Affordable luxury
Generous recline and more legroom makes premium economy a significant step-up from economy. Supplied picture

Cathay Pacific has rolled out its new premium economy and revamped business class on all 10 flights a week from Perth. Unveiled in 2011, premium economy, which has been fitted throughout the long-haul fleet, is getting rave reviews and is a significant step up from economy, with generous recline, plenty of legroom and improved service.

But there isn't a huge jump in price between the two classes, for while return economy flights are about $1508 between Perth and Hong Kong, premium economy is available from $2242. The premium economy exclusive zone is between 26 and 34 seats depending on plane type and the seat pitch is 96.50cm, 15cm more than economy class. The seat itself is wider and has a significantly bigger recline using a cradle mechanism.

Premium economy features a larger meal table, cocktail table, a footrest, a 10.6-inch personal television, an in-seat power outlet, a multi-port connector for personal devices, and extra personal stowage space.

The multi-port connector allows you to stream audio and video from your personal devices to the widescreen personal TV. Before you board there is priority check-in at dedicated counters and priority boarding.

And there is also an increase in baggage allowance from 20kg to 25kg or two pieces of baggage from 23kg to 25kg each depending on what system applies. Premium economy passengers also receive an amenity bag with dental kit, socks and eyeshade.

Larger pillows and noise- cancelling headsets round off the amenities.

On boarding, premium passengers are welcomed with juice or champagne and a hot towel while the meal offering is significantly enhanced over economy. On a typical Perth to Hong Kong service, passengers are served an entree and three choices of main course.

But the class is all about the space, for not only are we putting on kilos, we are also growing taller. According to RW Howard's Interrelating Broad Population Trends, the world's population has grown 7cm from 1945 to 2000 because of better nutrition and health.

For Australians, who are the world's second-tallest travellers, premium economy is well overdue and the class is also offered on Air New Zealand flights between Auckland and Perth.

Cathay's new business class is another leap forward in passenger comfort. Its previous business-class product received significant negative feedback as being too cramped, and the latest offering is possibly too spacious for the airline's accountants.

The major change in the lie-flat seat/bed is the rearrangement of the alignment to face the windows on the sides and to face inwards in the centre of the aircraft, reversing the herringbone layout.

The new seats are radically different and offer far more space and a more pleasing outlook.

The business-class seat can move forward or back up to 28cm and passengers in the centre two seats can move them forward to converse with travelling companions or rearwards for total privacy. A simple precision toggle allows passengers to adjust the seat position to a seemingly endless number of options.

In its lie-flat position it is more than 2m long and a bed extension increases its width by 16.5cm to give extra room for hips, while the arrangement of the side storage compartment offers extra knee space for sleeping on your side.

There is also more personal storage space, and the side cabinet houses a headset and vanity mirror, with room for small items such as glasses and gadgets.

The entertainment control panel now includes a multi-port connector that lets you connect your own electronic devices to your personal 38cm TV display.

Combined with economy class, which is considered one of the industry's best, Cathay Pacific can now well argue that it is offering Perth passengers the best value products and will have you arriving in better shape.

The West Australian

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