In recent months, Cathay Pacific has been forced to change and adapt its schedule several times as the protests in Hong Kong continue to cause disruption. Now, in a significant change, the airline will no longer use Boeing 777s on its flight to Chicago. Instead, the airline will operate an Airbus A350-1000. But what does this mean for passengers?
Changing which aircraft operates a certain route is often not a big deal. Particularly in recent months, airlines have been forced to change planes a lot as the Boeing 737 MAX remains grounded. But Cathay Pacific have made a change which is surprising a few people.
The airline has scheduled an Airbus A350-1000 to fly the route from Hong Kong to Chicago from 1st June to the end of the summer season on 24th October. Before the change, Cathay Pacific exclusively operated Boeing 777-300ERs on this route. Although a Boeing may return to the route for the winter season, this seems unlikely.
At first, this may seem like a logical change, after all, the A350 offers a higher overall capacity than the Boeing. But this change means that passengers traveling from Hong Kong to Chicago will no longer be offered first-class seating.
This is a surprise for many as Cathay Pacific has a very popular first class. They recently released a new healthy menu, changed the bedding and invested in upgraded amenities. But if you want to enjoy the new first class cabins on the Cathay Pacific Airbus A350, you’ll have to fly to Boston, Los Angeles or San Francisco. However, despite losing the first-class cabins, there will actually be more seats available and those seats are actually an upgrade for many.
The Airbus A350 is Cathay Pacific’s newest aircraft and feature all the modern technology of new planes. There is mood lighting in the cabin and better pressurization to lessen jet lag. The 3-3-3 seat configuration of the Airbus means fewer middle seats compared to the 3-4-3 layout of the Boeing.
The Airbus A350 is also quieter and arguably more comfortable. It also features a very cool tail camera in case you want to watch something other than an endless stream of inflight entertainment. The list of overall improvements goes on.
But if losing first class means more seats overall, then it makes sense. Except for the fact that Cathay Pacific has been struggling to fill seats at all recently. For those wanting to experience the award-winning Cathay Pacific first class, the Chicago flight was one of the easier places to find a seat. This is perhaps what prompted the change; the seats simply weren’t selling.
This may in part be due to the continuing Hong Kong protests which are having long-term effects on the airline’s outlook. Last year they were forced to issue profit warnings as capacity continued to look bleak.
In statements made last year the airline said that it would look at cutting flights and other measures if the unrest continues to affect the airline. Perhaps this is the start of more changes designed to minimize the damage. The airline has not yet responded to Simple Flying’s request for comment.
What do you think of the change to schedule? Do you think the airbus will operate the route from now on or will be Boeing be back for the winter season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.