Is Cathay Premium Economy Worth It?

Is it worth the extra to splurge to Premium Economy on a longhaul flight?  Of course prices and quality vary between airline but on Cathay Pacific, a Premium Economy fare can amount to double the Economy price.  Therefore the decision really depends on the length of your upcoming journey and how much cash you’re willing to splash.  For the looooong 16 hour flight from Hong Kong to New York, I really didn’t want to do it in Economy, especially as I was traveling without Mesdames Jetlag & Mayhem.  I also didn’t want to pony up double the fare.  Luckily I was able to upgrade my Economy fare using airmiles (30,000 for roundtrip).  So for those readers if you are considering the extra $$, here’s what I think of Cathay Pacific’s Premium Economy product following my trip onboard CX846, HKG – JFK.  Hope you find it useful!

What perks do you get prior to flying?

  • Ability to select seat on booking ticket
  • Increased baggage allowance (30kg per bag, compared to 20kg per bag)
  • Separate check-in
  • Priority boarding
  • You can also earn 110% of actual miles flown vs. 25/100% in Economy (depending which Economy fare you booked).  Club points (tier system for Cathay’s Marco Polo club) also doubles from Economy to Premium
  • Smug feeling that you are not quite at the back of the plane

What’s it like onboard?

I flew on a Boeing 777-300 ER which has four classes.  The Premium Economy cabin has a 2-4-2 seat configuration. The cabin is only 5 rows deep which makes it feel more exclusive than the vast expanse of Economy. There’s also one dedicated toilet for Premium Economy passengers.  I had reserved seat 33C in advance as I wanted an aisle seat that was on the other side to the toilet.

If you are traveling with a baby, there is one bassinet on 32 H/K.  If you want to be away from the cries of a baby, be aware that the front seats of Economy have bassinets. Which could be directly behind you if you are on the back row of Premium.  I did spot a few babies behind me and they were nothing but beautifully behaved.

Seatguru has seat maps for every airline, it’s worth having the website open as you reserve your seat.

What’s the seat like?

The seat does feel spacious and has a decent recline (8 inches). There is a seat pitch of 38 vs 32 in Economy (seat pitch is the distance from any point on one seat to the exact same point on the seat in front or behind it).  The Premium seat is one inch wider than the Economy one.

The headrest has 4-way movement although I can’t say I used it.  Front-row seats have a legrest, and other seats have a 3-position footrest, which is fairly comfortable.

If you are traveling with kids, the armrests don’t lift up. For this reason I sometimes think that Economy is more comfortable for them so they can stretch out.

What amenities do you get?

There’s a minimal toiletry bag with mask, earplugs and toothbrush. You also get a big pillow.

What is the entertainment like?

There’s a 10.6 inch personal TV screen. I think Cathay offers the best onboard entertainment out there with hundreds of movies, TV, kids shows, albums etc.  You also get a noise cancelling headset rather than flimsy Economy headphones.

What’s the food like?

Well it’s not the business class selection. But you do get a welcome drink onboard, complimentary bottled water and some extra snacks.

Is Premium Economy worth the extra cash?

For a longhaul flight like Hong Kong to New York, yes it could be, depending on how large the price jump is. If you can use your miles to upgrade for free then even better.  My outbound didn’t work out so smartly as it transpired the Economy cabin was 2/3 empty so everyone had a row to themselves! However on my return leg, I had the biggest result ever.. a free upgrade from Premium to Business class as the flight was overbooked.  All of a sudden my upgrade to Premium was well worth the splurge 🙂

  • Brandon Chan


    Nice write up, glad that you got a free upgrade from Premium to Business. I will use my points to book a round trip Hong Kong to Madrid. The economy seat is 60,000 miles, but the Premium Economy is an extra 12,000 miles, which does not seem outrageous. I think I’ll take the latter, and hope to get lucky and upgrade to Business for free!

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