As you may already know, I am quite the nervous flyer. Despite the fact I have been on numerous planes in my lifetime, flying is still a great source of anxiety for me.
Over the years (and flights)I have learnt that certain things cause me more anxiety than others. These tend to be situations where I find myself in large crowds, long queues and circumstances that make me feel claustrophobic. I therefore started paying the extra money to fly Premium Economy and to be honest, all other perks aside, the priority boarding, smaller cabin and smaller queues really does help to ease my nerves when flying, and that alone, in my opinion, makes it worth the extra money however, some airlines certainly do premium economy better than others so, anxiety aside, is Premium Economy on Cathay Pacific worth the extra pounds?
The Airport Experience
On arrival at the airport there is a dedicated premium economy queue, which due to the smaller cabin and therefore fewer passenger numbers, there is rarely ever a queue here. Check In is therefore relatively pain free.One thing I was disappointed with here was the lack of security fast pass.It wasn’t a huge thing as I wasn’t flying at peak time so the queue for security wasn’t too bad, but other airlines do offer a fast pass through security for their premium economy passengers. You do however get priority boarding, and after the business and first class passengers have boarded, it is then your turn, so there is very little waiting around once boarding commences and you can relax into your seat and enjoy your welcome drink whilst everyone else continues to board the plane.
The Seat and Cabin
I do have to say that Cathay Pacific offer one of the best Premium Economy seats I have encountered so far. Incredibly spacious with loads of leg room, a perfectly placed foot rest, adjustable head rest and wide centre console giving you a bit more separation from your neighbour. The 2-4-2 seating layout also gave a bit more privacy if you were travelling as a couple. The cabin also only sat around 30 passengers so there was a quieter and less crowded feel to it. There were curtain divides between Premium Economy and Business and Economy although the curtains were pretty redundant between premium and economy as there were no toilets in that part of the cabin. This was a bit of a let down given the extra cost of flying Premium Economy with Cathay Pacific as supposed to other airlines, as you had to walk back into the Economy cabin to use the facilities, and often, there was quite a queue.
One factor of the Cathay Pacific seats I loved was the tablet and phone holder just below the entertainment screen. It was really useful for storing smaller items that you wanted easy access to. I think this is also a feature in the Economy seats which is pretty great as it avoids taking up precious legroom with storage space.
You were also provided with an amenity kit which included socks, an eye mask, ear plugs and a toothbrush and toothpaste. It was pretty standard stuff really and I was disappointed to find a pen was not included. Particularly as I had somehow managed to forget a pen on the way to Hong Kong and had to beg/borrow/steal a pen from someone else to be able to fill in my landing card. Again, only a small thing but a pen would have been a useful addition here.
I do have to say though that I had possibly the best sleep on a plane whilst travelling Premium Economy with Cathay Pacific and I do think that was down to the comfy, large chairs, big recline and ample leg room. I was really quite impressed with the seats on offer here.
Food and Drink
This was quite a let down for me if I am honest. Although we had a menu that said specifically Premium Economy, the food served was exactly the same as that in Economy. It was served on plastic trays and tasted like generic plane food. It was nothing special.Having flown Premium Economy with the likes of Virgin Atlantic before, where food is served on plates with cutlery and a unique menu to Premium Economy, I had high hopes, particularly given the cost of flying Premium with Cathay Pacific compared to Virgin.
I do have to mention though, the post dinner ice cream was a nice touch, but there were very limited flavours, on the flight back to Manchester there was only banana left. Clearly not a popular flavour.
I was also disappointed to note that on the shorter haul flight I didn’t get a welcome glass of champagne like I did on the long haul flight. It is just little touches that I felt Cathay Pacific were missing when it comes to the actual Premium Economy experience.
When it comes to the service, I received polar opposites on my different flights with Cathay Pacific. I have to say that I was disappointed with the service on the long haul flights. Other providers usually have a dedicated premium economy cabin crew however Cathay Pacific did not have this and it ended up giving the feeling of when a restaurant is short staffed. I found it very frustrating to be left with my empty tray for a considerable amount of time after I had finished eating.Particularly as when on a plane you have limited space and until your tray is cleared you are kind of stuck in your seat with very little space for movement.
The service got considerably worse at ‘night’ when the lights were dimmed, I rarely saw a single member of cabin crew during that time and when I got somewhat peckish and pressed the call button, I waited 30 minutes before having to get out my seat and find someone to ask for a noodle cup. On previous flights there had always been a member of cabin crew who would periodically come along offering snacks, drinks or hot towels and this just didn’t seem to happen. I was genuinely quite disappointed with the service here and I do think it was down to the fact there were too few cabin crew to service the number of people in Premium Economy and Economy.
However, at the complete opposite end of the scale was my short haul flight experience from Hong Kong to Cebu. I could not fault this. The service was impeccable (except for the lack of welcome drink!). I was welcomed on board once I had taken my seat, asked if there was anything they could do to make the flight more enjoyable and checked on periodically throughout the flight. It felt like I was flying with a different airline, the cabin layout was better as well, there was a toilet for the Premium Economy passengers which granted a bit more privacy and fewer queues. I genuinely cannot rave more highly about the short haul Cathay Pacific Premium Economy Service.
The seats in Premium Economy are fantastic, I could not fault them and they did offer me a great nights sleep. The entertainment on offer and the noise cancelling headphones were fantastic also though not necessarily Premium Economy specific.
The service though was a let down on the long haul flight and the fact the service on the short haul flight was so great, is also a clear example of how if they implemented dedicated Premium Economy cabin crew, the overall passenger experience would greatly improve and make Cathay Pacific Premium Economy worth the extra money.
I would pay for Cathay Pacific Premium Economy again due to the great seats and smaller cabin but the service on their long haul flights need improving to make it worth paying extra to fly with them over another airline.