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Cathay Pacific Announces Smaller Seats (and Bigger Screens)

Cathay Pacific will add bigger television screens to economy and improve entertainment options, but it comes at the price of personal space. During the upgrade process, the Hong Kong carrier will also add more seats to their Boeing 777 aircraft, going to 10-abreast seating and adding an additional seating row.

Seeking to improve their financial outlook, Cathay Pacific wants to attract more flyers by adding additional entertainment options, along with more seats. South China Morning Post reports the carrier will move to 10-abreast seating in economy on Boeing 777 aircraft, starting in summer 2018.

The plans call for flyers to receive bigger in-flight entertainment screens, along with more movie and TV-show options. In addition, the carrier will also install in-flight Wi-Fi connectivity on those aircraft, allowing flyers to stay connected. Traditional power outlets and USB charging outlets will also be provided at every seat to keep gadgets online during the trip.

But everything comes with a price – and the added amenities are no exception. The upgrade plan calls for the carrier to add an extra row of seats aboard the aircraft, moving to 10-abreast seating. As a result, seat width would reduce by one inch, while aisle and armrest width would minimally decrease.

“This new configuration enables us to increase capacity offered to our passengers at this critical time when Hong Kong International Airport remains slot constrained,” a paper distributed to Cathay Pacific employees and obtained by the South China Morning Post reads. “The new seats feature the latest ergonomic designs and brings us up to the standard of premium carriers in the industry.”

Cathay Pacific’s plan comes at a time where they face more competition than ever before. In January 2018, Hong Kong Airlines announced their intention to challenge the elder carrier on key routes to the United States with lower fares.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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14 Comments
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jmayo June 14, 2018

It's a race downhill for everyone. Airlines are making changes to their planes based on the purchase behavior of the masses. Because most of us here either A) fly often, B) love to fly regardless of destination or C) some other crazy notion, the fact remains: the majority of those who have to travel base their decision on price, not loyalty. CX is under enormous pressure because enough of "us" don't override the many who will fly Scoot, AirAsia, etc. It sucks, but its a sign of the times we live in.

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Nanda Chai June 12, 2018

This CEO sure does think we're stupid. He must be really desperate with marching orders from the Board to "fix it". "Offering customers more capacity". No, you are giving yourself more capacity and revenue (You hope) with more pax on existing aircraft, and then charge more boasting about a larger screen. Really? Did you really think that sounded good at the meeting? Have you lost touch with reality? HKG airport may be tapped out, but that has nothing to do with why you're not starting a low cost subsidy. Truth is you can't afford it. Hence the smaller seats. Just tell the truth, Mr. CEO. You sound pathetic when you lie. You probably won't need that extra row of (smaller) seats because your customers will find other options. Fact is though, and these airline guys know it, is that after all the moaning, pax will still stump up and fly with Cathay anyway. And then you'll forget all about this and the lower standard is just the new norm. And if Cathay ever pulls themselves out of "trouble", you think they'll go back to the larger seats and fewer pax? Not on your life, bud. Why should they raise the bar after they lowered it and trained all you sheep to suck it up?

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jrpallante May 25, 2018

It is a false dichotomy to suggest that the increasingly cramped seating is in any way tied to the new amenities being offered. First, WiFi is a profit center, so there is no net cost associated with installing a couple of routers. Second, the bigger screens are just a waste of money, and I am surprised airlines continue to add them. Nearly everybody already brings their own device, which they can watch at a comfortable distance of their choosing. What good is a bigger screen mounted on the back of the seat if it is just 8 inches from your nose? The race to the bottom continues, with no end in sight.

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mvoight April 24, 2018

I'd settle for a smaller screen and a larger seat. So, make the seat 21 inches wide, and the video 17 inches diagonal

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itchmay April 16, 2018

From their preposterous "sales" promotions that actually do not offer anything close to a "sale" price to now this. Agree with previous posters that tone deaf Cathay Pacific has taken a sad step down market. I have flown Cathay do obtain a somewhat premium experience in exchange for their higher fares. Starting next summer, there will be no reason to do so.