Cathay Pacific Airways will be introducing next year a new economy class seat with a unique fixed back design which will allow passengers to recline without intruding on the space of passengers sitting behind.
The seat could revolutionise economy class travel and give Cathay a leg up over its competitors, particularly European and North American carriers which generally have failed to keep up with Asian carrier economy class improvements.
Cathay claims it will be the world's first carrier to introduce this type of seat, featuring technology normally only used for business class seats, in economy class. The seat, by allowing passengers to recline without compromising the space of the passenger sitting behind, is designed to give passengers a sense of fixed personal space in economy class that cannot be interrupted by another passenger. This is achieved through a design which has the back of the seat receding into a shell and the seat bottom sliding forward when the passenger presses the recline button.
To further increase leg room, the literature pocket has been relocated to below the seat cushion. A larger than normal tray and personal television screen are also part of the new design. Cathay's new economy class seat also includes some of the best features that are now part of existing economy class sections on some Cathay and other carrier aircraft, including a coat hook, an adjustable headrest, an upholstered seatback providing active spine support in all positions and on-demand in-flight entertainment.
Cathay will begin phasing in the new economy class seats, along with new seats in business and first class, from January. It says the new seats and aircraft interiors were selected with the help of design consultants tasked with making flying more soothing, comfortable and natural. The new aircraft interiors will feature new technologies and materials, including bamboo, timber, stone and water. The new business class seats feature a six foot, six inch long flat bed while the first class suite features a 36 inch by 81 inch bed, which Cathay claims to be the largest in the airline world.
While the new business class and first class seats are impressive and will help the airline woo premium travellers on long-haul routes, the decision to invest in an innovative concept for economy class could really differentiate it from other carriers. If the new seat allows Cathay to charge a premium for economy class tickets, other long-haul carriers will have to consider matching the impressive new product. In this day and age of carriers adopting low-cost and no-frills models even in the long-haul sector, Cathay could be successful at going against the prevailing trend.