Cathay to stop Jeddah, Abu Dhabi services

Today Cathay Pacific announced they are cancelling Jeddah and Abu Dhabi flights from the 30th of March, “for commercial reasons”.

This is not surprise news, since they are already very flimsy routes, with Jeddah routing through Dubai and Abu Dhabi running only on Sunday.

The flights to other Middle Eastern destinations have changed (slightly) too.

Dubai

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Riyadh and Bahrain

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This translates to only a four times weekly flight from Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong with Air Seychelles, which goes on to Mahé Island afterwards.

Credit to Cathay Pacific.

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5 Best and 5 Worst (International) Full Service Business Class

Best Business Class

These days, the minimum requirement of international business class on any airline is a fully flat bed and direct aisle access. Some airlines can do that – some airlines can’t – and some airlines do it in some aircraft and don’t in others.

So let’s start from 5:

5. Swiss A330-300/A340-300

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Good morning sir! Would you like some tea?

These seats are put in many aircraft (LX, AY, SN etc) but LX deserves the crown because of its phenomenal service. On LX, you get all the warm hospitality and comfort you want. Soft and comfortable, these seats are used from HKG to ZRH.

4. Singapore Airlines A380-800/B777-300ER

Singapore Airlines

This is Business Class sir, First Class is further forward in the cabin.

These wide Singapore AIrlines seats are the core of International Business Class. We’re not fans of flipping the seats over instead of reclining them, but the leather benches are really comfortable.

3. Emirates A380-800

Emirates

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The inflight minibar is NOT a hoax.

On Emirates, you get three types of international business class service. This is the best service you get. Used on some EK 380/1 services to/from DXB, this seat creates an unforgettable experience (and a full rest).

2. Virgin Atlantic Airways A330-300

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Don’t fear the herringbone; unlike CX’s old business class, this seat is comfy and spacious.

In a spacious herringbone configuration (the walls are translucent, letting light in and creating a difference between the seat and a coffin), these unmissable seats are great for sleeping. They have pretty much the best business class padding in the world (no kidding) and even though we don’t like all the flipping, a good night’s sleep is worth it.

1. Cathay Pacific Airways B777-300ER/international A330-300

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No, this is current world, not the future.

Cathay deserves the crown for its “Asian” hospitality and private seats. Cathay modified the US Airways Sicma Cirrus seat to make it private and suite-like. It doesn’t have the best padding in the world, but an extra duvet under you when sleeping will make up for it.

Business Class Seats that we also liked were EVA Air B777-300ER (lack of service though), Qantas Skybed Mark II (no direct aisle access), American Airlines B777-300ER (not sure about the service), Etihad International Business (too much beige and clunky entertainment system), Japan Airlines B777-300ER (not enough storage space) and Thai A380 (not many amenities, and not enough storage space).

Worst Business Class

So we’ve seen the best. However, not all airlines have products as good as these – even first world countries have these types of airlines. Let’s start from 5:

5. Lufthansa Business Class All A/C (except B747-8 and some A330-300)

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Ouch, the angle…

An uncomfortable angled lie flat seat, this business class is a nightmare to Munich (Frankfurt to Hong Kong sees a B747-8). The bottom of the seat angles towards the floor, making the tendency to slide down the seat even worse.

4. Cathay Pacific A340-300, B747-400

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Even people can be over 18.5″ wide…

There are reasons why we put a fully flat bed under an angled flat seat – the walls are really high, and despite a quite comfortable padding, the seat is as wide as the average 9-abreast 777-300ER economy seat – 18.5in. These are the seats we dread during flights across the Pacific – they’re worse than the regional business class that Cathay owns. (Of course, some people like the seat, but we don’t.)

3. US Airways Business Class B767-200ER

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Looks great and blingy, but feels the opposite.

These are one of the worst seats across the Atlantic (no, these don’t fly to Hong Kong). Generous recliners, these can do a 3h hop pretty well, but are really crappy for longer flights.

2. Japan Airlines Skyrecliner B767-300

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Yes, that’s a first world city international JCL seat.

This seat flies with the B767-300 to Vancouver daily. It’s hard to imagine how a 9h flight on a recliner sounds like. Cathay uses flatbeds even on shorter flights to CGK, CNS or PER…

1. Aerolineas Argentinas A340-300

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Sixteen hours? Even three are unacceptable!

For a 16h flyover from EZE to SYD, this huge seat is just unacceptable for Business Class. Business Class means sleep. On this flight, you won’t get it.

Other seats we don’t like are Delta’s herringbone business seat, JAL’s Shell Flat Seat (we like Shell Flat Neo though), and Qantas’ Skybed Mark I.

Hong Kong Airlines A320 Economy – smuggled on Hong Kong Express

Hong Kong Airlines has put its not so comfortable A320s in service, on Hong Kong Express (which has slightly better padded seats – although it doesn’t look like it – on its B737s).

Here is a picture of Hong Kong Express Economy Class:

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Here is a picture of the smuggled aircraft’s economy class:

Hong Kong Airlines economy

These still have comfortable recline and pretty tuff seats, and I’ve seen them when I went to Taichung on UO 182 last August.

Is Hong Kong Airlines’ Business Class worth it?

Hong Kong Airlines economy

Hong Kong Airlines’ Economy Class (above) and Hong Kong Airlines’ Business Class (below)

hong kong airlines business class

It’s very true that Hong Kong Airlines’ Business Class is just a glorified economy seat. But is it worth the fares? Let’s see:

Let’s use HX 356 (HKG – TYN) as an example.

  • Economy Class HKD$1250
  • Business Class HKD$3870

Would you give an extra 210% for adjustable headrests, slightly better service, an exclusive cabin, a little more recline and PTVS (Hong Kong Airline News even doubts that)? Business Class on Hong Kong Airlines is, well, more luxurious than Economy Class, but still, we don’t think it’s worth it.

Want to see the cunning deals between Hong Kong Airlines and its subsidiary? Click here.

Squeezing an extra seat into economy?

Some cheeky airlines have started improving business class quality and getting rid of economy quality at the same time.

Here is a gallery of Economy Class, and how airline economy class is getting worse by the minute.

cathay new economy

So what’s here? This is Cathay Pacific’s new Boeing 777-300ER economy class, which has economy seats 18.5 in wide (and a seat pitch of 32 in).

emirates economy

How it compares when it comes to Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER. As a luxury airline, these offer really good meals and service. However it really gets a little below-par when it comes to the width. Emirates offers the “high-density” layout that Boeing suggests, the 3-4-3 LCC-normed layout. If you’re sitting next to a person over 17in wide, don’t show him anything, but just feel sorry for yourself.

The Boeing 777, with such its big seats, has been a target of flexibility, with Boeing suggesting 4-6 abreast in First (what were they thinking?), 6-8 abreast in Business (guess they’ve never taken an airline’s first class service before), 8-9 in Premium Economy (better) and 9-10 in Economy. They point at the 10 abreast and say, “that’s high density”.

So is this jumbo jet the only target for squishing an extra seat into the den? Not really.

Thomas Cook Airlines and AirAsia X have come with a solution with an A330 too. Here’s Cathay’s (new) version of the A330:

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(We know it’s an A330 because of the two screens on the bulkhead of the left patch of seats.)

These seats are an ample 18.1in wide, which is more than acceptable for Economy. That’s why AK (and MT and Mexicana etc.) do this:

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16.7 in wide, these are really below par, even for cattle class.

Boeing 787s are also additionally refitting 3-3-3 layouts as opposed to Japan Airlines’ lone 2-4-2 layout in the aviation industry. (ANA went for 3-3-3 very recently because of a 2-3-2 premium economy cabin.)

Airbus A380-800/900 is also suggesting a 3-5-3 layout in Economy (or a 4-3-4 layout in that matter) with 17in wide seats – at 16.8″ width per seat. We’re suggesting low cost carriers (Ryanair) do that, but for legacy carriers like Emirates? Keep the 3-4-3 layout.

Let’s see when they start squeezing in 4-3 in A320s and 737s…

To San Francisco: Which are the best products and flights? – Business Class

There are 4 daily flights to San Francisco. Each one has ups and downs. We’ve listed them here:

1. CX 872 00:30 – 22:10 B777-300ER

 Cathay New Business

These new Business Class seats are wide and ergonomic, and these are the pick for flights to San Francisco. Timing is a problem though. These seats may be the best, but they are only featured on the latest flight to San Francisco. (Which makes sense, because these products are great for sleepy travelers.)

2. SQ 002 22:45 – 20:40 B777-300ER

Singapore Airlines

These seats are also ergonomic and comfortable, but there are three big downsides. The first one is that the seats don’t recline into a flat bed; they flip into one. The seat thus has to angle slightly head-towards-earth because of the airplane’s nose angle. Second, you have to stick your feet in the cubbyhole which is kind of small. Third, this is also a night flight. It’s not really nice arriving at a cool destination after the day is over.

3. CX 870 14:10 – 11:40 B747-400

These are the old Cathay “coffin” seats that still are fully flat and offer direct aisle access, so it really isn’t that bad after all. However, it is still one to avoid unless the timing is good (which is the case for Hong Kong travellers here, it departs a couple of hours after noon and arrives right before noon the same day in San Francisco.

4. UA 862 12:30 – 08:20 B747-400

These are the worst seats in the SFO business class category. Even though they have a truly unique forwards-backwards design, they are quite narrow (2-4-2) and don’t offer direct aisle access. At least the screens are wide and it actually reclines into a bed, but don’t expect to have a view or extra privacy  and be able to run off to the toilet immediately when you realise your bladder is about to burst.

  • CX 872 goes back to HKG as CX 873 (01:00 – 06:15)
  • SQ 002 goes back to HKG as SQ 001 (01:15 – 06:35)
  • CX 870 goes back to HKG as CX 879 (13:40 – 19:00)
  • UA 862 goes back to HKG as UA 869 (13:00 – 18:15)

So which do you prefer? We prefer CX 870/3 as our travel itinerary, but it’s up to you! What do you think?

The best business class on the A380

Since many airlines have aimed for the A380, we would – in public favour – create a comparison of the best business class on the A380.

Right now having the A380 are British Airways, Thai Airways, Malaysia Airlines, China Southern, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Emirates, Air France, Qantas and Singapore Airlines.

We’ve rated the best business class on the A380 as follows: (from most comfortable to least comfortable)

  1. Emirates
  2. Thai
  3. China Southern
  4. Singapore Airlines
  5. Korean Air
  6. Qantas
  7. British Airways
  8. Malaysia Airlines
  9. Air France
  10. Lufthansa

Emirates

Emirates, albeit its 18.5in width, has a pretty solid product on its A380s. We love the colour tones, comfort and style of Emirates’ A380s. Comparing with Thai and China Southern, which have the exact same configuration, Emirates has easy access to the aisle (no squeezing between console and block of plastic in front), and doesn’t have a gap between the seat and the ottoman like China Southern does.

Thai

Thai has a pretty good A380 product. It has a pretty good 21 inch width, although Emirates wins over it since it is pretty hard in this business class seat to squeeze between the shell in front and the console if you are sitting in a window or a middle seat.

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Something does tell us that China Southern made their staggered seat themselves. Their seats don’t have a footrest and there is the slightest of gaps between the seat and the ottoman when in bed position.

Singapore Airlines

I personally dislike the flipping over of the seat and lying diagonally, but otherwise Singapore Airlines has a pretty solid product.

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Korean Air has the standard Business Class 2-2-2 layout while in a fully flat position. It’s good, but there are better ones out there.

Qantas

Qantas has 0.1in of width less than Korean Air – the Skybeds are comfortable but require the midnight clamber in some situations.

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British Airways has a pretty comfy business class and a seat that’s wider than Emirates, although the middle seats and packed configuration pushes it further back this list.

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Malaysia Airlines – Assess the picture yourself. Is that fully flat or angled flat?

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Now this is angled flat – Air France is better than Lufthansa since Lufthansa has that awkward bending down angle towards the bottom of the seat, but still not one of the best – or even the “good” ones – in the industry.

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If it’s bad enough to get in one of our worst list‘s candidate selection, avoid this seat at all costs, especially side or front sleepers. Economy class is pretty good, in contrast.

Comments and controversies? They go in the comments below. Thanks.