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If you want to fly cheap to Asia but prefer a cushier, more perk-laden experience, Cathay Pacific's economy or premium economy ticket may be your best bet. The Hong Kong-based airline offers economy passengers top-of-the-line service, plus perks not found on some other carriers’ economy class flights, like spacious seats, unique menu offerings and lots of entertainment options.
Shelves built into seats keep your device at eye level, perfect for binge-watching a show or any of the in-flight entertainment options. Cathay Pacific recently quadrupled its video content (think: Asian cinema, Hollywood hits and music), which streams from 11.6-inch, high-definition touch screens on many flights.
Here's what you need to know to make the most of your Cathay Pacific economy flight.
Cathay Pacific economy vs. premium economy
Trying to decide between Cathay Pacific economy and Cathay Pacific premium economy? Premium economy takes its comforts a step further, adding a generously reclining seat, expanded legroom and padded leather footrests. There is also a slightly increased baggage allowance, plus added bonuses like a welcome drink on board and an amenity kit with socks, an eyeshade, earplugs, toothbrush and toothpaste.
What to expect flying economy with Cathay Pacific
Before you board your Cathay Pacific economy flight, learn about baggage allowances, boarding processes and upgraded economy tickets. Here’s what to expect.
On economy flights, passengers are allotted two checked bags with a combined weight of 66 pounds (on most flights), plus a carry-on of 15 pounds not exceeding 9 inches by 14 inches by 22 inches. Premium economy has a slightly higher checked baggage weight allowance of 77 pounds, but otherwise its policies are the same as economy.
Economy boarding on Cathay Pacific is fairly standard, occurring after first and business classes. Premium economy has dedicated check-in counters at some airports, plus priority boarding at the gate.
Cathay Pacific economy seats are some of the widest economy seats of any airline; they’re ergonomically designed with an adjustable headrest. You can upgrade to an extra-legroom seat, but it’ll cost you between $45 and $212.
You can get the extra-legroom upgrade for free if you’re a Silver or higher member in the airline’s Marco Polo Club or you have status in the Oneworld alliance.
Food and drink
Cathay Pacific economy class also offers some interesting food and drink options, most notably its Betsy beer, a pale ale created specifically for enjoying at 35,000 feet. In addition to complimentary wine and beverages, economy passengers on long-haul flights also receive a meal option.
Shredded pork and preserved vegetables with steamed jasmine rice or Hong Kong-style beef curry, broccoli and steamed jasmine rice are just some selections you might see on a long-haul flight from Hong Kong.
Wi-Fi is enabled on all Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 planes and is being rolled out on its Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft. You can find out whether your flight has Wi-Fi and how much it will cost (around $20 for flights over six hours) by checking your flight status.
Ways to get good value
Book with points
You can save cash on your Cathay Pacific flight by redeeming Asia Miles for your ticket. You earn Asia Miles by flying Cathay Pacific or one of its partners, including Oneworld alliance member airlines. You can also earn Asia Miles by staying at partner hotels.
» Learn more: A points collector’s guide to Cathay Pacific
Skip the extra legroom
Skipping the extra legroom upgrade is an easy way to save while flying economy on Cathay Pacific.
Book a Oneworld multi-carrier award flight
If you’re a Cathay Pacific enthusiast, chances are you’ve likely heard of the Oneworld multi-carrier award. It allows you to book a reward ticket with an itinerary including two Oneworld alliance airlines — not including Cathay Pacific — or three or more Oneworld alliance airlines when Cathay Pacific is included. This allows you to book an extended trip to multiple locations at a deep discount, and is a great way to maximize the value of your Asia Miles.
» Learn more: Award sweet spots for booking flights with Asia Miles
Final thoughts on Cathay Pacific economy
If you’re flying economy or premium economy to Asia, Cathay Pacific is a solid option. That’s because it boasts perks like wider seats, complimentary drinks, tasty meal options, the option for extended legroom seats and even a beer perfectly formulated for consumption at 35,000 feet, all with little or no added cost. Plus, Cathay Pacific is well known for its top-notch service and little extras, which makes flying economy on a long-haul flight less painful.
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