Although I am boarding through the economy door I am not heading to the back of the plane as I usually would. My location for the second leg of my journey from Taiwan, a 12-hour flight from Hong Kong to London, is a section part-way between economy and business – I’m heading to premium economy, or as I like to call it, economy with perks.
Premium Economy on Cathay Pacific certainly feels like a separate cabin. Partitioned from Economy, it is only 5 rows long and has 8 seats across in total. I have pre-selected a window seat online, which has only one other seat next to it, and it feels far less sardine-like than the rows of 3, 4 and 3 that are just behind me.
It’s the small things that make an immediate difference to my journey – a cold drink being handed out before take-off (a bubbly one if you like) and the hot towel that comes shortly after.
My seat is different too, the seat pitch is 38 inches – six inches more than Economy Class – and has a bigger recline. I have room enough to stuff the extra plump pillow and large blanket down either side of my seat, instead of sitting on my lap or under my feet, which is what happens in a standard Economy seat.
There is a footrest which drops down for me to extend my legs and enough space between my seat and the wall to slide my large hand luggage in.
I am completely separated from my neighbours seat by a wide armrest and a small cocktail drinks table; there is also a power socket near my feet.
Another bonus is that the armrest is solid so there is no chance of my neighbour’s thigh awkwardly touching mine, as has happened too often to me on recent long haul flights.
The first drinks service brings me a full size can of coke and a packet of almonds instead of nuts.
The Premium Economy menu we are handed has a tempting array of dishes similar to those served in Business (see full breakdown below).
The amenity kit is a trendy pouch designed by Hong Kong brand Goods of Desire. It has a thick eye mask, socks, toothbrush and ear plugs inside but I admit I was hoping for something a little extra – a lip balm or hand cream would be a nice touch.
The noise-cancelling headphones are a definite perk and the 10.6-inch entertainment system is modern and responsive.
I was expecting a little more recent films (as was the man next to me who says he loves the seat but wants more movies) but I find 20 episodes of Sex and the City in the TV archives so I’m not complaining! In fact, the TV section is one of the best I’ve ever seen, with full seasons of certain shows (like SATC season 6) and some of my favourite shows of all time, including Breaking Bad, The Mindy Project and more.
I’ve flown Economy Class on Cathay Pacific many times and have always found the hostesses charming. They are just as smiling in Premium Economy and we have the added benefit of them serving us first. The food service is prompt and polite but with not as much fancy presentation as you would receive in Business.
I do love the fact that our tray tables are stored in the arm rest, which means that when the person in front of you puts their seat back before dinner you won’t end up with yours in your lap!
Premium Economy Menu From Hong Kong to London
Caesar Salad with chicken
Stir fried beef with assorted mushrooms in oyster sauce, steamed jasmine rice and choy sum
Feta and spinach stuffed chicken breast, creamy polenta, asparagus and marinated capsicum
Deep fried pork loin in sweet satay sauce, steamed jasmine rice and jade melon
Roasted fish with tomato concasse, parsley potatoes and sautéed green peas
Panna cotta with raspberry sauce
I opted for the chicken at lunch, which was delicious but the succulent pork I had on the way out was even better. The bread roll was warm (it was a warm ciabatta outbound from London) and the ice cream was Haagen-Dazs. The little truffle with tea was a good way to finish.
In-between meals we are given a bottle of Evian and offered snacks of crisps and cereal bars. There is no danger of going hungry here!
Economy With Perks
Premium Economy is exactly what it sounds like; it is an Economy-like product with perks. Those perks include wider leg (and bottom!) room, tastier food and posher amenities in the air, and separate check-in and early boarding on the ground.
For me it seems to be the perfect halfway house between Economy and Business Class – it’s a much more comfortable way to travel without the higher price tag. I feel well rested after my flight, was able to work comfortably and ate every last bite of my meals. Having experienced the perks I definitely think it is worth paying extra for Premium Economy on Cathay Pacific – I hope I get the chance to do it again!
Cathay Pacific provided my flights as part of the Taiwan Tour project. All opinions are my own.