat – is not uncomfortable. Once one gets used to the side walls and reclines even slightly, the space around you seems to expand. The blue headrest cushion may look like a serious error in aesthetics, but it actually works remarkably well, complementing the seat in the lounging position.

The arm rest once folded back allows for more width. And the more you recline, the more space –previously not apparent – opens up; until in full-flat mode, when a patchwork bed of sorts is assembled. The shoulder-room at this end of the cubicle is suddenly quite impressive, while the design touches such as the ledge for drinks are also appreciated. In the process of course, you also discover that this plane had been equipped with windows!





Once fully reclined, the bed appears comfortable enough – at least for the ten minutes I was able to test it in its ideal position. Due to the high walls, critics have dubbed this a “coffin seat” with some justification. But to be frank, it’s not an overly bad position to be on a long haul flight: there’s privacy, direct aisle access, a drink is close at hand, and now, a window to look out of. Need one ask for more?





inflight


It’s really too short a flight to fully appreciate the sleeper seats. And yes, my views about them did change as the flight progressed, as I am sure you noticed. The service lapses which I experienced the first time I flew in these seats (then very new in 2007) appears to have been ironed out too, so no complaints there either. Pity I don’t get to fly CX as frequently as I used to.





The mood lighting on Cathay, at least here on the upper deck, is more subtle than some other airlines. Still, on this short hop, I manage to see the moods change from shades of blue and violet to orange and pink and back again.





These are views of the mood lighting taken from 91A. The proximity of the two washrooms is a key negative, which the outward-facing seat makes worse: suffice to say the last few rows (particularly the “A” seats) are best avoided, and rows up front are likely to be heaps better.





arrival & final words


Before long, we are descending towards Chep Lap Kok. The forecast, typical in mid-summer Hong Kong, is for overcast skies and rain. Pulling into gate 3, one of Cathay’s favorites at the airport, some 17 minutes late, the jumbo is scheduled for a quick hour-long turnaround for its next intelligent misuse – an afternoon roundtrip to Seoul Incheon and back – before probably embarking on an overnight to Europe. Talk about a workhorse!





Short flights on wide-bodies with full-service carriers are still commonplace in many parts of Asia Pacific. The trend, however, seems to be moving firmly in the direction of smaller planes, higher frequencies and less service. The quickly liberalizing air travel regimes, prolific growth of LCCs and the bargains they’re offering are making it acceptable to fly narrow bodies across the continent, and expect the bare minimum in terms of service offerings. To borrow the motto of one of these new ventures: Now everyone can fly. And really, just as well too. Flying is more accessible than ever before. Inevitably, even full service carriers will be forced to follow in their footsteps, and the great pools of red ink seeping out of the traditional airlines in this crisis will undoubtedly hasten the process. The lavish offerings like on this flight will probably not last in my opinion: enjoy them while you can, savor them, and document them, so you can tell your grandkids what flying used to be like.

Thanks for reading.


My previous Cathay Pacific Trip Reports below:

Ups & Downs: CX First Class Across The Pacific (June 2008)
Short Hop, Big Suite: Cathay’s New F On 747 (April 2008)
Cathay Pacific’s New J Class On A330-300 KUL-HKG (October 2007)
 
B-HXB
Posts: 679
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 12:04 pm

RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Sat Aug 22, 2009 8:39 am

Great report - thanks for sharing. I think you have summed up the new seats across all three classes well! The consensus for the new J seats does seem to be that it's great as a night flight bed, but not that great in a sitting position. Which I suppose contrasts with their previous long-haul J product which was not that great as a sloping flat bed but great in the sitting position. Guess you can't please everyone...
 
EkA380
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2008 9:19 am

RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Sat Aug 22, 2009 9:46 am

Hi Airpearl,

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Could intra-Asia travel eventually (perhaps sooner rather than later) resemble the U.S. and Europe with BOB on packed narrow bodies with minimal frills?

Only time will show us , and what you said is something that worries me a lot ,What worries me is not if this change will happen , as it will , but I am worried about when it will happen.....

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Perhaps not surprisingly, some edgy passengers get aggressive but it’s the first time I’m seeing a scuffle break out at the premium counters when a J class passenger is told in no uncertain terms to “f***ing move out” of the F class line… it’s a bit like the fights at school, only here the bullies are three times larger and carry Blackberries.

LOL, But it is true that J passengers should be in the J class line , like Y is in their line , you can't just go to the F counter , if your not an F passenger, unless the agent invites you  Smile

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
What I do like about it though is how close the parked planes are to the terminal: a B744 at gate level simply looks imposing and, well, just like a jumbo should! Many of the new hub airports are so huge they make even the A380 look tiny

That is something I really miss in DXB the plane is as if it is parked 3miles away!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
When I get seated, I realize why CX got so much flak from its frequent flyers for this latest innovation. I can’t imagine anyone sitting here for the first time, and not immediately disliking it. I usually don’t mind cozy spaces, but seat 91A has the knack of making you notice, and being annoyed at, its nastiest points. For a start, the high partitions on either side of one’s seat enhance privacy less than create an environment that feels intensely claustrophobic. The seat itself is not narrow by any means, but it feels narrow. Forget about picking up a broadsheet prior to departure; even reading a tabloid can be tricky. Extend your elbows a little more and they’ll hit the walls. Look ahead of you and it’s someone’s feet you’re staring at, or the side profile of someone’s head: instinctively it feels all wrong. Maybe, it’s just the feng shui, I can’t really be sure. Of course, all that is even before you consider the fact that looking out the window while seated upright is almost impossible – unless you happen to be a contortionist.

This is exactly the feeling I have towards these seat's , I don't want to be surrounded by wall's and to look at people's feet, They should make an option of adjusting the length of the wall's according to pax preference. But seriously, I am more than satisfied with the new EK J lie flat seat's as opposed to these coffins, but none the less I wouldn't mind trying the coffin for a short haul flight.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
In the process of course, you also discover that this plane had been equipped with windows!

I think in order to look outside the window you should sleep on your stomach, that’s the only way I can imagine looking through the windows from these seats.!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
the jumbo is scheduled for a quick hour-long turnaround for its next intelligent misuse – an afternoon roundtrip to Seoul Incheon and back – before probably embarking on an overnight to Europe. Talk about a workhorse!

That is certainly a long and Tiring day for the Queen of the skies

I would like to congratulate you on your lovely Trip Report, I did enjoy reading it and I felt that you have struck a chord between Humor and realism.

Regards,
Islam
Always go the extra mile , its worth it ;)
 
aznmadsci
Posts: 1644
Joined: Tue Dec 18, 2007 8:02 pm

RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Sat Aug 22, 2009 11:58 am

Hey!

Thanks for sharing! I will actually be taking the 12:00 MNL-HKG flight on the 744 in four weeks. Your trip report is getting me a bit excited since it's been years since I have flown on the 744 as well as the first time I get to try CX's new J seats in the Herringbone. Will be doing CO IAH-EWR-HKG and connecting onto CX 905 HKG-MNL on the A330 in two weeks. The last time I did the similar flights I was lucky and we got the 3-class version with the angled lie-flat seats in J, while the CX 904 MNL-HKG flight has always been the regional J. This time I'm spending a few days in HKG before returning to IAH and again purposely chose CX 900 just for the 744 and the new J seat. I'm definitely looking forward to the flight and comparing it with my other CX HKG-MNL-HKG flights!

Cheers!

Colin  wave 
The journey of life is not based on the accomplishments, but the experience.
 
a1ring23
Posts: 170
Joined: Tue Jun 23, 2009 12:25 pm

RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Sat Aug 22, 2009 1:04 pm

Hi Airpearl, a very comprehensive TR, well done!

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
The main deck equivalent looks far more crowded, as does the herringbone arrangement on CX’s A333s, as I recall from the only other time I’ve traveled in the airline’s new J configuration. This one looks rather okay, actually.

Agreed, perhaps the setup on the B747 is better than on the A333?

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
For a start, the high partitions on either side of one’s seat enhance privacy less than create an environment that feels intensely claustrophobic. The seat itself is not narrow by any means, but it feels narrow.

Judging by your pics, that's exactly what I felt too.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
QF’s more unorthodox offerings are still tops in my books.

Unorthodox? How so?

Hoping to try out CX's new A333 in Y later in the year as I head back to China.

Thanks for sharing, some really crisp pics too!

Regards,
Pete
Where's the accelerometer on this thing?
 
akhmad
Posts: 2502
Joined: Sat Sep 03, 2005 2:20 pm

RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Sat Aug 22, 2009 3:24 pm

Hi there Airpearl,

Very nice and detailed TR! I enjoy it very much.

I do not fancy the herringbone interior actually as I usually travel together with my partner. The privacy can be well appreciated, but the walls just prevent me and my partner engaging conversations.

Anyway, thank you for sharing.

Cheers,
Suryo
There is no deity except You. Exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers.
 
LondonCity
Posts: 1069
Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2008 12:57 pm

RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Sat Aug 22, 2009 10:33 pm



Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
On the B744 upper deck for instance, the change from the previous angled-flat 2-2 seating to the flat-bed seat in 1-1 configuration entailed sacrificing only 4 seats, from 26 then to 22 now. (As a comparison, VS which also has the herringbone configuration on the upper deck of selected B744s has 20 flat-bed seats, as does BA.) On the main deck, the CX transformation is even more amazing: the new configuration actually squeezes in 3 more passengers (from 21 to 24) than before!

One big advantage of the herringbone layout is that every J class passenger has direct access to the aisle.
Contrast this with BA where J class is configured 2-2 on the B744 upper deck and 2-4-2 on the lower deck. Also note that BA's B777s also feature J seating disposed 2-4-2.
 
airpearl
Topic Author
Posts: 859
Joined: Tue May 01, 2001 7:42 pm

RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Sun Aug 23, 2009 1:59 am

Thanks for your comments guys.

Quoting B-HXB (Reply 1):
The consensus for the new J seats does seem to be that it's great as a night flight bed, but not that great in a sitting position. Which I suppose contrasts with their previous long-haul J product which was not that great as a sloping flat bed but great in the sitting position. Guess you can't please everyone...

Agreed. The herringbone would seem ideal for an overnight HKG-LHR, LAX-HKG or HKG-SYD, which I suspect is what it was really designed for. As a daytime “seat”, it just feels a little odd. I heard that CX is rethinking the design… do you know if there is any truth to the rumor? Thanks for your comments B-HXB.

Quoting EkA380 (Reply 2):
What worries me is not if this change will happen, as it will, but I am worried about when it will happen.....

Hi Islam, I fear you’re right… it’s inevitable I think. Things are starting to change rapidly in Asia Pacific with airlines like MH, TG, and JL in various stages of reevaluation of their business models; while with heavily premium traffic-dependent carriers like SQ and CX having been hit by the current crisis, costs will be cut further I am sure. Once the lower standards of service become commonplace, it’ll almost be impossible to go back to what was before, even if premium demand does bounce back (and that’s also questionable). In the Middle East, the pressures may not be as great against the state-owned entities, but that will also be highly dependent on the various governments continuing to support them.

Quoting EkA380 (Reply 2):
But it is true that J passengers should be in the J class line , like Y is in their line , you can't just go to the F counter , if your not an F passenger, unless the agent invites you

Usually in the premium classes, agents are more “flexible” and some J class pax do use the F counter, which is quite often empty. Also agents sometimes don’t say anything for fear of offending the high paying pax. But a scuffle like this among the upper echelons is quite rare haha

Quoting EkA380 (Reply 2):
But seriously, I am more than satisfied with the new EK J lie flat seat's as opposed to these coffins, but none the less I wouldn't mind trying the coffin for a short haul flight.

I am presuming a new TR is on the cards…  Wink

Quoting EkA380 (Reply 2):
I did enjoy reading it

Thanks again for your kind words Islam. And happy Ramadhan.

Quoting AznMadSci (Reply 3):
Thanks for sharing! I will actually be taking the 12:00 MNL-HKG flight on the 744 in four weeks. Your trip report is getting me a bit excited since it's been years since I have flown on the 744 as well as the first time I get to try CX's new J seats in the Herringbone.

Hi Colin, good to hear from you. The 744 is great, and I will try my damnest now to fly on her whenever I can. (The MNL-HKG route is still a pretty safe regional bet for CX). It’ll be interesting too to hear what you think of the herringbone.

Quoting A1ring23 (Reply 4):
Agreed, perhaps the setup on the B747 is better than on the A333?

The A333 herringbone looks much more crowded, maybe because the front cabin is larger, so all you see is unending rows of partitions.

Quoting A1ring23 (Reply 4):
Unorthodox? How so?

There seems to be less of the run-of-the-mill “packaged” stuff you see on every other airline and more originality in the selections. Also like the sections “The Edge” which is a bit risqué and always has something I hadn’t seen anywhere else before.

Quoting A1ring23 (Reply 4):
Hoping to try out CX's new A333 in Y later in the year as I head back to China.

Will be interesting to hear your comments on the new Y seats, which I haven’t tried yet. Thanks for your comments Pete.

Quoting Akhmad (Reply 5):
I do not fancy the herringbone interior actually as I usually travel together with my partner. The privacy can be well appreciated, but the walls just prevent me and my partner engaging conversations.

Hi Suryo, yes a total bummer of a seat if you’re travelling with someone else!

Quoting LondonCity (Reply 6):
One big advantage of the herringbone layout is that every J class passenger has direct access to the aisle.

Gotta agree that’s one big advantage. For me, an EY type configuration would be ideal – whether or not it balances the books in airline economics is another matter of course…
 
Ryanair!!!
Posts: 4127
Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2002 8:55 pm

RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:09 am

After your previous spiel about releasing the hold FFP memberships had on you, this was one report I LEAST expected ... On board a CX plane.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Ageing Terminal One of Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport is a hive of activity this Sunday morning.

Gosh, I was last in MNL T1 in 1983 and it surely looks as if little has changed. It still looks very "Marcos".

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Perhaps not surprisingly, some edgy passengers get aggressive but it’s the first time I’m seeing a scuffle break out at the premium counters when a J class passenger is told in no uncertain terms to “f***ing move out” of the F class line… it’s a bit like the fights at school, only here the bullies are three times larger and carry Blackberries.

I would have intervened to liven up the food fight. I would have directed my verbal barbs at Blackberrybella and run back to my economy line. If those were the words he/she used, there is no place for rudeness. I have done it before and I will do it again.... One of these days, I will be stabbed, I tell you!

Interesting how you illustrated the closeness of the Jumbo by going to the glass panel to take the shot without zoom...


And then zooming at it from a distance making the plane look closer than it actually is! Hehehehe...


To be honest, I would be seriously pissed off with my "window" seat. I cannot even look out! Does that explain your lack of taxi and take off photos?


Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Many of my fellow passengers seem to be headed for Dubai, Bahrain or Riyadh via Hong Kong on CX, while some are catching the mid-afternoon connections to the States and Canada. No wonder Cathay is packing in the B744s on this route!

There is a reson why they say the largest export of the Philippines is her people. It was true then, it still is true today. Bringing these people baaaaack to their prah-bince every year is big business for airlines, albeit the yield is a little low.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Look ahead of you and it’s someone’s feet you’re staring at, or the side profile of someone’s head: instinctively it feels all wrong. Maybe, it’s just the feng shui, I can’t really be sure.

Wait... didn't you see all these on 9W too? Or were you too enamoured with the Aishwarya Rais and Kareena Kapoors slinking about in their cat burglar outfit? If only there were these laser beams streaming across the cabin during meal time... Would be good to see these ladies in their black outfit slither around these beams on their sides, head, bum, splits...

"Oh we dont have that on the cart, let me go back to the galley and get it for you..."

Slither away... GET SMART-style. I mean Anne Hathaway GET SMART, not Steve Carrel GET SMART.

Curiously, was serving of the meal difficult with the PTV folded out? It seemed to cover almost the entire width of the walls.


Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
To borrow the motto of one of these new ventures: Now everyone can fly.

Oh how very dare you! using that motto in a legacy airline report?! Oh how very very dare you..... hehehehe...
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
 
Globetraveller
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RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Mon Aug 24, 2009 1:55 am

Hi there Airpearl!

A great trip report with some great pictures and your usual excellent narration.

I like how you were able to remain somewhat neutral, even though there had been so much criticism of the new CX Business Class seats. In the end, I think that it is a personal feeling: some people hate them, others don't. Even so, the poor view outside is alone enough to make me look elsewhere!

Good to know that the food and service are still above average. I look forward to more! I hope all is well.

Thank you for all your efforts.

Globetraveller
 
SQ772
Posts: 1647
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RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:49 am

Thanks Airpearl for another detailed report on your beloved carrier. Very nice pictures too.

I like to think that JCL is JCL is JCL... despite the many negative comments that their herringbone seat has received, it still beats being stuck in YCL. The only time I've ever sat on a herringbone seat was when NZ first introduced their new 777 onboard amenities during a roadshow in Singapore, so I'm in no position to comment on the comfort level of the CX seat. From what you say, it seems like a decent product to be in on long haul flights.

That being said, I'm not a fan of CX's new cabin colors, particularly the green shades. The yellowish tint on portions of the seat make it look like it has been stained. The way the foot rest is shaped, also leaves me wondering if you need to have one leg longer than the other in order to fit both feet nicely on the stool - what's the length of the seat when it is in a flat position?

I also wonder how much privacy can one get when you would have people standing along the aisle (queuing to use the lavatory) staring right at you drooling and sucking on your thumb when you sleep...
There's always a better way to fly...
 
airpearl
Topic Author
Posts: 859
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RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:31 pm



Quoting Globetraveller (Reply 9):
I like how you were able to remain somewhat neutral, even though there had been so much criticism of the new CX Business Class seats. In the end, I think that it is a personal feeling: some people hate them, others don't. Even so, the poor view outside is alone enough to make me look elsewhere!

Hey Globetraveller, good to hear from you. CX in J is pretty much out of my budget these days, but given the opportunity, I definitely wouldn’t mind an overnight to Europe on these seats – there’s no view to speak of, and a flat bed is all you need. On any other route or on daytime flights, I’d probably consider options.

Quoting Globetraveller (Reply 9):
I hope all is well.

I'm doing ok, hope you're keeping well too. Btw, are you still travelling to Malaysia these days?

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 8):
After your previous spiel about releasing the hold FFP memberships had on you, this was one report I LEAST expected ... On board a CX plane.

Ryan, trust you to remember things I rather people didn't… hey, guess it’s hard to break bad habits, okay… haha… and besides, when you’re flying between MNL and HKG, there are not exactly many choices…

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 8):
would have intervened

I am somehow so not surprised…  box 

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 8):
And then zooming at it from a distance making the plane look closer than it actually is!

I think you’ll find they’re taken from 2 different angles… the pics aren’t doctored; but how your head wants to interpret them is outside my control…

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 8):
I cannot even look out! Does that explain your lack of taxi and take off photos?

An impossibility. The view from the UD is not great even in the best of times, in this configuration, I could see nothing!

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 8):
slinking about in their cat burglar outfit

Oh no, not that again!  laughing 

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 8):
Curiously, was serving of the meal difficult with the PTV folded out?

It took them a while, but I think the CX girls have perfected the way of serving you a hot meal that’s suspended above your TV! Must have got a few lessons from the cat burglars…

Quoting SQ772 (Reply 10):
The way the foot rest is shaped, also leaves me wondering if you need to have one leg longer than the other in order to fit both feet nicely on the stool - what's the length of the seat when it is in a flat position?

 rotfl  You are nasty. Well what can one expect from an SQ supporter right? Haha… Answer to you question: 6-and-a half feet I believe, on the longer foot, and 6-feet-and-five-and-a quarter-inches for the other. Thanks for the comments SQ772.
 
directorguy
Posts: 1373
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RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Mon Aug 24, 2009 5:52 pm

Yo Airpearl,
Great introduction-I had always wondered what the reasoning was behind CX (and SQ)'s use of widebodies on regional sectors, but never had it explained so intelligently.
The CX 744 is awe-inspiring, and I can feel the majesty and size of the undisputed Queen of the Skies in your wonderful shots.
I'm a fan of innovation, and revamping, so its nice to see a fresh spin on a new J cabin. But as your analysis showed, it has severe shortcomings.
But having a window (sort of) and direct aisle access means all the world to me. I'm torn between having free access for a stretch every now and again, or having the window to myself.
In other areas, CX does not dissapoint, catering looks good.
Thanks for sharing.
Ramadan Karim,
DG Big grin
 
SQ772
Posts: 1647
Joined: Wed Nov 07, 2001 5:16 pm

RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:12 am



Quoting Directorguy (Reply 12):
You are nasty. Well what can one expect from an SQ supporter right? Haha… Answer to you question: 6-and-a half feet I believe, on the longer foot, and 6-feet-and-five-and-a quarter-inches for the other. Thanks for the comments SQ772.

It was a genuine observation, so lets not drag all SQ supporters down the drain. We're capable of being objective too you know. I've had good experiences on SQ and other carriers, and have openly admitted on occasions that SQ has its weaknesses  Smile

But yes, I can be nasty.
There's always a better way to fly...
 
SR 103
Posts: 1621
Joined: Sun Oct 01, 2000 6:19 am

RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop I

Tue Aug 25, 2009 3:18 am

As usual, a fantastic report.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Some years back, a then top Cathay Pacific executive coined the phrase intelligent misuse to explain why the airline schedules its long-haul planes on short hops.

As someone with a degree in airline management, I can only cringe at that. It flies in the face of everything that is taught to us. Though I have to say it really does seem to have worked very well for a handful of airlines.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Ageing Terminal One of Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport is a hive of activity this Sunday morning.

Having lived in Manila back when I was a young kid (1991-1996), Terminal 1 looks exactly the same as it did back then. I guess with the supposed new terminal this old one won't matter much.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
I am catching the late morning flight to Hong Kong, one of six daily rotations operated by Cathay to its hub: remarkably, three of these are operated by B744!

I remember the days when I lived in MNL, there were only three CX flights to HKG, all on 747s.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
Once we leveled off, Inflight Service Manager Alice comes round to say hello, greeting each passenger (including op-ups) by name. This is common enough on the long hauls, but I am pleasantly surprised to see it happening for a short flight such as this.

CX cabin crew have always been one of my all time favorites for reasons such as this. They always seem to try a little harder but don't appear quite as plastic or fake as some of their counterparts at competing airlines.

Quoting Airpearl (Reply 11):
besides, when you're flying between MNL and HKG, there are not exactly many choices

You know, back when I was living in Manila, there was a lot of choice on the MNL-HKG route; Alitalia, Air France, Swissair, British Airways, Canadian, and Emirates all come to mind. Despite all the begging and pleading on my part, my father only ever booked Cathay Pacific, Swissair and Singapore Airlines. And you wonder why I have such high expectations when flying!  Wink

Looking forward to more reports from you.
 
airpearl
Topic Author
Posts: 859
Joined: Tue May 01, 2001 7:42 pm

RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Tue Aug 25, 2009 4:10 pm



Quoting Directorguy (Reply 12):
But having a window (sort of) and direct aisle access means all the world to me.

Hey DG, thanks for your kind words! And glad you enjoyed the TR.  Smile Both window and aisle seat? This is what I call having your cake and eating it haha… unless you’re flying the premium F classes, I realize that, realistically, some sacrifices have to be made for this to happen in J – so in spite of all the complaints leveled at CX (including from me) for this configuration, I can understand why the decision was made. Happy Ramadhan.

Quoting SQ772 (Reply 13):
so lets not drag all SQ supporters down the drain. We're capable of being objective too you know.

Of course. Sorry if I inadvertently offended you, or any SQ supporters… but your earlier comments were surely funny.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 14):
I can only cringe at that. It flies in the face of everything that is taught to us. Though I have to say it really does seem to have worked very well for a handful of airlines.

It’ll be a good study to see if the model will work with the onset of liberalization in Asia. Would be interesting to see your take on this whole thing… can we be looking forward to domestic China, more egalitarian-like travel soon all over Asia? That’s certainly what is already happening in the various sub-regions like Asean; the changes taking place in India also seems to heading in that direction too. I certainly don’t fancy being any airline boss right now.

Quoting SR 103 (Reply 14):
You know, back when I was living in Manila, there was a lot of choice on the MNL-HKG route; Alitalia, Air France, Swissair, British Airways, Canadian, and Emirates all come to mind. Despite all the begging and pleading on my part, my father only ever booked Cathay Pacific, Swissair and Singapore Airlines. And you wonder why I have such high expectations when flying!

Oh, you poor guy, only those 3 pathetic airlines huh? Hahaha… But what a fantastic selection in those good ole 5th freedom milk-run days. Reminds me of the BKK-SIN route too where there used to far more airlines, now it’s dominated by LCCs. I know about AF, SR, BA, CP and EK flying to MNL but didn’t know AZ flew the route too. What glory days. (Sigh) Thanks for your comments man.
 
Ryanair!!!
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RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Wed Aug 26, 2009 1:10 am



Quoting Airpearl (Reply 15):
Of course. Sorry if I inadvertently offended you, or any SQ supporters… but your earlier comments were surely funny.

Come on... what will airliners.net be without the slug fest between SQ-supporters and the rest of the world?  fight   flamed   hissyfit   melting   no   praise   stirthepot 
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
 
carmy
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RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:25 am

Hey great report! I just wonder why you're raving about CX's service. I did eight sectors with them in the past two months on JCL, and it was absolutely dismal.

The only time in those eight sectors where I saw the ISM greet anyone on board was when she went around fishing for a feedback form.

Must say I haven't got much of an issue with the seats though. I enjoy the personal space immensely, although you're right, it does get very claustrophobic, especially when your TV is put in place.
 
ronerone
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RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Wed Aug 26, 2009 11:28 am

Huh?

Airpearl flies CX once again? ... How can this be?

Nevertheless, i am very happy to see that  Smile

Another fantastic TR from you, and even moreso, on my absolute favourite airline!

With regards to CX, they have a significant market share out of the Philippines that home carrier PR cannot even come close to. Furthermore, Cathay Pacific has the largest market share for indirect passengers between UAE and Manila. A huge chunk of that traffic is also quite surprisingly leaking from Abu Dhabi itself!

As for the new J class seat, i hope to be trying it next month on my way to PEK! But your trip report got me really excited to fly good ol Cathay again  Smile .. I think i want to write up that F Class Suite TR that's been pending since last Jan now! haha.

As for the service, nothing much to comment on there, as it seemed as flawless as Cathay usually does it!  Smile


I have to say that the angles that you shoot your pictures from are amazing! I can learn a lot from your pics!


Thanks a lot for sharing! And hope all is well!

Regards,
Roni
Fly Roni. Aviation Journeys. Photos. Videos.
 
ba319-131
Posts: 8298
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RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Wed Aug 26, 2009 8:59 pm

Hi Airpearl,

Great report & pictures, loved your neutral stance to the much spoken about J seatin.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
the herringbone business class?

- Yes, has not gone down well. Not from the CX model but have VS & don't like the layout myself.

Quoting Airpearl (Thread starter):
From where I am standing aft, the empty single-aisle cabin doesn’t look half bad

- True, looks ok from your pictures, but I like windows and don't like looking at what other people or their feet are doing!

Whilst the cabin looks brighter than the new J oiffering on QF, I'd take QF metal over CX metal for seating layout.

Food looks pretty nice, looks like a pretty decent flight.

Regards

Mark
111,732,733,734,735,736,73G,738,739,7M8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,753,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312,313,318,319,320,20N,321,332,333,342,343,345,346,388,CS1,CS3,I86,154,SSJ,CRJ,CR7,CR9,145,170,175,220
 
Econojetter
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RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Thu Aug 27, 2009 1:29 am

Hey... nice work.

And thanks for including a body shot to illustrate the coffin effect...  Wink
http://i149.photobucket.com/albums/s43/airpearl2007/CX90620.jpg

I haven't had the opportunity to try this sort of angled layout but I imagine it would bother me a little to not even see part of a window during taxi/takeoff/landing. In the more typical forward facing layout, even in the middle seat, you would normally have at least a glimpse of a window on either side.

I think we still have a few good years of widebody "misuse" between larger cities because surface transport is not developed enough in this region. On the other hand, I'm itching to see a CX or SQ narrowbody because we haven't seen one in a couple of decades. Or maybe we will see the KA and MI fleet grow instead, which will be a lot less exciting.
 
airpearl
Topic Author
Posts: 859
Joined: Tue May 01, 2001 7:42 pm

RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Thu Aug 27, 2009 5:10 pm



Quoting Carmy (Reply 17):
I just wonder why you're raving about CX's service. I did eight sectors with them in the past two months on JCL, and it was absolutely dismal.

Hi Carmy, I obviously don’t fly on CX anywhere as frequently as you do, so maybe what I say is based on my limited experience on them. But I am truly surprised you encountered “dismal” experiences on every one of the 8 occasions in J class: you must have run into some pretty bad luck.

Quoting Ronerone (Reply 18):
Cathay Pacific has the largest market share for indirect passengers between UAE and Manila. A huge chunk of that traffic is also quite surprisingly leaking from Abu Dhabi itself!

Hey, hey Roni, I am trying to decipher what that could mean from your perspective… pax “leaking” out of AUH, CX doesn’t fly to AUH… hmmm, now whatever could it all mean…  scratchchin 

Quoting Ronerone (Reply 18):
I think i want to write up that F Class Suite TR that's been pending since last Jan now!

Yes Sir, I think we’d been waiting for part II for a while now… hahaha… but totally understand; there’s a bit of backlog in my TR file too!

Quoting Ronerone (Reply 18):
I have to say that the angles that you shoot your pictures from are amazing!

This from you is praise indeed, but in reality, I’m still learning from others in this forum (like you for instance!) It’s great to see so many A.net members getting imaginative with their TRs and photos. I’m convinced that soon we’d be climbing into overhead bins to get the shots!

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 19):
Yes, has not gone down well. Not from the CX model but have VS & don't like the layout myself.

Hey Mark, hope you’re well and thanks for your comments. If you’ve been on VS and dislike it, then I think you’d really hate the CX herringbone. I’d been on NZ (which is identical to VS) and found it generally fine, but the CX one is a lot more claustrophobic.

Quoting BA319-131 (Reply 19):
what other people or their feet are doing!

Haha… it could well attract a certain clientele I am sure…

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 20):
And thanks for including a body shot to illustrate the coffin effect...

Hi Econojetter, yes some things one just needs to illustrate... And "coffin seat" really describes it well, don't you think?

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 20):
I think we still have a few good years of widebody "misuse" between larger cities because surface transport is not developed enough in this region.

I hope you’re right – I think there will be a wide-body option but there will be a greater likelihood of us getting aboard a narrow-body. Apart from SQ and CX, the region’s airlines have been down-gauging their new aircraft orders, so a TG A333 route could later be an A321 sector, a KE B777 downgraded to B738 and so on.

Quoting Econojetter (Reply 20):
I'm itching to see a CX or SQ narrowbody because we haven't seen one in a couple of decades. Or maybe we will see the KA and MI fleet grow instead, which will be a lot less exciting.

More of the latter I would think… but then, we’d never know what a couple more quarters of losses at the legacies will do. Who knows (and heaven forbid) maybe the MH FSVC strategy becomes the model to emulate?!
 
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Pellegrine
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RE: Going Askew Aboard Cathay’s 747: A Short Hop In J

Mon Aug 31, 2009 12:31 pm

Thanks for the report, new CX J looks very "interesting". I'll reserve comments until I try it!  Embarrassment
oh boy, here we go!!!

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